Los Angeles Auto Show – November 2007

Until recently, the Los Angeles Auto Show took place in early January, just days before the much more larger and more influential Detroit Show, and as such, it tended to get few launches, and limited press coverage. In an attempt to fix this, the show was moved to a few weeks before Christmas, and the 2007 show opened to the public yesterday (16th November), and runs for the next 10 days. So, definitely now a few weeks before Detroit, but, sadly, still limited in the number of true new cars which were unveiled. That does not make it a bad show. Far from it, in fact, and I spent a whole day researching the latest models offered to the American market, and was largely untroubled with much in the way of crowds. In fact, the show was “very quiet” until about 6pm, at which point it became perhaps just “quiet”. Unlike Frankfurt, which is just huge, the main exhibits here are concentrated in just 2 halls at the LA Convention Centre, with a separate, small hall for Porsche and a slightly larger one for “super cars”.

Nothing new here, and Acura is deliberately positioned as completely separate to Honda, but this did catch my eye, as an image booster
Unsurprisingly, pride of place here was given to the new DBS. As I see this car in the metal again, its looks are growing on me, and we now know from those lucky enough to have driven it just how special it really is
One of the show unveilings was this concept car, a convertible version of the forthcoming Q5. Form your own opinion about the looks……….. it did not appeal to me, especially in that rather startling bronze paint finish!
The rest of the stand featured an array of production models, all finished in silver, except for the much acclaimed R8
Another huge stand, with just three cars on it, starting with the new Continental Speed
Also featured were the more familiar Flying Spur, and the rather stately looking Arnage
Large crowds here, and it did not take long to figure out what they were all looking at!
The 1-series was making its US debut, too.
Nothing here that was previously unseen, and still a stand where the average age of the clientele seemed to be well into retirement. Production models of the super-charged cars were on show, including this LaCrosse
Lots of interest in the new CTS. This was a car I did want to see, not least to ascertain whether the interior quality really is as good as it looks in the pictures. After waiting quite a while to get in one, I can report that while Audi need not yet be worried, it is a big step forward.
All the other models in the range were on display, too, including the traditional DTS and STS large sedans.
“Green” was an omni-present theme, and everyone seemed to have jumped on this bandwagon, including Cadillac who had a Hybrid version of the monster Escalade to show us.
Not a lot that was truly new here, but several of the concept cars from the last year or so staged a reappearance, including the baby trio:
Coming soon, as a production car, is a face-lifted version of the Aveo hatchback. This one will be sold in Europe, too, replacing the Kalos.
Chevrolet were also promoting the green credentials of their largest models, the Suburban and Tahoe with new hybrid offerings
The Volt concept was here again. We are promised a production version of something like this in 2010
Still lots of interest in the Camaro, and it still seems like it is a long way off from production. 2009 is the year, we are told.
Available right now is the new Malibu, a conservative mid-sized sedan that has been generally well received. A future rental car staple, despite what Chevy would want, so I look forward to forming my own views in the not too distant future!
More familiar is the Cobalt, offered in saloon and coupe forms:
A huge display area here, as you would expect. 2 of the cars that they recently announced would be culled from the range were not on display – so, no Crossfire and no PT Cruiser Cabrio, but the Pacifica and the Magnum were much in evidence. Largest number of display cars, unsurprisingly, were the new Minivans, the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Town and Country, which are now on sale, and which seemed to look less boxy than they did when shown as pre-production models at New York back in April. The interior trim quality looked to have taken a step forward, too. Indeed, it needed this, just to get anywhere close to any of its market competitors.
Less impressive inside is the rather oddly styled Sebring, now well established in the mid-sized market.
The sister model Avenger was also there, of course
Latest offering, not yet on sale is the Dodge Journey, a neat, but rather inoffensive looking crossover.
Not new, but still interesting is the concept Chrysler Nassau.
Hybrid versions of the large SUVs were announced, namely the Dodge Durango and the Chrysler Aspen
Facing an uncertain future, the PT Cruiser was still on show, and attracting a surprising amount of interest for such an established model
A four car display here, showing off their latest models, all of them lovely.
There was actually one new item here. The familiar 612 Scaglietti is to be produced in a limited edition of 60 cars, called the 612 Sessanta, and here it is:

Surprisingly low key effort here, with not a lot that was new. The one car that is, is the 2009 Ford Flex, the production version of the Fairlane concept car from a couple of years ago.
The rebranded cars were here, too. Ford is hoping that the Taurus name has positive connotations………….. I am not so sure, even if brand recogniition is stronger than Freestyle, which is the former name for this one
and this is the car formerly known as Five Hundred.
Several versions of the new Focus were here. The initial pictures made this look appalling, but in the metal, it is not as bad as I feared. It’s a new body on the first generation Focus, still, and has just gone on sale as a 4 door sedan and a 2 door “Coupe”.
Rather more alarming was this version of the Edge crossover
Nothing new from Mustang-land. The wildest version on show was the GT500KR.
Ford had some of their trucks on display, too, in various sizes!
Pride of place here, on a stand with a huge focus on the environment, was the FCX Clarity, which will go on controlled availability mid 2008, on a lease-only basis.
Honda has a different image in the US to Europe, with the average age of its owners much lower, and the Mugen-Honda Civic targets that affluent youth very well.
In sales terms, the new Accord is clearly far more significant. The latest model was launched in the summer and it appears to be “more of the same”. Slightly bigger, totally inoffensive, but not exactly exciting!
Another previously unseen car, and promised in production form for 2009 was the Genesis Coupe
Hyundai were also showing the Veloster concept car that made its debut at Frankfurt.
Plenty of production cars, too. The latest Elantra was launched a year ago, but has never made it to Europe.
A lone turntable-d example of the XF was on show here. I wonder whether this car will succeed in the vital US market or not. Comments I heard were not universally positive, with many saying it looks like a Lexus, and many complaining it is not a traditional Jag look – something I thought Jaguar market research had proved was a problem not an asset?
Newly launched is the new Liberty. Looking like a squared-off version of the outgoing model, this car has not had a particularly good set of reviews from the US press, who like the chunky looks and the off-road capabilities, but are less than impressed by the poor quality finish inside and the dynamics.
Various versions of the traditional Wrangler were on show.
The smaller Jeeps, launched in 2006 have had a mixed reaction. Everyone seems to favour the Patriot over the Compass
Fast improving Kia put on an large showing, with 2 concept cars. There were supposed to be 3, but the Kee, as seen at Frankfurt, came loose in the shipping container, and was too badly damaged to be able to be shown, so visitors had to be content with these 2 offerings. The white one, the Soul, is alleged to be very close to a production model which will be launched in 2008.
Current models were also in evidence:
Another car whose looks are growing on me is the very exclusive Reventon, which had centre stage on this stand. Maybe it was displayed in better light than it was in Frankfurt? Certainly, it was easier to get a good view, and it does look particularly menacing, and although clearly from the Lambo family, different in all details, when you compare it with the Murcielago and the Gallardo.
Nothing new here, but all the range were on show, including the LR2
Earlier in the day, my ears had been treated to the sound of an IS-F out on the road. What a glorious sound. Lexus clearly thought that the show go-ers should get this, too, so they had rigged up an example on a rolling road, and every few minutes were giving it every rev they could.
There were a couple of examples on the main show stand, too.
About to go on sale is the latest large Lexus SUV, the GX570
Another true newcomer is the MKS. Replacing the long-lived Town Car, this looks like a big leap forward, though the prose that was being spouted by the guy on the turntable with it definitely won the prize for the worst nonsense I heard all day (and there was plenty of competition). I should have recorded the phrases he used about lythe and thrusting lines around the wheel arches denoting thrusting progress through the something or other………… I said it was complete nonsense!
Other models on show included the MKX, a posh version of the Ford Edge
A competition was taking place, here, with a real clay styling model being produced. As this was day 1 of the show, they still had a long way to go!
A Cosmo from 1967 was a reminded that Mazda have had rotary engines for 40 years now.
The CX-7 and CX-9, hard to tell apart at a glance, were on show. The latter has just been voted SUV of the year by “Motor Trend” magazine in their giant SUV test of the year.
Earlier in the year, the Escape and Mariner twins were “toughened” up in the styling domain. Of the 2, I’d say that the Mariner looks less ridiculous, with its waterfall grille.
Mid-sized family motoring from Mercury comes from the Milan.
Mercury did a rebranding, too, and the Montego has been rechristened Sable
As if to emphasise the divorce, the stand was about as far from the Chrysler stand as you could get! This is the US launch for the new C Class, including the C63 AMG
Plenty of other Mercs to look at, too, to suit all price brackets!
A large stand, with lots of production cars crammed in, but pride of place went to one concept car, and the new Lancer range.
As well as showing the new Lancer Evo, some of the older models were also on display, to emphasise the heritage of this model.
Not in the main supercar hall, but in a small display in the corridor were 2 Morgans. Both of the show cars were the more modern versions of the traditional Brit
No surprise that some of the largest crowds in the show were to be found here. And no prizes for guessing which of the newcomers on the stand was attracting all the attention. Yes, indeed, the GT-R was a real crowd-puller.
Alongside it was also a brand new model, the 2009 Murano. Hardly anyone seemed to notice. The interior looks much better, but I am not convinced that the changes to the outside are an improvement.
More familiar offerings included the Altima Coupe:
and the X-Terra
and the Rogue, closely related to the European Qashqai
The Sentra:
And the Versa
Show newcomer is the new Vibe. Not, in my opinion, a styling success, though its twin brother, the Matrix, is even clumsier. The interior did look like it has advanced a lot in terms of quality, though
Rather more to my taste is the Solstice. Now available in a GXP version with the power that was so missing from the early models
Pontiac also have a small coupe, the G5, which is a close relative to the Chevy Cobalt.
In a hall all by themselves, a display of Stuttgart’s finest
Another showing for the new Drophead. I still cannot quite get over just how enormous this car is, and yet how elegant it manages to look.
Lots of the newly facelifted 9.3 were on show.
The US-only 9.7X was there, too.
The Astra is now on sale, replacing the rather mediocre Ion. Costing more money, for a smaller car, and a hatch at that, it will be interesting to see how this car succeeds in the US market
A few weeks ago, I drove the mid-sized Aura, and was impressed
Not such a familiar supercar brand, perhaps, but from an appearance point of view, fully justifying their presence in this hall where 4 amazing looking variants.
Ah, Subaru. Home of the styling triumphs! Big focus on the new Impreza, of course, with every model on display from the entry level version, to the STI models.
One novelty here, the Makai:
Attracting most attention on this stand were the simulators, but there were actually 3 brand new models. Most important in sales terms, were the new Corolla and Matrix. The former looks like a cross between the old model and the Camry, and the latter looks like someone turned the rather ungainly Solara into something rather unpleasant.
Also on show for the first time is the new Sequoia, the largest of the SUV range that Toyota sell.
A further newcomer is the hybrid version of the latest Highlander.
The FJ Cruiser is well established in the US now, but the pick-up version is new.
The latest version of the Up! concept was here. This being the US, where more room for everything is required (!), the people carrier version, the Space Up! was presented. It was getting a lot of attention, and the views I heard seemed to be very positive
VW is one of the few manufacturers offering diesel engined cars in the US, and they were making a big play of this with the latest version of the Jetta.
Also on show was the Tiguan.
Production models included the Passat, on display in red, which is not the most common colour for this car, certainly in Europe
As part of the “green” theme, Volvo were showing the electric concept version of the C30 that they wheeled out at Frankfurt.
Newest production model is the latest V70.
Overall, then, although there was not a lot of previously unseen material – and most of what there was, frankly, was visually unappealing! – a good day out!
2009-12-23 08:44:45

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