Los Angeles Auto Show 2013: All the Brands A-L

Considering we spent enough time yesterday reviewing the issues facing the Los Angeles Auto Show, let us get right to the list of cars, trucks and concepts we saw on our trip to the west coast.DSCN9911 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

The RLX wasn’t new, but the SH-AWD was

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

There was no Press Conference for Acura in Los Angeles and if we didn’t spend our time reviewing the press releases ahead of the show we would not have even know that Acura had anything new in store.  The RLX Hybrid features a novel AWD setup; there is no driveshaft to the rear wheels.  Instead, each rear wheel has a 27 kW electric motor that depending on the circumstances, provides forward momentum, regenerative braking or individual control of each rear wheel for torque vectoring or slip control.  The 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid is scheduled to go on sale in the spring of 2014.

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The 4-Series Convertible did feature my favorite interior design detail: Neck Warmers

The 4-Series Convertible did feature my favorite interior design detail: Neck Warmers

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2014 BMW 4-Series Convertible 2014 BMW 4-Series Convertible

2014 BMW 4-Series convertible

Many have all been lusting after the gorgeous 4-Series since it was introduced, and now we get a new model to pine over.  The 4-Series convertible is everything the Coupe promises and more – its topless appearance benefiting for a “boat deck” look when the top is stowed.  The 3-piece metal and fully sound-proofed hardtop has a more formal roofline than the coupe with a more distinct break from the C-pillar to the decklid.  There are not many other differences between the design of the coupe and convertible, even the boomerang-shaped “Air Breather” is the same.  My favorite interior feature of the whole show can be found inside the 4-Series:  Neck Warmers!  Perfect for those crispy days when you are motoring with the top down and the heat on high.

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BMW X4 Concept

BMW X4 Concept

BMW X4 Concept

Here’s a quick intelligence logic test:  The X6 is to the X5, like the __ is to the X3:  BMW brought the X4 concept to LA to answer that question and further expand their definition of a Sport Activity Vehicle.  Since it is based on the mechanicals of the X3 you have seen all of the underpinnings before, now wrapped in a new body.  On the outside, while we are not a fan of the coupe/SUV mashup, the X4 proportions seem to work a lot better than the X6. Inside, we didn’t get a chance to sit in it but it looks like the back seat headroom is compromised at best.  When the production version comes, it will be produced in BMW’s Spartanburg plant.  Perhaps the Range Rover Evoque finally has a head-to-head challenger.

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Production BMW i8 unveiling with Adrian van Hooydonk and Jean Jennings in the background

2015 BMW i8 

After 2 years of teasing, the production version of the i8 was unveiled in Los Angeles and promptly won Automobile magazine’s 2014 Design of the Year.  The C-pillar pass-through made it to production and is still one of my favorite exterior design features although I miss the stunning color combination of the concepts.  And while BMW gave everyone across the street a chance to take a spin around the block in the i3, the i8 is an entirely different proposition.  The i8 is not an eco-friendly hybrid sports car, it is a supercar that just happens to use an eco-friendly powertrain.  Yes, you heard me say it, the BMW i8 is a supercar.  How do I know?

BMW i8 interior

BMW i8 interior

Before I answer let me say that through the years I have driven many a supercar, including a Renault Alpine A310, a Ferrari F40 and a Lamborghini Countach among others.  Add to that many, many (many) race cars and you have a person experienced (some say an expert) in the fine art of making myself look stupid climbing into and out of a car (at least once while it was on fire).   In LA we were given the opportunity to check the i8 out from the inside and while the interior is very nice, getting in and out was more difficult than many race cars.  This is not a car to take the age- appropriate girlfriend out for the evening – if she’s wearing a skirt she will not be amused.

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Caddilac Elmiraj Concept

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

The LA Auto Show included a long list of vehicles that had made their debut elsewhere, but gave us the first chance to see them up close.  The Elmiraj Concept was introduced at Pebble Beach in August then again in Frankfurt and the pictures were stunning.  The car is much better in person.  The lighting fits, the shape and proportion work for me and the style is all Cadillac.  This is a big coupe – in fact it is longer than a Bentley by more than a foot.  The only thing I’d change is the grille – couldn’t they find a more premium finish that the plastic egg crate?  The side vents in the fenders are especially nice and at least Cadillac didn’t call them “Air Breathers”.

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2015 Cadillac Escalade

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Another of the many not-new vehicles at LA was the 2015 Escalade.  Introduced back in October, production starts next spring in Arlington Texas.  The 4th generation Escalade will come in the standard and long wheelbase ESV versions as the EXT pickup was cancelled after the 2013 model year.  Featuring an all LED exterior lighting scheme, the distinctive design will separate it from its less expensive brethren, the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and the GMC Yukon.

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado

2015 Chevrolet Colorado

As the new Colorado was revealed, a video played in the background showing Chevrolet’s new mid-sized pickup passing the Frontier and Tacoma.  If you doubt Chevy’s resolve, all you have to do is listen to the tone of Mark Ruess’s comments “This is a big moment for us, an attack back into the midsize segment”.  Design Manager Jeff Perkins mentioned he had never spent so much time in a wind tunnel in his 20 years of design.  The the 3 main areas where the team spent time? The front corners, the grille shutters and the edge of the rear bed.  Trivia Fact of the day:  hardly any point on a pickup has more impact on the aerodynamics than the height and location of the top edge of the tailgate.  Who knew?

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Like the Escalade, the Tahoe will feature a new exterior and interior for the 2015 model year.  Introduced in New York back in September, the new skin is more muscular and incorporates tucked door frames that improve aerodynamics and cut wind noise.  The Chevy’s headlights also have a scalopped side which follows a recent trend away from efficient rectangular or comely curvaceous shapes.  The grilles on the other hand, look very Impala-like, bringing a sophisticated family appearance and a welcome departure from the “dog-bone” split design of recent models.

FIAT-500-1957-EDITION-42014 Fiat 500 1957 Edition

Celebrating 57 years since the 13 horsepower Fiat Nuovo 500 was introduced (in 1957), Fiat has brought us a special edition in period correct colors.  Here’s hoping they bring back the Jolly!

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Ford Edge Concept

Ford Edge Concept

Ford introduced the Edge Concept at a private party the evening before the show opened.  In truth, the new SUV has been floating around for some time as the image leaked online as part of a Ford Powerpoint file (see it here on the Blue Oval Forum).  The concept shows additional attention to efficiency by adding active grille shutters and fascia air curtains to the range of EcoBoost engines.  What’s an air curtain you ask? Pretty much the same thing as BMW’s Air Breathers.  “Air is guided through ducting and forced out across the front wheel wells, creating an air curtain down the vehicle side.”

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2015 GMC Yukon

Like the Tahoe, Suburban and Escalade, the Yukon will be more aerodynamic, efficient, quieter and  feature increased rear seat room for 2015.  Here at The Supplier Blog we prefer the design details of the Yukon over the others.  The grilles look right, the headlamps are nicely shaped with C-shaped LEDs and include a beautiful texturing detail in the lenses and the chrome inserts on the wheels are exactly the correct use of chrome as an accent.  One nice touch is the active noise cancellation technology found on the Denali models.

Honda  FCEV Concept

Honda FCEV Concept

Honda FCEV

You can read about the FCEV Hydrogen Fuel Cell concept here.

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2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

As convertible fans we tend to prefer the feeling and look of top-down motoring.  This, however, is one case where the capped version is so much better looking than the topless one.  For one, the rear three-quarter and fender appears much more expressive benefiting from the C-pilar integration.  And the fastback roof shape curves gracefully back to the decklid – just like Goldilocks, not too much, not too little, just right.  And then the package is completed with the graphic addition of a dark roof.  Then marry the 550 horsepower supercharged V8 on the “R” model and the result is fantastic.

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Jaguar C-X17 Concept

Jaguar C-X17 Concept

While not new (the C-X17 was introduced in Frankfurt in Electric Blue), at least Jaguar brought the Liquid Metal colored one from Dubai and not the Rose Gold one from China.

billet_silver2014 JEEP Willys Wrangler

For everybody who thought Gloss Black was passé, Chrysler seems destined to continue the trend alone if necessary.  Here we have a perfect combination of satin and gloss with the gloss black grille providing a nice contrast to the matte fenders and bumpers and satin accents.

DSCN9826DSCN9814DSCN9807 DSCN98092015 Kia K900

I guess Kia’s latest model will bring ton’s of Who Let the Dogs out jokes as the naming convention is a bit unfortunate.  The overall shape and surface is attractive if not a bit conservative but the real shame of this model though is in the details.  It seems instead of being a little unique the details were borrowed from everyone.  The chrome wheels look like the 15-spoke ones on the 2000 Chrysler Concorde.  The center caps are borrowed from Audi.  The grille texture is from the Mercedes CLA.  Even the fender vents are borrowed – from themselves.  The requisite morphing to get the size correct makes a vent that looks more like an “H” than it does the Kia tiger nose grille.  Overall while the content is excellent for a vehicle in this price range, the execution of the exterior and interior design is subpar.

2015 Lincoln MKC

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2015 Lincoln MKC

2015 Lincoln MKC

As with most vehicles, the production version loses something when getting translated from the concept.  In the case of the 2015 Lincoln MKC the changes to small parts have a rather large effect on the whole.  Minute changes to the headlamps, exterior mirrors, exhaust, the new license plate cutout and the required addition of exterior door handles gives this small SUV a much less sleek appearance.  At least the wrap-around clamsheel liftgate was retained – Max Wolff, Director of Lincoln Design feels “The execution of the new liftgate is a prime example of how a premium design element can create a better customer experience.”  While still attractive, the elimination of the black roof is the one change we think is most sorely missed.

DSCN0123Come back tomorrow to see the rest of the vehicles; like Mercedes, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Range Rover, SRT, Subaru, Volkswagen and Youabian

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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