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Musings on the Detroit Auto Show

by Jason Fogelson

The 2019 North American International Auto Show press days are in the books. Some of my colleagues are calling it “The Last Detroit Auto Show,” because in 2020, NAIAS will move to June, avoiding the Michigan winter. The move promises to open up all kinds of new possibilities for ancillary events, like rides-and-drives, demos and other outdoor activities that are just not possible in January. Organizers claim Detroit’s downtown renaissance will support the timing, and it will be a big party. Or will it?

Rescheduling to June takes NAIAS out of the traditional auto show calendar, and indeed, out of the model year cadence. Will manufacturers see the show as a venue for early introductions of next year’s models? Or will they see the move as a return to the show’s roots as a regional event for the Detroit Auto Dealers Association to market cars to local consumers?

Looking at this year’s show, it was apparent that something had to be done. All of the European luxury brands, including Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and others, were conspicuous in their absence. Only about a dozen new cars and concepts made their debuts at the show. As a journalist covering new cars, I only had to spend one day at NAIAS this year in order to catch all of the relevant press conferences and to see all of the unveilings. It wasn’t a dirge like 2009, but it was a definite down year.

Peering through the end-of-an-era cloud hanging over the Cobo Center, I saw signs of the future in the mist.

Yu-Jun-speech

The final vehicle reveal press conference of the first media day was held by GAC Motor (Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor Co., LTD), a Chinese company that is a subsidiary of GAC Group. GAC debuted its Entranze EV concept vehicle. The concept was the first public display of a product designed in GAC’s California-based design studio, which was established in 2018. The concept itself is fine, a futuristic minivan with sliding glass doors and 3+2+2 seating. It’s the kind of thing that will never get built, but may serve as a design inspiration.

img_1833The memorable aspect of the GAC presentation was not the concept or the products on display; it was the culturally tone-deaf presentation by GAC. Once the assembled press — about 200 – 300 participants, I’d estimate – settled in, a GAC spokesperson introduced a lineup of company executives and VIP guests, one by one. Each person stood and acknowledged the crowd’s polite applause. Then, the spokesperson introduced an officer of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), who read a brief message from a script with the enthusiasm of a war hostage. The spokesperson then introduced Mr. Yu Jun, President of GAC Motor, who gave a transliterated speech in English that was as stilted as it was incomprehensible and self-congratulatory. Time to unveil the concept car – cue the modern dancers! A troupe of eight (four men, four women) dressed in chiffon and spandex, performed a two-minute dance to modern classical music, then whisked the silk off of the concept car to muted applause. Another executive from GAC stumbled through a speech with the details, and the press conference was mercifully concluded.

img_1846Audience members walked away with a gift bag containing a scale model of the company’s flagship SUV, the GS8, a fancy USB drive loaded with vehicle information, photos and GAC info, and two glossy brochures: one with vehicle photos, descriptions and features; and one entitled “The Road to Greatness: GAC Motor,” which is a 32-page photo essay/manifesto/propaganda piece extolling the virtues of the company. It opens with this poem:

The Road to Greatness

This is GAC Motor.

I say no to mediocracy,

and stay committed to my own path.

I never compromise of give in.

With fearless resolution,

I endeavor to make breakthroughs and strive forward,

To develop a brand that I take pride in.

GAC Motor believes greatness does not belong to the few.

Everyone has the potential to be great.

As long as you dare to dream, have courage and keep striving,

You are already on the path of greatness.

The Road to Greatness, GAC Motor.

Wow.

Now, this might have been a state-of-the-art presentation at the Shanghai Motor Show, but in Detroit in 2019, it was out of touch and a little sad. I have little doubt that Chinese vehicles will soon be sold in the United States under their own brand names, and the quality of the vehicles will rapidly improve to meet the marketplace standard. Look at how rapidly Hyundai and Kia vehicles have developed in the past decade as a model for assimilation.

img_1830Even better, look at Toyota Motor Company’s press conference this year as they revealed the 2020 Supra. No less an eminence than Akio Toyoda, TMC’s President, handled the presentation himself. In stark contrast to the GAC presentation, Toyoda was relaxed, joyous, poised and funny. His command of the English language isn’t a whole lot better than the Chinese executives, but it didn’t stand in the way of his passion and charm. Toyoda won the crowd over with his buoyant nature. It was a very American presentation, but still entirely appropriate to a Japanese product and executive.

GAC Motor can learn a lot from Toyota, Hyundai and other companies who have found the keys to conquering the United States. You don’t have to make the US bend to your will – you only have to slide into the openings that are always available, and make the most of the opportunities you find there.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson, NAIAS, GAC Motor

2019 Car, Utility and Truck of the Year: A DriveWays Report…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Detroit, Mich.—South Korea’s Hyundai swept the honors Monday (Jan. 14), winning both the North American Car of the Year and Utility of the Year trophies for the Genesis G70 and Hyundai Kona.

The announcement came at the opening of the annual North American International Automobile Show (NAIAS) here.

large-1094-genesisg70The Genesis G70, the newest model from Hyundai’s separate luxury brand, was voted Car of the Year by an independent panel of 54 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

large-34508-2019konaelectricTaking the prize for North American Utility of the Year was the Hyundai Kona, a subcompact crossover sport utility vehicle that is available with a gasoline engine, as a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid and as a pure electric with 248 miles of range.

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel 12A product of  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Ram 1500 was voted Truck of the Year. It features a new system called eTorque that combines a belt-drive electric motor generator with a 48-volt battery, which provides short boosts of extra power for the gasoline engine. It also enables a sophisticated idle stop-start function for improved fuel economy.

The North American Car of the Year Organization (NACTOY) is composed of  automotive journalists from print, online, television and broadcast organizations who pay annual dues and are required to drive and evaluate nominated new vehicles, culminating in the vote for the winners. They are independent of NAIAS and have no connections or relationships with any of the vehicle manufacturers.

The Genesis G70 fared better than its fraternal cousin, the Kia Stinger, which was a finalist for Car of the Year in 2018 but lost the honor to the Honda Accord.

Hyundai owns about 38% of Kia and the two cars share engines and drivetrains. Both the Stinger and the Genesis G70 are four-doors except that the midsize Stinger is a hatchback and the compact G70 is a conventional four-door sedan with a trunk. Prices range from the low $30,000 range to the low $50,000 range.

Both come with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with turbocharged four-cylinder or V6 engines and eight-speed automatic transmissions. One  advantage for the G70 is that it also is available with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Stinger does not offer a manual transmission.

Hyundai’s Kona is a stylish subcompact crossover with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It comes with a four-cylinder gasoline engine, as a plug-in hybrid and, most recently as a dedicated electric. Prices range from slightly more than $20,000 for the base gasoline model to nearly $40,000 for the electric, which can be reduced to around $30,000 with tax and other incentives.

Kona models offer such modern safety installations as forward collision warning and braking, lane-keeping assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot collision warning and driver attention warning, as well as torque vectoring braking, which selectively applies the inside brakes to ease cornering.

There were three finalists in each category. Besides the Genesis G70, Car of the Year nominees were the compact Honda Insight hybrid and the Volvo S60 sedan and V60 station wagon, both midsize.

The Kona’s competition finalists consisted of the all-new luxury compact crossover, the Acura RDX, and the Jaguar I-Pace, an all-electric midsize luxury crossover. In the truck category, the Ram’s competitors were the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra.

Chris Paukert, NACTOY’s vice-president, commented, “The Genesis G70 doesn’t just go toe-to-toe with segment mainstays like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class—it beats them all in driver engagement while positively slaying them on value for the dollar.” Paukert is executive editor of Roadshow by CNET.

“The Kona Electric is the first mass-market electric car that truly works for the mass market,” said NACTOY juror Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report Best Cars. “A livable EV range, affordable price and practical cabin combine with lively driving dynamics to make the Kona EV a true pleasure.”

“Ram continues to lead the way in making a big truck double as a big family pleaser with as much attention paid to interior conveniences and ride comfort as to cargo hauling and towing,” said John Davis, executive producer at Maryland public television’s MotorWeek.

NACTOY President Lauren Fix, owner of the online The Car Coach, thanked the vehicle manufacturers for ‘taking the time and effort to work with us throughout the year as our jurors rigorously tested, evaluated and debated the best new vehicles on the market. Now in our 25th year, we are proud that both automakers and consumers recognize the value our awards provide to new car buyers.”

2018 Los Angeles Auto Show: A DriveWays Report…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Los Angeles, Calif. —Volkswagen and Volvo appeared as the Yin and Yang of Automobility LA, the curtain raiser for the annual Los Angeles Auto Show.

compressJeff-0873Volkswagen displayed a block-long clutch of 36 museum-quality and new Bugs dating from the early years after World War II until the 1970s, as well as to honor the final passing of the beloved Beetle. The 2019 models — a coupe and a convertible — are the last.

Volvo, on the other hand, staked out a large and almost empty space, bragging that it was a world first at the LA Show without a single car on the stand. The point was to demonstrate Volvo’s vision of what the future car might be. More on that later.

Volvo Cars at Automobility LA - This is not a car
Volvo Cars at Automobility LA – This is not a car

The two unusual efforts by the manufacturers summarized the multiple-personality character of this year’s show, as when Honda unveiled the Passport crossover alongside its new Talon, a side-by-side off-roader. The show runs through Dec. 9, 2018.

Another major effort: With the backdrop of a tiny house powered by a Nissan Leaf electric car, the company crammed a half-day of big picture views by knowledgeable speakers and panels on the future of what it calls Intelligent Mobility, with the goal of zero emissions and zero fatalities.

The discussions by the experts of a motorized electric future, adaptive technologies and innovations would fill a fat magazine. But it all seemed more of an altruistic education forum than a typical auto show sales pitch.

compressJIM_1858One example: a “fireside chat” about, and rides on, Lime Scooters, one of the companies producing the electric scooters that seem to be popping up everywhere in urban America as an alternative to standard and powered bicycles, skateboards, roller blades and Segways.

One intriguing notion: When self-driving vehicles are perfected and widespread—still a long way off—it could solve parking problems. Your car would drive you to the supermarket or store, drive itself back home and then return to pick you up.

For those interested, most of the information and discussions can be found at #NissanFuturesLA, @NissanUSA, @Nissan Electric and Nissan USA on Facebook.

To enhance that, stroll with us as we mosey through the LA Auto Show, including the Technology Center, which consisted of a very large tent covering a side street and a lineup of food trucks that served different ethnic breakfasts to assorted journalists and hangers-on.

compressJIM_9511The breakfasts were so-so but the array of old Volkswagens could bring tears to the eyes of the guys and gals who had never owned one but wished they had. It seemed as if anyone who ever had a Type 113 Standard or other Bug felt a personal connection to what one book called “Small Wonder.”

Walk to the South Hall at the Convention Center and pass Audi, Lincoln, Acura and Infiniti. Turn right into empty space with Volvo signs. What happened? Had the vehicles been in accidents?

Nope. At the back was an alcove with a small open pod for four people with reclining chairs and a table in between.

It was a mockup of the passenger area of a future self-driving automobile: no steering wheel, controls or instruments. Simply a quiet, climate-controlled space for relaxation and transportation.

compressJIM_1632Without an engine or wheels, this Volvo wasn’t going anywhere. But it wasn’t alone. Over in the West Hall was a large area for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which included a customized Dodge Challenger, bright red, with no top and, instead of wheels, skis underneath.

This was a whimsical vision of the high-tech future of Santa Claus’s sleigh on Christmas Eve and Day, delivering gifts to millions of kids around the world.

But this one wasn’t going anywhere either. With no way to get that 800 horsepower to the ground — or snow — it looked as if Santa needed to hook up Dasher, Dancer, Vixen and the others anyway. The Dodge Boys had thoughtfully provided tow hooks on the skis.

compressJIM_1598There were several other head shakers. Kia displayed a version of its high-performance Stinger — except that it had right-hand drive and the colors of the Queensland, Australia, Police Service. Interesting but not many potential sales here.

Another was the humongous Karlmann King, looking something like a stealth bomber with a matte gray paint job, angled body panels everywhere and, at $2.2 million, billed as the world’s most expensive SUV.

There were plenty of more conventional machines as well, including a Hyundai Nexo, sitting almost unnoticed in the crowd as Hyundai did a glitzy introduction of the Palisade, its new midsize three-row SUV. The Nexo is a hydrogen powered SUV, not introduced yet.

compressJeff-6077Over at Hyundai’s sister company’s stand, Kia rolled out its version of the Palisade, called the Telluride. But it focused most of the presentation on the latest version of its quirky and popular Soul.

And Nissan was not completely altruistic. It used the LA Auto Show to introduce its new Murano Crossover and Maxima sports sedan, which of course it would like to sell in very large numbers.AutoMobilityLA_SAB-black

Images (c) Automobility LA

2018 Miami Auto Show: A DriveWays Report…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Miami Beach, Fla. — One of the stars of the Miami International Auto Show in October was a modified Nissan Titan pickup truck that looked like a survival vehicle prowling the landscape in a dystopian future.

Ultimate Service TITAN 2018

But there were no machine guns or rockets for defense, and it was very much intended for offensive survival in the present. Called the “Ultimate Service Titan,” the truck was conceived, developed and manufactured by Nissan with the American Red Cross spelling out its requirements for hurricane and other disaster relief duties.

Based on the Titan XD Diesel Midnight Edition Crew Cab, the pickup has a special extended commercial-grade ladder frame, raised chassis for ground clearance and other enhanced off-road capabilities. It is powered by a 310-hp, 5.0-liter Cummins diesel engine that develops 555 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force. To extend the range, the Ultimate Service Titan comes with a 75-gallon fuel tank.

Ultimate Service TITAN 2018

Substantial modifications transformed the four-door full-size truck into a mobile command center with a power generator and Wi-Fi hotspot for communications.

With a desk, couch and bed, the command center can function as an aid station with facilities to collect and deliver blood donations. It also can double as a shelter with food service. Equipment includes a microwave, stove, sink and refrigerator. Besides the bed inside for treatment or rest, there’s a tent on the command center roof.

Ultimate Service TITAN 2018

Nissan donated the Ultimate Service Titan to the Red Cross of South Florida, where it will be used by first responders. Though a one-of-a-kind now, it struck this observer as a vehicle with commercial possibilities.

Jeremy Meadows, a Nissan senior marketing manager, said the out-the-door cost of the truck was $125,000 — certainly affordable by many governmental and private disaster relief organizations.

Ultimate Service TITAN 2018

2018 Chicago Auto Show

by Jason Fogelson

I went to the 2018 Chicago Auto Show last week as a guest of Nissan, and I covered the event for Autobytel.com. Here’s a link to my article for them, which was entitled “Must See Vehicles from the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.”

I love going to the Chicago Auto Show. Of the major US new car shows, it is always the most relaxed and easy to navigate. The event happens at McCormick Place, a massive convention center, and the lucky journalists stay in one of the high-rise hotels that are connected to the building — which means that the weather is not a factor during the day. And that was a good thing this year, as the weather was cold, snow fell constantly and there was no reason for man nor beast to be outside.

The trip in was a pleasure, as Nissan invited Detroit-area-based journalists to travel to Chicago with them via Amtrak. Getting to my closest train station in Dearborn was a bit of a struggle, as the big snow storm extended across the Midwest and dropped several inches of the white stuff on the roads during the night before my departure. I had planned to take a Lyft or Uber for the 10-mile trip to the station, but when I was ready to leave, there were no willing drivers available. I had to wake my wife, who donned her winter coat over her pajamas without complaint and drove me through the snow-covered streets. The train trip to Chicago took about four hours, most of which I spent chatting with other journalists. Nissan shuttled us to the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, where warm rooms awaited.

On the first night, I attended Nissan’s welcome party in an adjacent hotel ballroom, and then took an Uber to the Lexus party in an event space on the other side of downtown. Lexus had a 10th Anniversary F-Sport RC-F on display, along with a West Coast Customs replica of the Black Panther’s LC. An Uber back to the hotel afterwards, and on to bed.

In the morning, I attended the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) breakfast, with a keynote address from Subaru of America’s CEO, Thomas Doll. Then, it was off to the show, running from press conference to press conference. At the end of the day, my dogs were barking, but I still found the energy to jump on a shuttle to Geno’s East for the annual Mazda Pizza Party. I’m not really a deep dish guy, but it was a very nice meal and a good time hanging out with Mazda PR folk and auto journalists. I had a ticket for a music event, Sweet Home Chicago, but chose instead to return to the hotel for some rest.

The next day, more press conferences, more snow, lots of writing. I made a quick swing through the show floor to take some photos (I’m sharing some here for your viewing), and prepared for my flight home. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans, as I got notices from Delta Airlines that my plane was delayed from a 4:45 pm departure to 9:00 pm. I decided to punt, and bought a ticket on the 5:40 pm Amtrak from Union Station back to Dearborn, because I was pretty sure I’d make it home — and it would be better than sleeping at O’Hare airport. I finally pulled in to Dearborn station at 1:00 am, and made it home by 2:00 am in an Uber.

All-in-all, an excellent trip, made a little bit frustrating by the weather. It could have been worse — I could still be sleeping at O’Hare.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson.

 

2017 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

by Jason Fogelson

What would you do if you had planned a big outdoor party for Sunday afternoon, and the weather report called for thunderstorms and four inches of rain? You’ve been planning your party for a year, and guests are coming from all over the world. If you’re Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, you make a quick decision – and move your party up one day to Saturday.

That’s what happened this year in Florida, and the shocking thing is how smoothly the switch was pulled off.

A Concours d’Elegance is a juried car show with multiple classes and awards. There are usually multiple winners, with the big prize being “Best in Show.” Think Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but for cars. There are currently dozens of Concours events held across the United States, often on a golf course or luxury estate. The exhibitors are often wealthy car collectors or car museums; they can also be ordinary individuals who own one or more special vehicles. The fancier Concours events attract a very upscale crowd. Luxury and sports car manufacturers love getting access to this demographic, so they show up as event sponsors, and host display booths that show off their current products alongside classic cars from their marques. Accessory and aftermarket parts makers and affiliated businesses join the party with booths and displays of their wares. Attendees and participants often dress up for a Concours, sometimes in period motoring garb that matches their cars or favorite era. The most famous event in the United States is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California.

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance (AIC) is a respected, significant event that’s starting its third decade of annual shows.

I attended the AIC this year for the first time, and really enjoyed the experience. I wrote about it for Forbes.com.

I took a ton of pictures, as I do at pretty much every car show that I attend. I’m posting a few here for your enjoyment.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson

2017 North American International Auto Show: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Detroit, Mich.—Bucking the tide of compact crossover sport utility vehicles, three new sedans from Japan’s Toyota and South Korea’s Kia captured onlookers’ attention here at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, which runs through Jan. 22.

A few manufacturers introduced new compact crossovers, which have taken over as the hottest category in U.S. sales—mainly at the expense of midsize and compact sedans. But they were few and overshadowed by three four-doors.

They are the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry, the 2018 Lexus LS500 from Toyota’s luxury division and the 2018 Kia Stinger, a new midsize sports sedan that looks as if it could threaten some of Europe’s best.

On the small crossover front, Nissan unveiled the new Rogue Sport, a smaller version of its compact SUV. It is based on the Nissan Qashqui, which is sold in other world markets. Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-new GLA and Chevrolet presented its redesigned Equinox, a compact crossover that tilts toward midsize.

But that was about it unless you count the new Chevrolet Traverse, a full-size, three-row crossover, the stretched Volkswagen Tiguan—also with three rows—and the smaller performance-oriented Audi SQ5.

toyotacamryDespite the booming popularity of compact crossovers, manufacturers still obviously believe in midsize sedans. The Camry, despite losing 40,737 customers between 2015 and 2016, still topped the midsize field with 388,618 sold in 2016.

The 2018 model, seeking to mitigate the Camry’s reputation as durable but bland, boasts styling changes and improvements across the board. It is longer, lower and wider, with a lower center of gravity for better handling.

As before, there are four versions: LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. The LE and XLE models have a different grille from the S and XSE versions and are oriented toward comfort. The S and XSE models have a more sporting personality. Power choices are a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.5-liter V6 and a hybrid.

For 2018, all Toyota Camry models get the company’s Entune 3.0 connectivity system, which includes navigation and a host of other state-of-the art features.

lexusls5502Over at the Lexus display, the attention grabber was the all-new LS500, which at 17 feet 2 inches long is bigger and classier than ever, rivaling the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS500 is powered by a 415-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers, a 10-speed automatic transmission and a predicted zero-to-60 mph acceleration time of 5.1 seconds.

Among other things, its standard and optional features include a 12.3-inch center screen with navigation and handwriting recognition, air suspension system, heated, cooled and massaging front and rear seats, and a detection system that can trigger braking or steering around a pedestrian.

kiastinger2Most of the excitement among enthusiasts, however, focused on the Kia Stinger, an all-new car with a new name. It marks a milestone at the South Korean manufacturer, which delivers high quality cars, crossovers and even a minivan.

The midsize Stinger is a performance-oriented Gran Turismo four-door with a fastback design and a rear hatch, not unlike the larger Audi A7, which competes among cars that can cost up to $80,000.

Few Stinger details were available at the introduction, including the price, but it likely will be way less than the A7’s—more competitive with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars.

With rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive with torque vectoring for improved handling, the Stinger will offer two power plants: 225-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters for a manual shifting mode. No manual gearbox was considered.Vice President Joe Biden Visits 2017 NAIAS

Photos and Logo (c) NAIAS.

Nissan Rolls Out “The Year of the Truck” and More: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

With a quick preview at the Miami Auto Show of its 2017 Rogue crossover utility vehicle and a high-performance version of the 2017 Sentra compact sedan, Nissan delivers the automotive version of the full court press.

The two new vehicles arrived after the Tennessee-based Japanese manufacturer, as part of its self-declared “Year of the Truck,” introduced three other 2017 models bumper on bumper: Armada SUV, Pathfinder crossover SUV and Titan half-ton pickup truck. It’s a market onslaught rarely accomplished by any manufacturer.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

Of the two new machines introduced in Miami, the Sentra SR Turbo will get the juices flowing among budget-minded enthusiasts. It comes with a 188-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 177 lb-ft of torque.

It is available with what Nissan’s Brandon White called the “millennial anti-theft device”—a six-speed manual gearbox. He was reminding the audience that manual transmissions, already a rarity, may go the way of dinosaurs.

But for the masses, the Sentra SR Turbo also will be available with Nissan’s D-Step continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission. Ordinarily, CVTs, which use a system of belts and pulleys to multiply torque, have no shift points. The D-Step mimics shift points.

The Sentra SR Turbo is projected to start at less than $22,000, with a no-extra-charge choice of either the CVT or the manual gearbox. It should enhance Sentra sales, which at the end of August were running at an annual rate in 2016 of 233,709.

More important for the company is the new Rogue. As a compact crossover with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, it operates in the currently hottest segment of the market. Nissan expects it soon will become the company’s best selling model. That’s no small change. At the end of August, its sales already were running at an annual rate of 332,740.

To bolster the Rogue lineup even further, the 2017 model will be available, for the first time, as a gasoline-electric hybrid. It uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with 141 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. Using a dual-clutch system, the engine works with a 40 hp electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack to deliver 176 hp.

To enhance fuel economy, the hybrid also uses a stop-start system and regenerative braking. Nissan estimates the city/highway/combined fuel consumption at 33/35/34 mpg for the front-drive version and 31/34/33 mpg with all-wheel drive.

The standard Rogue power plant is a 170 hp, 2.5-liter four with 175 lb-ft of torque. Its city/highway/combined fuel consumption is rated at 26/33/29 with front-drive and 25/32/28 with all-wheel drive.

Though it bears an unmistakable family resemblance to its predecessor and other Nissans, the 2017 Rogue comes with a new front fascia and other exterior styling enhancements, along with an upgraded interior.

Automobility LA and the Los Angeles Auto Show

by Jason Fogelson

Last week, I attended the press days for the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. Actually, there was a change this year. The traditional press days have been subsumed by a new event, an industry trade show called “Automobility LA.” This new event combined the expected press conferences and new model reveals with the previously separate Connected Car Expo that had preceded the auto show. Instead of two days of back-to-back events, I was now faced with four days of reveals interspersed with keynote addresses, panel discussions and presentations from technology companies in addition to the automotive OEMs. Many of the auto companies chose to move their reveals off-site, competing for attention by diverting journalists away from the main venue at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It turned the whole week into a bigger slog than usual, compounded by the rampant exchange of germs that left me and a number of my colleagues sick as dogs with the LA Auto Show Grippe.

I did manage to get some work done during the week, though. I was part of Autobytel’s team, helping to produce this Must See Vehicles at the LA Auto Show, and I put together this list of Must See Crossovers and SUVs at the LA Auto Show.

I also did a few executive interviews for Forbes.com: Reid Bigland of Maserati; and Don Swearingen of Mitsubishi.

Also coming soon: a review of the 2017 Lamborghini Huracån RWD, and an interview with some of the Lambo execs.

So, despite the Grippe, it was a pretty good LA Auto Show.

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