Need some added motivation to brave traffic and head over to this year’s LA Auto Show? Here’s some eye-candy to get you in gear.
If you’re like us, the prospect of driving anywhere over 5 miles outside our city’s limits on a weekday is akin to scheduling a dentist appointment. You know you have to do it, but you really wish some technology from Star Trek could spare you from the pain. In the case of autoshows that technology is called the internet. We don’t really have to lug ourselves to a show, pay out of the nose for parking, and wade through a sea of humanity to see the latest Switcharoo Motors concept car — only to be disappointed ten years later that the manufacturer has made it bloated, cut out all the interesting angles, and royally dumbed it down all in the name of CAFE, NHTSA, or just plain sales volume chasing…do we?
The answer is an emphatic yes. If you are a car fan there’s just nothing you can do to replace seeing a car in the flesh. I don’t care if you have an 18K TV running a 4D set-up (the 4th dimension being smell, of course). No amount of tech can replace seeing the sheet metal up close, with lights bouncing off of it, and having other car fans near you to high-five as needed. Not yet, anyway.
In that spirit, here are 10 compelling cars and car categories (because did you really expect us to limit ourselves to 10?) that will make your SoCal Trek to the LA Auto Show worth it. These are listed in no particular order so we don’t want to see Porschephiles beating up on EV 4×4 truck enthusiasts, OK?
1. The new 911.
I don’t even think I need to write anything here. Just look at the 2020 Porsche 911, the 992 for those of you in the know. The visual changes are not huge. They never are, that’s the point of the 911. It evolves over time vs. jerking around from a design perspective. Under the skin, the new 911 has been changed to bump up power and to feature staggered wheels (20 inches front, 21 in the rear) which will improve cornering even on “base” 911s.
The Martini-inspired-liveried 911 GT2Rs on display is reason alone to go to the LA Auto Show.
Photos by Glenn Oyoung
2. TRD Camry and TRD Avalon
Even though my left brain throws up a warning light whenever manufacturers start affixing their performance division logos on cars, my right brain says “YOU CAN DO IT!” It’s like when a really cool movie comes out with a video game, you want it to work but it often falls flat of expectations (here’s looking at you Matrix for PS3).
That is hopefully not the case with this pair of TRD Double Dragons. I can’t wait to test drive them. I say good on you TRD. TRD everything all day, everyday. For the haters (and there are many), I don’t think the point is to outrun an M4. I think the point is to give parents a way to haul their kids around the ‘burbs AND live a little after drop-off. These cars literally scream, “I was cool once!” and “Death to the status quo! Hold on, my client’s calling me…”
I am a dad with a sore back and I really, really want that TRD Avalon…like…right…now!
3. Toyota RAV4
We’ve covered the sales-busting CUV and SUV market, that being said even we were surprised when the outgoing RAV4 bested the venerable Camry for Toyota’s top-seller. The 2019 RAV4 debuted at the New York Auto Show and easily wins the “Most Improved Face” award. The front fascia is decidedly tougher and now looks truck-ish enough to fit in with stablemates like the Tacoma and Tundra.
Photos by Glenn Oyoung
4. New EV’s – Byton and Rivian
Mass electrification of the transportation industry is coming. Some would argue it’s already here. For widespread adoption to happen in the U.S. we’re going to need an overhaul of the utility infrastructure down to the hardware we have in our garages (pretty doable, honestly), and some vehicles American consumers really like. GM’s EV1 paved the way for Tesla, which paved the way for a new generation of contenders you’ve never heard of. Will marquees like Byton and Rivian suffer the fate of Faraday Future — locked in limbo at the time of this publishing (we are rooting for you FF!) — or will they break out and get enough market share to survive? Only time will tell.
In the case of Rivian, it’s worthwhile to see some really well-designed electric trucks in person and to see the extra storage that can come with an electric drivetrain.
5. Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Cargo Concept
One of the breakout stars of the show is VW’s I.D. Buzz Cargo Concept. Take the look of the VW’s revered Microbus, update it with today’s engineering knowledge, and put in an all-electric drivetrain. As a final touch apply VW Motorsport Racing Service livery and voilà — you have a fan favorite on your hands. The I.D. Buzz is done-up as a support van for the I.D R Pike’s Peak race car on display nearby.
I was able to check the van out up close and personal at a subsequent VW drive-in-themed event, and the I.D. Buzz is definitely the vehicle that might make me take the plunge into the world of EVs. It’s capable, it’s cool, and it’s quirky enough to warrant customizing.
While you’re in the booth, should take the opportunity to check out other notable VW’s including the Final Edition Beetle and the Golf GTI Rabbit Edition, replete with rabbit logo and super-chic plaid interior.
6. Mazda CX-3
Mazda is on quite a tear design-wise, and the new 2020 CX-3 should help with bringing more top-line numbers to show for their efforts. Gear heads can appreciate the driver-oriented design and engineering renaissance that Mazda is undertaking, but mainstream customers have to be brought into the fold. The redesigned CX-3 is quite a looker and will have added power, space, and creature comforts to compete in the red-hot CUV space.
7. Jeep Gladiator
Jeep pick-up truck. Boom. Literally, just drop the mic. You don’t have to be a Jeep or truck fan to appreciate the significance of Jeep’s return to the pick-up truck segment after a quarter century. The Gladiator is the belle of the ball at this year’s LA Auto Show. Stop by the Jeep booth to see the Gladiator in stock, Rubicon, and Mopar-enhanced trims. The Gladiator is surely going to give stalwarts like the Tacoma, Colorado, and the new Ranger a run for their money.
8. Nissan Maxima
While some manufacturers are walking away from the segment entirely, many consumers still want sedans. Nissan is hoping to keep interest alive with its refreshed 2019 Maxima. The Maxima is positioned as a sporty-sedan and the refresh definitely keys off of this with an even more aggressive front fascia, notably new LED headlights and larger grille. Powertrain remains unchanged for this year. The biggest change is that Nissan is offering its 360 Safety Shield package of active and passive safety features on the Maxima for the first time.
9. Lincoln Aviator
The Aviator is all-new for 2020, sliding in between the compact Nautilus and the large Navigator. This handsome SUV will come in both gasoline-powered and EV drivetrains. Since comfort is paramount for this clientele, Lincoln has done its best to wrap occupants in luxury. The Aviator will come in a variety of interior “Themes,” including a Black Label theme with diamond-quilted interior.
10. Hyundai Palisade
Hyundai has definitely made its mark on the CUV and SUV segments and now its going full-bore with the full-size Hyundai Palisade SUV. Named after the Pacific Palisades, this SUV is about as big as that city. It’s taller, wider and longer than many competitors like the Explorer and Pathfinder (to name a few.) The interior looks modern and upscale, which it has to for a price point raging from $30,000 to $50,000.
Bonus Round: Racecars
I’m a total sucker for any vehicle in racing livery, so I have to include a few of the race cars and race-inspired cars at the show. #BecauseRacecar