Welcome to Downtown Los Angeles. All right, sitting at my desk in my hotel room in Los Angeles getting ready for the L.A. Auto Show. I’m here a few days early. It’s Monday and the show doesn’t start until Wednesday, but I am here for a reason. Audi is revealing the E-Tron tonight at 8 p.m. Unfortunately, you guys won’t be able to see, and the reason that is is because I can’t bring my camera and I can’t bring my cell phone in.
Welcome to the L.A. Auto Show … Oh yeah, am I still recording? Let me make sure I am. All right, we’re at Kia. First coffee of the day. It’s an Americano. We have a latte right there. So far, best coffee.
This Jeep is so 90s. I love it. Let’s go find Joel and talk about some Mazdas. Hey look, it’s a snowmobile thing from GMC that we’ve seen at the last 11 auto shows.
All right, so we’re here at the Mazda booth with the Mazda3. Joel, tell us a little bit about this car.
Joel Stocksdale: The Mazda3 has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. They’ve redone the hatchback and the sedan. The hatchback that you can see behind us, it’s designed very much like the Mazda Kai concept that was shown in Tokyo not too long ago.
One of the big new features of the 2019 Mazda3 is that it will feature the Skyactiv-X spark controlled compression ignition engine. Basically what that means is that it uses gasoline, but it uses compression to ignite the fuel kind of like a diesel engine. To achieve the amount of compression needed to actually ignite the fuel, it ignites a little bit of fuel before the main charge of air and fuel comes into the cylinder. So, you get the compression between the piston and that little extra explosion at the top.
One of the other new features of the 2019 Mazda3 is the introduction of all-wheel drive, which is now available. There are a couple of things that I’m slightly disappointed about. I was personally hoping to see the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine from the Mazda CX-5 and the Mazda6 show up in the Mazda3, but that appears to not be on the list. On the plus side though, manual transmission is still available.
Christopher McGraw: Do we know when we’ll see these in dealers?
Joel Stocksdale: We don’t have a specific timeframe yet, but we do know that it will be on sale next year.
Christopher McGraw: All right, Joel, we’ll see you around. Now it’s time to check out the Jeep Gladiator with Jeremy.
As you can tell by the crowds, we’re here to check out one of the more highly anticipated vehicles, the Jeep Gladiator. Jeremy, let’s talk about this vehicle.
Jeremy Korzeniewski: Yeah, let’s take a look at it. As you can see, this one is a Rubicon. That’s not the only trim level it’s going to come in, but it’s probably going to be one of the most popular. That is the off-road specific ones, you can see from the beefy wheels and tires. If you take a look inside, you’ll see there’s Fox Shocks on there. It’s lifted up higher than the other models, and it’s got these rock rails, which is going to be super important when you’re driving off-road.
Christopher McGraw: This thing looks quite a bit longer than the Wrangler. How much bigger is it?
Jeremy Korzeniewski: Yeah, it is quite a bit bigger than the Wrangler. The wheelbase is nearly 20 inches longer, but overall, 31 total extra inches. That’s the kind of thing that’s going to be a little bit of a hazard when you’re out in the trail climbing the rocks. You don’t want to drag your bodywork on the ground. That’s also probably not totally the point with these Wrangler pickup trucks. It’s kind of if you want to go off-road and you want to really hardcore do that kind of stuff, you buy a Wrangler. If you want some additional utility with it, then you would get the pickup truck.
Christopher McGraw: All right, what makes this one stand out in its segment? There’s a lot, but specific-
Jeremy Korzeniewski: Yeah, it’s quite a bit. Obviously, take a look at this. You’ve got the windshield that folds down. That’s just the start of it though, as you can see. The entire top comes off. This one, all the doors are off. That kind of open air experience is completely unique in the pickup truck segment, only from Jeep. It’s got the greatest towing capacity of any gas vehicle in its segment as well, 7,650 pounds. Payload isn’t quite max, but it’s right in line with its competitors, 1,600 pounds payload.
Of course, you’re going to have to pick the Sport model to get that kind of payload in towing. The more options you put on a vehicle, like a Rubicon like this or the Overland, which is the more luxurious model, all those options actually subtract from the capabilities.
Christopher McGraw: All right, so we have a five foot bed. What else is special about the bed of this truck?
Jeremy Korzeniewski: Well, let’s take a look. Let’s open it up. You can see, soft open. They’ve got a spray-in bed liner in this one. There’s an accessory power outlet. There are these really cool accessory rails mounted in this one. There is also a Bluetooth removable speaker system that mounts in here. That’s a unique feature. That’s pretty cool. Take a look here real quick at this Easter egg. Jeep loves their Easter eggs. You see a heart symbol, 419. For those of you who don’t know, these vehicles are built in Toledo, Ohio. 419 is the area code for Toledo.
Christopher McGraw: So far, this thing is definitely my favorite of the LA Auto Show.
Look, it’s got a volume knob.
Carefully roasted specialty coffee, beautifully gift packaged and personalized just for me.
I’m getting a Prototype Ten, which is a latte with smoked bourbon barrel sugar and maple. Had me at bourbon. This is coffee number four … A lot, I’ve had a lot of coffee today. Not enough though. I’ve had a lot but not enough. This so far, the best coffee at the LA Auto Show. Best in show. This coffee is better than anything else Infiniti has at this show.
I’m here with the Rivian R1S. James, do you want to tell us a little bit about this all electric SUV?
James Riswick: Absolutely. This is definitely one of the most pleasantly surprising vehicles at this year’s LA Auto Show. This has a more complete interior than an actual production Tesla Model 3. They say it can go about 400 miles of all-electric range, get you from San Francisco to Yosemite, they say. Zero to 60 in 3 seconds.
Christopher McGraw: That’s a half second faster than the E-tron GT concept, just want to throw that one out there.
James Riswick: There you go. Then the other thing with that is that there’s actually electric motors for each of the wheels. Up to 200 horsepower, so do the math on that one. Then because there’s one in each wheel, now you get torque vectoring out of that, so good for handling. It’s also good off-road. So, if you’re dangling up in the air and one wheel has no traction, or if it’s in loose sand or something, that doesn’t need to be activated at all. There’s no need for a differential or anything. It just sends power to the wheel that needs it.
This has a full four-wheel air suspension. It raises, it lowers. Raises obviously for off-roading, for greater ground clearance, but it lowers then for improved aerodynamics, improved efficiency and range. Then it also has adaptive body control.
Christopher McGraw: So, the truck is priced at under $90,000 for the top trim. Do we know the price of this one?
James Riswick: I do not, but I would imagine it would be about the same. The other thing is, it’s made in America. This is made in the old Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois. So, they actually have a factory. They’re saying it’s going to be available at the end of 2020, so we don’t know if that’s on a Musk-ish timeline, then we’ll be looking at it two years after. If they say it’s when it’s going to be, again, not that far from reality.
Christopher McGraw: Reese, the 911 GT3 is your favorite car that you’ve driven this year. We’ve got a new generation of 911 here. What’s different about it?
Reese Counts: This is a replacement for the 991, this is the 992. Physically, it’s not much different. The front track is a little wider, so the front and rear fenders are stretched a little. The rear now uses the wide body from the all-wheel drive models, but most of the changes are under the skin. It now uses aluminum bodywork. The front and rear styling is a little different. The fenders come down and there’s this kind of squared-off trunk lid. Lots of little retro cues, like that’s kind of like the old air-cooled cars. The lower intake here is kind of a rectangular squared-off look like the 70s G-body cars.
You’ve got this faux hood scoop kind of thing. Lots of little retro touches. LED taillight now covers the whole width of the car. The adjustable wing, again, now spans the full width of the car. Some little details like the Porsche badge has individual letters. The new 911 Carrera logo, it’s all kind of squished together. This third brake light is interesting. Rather than horizontal like it is on a lot of vehicles, it’s vertical.
Under the skin, it’s got a updated version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. It makes 443 horsepower and 390 pound feet of torque. It’s got new turbos, new intercooler rerouted for better efficiency and better response, new injectors, but it’s not an all new engine. It’s the same one that debuted with the refreshed 991, which was the last generation. It’s also got a new 8-speed dual clutch, which replaces the 7-speed. Those that love manuals, a manual is coming down the road. I’m so excited about that. That said, PDK is awesome.
The interior is a bigger departure from the previous generation than the exterior. It’s still this wide, very driver focused thing, but there’s new digital displays and new center console. A large digital display in the center. One of my favorite features is the tachometer. It’s kind of this retro look. If you know what a classic tach on an older 911 looks like, it looks a lot like that with a digital display in the center.
Christopher McGraw: New shift knob it looks like as well.
Reese Counts: Yeah. It’s an interesting shift knob. Let’s see if we can get the steering wheel out of the way. It’s kind of puny. I’m not sure how I feel about it. It feels nice if you move it, but I mean, I don’t have the biggest hands in the world and this thing is … it’s kind of lame.
When the car is on, this panel in the center lights up and you’ll see a bunch of buttons down there, and the panel actually clicks. When the car’s off, it just kind of looks like this piano black. It cleans it, but it also attracts fingerprints pretty heavily.
Christopher McGraw: Last but certainly not least, we’re at the Kia booth where we have three Souls and one Joel. Let’s talk about the latest that Kia has to offer.
Joel Stocksdale: Yeah, so the entire Kia Soul range has been redesigned for the new model year. The first one that we’ve got here is the GT-Line, which will be available with a turbocharge four cylinder engine. This kind of takes the place of the old Kia Soul Turbo. The turbo engine is a carryover 1.6-liter turbocharged engine making 201 horsepower, 195 pound-feet of torque. The turbo model in particular, in addition to the more aggressive bodywork, the big grill, the red accents, it has a stiffer suspension that’s a little lower, it’s sportier.
Christopher McGraw: All right, what’s this next one we’ve got over here?
Joel Stocksdale: This next one is the Kia Soul X-Line. This is a completely new trim level for the Kia Soul. It’s got a lot more plastic body cladding, the little fender flair is on there. It’s got some other metal accents and some fog lights that’s standard. It’s not really lifted at all. It’s not actually more off-roady, but it looks like it. So, this would appeal to somebody maybe looking at a Subaru Crosstrek or something of that style.
This model, along with other regular Kia Souls, will come with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder. It makes about 147 horsepower, and it replaces both a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter and a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine from the old Kia Soul.
Christopher McGraw: All right, that’s a big step up as far as fuel economy. Obviously this final one will have the best economy because it’s electric.
Joel Stocksdale: Yep, this one won’t use any gasoline. What’s really impressive about this is that it uses the same motor and battery pack from the Kia Niro EV and the Hyundai Kona Electric. While range hasn’t been announced yet, we’re guessing that this will probably have a range of over 200 miles. It also is actually the most potent version of the Kia Soul with 201 horsepower and 291 pound feet of torque.
Christopher McGraw: That was a lot of cars.