By Steve & Tamami Laser
This year’s Los Angeles Auto Show shifted gears with the introduction of AutoMobility LA™, a four-day combo of press and trade days merged with the previous Connected Car Expo®. With more than 50 vehicle introductions, dozens of press conferences and high-tech companies on hand, there was something for everyone.
We laced up our running shoes and did our best to cover new models and concept vehicles from the major automakers during our two-day visit to the massive Los Angeles Convention center. Here’s the first part of our multi-part story covering Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge and Ford.
The legendary Italian nameplate is expanding its lineup by introducing the brand’s first crossover vehicle, the midsize 2018 Stelvio. Named after a great driving road, the “Stelvio Pass” in the Italian Alps, the new model is said to epitomize the brand’s “La meccanica delle emozioni” (the mechanics of emotion) spirit.
Riding on a new platform dressed with snazzy styling, Stelvio and Stelvio Ti models are powered by a 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo 4-cylinder engine with 280 horsepower teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Motivation for the topline Stelvio Quadrifoglio is supplied by a 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 that kicks out an impressive 505 horsepower.
The flagship features a four-mode Alfa DNA Pro selector with “Race” mode, torque vectoring differential, adaptive suspension, and a 200-mph speedometer. The cabin is fitted with carbon-fiber shell Sparco racing seats while Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes bring the new model to a halt.
The driver is treated to a Formula One-inspired steering wheel with aluminum paddle shifters, a color 7-inch TFT cluster display, and 6.5- or 8.8-inch infotainment system with real-time performance pages and telemetry. Three-D graphic navigation is said to recognize handwritten gestures on the top of the rotary pad.
Rounding out Alfa’s U.S. lineup is the 2017 midsize Giulia sedan (above), introduced at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, offered in base, Ti and Quadrifoglio models, and the mid-engine 4C and 4C Spider sports cars.
It’s great to see Alfa Romeo on the road to offering a full lineup of vehicles in the U.S. Join us as we take a walk through the Alfa Romeo display in our video.
We remember a time when four-door hatchbacks found few takers in the U.S. market. Times have certainly changed thanks to shifting customer preferences and the proliferation of crossover vehicles.
Big news at the Audi display included the new 2018 A5 and S5 Sportback models, slated to go on sale next spring, that boast double the cargo capacity of the Coupe. We liked the look of the sleek hatchback styling too along with the LED taillights.
Similar to the Coupe and Cabriolet models, the A5 Sportback has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 7-speed S tronic® dual-clutch transmission with 252 horsepower. Stepping up to the S5 Sportback, one is rewarded with a re-engineered 3.0-liter TSFI® turbo V6 with 354 horsepower and an 8-speed Tiptronic®. Both models are fitted with quattro® all-wheel drive.
The A5 and S5 Sportback offer the available Audi virtual cockpit, MMI® touch with handwriting recognition (a feature growing in popularity these days) and newly available in-car Audi connect® infotainment and security features supported by 4G LTE (where available, of course).
Speaking of crossovers, Audi also introduced the 2018 Q5 in L.A. Following its North American debut in 2009, the Q5 helped fuel Audi’s growth to 200,000 sales in 2015 as the brand’s top-selling model.
Audi says the redesigned model sports a coupe-like roof with a strong wave-design shoulder line and pronounced wheel arches to emphasize the standard quattro® all-wheel drive. The interior offers a greater feeling of space with its wing-design wrap-around dashboard. It also offers the available Audi virtual cockpit, MMI® touch and standard Audi smartphone interface.
The powertrain includes a 2.0-liter TSFI® 4-cylinder engine and new 7-speed S tronic® DCT. The Q5 also features a new suite of driver assistance systems including standard Audi pre sense® city and available Audi side assist and rear cross traffic assist.
The iPerformance family of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles was showcased at the BMW display in L.A. BMW’s plug-in models apply the brand’s eDrive technology from BMW i to its core models with tech expertise including electric motors, battery cells, and electronic control systems.
Among the iPerformance vehicles on display at the show was the 740e xDrive, 330e and X5 xDrive40e. The 740e xDrive iPerformance, BMW’s flagship plug-in hybrid, delivers the comfort of the 7 Series with the virtues of electric, locally emission-free mobility.
The model gets its eDrive powertrain technology from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and an electric motor integrated into the 8-speed Steptronic transmissions generating a combined system output of 322 horsepower.
BMW quotes a 14-mile all-electric mode with a top speed of 87 mph and combined fuel economy of 64 MPGe. BMW Carbon Core passenger cell technology is the key element on the body structure by the extensive use of the lightweight design to reduce weight and increase overall torsional strength and bending stiffness.
Kudos to Buick and Cadillac for bringing two iconic concept cars to L.A. Let’s look at the Buick Avista first. Unveiled earlier this year, the Avista concept is a 2+2 coupe designed to push the boundaries of the brand’s design and rekindle its performance roots.
Reminding us of iconic Buick coupes from the past, like the Riviera, the Avista is a vision of a grand tourer with a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 driving the rear wheels. Riding on a 110.7-inch wheelbase and 20-inch alloy wheels, styling cues include body lines that stretch from front to rear to suggest motion, the absence of conventional B-pillars, and wing-shaped lighting with “soft curtain” elements.
The interior continues the styling theme with flowing lines conveying elegance and simplicity. Door and seat trim is 3D printed while a future version of Buick’s IntelliLink with touchscreen controls are positioned on a widescreen instrument panel display.
The center console also includes touchscreen controls and extends to the rear seating area. Open side storage compartments built in to the front of the console are enabled by an Electronic Precision Shift, similar to the 2017 LaCrosse. Unfortunately this car is not slated to be built. Yet we can still dream about it, can’t we?
As much as we liked the Buick Avista, seeing the Cadillac Escala concept for the first time made us swoon. This big sedan that stretches 210.5 inches from bumper-to-bumper is about six inches longer than today’s CT6.
Introduced at Pebble Beach this summer, Escala features a new “face” that Cadillac says will start appearing on its production models soon. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) lighting elements are thinner and set deep within the front fascia, creating a “sinister” look. There’s a three-dimensional pattern in the grille design and 22-inch wheels with two layers of spokes.
Escala features a “dual personality” interior crafted with different zones. The front is focused on technology while the rear is designed for relaxation. Three thin, curved OLED screens are positioned at the front of the cabin consolidating the traditional cluster of driving gauges with the center stack into one unit.
Escala employs Cadillac’s new RWD-centric large luxury car architecture. Under the hood is a new 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, which is billed as a prototype of a new system in development for future Cadillac models. Will the luxury brand produce a car like Escala? We hope so.
Chevrolet dialed up the fun factor in the midsize pickup segment by introducing the new off-road focused Colorado ZR2. Compared to the standard Colorado, this new production model features a wider track and a lifted suspension. Functional rockers have been added for better performance over rocks and obstacles, while the front and rear bumpers are modified for increased off-road clearance.
Chevrolet quotes several “class exlusive” features include front and rear electronic locking differentials, an available diesel engine, and the first off-road application of Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV™) damper technology.
The ZR2 shares its powertrains with the 2017 Colorado including a new 3.6-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that yields 308 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. The available Duramax diesel produces 181 horsepower with a stout 369 lb.-ft. of torque.
Inside the comfy cabin, the driver can select from nine drive configurations: 2WD, 2WD locked rear differential, Auto 4WD, Auto 4WD locked rear differential, 4WD Hi locked transfer case, 4WD Hi locked transfer case and locked rear differential, 4WD Lo locked transfer case, 4WD Lo locked transfer case and locked rear differential, and 4WD Lo locked transfer case and locked front and rear differentials. Wow!
We also checked out the Colorado Z71 Hurley concept that made its debut at the recent SEMA show in Las Vegas. The collaboration between Chevrolet and Hurley is aimed at transporting surfers and their gear with functionality and style.
The concept receives a lifted suspension, 17-inch Chevrolet Accessories wheels, and Goodyear DuraTrac all-terrain tires. A custom carrier system mounts a pair of Pyzel surfboards onto the roof, while a Bimini-style bedcover frames a bed-mounted Thule rack that serves as a wetsuit drying rack and storage for water containers.
Inside, ventiprene seat material offers a breathable, quick-drying surface that’s designed to handle wet boardshorts and the like. The Khaki Green and Sand Dune-colored material is also used on the armrests and door panels. Beachgoers can stay connected to weather and surf reports thanks to a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. The concept is powered by the Colorado’s new 3.6-liter V6 engine.
The new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox made its auto show debut in L.A. We like the look of new design cues that echo shapes seen in the Chevrolet Volt, Malibu and Cruise. Three engine choices include a 1.5-liter turbo, 2.0-liter turbo and 1.6-liter turbo-diesel.
Equinox also offers Chevrolet’s latest connectivity technologies, including 7- and 8-inch MyLink infotainment systems designed to support Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, plus an available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. The interior can be dressed with an available denim-style seat fabric while a new flat-folding rear seat is said to enhance functionality and loading.
Chevrolet’s cool Bolt EV was also on display. With a claimed driving range of more than 200 miles on a full charge, this battery electric vehicle also features advanced connective technologies. The lithium-ion battery pack of some 288 cells contributes to an EPA-estimated 238-mile range.
Bolt’s connectivity and infotainment features include a 10.2-inch MyLink color touchscreen display with customizable, widget-based “flip-board style” operation, a rear camera mirror, surround vision bird’s-eye view, new MyChevrolet Mobile App, and EV Navigation Mapping.
We can’t leave the Chevrolet exhibit without taking a look at the Corvette and Camaro. The blue Corvette is the new track-focused 2017 Grand Sport model. Combining a lightweight architecture, track-honed aerodynamics package, Michelin tires and a naturally aspirated LT1 V8 engine rated at 460 horsepower results in an estimated 1.05g cornering capability and up to 1.2g with the available Z07 package.
We also took a quick look at the amazing 2017 Camaro ZL1. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 pumps out 640 horsepower teamed with a 6-speed manual gearbox or new 10-speed automatic. Exterior styling enhancements were subject to more than 100 hours of wind-tunnel testing and on-track validation to help improve aerodynamics and cooling for track use.
Chrysler takes credit for inventing the modern American front-drive minivan more than 30 years ago. Compared to the original, today’s models are remarkably advanced and offer an impressive array of technology. For 2017 Chrysler ups the ante with a hybrid model for its new Pacifica minivan range.
The automaker says Pacifica Hybrid will deliver an estimated range of 30 miles solely on zero-emissions electric power from a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. In city driving, Chrysler says it is expected to achieve an efficiency rating of 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe).
When the battery’s energy is depleted to a “certain threshold,” Pacifica Hybrid becomes a part-time electric vehicle, like a conventional hybrid. Power to the wheels is supplied by the electric drive system or supplemented by a specially adapted version of the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine.
The battery pack, neatly packaged under the second-row floor in a battery case, can be fully recharged in as little as “two hours using a 240-volt plug-in system.” The van is fitted with eFlite electrically variable transmission (EVT) featuring two electric motors, both of which are capable of driving the wheels. With all this advanced tech onboard, Chrysler says the Pacifica Hybrid can still transport up to 64 quarter-inch sheets of plywood.
The Dodge display at the L.A. show delighted fans of its muscle cars with an array of bright-hued Challenger and Chargers. Changes for 2017 include new Challenger T/A and T/A 392 models with naturally aspirated 5.7- and 6.4-liter 392 HEMI® engines and SRT Hellcat- and R/T Scat Pack-inspired functional styling upgrades.
Satin Black exterior graphics include available hood pins on Challenger T/A, while wider 20-inch wheels are shod with high-performance Goodyear and Pirelli tires. Increased stopping power is supplied by high-performance Brembo brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers on 392 HEMI-powered Challengers.
Inside, performance bolstered seats and Dodge performance steering wheel with available die-cast paddle shifters are included. A new Uconnect system with smartphone integration is now offered featuring Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, and a new 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation offering multi-touch gestures with pinch, tap and swipe capability.
The Dodge Viper is celebrating its 25th anniversary with six serialized special edition models to commemorate the final year of Viper production. Models include the Viper GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACR designed after one of the most distinguishable and iconic Viper paint schemes with Pearl White exterior and Blue Pearl GTS stripes. It also features an Extreme Aero package, Carbon Ceramic brakes, Exterior Carbon package, and ACR interior with red accent stitching and serialized GTS-R badge.
The special edition Vipers do go fast indeed since Dodge has announced that the limited production run of most models has already sold out. No worries, however, since customers can still order the “1 of 1” Viper Customization Program for the remainder of the 2017 model year and select from up to 16,000 color options, 24,000 stripe colors, 11 wheel options and 16 interior trims. That means there are more than 50 million ways to customize a Viper this year.
Ford offers an array of international models that we never get to see in the U.S. One of them, called the EcoSport, will find its way to the U.S. starting in early 2018. This small crossover is designed to compete in a red-hot market segment.
Powertrain choices include a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost® or 2.0-liter 4-cylidner engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter is fitted with Ford’s intelligent 4WD system as standard.
The B&O PLAY 675-watt audio system, standard on EcoSport Titanium, features 10 speakers, including tweeters and woofers in the front doors and a subwoofer in back. HD Radio technology, SiriusXM® satellite radio and a dual FM antenna that boosts the range and clarity of FM signals is also included.
Expected to be sourced from a Ford plant in India, the U.S. version gains updated front styling, powertrain enhancements and a new-look interior. Ford’s SYNC® 3 system optimized for EcoSport is coupled with a touchscreen that’s similar to a smartphone or tablet. The 8-inch screen provides access to features like Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™.
Developed with the DNA of a Baja race truck, the new 2017 F-150 Raptor features a purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension that enables it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl over rocky terrain. Raptor’s chiseled looks are reminiscent of Trophy Trucks – the fastest and most powerful class of off-road pickups.
Raptor is 6 inches wider than the standard F-150 for enhanced stability off-road. The Raptor also boasts dual exhaust and new 17-inch wheels with next-generation BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires designed for off-road performance.
F-150 Raptor is powered by Ford’s new, second-generation high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost® engine that produces more power with greater efficiency than the current 6.2-liter V8, which is rated at 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft. of torque.
The high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a Raptor-exclusive in the F-150 lineup paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission. Ford says an all-new four-wheel-drive, torque-on-demand transfer case, with advanced, easy-to-use off-road mode driver-assist technology, further improves Raptor’s performance so it’s easy to drive off-road across varying terrain.
Ford’s display at the L.A. show was huge and filled with treats like GT40 racing cars, and a wide array of its production models including F-150 and new Super Duty trucks, Transit and Transit Connect vans, and cars like the new Fusion Sport.
Visitors to the show could also get behind the wheel of these totally cool racing simulators. We noticed that they offered three widescreen displays along with vertical and horizontal movement capability. (We were in a rush to cover more displays so we didn’t get a chance to try it out.)
Preliminary features, specifications and prices in this story are subject to change without notice by the automakers.
Click on the links below for our additional 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show stories:
Photos (as noted) courtesy Newspress, Audi, FCA, Ford and General Motors
Story, photos (as noted) and videos © 2016 CarNichiWa.com