Considering the trends dominating the U.S. automotive market you likely can guess the sorts of products that will dominate the debuts at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. That, of course, includes plenty of SUVs and a fair number of EVs, as well, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E that’s been generating big buzz leading up to the annual Tinseltown gathering.
All told, the 2019 L.A. Auto Show will bring out around 50 new production and concept vehicles, about half of them appearing for the first time anywhere, others making their first public showing in North America.
Here’s our list of the most important of the new models will be watching in Los Angeles – and, of course, keep coming back for even more complete coverage as they’re formally unveiled:
Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio. It’s been a tough year for the Italian luxury brand. In June 2018, former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne picked Alfa Romeo to be one of the company’s big growth brands, but buyers haven’t cooperated. With sales in the doldrums, new product programs have been pared back and Alfa will count on a much smaller line-up including significant updates of the two models currently available in the U.S.: the midsize Giulia sedan and its first-ever SUV, the Stelvio.
Aston Martin DBX. Sadly for the public, Aston Martin’s first-ever SUV will only make a brief appearance at an invitation-only event the night before the first formal media day at the L.A. Show. The British automaker, best known for its long association with cinema super-spy James Bond, is in the
midst of a massive product expansion, but no product will be more important than the DBX which is expected to more than double its total sales. The styling is distinctively Aston and its performance fits into the line-up, as well. But you also can expect the new DBX to offer significant off-road capabilities, as well.
Audi e-tron Sportback. Audi is making a big push into the battery-electric market. It launched its first production model, the e-tron SUV, earlier this year, and will soon follow it with the coupe-like e-trong Sportback SUV. The styling bears more than a passing resemblance to a tall take on the A7 fastback. It will share its battery pack and drivetrain with the more classic-looking e-tron SUV, meaning range just over 200 miles and twin motors punching out a sporty 402 horsepower.
BMW M2 CS. The Bavarian automaker is flooding its stand with models making either global or North American debuts. Out of that mix, the M2 CS is the most newsworthy. The “M” designation clearly tells you that this is a serious performer. And the CS will be the most powerful version of the pint-sized coupe yet, topping the earlier M2 Competition model with nearly 450 horsepower bursting out from under the hood. Other BMW models to check out in L.A. include the stretched 2-Series Gran Coupe and the M8 Gran Coupe, the latter adding even more muscle to the brand’s flagship coupe-like sedan.
BMW M8 Gran Coupe and Gran Coupe Competition. How can you complain about getting both room and more power at the same time? BMW is expanding its performance portfolio for 2
020 with a new four-door version of the 8-Series – and in two iterations: the 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe and M8 Gran Coupe Competition as well as a limited edition model. Both versions share a 4.4-liter S63 M TwinPower Turbo V8, but where the M8 Gran Coupe pumps out 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, the Competition edition bumps that up t an impressive 617 hp and 553 lb-ft.
Bollinger B1 and B2. The emergence of electric vehicles has encouraged a range of start-ups to try their look at entering the long-closed automotive market. At the 2018 L.A. Auto Show we got a look at Rivian’s battery-powered SUV and pickup and this year brings similar offerings from Detroit-based Bollinger. The difference: the B1 pickup and B2 SUV are even bigger and boxier and designed to be real work trucks. They both rely on stump-pulling, 614-horsepower twin motors powered by a 120 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Look for production to begin late next year, with the B1 starting at around $125,000
Fiat 500X Sport. For a brand whose very survival has come into question, this new take on compact 500X crossover could prove critical. From a visual standpoint, the 500X Sport gets new front and rear fascia, body-colored side molding and dark-finish exterior accents, along with a number of interior updates. Going forward, the 500X line is expected to be the workhorse for the Fiat brand, with sales lagging for the 500L and the familiar 500 microcompact hatchback being pulled from the U.S. market.
Ford Mustang Mach-E. Much of the buzz surrounding this year’s L.A. Auto Show focused on this “Mustang-inspired,” all-electric SUV – which could post a formidable challenge to Tesla’s own upcoming Model Y. Ford has confirmed that the Mustang Mach-E will be offered with two different battery packs offering up to about 300 miles range. There also will be three different drivetrain option
s, a rear-drive version, an all-wheel-drive package and the Mach-E GT with a larger front motor helping develop a combined 459 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque – enough to hit 60 in less than 3.5 seconds.
Genesis G90. There had been some rumors we might see the Korean luxury brand’s first SUV at this year’s L.A. Auto Show. That no longer seems likely, the ute expected to premier at the New York Auto Show next spring. Instead, Genesis will spotlight the mid-cycle refresh of its G90. Not that this is a bad thing, the big sedan, in current form, ranking number one in the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Expect to see some modest exterior and interior tweaks and the addition of more safety and comfort features.
Hyundai Ioniq. The Korean carmaker recently announced plans to nearly triple the number of “eco-friendly” products it is offering. It’s also updating one of its first. The Ioniq takes a three-pronged path to boosting mileage and reducing emissions, Hyundai offering separate hybrid, plug-in and all-electric configurations. We’ll have to wait to hear more details later this week, but expect to see even better numbers in terms of fuel economy and range, we’re betting, along with the addition of new safety features.
Hyundai Tucson. The Korean carmaker still offers a mix of sedans and coupes but h
as been shifting focus to SUVs, reflecting broader market trends. The last year has seen the launch of two new utes, the little Venue and the big Palisade. Now it’s time for a complete makeover of one of its original crossovers. What’s coming to Los Angeles will be a “concept SUV,’ according to Hyundai, but it all but certainly reveals the basic styling and features to come with the next-generation compact Tucson model. Significantly, we’ll expect the production model to add both hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrain options.
*Karma Revero GTS and SC2 Concept. The Karma brand rose from the ashes of the bankrupt Fisker brand after being purchased by China’s Wanxiang Group. Located near L.A., it will show off the latest, high-performance version of its only production model, the Revero GTS. But Karma also has a new concept vehicle that strongly hints at where the
brand will go next. The SC2 adds a hardtop to the striking SC1 concept sports car that it unveiled last summer.
Kia Optima. Korean carmakers Kia – and its sibling Hyundai – have been shifting more of their focus to SUVs, reflecting the dramatic shift in market demand. But Kia isn’t abandoning passenger cars like some competitors. Slightly longer and wider, the 2021 Kia Optima adopts a new take on the brand’s distinctive “tiger-nose” grille, as well as a more aggressive look, overall. It will share two four-cylinder powertrains with the latest version of Hyundai’s Sonata sedan, but a hybrid package is expected to follow, along with another high-performance turbo powertrain.
Land Rover Defender. The SUV side of Jaguar Land Rover promised to go back to its roots with the launch of the next-generation Defender – which will make its return to the U.S. for the first time in 22 years. Company officials perked everyone’s interest by suggesting the classic off-roader has been “reimagined for the 21st Century,” but its more rounded design has generated a bit of controversy. That said, few are complaining about the new Defender’s enhanced off-road capabilities, the new “Wade Sensing” system even letting it ford nearly three feet of water.
Lexus LC 500 Convertible. Lexus has long been known for its reliability, comfort and quietness, but the LC coupe added “passion” to the list of attributes. Now, Lexus wants to give buyers the opportunity to feel the wind in their hair with the launch of the LC Convertible. The production model is expected to retain the 5.0-liter V-8 that, in the hardtop, punches out 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, which should make the ride windy, indeed. Expect the hybrid alternative, the LC 500h also to be offered.
Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring. Ford’s long-struggling luxury brand has been doing some heavy hitting this past year with a procession of new products, such as Aviator, winning solid to spectacular reviews. The old Lincoln MKC received not only a new badge, Corsair, but a complete makeover and while the marque isn’t saying much, we’re expecting that the Grand Touring model should deliver the sort of upgrade that will make it a joy to drive on long trips, as the name implies.
Mazda CX-30. The Japanese automaker will put an emphasis on SUVs at this year’s L.A. show, among other things, introducing updates of its CX-5 and CX-9 crossovers. But the big news will be the downsized, all-new CX-30. Fitting into the line-up between the CX-5 and CX-3, shares the brand’s newest SkyActiv Vehicle Architecture and is expected to be offered with either a 2.0- or 2.5-liter gas engine option. There had been some expectations it might also offer the new SkyActiv-X but that now seems unlikely
Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe and GLS 63. The Schwabian automaker has been filling every possible niche with new performance products, and AMG will be the start of the show in L.A. as two more models make their global debut. We saw the classic GLE 53 get the AMG treatment last March and now, the coupe-like version will get the same boost, we’re expecting, at 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Its mild hybrid system, meanwhile, will briefly toss in an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft. As for the GLS, the flagship SUV’s AMG edition will get a makeover, as well.
Mini Cooper SE. The British brand has been tinkering with the idea of going electric for some years, but the Cooper SE marks the first time it will actually offer a pure, battery-powered m
odel to buyers. We’ll have to wait a few days to find out details like range, but the fact that it shares underpinnings with the latest BMW i3 electric city car suggests it should fall in line with somewhere around 150 mils per charge from its 32.6 kilowatt battery-pack. The hatchback is powered by a single electric motor driving the front axle. It produces 184 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque.
Mini John Cooper Works GP. The British automaker was a smash hit when gas was running $4 a gallon, but it’s been struggling of late, with the Countryman SUV its only real success right now. But Mini is pushing back and plans to hone its original formula, as the new John Cooper Works GP is meant to demonstrate. Equipped with a 301 horsepower drivetrain, it will be screaming fast. But potential buyers for the 2-door hardtop will need to move fast, as well, with only 3,000 being built worldwide at a base price of around $46,000.
Porsche Taycan 4S. Porsche’s first battery-electric vehicle, the Taycan, has been receiving rave reviews, but a price tag for the Turbo models running as high as $160,000 means only a handful of buyers can readily afford one. At $103,800, the Taycan 4S is a bit more “affordable,” yet remains blisteringly fast, able to launch from 0-60 in just 3.8 seconds. Two battery packs will be available and the larger one should still yield more than 250 miles per charge.
Tesla Cybertruck. Okay, for starters, that appears to be the name of the long-awaited Tesla pickup, but we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, in typical fashion, Tesla will be revealing its new offering at the SpaceX facility in Los Angeles where it also debuted the upcoming Model Y, rather than at the L.A. Auto Show on November 21. We don’t know much, though CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that the pickup will be “a better truck than an F-150 in terms of truck-like functionality, and be a better sports car than a standard (Porsche) 911.” We question whether, as he suggested, it will tow 300,000 pounds, however.
Toyota Avalon AWD and Camry AWD. Los Angeles may seem an odd place to introduce a car with all-wheel-drive but considering the snow and cold weather blanketing much of the country, the timing is perfect. This will be the first AWD version of Toyota’s midsize mainstay since 1991. It will borrow its traction-enhancing technology from the RAV4 SUV. The system also will appear for the first time in the bigger Avalon sedan. Toyota hopes the addition of AWD will maintain demand for the sedans as buyers might otherwise migrate to SUVs.
Toyota RAV4 PHEV. Japan’s largest automaker effectively invented the conventional hybrid with the original Prius, but it has been reluctant to take the next step with more advanced battery technology. Right now, its Prius Prime is Toyota’s only plug-based vehicle, but it is broadening out with the addition of the new plug-in version of the popular SUV. The RAV4 PHEV is expected to deliver significantly better mileage than the current RAV4 Hybrid’s 40 mpg combined – but by tapping into a bigger lithium-ion battery pack, it also “will become the most powerful RAV4 yet,” hints Toyota.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. We got an advanced look at the two-row version of VW’s Atlas sport-utility vehicle last month and it offers a neat alternative to those who aren’t hauling kids to school and soccer practice all the time. Despite some subtle exterior tweaks, at first glance, potential shoppers might confuse the new Cross Sport with the original Atlas model. The dimensions are virtually identical, with the same, 117.3-inch wheelbase and an overall length that’s just 2.8 inches shorter than the seven-seater. Height is also down a bit over 2 inches.
Volkswagen ID Space Vizzion Concept. No, it’s not one of the flying cars you’ve been hearing about but a prototype of one of the next all-electric models that the German automaker plans to build. The Space Vizzion Concept adopts a sort of wagon-like appearance but VW confirms there will be different production versions for different markets – and that likely means a more SUV-like take for the U.S. where it will join other long-range models including the ID.4 crossover set to be built in Tennessee, as well as the ID Buzz, an all-electric take on the classic Volkswagen Microbus.