2019 L.A. Auto Show Highlights: The SUVs

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSporty Utility Vehicles
The 2019 L.A. Auto Show press preview days featured a surprisingly large number of new vehicle debuts, and although there were plenty of passenger cars making news, the overall product trend continues to favor the ever-popular sport-utility vehicle. A wide range of new SUVs premiered at this year’s show, including high-performance luxury models as well as fully electric and plug-in hybrid variants. Take a quick look at SUV highlights from the 2019 L.A. Auto Show.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAcura MDX PMC
The MDX is Acura’s midsize premium SUV, but this particular MDX is something special. The MDX PMC Edition gets hand built at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center by the same master technicians that build the brand’s flagship supercar, the NSX. Painted exclusively in Valencia Red Pearl — a deep red nano-pigment that seems to glow — the MDX PMC adds to the sporty styling with a gloss black mesh grille, black chrome exhaust pipes, gloss black exterior trim and 20-inch black alloy wheels. Inside, the exclusive treatment continues with black Milano leather seats with Alcantara inserts, while black piping and red stitching provide a premium look throughout the interior.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAcura MDX PMC
A 3.5-liter direct-injected i-VTEC V6 engine powers this special MDX, producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The potent V6 gets teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission, with power directed to the road via Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive with torque vectoring. Only 300 of these hand-crafted MDX variants will be available in America; a plaque on the lower console displays the individual serial number of each PMC. The base price is expected to be in the mid-$60,000 range.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAston Martin DBX
Aston Martin becomes the latest exclusive brand to join the SUV fray with the all-new DBX. The DBX will be the first SUV to wear the Aston Martin name in the company’s 106-year history, and one look at this new model confirms it is clearly, purely Aston Martin. Up front sits the signature DB grille that flows into the vented, sculpted hood. The roofline flows smoothly down toward the rear spoiler as a second line moves from the edge of the headlights to the “flip” at the tailgate, inspired by the Aston Martin Vantage. Inside, the DBX certainly doesn’t disappoint, serving levels of elegance expected of an Aston Martin. Sport seats are covered in available full-grain leather from Bridge of Weir, and Alcantara covers the headliner as well as the roof blind. Rear seats are quite roomy, offering almost as much legroom as found in the front seat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAston Martin DBX
Although luxurious surroundings remain important, Aston Martins are all about performance — and the DBX certainly shouldn’t disappoint. Power comes from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine sourced from Mercedes-AMG that generates 542 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The DBX can sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and boasts a top speed of 181 mph. Power gets managed via a 9-speed automatic transmission that sends power to a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system with an active center differential and a limited-slip rear differential. An air suspension system provides increased ground clearance as high as 9.25 inches to better handle rougher terrain. The DBX will roll into showrooms during the second half of 2020.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAudi e-tron Sportback
Less than one year after Audi introduced the e-tron fully-electric vehicle, at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show the company took the wraps off its next electric model, the e-tron Sportback. Referred to as an “SUV Coupe,” the 5-passenger Sportback pairs Audi’s electric drivetrain with a stylish and more aerodynamic body. In fact, the coefficient of drag is a very low 0.25 — even lower than the original e-tron. This slippery design has increased the Sportback’s range to an estimated 277 miles per charge. Although in our eyes SUV “coupes” can be somewhat problematic since they sacrifices utility for style, the Sportback offers almost the same cargo-carrying capacity as its SUV sibling — more than 58 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAudi e-tron Sportback
The e-tron Sportback 55 quattro features an electric motor on each axle that when combined produce 355 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. However, when a driver pushes the accelerator to the floor in Sport mode then Boost mode gets activated, which delivers just over 400 horsepower and around 490 lb-ft of torque for much quicker acceleration — albeit for up to 8 seconds only. For those seeking something sportier than an electric SUV, during the press conference Audi mentioned that a two-door coupe is in the works. We hope to see it soon.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAudi RS Q8
Audi introduced the Q8 flagship SUV a few years ago, and in typical fashion for the company, it’s now time to premiere a more powerful variant. Vehicles in the Audi lineup that wear the RS badge are the most extreme the company offers, and the RS Q8 is no exception. Proving its performance capabilities, the RS Q8 recently completed a circuit of Germany’s Nurburgring racetrack in 7:42.2, making it the fastest production SUV to lap this famed track. One glance at the RS Q8 confirms it is something special, and the bright green paint on the vehicle that debuted at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show certainly grabbed attention. Besides the bright color, the RS Q8 stands out with its gloss black RS grille, large air intakes and overall wide stance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAudi RS Q8
Motivating this high-performance SUV is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Power gets sent to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system via an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. The RS Q8 is not a small SUV, but excellent traction and plenty of power help it sprint to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds with a top speed of almost 190 mph when equipped with RS Ceramic brakes. The RS Q8 uses active torque vectoring to direct power front or back as well as to the right or left rear wheels for improved handling and stability. An adaptive air suspension provides passengers with a smooth ride on or off the pavement. The RS Q8 should begin arriving in showrooms next year.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceChevrolet Trailblazer
It’s been more than 10 years since Chevrolet sold a Trailblazer — and now the nameplate is back, worn by a stylish small crossover in the Chevy lineup. “Slotting between the Trax and Equinox, the addition of the Trailblazer provides us with a great opportunity to expand the Chevy SUV family to new audiences,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet passenger car and crossover marketing. With styling that fits well with the recently returned Blazer, the Trailblazer will be available in a variety of trim levels including the sporty RS and more adventurous ACTIV. Trailblazer will offer the latest Chevrolet infotainment system that includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the ability for occupants to use two paired Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceChevrolet Trailblazer
Trailblazer will offer seating for up to five occupants and features a 60/40 spilt-folding rear seat for better cargo-carrying versatility, including the ability to accommodate cargo up to 8.5-feet long. A hands-free tailgate is available for additional loading convenience. Power will come from either a 1.2- or a 1.3-liter turbo engine with maximum 155 horsepower available. Both engines get teamed with a continuously-variable transmission. Trailblazer will be available with front- or all-wheel drive, with the all-wheel-drive system selectable so it can be turned off when unneeded for better fuel efficiency. Trailblazer is expected to arrive in showrooms next spring.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Mustang Mach-E
For the first time in its 50-plus year history, the Mustang name will be affixed to something that isn’t a sporty coupe or convertible. Not only will the all-new Mustang Mach-E be the first SUV to feature the running Pony logo, it will also be the first mainstream electric vehicle from Ford. Available in five trim levels ranging from the base-level Select to the high-performance GT, the Mustang Mach-E offers seating for up to five occupants in a very roomy cabin. Clear visual cues connect the Mach-E with classic Mustang styling, such as the running Mustang pony logo up front and center in what would be the grille if the electric Mach-E needed a grille. At the rear are familiar Mustang taillights that illuminate in sequence.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Mustang Mach-E
The Mach-E generating the most attention is the GT. The Mach-E GT will be all-wheel drive with dual electric motors generating 459 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque. Ford estimates a sprint to 60 mph will happen in about 3.5 seconds. With 20-inch forged dark-finish wheels, red brake calipers and a unique grille, the GT will certainly stand out as something special. Depending on trim level, the Mach-E will be available with battery packs that offer either a standard or an extended range. For rear-wheel-drive variants with the extended-range battery, Ford estimates a range of 300 miles on a single full charge. Prices for the Mustang Mach-E will start at $43,895 when it arrives late next year.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda CR-V Hybrid
Honda has refreshed its best-selling model — the CR-V — and in addition to updated styling, the 2020 CR-V will also be available as a fuel-efficient hybrid. Making its debut at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show, the CR-V Hybrid is the first electrified SUV from the Japanese car company. Honda’s goal of having two-thirds of its global sales made up of electrified vehicles by 2030 will certainly get a boost from a CR-V Hybrid. Across the board, the 2020 CR-V receives updated front and rear styling, redesigned wheels and the standard Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety features.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda CR-V Hybrid
Similar to the Honda Accord Hybrid, the CR-V Hybrid uses a 2-motor hybrid powertrain that teams two electric motors with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine for a combined output of 212 horsepower, making it the most powerful model in the CR-V lineup. The 2020 CR-V Hybrid is also the first application of this innovative hybrid powertrain in an all-wheel-drive vehicle — when the crossover loses traction at the front wheels, power from the electric motor gets directed to the rear wheels. Fuel economy numbers are expected to be greatly improved over the non-hybrid versions; Honda expects to release those numbers closer to the on-sale time early next year. The CR-V Hybrid will be built alongside the Insight hybrid at Honda’s assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Vision T Concept
The Korean car company provided a peek at possible future product directions for the brand with the introduction of the Vision T Concept at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show. The Vision T is the seventh in a series of concepts that have come from the Hyundai Design Center, created to show the brand’s “Sensuous Sportiness global design language.” About the size of a Hyundai Santa Fe in length, the Vision T Concept is much wider which gives this futuristic SUV a more aggressive stance. The long wheelbase with short overhangs combined with large wheels, long hood and sharp angles add to the dynamic styling.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Vision T Concept
This concept possesses a plug-in hybrid powertrain that fits well with the vehicle’s advanced design. The Vision T features what Hyundai calls a Parametric Air Shutter Grille Design, which is closed when the vehicle is stationary; however, once moving each individual cell will open in a prescribed order, giving the vehicle the impression of something alive while at the same time controlling airflow for improved cooling and aerodynamics. This concept is clearly not going into production as-is, however, Hyundai often carries technology and design cues from concepts to production vehicles, so there may be some aspects of the Vision T that will eventually make it to future models.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceKia Seltos
Since sport-utility vehicles continue to play so prominently in America, Kia is adding an all new SUV to its lineup. The all-new Seltos will be positioned between the Soul and Sportage, with modern styling and the classic SUV shape. Up front is the familiar Kia tiger nose grille that flows smoothly into the flush-mounted headlights — available as full LED lights. Front and rear skidplates as well as cladding that covers the lower body and wheel arches hints at the off-road ability of the Seltos. The cabin is quite spacious with a rear seat that offers impressive leg- and headroom. Up front there’s a decent amount of storage space as well as an available 10.25-inch touchscreen display in the center. Seltos will also be the first Kia available with an 8-speaker Bose premium sound system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceKia Seltos
Two different powerplants will be available for Seltos, including a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine producing 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox which should offer plenty of performance for a vehicle this size. With 7.2-inches of ground clearance and available all-wheel drive with torque vectoring the Seltos should be quite capable on or off the pavement. Seltos will be available in five different trim levels with prices starting at below $22,000 for the LX AWD. Look for Seltos to start arriving in showrooms in the first quarter of 2020.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLincoln Corsair Grand Touring
Lincoln has been introducing new SUVs and crossovers at a rapid rate — the latest to join the lineup was the all-new Corsair, introduced earlier this year. Now Ford’s luxury brand is adding a Grand Touring trim to this premium 5-person crossover, which for Lincoln means electrification. The Corsair Grand Touring will join the Aviator Grand Touring as the second plug-in hybrid model in the SUV lineup. “Corsair Grand Touring taps into Lincoln’s growing momentum and builds on our commitment to electrification,” said Joy Falotico, president of The Lincoln Motor Company. “With the addition of Corsair Grand Touring, we now have a family of SUVs that is distinctly Lincoln for every client,” Falotico observed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLincoln Corsair Grand Touring
The new Corsair Grand Touring will feature a new 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine teamed with two electric motors to deliver an expected 266 combined horsepower. This system provides an electric all-wheel-drive system and should deliver up to 25 miles of electric-only driving on a full charge. Lincoln has put considerable effort into making the Corsair a quiet, comfortable ride, which includes using additional sound damping materials between the engine and the cabin as well as Active Noise Control. Corsair also gets equipped with the latest advance safety features. The 2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring will be produced at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky, with sales expected to begin next summer.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMazda CX-30
Mazda adds another crossover to its lineup with the CX-30, which made its North American debut at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show. Mazda tells us this is not a replacement for the CX-3 — instead it is an all-new crossover that fits between the existing CX-3 and CX-5 models. Following Mazda’s KODO design language, the front end of the CX-30 looks similar to CX-3 and CX-5, with flowing lines from the grille toward the rear wheel arches. The CX-30 is designed to be right-sized for many buyers, featuring seating for five and offering Mazda’s signature driving dynamics in a fun-to-drive package. Inside, the CX-30 focuses on creating a premium vibe with a cockpit feel for the driver and an open area for the front passenger.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMazda CX30
The new CX-30 will utilize Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine producing a healthy 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The CX-30 is available with front or all-wheel drive — the latter featuring a new off-road traction-assist system that will determine if a wheel has lost traction and apply brakes to that individual wheel, sending power to the wheels that still have grip. The CX-30 will have a low starting price of $21,900 when it goes on sale next year.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-AMG GLS 63
The Mercedes-Benz S Class sedan is a benchmark of the luxury car market, so it’s no surprise that the German automaker refers to the GLS as the S Class of SUVs. Now this flagship SUV is getting the AMG treatment, which means more aggressive styling and — of course — more power. The familiar AMG grille with vertical slats in high-gloss chrome, dynamic headlights, flared wheel arches and sculpted hood help to differentiate the GLS 63 from a “typical” GLS. The GLS 63 comes standard with 21-inch wheels, but for ultimate standout styling 23-inch variants are available. Inside, high-quality materials and amenities abound, including Nappa leather seats as well as the AMG instrument cluster.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-AMG GLS 63
At the heart of every AMG model is a powerful hand-built motor and the GLS 63 is no exception. Under the very large hood lurks a 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 engine that produces 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. For the first time, the AMG V8 gets supplemented by an EQ boost starter / alternator that can briefly add 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque when needed for a sprint from a stoplight or passing a slower vehicle. With this much power on tap, the very large GLS 63 can reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and — with enough road or track — 174 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota RAV4 Prime
With groundbreaking vehicles such as the Prius and Camry Hybrid, Toyota has developed a reputation for building gas-electric models designed to provide the utmost in efficiency and fuel economy. However, with the all-new RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, the company has gone the high-performance route. The first-ever plug-in hybrid RAV4 will also be the most powerful in the range with an advanced all-wheel-drive system and sport-tuned suspension. RAV4 Prime will be available in SE or XSE trim levels, both of which offer a long list of standard features as well as sportier styling to call out the added performance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota RAV4 Prime
The RAV4 Prime gets a tuned version of the standard RAV4 Hybrid’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 176 horsepower on its own. However, when combined with the pair of electric motors, total output is a very impressive 302 horsepower. With the ability to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, the RAV4 Prime will be the second-quickest vehicle in the Toyota lineup. But this potent powertrain still delivers efficiency — when fully charged the RAV4 Prime can travel an estimated 39 miles using its electric motors alone, and Toyota expects this new crossover to achieve 90 MPGe. The 2021 RAV4 Prime will arrive in showrooms next summer.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVolkswagen ID. SPACE VIZZION
Volkswagen continues its bold move toward electrification with the introduction of the seventh concept in the ID. series: the ID. SPACE VIZZION. Similar to the other concepts in the ID. family, the ID. SPACE VIZZION concept showcases the flexibility of Volkswagen’s MEB electric architecture. With its compact drive components and batteries integrated into the floor, this platform is designed for use in a variety of vehicles. More grand-touring wagon than SUV, the ID. SPACE VIZZION concept is said to be a preview of what will end up as a production vehicle for North America in 2022. With no need to design around an internal combustion engine at the front, the ID. SPACE VIZZION features a low hood that flows smoothly into the windshield and on toward the rear of the vehicle, providing a sleek and aerodynamic silhouette.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVolkswagen ID. SPACE VIZZION
The Volkswagen ID. SPACE VIZZION is motivated by a rear-mounted electric motor that produces 275 horsepower. The motor gets juice from an 82-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Although this is a rear-wheel-drive concept, VW says the flexible architecture would allow for an additional motor, boosting power to 355 horses and providing the ID. SPACE VIZZION with 4MOTION full-time all-wheel drive. As with other electric vehicles, the ID. SPACE VIZZION is quick off the line. When equipped with dual motors, this unique people mover is expected to sprint to 60 mph in a mere 5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 109 mph. The projected range for the ID. SPACE VIZZION is around 300 miles. This concept’s interior looks much larger than expected, since it’s currently configured with four seats but a production version could easily seat five, according to VW.

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