By Amanda Gubbins
With an overall emphasis on advanced safety technologies and efficiency improvements, the LA Auto Show set the stage this week for new model debuts and concept vehicles from top OEMs. Here’s a look at what’s new and specifically relevant for the specialty-equipment market.
(Note: For the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, read “All-New 2018 Jeep Wrangler Introduced.”).
2018 Lexus RX L Models
The new RX L models offer many of the same safety features that Lexus demoed on the LS prior to the opening of the LA Auto Show.
The new RX L models offer many of the same safety features that Lexus demoed on the LS prior to the opening of the LA Auto Show. The Standard Lexus Safety System+ includes the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, intelligent high beams and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control. Blind-spot monitor and with intuitive parking assist and rear cross-traffic braking are also available. Panoramic view monitor is another optional feature.
The the addition of a third seating row is the biggest change for the '18 RX L models. Lexus extended the body length by 4.3 in. at the rear and used a steeper tailgate window angle to ensure enough headroom for third row passengers. The standard seven-seat version uses a 40/20/40 split bench-type second row seat, and access to the third row is made easy with a lever that slides and folds the second seat forward. The available six-seat configuration features second-row captain’s chairs that give third-row “walk-in” access. The positioning of the second row is slightly higher than the third row, creating more foot room for rear passengers.
The '18 Lexus RX 350L’s 3.5L V6 employs the advanced D-4S fuel injection system, combining direct and port fuel injection systems. Variable Valve Timing—Intelligent Wide (VVT-iW) is used on the intake camshaft, along with VVT-i on the exhaust camshaft, allowing the engine to switch between Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles. The result is 290 hp and 263 lb.-ft. of torque, with performance and efficiency optimized by an eight-speed automatic transmission. Using Drive Mode Select, the RX 350L driver can exert more control by choosing from among three driving modes: Normal, Sport or Eco. The RX 350L is available with front-wheel drive or available Dynamic Torque Control All Wheel Drive.
The '18 Lexus RX 450hL’s hybrid drive system pairs the D4-S injection 3.5L V6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators, producing 308 combined system horsepower for strong acceleration and passing performance. The standard AWD system uses an independent rear-mounted electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed for optimal traction. In the RX 450hL, the Drive Mode Select system adds a fourth mode, EV, that enables the vehicle to drive under electric power at lower speeds for short distances.
2018 Nissan Kicks
Every ’18 Kicks comes with a standard 1.6L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System.
Nissan’s new ’18 Kicks will become the sixth member of the Nissan crossover and SUV lineup when it hits Nissan U.S. dealerships in June 2018.
The exterior design blends bold wheel arch fenders and a high crossover stance with familiar Nissan design signatures, including a V-Motion grille, boomerang headlights and taillights, and a floating roof with a “wrap-around visor” look. Available exterior features include standard Intelligent Auto Headlights (I-AH) and available LED low-beam headlights with LED signature accents.
The ’18 Kicks will be offered in seven exterior colors, plus five two-tone combinations. Three of the two-tone schemes utilize a black roof and contrasting body colors (white, orange or red). Also available: an orange roof with a gray body, or a white roof with a blue body.
Every ’18 Kicks comes with a standard 1.6L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS). The engine is rated at 125 hp and 115 lb.-ft. of torque. Aided by a smooth and efficient Xtronic transmission, the Kicks is expected to have a fuel economy rating 33 mpg combined. Kicks is offered in front-wheel-drive only. Safety, security and driver convenience features are strong points for the Nissan Kicks.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is standard on all grade levels, along with seven air bags and RearView Monitor. Kicks SV and Kicks SR add Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The ’18 Nissan Kicks will be offered in three models—Kicks S, Kicks SV and Kicks SR.
Mazda revealed its four-door concept Vision Coupe.
Mazda Vision Coupe
Mazda revealed its Vision Coupe, a four-door concept car designed with elegance in mind, as well as efficiency and unity between car and driver, according to Managing Executive Officer Ikuo Maeda. The exterior design keeps a smooth line from front to rear, with the cabin further back, and simplifies the body for a simple, sleek look.
Inside the Vision Coupe, structural forms such as the center console, door trim and instrument panel intersect with one another without touching. The model offers a see-through screen that functions as a display only when needed so it doesn’t intrude on the driver’s view. The cockpit is symmetrical, with steering centered in the middle and everything else to the left and right, designed so the driver can sense the central axis of the car. Drivers can bring up information with the touch of the center console.
2018 Hyundai Kona
The U.S.-production version of Hyundai’s Kona crossover rides on an all-new CUV platform and is Hyundai’s first B-segment crossover for the U.S. market. Kona’s “urban smart armor” exterior styling features aggressive body styling complemented by a low and wide stance for confident handling.
The U.S.-production version of Hyundai’s Kona crossover rides on an all-new CUV platform and is Hyundai’s first B-segment crossover for the U.S. market.
Contrasting black armor provides a protective skin and visually connects the front to the rear. The slim brake lights, turn indicators and reverse lamps are in a separate configuration, surrounded by protective skin that begins at the C-pillar garnish.
A number of extroverted color variations, such as Chalk White, Ultra Black, Sonic Silver, Thunder Gray, Pulse Red, Surf Blue and Lime Twist, are available to buyers. The roof is finished with an optional color-contrasting color scheme.
Kona is available with a choice of two gasoline powertrains. A 2.0L four-cylinder Atkinson engine produces 147hp at 6200 rpm and 132 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Limited and Ultimate trims offer the Gamma 1.6L four-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine generating 175 hp at 5,500 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm, an advantage over its key competitors. Peak torque delivery starts at only 1,500 rpm and holds through 4,500 rpm, for low-rpm responsiveness and performance in everyday driving conditions.
A whole host of advanced safety features are also available, including a Lane-Keeping Assist system, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, Parking Distance Warning and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection.
Kona models will be available at Hyundai dealers in the first quarter of 2018.
Future Toyota Adventure Concept
The Future Toyota Adventure Concept (FT-AC) is a gasoline-powered vehicle with an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that was designed around a long wheelbase and wide track to help emphasize its powerful stance.
Although currently a design experiment, the Future Toyota Adventure Concept (FT-AC) has been imagined as a thoroughly capable gasoline-powered vehicle with an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. This enables power to be routed, as needed, for excellent control and maximum traction. Variable terrain-response settings and four-wheel lock functionality build on its capability by managing traction control and throttle response to maximize grip at each wheel for a more dynamic driving experience. FT-AC could also offer a next-generation hybrid powertrain to blend fuel efficiency with rugged AWD grunt.
FT-AC was designed around a long wheelbase and wide track to help emphasize its powerful stance. Extra wide fender flares provide body shielding and look as if they float above the 20-in. wheels and all-terrain tires. Generous ground clearance provides drivers with more options as to where FT-AC can go. Below, FT-AC has twin hooks for vehicle recovery and skid plates help protect the short front and rear overhangs.
The pronounced front grille is flanked with LED headlights. Fog lights can be taken out from their pods and used as portable lights or attached to a mountain bike. The infrared cameras on the side mirrors can record trail runs and also be removed and mounted off-vehicle. LED marker lights at its front corners can provide ambient lighting around the vehicle, brighten the trail ahead or act as a flash for the side mirrors’ embedded cameras.
An integrated Wi-Fi hotspot automatically uploads camera footage to cloud-based storage where real-time editing and posting can be accessed via mobile device. The Wi-Fi connectivity even gives adventure-goers the ability to livestream the fun to fans and followers.