2016 Los Angeles Auto Show Green-Car Preview
The 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show gets underway this week, and a few notable green cars are expected to debut there. The current popularity of crossover utility vehicles is evident in the numerous new or redesigned crossover models listed for the L.A. show.
A smattering of other models will debut as well, but crossovers could very well represent the majority of production and concept car debuts this year. While it typically is considered a “green” show, Los Angeles this year is light on hybrid and plug-in debuts, unless a carmaker manages to pull off a rare surprise unveiling.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV (our Green Car Reports 2017 Best Car To Buy winner) will be heavily promoted on Chevy’s stand, but we’re not expecting a lot else. We’ll have more details on these and other models in the coming days, so be sure to head over to our Los Angeles Auto Show news page for the latest updates.
The Ford EcoSport crossover already sold in numerous markets around the world may make its U.S. debut in L.A. Now an aging vehicle, the current EcoSport is based on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, and was introduced in 2012.
It’s popular in markets outside the U.S., where its small size is no impediment to service as family transport. It’s actually the second generation of this subcompact crossover, and is built in Brazil, China, India, Russia, and Thailand. A U.S. unveiling could coincide with an anticipated 2017-model-year refresh of the model, giving Ford a competitor to a burgeoning group of small crossovers. Those include the Chevrolet Trax, the hot-selling Honda HR-V, the Mazda CX-3, and Toyota’s upcoming C-HR (originally intended to be sold in the U.S. as a Scion).
2017 Honda CR-V
The 2017 Honda CR-V is a thorough overhaul of the Japanese automaker’s hugely popular subcompact crossover. It follows the carmaker’s radical redesign of the Civic compact sedan, but the CR-V is less adventurous, adding some styling flourishes to essentially the same shape that’s been so successful for Honda. The front fascia and rear side windows have been reshaped, but the 2017 CR-V retains the crossover shape that defined the 2016 model.
Powertrains have almost entirely changed, however, with a 1.5-liter, turbocharged, direct-injected 4-cylinder engine powering all models except the base LX version, which continues with a carryover 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. Both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and feature active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics. Fuel economy ratings are expected to rise commensurately.
Jaguar is widely believed to be working on an all-electric SUV, and British outlets have reported that this vehicle may appear in L.A., perhaps as a concept car. The I-Pace would make sense in the context of Jaguar’s current naming conventions. The British automaker’s only current SUV is called the F-Pace, while its Formula E electric race car is known as the I-Type 1.
An electric SUV would give Jaguar a rival to the Tesla Model X, as well as planned electric utility vehicles from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. While electric conversions of the F-Pace in camouflage have been observed at Jaguar’s headquarters in Gaydon, England, little else is known about details of such a concept.
A main question for observers: will it use the styling of the F-Pace, making it effectively a powertrain alternative, or will it be a dedicated electric vehicle with unique styling (as the 2018 Audi e-Tron will be)?
2017 Jeep Compass
The 2017 Jeep Compass debuting in L.A. will actually serve as the replacement for two current Jeep utility vehicles. It will replace not only the current Compass but also the Patriot, which uses the same platform.
The new Compass uses a stretched version of the platform that underpins the current Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X subcompact crossovers. That will start to give Fiat Chrysler Automobiles the economies of production scale it needs to make smaller vehicles profitable, after killing off its Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans in the U.S. this year. It will be built at Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s (FCA) Goiana, Pernambuco, plant in Brazil — highlighting the importance of this model for Jeep in international markets.
2018 Mazda CX-5
Mazda will unveil a new version of its CX-5 compact crossover, the current version of which dates back to the 2013 model year. So far Mazda has revealed little about the redesigned version, only showing a shadowy teaser image that hints styling based around a revised version of the company’s “Kodo” design language. The current CX-5’s 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engines will likely carry over to the new model.
Both are from Mazda’s “Skyactiv” family of efficiency-focused engines, which rely on numerous relatively small features to achieve overall high fuel economy. Mazda has said that it expected its second-generation SkyActiv gasoline combustion engines to achieve the fuel economy of the very best diesels of the same output.
2017 Mini Countryman
The trend toward ever larger BMW-built Mini models continues with the 2017 Countryman, the second generation of Mini’s crossover. BMW touts the 2017 Countryman as the “biggest Mini yet,” although it’s up to consumers to decide if that is a good thing. The redesigned Countryman rides on the same UKL platform used by the current Mini Hardtop, Convertible, and Clubman wagon, as well as the BMW X1 crossover.
It also gains a “through the road” all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid option with a gasoline engine powering the front wheels, and an electric motor powering the rear wheels.
2017 Nissan Versa Note
An updated version of the Nissan Versa Note subcompact hatchback will debut in L.A. with revised styling, but no significant mechanical changes. The 2017 Versa Note wears the corporate “V-Motion” grille already used on most other Nissan models. However, it retains the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine (CVT) used previously.
Nissan recently debuted a hybrid powertrain for Japanese-market versions (which are called simply Nissan Note), but it likely won’t be offered in the U.S. The carmaker also dropped the previous Versa Note S base model, eliminating a 5-speed manual transmission option in the process.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
The Atlas is Volkswagen’s much anticipated three-row crossover utility vehicle. Designed primarily with the U.S. market in mind, it will be built at the same Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant currently builds the Passat mid-size sedan. Several concept-car teases indicated that VW would offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Atlas, but that won’t be the case with the production model, at least at launch.
A planned TDI diesel model, which was to have been its highest-efficiency version, was also nixed due to the ongoing diesel emissions scandal. Instead, the Atlas will debut only with 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated VR6 narrow-angle V-6 gasoline engine options.