Steal­ing the spot­light Amer­ica’s shift to SUVs is on dis­play at L.A. Auto Show

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Dee-Ann Durbin 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 this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Even tra­di­tional lux­ury car mak­ers like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo are de­but­ing SUVs at the show, which opens 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

“There’s no rea­son to not buy an SUV. I can’t imag­ine a lot of sce­nar­ios where this trend is go­ing to change.” – Re­becca Lind­land, a se­nior an­a­lyst with Kel­ley Blue Book

where this trend is go­ing to change.”

Here are some of the SUVs 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 10 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.

• JAGUAR I-PACE CON­CEPT: Jaguar is tak­ing aim at Tesla Mo­tors with an elec­tric SUV that is due out in 2018. The five-seat I-PACE is a com­pact SUV, slightly smaller than the brand’s gaspow­ered F-Pace and Tesla’s Model X. It can go an es­ti­mated 220 miles on a charge and has elec­tric mo­tors on the front and rear axles that de­liver 400 horse­power and zoom from 0 to 60 mph in 4 sec­onds. Pric­ing wasn’t re­leased.

• JEEP COM­PASS: The new Jeep Com­pass small SUV re­places both the ag­ing Pa­triot and the pre­vi­ous Com­pass in Jeep’s show­room. Jeep un­veiled the new global Com­pass in Brazil in Septem­ber, and it looks like a smaller ver­sion of the Grand Chero­kee. But other de­tails of the U.S. ver­sion have been kept un­der wraps. The Com­pass is sched­uled to go on sale in the U.S. in March.

• MAZDA: Mazda has re­designed its CX-5 mid­size SUV, which goes on sale in Japan in Fe­bru­ary and the U.S. af­ter that. It has a new grille with nar­rowed head­lights and cleaner, less chis­eled sides. Mazda says the driv­ing dy­nam­ics have im­proved and the in­te­rior is more com­fort­able. The gas en­gine choices — a 2.0-liter or a 2.5-liter four-cylin­der — re­main the same, but for the first time, Mazda will also of­fer a diesel en­gine in the U.S. The diesel goes on sale in the sec­ond half of 2017. Pric­ing for the new CX-5 wasn’t re­leased, but the cur­rent CX-5 starts at $21,795.

• MINI COUN­TRY­MAN: The sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Coun­try­man small cross­over is the big­gest Mini ever. It’s 8 inches longer than the out­go­ing model, with 30 per­cent more cargo space. Buy­ers can choose a 134-horse­power, three-cylin­der en­gine or a 189-horse­power four-cylin­der; au­to­matic and man­ual trans­mis­sions are avail­able. The Mini Coun­try­man goes on sale in March; a plug-in hy­brid ver­sion fol­lows in June. Pric­ing wasn’t re­leased, but the cur­rent Coun­try­man starts at $22,750.

• SUBARU VIZIV7 CON­CEPT: Subaru plans to start sell­ing a three-row SUV in early 2018. It will be the brand’s largest ve­hi­cle yet. Like other Subarus, the VIZIV7 con­cept has stan­dard all-wheel-drive and a boxer en­gine. The com­pany says more de­tails will come next year.

• TOY­OTA C-HR: Toy­ota is also join­ing the subcompact SUV mar­ket with the C-HR, which stands for “Coupe-High Rider.” The C-HR, which is al­ready on sale in Europe, has bold, an­gu­lar styling and a float­ing roofline that will spice up Toy­ota’s con­ser­va­tive show­room. Europe has a hy­brid ver­sion, but Toy­ota hasn’t yet said which en­gines will be of­fered in the U.S. The C-HR goes on sale in the spring. Pric­ing wasn’t re­leased, but it will slot below the RAV4 SUV, which starts at $24,910.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mike Man­ley, head of the Jeep brand, talks about the 2017 Jeep Com­pass on Thurs­day at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is in­tro­duced dur­ing the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wed­nes­day in Los Angeles.

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