Green and Grand at the L.A. Auto Show


2014 Fiat 500e.

The Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, which runs through Sunday, is almost three shows in one. It’s a showcase of the newest green automotive technology. It’s also a place to see those cars that we all dream about, though very few can afford them. Finally, it’s the mainstream auto show where you go to look at regular day-to-day transportation.

In the first category, as always, auto makers have brought their latest eco-friendly vehicles, including electrics. Fiat took the wraps off the 500e, a battery plug-in version of their cute little coupe that’s been getting more and more popular after a somewhat slow start. Fiat officials are promising just as much driving fun as in the gasoline-powered 500, but with a fully electric power system instead of running on fossil fuels.

Also in the pure electric arena is the Chevy Spark EV, which should arrive next summer and will only be sold in California and parts of Oregon. Like the Fiat, this one’s electric only, and would be ideal for short city trips. Chevrolet didn’t announce a price, but says it will come in at around $25,000 after various incentives are factored in.

But not every resource-saving vehicle that’s debuting here is electric. Audi took the wraps off TDI clean diesel versions of its A6, A7, A8 and Q5 models, which join the Q7 and A3 TDIs in showrooms next summer, giving the brand the widest range of diesel passenger vehicles in North America.

Other diesel news came from Mazda. Their rather striking Mazda6 sedan is all new for the 2014 model year, and by mid-year will be offered with Mazda’s SkyActiv clean diesel power under the hood. Mazda would like to show that a gas-electric hybrid system isn’t the only way to make a family-size car fuel efficient.

Ford picked up the annual “Green Car of the Year” award for their Fusion line. The panelists decided that the mid-size sedan is green in a big-picture kind of way, since every version of it will help to save fuel, especially the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

High-powered sports cars abound at the show too, even if they spend most of their time just being photographed by wishful thinkers trudging the carpet of the L.A. Convention Center. The new Porsche Cayman is on display at the “Porsche Experience,” always a crowd favorite in its own separate hall. Mercedes-Benz brought the SLS AMG Black Series with its 600+ horsepower, and don’t forget to see the all-new SRT Viper waiting to strike in the Chrysler area.

Probably the biggest eye-popper in the sports car arena is Jaguar’s new F-Type two-seater. It’s thoroughly modern, yet reminiscent of the stunning Jaguar sports cars of the earlier days. Base sticker is $69,000, so its price is quite modern too.

Back down to reality, the new Acura RLX sedan debuted here, offering an alternative to the luxury cars offered by Lexus, Infiniti and others. Along those lines, Lincoln’s new MKZ can be seen up close and in person for the first time in Southern California.

And when it comes to family cars, several newly-redone models also made their first appearances. Hyundai is showing off its new Santa Fe, with three rows of seats. This is not to be confused with the Santa Fe Sport, which looks almost identical but isn’t as long and does without the third row.

Moving down the size scale, Toyota’s all-new fourth generation RAV4 was their big reveal this year. This is a modern take on the small crossover SUV that started it all (the first RAV4 came out back in 1994), with new features and new fuel efficiency.

The auto show is an annual tradition for many Los Angeles residents. Some want to see what’s new in fuel efficiency, some want to being shopping for their next family car, and a few want to just dream about an exotic sports car. Me? I’ll take that new Jaguar, please. In my dreams, anyway.

I’ll see you down the road.

Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7 and can be heard on “The Car Show” Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM. E-mail Dave at TVCarz @ Twitter: @dave_kunz , Facebook: ABC7Dave

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