Keith Morgan picks five trendy faves from Ford, Infinity, Lincoln, Hyundai and Chevy at the L.A. International auto show

Los Angeles, Ca – It’s not hard to pick five favourites at this city’s international auto show.
There’s a healthy smattering of all-new models, concepts and a larger green machine presence than ever before.

Indeed, a parallel conference analyzing the future and greening of personal mobility, called AutoMobility, opened under the same roof at the sprawling LA Conference Centre.

Ford chose an offsite venue in Hollywood to launch a North American version of its popular EcoSport world car via Snapchat social media channel. Not sure how many potential buyers learned about the compact crossover utility vehicle through the latest image driven app but it was certainly a first for a major manufacturer.

A group of us from the Great White North got an exclusive close-up look at the EcoSport a few days before its debut at the show. This is a first foray into this ever-expanding market for cute utes by Old Henry’s company and it may just have nailed it at first attempt. It has the sport ute capabilities demanded by so many today and more stowage room than many competitors.

“More people are choosing to spend their time and money sharing experiences with friends and family instead of buying more stuff,” said Chantel Lenard, executive director, Ford U.S. marketing. “EcoSport fits perfectly into this growing lifestyle. It’s our smallest SUV, packed with features and personality.”

The car, set for model year 2018, is all about the young and young at heart: it’s connected big time. Optimized for hands-free use, the SYNC 3 technology is coupled with a touch screen similar to a smartphone or tablet. The 8-inch screen gives front-row occupants easy access to operate available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto commands.

And audiophiles will love the available premium 675-watt, 10-speaker B&O PLAY audio system. Apparently, Harman acoustic engineers spent hundreds of hours perfecting the in-vehicle music experience.

It’s funky too. Along with 10 exterior color choices, there are seven ambient lighting options and four trim level offerings – S, SE, SES and Titanium. All series feature a swing-gate-style tailgate.

The base engine is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost and also available is a 2.0 litre four-cylinder power plant with Intelligent 4WD. Both come with six-speed automatic transmissions. Prices and fuel economy numbers nearer to launch.

The Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration (pictured here below an awkwardly placed Q60 sign) is arguably the sleekest, impressive looking sport ute at the show. When it makes it to market it will undoubtedly come with an advanced V6 engine.

The Lincoln Navigator concept is so upmarket. Check out the storage space in the back to carry one’s most expensive outdoor wear. Loved the rather grand steps that enable egress from beneath the lift-up doors for two rows of passengers.

Hyundai announced the introduction of the Autonomous IONIQ concept. The vehicle is one of the few self-driving cars to have a hidden LiDAR system in its front bumper instead of on the roof, enabling it to look like a regular car on the road and, to quote Hyundai “not a high school science project!”

The goal was to keep the self-driving systems simple by using the production car’s Smart Cruise Control’s forward-facing radar, Lane Keep Assist cameras and integrating them with LiDAR technology. The car’s hidden LiDAR system also allows the Autonomous IONIQ to detect the absolute position of surrounding vehicles and objects. Two examples are currently operating on the road but there’s no prediction yet as to when the car will make it to market.

The Chevy Bolt is the eagerly awaited electric compact from General Motors and finally it looks as though it will hit the road early next year. Dubbed the first affordable electric car, it’s expected to come it around $40,000 through government incentives should shave at least $5,000 off the sticker price in most Canadian jurisdictions. It’s range on a full charge is expected to be around 380 kilometres.

Next week, Wade Ozeroff takes a Nissan Sentra NISMO off the show floor and puts it through its paces on the LA streets. We also look at other models showcased after this week’s Driveway deadline passed.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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