Nobody walks in LA — and nobody drives without an entourage of some kind. So if you’re in the market for something big and splashy to cart your squad (or family) around in, wherever you may drive, take a look at the newest releases unveiled this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center (and get yourself a ticket to see them firsthand here). But hey, even if your needs are more modest, you’ll be covered.
2018 Jeep Wrangler
I drove the new Wrangler in New Zealand last month, and will have that report to you in mid-December (the photos here are from that drive). But Jeep has finally allowed some of the technical details of its newest generation off-roader to be shared. Debuting yesterday in Los Angeles, the truck’s design echoes its predecessor, but with a variety of tweaks to the grill and the newly aluminized body panels that give it a bit more character. There are functional vents, a lowered spare tire out back to improve rear visibility and a generally more balanced look, thanks to a slightly longer and wider frame.
The convertible model has a newly simplified retraction system for the soft top, and the front windshield can be folded forward for that wind-in-your-face experience. Inside, the digital display and infotainment systems have been suitably modernized, while up front there’s a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine in addition to the 3.6-liter V6, which has a new six-speed manual transmission. Ground clearance is slightly higher for all models, approach-and-departure angles are better and there are a slew of concessions to Jeep enthusiasts and modders, which we’ll hit in the full review next month.
2018 Jeep Wrangler Specs:
Engine: 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder; 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; 6-speed manual (V6)
Horsepower: 268; 285
Torque: 295 lb-ft; 260 lb-ft
Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography
Land Rover describes the new flagship SVAutobiography as “the pinnacle of luxury travel,” something that makes “every journey a treasured experience.” I’m guessing that means it can elevate even swinging by the pet store for kitty litter into a royal parade — and, frankly, I don’t doubt it. This halo ride, meant primarily to be a chauffeured vehicle — gives most of the love to the rear cabin. There you’ll find powered rear doors that close at the touch of a button, a small fridge and a staggering 3.9 feet of rear legroom. The rears can also recline 40 degrees and give you a hot-stone massage on the way to the pet store. It’s seriously fantastic.
2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography Specs:
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
0-60: 5.2 seconds
Starting Price: $207,900
2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS
With its elegant fascia and generally uncluttered design from front to back, the new, third-generation Mercedes CLS represents a welcome maturing of the previously edgy four-door coupe. The company says this also represents the first hints of a new design language that it will begin to disperse to other models. The car packs a few other pleasant surprises, including 48-volt hybrid technology that generates quick bursts of speed when needed and eliminates a lot of the engine belts usually needed to power accessories, a fifth-seat option in the rear and a new inline six-cylinder engine that will make 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, with an additional 21 horses and 184 lb-ft boost from the hybrid system.
But it’s really the design that’s most notable — the slanted, shark-nose front end with headlights that appear to be mostly to the side, the minimalist creasing, and the strong rear lines that avoid the unfortunate trap of trying to look like “haunches” signal a design trend that will be more timeless than timely, and that’s a very good thing.
2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS450 and CLS450 4MATIC Specs:
Engine: 3.0 inline-six and 48-volt electrical propulsion
Transmission: niine-speed automatic
Horsepower: 362 + 21 (electric)
Torque: 369 lb-ft + 184 (electric)
2019 Infiniti QX50
This new compact crossover from Infiniti has sleek lines, a newly stiffened chassis, semi-autonomous drive capability and perhaps the craziest internal combustion engine in history. The VC-Turbo is the world’s first variable-compression engine, meaning it can fine-tune its cylinder reach to generate ratios between 8:1 and 14:1 — the former to maximize power and the latter to boost efficiency. Infiniti has been developing this technology for 20 years, and it could help prolong the life of the internal combustion engine by giving it diesel-level power without all the emissions mess.
It’s more complex, but Infiniti engineers assure me that the four-cylinder powerplant meets the same reliability and durability standards for its other engines. It’s not often that a legitimately revolutionary bit of engine technology shows up, so this is a big moment for Infiniti — and the industry at large, for that matter. It doesn’t hurt that it’s rolling out in perhaps the hottest current vehicle category and that the product itself is as solid as the QX50.
2019 Infiniti QX50 Specs:
Engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmission: Xtronic continuously variable transmission
Torque: 280 lb-ft
0-60: 6.3 seconds
Top Speed: 143 mph
2019 Lincoln Nautilus
As a huge fan of Lincoln’s current design and modernization strategy, I’m also a huge fan of its decision to dump its confusing naming scheme (MKZ, MKX, MKC, etc.) for proper names. Navigator, Continental, and now Nautilus, which is the newly rechristened MKX. Call it proof that words still matter — and the grand selections it has chosen so far are spot-on for this ambitious (and ascendant) luxury brand.
The new Nautilus will arrive this spring with exterior design tweaks, including a new mesh grille, and improved interior head- and leg room. It will also get modest semi-autonomous capability such as lane centering and inductive charging for smartphones. So this isn’t a proper redesign, but a solid refresh to accompany the arrival of a fresh new moniker.
2019 Lincoln Nautilus Specs:
Engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
Horsepower: 245; 335
Torque: 275 lb-ft; 380 lb-ft
BMW i8 Roadster
This long-anticipated roofless i8 finally brings open-air electric motoring to the (well-heeled) masses. The new i8 is a bit heavier than the coupe version thanks to the roof hardware, but it will zip itself open and closed in just 15 seconds at the touch of a button, and about as quietly as you’d hope from an EV.
The all-electric range gets a slight bump to 30 miles and the overall power is also up by 12 horsepower to a combined motor/engine output of 374 horses (231 from the engine and 143 from the motor). When the engine does kick in, you’ll shoot to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds.
BMW i8 Roadster Specs:
Engine: 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine and electric hybrid motor
Horsepower: 231 and 143 (electric)
0-60: 4.6 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph
Mercedes-Benz S560 Cabriolet
The big S-Class sedan becomes a massive drop-top in this iteration — but it wears it well. Indeed, scale and proportion are hugely important when trying to make something big look light and airy. This is especially true when the core vehicle is a four-door, and you’re dropping it down to two.
But the Germans do a fine job with the Cabrio, thanks to a smooth integration of the convertible roof and some tweaks to bumpers and tailpipes that add interest at the lower corners. It also brings all the techie goodies from the recently unveiled new S-Class sedan, including advanced semi-autonomous drive — so you can pay just a hair more attention to the lovely scenery during those drives down the PCH.
Mercedes-Benz S560 Cabriolet Specs:
Engine: twin-0turbocharged 4.0-liter V8
Torque: 516 lb-ft
0-60: 4.5 seconds
2019 Volvo XC40
The new compact SUV from Volvo offers a sharper and more dynamic design than its bigger brethren — the XC60 and XC90 — likely in order to appeal to the younger market it’s targeting. It will include a lot of Volvo’s groundbreaking safety tech, including run-off road protection; cross-traffic alerts; pedestrian, cyclist, and animal detection; and more. Inside, you’ll find gobs of pockets and cubbies for your electronics — included dedicated slots for smartphones that finally frees up cupholders — integrated bag hooks, a panoramic sunroof and, of course, mood lighting.
It’s also the first car to offer Volvo’s new Care by Volvo vehicle subscription program, in which customers can choose a car online and make all-inclusive monthly payments that will include insurance, service, and maintenance. Prices for that will start at $600 per month, and you can switch cars as early as 12 months into a 24-month subscription. [Note: Later in 2018, T4 front-wheel-drive configuration will arrive at $33,200.]
2019 Volvo XC40 Specs:
Engine: T5 four-cylinder Drive-E
Torque: 258 lb-ft
Price: starting at $35,200
BMW Concept X7 iPerformance
This rather angelic-looking monster SUV hints at the electrified three-row hauler that BMW is cooking up to stake a claim in the stratosphere of this market segment, presumably targeting customers who might be hesitantly eyeing the Bentley Bentayga or even the Rolls-Royce SUV due next year. Though it’s expected to be a powerful machine with its twin-turbo engine and electric boost, luxury is the key word here. It only seats six, but all the attention will be paid to make sure those folks have a fine old time, including full digital integration for work and entertainment and a panoramic moonroof with integrated LED detailing.
Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS
Porsche debuted its 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS models in LA. Both receive 35-horsepower bumps over the previous models, to 335 and 325, respectively; both generate 317 lb-ft of torque. Styling cues for the GTS include black-tinted headlights and taillights, black 20-inch alloy wheels and a 10mm reduction in ride height. Beyond these cues, black GTS badges near the door sills flag the models as something special. Both will reach 62 mph in 4.2 seconds on the way to 180 mph — both also slight improvements.
Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS Specs:
Engine: 3.5-liter flat-six-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch automatic
Horsepower: 325 (Boxster); 335 (Cayman)
Torque: 317 lb-ft
0-60: 4.2 seconds
Top Speed: 180