Los Angeles 2019: Wished I Was There

Five years ago, I attended my last Los Angeles Auto Show – my first as a credentialled member of the automotive media corps.

Coming back to my birthplace city for the show was a mixed experience, to be honest. It was great to see my family, award #VOTY14 to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and meet some new folks in the business, including the head of the consulting firm I work with these days. Yet…and I'll just leave it there.

This year's show would have been one to work at. However, my focus would most likely not be on the show itself.  For example, my high school alma mater won their quarter-final game to advance in the Los Angeles City Section football playoffs in their division the Friday night before Ford unveiled their big star of the show. Since a few of my colleagues were already on the ground that Friday, this event was an instance of "had I known about this, I would've gone up to Reseda to see this exciting game against Roosevelt High School."

Reseda won. The following Friday, the Regents hosted Venice High in the semi-final game.

The next evening, I found out that the father of a family of schoolmates/friends passed away. Victor Lapiner was the kind of father you want in your community. He was a baseball coach, a mentor, a booster, a supporter, and a leader in Reseda. More so than my own mother. Lapiner also loved his alma mater, the University of Southern California, to support the institution and its programs. Knowing how much the Lapiners and the Sterns were friends some five decades on, I found out the memorial would be held the Tuesday before the big press conferences. Again, "had I known all of this – and was working the L.A. Auto Show – I would find a way to be at the memorial."

Hypothetically, would I have been effective while working the L.A. Auto Show delivering content even with my old high school enjoying one of its best football seasons this century and that a significant scion of our community will be memorialized?

In truth, I never made it to the L.A. Auto Show. I only used the internet to peek inside. While these two significant events that pertain to my life outside the automotive realm tempered my soul, I have to balance it worth the work that needs to be done – even from the convenience of my home office near Minneapolis.

Photo courtesy of the Ford Motor Company

There was plenty of news to capture from Los Angeles. For starters, Ford introduced a full battery-electric four-door crossover hatchback. While the idea was novel, especially in the face of Tesla, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and so forth, the name of this vehicle caused quite a stir.

The court of public opinion – also known as social media – weighed in and gave it a split decision. I rather not say which side of the debate I am on. The vehicle is a charming idea, considering the specifications Ford announced at their private event in Hawthorne. One such model – the GT – has an output of 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. Ford claims that this model will run a 0-60 MPH sprint in the mid-3-second range. Importantly, Ford also claims a battery range of over 300 miles.

But, would you call this vehicle the Mustang Mach-E? Let me get back to you on this…

Kia announced the North American arrival of their subcompact Seltos SUV. The vehicle has been selling in various global markets already and received plenty of praise from the local press in those markets. It presents a new design twist at Kia, with a more aggressive front end and a typical small SUV look elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors America

The Seltos SUV will slot between the Soul and the Sportage in the USA lineup, powered by a choice of 2.0-liter engine or a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. It has the stance that will attract customers at a price point that looks affordable.

Joining the Seltos are a few rivals from General Motors and Mazda. Los Angeles also served as the North American debut of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Encore GX, and Mazda CX-30. The GM twins were developed in China for the remaining global markets GM is still active in. They will feature a couple of turbocharged three-cylinder engines to power these new small SUVs.

Mazda's entry will slot between the CX-3 and CX-5 as a sportier SUV for active lifestyles. The Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter engine will power this small SUV with 186 horsepower on tap. It appears that this model is aimed at those who want more from their small SUV and have high aspirations in life. It should be priced less than an Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Another long-awaited model appeared on the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The all-new 2020 Nissan Sentra came out with high attention to detail, very high quality, and a sharper look that looks the part to slot in-between the new Versa and Altima. A 149-horsepower 2.0-liter engine will motivate the new compact sedan. The praise has been high, especially when it came down to passenger space and comfort.

On the luxury car front, Aston Martin may have almost stolen the show with its first SUV model, the DBX. The idea is superb – an SUV with a mix of DB11 and Vantage offering plenty of passenger space and utility – more so than the Lamborghini Urus. The design is more sports coupe-like, though the four-door silhouette is a dead giveaway for its intentions. However, various journalists pointed out that these pre-production units had some parts missing, some functional and body panel issues. One would hope that production models would be of higher quality than shown in Los Angeles (and elsewhere).

Genesis brought out their mid-cycle refresh of the G90 flagship sedan. There had been plenty of talk about the front clip of the revised model with its dominating diamond-shape grille. We get that being different also means being distinctive. Yet there had been feedback regarding the overall look as maybe being "too much." I'll bet that in a year's time, it might just grow on you. Otherwise, this is a superb flagship sedan that does rank up there with its competitors from Germany and Japan.

Photo courtesy of Genesis USA

If there was one debut in Los Angeles worth seeing – it would be the production version of the Lexus LC 500 Convertible for 2021. The concept we saw earlier this year was absolutely stunning. The production model looked captivating. For the winner of #VOTY18, the LC 500 Convertible is perhaps the luxury two-seat open roof automobile one really needs.

The Los Angeles Auto Show is now open to the public at the Los Angeles Convention Center downtown. It runs through Sunday, December 1st. Tickets for adults are from $15.00-35.00, children under 12 years old and seniors over the age of 64 are discounted. Children ages 6 and under are free with an accompanying adult.

One tip for everyone attending the auto show – make sure you are not going when there is an event at the Staples Center or the Microsoft Theater because the area will be crowded beyond your imagination. Find good parking nearby or take Metro to the Convention Center. Buses run on Figueroa Boulevard and Pico Avenue, while Metro Blue and Expo Lines stop two blocks from the show's doorstep.

Next stop…maybe Washington, DC? Perhaps, Chicago? Stay tuned…I might just be there.

Top photo courtesy of Toyota Motor North America

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