The annual Los Angeles Auto Show stands out as one of the most important dates on the automotive calendar. The 2018 edition of the event is bigger than usual because it follows an abnormally quiet Paris show and precedes what’s shaping up to be the smallest Detroit show ever. Car companies from all over the spectrum are consequently choosing Los Angeles to unveil significant production models and futuristic concept cars.
The Los Angeles show is usually a luxury-oriented event where jet-setter-friendly cars shine under the bright lights. This year, we’re seeing a little bit of everything. The luxury segment will be well represented, make no mistake, but we’ll also discover brand-new trucks, SUVs, and even economy cars. Here are the major product announcements we’re expecting in Los Angeles from brands like Jeep, Kia, Mazda, Porsche, and newcomer Rivian. Tune in to Digital Trends starting on November 27 for our live coverage of the show.
2020 Jeep Gladiator
Jeep is returning to the pickup truck segment it left over a quarter of a century ago. The outdoorsy Gladiator is based on the fourth-generation Wrangler, but its wheelbase is longer and it receives a five-foot cargo box to carry gear and toys. Its natural habitat is a dirt trail miles away from the nearest paved road, not a construction site. Leaked images revealed the truck well ahead of its scheduled debut in Los Angeles.
The only engine available at launch will be a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 that shifts through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. Four-wheel drive will come standard; it’s an evolution of the Wrangler, after all. Jeep will add a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 to the lineup in 2020. Properly equipped, the Gladiator will be capable of towing 7,650 pounds and hauling 1,600 pounds.
More on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator
2020 Kia Soul
Cue the hamsters; there’s a new Kia Soul just around the corner.
The third-generation Soul will break cover in Los Angeles with a more grown-up design and a smarter, more user-friendly interior. Teaser images confirm the model will retain the boxy proportions that have characterized it since the original version made its debut in 2008. Designers took the front end in a more aggressive direction and fitted the back end with lights that wrap almost all the way around the rear window. It’s a bit of an acquired taste; time will tell whether it looks better in person than in pixels.
Kia has always aimed the Soul at a relatively young audience. To keep buyers interested, it has given the interior comprehensive design and technology updates that will keep the model fresh for years to come. Expect to find the latest generation of Kia’s touchscreen-based infotainment system plus an array of electronic driving aids. The gasoline- and electricity-powered drivetrain options will return.
More on the 2020 Kia Soul
Mazda is keeping the next-generation Mazda3 under wraps until the opening day of the Los Angeles show. The Japanese firm nonetheless released a dark teaser video to whet our appetite, and we think the model will be one of the uncontested stars of the event. The hatchback variant liberally borrows styling cues from the head-turning Kai concept shown in 2017, meaning it gets a slanted, almost fastback-like roof line that marks a drastic departure from the utilitarian silhouette often seen in this segment.
The surprises won’t end at the curvaceous sheet metal. While nothing is official yet, the next-generation Mazda3 is widely believed to inaugurate a fuel-saving breakthrough in engine technology. Mazda calls it SkyActiv-X, and it blends the technology used in a gasoline engine with that of a turbodiesel unit. Many car companies have experimented with this solution and failed; Mazda thinks it has cracked the code.
More on the 2020 Mazda3
2020 Porsche 911
Though the prototypes are still covered in camouflage, it’s not difficult to get an idea of what the next-generation Porsche 911 looks like. The headlights are still oval — no surprises there. Porsche tried to move away from that archetypal styling cue with the 996-generation 911 and fans revolted. It still looks like a 911, too, but the rear lights are now connected by a light bar and the vents on the decklid gets a new-look design that integrates the third brake light. The changes are evolutionary at best.
We expect to find big tech upgrades inside. The model will likely receive the 12.3-inch touchscreen found in bigger models like the Panamera and the Cayenne. The tachometer will remain front and center, but Porsche could integrate driver-configurable displays into the instrument cluster. And, there’s a good chance the next 911 will receive the clever InnoDrive software already offered on the firm’s four-door models. Think of it as a super-cruise-control system that doesn’t neuter a sports car’s impulses.
More on the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera
Rather than entering the crowded luxury electric car segment, Rivian boldly aims to apply the Tesla model to the world of off-roaders. The firm currently plans to launch two models called R1T and R1S, respectively. Both will use battery-electric powertrains and offer level three autonomous capabilities. The R1T takes the form of a pickup truck closer to the Honda Ridgeline than to the Ford F-150, but with a design that’s equal parts rugged and futuristic. We haven’t seen the SUV yet.
Rivian’s project brief impresses — at least on paper. The R1T needs to safely drive through 3.6 feet of water, offer over 14 inches of ground clearance, and be capable of climbing 45-degree inclines. If it can achieve these benchmarks, it will, in theory, put a Jeep Wrangler to shame. And that’s just one of its personalities. Rivian promises the truck handles better than a Porsche Cayenne Turbo thanks in part to an air suspension and roll control technology, and it logs a supercar-beating zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds in its most powerful configuration. It offers up to 450 miles of driving range, too.
Color us intrigued. We’ll learn much more when Rivian introduces itself to the world in Los Angeles.
More on the Rivian R1T concept
2019 Toyota Corolla
For decades, the Toyota Corolla has been the go-to machine for motorists who want a simple, reliable, and affordable car. It’s also proven to be a remarkably powerful sedative for anyone who seeks even an ounce of driving enjoyment. That’s all about to change, according to Toyota. The newest Corolla falls in line with the company’s attempt at making cars that appeal to the heart, not just the mind. It looks bolder than ever before in recent memory and the firm stresses it will be more enjoyable to drive than the outgoing model.
Interestingly, Toyota will introduce two variants of the Corolla in Los Angeles. The first will get either a 1.8- or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine depending on how it’s configured, while the second will receive a fuel-sipping gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain.
More on the 2020 Toyota Corolla
Luxury car enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by this year’s Los Angeles show. Bentley will show a 626-horsepower, tweed-topped convertible version of the Continental GT. Several recently-unveiled BMW concepts and production cars will make their debut at the show, including the X7 and the 8 Series Convertible. Hyundai’s Genesis division will likely reveal a heavily-updated G90, while Mercedes-AMG will show us a track-ready evolution of the GT. Honda will resurrect the Passport nameplate, and Subaru will unveil a plug-in hybrid variant of the Crosstrek built with a little bit of help from Toyota. Volvo will show nothing at all, but it will have plenty to talk about.
That’s not all. Automakers can announce new products hours, minutes, or even seconds before their on-stage unveiling, and we already know there are several surprises planned this year.
Check out our full coverage of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show