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Published on Wed, Nov 17, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
More than 50 Vehicle Debuts Unveiled at the LA Auto Show Words by Reed Berry, Chuck Dapoz, John Grafman, Brian Kennedy, Joseph Manalili, Roy Nakano, Zoran Segina, Bill Wright The Los Angeles Auto Show opened November 19-28, 2010 with a record 50 vehicle debuts. And if the show’s press preview was any indication, the recession is over. There are more exhibits, more manufacturers, and even more journalists than we’ve seen in years at the LA Auto Show. We’ve seen the reports about increased sales of automobiles in this country, and this may account for the commensurate blossoming of the auto show.
Chrysler, which for the past few years seemed to be under a dark cloud at the show, came out in bright lights for this year’s LA Auto Show. Nissan, which didn’t even show in Detroit not too long ago, introduced three new cars for this year’s LA Auto Show. And, returning to the United States after a 27-year hiatus, Italian automaker Fiat feature its U.S.-spec production Fiat 500-Cinquecento. - RN Here’s a glimpse of what this year’s show held: AUDI
No world debuts from Audi, but the new A7 Sportback and Quattro concept car are new to these shores and represent North American debuts. CADILLAC
Urban Luxury Concept At just over 14.5 feet, this is not your father’s Cadillac. The Urban Luxury Concept (ULC) has a remarkably roomy and well-appointed interior that belies its small footprint. This explores shapes, technology, and material uses that cry out premium, as size won’t be a measure of luxury in the years to come. This tall and wide ULC interior is reminiscent of a high-end timepiece. Use of touch-screens allow for elimination of standard gages and controls that clutter up interiors. This has a 1 liter 3 cylinder turbocharged engine with electric assist. Estimated mileage is 56/65 mpg. GM is no longer waiting for the competition. – JG CHRYSLER
200 Chrysler 200 The new Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan is the future hope for a company that has recently emerged from bankruptcy. A complete redesign of the Sebring with new badging, it features many upgrades such as improved suspension, a new 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 engine that produces 283 horsepower, better cabin quietness, new technology, and an abundance of new safety features like electronic stability control and side air bags. At its debut, the company promised to close the gap between aspiration and ownership because of this vehicle’s improved technology, performance and features. Chrysler hopes this sedan is the first of many future successes. - JM
FIAT 500 – Cinquecento The original Cinquecento (“five hundred”) had a 500cc 13-HP engine in the rear, suicide doors, and transported millions of Europeans inexpensively and efficiently. The US version coming in December is powered by a 1.4-liter 100 horsepower gas engine mated to six-speed automatic or manual transmission. It comes with a softer suspension and - of course - cupholders. Like the VW Bug and MINI, the Cinquecento is appealing to the buyers looking for nostalgia in a modern car. A dual overhead camshaft, MacPherson suspension, 15-inch wheels, power assisted steering, on a 140-inch, 2150-pound subcompact, with a top speed of over 110 mph, a 0-60 in 10.5 seconds, with the average fuel economy of 35-40 mph, holds a lot of promise. – ZS
GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR At this year’s L.A. Auto Show, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt beat out four other hybrid, electric and low emission vehicles to win the Green Car Journal’s Car of the Year award. The award honors vehicles that improve environmental performance in meaningful and quantifiable ways. The Volt is the first-ever electric vehicle to take top prize. It is capable of delivering 25-50 miles of all-electric driving on a single charge before a gasoline-powered on-board generator provides electricity to power the wheels for an additional 300 miles. The jury, comprised of six environmental and automative experts along with Journal editors, selected the Volt over the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and Nissan LEAF - JM HYUNDAI
Sonata There’s a whole lot of Hyundai going on this year at the L.A. Auto Show. Obviously, Hyundai execs are pumped about the two newest additions to the already popular Sonata line: Sonata 2.0T and Sonata Blue Drive Hybrid. It’s as if Hyundai is able to do everything for everybody, providing the features and fuel economy that car buyers are looking for. The Sonata 2.0T provides impressive power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that runs on regular fuel, while the Sonata Blue Drive Hybrid allows the more eco-minded driver to ‘go green’ in style with a great looking car that gets an estimated 40 mpg on the highway. – RB
Elantra Hyundai does make quality vehicles but there was a period of time during which they were, to be perfectly honest, less than attractive in my opinion. One such vehicle is Elantra. Well, after an impressive ‘extreme makeover’, the 2011 Elantra not only has an eye-catching body design, but is loaded with features, as well, such as power windows and remote keyless entry. Fuel economy estimates are equally impressive – 29 mpg city and a whopping 40 on the highway. Nearly as stylish as Sonata, the new Elantra is powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with a six-speed transmission. Two trim levels are offered: GLS and Limited. Limited models include sport features such as fog lights, a sunroof, and big 17-inch aluminum wheels. – RB INFINITI M35 Hybrid When designing its new Infiniti M35 Hybrid, goal was to go cleaner, greener and faster. It characterizes the sedan as the first true performance luxury hybrid sedan because drivers don’t have to sacrifice performance for fuel efficiency. Infiniti promises power, luxury and efficiency. In terms of power, the M35 has a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine that produces 360 horsepower. The M35h can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 62 mph and can drive in electrice mode for as much as 50% of the time. Its combined fuel economy of 27 mpg (estimated) is expected to be best in its class. Luxury is displayed in the extensive array of standard comfort, technology, and convenience features as well as improved interior and trunk space. - JM JAGUAR
C-X75 concept The advantage of a car powered by four 195-horsepower electric motors (one at each wheel) is massive amounts of torque (1187 pound-feet) resulting in 205 mph top speed, and 0-to-60 acceleration in 3.4 seconds. The disadvantage of a lithium-ion battery pack - running out of juice just as the fun begins - is overcome by two micro gas turbines which provide nearly 500 miles of additional range. This exotic stunner, with fixed seat but adjustable pedals, was designed by Ian Callum’s and first unveiled in Paris. It was inspired by the 1960's XJ13 race car that Jaguar made, but never raced. This one better have a different fate. Le Mans anyone? – ZS KIA Optima Hybrid It’s a good-looking car, for a hybrid or otherwise. That’s important, since there's a segment of the market that would like to be a ‘hybrid driver’, but don’t want something that looks like a fish. The Optima Hybrid shares the platform and drivetrain with Hyundai’s Hybrid Sonata. This package provides a more ‘normal’ driving experience by virtue of the hybrid part of the equation being an add-on to the 2.4L four cylinder gasoline engine, and the fact that the transmission is a six-speed automatic and not a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). This ‘normality’, combined with a good deal of cutting-edge technology, wrapped in a nicely styled package, bodes well for the Optima Hybrid’s prospects. - BW LOTUS Four score! Lotus is showing its hand for the next four year with four new cars. The added bonus, optional hybrid systems for all.
Spring 2013 unleashes the Esprit, a true supercar. This mid-engine, two seater can hit 0-60 in a stunning 3.4 seconds. Yes, V8 power!
Coming in late summer 2013 the Elan features a 4-liter, mid-engine, V6 and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. Optional 2+2 seating available. Promising a car that is equally happy in the real world and the track.
Early 2014 the Elite comes to market. The 5-liter, front/mid-engine, V8 promises to be the ultimate sports car with elegance, comfort and space in a 2+2 layout.
Elise, due in 2015 carries on the same balance of lightweight, and heavy fun, all at an entry-level price for a mid-engine, 2-liter, four cylinder. Expect 0-60 in less than 4.5 seconds. – JG MAZDA
Shinari concept To understand the Mazda Shinari concept sedan is to understand ‘Kodo – Soul of Motion’ design theme. The carefree form is the direction of Mazda’s future. Ikuo Maeda, general manager of Mazda’s design division, says future Mazda’s will move people physically and emotionally. Shinari employees the powerful yet supple appearance of great high tensile strength material, such as steel or bamboo, being twisted or bent.Aerodynamic performance was a major priority. Mazda's objective was to design a distinctive premium cockpit that integrates its interior DNA with ‘dedicated driving ergonomics’, which are visible in the car’s next generation Human Machine Interface (HMI). – JG MITSUBISHI
i-MiEV This five-door electric car with a jellybean-inspired profile has been selling in Japan for a while. We found that car to be delightful, albeit rather spartan. For the U.S. market, Mitsubishi took the original i-MiEV and made it wider (to better fit American posteriors), more crash-worthy, and less spartan in the cabin. As with the Japanese i-MiEV, the American version is whisper quiet around town, and kicks into ‘eco’ mode when the juice is running low. The MSRP is expected to hover in the $25,000 range. - RN NISSAN
Nissan Quest The minivan Nissan introduced to the US market in 1992 (as a 1993 model) is now entering its fourth generation in all-new format. The vehicle has a sharper look with a more pronounced front end and sweeping side accents. Inside, its seven-passenger configuration can be adjusted to reflect cargo- or passenger-carrying needs. The second-row seats fold flat, and available for the third row is a quick release fold-flat seat with power return seatbacks. Available features include a dual-pane sunroof and a power rear liftgate. The van has all the stuff others in the segment have, plus a generous list of available features, but it’s the styling that will attract buyers who might have gone with a competitor’s vehicle. – BK
Nissan Murano This model enters 2011 with a fresh look front and rear as well as new 18-inch wheels. The car has aggressive styling with pronounced wheel arches and a slight kick-up at the tail end. Inside, things have been spruced up with white guages and added features on certain models. Two new models have also been added, the SV FWD and SV AWD. Power comes from a 3.5-liter engine with 240 hp driven through an Xtronic CVT transmission. Nissan is featuring a convertible Murano model at this year’s LA Auto Show. It’s called the CrossCabriolet, and Nissan bills it as the world’s first AWD crossover convertible. It seats four adults and will be available in early 2011. – BK
Nissan Ellure A sedan with passion and emotion, the Ellure is a clean-sheet exercise for Nissan, a four-door plug-in and cousin to the Leaf. Nissan called the car “progressive and distinctive” in its pre-show teasers. It packs in the features and should make the green car crowd happy. Some thing it’s Nissan’s attempt to hedge its bets if the Leaf doesn’t go over big. Others opine that the car is Nissan’s way of jumping full-bore into the EV market. Attendees can decide for themselves whether the car’s blend of lines and angles work for them, and what their level of commitment to the green cause is. Their alternatives in the company’s range flow from the quirky Cube to the stylish Altima. – BK Nissan Leaf The plug-in is here, and Nissan is featuring the production version of the Leaf electric in hopes that the excitement leads to sales of the $32 thousand car. (After tax breaks, that number comes to a more palatable mid-20s figure.) The Leaf will go up to 90mph and up to 100 miles on a charge. It is a five-passenger hatch with 16-inch wheels and a unique “palm-shift” drive selector. Inside, it is not the car reinvented so much as a competent small machine with Nissan’s quality fit and finish and features like push-button starting and something called “CARWINGS,” which allows for remote connection to the car to monitor the battery, start a charge, or activate the heating/AC systems. Drivers who make a city commute will find the ZEV vehicle the perfect guilt-free accessory to their green lifestyle. – BK PORSCHE
Cayman R Have Porsche, will race—with the 2012 Cayman R, a worldwide premiere at the LA Auto Show, introduced by Porsche’s new Chairman, Matthias Mueller. The car, which will go on sale next month, is 160 pounds lighter than the Cayman S. The powerplant is a 3.4-liter six-cylinder boxer engine producing 330 horsepower at 7400 rpm—10 more than in the standard Cayman. A six-speed manual transmission will bring it from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds—or 4.4 if you invest in the optional seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission and the Sport Chrono package. Top speed is 175 mph. Base price is $66,300, and another grand for destination. - ZS ROLLS-ROYCE
Phantom Limited Edition by Bijan If you want to dress up one of the priciest and most luxurious cars in the world, simply team up with one of the world’s most respected designers. That’s exactly what Rolls-Royce has done with the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Limited Edition by Bijan. Bijan will create 30 custom-designed models for some of the most powerful people in the world. The introduction of the vehicle is taking place during a cocktail reception personally hosted by Bijan at his exclusive boutique – said to be the most expensive store in the world – on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Yes, his store is expensive and so are these limited edition cars – each expected to cost around one million dollars.. – RB VOLKSWAGEN
Eos The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Eos is the world’s only hardtop convertible with a built-in sunroof. VW says the five-piece roof opens or closes in 25 seconds. The turbocharged, direct-injection, 2.0-liter engine is unchanged from the current model, producing 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds. New is a standard six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox automatic transmission. Its computer-controlled dual-clutch quickly engages and disengages gears without a clutch pedal, providing nearly instantaneous shifts without a loss of power between gears. Also standard are keyless entry and start as well as sensor-deployed roll bars integrated into the seats. The 2012 Eos goes on sale in February. – CD
More than any other, this year's show marked the arrival of the modern electric car era. After years of anticipation, consumers can now purchase mass-production electric vehicles. Los Angeles is expected to be one of the biggest markets for electric cars and the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF are the first to arrive. With more than a dozen electric vehicles ranging from production to concept, the show provides a picture of the present and future of electric transportation.
Attendees this year benefited from more test drive opportunities than ever before. Every day of the show, Ford and Land Rover offered unique test drives, including a rugged Land Rover off-road course and Ford's outdoor urban expo featuring cars and trucks. On Fridays through Sundays, Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Toyota let drivers get behind the wheel to test out a variety of its latest models.
The LA Auto Show also had a hall dedicated to the latest specialty vehicles, automotive accessories and customizing trends. Everything from exotic custom cars, wheels, tires and performance products to the latest mobile, audio and entertainment systems were found in Kentia Hall. In addition to the dozen electric vehicles located throughout the show, several smaller manufacturers with pure electric vehicles were exhibited in Kentia Hall.
The Nissan Quest Kids' Fun Zone returned for a second year and was open both weekends, including the Thanksgiving holiday. This family friendly play area featured fun activities for kids of all ages and offered video games, toy car rides and a variety of other games, crafts and activities free to show attendees. With free admission for kids 12 and under, the LA Auto Show continues to be a popular and affordable destination for families.