2018 Los Angeles Auto Show Highlights

SEMA News—February 2019


By Amanda Gubbins

2018 Los Angeles Auto Show Highlights

Notable Models for Specialty-Equipment Manufacturers

  LA Auto Show
The ’20 Gladiator is the only open-air pickup on the market and is sure to offer countless opportunities for aftermarket upgrades.

True to form, the 2018 LA Auto Show—with media days branded “AutoMobility”—showcased the latest technological developments in the arenas of autonomy, safety, connectivity and electrification. More than a dozen OEMs held press conferences ahead of the show’s official opening to the public. Several models and concepts were noteworthy for their customization potential, promising business possibilities for manufacturers of specialty equipment.

’20 Jeep Gladiator

For the first time in decades, Jeep debuted a truck. The ’20 Gladiator is the only open-air pickup on the market and is sure to offer countless opportunities for aftermarket upgrades. Geared toward off-road-oriented buyers, the truck will be available in four trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon.

Making it outdoor-adventure ready are Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4x4 systems, third-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axle lockers, a Trac-Lok limited-slip differential, sway-bar disconnect and 33-in. tires. A tool kit is provided as standard equipment, with the necessary Torx bits to remove the doors and lower the windshield.

The Jeep Gladiator will be powered by the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine at launch, with a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 engine being offered in 2020. The FCA US 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine delivers 285 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, and it features Engine Stop-Start as standard equipment. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models equipped with the 3.6L Pentastar V6, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is optional.

The Gladiator uses a lightweight, high-strength steel frame. Compared with the Wrangler four-door, its frame is an additional 31 in. longer, with a 19.4-in.-longer wheelbase. The driveshaft, brake lines, fuel lines and exhaust system were likewise lengthened.

A traditional steel bed utilizes four steel crossmembers to reinforce the load floor, while the aluminum tailgate is damped. To protect critical vehicle components while on the trail, the Gladiator employs four skidplates and bars. Rubicon models benefit from the use of heavy-gauge tubular steel rock rails to curtail potential body damage and also feature rock rails for the bed corners.

The Gladiator will be manufactured in Toledo, Ohio, and will arrive in showrooms in the second quarter of 2019.

An autonomous electric delivery vehicle like VW’s I.D. Buzz Cargo could lower operating costs and environmental impact.

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Cargo Concept

With the auto show premiere of the I.D. Buzz Cargo concept, Volkswagen showed how an electrically powered Transporter might change the world of light commercial vehicles—based on the premise that delivery trucks in the United States account for 7% of urban traffic and 17% of congestion costs due to wasted hours and fuel.

The Cargo features long-range driving capability between 200–340 mi. on the European WLTP cycle and could be launched as a production vehicle in Europe as early as 2022. A solar roof with a photovoltaic system is capable of extending the range of the vehicle by up to 9.3 mi. a day.

Volkswagen combined the battery with a 201hp (150-kW) electric motor, a single-speed transmission and rear-wheel drive. An all-wheel-drive system is possible simply by adding a motor at the front of the vehicle.

The vehicle’s top speed is electronically limited to 99 mph. The 111-kWh battery in the Cargo can be charged to 80% capacity in 30 minutes with a 150-kW DC fastcharger. The battery system has also been prepared for inductive charging.

The interior is tailored for commercial use, and an autonomous “I.D. Pilot” mode can be activated by the driver.

All ’19 Beetle models, both convertible and coupe, are powered by 2.0L TSI engines that put out 174 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque.

Beetle Final Edition

Following the September announcement that Volkswagen will end production of the Beetle in 2019, two models made their auto show debuts: Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL.

Final Edition coupe models feature standard chrome treatments in addition to body-color side mirrors, heated washer nozzles (all standard features across the Beetle convertible lineup) as well as a sunroof. Final Edition SEL models are equipped with Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights and fog lights. All Final Edition models replace the typical “Turbo” badge on the tailgate with a “Beetle” badge.

Final Edition SE models feature 17-in. aluminum-alloy wheels with a 15-spoke design. Final Edition SEL models are shod with 18-in. white aluminum-alloy wheels in a disc design.

All ’19 Beetle models, both convertible and coupe, are powered by 2.0L TSI engines that put out 174 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. All models are paired with six-speed automatic transmissions, and the EPA-estimated fuel-economy rating is 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.

The all-new Mazda3 is available in two distinct styles: hatchback or sedan.

’19 Mazda3

The all-new Mazda3 is available in two distinct styles: hatchback or sedan. The new models are the first to feature a newly developed gasoline engine called Skyactiv-X, designed to offer improved initial response, torque, linear response and overall performance. It’s a compression-ignition engine, similar to a diesel, but it burns gasoline. The engine is assisted by Mazda’s intelligent new M Hybrid system.

Other engine options include the 1.5L, 2.0L and 2.5L versions of the Skyactiv-G gasoline engine lineup. The Skyactiv-D 1.8 is the turbodiesel engine offering. Six-speed automatic or manual transmissions are available, and Mazda’s new i-Activ all-wheel-drive system will be an option.

The new Mazda3 is heavily endowed with safety features. It’s available with a newly developed driver monitoring system, which uses both an infrared camera and an infrared LED to monitor the driver for signs of fatigue. A new front cross-traffic alert is also available, along with a new Cruising & Traffic Support system that assists with accelerator, brake pedal and steering operations in traffic.

A full line of accessories is available for both the Talon 1000X and 1000R models, and the potential for aftermarket manufacturers is huge.

Honda Talon

Honda confirmed its entry into the side-by-side segment, unveiling the all-new Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R models, both to be available in spring 2019.

At 64 in. wide, the Talon 1000X is designed for maneuverability and precision. Its 2-in.-wide Fox Podium Quick Switch 3 shocks have 5/8-in. shafts and combine with a double-wishbone front suspension and a three-link rear suspension to provide travel of 14.6 and 15.1 in., front
and rear.

A performance-tuned 999cc four-valve Unicam parallel-twin engine works with Honda’s geared dual-clutch transmission, which offers two automatic modes (Drive and Sport) plus manual using steering-column-mounted paddle shifters. Honda’s I-4WD—a new brake-based traction-control system—manages the amount of slip between the front wheels in four-wheel drive, and electronic brake-force distribution strategically optimizes brake force to the most effective wheels during braking in two-wheel drive. Hill-start assist temporarily holds the vehicle in place when stopped on an ascent, simplifying the process of resuming motion.

By contrast, the Talon 1000R is designed to excel when bump absorption and high-speed tracking are the priority. It shares 85% of its parts with the Talon 1000X, including the entire 999cc parallel-twin engine and one-piece frame, but it is 4.4 in. wider and 5 in. longer than the X.

The Talon 1000R has a different suspension arrangement, with a double-wishbone front-suspension layout and a 4+ link rear configuration, while the shocks are 2.5-in.-wide Fox Podium QS3 units that have 17.1-in. front and 20.1-in. rear suspension travel.

A hybrid model of the ’20 Corolla will go on sale in spring 2019.

’20 Corolla

After unveiling the all-new ’20 Corolla sedan in mid-November, Toyota revealed a hybrid option at the LA Auto Show. Toyota also recently took both the ’19 Corolla hatchback and ’20 Corolla sedan to the SEMA Garage for a measuring session, intending to build a thriving aftermarket following for the vehicles and ensure future availability of a wide array of performance parts.

Both the new hatchback and sedan have lower, wider and shorter platforms than previous generations, and new engines for each offer higher horsepower. The ’19 hatchback’s 2.0L inline four-cylinder makes 168 hp. For the ’20 sedan, a 2.0L dynamic force engine makes 169 hp.

A six-speed manual transmission option across both grades of the hatchback is unique among OEM offerings, and Toyota is finding from buyer data that it resonates with a younger demographic, according to Taylor Dee of the OEM’s vehicle marketing and communications team. The new Corollas are also building a stronger multi-cultural following as Toyota focuses on making the vehicles fun to drive.

“We’ve increased five percentage points in terms of our sales contribution from the multi-cultural audience, which is great to see, because that means we’re aligning more with the configuration of the U.S. population,” Dee said. “We want to make sure that we’re resonating with everyone—and we’re seeing that happening.”

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