Automakers displaying their latest products at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week are emphasizing full-size SUVs, as well as all-electric vehicles and hybrids.
Nissan, Hyundai, Lincoln, Lexus, and BMW introduced a full range of SUVs, including full-size models and the popular compact SUV segment. Ford's new Expedition drove off with Kelley Blue Book's Best Buy Award in the full-size SUV/crossover category.
At the luxury end, Lexus used the LA show to introduce the RX 350L SUV, a roomy vehicle with three rows of seats. An LX version comes without the third row of seats but with more cargo room.
Nissan unveiled the 2018 Kicks, a compact SUV/crossover. That gives Nissan six SUVs in its fleet. Hyundai took the wraps off its new compact crossover, the Kona.
Subaru introduced the Ascent, a vehicle geared toward families. The three-row SUV is bigger than the typical Subaru but is more fuel efficient than previous large SUVs.
The star of the show
Brian Moody, executive editor at AutoTrader, has covered the LA show all week and says the star of the show has been a vehicle that isn't even available yet -- the Future Toyota Adventure Concept, or FT-AC.
"That looks like the coolest thing here," Moody told ConsumerAffairs. "It resembles the (Toyota) 4Runner in some ways, but more like a 4Runner from the future."
Moody says the styling is aggressive and it looks like it was designed for the great outdoors. Its small package is in line with the current popularity of small SUVs.
"Imagine if you took all the positive attributes of a 4Runner, like off-road ability and truck suspension and tough look, shrinked the package a little bit because everyone's into small SUVs now, and market that as a tough, small, off-road capable utility vehicle -- I think people would go crazy for it," Moody said.
Taking the cool factor to another level, the vehicle has infrared cameras on the side mirrors to record trail runs. The cameras can be removed and carried on hikes.
The vehicle's integrated Wi-Fi hotspot automatically uploads footage to cloud-based storage where real-time editing and posting can be accessed using a mobile device.
Moody says he's picked up on a couple of automotive trends this week. Lincoln has changed the name of its popular MKX SUV to the Lincoln Nautilus.
"I hope this is the start of a trend in which carmakers stop using letters to name their vehicles and start using words again, like Mustang and Impala," he said.
Automakers are also electrifying more of their fleets. Increasingly, Moody says consumers will be able to purchase existing models in a variety of electric formats, from hybrid, to plug-in, to a combination of the two.