L.A. Auto Show preview

New Mercedes CLS, BMW hybrid roadster and high-powered Porsches among L.A. debuts

2018 Jeep Wrangler
Los Angeles debuts
  • BMW i8 roadster

  • Chevy Corvette ZR1 convertible
  • Infiniti QX50
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Lexus RX350L
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Lincoln MKC
  • Mazda6
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS
  • Nissan Kicks
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S and E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
  • Porsche 718 Boxster
  • Porsche 718 Cayman GTS
  • Porsche 911 Carrera T
  • Subaru Ascent

LOS ANGELES — If October's Tokyo auto show lacked any meaningful production debuts that consumers could bank on, this week's Los Angeles auto show will help fill the void.

AutoMobility LA, as the show's preview days are known, will host a disparate group of world debuts from mostly import brands. Here's a look at the most anticipated ones:

BMW: After years of speculation and anticipation, L.A. will finally be the landing spot for BMW's i8 roadster. Using the original i8 that debuted in 2014 as a jumping-off point, this plug-in hybrid two-seater will have slightly greater range and more power (the current coupe has 14 miles (23 km) of EV-only range, 330 miles total range and 357 total system horsepower).

Chevrolet: Chevrolet is expected to bring to L.A. a convertible version of the ZR1 it showed in Dubai earlier this month. It will have the same 6.2-liter, 755 horsepower V-8, with shifting duties handled by an eight-speed automatic transmission or a seven-speed manual gearbox.

Infiniti QX50

Infiniti: Nissan's luxury brand will show a redesigned QX50 crossover. The production version will likely follow closely the design direction of the concept that debuted in January in Detroit. Not only will this update breathe new life into Infiniti's compact crossover model at a crucial time for the segment, it will also be the production debut of Infiniti's new variable-compression turbocharged engine that promises the power of a six-cylinder from a more efficient four-cylinder unit. A 2018 on-sale date is expected.

Jeep: Though the 2018 Wrangler has already broken cover, L.A. will be the model's first auto show appearance and the first look at official details. The redesigned model leaves the basic ethos of the Wrangler unchanged — you don't mess with an icon — but a pair of new engine choices will join the lineup later in the 2018 model year: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder similar to the one in the Wrangler's FCA cousin, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, and a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. Don't hold your breath for the Wrangler pickup — the Scrambler — as that debut is a ways off.

Lexus: At long last, Lexus is expected to reveal a three-row version of its ever-popular RX crossover. Don't expect its footprint to change much from the current two-row model or for the third row to have room for full-size adults. The RX name will stick around since it's already Lexus' most popular model by a wide margin, with an "L" tacked on to differentiate it. Look for mild styling updates and the continuation of the existing hybrid and gas powertrains.

Lincoln:The MKX midsize crossover, Lincoln's best-selling model, is due for a redesign for the 2019 model year. It should pick up the mesh grille that's spreading throughout the Lincoln lineup. Powertrain updates are unknown currently though it's likely the model picks up a nine-speed transmission to replace the current six-speed. Lincoln's smaller MKC crossover could also show up with a midlife refresh.


Mazda: After showing a sexy new design study in Tokyo that foreshadowed the next-generation 3 compact hatchback, Mazda will turn its attention to the larger Mazda6 sedan in L.A. The car gets revised styling inside and out and the addition of an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's currently in the CX-9 crossover.

Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes will show a third-generation CLS that will bring the four-door coupe in line with the recent E-class looks. Powertrains could mimic those in the refreshed S-Class (3.0-liter turbo V-6 and 4.0-liter turbo V-8).

Nissan: Nissan has said it will use the L.A. show to reveal a new CUV model to its growing lineup. That's expected to be a U.S. version of the subcompact Kicks crossover. Expected to go on sale in early 2018, the Kicks will face off against the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Chevy Trax in one of the hottest segments in the industry.

Porsche: Porsche always treats the L.A. auto show well, and this year is no exception. It will show four models that have all been previously revealed, though not at an auto show: the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (think Panamera wagon with 680 horsepower), 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS iterations; and 911 Carrera T.

Subaru: With demand for three-row family crossovers hot across the industry, Subaru will get into the game with the new Ascent SUV. Picking up where the Tribeca left off when it was ditched in 2014, the Ascent is expected to offer a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive (of course). It will be sized in line with competitors such as Honda's Pilot and Toyota's Highlander. Styling will be a more conventional version of what appeared on the Viziv-7 concept at last year's L.A. show.

You can reach David Undercoffler at undercoffler@crain.com.

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