LA Auto Show: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly [w/ poll]

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Bart: hit

As far as I’m concerned, they absolutely nailed this one. If the Giulia has a somewhat anonymous rear end, the Stelvio is original and great looking from all angles. Perhaps the rear overhang is a bit too much and the rear 3/4 a tad too rounded, but from the front 3/4 it looks very squat and the QV even aggressive. I love the full rear view and the shape of the C-pillar, not to mention the interior.

Kriss: hit

The expectations for the Stelvio may not have been as sky-high as those for its Giulia sister, but it’s fair to say the SUV was the most anticipated premiere of the show. The good news for the Alfistas is that the Stelvio delivers where it matters: as Bart mentioned, it looks good for the most part, promises a very dynamic drive, and comes topped with a 500hp+ halo model. What’s not to like?


Honda CR-V

Kriss: so-so

The new CR-V causes mixed emotions for me. On one hand, it is a close-to-perfect distillation of what buyers want in the market for a family car: comfort, inoffensive styling inside and out, accessible road manners and reliability. On the other hand, the styling disappoints after the daring new Civic, while the fact that the Honda does not offer an occasional third row seems like a missed opportunity in its competition against the Nissan Rogue/X-Trail.

Bart: so-so

I don’t think I can add much of relevance to Kriss’ words. The styling is unappealing to me, but then again I’m far from the targeted audience for the CR-V. This car will leave every enthusiast stone cold, but will undoubtedly dethrone the Accord als Honda’s best selling model in North America.

Jaguar I-Pace Concept

Kriss: so-so

While the I-Pace is an impressive car in many ways, for me the car disappoints by failing to capture two crucial aspects of “Jaguarness”. First, the brand stands for elegant, classy sportiness, and I just don’t think a crossover is the right car to embody this ethos. To my mind, the first electric Jaguar should be a gorgeous limousine, or a classy grand touring coupe. Second, a Jaguar should look great, and I’m sorry, but the I-Pace looks too much like a hotted-up Kia Nero to ever be called truly gorgeous. Still, the stats are not bad, rivaling the base model Tesla Model S.

Bart: hit

I like how Jaguar keeps pushing the boundaries of what people expect from the brand. With the previous generation XJ and with the X-Type it had remained too long in its familiar and classic saloon design. It took a great step to show a Jaguar can be sexy when it designed the breathtaking XJ sedan, then it broke with the preconception that Jaguar shouldn’t build a crossover, and now it’s showing the world that the brand is well and truly looking ahead into the future of mobility. Its design is recognizable Jaguar in the shape of the lights, the grille and the shoulder line, but also completely different from everything the brand has produced until now.

Jeep Compass

Kriss: hit

Not strictly an LA debut, the Jeep Compass nonetheless continues to impress with its chunky appearance, giving it that “got-to-have-it” factor that few cars in this class capture. And while it may be positioned too close for comfort to its larger brother, the Cherokee, the expectation is that the next generation Cherokee will grow to reopen a larger gap, possibly gaining an optional third row of seats.

Bart: hit

I’ve seen it in real life in Brazil two weeks ago, where it’s already in showrooms. Depending on which version you take, it’s a great-looking car. I find the Trailhawk a bit weird with the off-road front bumper, but the other versions look awesome, especially with the chrome window strips and the black roof.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-1

Mazda CX-5

Bart: fail

Is this a new car or a mere facelift? Has Mazda gone completely Volkswagen on us? It’s as if Mazda has taken the crisp lines of the first generation CX-5 and has rounded them off. Especially the rear 3/4 looks a bit too round for my taste. The competition has intensified in this segment and the CX-5 needed more to stay relevant. The interior looks nice, though. And the European version is mechanically up-to-date with its SkyActive engines, but the old 2,5-liter mill of the US version is becoming a dinosaur.

Kriss: so-so

What you think of the new CX-5 will depend greatly of whether you like its bigger brother, the CX-9, since the smaller model is like a shrunken version of that car – in terms of styling, both inside and out, but also it terms of appealing to a portion of the market that values design and a perception of sportiness over ultimate utility. But while the CX-5 is likely to drive well, as many modern Mazdas do, its design is oddly proportioned, being neither as elegant as the larger CX-9 or as chunky as the smaller CX-3.

VW-Atlas-8

Volkswagen Atlas

Kriss: fail

The Atlas is proof that VW has not learned from the failure of the Passat and Jetta in the US over the past half decade. The large SUV may have utility in spades, but it already looks dated even before it entered the market, and whatever appeal it has will wear quickly in an ultra-competitive market where even a Toyota (the Highlander) is a more exciting proposition.

Bart: so-so

Volkswagen has finally realized what the American consumer needs: a 7-seater crossover. The brand shows that it’s listening to input from dealers and buyers, by giving it an “American” name as well. Size-wise it’s within an inch of the Ford Explorer and though prices have not yet been revealed, I’m sure they’ll be in the same ballpark, because they really want (need) this car to succeed and they promise to have learned from their mistakes in the past, of trying to command premium pricing for a product that is no more than average. So why not a hit? Well, as Kriss also said, VW still can’t figure out how to make its design more exciting. But most of all: Subaru showed a concept model of its own upcoming 7-seat crossover. Ironically, Volkswagen outsold its Japanese rival as recently as 2012 and had great ambitions for the US market, but fast forward 4 years and Subaru is about to sell almost twice as many cars in the US than VW this year. And while Subaru’s first attempt at a large SUV failed miserably, the VIZIV-7 looks much more promising and could be the car that steals away most customers from the Atlas. 

Which car was the star of the LA Auto Show?

  • The Italian Stallion (Alfa Romeo Stelvio) (69%, 155 Votes)
  • The Electrified Brit (Jaguar I-Pace) (17%, 39 Votes)
  • The Eagle-Nosed Japanese (Mazda CX-5) (6%, 13 Votes)
  • The American Evoque (Jeep Compass) (4%, 9 Votes)
  • The Wannabe-American German (VW Atlas) (3%, 6 Votes)
  • The Bar-of-Soap Japanese (Honda CR-V) (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 224

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About Krzysztof Wozniak

Kriss grew up in Poland reading German car magazines, before moving to England and graduating to the British magazines, which he still considers the best in the world and continues reading them after he'd moved to the US. In college he promised himself he's buy himself a used Porsche before he turned 30 (not to be accused of having a mid-life crisis), but instead family needs dictated a Subaru Outback. Still waiting for that perfect moment to buy a used 2008-ish Cayman...
You can find all his articles Here.

Comments

  1. Stelvio – so-so: Alfa, again, lost part of its identity. Far from ugly, but the Stelvio seems to be a Mazda with Alfa details.
    CR-V: so-so: more balanced than the outgoing model, still not impressive at all.
    I-Pace – hit: unlike the Germans, Jaguar’s combination of innovative design and technology works.
    Compass – so-so: Jeep doesn’t need a trendy design which messes up the robustness.
    CX-5 – fail: Mazda goes VAG. Very disappointing after the great CX-3 and CX-4.
    Atlas – fail: already outdated before its introduction and it looks like the average American, fat.

  2. Interesting that the ‘hit or miss’ voting seems to focus on whether the car looks pretty or not, rather than it’s potential impact/importance. The world has moved on – I’m not convinced that an Alfa SUV with ICE is anything other than an afterthought.

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