Contrary to the belief of some, the real stars of Orange County aren’t the women in The Real Housewives of Orange County. Nope, here in SoCal, our cars are the stars, and some 600 of them (cars, sport utes, exotics, vans, and trucks) were on display at the 2017 Orange County International Auto Show, which occupied 25 percent more floor space at the Anaheim Convention Center than it did last year. Prior to the show opening to the public, I wandered the floor and photographed some of the significant vehicles, plus as few others that caught my eye. Enjoy the tour.
35 Must-See Vehicles at the 2016 Orange County Auto Show
35 Must-See Vehicles at the 2016 Orange County Auto Show
Honda Civic Hatchback
The new Honda Civic has left the starting blocks like Usain Bolt seeking Olympic gold. And now, with the debut of the handy new 5-door hatchback, its sales likely will get even better. This model, an EX-L with navigation, has an MSRP of $25,300. With a turbo 1.5-liter 4-cylinder sending 125 horsepower to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission, this not-so-compact Honda gets an honest 40 MPG on the highway. Impressive.
Hyundai Elantra Eco
Hey, if Honda can get 40 mpg with a non-hybrid, so can Hyundai. The new Elantra Eco is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder that mates to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic for improved efficiency. Tall-sidewall tires with super low rolling resistance further aid fuel economy. MSRP: $21,485.
Ever seen a Kia this big? Nor had we. Although the Telluride, revealed earlier this year at Detroit, is a concept vehicle, it proves the Korean company may want a big brother for the Sorento. Beneath the blocky body with the suicide rear doors is a hybrid powertrain featuring a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 and an electric motor. What do you think of those 22s?
Photo Credit: Rex Torres
If you were worried that Chinese ownership would destroy Volvo, think again. The new XC90 is a beautiful SUV, and although this SUV starts at about $50,000, this Inscription model leaves the lot at $66,675. Besides heated and cooled seats, this Inception has lots of leather and wood, plus a swanky Bowers and Wilkins audio system. This Volvo is built in Sweden, as it should be, and it has that look, especially inside.
The handsome sedan, built on the same architecture as the XC90, is also available as an Inscription model. This particular S90 Inscription, with an MSRP of $66,450, boasts Pilot Assist, which controls the S90’s steering, braking, and accelerator. “You can let go of the wheel,” explained a friendly spokeswoman, “but Volvo does not recommend it. It’s not meant to drive you from point A to point B; it’s just there to help you.”
2018 Chevrolet Equinox
Here’s the all-new Equinox, unveiled recently in Chicago and now in Anaheim. This 5-seat crossover, loaded with safety and connectivity tech, will be available with three different engines: a 1.5-liter turbo inline-4, a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4, and a new 1.6 turbodiesel. This last engine, built by GM and promised to be quiet, is expected to give the 2018 Equinox an EPA rating of 40 MPG on the highway.
This new EV from Chevrolet has an EPA-certified range of 238 miles. Enough said.
Photo Credit: TJ Keon
Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe
“Yeah, baby!” Even if that’s not said in an Austin Powers sort of way, that’s the reaction most folks have when they see this potent new F-Type SVR, the fastest production Jag ever. Besides a sultry shape, this English rocket has a supercharged 575-horsepower V-8. The F-Type SVR, says Jag, has a top speed of 200 mph.
2017 Ford SVT Raptor
The previous SVT Raptor, a Baja bred race truck for the streets, was a huge success for Ford, thanks in no small way to its big iron-block 6.2-liter V8. Now, for 2017, Ford has switched to aluminum—for the body and engine. The new powertrain, featuring a twin-turbo aluminum-block 3.5-liter V6 mated to a new 10-speed automatic, is rumored to have 450 horsepower. Will a V-6 Raptor succeed?
Ford Focus RS
The RS is to the Focus what the Shelby GT350 is to the Mustang. In other words, it’s the most potent Focus you can get. A turbocharged 2.3-liter with 350-horsepower takes care of the acceleration. But the RS also loves to frolic on a race course, aided by a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that sends power where it’s best used.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
If you have a single sporty cell in your body, you should crave this Mustang. Too bad Ol’ Shel (Carroll Shelby) wasn’t around to drive it himself. It’s not the 526 horsepower that gets you; it’s the way this GT350 corners like the proverbial cat on Velcro.
Although Honda’s pickup looks far more traditional than the previous Ridgeline, it is still a unit-body pickup based on a chassis similar to that of the Honda Pilot. That means a transverse V6 is up front, most often driving the front wheels. As such, the Ridgeline is a great everyday pickup for around-town use. This Ridgeline, an AWD Black Edition, has an MSRP of $42,870.
Consider the Ioniq Hyundai’s Prius. Three of these wind-cheating Korean hatchbacks are on their way soon. An EV arrives late this year, followed by a hybrid and then a plug-in hybrid. The Ioniq hybrid has a 104-hp 1.6-liter gas engine and a 43-hp electric motor. The Ioniq EV, with a 120-hp electric motor, has an estimated range of 150 miles. The plug-in hybrid gets the 1.6-liter and a 60-hp electric motor.
Exotics on the lower level: Two Lamborghini Huracans, awaiting the throngs. The Coupe costs $290,295. The new Spyder, $297,865. Why not buy both?
Ferrari 488 GTB
What’s a car show without a Ferrari? Not much of one. Here’s the 488 GTB, the successor to the beloved 458 Italia.
Sorry, ladies: Matthew McConaughey was not on the Anaheim stand hawking Lincolns. But the new Continental was there, powered by a twin-turbo V6 with 400 horsepower. This techno-packed luxury sedan, with a starting MSRP of $44,560, looks great, but where are the traditional suicide rear doors? All together now: Alright, alright, alright.
Lincoln Navigator Concept
This huge gullwing concept was inspired by luxury sailboats, which explains the teak interior trim. Check out the deployable “concertina” side steps? Probably no chance for production. But the twin-turbo 3.5 V6 certainly is ready, giving this land yacht more than 400 horsepower.
Lexus LC 500h
This Lexus is fitted with a multi-stage hybrid system specifically tuned for high-performance vehicles. No surprise, it hits 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, thanks to a 3.5-liter V6 and an electric motor that sends power to the rear wheels via a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Most significant: This chassis provides the basis for future front-engine/rear-drive Lexus models.
If Porsche can sell a Cayenne, and Bentley can sell a Bentayga, what’s stopping Maserati from selling its own SUV, the Levante? Apparently nothing. Its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 sends 345 horsepower to all four wheels via a 8-speed automatic transmission. Is a Ferrari suv next?
Nissan NISMO GT-R
Nissan’s new NISMO GT-R still makes 600 horsepower, but it’s interior has been vastly improved. The number of buttons has been reduced, and a larger touchscreen is now operated by a control knob on the console. With its incredible power, all-wheel-drive stability, and a paddle-shift dual-clutch gearbox—plus slightly retuned shock absorbers—the GT-R is one of the easiest supercars to drive fast.
Photo Credit: TJ Keon
Mazda MX-5 RF
You gotta love the new retractable hardtop Mazda MX-5 RF. Non-Launch Edition models of this fun little roadster start at $32,390, about $3000 more than a comparably equipped roadster. Serious Miata fans should know that the hardtop adds about 110 lb. to the overall weight of the car.
NASCAR Toyota V8
This V8 is not even distantly related to the V6 in your Mom’s Camry. But this pushrod NASCAR V8 sure looks cool. It puts out 850 horsepower and goes 600 miles between rebuilds.
Toyota Prius Prime
The Prius Prime, a new plug-in hybrid, has a battery twice the size as the one in a regular Prius, so it can go 25 miles on battery power alone. The larger battery, behind the back seat, makes the Prius Prime four inches longer and a few hundred pounds heavier than a standard Prius. Overall range: 640 miles.
With the demise of Scion, Toyota has kept the FR-S and renamed it the Toyota 86. Good deal. This car reminds us that lightweight rear drivers with good balance are a blast to drive. Can you make out the 86 on the steering wheel?
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
I expected the new Golf Alltrack to ride higher and be about as off-road-friendly as, say, a Subaru Forester. Not the case. This Alltrack looks like it would be great on groomed snowy roads, nothing tougher. Nevertheless, it’s a handsome little wagon, although this particular model has a steep MSRP of $35,705.
Do you ever get tired of looking at this car? I don’t. Reminds me of a Porsche. Goes like one, too, able to hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
Kia Niro Concept
The Niro is a boxy hybrid that proves you don’t have to sacrifice utility at the altar of good design. Target fuel economy: 50 MPG combined. Look for a production Niro to take on the Toyota Prius early next year.
Alfa Romeo 4C and Giulia
The agile little mid-engine 4C has been joined by the new Giulia. With its 505-horsepower 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, with near 50/50 balance, is the fastest 4-door sedan around the famed Nurburgring in Germany. Top speed: 191 mph.
Acura’s new NSX looks much better in person than it does in photos. And I think it looks pretty good here. The NSX weighs 3800 lb., but it packs a lot of technology, hybrid and otherwise, inside that sexy skin.
Porsche 911 Carrera
What’s a standard Porsche 911 Carrera set you back these days? This one, in Lava Orange, sells for $115, 255.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
The Grand Cherokee is good off-road, but the new Trailhawk is much better. Red tow hooks are a visual clue, but beneath the skin you’ll find Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system with rear Electronic Limited-slip Differential (ELSD), plus a unique version the Quadra-Lift air suspension with improved articulation and total wheel travel. Skid plates are standard, as is an anti-glare hood decal.
Ready for a Chinese-built Buick? That’s the new Envision, an all-wheel-drive crossover powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine mated to a 6-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. Chock full of modern safety features and conveniences such as Apple CarPlay, the new Envision has a power liftgate and heated front seats. The Envision AWD Premium II model pictured here is priced at $49,070 as equipped.
BMW R NineT Scrambler
Okay, this is a 2-wheeler, I know, but the BMW R NineT Scrambler is just so cool we had to show it. With motorcycles, you should be able to see the engine, as you can on this stylish Bavarian. Steve McQueen, if he were alive, would approve. MSRP: $13,000.
This extremely spacious work van has a face only a plumber could love. Good news: A passenger version of the front-drive ProMaster will go on sale late next year to challenge the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
The first hybrid minivan. Actually, this Pacifica is a plug-in hybrid with an electric-only range of 30 miles. It has a 3.6-liter V6 and two electric motors, each capable of driving the front wheels via an electrically variable transmission. Total system output is 260 horsepower, and the battery pack is under the second-row floor, which eliminates Stow N Go seats in that row. The tradeoff, however, is this: expected fuel economy of 80 MPGe in the EPA city cycle.