Test Drive > The LA auto show's star real-world cars

The LA auto show's star real-world cars

 - 05/12/2017

Forget seven-seat hand-built Range Rovers, 212mph Corvettes and stripped-back Porsche 911s aimed at racing purists, this year's LA Auto Show also featured its fair share of announcements and reveals for real car owners.

Fresh from its reveal at November's SEMA show, the all-new Jeep Wrangler made its real-world debut in LA and on first glance, the American icon looks very much like the outgoing model albeit marginally longer and slightly wider but under the skin, this real off-roader has undergone a real evolution.

Buyers will be able to chose a gasoline, diesel or, for the first time in Jeep history, a hybrid powerplant.

But regardless of engine choice, the new Jeep should be more fuel-efficient thanks to prodigious use of weight-saving aluminum and even magnesium in the production process. In terms of creature comforts, there's the option of an automated always-on all-wheel drive system, while a host of features, including trailer tow assist, reversing cameras and cruise control, are now standard.

The Mazda6 has never been short on creature comforts nor on real driver involvement, and for 2018 the mid-size sedan is getting a carefully considered overhaul.

The exterior has had a subtle reworking, the interior a major makeover thanks to more comfortable leather-wrapped seats and a new dashboard and infotainment screen setup, but the biggest changes are to the suspension setup. Mazda claims the refinements will make the car cruise smoothly and with less cabin noise, but without diluting any of that responsiveness that has made it such a fun driver's car.

Nissan used LA to introduce the Kicks, its new sub-compact SUV that will replace the visually polarizing Juke in its US model lineup. It will be low on performance (just one 1.6-liter 125hp engine will be offered), but it will be big on features and practicality. It boasts 716 liters (25.3 cu. ft.) of trunk space and even the entry-level model comes with Emergency Autonomous Braking, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as standard.

However, even if the new Kicks is competitively priced, it could struggle to perform next to the Hyundai Kona, which is now available in the US. The Korean company's smallest crossover to date has been designed to take the leadership position in the subcompact segment and will come with a choice of 2-liter naturally aspirated or 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, plus a choice of manual and paddle shift transmissions and two- or all-wheel drive.

Automotive stable mate Kia used LA to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of its Niro crossover which promises 26 miles of all-electric range, a combined-cycle fuel economy of 46mpg and a suite of driver assistance systems, including Emergency Autonomous Braking, Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring as standard equipment.

Alongside electrifying the Niro, Kia also unveiled the heavily updated 2019 Sorento. It keeps the seven-seat practicality of the existing top specification models (and makes it a standard feature across all trim levels) but really dials up the levels of quality and comfort in all other aspects. The exterior has a stronger, more minimal look, while inside there's a fascia redesign, better infotainment and heated seats (which can be specified in Nappa leather). As for performance, Kia has reworked the six-speed manual transmission and added a new eight-speed automatic gearbox option to make progress as smooth as possible.

After a five-year break, Subaru used LA to make a return to the seven-seat SUV market with the Ascent. The biggest vehicle the company has ever offered in the US, Subaru claims its proportions, styling and capabilities are all down to listening to its customers and giving them exactly what they want.

And apparently that's a car that fits with an adventurous lifestyle, offers all-wheel drive, and is excellent at transporting dogs. Over 48% of Subaru drivers own at least one dog and the company used a family of eight Labrador Retrievers to help introduce the car to the world's automotive press.


Photos :
Kia Niro, Nissan Kicks, Jeep Wrangler : © Newspress
Subaru Ascent : © Subaru America