New SUVs in all shapes and sizes dominated the Los Angeles auto show as new-car season shifted into high gear this week.
From luxury models to affordable subcompacts to an all-new version of the Jeep Wrangler that created the whole SUV segment, the Los Angeles Convention Center will see the unveiling of new SUVs from around the world. A number of new luxury and alternative energy vehicles will also debut.
The auto show is open to the public from December 1-10.
Here are some highlights:
Audi A8 – Audi’s big flagship sedan debuts with a new design theme and a very welcome touch screen to augment its rotary controller. On sale late this year, the 2019 A8’s interior features adjustable LED reading lights and reclining and massaging rear seats with foot rests.
While the touch screen for navigation, audio and such is a welcome change, a pair touch panels for climate control are sure to get scrutiny for ease of use.
Power comes from a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and 48-volt mild-hybrid system. An innovative active suspension raises the A8 3.1 inches when sensors detect a likely side impact so it’s more likely the oncoming vehicle hits the car’s reinforced frame rather than the middle of a door.
Driver assistance features include traffic jam pilot, a fully autonomous driving at up to 37 mph on divided highways.
BMW X7 and M3 CS – A concept previewing BMW’s long-awaited X7 flagship luxury SUV should set new standards for SUV style, technology and performance. The SUV equivalent of BMW’s 7-series sedan, the X7 is expected to become the brand’s top model as buyers around the world shift to SUVs. It goes on sale in 2018.
The X7 iPerformance concept is a plug-in hybrid with a gasoline engine and three rows of seats.
BMW expects the concept to redefine the brand, so look for advanced design and the latest driver-assist technology. A new instrument panel design and touch screen set the tone for the interior design of future BMWs.
The exterior design emphasizes the SUV’s height, with narrow lights and a huge version of the signature double kidney grille.
The M3 CS ratchets up performance from the classic sport sedan with a 453-hp 3.0-liter straight-six engine. It accelerates to 60 mph (96 kph) in 3.7 seconds, has a top speed of 174 mph (278 kph) and goes on sale in May.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – The fastest Corvette ever, the 2019 ZR1 has a top speed above 210 mph (336 kph) and 755-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. It goes on sale in the spring with two aerodynamic packages, including an optional “high wing” that generates up to 950 pounds of downforce to keep the car securely on the ground at high speeds.
The high wing is part of the a ZO7 performance package that includes a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer tires and tuning to maximize cornering grip for its magnetic ride control shock absorbers.
Hyundai Kona – Hyundai expects the subcompact Kona SUV to help remedy its shortage of SUVs. The Korean brand’s sales have suffered because it offers many sedans, but fewer SUVs than competitors like Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Toyota.
The bold looking Kona is built on a new platform and features LED headlights, a honeycomb grille and body cladding around the wheelwells.
Power will come from a 147-hp 2.0-liter or turbocharged 175-hp 1.6-liter engine. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is mated to the more powerful engine, while the base Kona gets a conventional six-speed auto.
Jeep Wrangler – The all-new Wrangler is expected to have an aluminum-intensive body that helps reduce weight and improve fuel economy. The styling is true to the original Wrangler, even retaining signature, if seldom-used features such as a windshield that folds flat onto the hood.
The doors and roof are removable, clearing the way for the open-air driving that Wrangler owners demand.
Expect updated engines and transmissions along with the latest 4-wheel drive systems.
The Wrangler goes on sale early in 2018.
Lincoln MKC and Navigator – The compact MKC gets a new rectangular grille that brings its styling in line with the looks of the Continental and MKZ sedans.
The MKC also adds pedestrian detection and automatic front braking, which uses radar and cameras to soften or eliminate front impacts.
Lincoln’s much larger Navigator SUV is all new and just arriving in showrooms.
Both SUVs offer several versions of Lincoln’s Black Label premium model, with unique interiors and extra features.
Lexus RXL – Toyota’s luxury brand belatedly adds a three-row SUV to compete with family haulers like the Acura MDX, Audi A7, Infiniti QX60 and Volvo XC90.
Other luxury brands have been baffled, but delighted at Lexus’s absence from this popular and profitable market, but the RXL ends that with what promises to be a formidable competitor.
Mercedes CLS – Mercedes helped create the European rage for the sleek four-door models sometimes called “four-door coupes” with the original CLS, a big luxury car that injected new style into a stodgy model line.
An all-new CLS headlines the brand’s news at the show.
The Mercedes-AMG Project One super car makes its North American debut with more than 1,000 hp from a hybrid powertrain that borrows from the automaker’s Formula One championship race cars. Project One claims a top speed of 217 mph, thanks to a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 and four electric motors. One of the motors powers the turbo. Another augments the power the engine sends to the crankshaft, while the remaining pair power the front wheels.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross – Snatched from the grave by becoming part of the Renault Nissan Alliance, Mitsubishi hopes to parlay its SUV expertise into a US sales revival. The compact 2018 Eclipse Cross appends the name of Mitsubishi’s fondly remembered Eclipse sport coupe to a small vehicle developed to ride the surge in SUV sales.
Eclipse Cross features include LED headlights, head-up display, large glass sunroof and turbocharged engine.
Its styling is all-new for Mitsubishi, heralding the company’s emphasis on stylish SUVs as it moves away from cars like the rally-racer Evo that starred in a generation of video games.
Subaru Ascent – Subaru’s long-awaited Ascent three-row family SUV arrives to compete with kid-carriers like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander.
Subaru’s been teasing the Ascent since the 2016 LA auto show, when it showed the first of two concepts for an SUV with three rows of seats.
The production Ascent is expected to mirror the appearance of the second concept, which broke cover at the New York auto show last spring. Subaru offered a six-passenger SUV once before, but the oddly named and even odder-looking B9 Tribeca flopped.
The Ascent will be Subaru’s biggest vehicle. It fills a major gap in the automaker’s model line and caps years of uninterrupted growth.
Volvo XC40 – The XC40 compact SUV will give Volvo a new entry-level model to attract younger buyers. Prices should start under $40,000, but the XC40 will offer all the same technology as Volvo’s larger XC60 and XC90 SUVs.
The XC40 goes on sale in the spring. Volvo will offer the same driver assistance features available on larger and more expensive models.
XC40 prices will start at $33,200 and include front- and all-wheel-drive models, gasoline power, a hybrid and pure electric model.
DETROIT FREE PRESS/TNS