Hottest Cars And Concepts of the LA Auto ShowBy Chris Weiss
The L.A. Auto Show has officially come and gone, and we’ve seen all the big debuts and exciting new concepts that the show had to give. Here’s a short list of the highlights that we enjoyed most–from brand new world debuts to slighty off-the-rocker concepts that we can’t help but love.
Toyota RAV4 EV
Electric vehicles just got a little more capable thanks to this all-electric RAV4. Or at least they will when the car is ready for market sometime around 2012. With that Jay Leno chin, it’s definitely not as sightly as the cars further down the list, but CUVs are all about personality over looks anyway. And this one promises to bring a Tesla-sourced battery and all-electric driving with the size and utility of a crossover. Toyota’s goal is to get somewhere around 100 miles of range without losing any of the capacity of the standard RAV4. However, there’s a long way to go, and LA proved that Toyota is still in the early stages of developing this one. But the EV market is getting more robust and the RAV4 EV proves that.
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Okay, it’s hard to find nice things to say about a $46,000 crossover that looks like this. But Nissan had brass balls for trying this particular combination out. And everyone was pretty eager to see what it w0uld look like leading up to the show, even if they didn’t ultimately like the answer. So in terms of quelled anticipation alone, we had to include this in our top picks from the show. The new top-end Murano model hits the market next spring.
Subaru Impreza Concept
Like the Mazda Shinari to come, Subaru’s concept gives us a look at the future of the company. But in Subaru’s case, it uses a car that should prove much closer to the actual production version. Hopefully, the actual next generation Impreza looks a lot like this concept, because we really like it. Mazda took “Soul of Motion,” so Subaru chose “Confidence in Motion” to describe the mentality that its concept was built from. The Impreza Concept was also the launch platform for Subaru’s new 2.0-liter boxer four and CVT powertrain.
2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
We’ve already seen a lot of the Chevy Camaro Convertible on Facebook and Neiman Marcus, so there wasn’t anything shocking or awing about the LA debut, but it’s been a long time since we had the option of a drop-top version of Chevy’s muscle car classic. And it looks damn good in that grey paint. The Camaro Convertible will come in the same V6 or V8 engine options as its hard-top brother and will start at $30K when it goes on sale in February.
Mazda Shinari Concept
We liked the Mazda Shinari concepts since the moment we saw it months ago, so it’s nice that it finally got its fifteen minutes of auto show fame. The Shinari ushered in Mazda’s new Kodo (Soul of Motion) language and, assuming the language stays pretty true to the concept, we can’t wait to see the next generation of Mazda cars.
The Concepts of the LA Design Challenge
Concept cars are supposed to work outside of the box. And the models and sketches of the Design Challenge jumped fervently out of the box, smashed it flat and then set it on fire. In reading the descriptions of these cars, we were introduced to all kinds of new terms, terms like “smart granny robots,” “DNA cocoon” and “organic synthetics.” We saw all kinds of strange technology and materials like pneumatic air propulsion systems, polymer body panels and seaweed carbon fiber. And in the end, all nine company design teams involved delivered thought-provoking, wild-looking designs that met the challenge of four passengers, 1,000 lbs. Pictured is one of the Challenge’s winners, the Cadillac Aera, and you can look at all the challengers and their sci-fi-like descriptions here. We couldn’t choose just one.
Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante
Despite the fact that it took us longer to write that ridiculously long name than it will the car’s description, the new Lamborghini convertible was easily our favorite new car of the show. Between its suped-up V10 engine, 3.9-second 0-to-62 mph, lightened build and subtle hood stripes, we were enamored yet again by the Raging Bull. As always, though, the yet-to-be-announced price tag is sure to bring us back down to Earth.