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    Afterthoughts: LA Auto Show Report Card


    • Which Vehicles Earned A Place On the Honor Roll and Which Ones Need to See the Principal?

    This year's Los Angeles Auto Show proved to be much better than first expected. When the news hit back in October of some the vehicles that were to debut, the show's organizers listed the Buick LaCrosse and Nissan Sentra as the big stars. Oh dear, this year's show was going to be a snoozefest.

     

    But as we saw in the past week, the LA showed proved to be exciting. There were a number of surprises, along with vehicles that stole the show. Of course, there were the vehicles that maybe should have passed on LA Auto Show.

     

    It is that time to grade the vehicles and find out which ones are the top of the class and which ones need to head to detention.

     

    Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Incomplete
    Despite Alfa Romeo rolling out the Giulia Quadrifoglio again and providing some juicy information (505 Horsepower, 7:39 lap time on the Nürburgring, $70,000 starting price tag), I still don't believe this car actually exists. Blame Alfa Romeo's track record of pushing back dates. Also, we haven't seen what the lower trim models will look like. The only details are a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder with 276 horsepower and all-wheel drive.

     

    Buick LaCrosse: Incomplete
    This car would get a high grade with an impressive interior, updated 3.6L V6, and a number of new tech and safety features. But there is one thing that is giving me pause; the LaCrosse's exterior. We knew that elements of Avenir concept shown in Detroit would influence the next LaCrosse and they are there. But something is a bit off and I can't put my finger onto it. This is a vehicle that I need to see in person before handing out a final grade.

     

    2017 Fiat 124 Spider: C-
    While Fiat does deserve a lot of credit for making their Miata-based roadster look much different, it badly needs to go back to the drawing board. Yes, it looks like the 60's 124 Spider. But this modern interpretation is ungainly. Also, could Fiat have done a little bit more to the interior? The only item that is saving this from a lower grade? The turbocharged 1.6 from the 500 Abarth.

     

    2017 Ford Escape: C
    Oh Ford, what have you done to the Escape? I understand that you are trying to bring it in line with the Edge, but the new face looks very awkward. On the plus side, the troublesome 1.6L EcoBoost has been shown the door with the 1.5L EcoBoost taking its place.

     

    2017 GMC Canyon Denali: C+
    Having to wait till late 2016 for this model is kind of a disappointment. Also, I'm afraid to see what the pricetag on this luxury version will be. Hopefully, GMC has the luxury appointments that can justify the price.

     

    2016 Honda Civic Coupe: A
    I'm shocked that I like the new Civic Coupe a lot. The production model mostly stays true to the concept minus a couple of things (the large rear wing and center mounted exhaust). It is quite the sharp-looking compact. When was the last time you could say that about a Honda? S2000 maybe?

     

    2017 Hyundai Elantra: C
    I'm getting a bit worried about Hyundai's car designs. The Sonata was a snoozer compared to the last one and new Elantra... well looks like the current one. It seems like they are taking a little bit more risk with their crossovers and I want them to take some of that and put them into their cars once again. But I will say the upcoming Elantra Eco model has me very interested.

     

    2017 Infiniti QX30: B-
    Now I like the standard Q30 as it looks quite sharp. Somehow I don't like the QX30 as much despite it being the same model with just a few inches of added ground clearance. Also, how come I can get AWD on the QX30 and not the Q30?

     

    2017 Kia Sportage: A-
    Kia continues their trend of producing sharp looking vehicles with new Sportage. The interior looks to be a giant leap ahead of the previous model. Oddly, the Sportage doesn't have small-displacement turbo option like the Tucson. One hope I have the new Sportage: Improved ride characteristics.

     

    Lamborghini Huracán LP 580-2: B+
    Rear drive Huracán? Uh, where do I sign up? But I'm wondering why it only produces 398 pound-feet of torque. I know most buy a Lamborghini buy it for looks, but a little bit more torque isn't a bad thing.

     

    2017 Lincoln MKZ: B-
    This was something completely out of left field. I don't think many knew that Lincoln was planning to show off anything besides the Continental (something we expect to see next year). There are some good parts to the 2017 model like the new front end which gives Lincoln a bit more of an identity. There's also this interesting feature of actual buttons for the center stack. (OK, that's a bit cold. But we're glad to see actual buttons again.) But then there are some questionable items. The big one being the 400 horsepower twin-turbo V6. Why? I mean it's awesome, but it also brings up concerns about what Lincoln sees itself as. It is a luxury brand trying to fill a space of what it means to be an American luxury car or is it trying to be like every other luxury car on sale? At least the MKZ was being talked about, something you couldn't say about Lincoln since the Continental concept.

     

    2017 Mazda CX-9: A+
    When I drove the current Mazda CX-9 last year, it was in dire need of a replacement as it was aging quite fast. The new CX-9 looks to be a real contender with sharp looks (bigger CX-5 isn't a bad thing), luxurious interior, and having the full suite of Skyactiv technologies. Doesn't hurt the engine is also turbocharged. Best in show? I think so.

    2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class: C
    I know that it's a refresh and appreciate Mercedes improving the SL's interior. But I wish they could have gone a little bit farther with the exterior aside from a new grille. This is a vehicle that deserves more.

     

    2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport/2017 Mirage: D+
    Mitsubishi, I know that you are in the process of a plan to get you back on stable ground and sales are on the rise. But you could have done so much more to these models. A new front end for the Outlander Sport? Four more horsepower and a tweaked front end for the Mirage? A little bit more money in these cars could have done so much to these.

    2016 Nissan Sentra: C-
    During the press conference of the Sentra, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing Fred Diaz said this was the year of the sedan at the company. Oddly the only model we remember from 'year of the sedan' is the Maxima. While the Sentra did get some elements of the Maxima in the front end, the rest of design matches up with the current Sentra. Nissan's 'year of the truck' for next year will hopefully be more exciting.

     

    2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible: B
    This is one of those vehicles that make you wonder why? But I'll admit that it looks quite sharp. Who knows, this might have a better chance at succeeding than the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

     

    Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept: A-
    Much like the hatchback counterpart we saw in Japan, the Impreza Sedan is quite the stunner. Now whether the production model looks like the concept remains to be seen. But considering Subaru's recent track record, this is something we're bit concerned about. At least the Impreza will be debuting a new modular platform that will underpin future Subaru models.

     

    Volkswagen America's CEO Apologizes Again: C+
    Volkswagen's apology tour continues with the CEO of the American branch, Michael Horn apologizing during Volkswagen's press conference. Look Volkswagen, we know that you are sorry about the whole diesel emission mess. But you don't need to keep apologizing at every event. It is getting to the point where if someone brings up a question not related to the scandal, you'll be saying sorry. Work on trying to get a fix out there.

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    I think the Sentra grade is too generous! It's a limp attempt at a refresh on one of the segments worst cars.

     

    Now this is a personal nitpick, but I'm surprised you find no fault with the hugely derivative MKZ front end design (400 hp drivetrain notwithstanding), while the Buick Lacrosse gets a TBD.

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    I share your concerns about the Giulia, albeit to a lesser extent. I think the car is probably further along than they're letting on as far as planning, but the development dollars aren't there.

    Also, I read that the QF gets its power running 35 pounds of boost. That's exciting for many reasons, not all of them necessarily good.

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      The C-HR (Coupe – High Rider) looks like Toyota's designers took a Nissan Juke and did a bit of plastic surgery to it. The end result is something quite stunning (at least to your author). The sharp looking front end with a narrow grille and headlights is paired with flared out fenders and the low-slung roofline. 
      In other markets, the C-HR is available with a 1.2L turbocharged four-cylinder and a hybrid powertrain. The U.S. will only get for the timebeing a 2.0L four-cylinder wth 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. This goes through a CVT to the front wheels. There is no all-wheel drive option (boo!). The C-HR is the second vehicle in Toyota's U.S. lineup to be using their New Global Architecture (TNGA).
      When the C-HR hits Toyota dealers next spring, it will come in XLE and XLE Premium trims. The XLE will feature heated mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen, and dual-zone climate control. XLE Premium adds heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, and push button start.
      Source: Toyota
      Press Release is on Page 2


      The New Hotness: 2018 C-HR Ushers in an Exciting Chapter of Toyota Style, Versatility, and Performance
      Bold, Eye-Catching Style Signals New Direction in Toyota Design Nürburgring-Tuned Agile Handling  Standard Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P) LOS ANGELES, (November 17, 2016) – An exciting next chapter in Toyota’s storied North American product history has been revealed under the lights of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Stylish, athletic, and tech-filled, the all-new 2018 Toyota C-HR – or, Coupe High-Rider – represents a leap forward in design, manufacturing, and engineering for Toyota. When it arrives at dealerships next spring, the C-HR will serve as a solid springboard of excitement, adventure, and pride for its fashion-forward, trendsetting owners. 
      Last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Scion debuted its stunning C-HR Concept. That well-received design study set the stage for the Toyota C-HR, which, nearly to the tee, carries on the concept’s avant-garde physique; modern, comfortable cabin; and bold, outgoing character. 
      The C-HR will be available in two grades at launch, XLE and XLE Premium, each equipped with a long list of standard premium features that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, supportive bucket seating, 7-inch audio display, and Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P). 
      But, the C-HR doesn’t only look great – it’s got the sportiness to impress thanks to Deputy Chief Engineer, Hiro Koba, who is a diehard racer at heart. He and his team made it their mission to ensure the C-HR exhilarates its driver anytime, anywhere. Like its uncanny looks, the C-HR’s comprehensive and cohesive blend of comfort, control, consistency, and responsiveness that was cultivated on the famed Nürburgring is as impressive as it is unique. 
      POLISHED DIAMOND STYLE
      Toyota’s team of global designers expounded on one theme: “Distinctive Diamond.” The iconic gemstone evokes universal notions of luxury, attractiveness, sophistication, and strength. Designers translated these traits into a physical form that’s collectively matchless, sexy, muscular, and edgy. From the get-go, they strived to sculpt an urban-dwelling crossover that would effortlessly navigate tight city streets and stand out, with an agile, dynamic expressiveness. 
      At the C-HR’s nose, two slim projector-beam halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights wrap deep into its toned shoulders – nearly all the way into the front quarter panels. Because of this, the vehicle looks wider than it is, and possesses an assertive fascia that’s uncommon in the segment.
      Deep, curvy character lines emerge from a prominent Toyota badge that’s flanked by the headlamps, and lead into the narrower core body. They run below the slender windows, and continue above the rear wheel where they marry to a high beltline and distinctive C-Pillar with integrated door handle. 
      Look closely at the silhouette to see the clear resemblance of a diamond set on its side. Powerful arches housing the extra-large 18-inch aluminum wheels accentuate the C-HR’s sturdy posture and compact cabin.
      The rear is a cohesive melding of its elaborate lines and 3D shapes. The tail lamps protrude outward, and the hatchback – outfitted with a lip spoiler and functional top wing – tapers neatly inboard, adding to the C-HR’s futuristic look, and, once more, surprising girth. 
      CUTTING-EDGE CABIN
      Opening a door reveals a modern, spacious, and uncluttered interior having a keen placement of diamond accents and a driver-centric “MeZONE” orientation. Along with the soft-touch materials covering surfaces throughout, the diamond pattern influences the designs of the dual-zone climate controls, speaker surrounds, and black headliner above the front passengers.
      The slightly angled dashboard and amenity controls allows for the driver to have a clear view of the road ahead and intuitive access to instrumentation – a nod to the C-HR’s sports car influence. The 7-inch audio display is positioned centrally atop the dash, rather than in it, so as to help reduce a driver’s eye movements. An informative twin-ring gauge cluster resides behind the leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel. The wheel, with its slender profile, small diameter, and compact center pad, is reminiscent of a sports car’s easy-to-grip helm. The satin-plated shift knob exudes a high-quality feeling, and once in-hand, has a solid shift movement. A bright 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display sits between the twin-ring cluster.
      Key XLE standard features include a premium leather steering wheel; power fold and heated mirrors; auto-dimming rearview mirror with backup camera; electric parking brake; and dual-zone climate control. The XLE Premium builds upon the XLE’s amenities and adds Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; heated front seats; power lumbar driver’s seat; auto fold, heated side mirrors with puddle lamps that project “Toyota C-HR”; fog lamps; and Smart Key with Push Button Start. Both grades are equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display having AM/FM/HD Radio™, Aha™app, USB port and AUX jack, Bluetooth®, and Voice Recognition with voice training. 
      Bolstered bucket seats help keep passengers snug and comfortable, no matter their commute’s duration or dynamism. All passengers will appreciate the generous amount of small item storage space and cup holders. Designers used scalloped seatbacks, foot well cubbies carved below the front seats, and a chamfered headliner to create a spacious backseat environment. Sound insulating materials placed on the carpet, headliner, A-pillars, and door trim to help keep all unwanted noises out and the good conversations in. For extra cargo carrying versatility on weekend trips or errand runs, the rear 60/40 seat can split and fold flat. 
      SURPRISE ATHLETE
      The Toyota C-HR scores high on style points, but it is also a hit when it comes to thrilling fun and impressive comfort. Deputy Chief Engineer Koba took full advantage of the C-HR’s adaptable Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) to craft an engaging character that goes well beyond just a cool appearance. The C-HR’s core driving personality incorporates the ingredients of a well-sorted sports car – one that seamlessly melds cunning responsiveness, linearity, consistency, and comfort. 
      Years were spent developing the C-HR’s driving performance and ride quality on some of the world’s most curvaceous and challenging roads, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, an iconic racing circuit. Doing so took a mix of innovation, creativity, and trial and error. As a result, the TNGA platform – with an inherent low center-of-gravity, high strength, and low weight – benefitted from extra rigidity through added spot welding, gussets, braces, and adhesives in and on key connection structures. 
      The newly developed MacPherson strut front suspension with SACHS dampers has angled strut bearings and a large diameter stabilizer bar to help the C-HR’s front end respond quickly and precisely at initial corner turn-in. And at the rear, an all-new double-wishbone suspension utilizes SACHS shock absorbers with urethane upper supports – a first for Toyota. The material, together with an aluminum-cast upper support housing, aids in the dampers’ absorption efficiency, and therefore, greatly benefit passenger comfort, cabin quietness, and vehicle agility. 
      Feeling connected to the road is characteristic of a sporty drive, and the C-HR delivers with its column-type Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system. As is the case with other EPS systems, a tilt of the steering wheel will return light feedback at low speeds, and at higher speeds, drivers will notice stronger feedback for increased confidence while behind the wheel. The C-HR’s steering system’s feel, however, relies on a highly rigid rack-and-pinion steering gearbox that is installed directly to the front suspension. 
      For all of its sportiness, the C-HR’s ride quality is well-sorted, civilized, and highly capable in absorbing the nastiest of unkempt pavement. The end result is a C-HR that finds itself as at home on congested boulevards as it does on serpentine roads. 
      COMPACT PUNCH 
      The C-HR’s engine, a punchy 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, sends all power to the front wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine employs many of Toyota’s latest generation of technologies, including Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Valvematic, both of which have received extensive optimization to enhance fuel economy and smooth operation. Valvematic offers a broader range of continuously variable valve timing (lift and phasing) to provide optimal intake valve (not on exhaust side) operation relative to engine demands. Furthermore, to reduce exhaust emissions, the catalyst is warmed earlier during the engine’s ignition cycle.  
      The all-new CVT received much attention by engineers, and utilizes redesigned pulleys to enhance acceleration and fuel economy; a new belt structure to reduce cabin noise; and, a world’s-first coaxial two-port oil pump system that allows for continuous oil pressure modifications in various driving conditions. A Preload Differential helps to distribute torque between the left and right wheels during low-speed operation to make for easier, composed driving. 
      Of course, drivers and passengers will appreciate the powertrain’s fuel efficiency, impressive smoothness, and quiet operation, but they’ll love Sport mode and the simulated 7-speed Sequential Shiftmatic. Engaging the Sport mode via the MID increases the responsiveness of the throttle, quickens the CVT’s automatic artificial “step-up” shifts, and maintains high engine speed to enhance acceleration. The EPS’ feedback is weightier for a more confidence-inspiring feel. Pushing the gearshift over to the left while in Drive engages Sequential Shiftmatic, and lets drivers shift simulated gears at their convenience.
      STATE-OF-THE-ART SAFETY 
      No matter its grade, the C-HR comes equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P). This multi-feature advanced active safety suite bundles cutting-edge active safety technologies including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function (PCS w/PD) featuring forward collision warning and Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The C-HR is the only competitor in the segment to offer standard Full-Speed DRCC.
      Complementing TSS-P are 10 standard airbags, standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and rear backup camera, as well as available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which are only available on the XLE Premium grade.

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