Car buyers respond to fuel economy
It wasn’t a supercar or a bling machine that lit-up the Los Angeles Car Show but a clutch of three light crossovers, reflecting the market’s current must-have segment, writes Dave Moore
While Porsche chose the Los Angeles Convention Centre for its 911s as its debut point for North America and Cadillac used the same venue for unveiling its Commodore-sized XLS luxury sedan, more affordable real world cars dominated interest in California.
Even the first Car of the Year Awards handed out for what is about to become the season for them, went to ordinary cars with Motor Trend choosing the show to announce the United States-built VW Passat as its big winner with the Range Rover Evoque – another four-cylinder offering – taking the publication’s Truck of the Year gong, while the North American Green Car of the Year award went to Honda’s Cng-fuelled Civic sedan.
Ford and GM each made some fuss around their Mustang and Camaro rivals but these are ‘‘old metal’’ now and only really stars for those who already own or follow these American brands.
Technologically up to the minute and generally affordable, it was Mazda’s CX-5, the Honda fourth- generation CR-V and Ford’s Escape II that affected show goers. Traditionally, these companies have comfortably managed to cross-over the carbon and consumption footprints of ordinary cars with the space and practicality of SUVS, and their latest offerings front-up with improvements in emissions, fuel use and performance, ticking more boxes among customers than hot cars and full-sized SUVS, as drivers are looking more closely at their fuel gauges and environmental position than they ever have.
The 2013 Ford Escape will be known as the Kuga on some markets.the car will use Ecoboost technology and a range of four-cylinder engines, from 1.6 to, in some markets, a 2.5-litre. Though we can’t see why the wee Kuga/escape needs 2.5-litres when the mighty Explorer manages fine with 2.0-litres. A range of diesels will also feature as well as two- and four-wheel drive options, and twinclutch two-pedal transmissions.
While the new CR-V is seen as evolutionary, there’s not a single piece of the body or interior that’s the same as the old car’s. The 185kw Accord-based engine continues with no alternatives, unless you live in Europe where a 2.2-litre diesel will be available.
Mazda’s CX-5, the third member of the trio, has made a splash in recent months thanks to its 2.0-litre diesel and 2.2-litre petrol Skyactiv drivetrains, with light, super-efficient sixspeed manual and automatic transmissions.
Last on our list, the Mazda CX-5 was the first new vehicle introduced at the LA show with the other two SUVS showing their wares at other times on the first press day of the event. And while plenty of cars had more horsepower and fatter prices, none said ‘‘buy me’’ quite as effectively as this trio.
All three models should find their way to New Zealand next year.
ON SHOW: Many models on show at the Los Angeles Car Show.