By Steve & Tamami Laser
Part two of our 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show series highlights new model introductions from Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Lexus and Mazda.
“Kona” brings to mind the beautiful island of Hawaii, tropical adventure, and great coffee. It’s also the memorable name for Hyundai’s all-new compact crossover. Kona stands out from the pack with its distinctive design sporting “urban smart armor.”
We give the new Hyundai Kona a big “thumbs up” for its attractive styling, available turbocharged engine, well-designed cabin, safety features and infotainment systems.
Hyundai developed an all-new platform for Kona with a roomy interior and flexible cargo space. Kona offers the choice of four trim levels plus sophisticated features like a Heads-Up Display, wireless smartphone charging, and next-generation Blue Link® Connected Car System.
Up front, Kona’s dynamic styling features a cascading grille, wing-like fenders and a separated headlight design. “Armor,” that Hyundai also calls “protective skin,” helps to shield elements like the lower rear lighting clusters. Available exterior colors include Pulse Red, Surf Blue and our favorite, Lime Twist (above).
Powerplants include a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson engine with 147 horses and 132 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 1.6-liter turbo with 175 hp and 195 lb.-ft. A 6-speed SHIFTRONIC™ automatic transmission comes with the 2.0-liter while the turbo nets a 7-speed EcoShift® Dual-Clutch Transmission. Front-drive is standard with all-wheel-drive optional.
With its attractive “Powerful Elegance” design, Infiniti could market the all-new 2019 QX50 on looks alone. Yet there’s big news under the hood that makes this new crossover a significant vehicle for the luxury brand.
We had the chance to get up-close with prototypes of the 2019 QX50 at the L.A. Auto Show. Our video highlights the outside, inside and under the hood of the new model.
In the Infiniti crossover lineup, QX50 occupies the sweet spot between the smaller QX30 and larger QX60. Design cues for the new model include a double-arch grille, clamshell hood, and “human-eye” headlights.
Infiniti says the QX50’s crescent-cut D-pillar emphasizes motion while the vehicle is standing still. Side character lines also attract attention while a horizontal chrome molding visually connects the LED taillights.
Infiniti calls the QX50’s new 2.0-liter VC-turbo engine the “world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine.” It continuously adjusts the ratio for optimized performance and efficient operation. It’s said to provide the power of a gas-turbo engine with the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel.
The compression ratio varies between 8:1 for performance and 14:1 for efficiency. It’s rated at 268 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque with target combined fuel economy of 27 mpg for FWD and 26 mpg with AWD. That’s about a 35 percent improvement compared to the previous QX50’s V6 engine.
QX50’s cabin offers the look of luxury and high-tech features. Available ProPilot Assist is designed to help the driver control acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane highway driving. Infiniti’s InTouch infotainment system lets the driver access settings using dual display screens or a controller on the center armrest.
The iconic Wrangler is new and improved for 2018 yet it remains instantly recognizable as a rugged Jeep. Two- and four-door models offer advanced powertrains, more open-air options, safety features and advanced technology.
Our video highlights several different versions of the new Wrangler displayed at the L.A. Auto Show including two Mopar-modified vehicles.
Wrangler’s new styling features a lowered beltline with larger windows, updated seven-slot grille, aluminum doors, plus dozens of different door, top and windshield combos. Wrangler retains its body-on-frame design while the five-link suspension is retuned for increased ride comfort.
Mopar plans to offer more than 200 Jeep Performance Parts and accessories for the new models. The Wrangler Sport above is fitted with a Mopar roof rack mounted to the hardtop and accessorized with a cargo carrier. Tube steps, a two-inch lift kit and 17-inch Gear-style rims shod with BFGoodrich KO2 35-inch tires are also included.
The upgraded 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (above) with 285 horses and 260 lb.-ft. of torque gains standard Engine Stop-Start. Also available is a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo with 270 hp and 295 lb.-ft. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual and 8-speed automatic. An EcoDiesel V6 engine is planned for 2019.
We really liked this Mopar-modified four-door Wrangler Rubicon with its Mojito Green exterior paint (a production option). Mods include 2-inch round steel tube doors, a Mopar satin black keystone grille, Mopar Warn winch kit, Jeep Performance Parts snorkel, rock rails and beadlock-equipped 17-inch alloy wheels, plus LED off-road lights.
Kia boldly ventures into rear-drive (and AWD) sport sedan territory with the all-new 2018 Stinger. While it’s actually a hatchback, the new model was designed at Kia’s Frankfurt, Germany, studios and tuned on the Nürburgring racing circuit.
Stinger is a dream car brought to life by the passionate designers and engineers at Kia. It traces its roots to Kia’s stunning GT Concept car that made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show several years ago.
Up front, the Stinger wears Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille flanked by LED headlights. We really like the proportions of this car with its long hood, stretched wheelbase and short front overhang.
Kia says its Frankfurt R&D center used computational fluid dynamics software to test and validate the aerodynamic profile of the fastback design. The body tapers slightly toward the rear while “gills” behind the front fenders and a rear diffuser help manage airflow. Stinger sports a slippery drag coefficient of 0.30 Cd.
Stinger is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with 255 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Also available in a 3.3-liter V6 twin-turbo that delivers 365 hp and 376 lb.-ft. Power is transferred to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission while all-wheel drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring is optional.
Stinger’s cabin appointments include standard leather-trimmed seats, automatic climate control, UVO eServices telematics, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. Infotainment systems feature a standard 7-inch touchscreen and available 8-inch with navigation. The top-flight audio is a 720-watt Harman/Kardon® system with 15 speakers, QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound and Clari-Fi™ signal-enhancing technology.
Lexus RX 350L
The RX luxury crossover has been a tremendous success for Lexus. Since it was launched nearly 20 years ago, more than two million have been sold. Joining the lineup for 2018 is the new RX 350L and RX 450hL hybrid, the first models to offer three rows of seats.
Thanks to clever repackaging, the new RX L models offer seating for six or seven passengers while retaining the sleek and dynamic Lexus crossover styling.
Instead of stretching the wheelbase, Lexus extended the rear body design by 4.3 inches. It also employed a steeper rear window angle to assist with headroom for those riding in the third row. The changes are so subtle that it’s tough to tell the difference between three and two-row models from the outside.
RX 350L employs a smooth 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp and 263 lb.-ft. of torque mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with front-drive or available Active Torque Control AWD. RX 450hL combines the V6 with two electric motor-generators for combined output of 308 hp. A continuously variable transmission and an AWD system with a separate rear motor-generator is optional for the hybrid.
The seven-seat model features a 40/20/40-split bench-style second-row seat that slides and folds to allow easier access to the third row. Moving up from business to first class, the six-seater has individual captain’s chairs for the second row.
Leather-trimmed seats are standard in the first and second rows while tri-zone climate control includes vents for third-row passengers. Also standard is the convenience of power-folding third-row seats plus a power tailgate. A flat load floor behind the third row offers plenty of space for gear or groceries.
We had our first look at the reengineered and refined 2018 Mazda6 at the L.A. Auto Show. In the third series of updates since this generation was launched, Mazda6 receives enhanced styling, a revamped interior, an improved chassis and a new turbocharged engine.
The “Mature Elegance” design theme for the 2018 Mazda6 gives it a more premium look. Our video highlights the exterior styling and then takes a quick look the elegant Mazda Vision Coupe concept also displayed at L.A.
With all the upgrades for 2018, Mazda6 elevates its position to a higher class previously occupied by milestone Mazdas like the Cosmo, Luce, and Millenia. Under the hood is a refined SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with new cylinder deactivation for improved efficiency. New to the Mazda6, upper trims offer the turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T 4-cylinder engine that made its debut in the CX-9.
The new Mazda6 grille design reminds us of the elegant look of the Mazda Vision Coupe concept that we first saw at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. Standard LED headlights and integrated fog lights contribute to the premium appearance. Soul Red Crystal exterior paint joins the available color palette for 2018.
Mazda says the interior is nearly all-new for 2018 sporting a horizontally stitched dash, redesigned seats, and available premium trim including Sen wood, Nappa leather and UltraSuede® on Signature models. New features include a 360-degree monitor, reconfigurable 7.0-inch TFT gauge display, 8.0-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system and full-speed Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go.
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CarNichiWa.com thanks the Los Angeles Auto Show for providing us with a press pass to the media preview days.
Note: Features, specifications and launch timing for U.S. market production models in this story are subject to change without notice.
Additional photos (as noted) courtesy Kia and Mazda
Story, photos (as noted) and videos © 2017 CarNichiWa.com