This year’s Los Angeles Auto Show was all about the bass. The four-day press conference schedule was packed with pickups, SUVs and crossover debuts that all represent a changing market that screams bigger is better.
From rock-crawling utilities to ground-breaking engine technology to over-the-top product placement, Trucks.com came, saw and survived yet another auto show. Here are the red-carpet worthy picks from the 2017 show.
1. 2018 Jeep Wrangler
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2018 Jeep Wrangler hits all the marks. The next-gen version comes standard with improved capability, technology and fuel efficiency. FCA replaced the Jeep’s steel doors, fenders and panels with aluminum for weight reduction, more rigidity and better fuel economy. Backup cameras are now standard equipment and blind-spot monitoring is available on every trim level but the base Sport.
The new Wrangler has three engine options: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine assisted by the mild hybrid system, a gasoline-powered 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. Stop-start technology aids fuel efficiency.
Style-wise, the Rubicon trim takes the cake. Its appearance best embodies the Wrangler spirit. Its striking presence, protective rock rails and polished aluminum wheels immediately set it apart. Compared with other models, its body is raised by an inch and can fit standard 33-inch tires.
The add-on announcement that FCA plans to launch a plug-in hybrid powertrain version in 2020 also was a pleasant surprise.
2. VW I.D. Crozz
Volkswagen unveiled its all-electric I.D. Crozz concept crossover that it will bring to the U.S. market in 2020. The EV will be available in both rear-wheel- or all-wheel-drive. It will be similar in size to the Volkswagen Tiguan, but the lack of an engine will give it the interior space of a larger mid-sized SUV.
The rear motor in the concept version of the I.D. Crozz makes 201 horsepower and the front motor adds 101 horsepower when additional power or traction is needed for a combined 302 horsepower.
The Crozz styling has a touch of Tesla, which is sure to be a rival.
Toyota’s FT-AC was the second adventure concept the automaker revealed this year. Toyota is pushing hard into the outdoor lifestyle segment, aiming at millennials who need to get away but want to stay connected. The FT-AC is the size of the company’s popular RAV4, but much more capable. The rugged styling is draped in a mean green, and it sports a prominent grille design with black and silver detailing. The fog lights double as flashlights when popped out of the socket.
Millennials will be happy to know that the automaker has embedded cameras in each of the side mirrors that can record or livestream off-roading activity. There are lights on the roof rack that cast ambient lighting around the vehicle or can be used as flashbulbs to support photos. The crossover is fully connected and offers passengers the option to upload, edit and post footage via mobile app (that can also control the lights).
Once known for its almost uniform boring styling, Toyota has successfully added panache to its design language. Too bad the concept had no interior, because the aspirational FT-AC seems to know no boundaries
4. Infiniti QX50
Another midsize crossover? Yes, but this one comes with cutting-edge engine technology. Infiniti said it’s the most important vehicle it’s ever launched in the crossover-obsessed market because it will help the nameplate grow. That may be true, but the engine is what makes it magical. The 2019 QX50 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that adjusts its compression ratio depending on driver input to anything between 8:1 and 14:1. The former is better for more power and performance, while the latter is better for efficiency. The automaker estimates that the front-wheel drive version will get an EPA rating of 27 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The all-wheel-drive model will get 26 mpg.
The QX50 also is easy on the eyes. It follows the pattern of other crossovers, but it has sharp edges and sculptured surfaces with Infiniti design cues.
5. Subaru Ascent
Subaru was filled with joy when it rolled out its all-new 2018 Ascent large SUV — an all-new model designed and built in America for American drivers. The Ascent is a vehicle targeted specifically for the U.S. market and its thirst for third rows. The interior of the SUV is spacious— the automaker demonstrated its size during the introduction with a pack of blonde canines that adorably tumbled out onto the stage.
This is a family–friendly vehicle that can fit up to eight humans (and dogs), offering 153.5 cubic feet of interior space. Cargo stowage grows to 72.6 cubic feet when the two rear rows are folded down. Third-row passengers will have little problem crawling into the back as the rear doors swing open 75 degrees. There is also cargo space in the rear as well as underfloor storage.
The SUV is packed with safety technology, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and “sway” alerts as well as pre-collision throttle control. The best news is the price. The 2019 Ascent will start in the low $30,000s, an attainable price for any furry, four-legged family of eight.
6. Nissan Titan AT-M6
Nissan displayed a fanciful Nissan Titan AT-M6 pickup truck, named after one of the weapons used by the bad guys in the film “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
The show truck features a massive cannon affixed to its back, a body wrap reminiscent of machines used in the latest “Star Wars” episode and other space weaponry. Part of Nissan’s co-promotion with the science fiction movie, this truck might have traveled one star too far.