2019 Honda Passport Teaser ・ Photo by Honda
Can you smell the gasoline? Can you sense the ozone of batteries charging? That must mean that it’s auto show season again, and we couldn’t be more excited. Our hometown event, the 2018 LA Auto Show, opens to the public from November 30 to December 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Be Moved,” as the auto industry continues its drive to rebrand as the mobility industry.
The LA Auto Show has been a fixture on the industry calendar since 1907 and has served as a venue for many important vehicle and technology debuts. This year’s show promises to be full of surprises. We’ve uncovered a handful of sneak peeks and educated guesses about what will be in store. Be sure to check back soon for our coverage of the must-see vehicles at the 2018 LA Auto Show.
Here’s a quick look behind the curtain.
This will be a big year for debuts from BMW. Most prominently, LA will mark the debut of the brand’s biggest SUV yet, the X7 three-row SUV, which joins the X1, X2, X3, X4, X5 and – wait for it – X6 in the SUV lineup. BMW is currently accepting deposits for the X7, but this will be the public’s first chance to see an actual vehicle.
Also at the show will be the 8-Series convertible and the M340i xDrive, both important entries for the West Coast audience. Looking toward the future, BMW will also display its Vision iNext concept vehicle, a preview of electric vehicle technology that is anticipated for production in the early 2020s – a future that will be here much sooner than any of us can believe.
Photo by BMW
Byton is the brainchild of Dr. Carsten Breitfeld, formerly of BMW, and Dr. Daniel Kirchert, formerly of Infiniti. The new electric car maker is based in China, and operates on the credo that “automobiles and digital literacy are equally at home with each other.” Byton will likely bring two concept vehicles, the M-Byte SUV and K-Byte sedan, to the show.
The K-Byte is a showcase for Byton’s ambition to deliver autonomous driving experiences; while the M-Byte is loaded with interior digital technologies. Byton’s electric driving capabilities are predicted to deliver 250 to 325 miles of driving range with 70 kWh and 90 kWh battery packs available. Byton is currently accepting reservations for pre-orders of production vehicles, though no firm dates have yet been announced for delivery.
Photo by Byton
The rush to fill gaps in SUV lineups continues. Honda will be showing off a new two-row crossover suv that will slot in between the compact CR-V and three-row Pilot crossovers. The new vehicle will recycle an old nameplate, Passport, which was used on a Honda suv from 1993 to 2002. Isuzu had their own version called the Rodeo. The new version will be all Honda, and will ride on the same platform as the Pilot. Honda is offering consumers the opportunity to view a live stream of the Passport’s unveiling by signing up at their website. The actual physical vehicle will debut at the auto show, and should appear on showroom floors in early 2019.
Photo by Honda
Hyundai has shuffled the top of their crossover SUV lineup a few times in recent years, featuring the Veracruz, Santa Fe and Santa Fe XL at various times. The latest entry, the Hyundai Palisade, will make its public debut at the LA Auto Show. An all-new three-row crossover vehicle, the Palisade will take the place of the Santa Fe XL as the flagship in Hyundai’s 2020 SUV lineup. With a name that invokes the vision of coastal cliffs, Hyundai’s Palisade anticipates that the rise of the crossover vehicle will not drop off anytime soon.
Photo by Hyundai
One of the highlights of last year’s LA Auto Show was the debut of the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler, so there are high hopes that this year will feature the unveiling of the long-anticipated Wrangler-based pickup truck, the Gladiator. According to numerous leaked reports, spy shots and renderings, Gladiator will be a crew cab pickup, looking very much like a Wrangler Unlimited cabin with a short bed attached. Earlier rumors had Jeep fans convinced that a new truck called “Scrambler” was on the way, but the grapevine has new fruit in the form of five supposedly official photos that were downloaded from the Jeep media site before being quickly removed by the manufacturer. The mystery will be solved at the LA Auto Show – or will it?
Photo by Los Angeles Auto Show
Remember the dancing hamsters? Expect to see a return performance when Kia unveils a third-generation Soul at the LA Auto Show. The 2020 model, now referred to as the Soul Crossover, may edge into more rugged styling, leaving the cute in the past. After all, even hamsters have to grow up some time. Kia says that the new Soul’s “bold design, uncompromising utility and fun-to-drive personality” will be highlighted by “awesome versatility for everyone.” Soul will be available with several drivetrains, including all-electric and turbocharged versions. Expect to see the 2020 Soul on the stand at the show, and at dealerships in mid-2019. EV versions will be sold by select retailers in select markets with limited availability.
And please – don’t feed the hamsters.
Photo by Kia
Lincoln seems to be emerging from the fog that has enshrouded it for the past decade or more. The new Navigator has received rave reviews, and the new Continental has garnered fans from luxury circles. Now the luxury arm of Ford Motor Company is set to unveil the production version of Aviator, a three-row crossover vehicle that will take the place of the MKT in the company’s lineup. Based on the same platform as the upcoming 2020 Ford Explorer, the new Aviator should feature a unique Lincoln exterior and interior design, available Revel audio (almost enough of a reason to buy), and advanced powertrain options. The turn away from alpha-numeric nameplates and back to actual names is a great move for Lincoln. If Aviator is successful, expect more classic vehicle names to spread through the lineup.
Photo by Lincoln
Arguably the best-driving compact hatchback in its class, the Mazda3 is due for a makeover. The all-new Mazda3 which will be revealed at the LA Auto Show is the latest interpretation of the company’s Kodo design theme, which Mazda says “embodies the essence of Japanese aesthetics.” In other words, it looks fast while standing still. Mazda3 will likely be available with the new SKYACTIV-X powertrain, which operates via compression ignition. This highly efficient combustion process is closer to the diesel paradigm, igniting fuel with compression rather than spark, but in this case igniting gasoline. Fuel economy is said to be 20 – 30 percent improved over previous combustion methods, while the power harnessed from gasoline is also greater. Now if they’ll just reveal a next-generation Mazdaspeed3…
Photo by Mazda
Rivian is an electric vehicle manufacturer headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan. The new company has chosen the LA show as the venue to unveil their first two vehicles: The A1T, a full-size battery-electric pickup truck; and the A1C, a full-size battery-electric SUV. Rivian has built significant buzz for their electrified platform, which uses a skateboard-like chassis to house its battery packs. Range is rumored to be over 400 miles per full charge. Far from sluggish work vehicles, the Rivian vehicles will be tuned to scoot from 0 – 60 mph in under five seconds. Semi-autonomous driver assist features will be incorporated into the vehicles’ functions. Final assembly will take place in Normal, Illinois at a former Mitsubishi plant near the campus of Illinois State University.
Photo by Rivian
Toyota Corolla is the biggest selling vehicle nameplate of all time, with over 45 million units produced since 1966, so a new generation of Corolla is big news for the compact sedan. The 2020 Corolla will ride on the Toyota Next Generation Architecture (TGNA) platform, the same one that underlies the current Camry. Corolla will feature standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), along with standard Apple CarPlay (a Corolla first), and a higher level of polish and sophistication than any previous version of the sedan.
Also on the stand for Toyota at the LA Auto Show will be Toyota Racing Design (TRD) versions of the Camry and Avalon sedans. Has Toyota gone nuts? No – they’re real players in stock car racing, and the TGNA platform is a great basis for a spiced up sedan.
Photo by Toyota