Debuts, Launches and Prototypes

10 Best Cars of the 2018 LA Auto Show

December 3, 2018 Cars By Photo by Sam Bendall

The 2018 LA Auto Show kicks off this weekend, and there are head turners and important launches all over the show floor. If you’re heading to the convention center, pick up tickets and read up on the whole show here. Check out our top picks below whether you’re heading to the show or not.

Porsche 911 992

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2020 will herald in the eighth generation Porsche 911 and by all accounts, the namesake continues to honor its heritage while pushing into the 21st century. The new 911 Carrera S will come with a turbocharged rear-mounted flat-six and produce 443 horsepower. This makes for a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds; opt for the Sport Chrono package with launch control and that time drops to 3.3 seconds. The 4S will incorporate an all-wheel-drive system and claims a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds.

This new 911 might look similar to previous 911’s on the outside but the interior boasts a more horizontal and minimalist aesthetic. Buttons, switches and the upright shifter appear trimmed and refined.

The 2020 911 Carrera S and 4S will eventually be available in manual transmission but not immediately.

Pricing for the 2020 911 Carrera S begins at $113,200 and the 4S will run you $120,600. These bad boys will hit the showroom floor come summer 2019 so break out that checkbook or American Express now and put down a deposit.

Rivian R1T and R1S

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The world of electric vehicles are taking over and Rivian aims to carve out an undeveloped piece of the market. Electric adventure trucks. Built in Illinois in a former Mitsubishi factory, the new electric Rivian is proud to be assembled in America.

With a large platform to house big batteries, the R1T and R1S expect a range of around 400 miles. Which would be necessary if you are to seek out adventure and roam the world off-piste.

Four identical electric motors in each wheel operating off a single-speed gearbox are responsible for putting power to the tarmac (or dirt). Each motor is rated for 147 kilowatts or 197 horsepower each, which equates to 788 total combined horsepower. Each motor and the battery sled are reinforced with composite materials and kevlar to minimize damage from rocks and debris. Also, important, the battery casing is fully waterproof.

The interior is svelte and minimal with two large screens and a healthy helping of leather, wood, and metal. Both vehicles will also incorporate high-level driver safety aids but Rivian remains tight-lipped on what that will include.

Both vehicles will utilize DC fast charging up to 160 kilowatts and obtain 200 miles of charge in as little as 30 minutes.

The R1T will start at $69,000, or $61,500 with a $7,500 federal tax rebate, though pricing will vary depending on battery pack and various options. Rivian has yet to announce R1S pricing. The R1T will be available for purchase in 2021.

Jeep Gladiator

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The Jeep Gladiator brings the pickup truck back to its lineup after almost 26 years. With four-wheel drive standard and featuring a six-speed manual transmission standard and an eight-speed automatic transmission available as an option, the Gladiator will know no bounds.

The first runs of 2019 Gladiators launching in Q2 of 2019 will be powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that pumps out a 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. In 2020, the Gladiator will see the introduction of a 3.0-liter diesel V6 which will pump out 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The diesel will only be available with an eight-speed automatic.

All Gladiators will come standard with four-wheel drive and have a tow capability of 7,650 pounds and a payload capacity nearing 1,600 pounds.

Pricing on the Jeep Gladiator has yet to be announced.

Mazda 3 Hatchback

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Mazda continues to make bold and beautiful vehicles across its entire line up. The Mazda3 Hatchback and sedan are no exception to the rule. Along with minor exterior changes which push the bounds between concept and production, it continues to be one of the best-looking entry level cars on the market. Both Mazda3 hatch and sedan will come with a 2.5-liter inline-four, with either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions and feature Mazda’s SkyActive-X compression ignition engine which utilizes a supercharger and hybrid motor assist for added performance.

Mazda3 pricing begins at $18,990.

Nissan Kicks

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You might be wondering why the Nissan Kicks is on this list. It came out earlier this year and not much about it is fancy, but for under $20k it’s one of the best entry-level cars for younger and older-generation drivers. The 125 horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine won’t win you any races but it’s perfectly capable of getting you through the city and taking you to far off places. But that’s not where the glory of this CUV lies. The headrest mounted Bose audio takes the Nissan Kicks from an average car to one of greatness faster than you can turn the volume dial up to 11. With an EPA average of 31 city / 36 highway, spacious and minimalist inspired interior, I consider the Kicks one of the smartest and most satisfying automotive purchases you’ll ever make. Especially if you are balling on a budget.

Audi E-Tron GT

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The Audi E-Tron GT is only a concept for now, but Audi claims the vehicle will go into production in 2020. What it looks like in its final production form remains to be seen. Utilizing a 90-kilowatt hour battery Audi estimates the E-Tron GT will get around 248 miles to charge. With an equivalent output of 590 horsepower the E-Tron GT will stamp out a 0-60 time in 3.5 seconds but outright speed and acceleration is nothing without agility and to increase stability and handling, the E-Tron GT will include rear-axle steering.

Honda Passport

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Honda looks like it might finally have a rugged and fun SUV back in their lineup. The Passport is back after a 16-year hiatus and is built on the very same Global Light Truck platform used for the Pilot and Ridgeline. Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine pumping out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, the Passport will certainly have enough punch for ambitious explorers and will be capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. No adventure SUV would be complete without a set of roof racks and utility basket. Expect to get this Passport stamped every time you cross state lines.

BMW X7

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BMW is doubling down on luxury with the final production of the 8-Series hitting shores, and now the X7 rounds out their full-size ultra-swank SUV category. The X7 bolsters itself beyond the X5 in both size and opulence. It carries more passengers thanks to its third row, includes more cargo space, and the interior is unabashedly luxurious with two-tone leather interior, second row passenger displays, a new driver focused digital gauge cluster, and updated iDrive system.

As plush and luxurious as the interior might be, the exterior holds onto many of the design cues introduced in the concept version from last year’s LA Auto Show.

The X7 won’t be a slouch when it hits the road either. Buyers will have two options when it comes to their choice of powerplant: an in-line six-cylinder xDrive40i which pumps out 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque or the V-8 xDrive50i which pumps out 456 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. Both will only be available with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing on the BMW X7 begins at $74,895 for the six-cylinder and $93,595 for the V8.

Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro

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The Mercedes AMG GT R Pro is a slightly reworked version of the current GT R. While the GT R Pro sees no noticeable power increase from the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 which puts out a lovely 577 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, the GT R Pro receives a number of external and internal performance upgrades that hone the already savage GT R. The GT R Pro will receive a revised coilover suspension, lightweight construction, carbon-ceramic brakes, adjustable anti-roll bars and re-tuned dynamic engine mounts. Mercedes also includes an update to the AMG Dynamics stability control system which includes Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master driving modes.

Infiniti Prototype 10

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The Infiniti Prototype 10 is more of an honorable mention on this list because it’s a pure prototype and there are no future plans to bring this vehicle into production. However, if Infiniti did announce the Prototype 10 as an ultra-rare limited run, I am sure they would sell out before the press conference was over. Granted it had some kind of supercar level powerplant and handling system. The Prototype 10 is impressive to behold and Infiniti says it is an attempt to “recapture the spirit of early speedsters” from the early years of racing. It definitely stands out on the show floor.

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