The road ahead — highlights from the 2019 LA Auto Show

From the February 2020 print edition

Chronologically, it’s at the tail end of the auto show roster, but the Los Angeles Auto Show—also known as AutoMobility LA—is a preview of the year to come. Some of the most important new concept cars, technologies and design make their debuts on the Los Angeles stage. The show was from November 22 to December 1 2019, and overall there were more than 1,000 vehicles on display. We’ve highlighted just a few that stood out for their impressive technology or market significance.

Fiat 500X Sport
Fiat injects a little pizazz into the lineup with a new 500x Sport. The new model, which slots in above the Trekking, features a unique front-end treatment, LED headlights, body-colour side mouldings, revised rear fascia with twin chrome exhaust tips and standard 18-inch or optional 19-inch wheels. The interior also receives the Sport treatment with unique racing style seats with suede inserts, extra bolstering and contrasting red stitching—which is also repeated on the sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and sporty aluminum pedals.

Buick Encore GX
Buick’s strategy of producing a crossover to fit every customer’s need must be paying off as they’ve just added a brand-new vehicle to the lineup. The Encore GX slots in between the tiny, subcompact Encore and the medium Envision. Although it shares a name with the Encore, the GX is built on an entirely new platform. A foot shorter than the Envision, but three inches longer than the Encore, the GX finds the sweet spot for those who think one is too big and the other too small. There are two engine choices: a 1.2-litre, and 1.3-litre turbocharged three-cylinder paired to a continuously variable, or nine-speed automatic transmission. A suite of advanced safety features is standard, including lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Options include all-wheel-drive, adaptive cruise control, rear-parking obstruction warning, head-up display, rearview video mirror and rear-cross traffic warning.

Ford Mustang Mach-E
One of the most talked-about debuts of the show, Ford’s Mustang Mach-E combines retro elements of its iconic pony car with futuristic technology to produce a new all-electric crossover. The new Mach-E has a range of up to 400km with the larger of two available battery sizes and offers rear or all-wheel-drive. The standard Mach-E has an output of up to 332hp and 417lbs-ft of torque—which increases to 459hp/612lbs-ft with the Mach-E GT. The five-passenger crossover is available with a massive 15.5-inch touchscreen and Ford claims Autopilot-like technology should arrive soon.

Honda CR-V Hybrid
At last, Honda’s popular CR-V crossover is adding a hybrid to its lineup. The powertrain, derived from the Accord hybrid, uses a four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors producing a combined 212hp. Honda claims a 50-per cent increase in fuel-efficiency over the non-hybrid model. Standard is all-wheel drive, seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Sirius XM satellite radio and Honda Sensing Suite of driver’s safety aids, including adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, road-departure mitigation, lane-keeping assist and traffic sign recognition.

Nissan Sentra
The only thing the new Sentra shares with the previous model is its name. For 2020, Nissan has overhauled its compact sedan with a brand-new platform and an upscale design that resembles the Altima and Maxima. The new Sentra is two-inches longer, rides 2.2-inches lower and has a more powerful, two-litre engine. The interior goes uptown with optional leather and available “Zero Gravity” seats. Standard is Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of drivers aids, including blindspot monitoring, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, high-beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic rear braking.

Mazda CX 30
Mazda’s latest crossover targets the customer who loves the wildly popular Mazda3, but just wishes it rode a little higher. They’re based on the same platform, but the new CX 30 fits into the crossover lineup above the tiny CX-3 and the compact CX-5. Available with front or all-wheel drive, the CX 30 is powered by a 186hp engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The CX 30 boasts Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus technology to produce the sort of nimble, sure-footed handling to please the driving enthusiast. Standard are adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, 8.8-inch colour screen and Apple CarPlay and Android auto on all but the base model.

Toyota Camry AWD
One of the world’s best-selling cars, the Toyota Camry gets even better with all-wheel drive for 2020. The optional technology gives the Camry an advantage over competitors. Three engines are offered: a fuel-efficient four-cylinder, powerful V6 and an eco-friendly hybrid option. Standard is Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, including pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and dynamic radar cruise control. A performance-oriented Camry TRD has retuned suspension, anti-roll bars, larger brakes, tuned exhaust system, aerodynamic body kit and red interior.