Los Angeles is once again kicking off the domestic auto show season, and although the severe economic downturn has led GM to move the debut of its new sedans to Detroit -- the L.A. show will still serve as the launching pad for plenty of exciting ecofriendly sheetmetal.

L.A. highlights include the fuel-cell Kia Borrego, the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid, the Volkswagen Touareg TDI Baja racer and the U.S. debut of the X5 xDrive35d!

Catch more coverage of the L.A. show from MotorTrend.com with such highlights as the 2008 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible, 2010 Ford Fusion, and 2010 Mazda3. On top of that, there will be some goodies on hand for L.A.'s green scene, including the electric Mini E and a natural-gas-powered Toyota Camry Hybrid!

Featured Vehicles

Audi Q5
BMW X5 xDrive35d
BMW X6 Active/Hybrid
Chrysler Town & Country EV
Jeep Wrangler EV
Kia Borrego FCEV
Kia Soul
2010 Lexus RX 350
2010 Lexus RX 450h
2010 Nissan Cube
Volkswagen Touareg TDI Baja racer
2009 Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI (50-State Legal)

Volkswagen Touareg TDI Baja racer
Volkswagen will display its specially built Touareg TDI Baja racer at the Los Angeles auto show on November 19, then send it off to Ensenada, Mexico, for the ultimate Baja test where it will participate in the Baja 1000 race held from November 20-23. This year's Baja 1000 will be Volkswagen's first Baja race.

VW's motorsports director Kris Nissen is realistic about the outcome of the race: "We don't expect to win the first race. It's a new vehicle, with rear-drive; a heavier vehicle. We'll do our best to finish the race, then work hard in the winter -- and I promise we'll be a winner in 2009. Our goal is to go to the 2009 Baja 1000 next November and have a good feeling we can win the race."


Powering the Touareg Baja racer is the same 5.5L V-12 turbodiesel that moves the Audi R10 Le Mans race car. The 12-cylinder engine produces 550 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. The Touareg weighs 4850 lb, but is expected to really move across the harsh Baja landscape.

In addition to participating in the Baja 1000, VW also sends race vehicles to the Dakar Rally Series, 24-Hours of Nrburgring, the Formula 3 Euro Series, and the Formula ADAC Masters.






Audi Q5 TDI
(North American Debut)

The Q5 TDI is Audi's newest crossover and achieved a high mpg of 38.5 out of their 3.0L turbodiesel V-6.

Check out Truck Trend's coverage of the recent the Audi Mileage Marathon, a 13-day, four-leg adventure taking journalists from New York to Los Angeles, where we trekked across the nation in a race to beat each other with the best numbers.


BMW X6 Active/Hybrid
(Concept)



The new BMW X6 has been available in North America for about six months. It is proving very popular with customers. More than 3,700 vehicles so far in the U.S. and Globally sold more than 19,000 vehicles so far. Little is known about the X6 ActiveHybrid that will be available some time next year.

-Blue water metallic + BMW EfficientDynamics label
-Dynamic Performance Control
-Reduces fuel consumption by up to 20 percent versus a comparable car
-Slightly modified exterior design (bumper & mirror)
-High performance battery, power electronics with intergraded inverter module and cables
-Underfloor protection front and rear is made of milled aluminum
-3 dimensional 21-inch rims
-LED head and taillights
-No Interieur, no B pillar

2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
The BMW X5 xDrive35d makes its U.S. debut in Los Angeles. The X5 is powered by the automaker's first 50-state-legel diesel, a twin-turbo, 3.0L straight-six that delivers 265 hp at 4220 rpm, and a thumping 425 lb-ft of torque between 1750 and 2250 rpm. Driving through a six-speed automatic transmission, BMW claims this engine will propel the 335d from 0 to 60 mph in 6.0 sec while delivering 23 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway. The BMW X5 xDrive35d will be priced starting at $52,025. According to BMW, the X5 will be eligible for an IRS tax credit around $1550 for the x35d.


Chrysler Town & Country EV
(concept debut)


The below information is from a Chrysler Press Release:

The Chrysler EV development vehicle is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle that demonstrates another possible application of ENVI electric-drive technology in the segment-leading Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

"With the Chrysler EV, we are able to blend seven-passenger capability and the luxury of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan with electric-drive technology, demonstrating family practicality with zero compromise," said Rhodes. "ENVI's electric-drive development vehicles showcase our accelerated application of electric-drive systems into a wide range of vehicles in Chrysler's future product portfolio."

The Chrysler EV combines the electric-drive components of an Electric Vehicle with an integrated small-displacement engine and generator to produce additional electricity to power the electric-drive system when needed. This provides all of the positive attributes of an Electric Vehicle and extends the driving range to be equivalent to today's gasoline-powered vehicles - without compromises.

The Chrysler EV uses a 190 kW (255 horsepower) motor, producing 350 N*m (258 lb.-ft.) of torque, providing 0 to 60 mph acceleration in approximately nine seconds. The Chrysler EV Range-extended Electric Vehicle can drive 40 miles on all-electric power, and boasts a range of 400 miles on approximately eight gallons of gasoline. This makes the Chrysler EV the perfect fuel-efficient family vehicle.

Source: Chrysler LLC

Kia Borrego FCEV
Kia says that the Borrego FCEV features a new hydrogen fuel cell with a 44% higher output than previous generations. The new fuel cell puts out an additional 47 hp, bringing total output up to 154 hp, or 115 kW. The fuel cell is coupled with a 450-volt, 100 kW supercapacitor that can put out 134 hp, and the whole vehicle is driven by a 147-hp electric motor. Kia says the system's 62% efficiency is the best in its class.

Thanks in part to a curb weight of just 4960 lb, the new-and-improved Borrego FCEV can now hit a top speed of 100 mph and will reach 60 mph from a standstill in 12.8 sec. According to Kia, the Borrego FCEV retains a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of gasoline-powered models. The Borrego FCEV can be equipped with two or three 10,000psi hydrogen tanks and boasts a range of 426 miles with three tanks. Kia estimates the fuel economy will be roughly equivalent to a combined average of 54 mpg.




2010 Kia Soul
Making its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2010 Kia Soul is designed with a purposefully bold and edgy look, and will be aggressively priced in the 'teens.' It will be offered with a choice of two engines, a 120 horsepower, 1.6-liter mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and a 140 horsepower, 2.0-liter engine available with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. Soul will be equipped with typical Kia safety, including font seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, dual front advanced airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system. Amenities will include 18-inch alloy wheels, power moonroof, hands-free Bluetooth capabilities and steering wheel-mounted controls for the MP3-compatible audio system





Jeep Wrangler EV Concept
(Concept Debut)
Simply put, the Jeep EV will run on full electric power up to 40 miles, then act something like a hybrid after that, where the generator produces power directly to the electric motor as needed. Any extra energy during braking or off-throttle situations will be routed into the batteries. The gasoline tank (which can also hold E85 fuel) will allow the vehicle to travel, depending on the types of loads and environmental conditions, an extra 400 miles or so. In addition, because of the capabilities of the on-board dual-voltage generator, the Jeep EV can have a 15-amp 110/120 volt outlet as well as a household 30-amp 220/240-volt power outlet. Very cool if you want to bring your big and little appliances on the trail. We were told the added weight of the system is only about 100 lb because of the smallish size of the new engine (whose source they wouldn't name), probably in the 1.3L to 1.8L I-4 range. The tech guys said the Jeep would likely do a 0-to-60 mph in about 9.0 sec, with a quarter-mile time in the 16.5-sec, 90-mph range. After our drive, it appears those numbers might be a little pessimistic.

Click here to read our First Test review of the Jeep Wrangler EV!

The Below is from a Chrysler Press Release:

Jeep Wrangler EV
The Jeep EV development vehicle is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle that provides a glimpse into the future of a "Go Anywhere, Do Anything" vehicle with renowned Jeep Wrangler capability.

The Jeep EV combines Wrangler's unmatched off-road capability with the ultimate "Tread Lightly" mindset by providing nature ambassadors with the ability to roam the planet and take care of it at the same time.

The Jeep EV Range-extended Electric Vehicle uses an electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery system, and a small gasoline engine with an integrated electric generator to produce additional energy to power the electric-drive system when needed. The 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor generates 400 N*m (295 lb.-ft.) of torque. With approximately eight gallons of gasoline, the Jeep EV has a range of 400 miles, including 40 miles of zero fuel-consumption, zero-emissions, all-electric operation.

"We are also exploring four-wheel-drive, in-wheel electric motors to demonstrate the full reach of ENVI's advanced electric-drive technologies," said Rhodes.

The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor and the ability to precisely control each wheel independently results in off-road capability ideally suited for the Jeep brand, without compromising on-road driving capability.

Source: Chrysler LLC

2010 Lexus RX 350
The 2010 Lexus RX 350 makes its world debut at the Los Angeles auto show.The RX is about due for an update, and Lexus promises the 2010 RX will be all-new and significantly improved. Toyota's luxury brand says the RX 450h hybrid will raise the bar for luxury, comfort, technology, safety, and efficiency; but no specific details have been released so far.

The 2010 RX350 features the same 3.5L V-6 engine as its hybrid twin, sans hybrid drive system. Both models feature a redesigned double-wishbone rear suspension that both improves handling and increases rear cargo space by 5% over the previous model. While both vehicles have increased in size, they boast a claimed-segment-best 0.32 coefficient of drag.

New for the 2010 RX models is Lexus' "Remote Touch" controller for the Hard Disk Drive navigation system, a computer mouse-shaped device on the center console that sits right where your right hand normally rests. The device is similar to a joystick and controls a pointer on the navigation screen. Dedicated Menu, Map and up and down scroll buttons make the device easy to use and Lexus has obviously worked to keep the number of screens to a minimum. The device can also be custom programmed to the level of feedback that the user prefers, allowing drivers to decide how touchy they want the pointer to be.








2010 Lexus RX 450h
The 2010 Lexus RX 450h makes its world debut at the Los Angeles auto show.The RX is about due for an update, and Lexus promises the 2010 RX will be all-new and significantly improved. Toyota's luxury brand says the RX 450h hybrid will raise the bar for luxury, comfort, technology, safety, and efficiency; but no specific details have been released so far.

The 2010 Lexus RX450h hybrid is powered by a 3.5L Atkinson-cycle V-6 and the hybrid system receives a new, more powerful inverter that bumps total output to 297 hp, 27 hp more than the outgoing model. 275 hp comes from gasoline engine, with an additional 22 hp coming from the electric motor. In addition to boosting power, Lexus says they've also increased fuel mileage by 8%, though they did not give specific numbers. Based on an EPA-estimated 25 mpg average for the outgoing RX400h, the 2010 RX450h should return roughly 27 mpg on average. The RX450h will be available in both 2WD and part-time AWD, with the AWD system returning slightly poorer fuel economy.





2010 Nissan Cube

BELOW ARE QUOTES FROM NISSAN OFFICIALS ABOUT THE CUBE AND THE OFFICIAL JDM SPEC PRESS RELEASE

"The new Cube is designed for people who imagine a life less ordinary, who have grown tired of the never-ending pursuit of faster, more powerful, more outrageously styled cars," said Yosuke Iwasa, Segment Chief Product Specialist. "The quieter, more harmonious qualities of the Cube have attracted interest not only among young people, but for those in every walk of life. While carrying forward the concept of the original Cube, this latest edition has advanced significantly, including offering far greater comfort."

"The new Cube is a refined car of universal quality and appeal, that can compete without 'makeup' or excessive decoration," said Seiji Watanabe, Associate Product Chief Designer. "The development concept took the approach of 'purifying' the Cube design, rather than "evolving' it. A jagged rock, for instance, loses its edges and takes on a polish as it travels down a river. This is the sort of refinement we wanted for the new Cube. We worked to simplify its exterior, using fewer lines and widening certain areas. We allowed the Cube design to refine itself, moving closer to nature and suggesting human warmth. The resulting 'purer, more peaceful' design is just what we wanted. It is a vehicle for people who are not being influenced by others, who go their own way, and enjoy interactions with friends in a welcoming atmosphere."

Following are the details of the Cube. The features and specifications listed are for the Japanese version and may vary for other global markets.

Nissan Cube Key Features:
* Iconic Cube styling - recognizable at a glance
* Spacious Cube interior - designed for comfort and relaxation
* Innovative Cube packaging - for easy, relaxed driving

1. Design
Exterior
o A "witty" design with a wide stance that communicates stability and agility
o An expressive personality that wins over consumers' hearts
o Windows designed for an expansive view, especially at the rear corners
o An asymmetric rear hatch, continuing the Cube's unique character
o "Picture windows" that charmingly frame the passengers
o An extensive lineup of 10 available body colors, including Craft Board, a Nissan first, and two other new colors

Interior
A relaxing space that brings people together
o An open cabin, conceived with the image of a Jacuzzi
o A curve-shaped instrument panel
o High-precision "Fine Vision" instrumentation
o A "skylight"-style glass panel roof that keeps the sky always visible from the driver's seat, and a shoji-style shade to diffuse sunlight, when desired, and fill the cabin with gentle light
o Comfortable, secure seating with thick seat cushions and matching door armrests for a sofa-like effect
o A "water drop" ripple design motif in cupholders and other cabin details

2. Packaging
Ample space throughout the cabin, including rear seat headroom and knee room
o The front seat slides 12 millimeters farther (than the previous generation) and lifts up to 60mm, allowing optimum posture for people of any size
o Excellent all-around visibility, with the entire engine hood visible from the driver's seat
o Large side and rear quarter windows that help reduce both side and rear blind spots
o The tightest turning radius in its class at 4.6 meters (except the 15G)
o Large front door openings, which allow more headroom (than the previous generation) and easy entry and exit
o Theater-style rear seating that broadens the view from the rear seats and a more rearward rear-seat hip point, which significantly increases knee room

3. Utility
A large cabin space for comfort and relaxation
o In addition to the cushiness of the seat pads, S-springs give the seats a greater depth and a sofa-like feel
o Side-opening rear hatch, which allows easy one-hand operation
o The rear seats slide 20mm farther forward, providing greater luggage area flexibility (than the previous generation)
o Fashionable and functional storage spaces, including cupholders with the "water drop" ripple motif
o A CARWINGS navigation system that features a high-resolution monitor and hard disk drive, as well as a built-in tuner that receives 12- or 1-segment broadcasting with automatic switching, and a state-of-the-art map-updating system
o Nissan's first AM/FM/CD combo with a RearView Monitor
o Push button starter
o A Nissan Intelligent Key system, which provides enhanced theft-prevention with an electronic steering lock and engine immobilizer linked to the key ID

4. Mechanism
A body designed for safety and high performance
o The platform design minimizes mechanical space, including for the engine, transmission and suspension, and creates a roomy cabin and easy handling in an attractive, compact package
o A wide stance, resulting from moving the wheels to the corners; allows for sharp cornering and a turning radius of just 4.6 meters
o A more rigid body (than the previous generation), which allows for more stable operation and a comfortable ride
o A strut front suspension and torsion I-beam rear suspension with improved camber rigidity, driving comfort and stability

Smooth and responsive
o The new Cube employs an all-aluminum front-intake, rear-exhaust 1.5-liter HR15DE engine, known for low fuel consumption, compactness, low weight and impressive performance
o All Cubes equipped with the e-4WD system feature a standard XTRONIC CVT with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) for smoother performance
o The new Cube's major improvements in fuel efficiency and aerodynamics increase comfort and help conserve energy
o Better aerodynamics increase fuel-efficiency by two percent in the high-speed range (compared with the previous Cube)
o In 2WD models, the CVT oil warmer helps improve fuel-efficiency when the engine is cold (immediately after engine start or when ambient temperatures are low)

Other technologies for safety and environmental protection
* An auto-light system, which is more sensitive than conventional systems, turns the Cube's lights on automatically when it detects dimming light around the car (such as at twilight or when the windshield wipers turn on)
* The first Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) option for a Nissan compact (2WD models only)
* Optimum lighting with multi-reflector halogen headlights
* Available bi-xenon headlights (with high and low-beam auto-leveler)
* RearView Monitor
* Rear adjustable-cycle wiper
* Center High Mount Stop Lamp (CHMSL)
* Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
* Brake Assist (BA)
* Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
* Highly rigid Zone Body Construction
* Body designed to minimize pedestrian injuries
* SRS air bag system for front seats
* SRS curtain air bag system
* Front-seat Active Head Restraints
* Driver's-seat double-pre-tensioned seat belt
* Pre-tensioned seat belts with two-stage load-limiters for front seats
* Rear seat headrests (three positions)
* Low-friction seat belts for all seats
* Three-point seat belts with Emergency Locking Retractors (ELRs) for rear seats (self-rising buckles for three seats)
* All 2WD and "15X Four" e-4WD versions of the new Cube achieve the 2010 standard for fuel-efficiency plus 20 percent
* All Cube versions are certified as super-low-emission vehicles (SU-LEVs), achieving emission-cutting goals for 2005 plus 75 percent
* Over 95 percent recyclable*
* Reduced volatile organic compound usage in the cabin
* Fuel-consumption display (instant fuel consumption, average fuel consumption and likely cruising range)

Click here to see more photos of the 2010 Nissan Cube

2009 Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI (50-State Legal)

Following the wildly successful introduction of the Jetta TDI diesel sedan into the U.S. market, Volkswagen is preparing to follow-up with the Touareg TDI, which shares its engine with the previously announced Audi Q7 diesel.

The Touareg TDI is powered by a 3.0L turbocharged diesel V-6 producing 221 hp. and 406 lb-ft of torque. That mountain of torque is available from 1,750 RPM and hustles the Touareg to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds on the way to an electronically-limited top speed of 130 mph. The All-Wheel-Drive Touareg boasts strong fuel economy numbers; 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, according to Volkswagen. Helping the Touareg achieve those numbers is a six-speed automatic transmission.

Volkswagen claims that its 3.0L TDI engine is one of the cleanest six-cylinder engines in the world. Thanks to a Selective Catalytic Reduction catalytic converter and a urea-injection system, Volkswagen says they've reduced NOx emissions by 90%. The Touareg TDI has received both BIN5 and ULEV II emissions ratings and is 50-state legal.