2017 L.A. Auto Show Recap

2017 L.A. Auto Show Recap

Story and photos by Gerry Frechette

The Los Angeles International Auto Show is the opening major event of the North American auto show season, and as such, usually has a good number of new vehicles that the manufacturers have been eager to unveil. In the recent past, electrified vehicles have made most of the headlines at L.A., but that was somewhat less so this year, as that segment is in a small lull. Instead, it seemed that crossover SUVs are still all the rage, as American consumers continue to flock to them, and away from sedans and wagons. Performance cars, too, continue to be hot, no surprise in Southern California. Here are what we consider to be the highlights from La La Land.


BMW 8-Series Concept

The 8-Series is one of those concepts that you just know will be produced in the same form as displayed at L.A. The high-end coupe has our vote as the most sensationally and sensually beautiful car at the Show.


BMW i8 Roadster

It was only a matter of time, surprisingly a couple of years, before BMW launched a roadster version of its green PHEV supercar, the i8.


Bollinger B1

No surprise to see a small independent manufacturer come out with a basic, go-anywhere utilitarian all-electric 4×4, and this is the made-in-USA Bollinger B1, with styling cues from most of the established iconic brands.


Corvette ZR1

The horsepower wars continue unabated for now, and the latest shot has been fired by Chevrolet, as there is a new most-powerful-ever Corvette, the ZR1. Nobody needs a 755-horsepower car that can go over 200 mph, but we all sure want one, and it is one of the most affordable supercars, too, at 119,995 US dollars (Canadian pricing to be announced)


Dodge Challenger Demon

What can you say about the 840-hp Demon that hasn’t already been said? The car that has been banned by NHRA for being too fast, was displayed popping a wheelie beside a drag strip “Christmas Tree” starting light system. The marketing is as “in your face” as the car is.


Honda Clarity

The Honda Clarity is the first green vehicle to offer an electric, a plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell version, all based on the same platform. The U.S. Green Car of the Year comes to Canada in 2018 only as the PHEV to start with. The jury is out on the design, though.


Jaguar I-Pace

Still officially a concept, one can safely assume that this is essentially the final version of Jaguar’s delectable new all-electric I-Pace SUV. The car will even be raced in a support series to the Formula E circuit in the coming year, in which Jaguar has a team.


Jeep Wrangler

Probably the biggest unveiling at the show, certainly the most iconic vehicle, was the new Jeep Wrangler. Under the expectedly recognizable skin lies all the modern high-tech safety gear, and engines will include a four-cylinder turbo with mild hybrid function, a diesel V6 in a year or so, and eventually a plug-in hybrid.


Kia Stinger

It wasn’t unveiled at Los Angeles, but the Stinger was a big deal on the Kia stand. This particular Stinger had wide fenders and big wheels and tires, and who knows what else under the skin. Hmmm….maybe a bit of a teaser for a future higher-performance version?



The Mazda6 has been given a big mid-cycle refresh, in the face of new cars from the competition. Along with more refinement, smoother styling and a totally revised interior, the car will be available with a 250-hp 2.5-litre turbo four, which will give it the power it has needed to compete in the segment and be as sporty as the rest of the car is.


Mercedes-AMG ProjectONE

Well, Mercedes has gone and done it. The winner of the last four Formula One titles has built an F1 car for the street, with a full F1 powertrain. That means about 1,000 hp from the 1.6-litre hybrid power unit, 350 km/h, and zero-to-200 km/h in 6 seconds. Not many will be built, and don’t even ask about price.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi has taken the Eclipse name, formerly applied to its sports coupes that are no longer built, and given it to its new line of small crossover SUVs, bridging the gap between RVR and Outlander. The attractive unit has a 1.5-litre turbo four and Super All-Wheel Control all-wheel drive.


Nissan Star Wars

No, Star Wars is not a new Nissan model. But judging from all the wild Star Wars equipment much in evidence at the Nissan stand, one could be forgiven for thinking so. The company’s tie-in with the famous movie property is being exploited to the max. Nissan also showed its new Kicks compact CUV at L.A.


Porsche 911T

Porsche showed the two extremes of the 911 at L.A. – the GT2 RS, fastest 911 ever, and the new 911 Carrera T. This is the lightened, back-to-basics 911 that all the brand purists are drooling over. With minimal sound insulation and no back seat, among other weight reductions, the driving experience will be distilled down to the essentials.



Catching our eye at L.A. was the attractive 3-wheel SONDORS EV, making its debut. With less than four wheels, the SONDORS should be subject to less-rigorous testing and certification before it can be produced. The prototype, built in Italy, was funded in January of this year through equity crowd funding and completed seven months later. It is expected to sell for $10,000 US.


Volkswagen ID Buzz

VW made a strong showing at L.A., as one might think they had to, with three concepts (collectively called the ID vehicles) that show the future direction of the VW brand. Two of them will be a future Golf and compact SUV, but the one that has everyone talking is the ID Buzz, the new Microbus EV that will be built by 2022.


Subaru Ascent

Subaru has now fully erased the memory of the Tribeca SUV, with the new Ascent three-row SUV. The largest Subaru ever built will challenge the bigger SUVs of just about every other mainstream manufacturer. Maybe the biggest news is the debut of a new 2.4-litre, 260-horsepower turbocharged boxer four engine.


Toyota FT-AC Concept

The FT-AC is another concept that appears ready for production. A compact CUV with strong off-road looks and capability, for those seeking adventure, would seem to be its profile. As such, it would be the successor to the FJ Cruiser, and related to the RAV4. We’ll see what it is, if and when it is produced.


Volvo XC40

Volvo continues its strong renaissance with the new XC40 compact crossover. Like all the other new Volvo models, this one sets new standards in the premium SUV segment for classy design, especially inside the cabin, without sacrificing utility and capability.

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