As nation shifts to SUVs, so does L.A. Auto Show
America’s shift from cars to SUVs is starting to look permanent, and automakers are scrambling to meet the demand.
Toyota, Ford, Subaru, Jeep and Volkswagen are all showing new SUVs at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Even traditional luxury car makers like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo are debuting SUVs at the show, which opened to the public on Friday.
Americans bought more SUVs than four-door cars for the first time last year, and the momentum is growing, according to registration data from IHS Markit. In the first nine months of this year, SUVs made up 39.5 percent of new-vehicle registrations; cars stood at 32 percent.
Unlike the previous SUV boom in the early 2000s — which fell victim to rising gas prices — this one is likely to stay. That’s because automakers are offering more small SUVs with better fuel economy. The country’s top-selling sedan, the Toyota Camry, gets 28 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The top-selling small SUV, the Honda CR-V, gets 29 mpg.
“There’s no reason to not buy an SUV,” says Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “I can’t imagine a lot of scenarios where this trend is going to change.”
Here’s what’s appearing at the L.A. Auto Show:
• ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Named for a mountain pass in Italy that’s known for its hairpin turns, the midsize Stelvio has Alfa’s distinctive triangular grille and curvy styling. Under the hood is a 280-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed transmission. Buyers can also opt for the top-of-the-line Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which has a 2.9-liter V6 that produces 505 horsepower. All-wheeldrive is standard on all models. The Stelvio, which will be made in Italy, goes on sale early next year. Pricing wasn’t released.
• FORD ECOSPORT: Ford’s smallest SUV, which has been sold in other markets since 2003, will finally go on sale in North America in 2018. It will compete with other tiny newcomers like the Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. To target young buyers, the EcoSport offers ten exterior colors, seven interior lighting options and optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It comes with either a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged engine or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with fourwheel-drive. Pricing wasn’t released, but the EcoSport will be less expensive than the Ford Escape, which starts at $23,600. The EcoSport will be made in India.