Big SUVs, pickup trucks and electric vehicles rule at 2018 LA Auto Show

Attendees checking out the displays at the 2018 LA Auto Show (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

LOS ANGELES — More than 60 new vehicles made their world or North American premiere at the 2018 LA Auto Show. Most of those debuts were made up of SUVs or pickup trucks. There were also many plug-in electric cars introduced at this year’s show.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Toyota introduced their 2020 Corolla Hybrid. It’s a first for the United States market. The Corolla Hybrid is expected to achieve more than 50 miles per gallon. Look for it to arrive in the spring of 2019. The automaker also showed off an all-wheel-drive version of its best-selling Prius. It’s designed for colder climates and will handle better in the snow. Other debuts from Toyota included the 2019 RAV4, TRD Camry, TRD Avalon and Nightshade Special Editions.

Ford’s premium brand, Lincoln, unveiled their 2020 Aviator luxury SUV. It comes with a cool new feature called “Phone as a Key” that allows the driver to open the doors, start the engine and drive by using their smartphone. The Aviator will also be available in a hybrid version for even better fuel economy, a first for Lincoln. Their press conference featured a live music performance by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

2020 Hyundai Palisade flagship SUV

Hyundai showed off their 2020 Palisade flagship SUV. It comes with seating for eight, more USB ports and a hands-free smart liftgate. It is named after the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood Pacific Palisades. Their press conference featured a recorded segment by Korean boy band BTS. In addition, YouTube stars Kyler and Mad were featured in a taped video. Madison Fisher actually made a live appearance at the auto show.

“Wow, we’re going to look awesome pulling up to valet,” Madison Fisher said. “I really like these seats, they’re so soft and quilted. There’s a skylight for the girls. They’re going to love that. They can look at the stars.”

Kia showed off three different models of its all new 2020 Soul. Many people described it as “cute” and “boxy.” It is powered by a 1.6-liter, Turbocharged engine with 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Transmission (DCT). A bright yellow plug-in electric version was one of the three models revealed. It comes with double the electric range from the outgoing model. The Soul sits on the same platform as the Hyundai Kona.

Rivian R1T all-electric pickup truck

Michigan-based Rivian debuted their R1T all electric pickup truck. The R1T sits on Rivian’s skateboard platform, which frees up more storage space throughout the vehicle. It will offer a 400-mile range with DC fast charging capability. Pricing will start at $61,500 after federal incentives. Look for the R1T to go on sale in 2020 here in the U.S. Their booth got lots of attention from attendees and the media combined.

“This completely reimagines what a pickup truck can be,” said Michael McHale, director of communications for Rivian. “This is an all-new pickup built in the United States, designed in the United States and engineered here–a fully American car. Eight hundred horsepower, over 1,000 pounds of torque.”

2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck

Jeep took the wraps off their 2020 Gladiator pick up truck. It was called one of the standouts of the LA Auto Show. The Gladiator is made with a high-strength steel frame and high-strength aluminum doors, hinges, hood, fenders, windshield frame and tailgate to help curtail weight and boost fuel economy. This isn’t the first truck from Jeep, but the first in a while. The Gladiator will be made at the Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio.

“It’s 100 percent truck, it’s 100 percent Jeep,” said Trevor Dorchies, manager of product communications for the Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler. “It has a class leading payload of 1,600 pounds. Towing capacity is 7,650. It is all truck, all the time. We have open air capability with the tops off. There’s two hardtops and a soft top. The windshield folds down.”

Shortly before the LA Auto Show got underway, American manufacturers Ford and General Motors announced they would be cutting certain car models. Foreign brands announced at the auto show that they are here to stay and are committed to building cars. I heard those words from almost every automaker during their press conferences.

Michael Cole, COO of KIA Motors America

“The customers they leave behind need not worry–KIA has them covered,” said Michael Cole, chief operating officer of KIA Motors America.  “A first time buyer can take home the small but perfectly proportioned Rio. Customers looking for a sporty compact car without compromise need to look no further than Forte. For the family buyer or someone that wants to make that next step, we have our ever popular Optima. What about the sports enthusiast? Well, of course, they can get revved up by the Stinger.”

“We’re not abandoning cars–at Toyota we’re doubling down,” said Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division at Toyota Motor North America (TMNA). “This commitment continues with the all-new Corolla. We started a few months back with the introduction of the 2019 Corolla hatchback. It came out of the gates strong. You can still get it with a 6-speed manual transmission.”

The 2019 Kelley Blue Book (KBB) Best Buy Awards were held inside the historic United Artists theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Many trophies were handed out to automakers in different categories. However, the 2019 Volvo XC40 was named the best new model.

“I was the CEO of a Swedish company before and we had 20 percent market share,” said Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Volvo Cars USA. “Here it’s a little bit different. We are small but we are damn good. Thank you very much for this. Ninety percent of our customers are coming from other brands.”

Celebrities show their love of cars at the LA Auto Show

TV host Maria Menudos

First, television host Maria Menudos made a special appearance on the second media day. She stood next to the blue Jeep that she designed for the Jeep Wrangler celebrity customs competition. By the way, she was the big winner of that competition!

Hollywood actor Chad McQueen and his team from McQueen Racing made a special appearance at the 2018 LA Auto Show. He announced the start of production for the official Steve McQueen edition Bullitt Mustang. Only 300 units will be built per model year and they will only be available at Ford dealers worldwide.

Actor-Racer Chad McQueen

“McQueen Racing is a company we started a couple of years ago…God it’s been 10 now,” Chad McQueen explained. “If you go on our website at, we’re going shoes, we’re doing engineering on motorcycles and cars. We have parts for this car. I come [to the auto show] every year to see what’s new. It’s nice to have a car that I’m proud of here.”

Chad is the only son of the late Hollywood actor Steve McQueen who raced a 1968 Bullitt Mustang in the popular chase scene in the movie titled “Bullitt.” Chad McQueen recently served as executive producer of the documentaries “Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans” (2015) and “I Am Steve McQueen” (2014).

Famed Artist Camilo Pardo

Famed Artist Camilo Pardo created a one-of-a-kind painting to commemorate the launch of the Steve McQueen edition Bullitt Mustang. He worked on the special painting at his Detroit art studio and then had it shipped to Los Angeles. His painting was on display at the LA Auto Show during press days.

“It’s one of those paintings that I’ve always wanted to do,” Pardo said in an exclusive interview. “I love painting that ’67-’68 Mustang. It’s exciting to be able to include the composition of the new Mustang and the old Mustang. When you get those two together and try to do something exciting, it almost looks like a movie poster. I was very focused in making sure that I got Steve McQueen in the cars. It’s the classic shot of him backing out when he overshot a corner. And having him in the new vehicle was something that was challenging. I was having fun with the graphics and the years.”

Dustin Brown from the LA Kings

Dustin Brown from the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team met his fans on Saturday during the public show. Meanwhile, fans also got the chance to meet and get autographs from the Los Angeles Laker Girls dance team. Both appeared within the Toyota display.

“It takes a lot of work during the off season to get your body ready,” Brown described how he gets ready for hockey season. “Once the games come around, we’re all a bunch of kids playing a game. You’ve got to play with emotion and sometimes it’s hard. At the end of the day, we get to play hockey. It’s something that we all grow up loving to do. There’s good days and bad days at this level. I remind myself that I get to play a game for a living. That’s pretty special.”

Other celebrities who made appearances at the LA Auto Show include Ryan Friedlinghaus from West Coast Customs, The Hoonigans from Amazon Games, musician Born Dirty, Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers, British radio-television-film personality Richard Blade, Lance Stephenson from the Los Angeles Lakers, British DJ Henry Fong and NHRA Champion Antron Brown.

The Los Angeles Auto Show returns next year, November 22 – December 1, 2019! We had so much fun this year that we can’t wait until then…




Lincoln Group Vice President Joy Falotico introduces the 2020 Aviator SUV.


The 2020 Kia Soul EV made its world debut with double the range from the outgoing model.


YouTube star Madison Fisher from “Kyler and Mad” spoke during the Hyundai press conference.


Volvo Car CEO Anders Gustafsson accepts the Best New Model award at the 2019 KBB Best Buy Awards.


Toyota reaffirmed their commitment to building cars for the American market.


The Los Angeles Laker Girls made an appearance at the Toyota display during the public show.



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