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

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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