SEMA News—February 2018


By Amanda Gubbins

The Best of the 2017 LA Auto Show

Upgrade-Friendly Models and OEM Concepts

LA Auto Show
’18 Jeep Wrangler (Courtesy of FCA)

With an overall emphasis on advanced safety technologies and efficiency improvements, the LA Auto Show set the stage 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.

All-New ’18 Jeep Wrangler

The all-new design of the ’18 Jeep Wrangler stays true to Jeep’s established mission and capability and will present infinite opportunities for aftermarket upgrades. The two-door model is available in three different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S and Rubicon. Wrangler four-door models are available in four different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon.

The Wrangler’s exterior features a wider stance and lowered beltline with larger windows for better visibility. The windshield’s rake was optimized for improved aerodynamics and features a new four-bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame for quick folding. A header bar now connects the A-pillars and stays in place even when the windshield is folded down so that the rearview mirror can also stay in place.

The 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 and an all-new 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines join the Wrangler lineup, while the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine is upgraded for 2018. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available on all Jeep Wrangler models, which delivers a 77.2:1 crawl ratio. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models.

Every Wrangler model receives a Trail Rated badge and includes the Command-Trac 4x4 system with a 2.72:1 low-range ratio standard on Sport and Sahara models. Tru-Lok locking differentials and a Rock-Trac 4x4 system with a low-range ratio of 4:1 are standard on Rubicon models. Wrangler is rated for up to 30 in. of water fording and up to a 3,500-lb. towing capacity.

’18 Lexus RX L
’18 Lexus RX L Models

The new RX L models offer many of the advanced safety features that Lexus demonstrated for the media on the LS prior to the opening of the LA Auto Show. The Standard Lexus Safety System+ includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, intelligent high beams, and all-speed dynamic radar cruise control. A blind-spot monitor and with intuitive parking assist and rear cross-traffic braking are also available, as is a panoramic view monitor. Those new advanced driver-assist safety systems are made possible by increased processing power and make use of existing hardware.

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. The standard seven-seat version uses a 40/20/40 split-bench-type second-row seat, with the fold-and-slide second row providing easy third-row access. The available six-seat configuration features second-row captain’s chairs.

’18 Nissan Kicks

’18 Nissan Kicks

The exterior of the ’18 Nissan Kicks blends bold wheel-arch fenders and a high stance with familiar Nissan design signatures, including a V-Motion grille, boomerang headlights and taillights, and a floating roof with a wraparound-visor look. Available features include standard Intelligent Auto Headlights and available LED low-beam headlights with LED signature accents.

The Kicks comes with a standard 1.6L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder with a continuous variable valve timing control system. The engine is rated at 125 hp and 115 lb.-ft. of torque. The Kicks is offered in front-wheel drive only.

Automatic emergency braking is standard on all grade levels, along with seven air bags and a rearview monitor. Kicks SV and Kicks SR add blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

The ’18 Nissan Kicks will be offered in three models—Kicks S, Kicks SV and Kicks SR—starting in June 2018.

Mazda 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. It is designed so that the driver can sense the central axis of the car. Drivers can bring up information with the touch of the center console.

Many of these intriguing design features are not likely to survive if the Vision Coupe were to go into production, but they represent ideas Mazda is currently working on for future evaluation.

’18 Hyundai Kona

’18 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. The Kona’s exterior styling features aggressive body styling complemented by a low and wide stance.

The Kona is available with a choice of two gasoline powertrains. A 2.0L four-cylinder Atkinson engine produces 147 hp at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm and is 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 to 4,500 rpm.

Available safety features include lane-keeping assist, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning, lane-change assist, parking distance warning, and forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection.

The Kona will be available in the first quarter of 2018.

Future Toyota Adventure Concept

Future Toyota Adventure Concept

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 system. The FT-AC could also offer a next-generation hybrid powertrain.

The FT-AC was designed around a long wheelbase and a wide track. Extra-wide fender flares provide body shielding above the 20-in. wheels and all-terrain tires. The FT-AC has generous ground clearance and twin hooks for vehicle recovery. Skid plates help protect the short front and rear overhangs.

The pronounced front grille is flanked with LED headlights. The fog lights can be removed and used as portable lights or attached to a mountain bike. Infrared cameras on the side mirrors can record trail runs or be removed and mounted off-vehicle. LED marker lights at the front corners provide ambient lighting around the vehicle, brighten the trail ahead, or act as a flash for the side mirrors’ cameras.

Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger

Kia unveiled two new crossover family vehicles, including the ’18 Sorento SUV and the Niro plug-in hybrid, but the Kia Stinger, which was experienced by many SEMA Show attendees in a week-long track demonstration at the SEMA Show, was the most exciting car on the stand. Kia’s first authentic fastback GT car, the Stinger is designed to deliver strong performance at a reasonable price to compete with BMW 3-Series and Audi A4 cars. The standard engine is a 255hp 2.0L turbocharged four, and a 365hp twin-turbo 3.3L V6 is optional; Brembo brakes bring the Stinger to a stop. It will be available in either rear- or all-wheel drive. Projected top speed is 167 mph, and 0–60 is estimated at 4.6 seconds. 


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