LA Auto Show Hits
Jeep’s Gladiator and Rivian’s R1T take center stage
Posted on January 4, 2019
Since 1907, the Los Angeles Auto Show has been the go-to venue for automakers to unveil new sports cars. Most recently, Porsche kept that tradition alive with its new 911, while Mercedes-Benz added even more muscle to its AMG GT R with a PRO edition. Of course, today’s vehicle market is tilted heavily toward trucks and SUVs, and along with the legendary Jeep and new Rivian, Lincoln unveiled its new Aviator. We’ve picked a handful of new choices that are noteworthy.
Jeep fans have been waiting for a pickup truck and the new 2020 Gladiator model (available mid-2019) should fly off the lots. It’s a perfect combination of Wrangler ruggedness with the added utility of a pickup bed. Power will come from the solid 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 teamed with either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox. A 3.0-liter Eco Diesel V6 will arrive in 2020. And, the Mopar parts guys have already produced a robust catalog of options to make your ride unique.
Rivian R1T Electric Truck
A pure electric pickup designed and produced in the USA? That’s the mission of Rivian, a new company based in Michigan with plans to manufacture its vehicles in Normal, Illinois at the former Mitsubishi plant. That’s quite ambitious for a startup with $200 million in funding, but the prototypes of the rugged pickup and SUV are compelling. The all-important range anxiety is answered with a projected 400-mile specification. And, taking a page from Tesla, $1,000 deposits for production orders are available at Rivian.com.
While it’s based on the bones of the competent Ford Explorer, Lincoln’s all-new Aviator is properly luxurious with a few novel touches. Forget those conventional, annoying chimes that beckon your attention in ordinary vehicles. Lincoln commissioned the Detroit Symphony to musically accompany seat belt buckling and liftgate closing. That’s class.
The soul of the legendary Porsche brand really doesn’t change, it evolves. So, no one will mistake the 911 for any other sports car, whether it’s the original that debuted at the Frankfurt show in 1963, or this all-new eighth generation 992 model. A wealth of power and handling are accompanied by advanced technology to keep responsible drivers safe in a Porsche capable of 191 MPH speeds. Deliveries for this 2020 model begin mid-year with an eight-speed PDK transmission. A manual gearbox will follow later for purists.
Audi e-tron GT Concept
Audi’s display was quite electric, with the company’s new e-tron SUV the prominent feature. But, my favorite was the e-tron GT, a beautiful coupe-like sedan that Audi suggests will make production in late 2020. The GT’s 590 horsepower equivalent allows sprints of 3.5-seconds to 60 MPH, and the 90kWh battery provides a reasonable 245-mile range.
Every auto show should have at least one wild concept. Icona, a Turin-based designer with Bertone roots and studios in Shanghai and Los Angeles didn’t disappoint. Its Nucleus concept imagines autonomous driving with a living room inside this futuristic shell.
And, just for fun, the always crazy team at Dodge created a Challenger “Santa Sleigh” concept with the Hellcat icon wearing reindeer antlers. That’s LA cool! Brian Douglas