2011 Los Angeles Auto ShowPosted on November 22nd, 2011
Automakers focus on green cars and connectivity
By Nina Russin
The Los Angeles Auto Show’s star continues to rise, despite financial unease within the car industry. A continuing focus on green transportation solutions has piqued the interest of the international press, helping the show to attract numbers comparable to North America’s three other major shows: Detroit, Chicago and New York.
While the focus on alternative and hybrid vehicles remains strong, automakers at the 2011 LA Auto Show seemed as, if not more concerned with user interfaces inside the vehicle. Cadillac’s new CUE system rolls out in the all-new XTS sedan, followed by the ATS and SRX later next year. Infiniti takes a personal touch in its new JX seven-passenger crossover, with a concierge service that provides 24-hour access to a live assistant.
Hyundai and Kia continue to upgrade their proprietary infotainment systems- BlueLink and UVO- while Ford, which pioneered the field with Sync, introduces the next generation My Ford Touch system on the all-new Escape and refreshed Flex.
At the conclusion of the two-day press preview, Ford captured Nielsen’s Green Marketer of the Year award, while the 2012 Green Car Journal Green Car of the Year went to the Honda Civic Natural Gas model.
Mazda Introduces CX-5 with Skyactiv Technology
The 2013 CX-5 is an all-new compact sport-utility vehicle which embraces Mazda’s new Skyactiv technology. The idea is to combine Mazda’s reputation for sporty performance with more fuel-efficient, sustainable powertrains.
A new two liter engine has the highest compression ratio for a production car: 13:1. This enables engineers to maximize both power and fuel efficiency. The 155 horsepower engine is available with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. The front-wheel drive model with the six-speed manual transmission averages 26/33 mpg city highway according to the manufacturer. Buyers can choose from several wheel and tire packages ranging in size from 17-to-19 inches.
Inside, second row seats fold flat in a 40/20/40 pattern to make the most efficient use of space. Available infotainment features include Bluetooth phone and audio interface and iPod connectivity. Mazda has partnered with TomTom to offer a new navigation system which includes lane guidance, voice recognition and real-time traffic updates.
Cadillac leads off with two all-new sedans
Cadillac’s design renaissance continues with two new models which roll out next year: the full-sized XTS, followed by the compact ATS. XTS designers utilized a long wheelbase and wide stance for enhanced driving dynamics and a more spacious interior. Power comes from a 300 horsepower direct injection V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Available all-wheel drive and an electronic limited slip differential enhance traction on wet roads, while standard Brembo brakes provide maximum stopping power. Standard safety features include a rear cross traffic alert, “virtual bumpers” which can automatically apply the brakes if the driver fails to recognize an obstacle, and blind spot monitoring.
Cadillac also revealed its CIEL concept, a convertible inspired by California driving, and penned in the company’s North Hollywood design studio.
Volkswagen unveils R-variant Beetle concept
Volkswagen designates its tuner models as R variants. The success of the 256 horsepower Golf R has inspired the automaker to introduce a Beetle R concept in Los Angeles. Although spokespersons didn’t get into powertrain specifics, the concept features 20-inch wheels, dual exhaust pipes, and widened front and rear ends. As with the Golf R, the Beetle R has special seats and R-specific instrumentation.
Land Rover Defender concept pays tribute to classic models
Last year, Land Rover introduced the Evoque in Los Angeles: a crossover vehicle with a decidedly urban emphasis. This year, the British automaker went back to its roots as a leader in off-road technology. The DC100 unveiled at the 2011 show is a “Defender for the 21st century,” with similar lines to the original 1948 model and a host of new technologies. Short overhangs and ample ground clearance give the DC 100 the ability to traverse extreme off-road trails, while a hose-out interior is easy to clean.
A DC100 sport concept carries the idea a step further by making the Defender an open-air car with a speedster profile.
Jaguar’s landmark speedster designs have included the legendary C, D and E types. The British manufacturer unveiled a new classic in Los Angeles: the 550 horsepwoer XKR-S convertible: its fastest open-topped GT to date. The fully-aluminum architecture minimizes weight while enhancing torsional stiffness for performance at speed. The convertible accelerates from zero-to-sixty in four seconds, and has a top speed of 186 miles-per-hour.
The C-X16 production plug-in hybrid concept is a rear-wheel drive two-seater, powered by a supercharged three liter engine and electric motor. The idea is to combine supercar performance with exceptional fuel economy. A push-to-pass button gives the C-X16 four second zero-to-sixty times. Top speed is over 180 miles per hour.
Infiniti JX Crossover features intelligent instrument panel
Infiniti raises the bar for crossovers with its new seven-passenger JX. Available in front and all-wheel drive, the crossover averages up to 23 miles-per-gallon on the highway. Power comes from a 265 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine and continuously-variable transmission. Drivers can choose from four performance modes, including standard, sport, eco and snow, depending on road conditions.
Infiniti partnered with Google to create the Infiniti Connection, an infotainment system which also features drive zone speed alert and Infiniti personal assistant: a 24-hour concierge service. Standard safety features include an around-view monitor, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and backup collision intervention.
The JX goes on sale in the spring of 2012.
Ford unveils new Escape compact SUV and refreshed Flex
The original Ford Escape was a pioneer in the compact sport-utility escape. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, the automaker revealed an all-new vehicle, with two available EcoBoost engines. The newest Escape tows up to 3500 pounds, and features four-wheel drive for true off-road capability.
A hands-free liftgate operated by a sensor opens the rear hatch when the driver makes a light kicking motion with his foot under the rear bumper. The new Escape is Ford’s tenth vehicle built off of its global C platform.
Inside, Ford introduces upgraded versions of its Sync and My Ford Touch connectivity systems with clearer screens which are easier to read. The new systems will roll out across the 2013 model line-up. Owners of vehicles with existing Sync and My Ford Touch systems will receive a thumb drive so they can install the upgrade.
A refreshed Flex three-row crossover vehicle gets an additional 20 horsepower, available adaptive cruise control and redesigned interior. Inflatable seatbelts protect children in high-impact collisions by spreading the crash forces across a wider area of the chest.
Honda debuts new CR-V compact crossover and Fit EV
Honda joins the race to electrification with its Fit five-passenger electric vehicle. The 2012 Fit EV is priced from $36,625 and available for lease at the rate of $399 per month, beginning in the summer of 2012.
A lithium battery gives the Fit EV 123-mile range in the city, and about 76 miles for combined city and highway driving. Recharging on 240-volt circuits takes as little as three hours.
An interactive remote feature allows the driver to check the state of charging, initiate recharging and start the HVAC system outside the car using a smart phone or computer. A special web site alerts drivers about fluctuations in power rates, so they can recharge in the least expensive manner. Customers also have access to 24-hour roadside assistance.
The 2012 CR-V compact crossover is all new, with a more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, flexible interior and available electronically controlled four-wheel drive system. The more efficient engine, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission averages 26 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive model.
The CR-V interior comes with 60/40 split folding rear seats for cargo flexibility. Infotainment and connectivity features include Bluetooth interface and a SMS text messaging function which reads messages from smart phones through the car’s audio system. A new Pandora interface works with iPhones to play tunes through the car radio. A multi-information display includes a multi-angle rearview camera.
The new CR-V comes in three grades: LX, EX and the upscale EX-L.
Fiat unveils Abarth and Gucci editions of its 500 micro-car
Fiat enters the 2012 model year with two new additions to the 500 family: a Gucci model featuring the designer’s trademark red and green stripes across the roof, and a high-performance Abarth model for track enthusiasts.
The 500 Abarth is based on Karl Abarth’s modified versions of the original Cinquecento built in the 1960s. Based on the current sport grade, the Abarth model adds a turbocharged version of Fiat’s 1.4-liter engine, special on-board computer, and performance-tuned exhaust.
Chevrolet launches its most powerful Camaro convertible
Chevrolet unveiled the 2013 Spark, an updated version of the subcompact car already selling in Europe and Asia for the US market. The Spark arrives in North America next year. The automaker is also working on an all-electric version for sale in select markets.
Closer to the horizon is Chevrolet’s roll-out of the ZL1 Camaro: the automaker’s most powerful version of its legendary two-plus-two. The ZL1’s supercharged 6.2-liter engine is rated at 580 horsepower. The Camaro accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in less than four seconds.
The ZL1 coupe, priced from $54,095, arrives in dealerships early next year followed by a convertible version later in 2012.
Subaru unveils XV Crosstrek and BRZ concept
Following on the success of its all-new Impreza, Subaru is breaking new ground with the XV Crosstrek: a crossover vehicle which is slightly smaller than the current Forester.
The automaker also unwrapped the BRZ Concept STi: its first rear-wheel drive sports car. Power comes from an all-new two-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine. The engine is mounted about 4.5 inches lower than the one in the current Impreza and closer to the center of the car to create an optimum front-to-rear weight balance.
The BRZ comes with a sport-tuned suspension and Brembo brakes. Production begins in the spring of 2012.
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