You’ve heard the rumors, you’ve seen the teasers, you’ve been refreshing your Twitter feed to no end and it’s finally here: the Los Angeles Auto Show! The unofficial kick-off to Auto Show season had some big promises from well-known brands and boy, did they deliver. Automakers went all-out to bring attention to their latest and greatest at Automobility LA, the press days and official precursor to the LA Auto Show.
This year had a common theme: larger vehicles are the immediate future of the auto industry in America. With gas prices dropping and consumers looking for vehicles with more high-strength steel it’s no surprise that hybrid and electric vehicles took a backseat to crossovers and SUVs. It seemed as if every automaker brought a brand new, redesigned or special edition crossover or SUV to Automobility LA for LA Auto Show attendees to admire. Our friends at She Buys Cars were roaming the floor as well, having plenty of fun (in true She Buys Cars tradition) with every reveal.
Here are the vehicles that everyone was talking about at the LA Auto Show:
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
That other Italian brand Chrysler picked up when merging with Fiat needed a grand entrance for its first serious foray into the American market, and it hit an LA-sized home run fit for Dodger Stadium. Like other car companies from lo Stivale, Alfa Romeo has long been known as a performance brand with an if-you-gotta-ask-you-can’t-afford-it price tag. At the LA Auto show, the brand revealed its first SUV, the Stelvio, which it claims can go 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and will be the fastest ever SUV at the Nürburgring. The SUV will hit dealerships in early 2017, which follows its luxury performance counterpart, the Giulia. A splashy entrance indeed for the Italians.
As of right now, the large vehicles in VW’s American portfolio – the Tiguan and Touareg – are midsize crossovers . It’s a hot market, but as American VW owners turn in their sedans in search of something larger, the Germans needed to add another vehicle with some size to keep their customers from going to competitors. Enter the Atlas, which will be built at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant and will add to their midsize SUV offering in the United States. The vehicle will seat seven comfortably – which NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy of the LA Lakers demonstrated – and features the Digital Cockpit infotainment/gauge cluster system, which allows for customization in the same way that sister brand Audi’s Virtual Cockpit does. There is still much that is unknown about the Atlas, which will debut in 2017 as a 2018 model, so we’ll be interested to hear more about the Atlas’ features beyond what was revealed at Automobility LA.
Mazda isn’t going to wow you with big-name celebrity endorsements or tie their vehicle into a movie franchise (like the next vehicle on this list). It spends what others may put into their marketing budget on designing safe, high-quality, visually appealing vehicles. The second generation of Mazda’s increasingly popular crossover was revealed at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show with the tagline “Car as Art,” and the overall styling follows their KODO design language, which is meant to capture the “Soul of Motion.” We’re big fans of Mazda increasing the amount of high-strength steel in the vehicle, which has upped the vehicle’s torsional rigidity by 15.5%. An increase in strength for an already-established brand among families? Good call, Mazda.
Nissan Rogue One
Where better for an automaker to show off a partnership with one of the most successful movie franchises in history than the LA Auto Show? Nissan collaborated with Lucasfilm to debut the 2017 Nissan Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition with a host of special effects. Introduced to the show floor alongside Stormtroopers and presented underneath a giant TIE Fighter, the Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition won in the presentation category. But take away all the special effects – what kind of vehicle did Nissan bring to Automobility LA? Nissan used what it calls “Zone Body Construction” to absorb impact in certain areas and stiffen in others, thanks in part to materials such as high-strength steel. Combine that with a quieter ride, a spacious interior and a host of safety features like its Safety Shield technology with Forward Emergency Braking and you have a vehicle worthy of the red carpet.
You knew the king of the SUV market had to bring something to such a crossover-heavy show, and FCA’s highest-selling brand had the new Compass up its sleeve. The smallest SUV in Jeep’s lineup (since the Renegade is a compact crossover), it has an available Trailhawk edition that upgrades its look as well as its off-road chops. This Jeep is designed to be a truly global SUV and will be sold in more than 100 countries around the world while maintaining the tried-and-true Jeep look and feel. With more than 65% high-strength steel in its body structure, it promises to be driven with confidence, wherever the road (or lack thereof) leads.
Subaru Viziv-7 (Concept Vehicle)
A concept vehicle? Why are we highlighting this? It’s simple. Concept vehicles are sometimes created for a manufacturer to have a little fun, but other times it’s to test out the public’s reaction to a brand entering a new segment. General consensus says that in the Viziv-7’s case, it’s the latter, and Subaru is rumored to be preparing an entry into the full-size SUV market for 2018 that borrows heavily from the Viziv-7. The in-your-face look, bulky but athletic wheels and attention-capturing headlights is at the very least a step in the right direction, we think. Automobility LA attendees agreed, as reaction was positive across the board for a three-row Subaru. Given that Subaru owners are some of the most brand-loyal in the industry, other automakers should pay attention – if Subaru gets your customers, they won’t lose them!
Did you attend Automobility LA or visit the LA Auto Show? Tell us what your favorite vehicle was in the comments!