Best of the best from the LA Auto Show
Los Angeles – The City of Angels is home to greenies, wealthy moguls, sports enthusiasts and some of the most beautiful people on earth. So it’s only fitting that this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show debuted cars that would fit every archetype. From the all-electric, if-you-gotta-ask-you-can’t afford-it Jaguar I-PACE to the beastly Chevy Colorado ZR2 to the jaw-dropping Cadillac Escala, this show has it all.
Here’s my best of the best.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Take the fire-breathing Giulia sedan. Jack it up six inches. Add AWD and throw on a fifth door and you have the Alfa Stelvio SUV. Named after Italy’s Stelvio pass — one of Europe’s greatest driver roads — this Italian promises to be a driver’s ute to rival the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio gets the same 505-horse, twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 engine that powered the Giulia Quad to a Nurburgring sedan lap record.
Wedged between the subcompact Renegade and the compact Cherokee, the Compass completes Jeep’s unmatched array of small SUV offerings. Are you an off-roader? Buy the Wrangler. Feeling young? The cute Renegade is your toy. Like a car-like SUV? Cherokee is your drug. The Compass (which replaces the Patriot as well as the last-gen Compass) is the conservative choice — a sort of Grand Cherokee Jr.
It’s a V-dub with a Tennessee accent. The Chattanooga-built, mid-sized Atlas is key to VW’s future in the U.S. market after the embarrassment of Dieselgate — and the failure to recognize Americans’ demand for all things ute. The masculine-looking SUV offers easy access, three-row seating, copious legroom and German engineering.
Porsche 911 RSR
Many manufacturers use race cars — Jaguar’s Formula E racer, Mazda’s IMSA prototype — as competition halos for their sedans and SUVs. But Porsche racers are extension of the street cars. The 911-based RSR moves its rear-mounted engine to midships (heresy!) to better compete against the mid-engine Ferrari 488, Acura NSX and Ford GT for world sports car hegemony.
The electric I-PACE is a Tesla Model X fighter. But without the gull wings. The I-PACE bears Jag’s signature design cues, but its sleek, cabin-forward design is unique to the five-passenger EV as it opens up acres of interior space thanks to the lack of engine under the bonnet. With 90 kWh of battery in the basement, the I-PACE promise 0-60 in just 4 seconds.
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
This tree-chewing, wall-climbing animal is just the ticket for the back country. While the ZR2 is no steroid-fed Ford Raptor (it keeps the same diesel and gas drivetrain as the stock Colorado), it comes with fortified rocker panels, an extreme 30-degree approach angle and 31-inch tires to conquer Mother Nature’s worst.
I know, the Escala debuted at the Pebble Beach Concourse this summer — but this is its first contact with the unwashed masses and, boy, is this land yacht a stunner. With a wheelbase stretching from here to San Diego, the high-tech V-8-powered Caddy hints at a future flagship.
Who needs luxury SUVs? The Mazda CX-5 (and big brother CX-9) are the prettiest utes on the planet. Draped in red satin, the CX-5 is a sculpted, mid-size masterpiece. Under the skin, Mazda will offer a diesel engine — as do the Chevy ZR2 and Cruze show offerings, a sign that efficient diesels may not be dead in the U.S. yet.
Insane design? Nurburgring tested? Driver-centric cockpit? No, this isn’t a Lamborghini, this is a Toyota. Wow. The directive from CEO Akio Toyoda to wake up the company’s styling was clearly heard as the C-HV is the wildest looking thing to hit subcompact utes since the Kia Soul. While major manufacturers like Chevy (Trax) and Ford (Ecosport) have debuted familiar brand designs in the hot new segment, Toyota follows Mazda’s CX-3 in designing a sport hatch on stilts.
Honda Civic Si
The Civic’s performance variant seemed frozen in time since its high-revving, 100-horsepower-per-liter 2.0-liter debuted back in ’05. With this Extreme Makeover, Si is back. Available as a coupe or sedan, the wicked-looking Si features a front splitter, rear wing and center-mounted rectangular exhaust to blat out a naughty tune from its new 1.5-liter turbocharged powerplant.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HenryEPayne.