I’ve dragged countless friends to auto shows, each not entirely sure what to expect. After the fact, no doubt most have found no allure in these supermassive, humanity-clotted convention center mosh pits brimming with shiny cars, models and strobing flashbulbs. But car shows are incredibly important for the industry and for consumers — this is the World’s Fair of motoring, where tech, design, innovation are on display, all previews of what is to come in the marketplace over the next few years. Hayden was on the scene at the 2016 L.A. Auto Show, happening now, to take it all in; these are the most important vehicles there. See anything you like? — Nick Caruso, Motoring Editor
Jaguar’s I-Pace SUV Concept Is All-Electric
The I-Pace is powered by twin electric motors on the front and rear axles, delivering 516 lb-ft of torque (numbers comparable with the company’s lightning-fast F-Type SVR coupe) and 400 horsepower. The absence of a combustion engine allows for a roomy, wide-open cabin; the center stack infotainment system is appropriately future-facing, with one sizable 12-inch touchscreen dedicated to navigation and another 5-inch screen for climate and infotainment.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV
Alfa Romeo is joining a crowded segment of ultra-lux crossovers, going to war with cars like the Porsche Macan, the Jaguar F-Pace, and the Mercedes Benz GLC. However, the company is betting one thing sets it apart: speed. They claim it’s the world’s fastest crossover, with 510 horsepower and a 0–60 time of 3.9 seconds.
Land Rover Discovery
The three-row, seven-seat Land Rover Discovery, which went by the LR4 in recent years, has been completely overhauled. The new iteration coming in 2017 is about 1,000 pounds lighter, thanks to extensive aluminum construction, and is loaded with smart tech like Tow Assist, which will literally back up a trailer for you.
The new CX-5 is falling in line with its older, bigger CX-9 brother. The redesigned SUV has improved aerodynamics and a revamped suspension, allowing for a quieter, smoother ride. It will available with diesel, too.
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
The folks at AMG are tireless. “600 horses for a performance sedan, that’s more or less the new standard,” company head Tobias Moers casually told me after the new E 63 S debuted at the L.A. Auto Show. The handling, Moers insisted, is where the car sets itself apart. In fact, it’s 15 seconds faster around the Nordschleife than its predecessor. The car also comes standard with a Drift mode, which sends 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels for unhindered free-wheeling fun.
Chevy Bolt EV
Chevy has quietly built one of the most affordable and competent all-electric cars on the market. The Bolt EV has a range of 238 miles, putting it above the projections for the Tesla Model 3, and it will be available to buy in select markets later this year. It has a sticker price of $37,500, but with the offer of a $7,500 tax credit.
Hyundai Ioniq Unlimited
Hyundai is developing a subscription service for their all-electric Ioniq. The company was thin on details for the program, but did say the Ioniq Unlimited service was “aimed at millennials” and would offer one all-in, no-haggle monthly price that covers all the costs of ownership (registration fees, maintenance, charging costs, unlimited mileage) with no down payment.
Acura Precision Cockpit
The biggest gripe with semi-autonomous driving is the delta between the driver and the computer — in a dicey situation, where does the car end and the human begin? Acura’s Precision Cockpit, which the company debuted as a concept at the L.A. Auto Show, aims to bring some clarity to that question with two 12.3-inch screens in the dash and center stack to show you what the car is seeing and what might be a threat. It also offers a curved trackpad that makes it a little easier to keep your eyes on the road, or on the heads-up display while adjusting infotainment. The aesthetics of the setup draws on notes from the stunning NSX, and Acura says the whole setup is “near production.”
Porsche Panamera Executive
“We may not have invented the sedan, but we made a Porsche out of it,” Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said while introducing the redesigned Panamera Executive. The car offers a longer wheelbase than the standard Panamera, allowing 6 more inches of legroom in the backseat, and makes a run at the Chinese luxury market, where chauffeuring is common. The engine comes in both Hybrid and Turbo flavors.
Volvo V90 Cross-Country
Wagons were crossovers before crossovers were crossovers. And now Volvo has taken the style they made iconic, given it more ground clearance, retooled the chassis for bumpy roads, and bet that the small-SUV craze will flow their way. The V90 Cross Country exterior connotes the right amount of ruggedness, and the interior comes with the same modern, spare interior from the beautiful S90, too.