The 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show ended the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but the wonderful and interesting vehicles available for viewing there will, in most cases be available at a dealership near you. Maybe not today and maybe not for a bit. And if you’re in Detroit early January, the car show there is amazing.
Thursday’s media day included the announcement of Chevy’s Bolt as Green Car of the Year, and then the announcements got a bit more serious, with the reveal of Volkswagen’s new Atlas SUV/CUV/Minivan. VW, of course, is in a world of hurt over their deceptive diesel practices, which pretty much put a definitive hold on any upmarket march from the German manufacturer.
Although the VW Atlas has been in the planning stages for quite a while and VW trotted LA Laker greats “Big Game” James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to mark the introduction of this US-produced machine, one has to wonder if it’s too little, too late for VW? The Atlas is a true seven-passenger people-and-stuff hauler and should, if VW doesn’t price it too high, get some market share.
VW also upped the game for its e-Golf, which uses the standard-bearer Golf’s chassis and body with an electric propulsion system. The packaging is excellent, the e-Golf has extended range by 50 percent (potentially), also adding a 9.2-in infotainment screen and digital cockpit, along with driver aids and new LED headlights and taillights. VW is using a new lithium-ion battery for the e-Golf, with the intent of increasing range to 124 miles, good for all but the longest of LA commutes.
From there, media were herded to Volvo (let’s take care of the V’s all at once?) across the South Hall of LA’s mammoth convention center. There, the Swedes showed off their V90 Cross Country wagon and the delectable V60 Polestar performance wagon. The V90 has every driver aid known to mankind – including moose detection – and a lovely package in which to install those aids; the V60 Polestar is the street car for Volvo enthusiasts who get into a car to drive it, not just to be inherently safe as they maneuver an appliance down the road.
Over the past few years, Subaru has been building ever-larger SUV concepts, likely as a means to stop people from bitching when they actually produce a huge SUV. This year’s Viziv-7 took the stage and introduced the Los Angeles public – and you – to the possibility of a larger than life Subaru. It’s likely coming to a Subaru store near you, sometime in the next couple of years and will be either hybrid- or electrically-powered.
Jeep showed off its new Compass about a quarter-mile from Subaru’s exhibit, so we had a look at this newer model later in the day, rather than trek there and back – and miss the star of Thursday’s show. The new Jeep Compass has a familial look to it – as all Jeeps do – and this one resembles Grand Cherokee more than it does the standard Cherokee. As is customary for FCA’s Jeep brand, there are a multitude of options available for this AWD creation.
Fiat also had a new 124 Abarth Spider on display, offering an upgraded running system for the 124 that was introduced last year at this show and is a [near] mirror image (except for exterior/interior details) of Mazda’s new MX-5 Miata. Having spent a little time driving a 124 but a full week behind the wheel of the donor chassis, I’d stick with the original.
Toyota doesn’t always have a press conference during the LA show, despite currently having its headquarters in nearby Torrance. This year it pulled out all the stops by showing off the new C-HR CUV, an absolutely cute, cute ute that will appeal to the always-desired Millennials interested in purchasing or leasing a vehicle. While it does have a traditional 2-liter gasoline engine, the mechanism is directly-injected, which will result in better fuel economy, coupled with a continuously variable transmission.
This very stylish small CUV, initially introduced last year as a Scion design study, has athletic looks and plenty of technology onboard. There will be two grades when it launches in a few months, XLE and XLE premium, both of which will include a 7-inch audio display. It’s easy to see that this small CUV will be an immediate success, due to its currently easily-maintained and economical running gear, its innate good looks and its technology capabilities. Might there be a hybrid version in the future, or is Toyota leaving that type of everyday propulsion to Prius?
Infiniti had no presentation but did show off its newest CUV creation – one that looks ready for prime time – called the QX Sport Inspiration. It has the same chevron details at the rear window that we’ve been seeing on several Infiniti vehicles and promises a 2-liter turbocharged engine. Hopefully it won’t come in the same matte paint that really doesn’t show its svelte body lines as well as a true glossy paint job can.
Late on Thursday afternoon, Honda showed off the NHL’s Stanley Cup as it announced sponsorship for next year’s All-Star game, together with the Cup on hand. A Ridgeline pickup was the star of that announcement.
What attacted eyeballs is the new Civic Type R had everyone with testosterone and a love of motor sport salivating for the 2018 model. Splitters, wings, triple exhaust from the turbocharged engine, Brembo brakes and a host of performance items makes this a vehicle to pine for. Maybe Honda hasn’t become just another car maker, as it appeared over the past few years.
After leaving the auto show media days, I decided that I wanted to return and see what people were interested in seeing. While the expected crowds hovered about the high-end Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa-Romeo, Maserati and BMW displays, it was fun to see the manner in which people looked at various vehicles.
Lincoln had many folks looking at their wares, including a Navigator with gullwing doors, which bodes well for them despite less-than-inspiring new products. Every guy on the floor lingered at the Ford GT display that had the 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (still dirty – since June!) and a street version. The smaller Ford Ecosport CUV claimed plenty of attention, as did the indoor growing garden directly behind its display.
People clambered into and out of the Mazda MX-5 RF targa model, every Alfa Giulia on the floor had a waiting line and yes, the people agreed with me that Toyota’s C-HR is a model that interests them.
Lexus’ Sriracha sedan had its share of oglers, Cadillac’s variety of gas- and electric-fed offerings had huge crowds around the stand, everyone wanted to ogle the older BMW 2002 racer high above its street machines. BMW also showed off its Paralympic racer, a cycle that earned gold in the Games this summer. And there was this one young gun who climbed on a BMW motorcycle and virtually rode it, sound and all!
Galpin Motorsports, which has been producing one-off vehicles for years, displayed the new Spyker supercar and this pink thing, which would be wonderful to sleep in the night before the Rose Parade on New Year’s, but little else, I think? Gallon’s display hall promoted its many and varied dealerships, together with the firm’s ability to customize just about anything.
There was a large crowd about the 3D-produced chassis and body in the South Hall lobby – it helped to be situated at the entryway – while vendors of electric bicycles and scooters held sway in the same area, bounded by the Lego Porsche 919 and the possibility of virtually racing a Hyundai rally car. Notably, security had tightened in the ride-and-drive area after a possible patron managed to crash a car earlier in the week, an unhappy occurrence that speaks to Americans’ general lack of driver training.
And I’ll leave it at that. Enjoy the photos and let us know if we can help you make some car-buying decisions, please.
To get in touch with Anne with your new car questions just leave them in the comments section below and she will get back to you personally.
Words and Photos by Anne Proffit