10 Best of the LA Auto Show

Cars, trucks, crossover and concepts worth a second look.

by on Dec.03, 2018

The long-awaited Jeep Gladiator pickup made for one of the splashiest debuts at the LA Auto Show.

We’ve been to some dud auto shows over the last year. The Paris Motor Show, which kicked off the 2019 model-year, couldn’t even fill up a half day on the media calendar, and the Detroit Auto Show didn’t stretch much further. But this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show delivered some sweet surprises with its mix of cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts.

As we’ve come to expect from the Tinseltown extravaganza, there were plenty of green machines making their first appearance at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but these weren’t the sort of slow and stodgy sedans and quirky hatchbacks of years past, covering a broad swath of territory including electrified SUVs, pickups and sports cars. And there were plenty of promising products that fell into more conventional categories.

Auto Show News!

Here’s an alphabetical look at 10 of our favorite debuts at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show:

Audi design chief Marc Lichte reveals the e-tron GT concept, a production version coming in 2020.

Audi e-tron GT

Audi tapped the Iron Man, actor Robert Downey Jr., to help it launch what will become its third all-electric model when the production version of the e-tron GT concept vehicle goes into production in 2020. The e-tron GT shares the same underlying platform as the new Porsche Taycan but features its own, distinctive design, inside and out. Not much is expected to change from the show car, Audi insiders told TheDetroitBureau.com, including the all-electric drivetrain that will be able to get up to 250 miles per charge and launch to 60 in just over 3 seconds.

Honda filled a gap in its SUV line-up, unveiling the new Honda Passport in Los Angeles.

Honda Passport

That’s an old name for an all-new SUV, Honda reaching back to its first utility vehicle, the original Passport – which was produced for it by little Isuzu. The Japanese automaker suggests the 2020 Passport is “personal sized,” coming in a bit smaller than the big Pilot, but still featuring the roomiest cabin in its segment. The new Passport is motivated by a 280-horsepower V-6 and, when equipped with the optional towing package, can haul up to 5,000 pounds. Passport also rides an inch higher than Pilot, giving it a bit more off-roadability.

 

The new Palisade offers a slew of creature comforts, including 16 cupholders and nearly as many USB ports.

Hyundai Palisade

Hyundai was slow to grasp the switch from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, but it’s making up for lost time with an array of new utility vehicles. That includes the big Palisade making its debut in L.A. It’s bigger in every dimension than the outgoing Santa Fe XL and a lot more lavishly equipped, as well. That includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen, countless cupholders and USB ports and an assortment of advanced driver assistance systems, such as forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. With its 3.8-liter V-6, meanwhile, the Hyundai Palisade can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

 

 

The new Jeep Gladiator is designed to be as rugged and capable as the Wrangler.

Jeep Gladiator

 

Fiat Chrysler’s SUV brand has been on a roll, lately, and it follows the launch of its next-generation Wrangler with the debut of the long-await Jeep Gladiator. The brand’s first pickup in 16 years starts out, as you might expect, using the Wrangler platform. Billed as “the ultimate vehicle for any outdoor adventure,” the 2020 Gladiator is more than just another new entry into the midsize pickup segment, adding such Wrangler-like features as a fold-down windshield and removable doors. Look for a wide range of variants, including the off-road-ready Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.

The Kia Soul EV is looking to compete with the Chevy Bolt and its 64 kW battery.

Kia Soul

While there were no Kia Hamsters on display, the Korean carmaker rolled out their favorite set of wheels, the third-generation Soul making its debut. Visually, Kia played it safe with the new Soul, opting for modest but appealing visual tweaks while giving it a larger, entirely new platform. There will be six versions of the boxy crossover, in fact, including both the turbocharged GT, with its 201 horsepower engine, as well as the Soul EV. That model gets a larger battery pack that matches the performance of the gas-powered GT but can also deliver more than 200 miles per charge.

The Aviator slides into the slot between the Navigator and the Nautilus in Lincoln's SUV-oriented line-up.

Lincoln Aviator

Lincoln hopes its long-awaited revival can take flight with the introduction of the all-new Aviator. It replaces the ungainly and unloved MKT sport-utility vehicles and slots in just under the luxury brand’s SUV Navigator flagship. With three-rows it’s both roomy bit lavishly appointed. Its 30-way driver’s seat even has three different massage modes. Lincoln will offer two different powertrain options, including a plug-in hybrid that, at 450 hp, will be the most powerful product it has ever marketed. One of the more unusual features: Aviator’s warning chimes were recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The new Mazda3 sedan features a "matured" version of the brand's Kodo design language.

Mazda3

Mazda suggests the look of its small passenger car has “matured.” It’s also the most distinctive execution of the automaker’s latest Kodo design language to date. There will be two versions of the Mazda3, a sedan and a hatchback, the Hiroshima-based automaker hoping that will help it retain some momentum in a market that has gone crazy for SUVs and CUVs. Two new features could help: a newly available all-wheel-drive system and the unique Skyactiv-X engine that delivers solid performance as well as nearly hybrid-level mileage.

The new Mercedes-AMG GTR Pro makes its world premiere at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.

Mercedes-AMG GT Pro

Christmas came early for the Teutonic automaker, the Mercedes-Benz stand flush with new offerings. It even demonstrated the electronically controlled suspension in its next-generation GLE SUV by having it “dance” to some rap music. The sportiest of the new Mercedes models debuting in L.A. is the Mercedes-AMG GT Pro, the latest in a series of exotic sports cars produced by the automaker’s performance sub-brand. Though street legal, the GT Pro can also be taken out on the track, its 639 hp twin-turbo V-8 making it one of the fastest models Mercedes has ever produced.

 

The 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S hits the runway at its debut in Los Angeles, the night before the LA Auto Show.

Porsche 911

Porsche also is entering the all-electric market with the upcoming Taycan model, but for this year’s L.A. Auto Show it returned to its roots with the introduction of the eighth-generation icon of the brand, the 911. Visually, the sports car won’t shock loyal fans. The basic design is familiar, despite subtle updates. Known internally by the codename 992, the latest version of the Porsche 911 will initially be offered in two trims, the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S and the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S. But expect plenty of other versions to follow, Porsche even hinting a hybrid is in the works.

Rivian founder J.T. Scaringe shows off the the R1T in Los Angeles — the first of two electric vehicles from the company.

Rivian R1T and R1S

Rivian, a Detroit-based start-up, plans to make some serious waves with two models unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show this year. The R1T is a full-size pickup truck, the R1S, a big SUV, both sharing the same, skateboard-like platform – and up to 180 kilowatt-hours of batteries. Yep, they’re both all-electric, though Rivian is laying out some impressive specs, including 800 horsepower, 1,000 pound-feet of torque, the ability to launch from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds, and to haul up to 11,000 pounds. Oh, and with their drivetrains hidden below the floor, their hoods conceal massive storage compartments.

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