By Steve & Tamami Laser
Welcome to the third part of our series highlighting new models and concept vehicles introduced at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. This time we take a look at the Kia, Lincoln, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan exhibits.
Kia’s new 2017 Sportage crossover made its North American debut at the L.A. Auto Show. The fourth-generation model gains sharp new styling riding atop a structure that’s stiffer and more spacious than before.
While every body panel is new, the “face” of the Sportage receives the biggest change versus the previous model. Kia’s signature “tiger-nose” grille drives home the family look while the headlights are positioned higher, sweeping back along the outer edges of the hood.
Kia says advanced driver assistance technologies, significant suspension and steering improvements, and available intelligent AWD improve Sportage’s driving dynamics while premium materials and craftsmanship create a class-up experience.
Watch the all-new Sportage make a dramatic entry during Kia’s press conference. (video: L.A. Auto Show)
“The Sportage is a breed apart in the compact CUV segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning KMA. “The Sportage combines distinctly European and sporty styling with thoughtful design and functionality, including innovative packaging, premium materials, a turbocharged engine and surprising features. The all-new 2017 Sportage hits the sweet spot by providing an alternative for those seeking to express themselves with a vehicle that’s versatile enough to suit their unique lifestyle.”
Kia says efficiency and driving performance were two major areas of focus when enhancing the engines. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder on the SX Turbo making 241 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque has been retuned for improved fuel efficiency and midrange power. LX and EX have a normally aspirated 2.4-liter that produces 181 horses and 175 lb-ft, and is also retuned for better efficiency.
Inside, the design of the dashboard divides it into two zones. The upper “display” zone delivers information via the instrument panel and new color touchscreen, which is canted 10 degrees toward the driver. The lower “control” zone features easily identifiable switchgear for the climate and audio systems.
The EX model has a 7-inch touchscreen with the latest version of Kia’s telematics and infotainment system, UVO3. With Android Auto, Apple CarPlay®(late availability), and UVO eServices featuring 14 telematics services, it features up to 8 GB of music storage, access to onscreen apps like Pandora® and Soundhound, and Wi-Fi tethering capability, all free of charge, says the automaker.
Thanks to a dual-level cargo floor and a widened luggage area, cargo capacity behind the second row has grown from 26.1 cu.-ft. to 30.7. By relocating the license plate from the bumper to the tailgate, the lift-over height has been reduced for easier loading and unloading. A Smart Power Liftgate™, which automatically opens when the key fob is within three feet of the vehicle, is also available.
With styling that blends cues from its past with a new design that helps transport this luxury brand into the future, we were treated to our first look at Lincoln’s new 2017 MKZ during the brand’s press conference in L.A.
Lincoln says the new MKZ focuses on areas most desired by today’s luxury midsize sedan customers – quality, performance and style. The new face of Lincoln is highlighted by available adaptive LED headlamps that help deliver cleaner, clearer lighting, flanking the new one-piece grille.
We recorded the complete Lincoln press conference at the L.A. Auto Show in our above video.
“Our customers are looking for three attributes in a luxury midsize sedan – technologies that ease their everyday experience, a beautiful design that is crafted with attention to detail, and a vehicle with impressive power that makes it a pleasure to drive,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln. “The new Lincoln MKZ elevates all of these attributes – and many more – to create a compelling entry in this large and highly competitive portion of the luxury market.”
From the placement of features such as the push-button gear shift to reimagined interior spaces including the floating center console, Lincoln says drivers can “relish in discovering an unexpected experience based on intelligent function and beautiful form that offers an enjoyable drive.”
Features that make the new MKZ “a haven of refined comfort” include curated spaces for storage, the availability of three Lincoln Black Label interior packages with “exclusive, personal in-home design consultation,” available panoramic glass roof, and Revel® audio with specially designed doors for optimal positioning of the speakers.
The new 3.0-liter GTDI twin-turbocharged engine, when paired with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, is said to produce 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Dynamic Torque Vectoring, part of an available Driver’s Package, is designed to enhance cornering agility.
Lincoln says the new MKZ will provide a hybrid alternative as well, plus a 2.0-liter GTDI, 245-horsepower 4-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive.
Mazda had a huge crowd of journalists on hand for the debut of its new CX-9. As the latest expression of its KODO Soul of Motion design, the second-generation CX-9 sports a completely new appearance while retaining the midsize three-row crossover positioning of its predecessor.
The new look starts with a bold, five-point grille with double bars flanked by standard low- and high-beam LED headlights. The grille introduces a stronger lower body and sleek upper body that elevates KODO, with new curves to provide a premium appeal. Mazda says the overall effect is one of “purity, simplicity and Japanese beauty.”
In this video, Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, introduces the new CX-9. When it drove on stage, Masamichi Kogai, president of Mazda Motor Corporation, hopped out of the passenger’s seat and spoke to the crowd. (video: Mazda)
“The biggest market for the CX-9 is right here in North America,” said Kogai. “Our U.S. team took the lead in planning and designing the model to make sure it meets the needs of consumers here. We aim for a more premium look with the design, and the model delivers outstanding driving performance.”
Inside the cabin, a sweeping piece of aluminum trim adorns the dashboard, featuring Auburn accents in the new Signature trim level. Mazda says satin and polished finishes evoke Japanese craftsmanship and are inspired by Japan’s famous hand-made knives.
Rosewood trim on the center console and front of the cabin is supplied by a premium guitar-maker. Auburn Nappa leather covers seating surfaces and is also evocative of “bespoke horse saddles,” a nod to Mazda’s Jinba Ittai, “horse and rider as one” philosophy.
As the story goes, when Mazda’s engineers set out to design a new engine specifically for CX-9, they looked at how drivers used their vehicles. Customers want effortless acceleration and torque delivery, so Mazda developed the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T with power and torque to provide ample acceleration without having to hunt through the gears.
The net result: 310 lb-ft (420 N-m) of torque at a low 2,000 rpm and 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm on 93-octane gasoline (227 horsepower on 87-octane). When coupled with a weight reduction of approximately 198 lbs. (90 kg), Mazda says the new CX-9 offers improved driver control, chassis dynamics and performance.
It was great to see Mitsubishi Motors attract a large crowd of journalists as it made the world debut of the 2016 Outlander Sport and 2017 Mirage at the L.A. Auto Show.
The bolder Mitsubishi “Dynamic Shield” front design ties the Outlander Sport to its bigger sibling, the seven passenger Outlander, bringing a cohesive design language to the brand, says the automaker.
A more powerful 2.4-liter MIVEC 4-cylinder engine is available in all 2016 Outlander Sport models. Also offered is Mitsubishi’s All-Wheel Control (AWC) System, while the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is said to provide better response, performance and improved fuel economy.
We were lucky to stand on an elevated platform to capture a better view as we recorded Mitsubishi’s press conference in our video.
“North America is a vital market to Mitsubishi Motors, as evidenced by the two world introductions we made today,” said Don Swearingen, executive vice president. “Outlander Sport leads the brand in overall sales, and the improvements debuted today will further its demand. The Mirage is a vehicle that has already gained popularity with its affordable and practical appeal, and that will certainly carry over into the 2017 model year with its improved looks and performance.”
Outlander Sport’s interior is enhanced with a new steering wheel, new seat fabrics, revised 6.1-inch Display Audio System and new auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink.
Standard features include new soft-touch instrument panel trim, a four speaker, 140-watt audio system with steering-wheel mounted controls, Electric Power Steering (EPS), and a color LCD multi-information display.
Mirage gains a fresh look with a redesigned hood, grille, front and rear bumper, fog and headlamps, rear spoiler and wheels. The automaker says the exterior styling was given an aerodynamic design to improve fuel-efficiency and a simple, restrained form to help reduce weight.
The 1.2-liter 3-cylinder DOHC engine features the latest version of Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve-timing. With the addition of a roller-type camshaft, Mirage increases its horsepower to 78 hp at 6,000 rpm and 74 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Mirage receives updates inside the cabin with new seat fabrics, gauge cluster, and steering wheel. A newly available 300-watt Rockford-Fosgate™ audio system with EcoPunch™ is available with Smartphone Link Display Audio, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.
With a dynamic new design making its debut in L.A., it’s going to be difficult for us to distinguish Nissan’s good-looking 2016 Sentra from its recently revised larger sibling the Altima.
Sentra gains new front and rear fascias, grille, fenders, hood, signature boomerang-shaped headlights and taillights and a new 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheel design. Sentra SR and SL add new LED low-beam projector headlights with LED signature accents.
We squeezed into Nissan’s packed press conference and recorded the complete show in our video above.
“For 2016, we’re giving our popular Sentra a complete makeover – that’s three-for-three for our top sedans,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing and Operations, U.S.A., Nissan North America, Inc. “Like Altima, we’re taking a powerful nameplate and making it even better.”
The revised interior features a new steering wheel, available power driver’s seat with power lumbar, new center cluster and audio display design, and new console with shift knob. The instrument panel offers a new LCD high-resolution display. Sentra SV, SR and SL grades include a 5.0-inch Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display (ADAD). These grades also include Siri Eyes Free™ Voice Recognition as standard equipment.
Another new available technology is NissanConnect℠ Services powered by SiriusXM®. It offers emergency preparedness, remote access, customizable alerts and convenience services (SiriusXM®subscription required). The system allows the driver to set customized alerts for family and friends – such as speed, curfew and boundary notifications.
Sentra features a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an Xtronic transmission. A 6-speed manual gearbox is available with the S grade. Nissan says drivability is enhanced through next generation D-Step Logic Control for the Xtronic helping to provide a more stable, natural and crisper shift feel.
Nissan’s advanced Safety Shield Technologies are now available on Sentra including Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
Features, specifications and prices for U.S. models in this story are subject to change without notice by the automakers.
Click on the links below for our additional 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show stories:
2015 Los Angeles Auto Show Part 1 – Alfa Romeo, Audi, Buick, Cadillac and Fiat
2015 Los Angeles Auto Show Part 2 – Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar and Land Rover
2015 Los Angeles Auto Show Part 4 – Scion, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo
Story, photos and videos (as noted) © 2015 CarNichiWa.com