As na­tion shifts to SUVs, so does L.A. Auto Show

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - BUSINESS - By Dee-Ann Dur­bib AP Auto Writer

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.

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