Editor’s Picks: Top Trucks of the 2018 LA Auto Show

November 30, 2018 by Ryan ZumMallen, @Zoomy575M

Large SUVs stole the spotlight at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show – with one notable, off-roading exception.

Automakers brought a range of new trucks, SUVs and crossovers to the stage as they rush to feed increasing consumer demand for large vehicles. In Los Angeles they took on different sizes, shapes and power sources to appeal to a wide range of customers in the growing segment.

The reporting team at Trucks.com toured the show floor this week to select the top five vehicles that captured public attention. Here are the most interesting trucks and SUVs from the show:

2020 Jeep Gladiator

Jeep Gladiator (Photo: Brian Williams/For Trucks.com)

The biggest debut in Los Angeles comes with off-road shocks and removable doors. Adventurers had long anticipated the arrival of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, the brand’s first pickup truck in nearly 30 years, and it did not disappoint. The Gladiator gives parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a strong entry in the midsize pickup segment that analysts predict will continue to grow quickly.

The new Gladiator shares some components with its Wrangler sibling, but Jeep is careful to point out differences between the two. Besides the obvious pickup bed, the Gladiator also has a lengthened wheelbase, Fox shocks and Dana axles. Its adventurous Rubicon trim comes with 33-inch Falken tires. The tailgate can be lowered halfway to haul cargo that is longer than the closed bed, and an optional tonneau cover rolls up for easy access.

2020 Rivian R1T and 2021 R1S

Rivian R1T (Photo: Brian Williams/For Trucks.com)

Startup automaker Rivian Automotive showed two all-electric models that it hopes to bring to the U.S. market beginning in 2020: the R1T pickup truck and the R1S midsize SUV. The R1T has up to 753 horsepower or 400 miles of range and starts at $69,000. The R1S has the same powertrains, power and range, but pricing has not been announced.

The twin Rivian models captured plenty of attention on the show floor thanks to eye-catching lighting cues and simple but classic styling lines. In addition to their shared powertrain, the platform, suspension and electronics are also the same. And the Rivians are no posers – the R1T has a maximum towing capacity of up to 11,000 pounds, and both models have ground clearance of more than 14 inches.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

Lincoln Aviator (Photo: Brian Williams/For Trucks.com)

Lincoln Motor Co. turned heads with the striking design and innovative technology of its 2020 Aviator, but its powertrain may be the most interesting feature. When the Aviator goes on sale in summer 2019, all versions will have a twin-turbocharged 3-liter V6 engine. However, the new Grand Touring model adds a plug-in hybrid system that allows the Aviator to drive in all-electric range and bumps up power figures to 450 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque.

The Aviator debuts a new rear-wheel architecture that will also underpin the next-generation 2020 Ford Explorer. The SUV also boasts flashy features like an adaptive air suspension, a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster and full operation via smartphone without the need for a key. Sales have been slow for Lincoln in 2018, but the arrival of the Aviator and its smaller Nautilus sibling could turn the tide in the growing luxury SUV market.

2019 Honda Passport

Honda Passport (Photo: Brian Williams/For Trucks.com)

Automakers are desperate to fill any gap in their SUV lineup, and the new Honda Passport is a perfect example. The Passport squeezes into the space between the brand’s five-seat CR-V and three-row Pilot crossovers. Honda has positioned it as an adventure-capable vehicle to battle not only the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano but also the rugged Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner.

Those are big shoes for the Passport to fill. Yet its 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque are nearly identical to what’s currently offered by the Grand Cherokee and 4Runner. The Passport also comes with an advanced all-wheel drive system and maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds that are strong selling points in the segment.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

 

Hyundai Palisade (Photo: Brian Williams/For Trucks.com)

Hyundai needed a three-row crossover to capture sales from popular vehicles like the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot. In the 2020 Palisade the automaker has a true competitor, with seating for up to eight passengers and a premium interior on top trims. Hyundai will reveal pricing information closer to the vehicle’s launch in summer 2019.

The Palisade has a brash front end and upright, semi-boxy styling. But in person the vehicle is smartly packaged and uses its size to create space for passengers and cargo. It comes in two- or all-wheel-drive, the latter of which is equipped with variable torque distribution and a snow-drive setting for maximum traction. The SUV is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.

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