The auto manufacturers’ dog-and-sheet metal show makes its annual stop here in Los Angeles at the L.A. Auto Show over the next few weeks. Here are news, notes and model reveals from the first press day.
Compact Crossovers Ready to Do Battle
Ford debuted the 2013 Ford Escape, and it’s got “more” of everything. The new small crossover, on sale in the first quarter of 2012, will have “segment-leading” fuel economy with its 1.6L engine and an impressive 3,500 lbs. of towing capacity with its bigger 2.0L engine. Cargo room has been upped to 68.1 cu. ft. The hands-free liftgate should be a boon to moms holding a baby and groceries.
The Escape’s styling makeover adapts the new Fiesta and Focus rather than the styling of its bigger brothers, the Flex and Explorer. The new Escape has a distinct forward stance; headlights that incorporate frosted glass and fog lights that sit in the “nostrils” of the car’s grille.
Not to be outdone, Honda showed off its fourth-generation CR-V, “the best-selling SUV in America for the last four years.” Available Dec. 15, it’ll churn out 185 hp, and, like the Escape, has more interior room and a lighter body, and guess what? It also has the best fuel economy in its class.
The CR-V is stylish for a small crossover (it’s hard to make a design statement in that segment, I think) with a distinctively sandwich-thin front grille. Moms holding babies and groceries will also like the one-touch 60/40 split rear seats, as well as the available rear entertainment system and multi-angle rear camera.
Mazda introduced its brand-new CX-5, which slots in below the CX-7 and should do battle with the likes of Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. Going up against those market leaders is no small task — how will the CX-5 compete? Driving dynamics, said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. “We’re all about Zoom Zoom,” O’Sullivan said.
The CX-5 will come with an optional six-speed manual transmission, as well as a diesel-variant in 2013. The CX-5 will get Mazda’s first global Skyactiv 2.0L gas engine (think Ford’s EcoBoost), producing 155 hp which should come in at 26/33 mpg for the manual and 25/30 mpg for the automatic. Apparently, those numbers are also “segment leading.”
Subaru announced a new small crossover called the Subaru XV Crosstrek. Slated below the Forrester, it will go on sale in 2012 here.
On the larger luxury side, Infiniti is hoping moms with more money will take a look at its brand-new JX crossover. Infiniti calls it “the next great luxury family vehicle,” and touted its room for seven passengers, fold-flat seats and roomy second and third rows. JX drivers even have access to a 24-hour personal concierge service with a live assistant. The JX starts just north of $40,000.