LOS ANGELES — Was it the Los Angeles Auto Show or the SUV show of Los Angeles? Just about every automobile manufacturer showed off a brand new sport utility vehicle or crossover vehicle. Literally.
“Once upon a time committing to an SUV meant you got to sit up high, more space and feel like king of the road, but you had to pay in terms of fuel efficiency, handling, ride quality, and even safety,” said Karl Brauer, Executive Publisher of Kelley Blue Book. “Now, really all of the SUVs are car based. Now, they are taller-riding, more cargo efficient cars that still let you sit up high and still have that flexibility in terms of carrying people or cargo. There’s really no downside to buying an SUV.
“It’s kind of scary for cars. A lot of car companies and car models that have been around for decades–I don’t know how much longer those models are going to be around. They are just never going to be that appealing. I like to say the genie is out of the bottle on SUVs. Everyone has discovered them. They are really well made, they’re safe, they handle well, they ride well. The reason to not buy an SUV has gone by the wayside.”
Lincoln renamed its MKX sport utility vehicle the Nautilus. It comes with a choice of two turbocharged engines: A 2.0-liter creating 335 horsepower or a 2.7-liter producing 335 horsepower. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, new Lincoln owners will receive a six-month complimentary CLEAR membership, allowing them to speed through security at participating airports and major arenas nationwide.
“With the introduction of Nautilus, Lincoln has a strong, distinctive portfolio with a common and recognizable identity,” said Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra. “We’re excited to add Nautilus to our Lincoln family of luxury SUVs, along with a new name that better reflects the ideas and attitudes of our clients. The technology in this vehicle is thoughtful and purposeful. We focused on bringing in innovative features to make each drive effortless for our clients.”
Then, Nissan used a rock band to introduce its 2018 Kicks small utility vehicle. It is the first new Nissan model to be introduced in eight years.Every 2018 Kicks comes with a standard 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS). The engine is rated at 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. The 2018 Nissan Kicks will be offered in three well-equipped models – Kicks S, Kicks SV and Kicks SR. The Kicks will join the Rogue and Rogue Sport CUVs in Nissan’s U.S. showrooms in June 2018.
“Kicks is designed to fit the needs of singles or couples looking for expressive styling, personal technology, smart functionality and advanced safety features at an affordable price starting well under $19,000,” said Dan Mohnke, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing and Operations, Nissan Division U.S., Nissan North America, Inc. “From a pure visual standpoint on the street, Kicks is a true head turner, especially in the bold two-tone color combinations. Kicks is clearly recognizable as part of the Nissan CUV family, but has a vibrancy and identity all its own.”
Minutes later, Jeep showed off its 2018 Wrangler inside a large tent adjacent to the convention center. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 and all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines join the Wrangler lineup, while the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is upgraded for 2018. Safety and security were paramount in the development of the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler, which offers more than 75 available active and passive safety and security features. The new Wrangler will continue to be built at FCA’s assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio.
“Jeep has always represented the ultimate in capability and open-air freedom, and our all-new 2018 Wrangler protects that important legacy and takes it into the future,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. “The all-new Wrangler is instantly recognizable as a Jeep, staying true to the original, yet it is better in every way – delivering even more rugged capability, more ride comfort, more fuel efficiency courtesy of several advanced powertrain options, more interior comfort, more safety and more technology.”
Hyundai introduced a new SUV targeted towards Millennials named the Kona. The name reminds me of the Kona Brewing Company. But its a small SUV. The Kona is equipped with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine standard. An optional 1.6-liter, turbo 4-cylinder EcoShift DCT engine is also available. New features on the Kona include an 8-inch pop-up heads display. It will include the speedometer, navigation tools and other important information so that the driver can keep their eyes on the road without having to look up and down.
“The Kona is only the beginning of our product revolution for Hyundai,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of product, corporate and digital planning at Hyundai. “These vehicles are aimed squarely at the sales leaders in each segment and will emphasize Hyundai’s continued focus on sustainability and efficiency without compromising performance. Our customers are going to have a lot of great CUV choices in our dealerships.”
Subaru couldn’t be outdone. They revealed a brand new SUV called the Ascent. The 2019 Subaru Ascent will be offered in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited and Touring. For the first time, available in-car Wi-Fi connectivity provides smooth internet access via high-speed LTE™ communications, broadening the range of entertainment options available to second and third row occupants using smart devices.The three-row SUV is powered by an all-new 2.4-liter BOXER engine that produces 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm. The all-new Ascent will be built in Subaru’s plant in Indiana along with the Outback, Legacy and Impreza.
“The Ascent is a real important vehicle for us because it fills the one gap in our market,” said Dominick Infante, National Manager, Product Communications at Subaru of America. “We want to keep the younger crowd in their late 30s, early 40s. We want to make sure they stay with the brand and have a big enough vehicle for them. This is our all-new Ascent. It uses our all new Subaru global platform. We can tow 5,000 pounds with this car. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. We offer captain’s chair and bench seats for the second row.”
Mitsubishi also introduced its 2018 Eclipse Cross SUV. The Eclipse Cross contains many all-new features including a 1.5-liter direct-injection turbo-engine, dual-pane, power-sliding panoramic roof, 7-inch smartphone link thin display audio with touchpad controller, Head-Up Display (HUD), heated rear seats and the launch of MITSUBISHI CONNECT. The Eclipse Cross joins the Outlander Sport and Outlander in the automaker’s SUV lineup. The Eclipse Cross will arrive in dealerships in March 2018.
“The 2018 Eclipse Cross is an all-new product offering in one of the largest segments in the automotive industry. Our research and analysis show us that the CUV category will continue to grow for many years, and with the addition of the Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi is well positioned with the right products at the right time,” said Don Swearingen, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “With its distinctive styling, advanced technology and all-new interior, the Eclipse Cross will be a very competitive CUV in its segment.”
On Thursday, KIA unveiled a refresh of its 2019 Sorento SUV. The spirited front- or all-wheel drive experience is brought to life with a choice of two proven engines, including a 2.4-liter inline-4 GDI or a 3.3-liter V6 GDI. The 2019 Kia Sorento is loaded with technology, including an upgraded AVN 5.0 navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay offered with higher level trims. Standard luxury features and amenities continue to be available across five trim levels – L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.
“In the highly-competitive crossover category, the Sorento is a clear example of how world-class design and craftsmanship are executed,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA. “Our popular utility now ups its game even further with enhancements in styling, packaging and content, making it even more attractive to shoppers seeking a premium level 3-row SUV.”
All of these brand new SUVs are on display at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, which continues through December 10. For tickets and more information, visit www.LAautoshow.com.
Sources: Lincoln, Nissan, Jeep, Hyundai, Subaru, Mitsubishi, KIA
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