Los Angeles Auto Show Highlights

California accounted for 10 percent of all new vehicle purchases in the U.S. last year, so it’s not surprising that automakers have chosen the Los Angeles Auto Show as the venue to unveil some of their biggest new model launches.

A number of redesigned models were on display, including the fully updated Chrysler 300.  The 300 has not been refreshed since 2005, and the automaker is hopeful that a new grille, LED lights, new seven inch infotainment screen, and additional safety features will boost sales.  The 300’s new eight-speed transmission will reportedly deliver a best-in-class 31 mpg highway fuel economy.  The updated 300 will arrive in dealer showrooms early next year, with a base sticker price of $32,390 including shipping charges.

Ford Motor Company has given its popular Explorer SUV a facelift.  New features include Ford’s foot-operated liftgate technology and front and rear cameras. A new 2.3-liter 270 horsepower four-cylinder engine EcoBoost engine will replace the Explorer’s current 2.0-liter engine.  Ford hasn’t announced pricing for the updated Explorer which is scheduled to go on sale next summer.

Volkswagen’s Audi luxury brand chose the Los Angeles Auto Show to showcase its Prologue concept sedan.  The Prologue is more compact than the current A8, and features a 605-horsepower V-8 engine, and a number of sleek, sporty design elements that are likely to be incorporated into a number of Audi’s other upcoming models.

Also on display was Honda’s HR-V five-seat subcompact, based on its popular Fit compact model.  The tiny car features a fold-down rear seat that provides 59 cubic feet of cargo space, and a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers can choose between a continuously variable automatic transmission and a six-speed manual.  An all-wheel drive option is also available.  The HR-V is scheduled to launch in the U.S. early next year.

As in recent years, a number of new environmentally-friendly models were also on display at this year’s show.  Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen showcased their new fuel-cell technologies.  Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. next year, and the Honda FCV hydrogen fuel-cell concept model is slated to go into production sometime in 2016.  German automaker, Volkswagen, plans to introduce a hydrogen fuel-cell version of its popular Golf wagon, although no launch date has been announced.

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