Tesla, Electric Mustang Among Top Trucks, SUVS of L.A. Auto Week

November 22, 2019 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

Tesla’s Cybertruck, an electric Ford Mustang, the Land Rover Defender and a plug-in hybrid Toyota RAV4 were among the top truck and SUV debuts of L.A. Auto Show week.

Automakers are starting to embrace electric drive, although tentatively. Tesla, which only sells electric vehicles, is moving to have a model in every segment of the auto market.

With its Mustang Mach-E, Ford is starting to put development and marketing dollars into electric vehicles. This is the automaker’s first attempt to transition a major nameplate into the electric age.

Toyota — which still doesn’t have a battery-electric vehicle for sale in the U.S. — has created a family crossover that is stepping in that direction. And both Honda and Land Rover are adding an electric boost to their conventional gasoline vehicles.

All of this is on display at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show for the next week with the exception of Tesla, which took advantage of the auto hype in Los Angeles to debut its pickup truck at a separate event in the city.

Here’s the rundown on the top trucks and SUVs from the week of debuts and reveals.

FORD MUSTANG MACH-E

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Ford plans to electrify its entire range of vehicles. An electric F-150 is waiting in the wings. But the automaker is starting with the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, an electric variant of its popular sports car.

The Mustang Mach-E has styling cues from the gas version, but it’s a separate vehicle. Ford calls it an SUV for marketing purposes but it’s a bit smaller, more like a crossover. There’s a roomy interior and plenty of cargo space.

It goes on sale next year. The base “Select” trim level of the new electric Mustang Mach-E will start at $43,895. A federal tax credit that will be worth $7,500 to most purchasers will cut the real cost to $36,395. State and local credits available in some regions would reduce the actual cost by thousands more.

Like its gasoline sibling, Ford will offer a variety of configurations that have different ranges and power. One version of the Mustang Mach-E will have a 0-to-60 mph time of less than 4 seconds. The most powerful model will have 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. The range starts at 210 miles per charge and climbs to 300, depending on the model.

Ford is loading the Mach-E with tech. All Mach-E trims will feature a new generation of Ford’s SYNC voice- and touch-control infotainment system. A 15.5-inch color touch screen mounted dead center in the dash above the floating center console is the heart of the system.

Ford is already taking orders for the vehicle.

TESLA CYBERTRUCK

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The electric vehicle company ignored the formal 2019 L.A. Auto Show but picked the week to unveil is “Cybertruck” pickup truck at its own event. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said the pickup will go on sale in late 2021. Customers can order the truck now.

It’s oddly styled and looks nothing like a pickup truck. The Cybertruck has sharp, angled edges connecting flat surfaces. Musk said the Blade Runner film inspired the design. It also could be from Battlestar Galactica.

The base model starts at $39,900. The mid-range dual motor model is $49,900 and the tri-motor begins at $69,900. The prices are without any incentives. Tesla has lost eligibility for the federal EV tax credit because it hit the sales cap.

Tesla did not release horsepower or torque ratings, numbers that truck buyers closely watch. It will be fast. The base single motor model is Tesla-rated with a 0-60 mph acceleration time of just under 6.5 seconds.

The automaker will offer the truck in three battery configurations. The base model will deliver 250 miles, Musk said. The midrange model will go 350 miles. And the top-of-the-line Cybertruck will deliver 500 miles.

TOYOTA RAV4 PRIME

Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota RAV4 Prime

The Toyota RAV4 Prime was one of the most practical vehicles that debuted at the L.A. Auto Show.

The RAV4 already is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. that is not a pickup truck. A high-riding crossover, it has supplanted the family sedan because of its interior space and comfortable ride.

Toyota is doing all it can to extend the brand. It has a gasoline version, an adventure model, a gas-hybrid and will start selling this plug-in hybrid next year.

But it isn’t pithing this RAV4, which can travel about 40 miles in electric mode before the gas engine kicks in, as a green vehicle. That means most people will be able to do their daily commutes just on electricity. But they will still have the gas engine to extend the range to hundreds of miles. This version of the RAV4 will be the second-fastest vehicle in the Toyota lineup. It has a 0-to-60 mph of 5.8 seconds. Only Toyota’s Supra sports car will go faster.

Toyota is calling the 2021 RAV4 Prime a performance crossover.

Compared with the regular RAV4 Hybrid, the Prime has more powerful motor-generators, a newly developed high-capacity Lithium-Ion battery and a booster converter. That adds up to an 83-horsepower jump in total system output over the RAV4 Hybrid and a 2-second improvement in 0-to-60 mph time. The 2021 RAV4 Prime uses a differently tuned version of the RAV4 Hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gas engine. The combination electric/gasoline drive system tops out a 302 horsepower.

Toyota will equip the RAV4 Prime with an extensive list of standard features. They include heated front seats, an 8-way power, blind-spot alert, leather-trimmed steering wheel, power liftgate, an 8-inch touchscreen, and Amazon Alexa, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

LAND ROVER DEFENDER

2020 Land Rover Defender

2020 Land Rover Defender

Jaguar Land Rover gave its iconic Land Rover Defender it’s U.S. debut at the L.A. Auto Show.

The British automaker plans to sell the Defender again in the U.S. following a more than a 20-year absence.

The new version has less of a military-industrial look than the old model. Consider it “modern-rugged.” The Defender maintains its trademark side-hinged rear door. But now the spare tire will hang off the rear hatch.

The price starts at $49,900 for the P300 powertrain designation with a 2-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine. There’s also a fancier version with P300 powertrain that starts $53,350.

The P400 designation has a 3-liter, inline six-cylinder engine. That model starts at $62,250 and rises to $80,900. These prices don’t include the $1,025 delivery fee.

U.S. customers will choose between a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, badged P300, and a six-cylinder Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle powertrain, badged P400.

The P300 powertrain produces up to 296 horsepower. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds.

The P400 uses a hybrid system to capture energy lost during braking and use to improve performance. The inline six-cylinder engine has both a conventional twin-scroll turbocharger and an advanced 48-volt electric supercharger. A belt-integrated starter motor replaces the alternator to assist the gasoline engine under acceleration, while the 48-volt lithium-ion battery stores energy captured as the vehicle slows. In combination, the system produces up to 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration is in 5.8 seconds.

HONDA CR-V HYBRID

Honda CR-V hybrid

Honda CR-V hybrid

The gas version of the Honda CR-V hybrid is one of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S.  Honda is looking to extend its sales especially as the hybrid version of Toyota’s RAV4 has become a popular consumer choice.

The 2020 CR-V Hybrid is the first electrified SUV from the Honda brand in America. The company already sells hybrid sedans, including the Accord and the Insight. Honda sees hybrids as a fuel economy play. It plans to equip all of its core U.S. models with its two-motor hybrid-electric system in the coming years.

Honda says the hybrid will offer improved fuel efficiency while maintaining a balance of interior space, driving dynamics and comfort. The CR-V uses the two-motor hybrid powertrain of the Accord Hybrid. It combines two electric motors with a 2-liter gas engine. The system produces up to 212 horsepower. It is expected to get 50 percent better fuel economy in city driving but Honda did not provide expected mpg numbers. However, that equates to at least 42 mpg.

The CR-V Hybrid also is the first application of all-wheel drive to Honda’s two-motor hybrid system in the U.S. When available traction is low, an electronic clutch activates, sending the appropriate level of power from the electric motor to the rear wheels.

John O'Dell November 22, 2019
Tesla unveiled its Cybertruck, a stainless steel behemoth that’s all sharp angles and flat surfaces hiding a lot of practical truck capability for a planned starting price of $39,000.

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