LA Auto Show Highlights

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 Convertible.

Icons and luxury were the big themes this time around reports our man in America, Huw Evans…

Since it moved to a November/December timeslot in 2011, the Los Angeles Auto Show now serves as the kickstart to the North American auto show season. LA can always bring a few big debuts and the latest show, which ran from December 1-10 certainly had a few tantalizing vehicle unveilings. Here, Classic American brings you some of the highlights:

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of the 2017 LA Auto Show was the newest Jeep Wrangler, which goes on sale as a 2018 model. Offered in Sport, Sahara and Rubicon versions, the new Wrangler will be built in Toledo, Ohio, the ancestral home of the original Jeep and while looking familiar, features a number of concessions to lighter weight and better fuel economy.

These include the availability of a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 270bhp and 295 lb ft of torque, teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission; a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 with 285bhp and 260 lb ft of torque that features engine stop-start technology and teamed with either a six-speed manual gearbox or the eight-speed automatic; plus in 2019, the option of a 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 rated at 260bhp and 442 lb ft. Like the four-banger, the EcoDiesel will come exclusively with the eight-speed automatic and also employs stop-start technology.

The new Wrangler also features lightweight, high-strength alumininum used for the doors, hinges, hood, wings, windscreen surround as well as a magnesium swing gate. Also, contrary to some reports it DOES feature the traditional fold down windscreen as well as a new SkyOne power operated top, along with two available hard tops and a premium soft top.

The Wrangler’s 4×4 capability has also been further enhanced via a Command-Trac 4WD system with a two-speed transfer case with full-time four-wheel drive, and a Rock-Trac system available on the Rubicon that includes next generation solid front and rear Dana axles, as well as greater suspension travel.

 2019 Lincoln Nautilus

A new name on a somewhat familiar vehicle, the Nautilus is essentially a re-freshened version of the MKX crossover, with similar front grille treatment to the new Continental sedan. Inside, the Nautilus features a dominant and free flowing centre console, signature push-button transmission controls and optional Ultra Comfort seats with up to 22 individual adjustments. Other features include a hidden wireless charging pad for smartphones, as well as a digital instrument cluster, 13 and 19-speaker Revel sound systems, plus a central touch screen that houses a SYNC 3 voice activated infotainment system with ApplePlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The Nautilus offers three distinct interior trim packages, labeled Chalet, Thoroughbred and Gala, all grouped under the Lincoln Black Label envelope and designed to convey a feeling of craftsmanship and exclusivity. Under the hood, the Nautilus features a strictly turbocharged engine line-up, either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder rated at an estimated 245bhp or a 2.7-litre V6 cranking out an estimated 335bhp and 380 lb ft of torque. Both engines feature direct injection, plus stop-start technology and are teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Joining the much-acclaimed Continental sedan, as well as new, revamped Navigator SUV, the Nautilus represents a decent attempt to help push Ford’s luxury brand back into the limelight and hopefully regain its position as a top tier marque in the U.S. as well as other key markets.

 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir

Reminiscent of the old Park Avenue Ultra offered back in the 1990s, the new Buick LaCrosse Avenir aims to crank up the luxury factor in the brand’s full-size sedan. The LaCrosse Avenir comes loaded with standard equipment, including a standard surround sound system, panoramic sunroof as well as an exclusive Chesnut themed interior colour and special first row embroided headrest, plus Avenir scripted sill plates.

Power comes from a 310bhp 3.6-litre V6, driving the front wheels through a nine-speed automatic transaxle. Options on this new high-zoot Buick sedan include a twin-clutch AWD system, a Dynamic Drive Package with continuous, real-time damping. Outwardly, aside from the Avenir scripting, the new top-level Buick sedan features a special chrome cross-hatch grille designed to add a sutble, yet distinctive appearance that sets the Avenir apart from its more “pedestrian” siblings. 

  2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 Convertible

General Motors already announced that the hallowed ZR-1 coupe would return for 2019, but at the LA Auto Show GM pulled off the wraps off a ZR-1 convertible! Marking the first time the hallowed ZR-1 moniker has been applied to a Corvette ragtop since 1970, this latest, ultra-high performance roadster features the same 755 bhp supercharged 6.2-litre LT5 V8 as its coupe counterpart. Reportedly weighing just 60 lbs (27 kg) more than the ZR-1 coupe, the convertible will dash from 0-60 mph in three seconds and reach a top speed of 208 mph.

According to Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, the chassis and suspension setup of both the ZR-1 coupe and convertible are identical, which made the idea of a topless ZR-1 a realistic proposition. With base price of $123,995 when it goes on sale in Spring 2018, the ZR-1 convertible is somewhat expensive, but still a relative bargain when compared with its erstwhile European competition such as the Ferrari F12 and Lamborghini Aventador S, which cost twice to three times as much.

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