2013 Los Angeles Auto Show - Focus on Efficiency
The Never-Ending Quest to do More with Less
This year's Los Angeles Auto Show was a comparatively light one in terms of truck and SUV introductions. The big reveals of note were the 2015 Porsche Macan, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, the Ford Edge "Concept," and although previously debuted, the first major public reveal of the 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover. Other than the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, there were relatively few major truck and SUV reveals. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was on display, as was GM's full lineup of 2014 trucks.
Ironically, even though no EPA figures for any of the debuts accompanied their reveal, it was clear from the underlying subtext that efficiency was the name of the game for trucks and SUVs this year. Even for vehicles with as deliberate a performance orientation as the Porsche Macan, features such as driveline "coasting" and auto stop-start showed that economy was always a consideration.
The show also saw the entry of one of the last holdouts among luxury nameplates into the SUV game, in the form of the Jaguar C-X17 Concept crossover. Jaguar still insists on calling it a "concept," but make no mistake, the global market for premium crossovers continues to grow by leaps and bounds every year, and shows no signs of slowing down. Jaguar had virtually no choice but to have an entry in the segment. Expect a production version of the C-X17 in showrooms in around 2016. Here are some of our first-hand impressions of the vehicles at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show
2015 Chevrolet Colorado
The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado seemed to attract a lot of interest from auto journalists, as well as competitors. We use the term "competitor" in a broad sense, since the only real competition the Colorado will face when it hits the market in late summer or early fall of 2014 is the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Domestic rivals expressed admiration and wished for success for the new model, but came short of committing to bringing over a smaller truck of their own.
The new Colorado is clearly a much more modern truck than the Tacoma or Frontier, and will likely have as much as a 20-percent advantage in highway fuel economy, and that's not even taking into account the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel I-4 coming for the 2016 model year, which we project may achieve 30 mpg highway with two-wheel-drive.
Fit, finish and materials on the display truck seemed to be much better than the Tacoma or Frontier, but one or both of those trucks may get a total redesign shortly after the new Colorado hits showrooms. Will GM have raised the bar enough to stay a step ahead? Check back this time next year.
Ford Edge Concept
As we said in our First Look, the Edge "Concept" is more Edge than concept. Aside from the door handles, some details and interior trim, you're essentially looking at the next-generation Edge. Although instantly recognizable as the successor to Ford's popular two-row midsize crossover, the concept incorporates a great deal of Ford's global Kinetic design language to bring it more in line with the rest of the brand's portfolio.
The current Edge has only one EcoBoost engine offering in the form of the 2.0-liter I-4, but EcoBoost was mentioned again at the concept's reveal, suggesting the next generation could have more than one turbocharged engine, and possibly EcoBoost engines across-the-board. Our prediction for engine offerings is the current 2.0, possibly tuned for greater power and more economy, and possibly a version of the Lincoln MKC's 2.3-liter EcoBoost.
The question of whether the next Edge will have a V-6 option at all is a legitimate one. If anything, we may get a downsized V-6 from Ford's new "Nano" engine family between 2.7 and 2.9 liters. Look for the full production version of the new Edge around this time next year.
Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell
The Tucson Fuel Cell may not look like anything special from the outside, but it houses a revolutionary powertrain. Fuel cells have been roving around manufacturer's test tracks and as prototypes for decades, but this is the first time we can remember when more than one manufacturer seems to be making a concerted effort to bring one to market. And we're not just talking about the Honda FCX, which was claimed to be a "production" model, but was offered on a lease-only basis to hand-picked customers.
Annual production of 1000 units by 2015 may not sound like mass-production to many, but for fuel cells, that's a major milestone. Some believe hydrogen fuel cells may eventually leapfrog pure electrics, but the long-promised "hydrogen highway" is still in its earliest stages in progressive California, and nearly non-existent almost anywhere else in the U.S., although some European nations are making a concerted effort to build out a viable hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
Jaguar C-X17 Concept
The tidy dividing line between Jaguar being the "car" brand and Land Rover being the "SUV" brand has been officially breached with the introduction of the C-X17. True, it's still just a "concept," and Jaguar representatives insist on continuing to use the "C" word; but with production-looking door handles, wheels, and some other details, it's clear this is not just some one-off styling exercise.
As noted in the introduction, expect the production version of the C-X17 in showrooms sometime in 2016. It will be part of a new family of vehicles from Jaguar, including a long-awaited rear-drive 3 Series-fighter to replace the Ford Mondeo-based X-Type, among other variants. Whether the crossover or the small sedan will be first to market, we don't know for sure, but you can be sure that Jaguar has ambitions of being a top-notch global luxury brand in sales volume and product variety.
When only the best will do, Land Rover offers the most opulent and indulgent of Range Rovers, the long-wheelbase Autobiography Black. Only 100 of these will be sold in the U.S. priced at an equally exclusive $185,000 for the Black, and a staggering $199,500 for the Valloire White model. Just getting into the "entry-level" LWB puts you into six-figure territory, with the Range Rover V8 S/C LWB going for $100,995.
Among the features offered by these luxo-liners are rear power seats with memory, dual rear-seat entertainment screens that look like iPads (but sadly, are not removable and portable), electrically deployable rear tray tables on the Autobiography black, as well as a calf-rest. If an Escalade just isn't ballin' enough for you, this is the ultimate luxury SUV statement, at least until Bentley introduces its new SUV.
Some of you may look at the Lincoln MKC and say, "Great, just what the world needs, another crossover." But for Lincoln, the MKC is a hugely significant and symbolic vehicle. Based on the best-selling Ford Escape, the MKC shares precious few details inside or out that betray its blue-collar roots. Giving the MKC a very unique look and detail is the tailgate that wraps completely around the taillights, so the lights and gate lift as a single unit. This is a unique, upscale detail that Lincoln didn't have to go to the trouble to do, but shows the seriousness of their commitment to differentiating the MKC as a premium product.
Likewise, the MKC's front end is much cleaner and more elegant than the Escape, which we consider a handsome compact crossover. Genuine wood interior trim and Bridge of Weir Scottish leather further differentiate the MKC. For the time being, the MKC also has an exclusive engine option of the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 producing 275 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
This engine will eventually find its way under the hood of the 2015 Mustang, as well as the next-generation Ford Focus RS, which we may or may not see in the U.S. For Lincoln's sake, the MKC needs to sell in big numbers. We have a feeling it will become the brand's best-selling model in short order.
We had a chance to ride in and experience the Macan last spring and were impressed by our seat-of-the-pants shotgun impression. The Macan's performance stats speak for themselves: 340 to 400 hp, and a 0-60 time from 5.2 to a scorching 4.4 seconds. Sharing its basic platform with the Audi Q5, the Macan is a completely unique animal from the Audi in almost every conceivable way, with completely bespoke engines and transmissions, and distinctly Porsche styling.
Porsche is targeting global sales of 50,000 units for the Macan, which we think is entirely conceivable. The only shocker revealed at the show was the starting price for the 400-hp Turbo model at $72,300. The S starts at a more rational and reasonable $49,900. The Turbo definitely has an edge in seat-of-the-pants power, but we're not sure if 60 hp is worth a $22,400 premium. That difference would pay for a pretty clean used Boxster.