Luxury crossovers and SUVs were a dominant feature at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. Here is a recap of the releases from the show.
2018 Lexus RX-L
The Details: Lexus has been the leader in the mid-size luxury crossover segment since it was birthed. Where Lexus missed was in offering a 3-row version of their hot seller. Surprisingly belatedly, Lexus finally came through by extending the RX 4.3 inches and updating the roofline to stuff a 3rd row in the back. Powertrain carries over from the standard RX with a 290 hp V6 standard for the RX 350L and the 308 hp Hybrid available only on the RX 450hL.
Why it Matters: It is surprising that Lexus took this long to add a commonly sought after option in this segment. Ten years ago, this would have been bigger news, but with the industry pivoting towards smaller crossovers, I expect response to be mutted. The RX does two things, it gives Lexus an entry into the 3-row segment at minimal development and marketing costs, and it puts Lexus in the same league with BMW for absurd model trim names. Click here for more information on the 2018 Lexus RX-L
Competitors: Volvo XC90, Infiniti QX60, Acura MDX, Buick Enclave, Lincoln MKX/Nautilus
2018 Lexus LX 570 Two-Row
The Details: The Lexus version of the Toyota Land Cruiser drops the third-row seats in favor of a larger cargo area. Two-row option only comes in a single trim level
Why it Matters: It really doesn’t unless you’re a wealthy DINK with no friends. As far as vehicle platforms go, the LX and Land Cruiser are ancient, debuting back in 2007. Already on its fourth remodel since arriving, we don’t see much life left. Lexus only sells about 600 LXs per month.
Competitors: Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX80 (all come with 3-rows)
Up Next: Lincoln Nautilus and Lincoln MKC
2019 Lincoln Nautilus
The Details: The Nautilus is a refreshed Lincoln MKX, but the most refreshing part about it is the return to a real name. Power changes include a switch to an all turbocharged engine lineup. Base engine is a 2.3 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 245 horsepower, optional is a 2.7 liter V6 with 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are coupled to a front-wheel drive 8-speed automatic with all-wheel drive standard. Automatic stop/start is standard.
Why it Matters: The MKX was already an excellent entry in the segment. While overall dimensions are unchanged, the Nautilus looks longer and sleeker than its MKX predecessor. Bringing the MKX up to date with the new Lincoln look was essential, but going back to a real name shows that Lincoln is ready to carve out a firm identity for itself. Click Here for more information on the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus
Competitors: Lexus RX, Audi Q5, Cadillac XT5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Acura MDX
2019 Lincoln MKC
The Details: MKC moves to the new Lincoln look, but product planners didn’t come up with a name in time. Aside from that, the interior and mechanical features carry over.
Why it Matters: This one is a head scratcher. I can only think that for some reason Lincoln didn’t think there were enough changes to the MKC to warrant a name change. People are inherently visual though, so even if there wasn’t an engine change under the hood, the visual change is distinctive enough that now is probably time to do a name change like the Lincoln Nautilus. The MKC sells well, and with this handsome new update, I expect it to do even better. Click here for more information on the 2019 Lincoln MKC
Next Up: Infiniti QX50 and QX80
2019 Infiniti QX50
The Details: Infiniti finally replaces the old G37 based QX50, but that necessitates a move to front-wheel drive. The QX50 is the launch platform for Infiniti’s revolutionary new engine that is capable of a variable compression ratio. The new 2.0T with VC can change the compression ratio from 8:1 to 14:1.
Why it Matters: I’ll be sad to see the old QX50 go. In spite of its aging platform and interior electronics, it had a butter smoothness and great handling. It never really got a foothold in the market. But auto enthusiast feelings aside, this new QX50 is likely to be the bread and butter of Infiniti’s lineup for the foreseeable future. It hits right in the bullseye of the compact luxury crossover market and does so with a compelling performance argument and a fantastic looking interior. Click here for more information on the 2019 Infiniti QX50
Competitors: Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Acura RDX, Lexus NX, Audi Q3, Land Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace
2018 Infiniti QX80
The Details: QX80 gets an updated front clip and a massaged interior
Why it Matters: Like the Lexus LX650, the QX80 rides on an older platform from a mass-market brand, in this case, the 2010 Nissan Patrol. The 2017 Armada had a face only a mother could love, but with the update for 2018 it has grown substantially more handsome. The interior has been coiffed with attractive new quilted and stitched leather, though technology has not been updated to include the likes of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Mechanically, the QX80 still uses the old 5.6 liter V8 producing 400 horsepower / 417 lb-ft of torque routed through a 7-speed automatic. Fuel economy is a 1997 like 15 mpg combined.
Competitors: Lexus LX560, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Audi Q7
Next Up: Volvo XC40 and Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography
2018 Volvo XC40
The Details: The XC40 is the first vehicle on Volvo’s new CMA platform. It features a 248 hp 2 liter turbo four cylinder routing through an 8-speed automatic to all four wheels. People familiar with the controls from Volvo’s larger SPA platform vehicles like XC90 and S80 will feel right at home as most of touchy stuff is lifted straight from them. You will also be able to subscribe to the XC40 rather than buy or lease. Basically a 15,000 mile a year lease that includes all maintenance and insurance.
Why it Matters: Another entry straight at the heart of the compact luxury crossover market. The recent Volvos have been a hit and I expect this one to be as well. The floor display had a few questionable interior materials and some visible exterior manufacturing defects, so I hope those get sorted soon as these XC40s are rolling down the manufacturing line already. Volvo’s policy of electrifying every vehicle that make means that a plug-in hybrid version of the XC40 is coming, however the Volvo rep I spoke to refused to confirm. Volvo’s subscription idea is intriguing and it will be interesting to see if it takes off. Click here for more information on the 2018 Volvo XC40
2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography
The Details: An Ultra-Luxury Range Rover
Why it Matters: Are you a Russian Oil Tycoon or an NBA star? If so, then it matters. If not, just look at it and dream from behind the velvet ropes while the booth attendants sneer at you. It has power close rear doors, executive seating, and a new infotainment system. There is a hidden refrigerator in between the rear seats that holds two wine bottles plus two glasses and opens with the touch of a button. The closest competitor I can think of isn't an SUV at all, but the S-Class Maybach. This is Land Rover's interpretation of the segment.
Competitors: Mercedes Benz GLS550 Designo, Bentley Bentaga, S-Class Maybach