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2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

Last year, the Lotus Esprit blew me away. This year, my vote for “Car of the Show” at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show has to be the Jaguar XC16. I’ve examined the car from all angles and I cannot find one in which this car looks awkward. If I could mix and match cars, I would take the GT-R in XC16 clothing. That would be my ideal dream car.

Moving on…This year’s Auto Show did not have as many concepts as last year. It felt a little bit more “toned down”, possibly due to the economy. Despite this, it wasn’t a bad show. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to, but that was fine because much of what was at the LA show was also at the OC show. There were just a little more “high end” cars, but that’s about it.

Here is a quick run down of what was at the show and a few highlights

Acura – Nothing new. Their lineup was quite stale at the OC Show and it remained that way two months later at the LA Show.

Audi – A6/S6 and the A7/S7 were the new rides this year.

Audi S7 Audi S6

BMW – They showed off the iSeries which you probably have seen in most enthusiast websites/magazines. I also took some pictures of the concept a few years back. From what I understand, the i8 is supposed to make it to production with few changes (I am certain the glass doors are gone).

BMW i8 BMW i3

Buick – The Verano is ugly. Enuff said.

Buick Verano Buick Verano

Cadillac – Showed up the Ciel, which was featured at Pebble Beach and the Converj, which was at a previous auto show some years back. I believe the Converj will be either an electric or hybrid car and will have performance that matches it’s aggressive looks. Possible the next CTS-V? Perhaps.

Cadillac Converj Cadillac Converj Cadillac Converj Cadillac Ciel Cadillac Ciel

Chevrolet – I think you’ve seen enough Cruzes, Camaros, Coverttes and Volts to last you a while. NEXT!

Chrysler – As I was saying on the OC Show post. The 300 is one American sedan I would consider driving. Beats speaker system is truly insane for one that comes factory installed. I felt so gansta sitting in the backseat as the speakers were blaring Dr Dre tunes.

Chrysler 300 Chrysler 300

Dodge – Super Bee Charger in the House! The car looks mean! The HEMI looks meaner. Overall, I’m very happy to see Chrysler cars improving in such as short time. Now, I would like to see Chrysler pull a Volvo and start introducing some sweet leases for us.

Dodge Charger Super Bee Dodge Charger Super Bee Dodge Charger Super Bee

Ford – The Escape was really the only “new” car to be introduced. It didn’t exactly wow me, but I can see it stealing some of the CR-Vs dominance (you will see what I mean when you see pics of the production-ready CR-V).

Ford Escape Ford Escape

Honda – What a let down! The production-ready CR-V looks gutless! And if it drives anything like the old model, it’s performance will be gutless too! Check out the interior! Can we say weak sauce? Can’t wait to see what Consumer Reports does to the CR-V on their next review.

Honda CR-V Honda CR-V Honda CR-V

Hyundai – The Azera really wow’ed me. After talking to the product adviser and sitting in the car for a good 5-10 minutes, I came away impressed. The leather is soft and supple. The interior is well put together. The center stack follows the same overall layout found in most new Hyundais, but has a noticeably more “upscale” feel. The estimated MSRP is going to be in the low $30,000s, with most experts estimating it to be around $32,000. Everything, including Nav, comes standard. The only possible option (from what I am hearing) is the panoramic moonroof and maybe the window shaders, although those could be standard too. If you thought the Buick LaCrosse was the Lexus ES killer, think again.

Hyundai Azera Hyundai Azera Hyundai Azera Hyundai Azera

Infiniti – The JX35 was introduced as a 7-passenger SUV. Not impressed. It looks like a weak attempt at cloning the Toyota Highlander which can be had for thousands less (if you don’t care about having quality interior materials). I’d be surprised if they sell more JX’s than EX’s. I would have liked to see a concept version of the new G-Coupe based off the Essence. That would have been fun to see.

Infiniti JX35 Infiniti JX35 Infiniti JX35

Jaguar – XC16 all the way. This car is a beaut! If they would have given it a better sounding name instead of the typical “Letters + Numbers”, I’d name my kid after it. “Come here XC16!” just doesn’t have nice ring to it.

Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16 Jaguar XC16

Jeep – New Compass and Patriot look like baby GCs, except the proportions are all wrong. I know Jeeps are meant to be rugged, but they could have done a little more to the interior. In contrast, you can see the GC looks nice inside and out. Even the storage area looks high end with fancy chrome touches.

Jeep Compass Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Patriot

Kia – GT concept looks cool, but not as sexy as the XC16. It does show a lot of promise and possibly a glimpse of things to come. Michelle Wie gets a custom Kia Soul! I highly doubt she would be caught dead in one. Them Rappin’/Dancin’ Hamsters, on the other hand, are a hoot. They give the Soul some street cred. Definitely cooler than rolling in a cardboard box, toaster or dryer.

Michelle Wie Kia Soul Kia GT Kia GT Kia GT Kia GT Kia GT

Land Rover – Not much to say here. Doubt any of these rides will ever make it into production, but they are fun to look at.  They almost feel like they will transform into a robot at any moment.

Land Rover Concept Land Rover Concept

Lexus – More LF-A. *Yawn*

Lincoln – *Crickets*

Mazda – The CX5 actually look pretty good. You can totally see the styling cues of the Shinari concept on the front fascia. I really hope this crossover does well and gives the CR-V and Escape a run for their money.

Mazda CX5 Mazda CX5 Mazda CX5 Mazda CX5

Mercedes-Benz – I’ve pretty much seen all of the “new” models on the street or in previous Auto Shows with the exception of the C63 Black Edition. This thing rocks. It’s like Europe’s answer to the mean-looking American car!

Mercedez-Benz C63 Black Edition Mercedez-Benz C63 Black Edition Mercedez-Benz C63 Black Edition

MINI – See OC Auto Show…

Mitsubishi – I didn’t bother stopping by…actually, I don’t recall seeing them at the show. Maybe I stopped caring…

Nissan – Last year they had the Ellure. This year they had…NOTHING!

Porsche – Showed off their Panamera Hybrid and the usual 911s, Cayennes, Boxters and Caymans.

Porsche Panamera Porsche Panamera Hybrid

Scion – FR-S was in the house this year and it looks great! For those that have not been following the FR-S, expect about 200hp and a $24k price tag once it’s released. I don’t expect the production model to look too different unless Toyota decides to cheapen the experience some more. If the price is reasonable, this could very well be sitting in my driveway on day.

Scion FR-S Scion FR-S Scion FR-S

Subaru – Just like the FR-S, the BRZ should be priced and spec’ed at around the same range. There is talk of a STi trim, but I haven’t seen any details on that just yet. Originally, I thought the BRZ was the clear winner in the “looks” department, but after seeing them both in person, I have to go with the Scion.

Subaru BRZ Subaru BRZ Subaru BRZ

Volvo – Same cars as last year. Same cars as this year’s OC show. Nothing new to report.

VW – A Beetle R was on display and it still looks girly. Hood vents and quad-exhaust pipes do tone down the estrogen somewhat though. For the record, I don’t have a problem with the Beetle looking girly. It’s just that VW is trying so hard to market the Beetle as being more “unisex” and I just don’t think its happening. Maybe if they dropped a huge supercharger hood scoop? Nah….

Volkswagen Beetle R Volkswagen Beetle R Volkswagen Beetle R

Others – Here you will find some pics I took of the more “unusual” cars.

XD XD XD Morgan Aero Morgan Aero Morgan Aero Lotus Evora Lotus Evora

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2011 Ford Lease Rates – June 2011

The 24-month lease on the Edge Sport AWD isn’t exactly the best, but the discounts seem to be pretty good. Probably not the best lease around, but should you choose to buy, this isn’t half bad. I am not sure I would pay upwards of $600 a month on a Ford Edge. I would much rather have something else on the luxury side of things, maybe the MDX.


Here is a sample calculation based on TrueCar’s Southern California sale price and do not include local taxes. Please note that your dealer calculations may vary due to local fees/taxes.

2011 Ford Edge Sport AWD (24-month)
MSRP – $39,150
Sale Price – $35,621
Monthly – $540+ tax
RWG Rating – 80.8

For Dealer Quotes, CLICK HERE.

2011 Ford Edge Limited 4WD
36-month | 15k miles | residual 54% | .00146 base money factor

‎2011 Ford Edge Sport AWD
36-month | 15k miles | residual 52% | .00146 base money factor

‎2011 Ford Edge Sport AWD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 59% | .00031 base money factor
36-month | 15k miles | residual 52% | .00146 base money factor

2011 Explorer Limited AWD
39-month | 15k miles | residual 50% | .00177 base money factor

2011 Explorer Limited 2WD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 60% | .00094 base money factor
36-month | 15k miles | residual 51% | .00167 base money factor

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Monthly Round-Up : February 2011


Lease rates didn’t change much from last month, but sale prices dropped for most vehicles, which makes February a slightly better month than January. The were a few exceptions, such as in Honda’s case. Honda sales prices in the Southern California region seems to have gone up a bit, making the leases slightly more costly than back in December and January. You will see in the chart that certain Honda’s RWG rating have dropped slightly, but overall, still a very good lease compared to other brands and models.

I have been suggested to perhaps breakdown the Round-Up by class, which I think is a good idea. I will try to spend some time next month reorganize the list and rank the leases by class. In the mean time, enjoy February’s Round-Up!

For Dealer Quotes, Click Here.

Ground Rules

  • Participating vehicles will be based on the lease rates gathered on this website during the corresponding month.
  • 36-month/15k lease terms will used for all calculations unless a better term is available.
  • A $1500 drive-off fee is assumed for all cars. Since fees and taxes vary from region to region, your drive-off may vary.
  • Sale Price estimates will be based on Truecar.com sales data in the Southern California region, so your numbers may vary.
  • All estimates assume you qualify for the base rate. A minimum FICO® Score of 700 may be required.
  • Sales taxes are not included since different states handle taxes differently. Please refer to “Understanding Sales Tax” to learn how taxes affect your monthly payments.
  • The rating system used is based on RIDE with G’s Lease Calculator. The closer you are to the 100 rating, the better the deal. Anything exceeding a 100 rating is phenomenal.

Top Ten Finalists

click to view chart

First – 2011 Nissan Sentra SR (116.1)

Seems like the Civic and the Sentra have been trading places these last few months, so no surprise here. The Sentra is a better deal as a purchase right now since there are some rebates that aren’t available to leases.

Second – 2011 Mazda3s Hatchback (114.5)

Sometimes I wish I could get my hands on Mazda numbers more consistently. If I did, we would see a 3-way competition between Mazda, Nissan and Honda to see which dominates the Monthly Round-Up.

Third  – 2011 Honda Civic LX Sedan (114.4)

Numbers took a dive this month because sale prices have gone up. Further proof that you can’t just rely on residual and money factors alone.

Fourth – 2011 Nissan Altima S Sedan (104.1)

Since the Accord isn’t looking as good this month due to a higher sale price, the Altima makes for a good substitute.

Fifth – 2011 Infiniti G37 Sport Coupe (103.2)

If you are shopping for luxury sport coupes and don’t want to spend much money, this is your ride.

Sixth – 2011 Infiniti G37 Sport Sedan (103.0)

Do you see a pattern? This is the most bang for the buck when it comes to luxury sport sedans.

Seventh – 2011 Honda Accord CrossTour EX (101.4)

Car is getting discounted quite a bit this month. Surprising for a 2011 model.

Eighth – 2011 Infiniti G25 Journey Sedan (100.7)

A sensible choice for those seeking reasonable fuel economy and performance.

Ninth – 2011 Infiniti M37 AWD (98.2)

If I am ever willing to pay upwards of $500+ a month, this would be the ride I’d get.

Tenth – 2011 Honda Accord LX Sedan (97.5)

Dropped quite a bit, but mainly due to a higher sale. Nothing extra haggling with your dealer can’t fix.

Missing the Cut (Honorable Mentions)

2011 Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport (97.3)
2011 Honda CRV LX AWD (97.2)
2011 Nissan Maxima S (96.4)
2011 Nissan Rogue S AWD (95.3)
2011 Nissan Versa S HB (95.2)
2011 Hyundai Sonata SE Turbo (94.7)
2011 VW CC Sport (92.7)
2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD (92.0)
2011 VW Tiguan S 4motion (91.9)
2011 Acura TSX (91.7)
2011 Acura TL (91.4)
2011 Volvo S60 T-6 (91.4)
2011 Lexus IS250 (91.3)
2011 Infiniti FX35 AWD (90.9)
2011 Mazda CX-9 Touring (90.7)
2011 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Premium (90.5)
2011 Audi A3 Premium (90.5)
2011 BMW 135i (90.0)

Parting Shots

If you didn’t notice, the bulk of the Top Ten List are Nissan made. This says a lot since the days of German cars being “great leases” is officially over. Nowadays, they are just good, not great. With BMW and Audi looking disinterested in providing any sort of “deal” to consumers.

On another note, I didn’t think I would see the day when a Volvo would “Miss the Cut”, but that day has arrived in the form of a S60 T6, which is on clearance due to the incoming 2012 model.

Lastly, many models received a price bump so payments may have gone up (or down) slightly. However, the overall feeling I am getting is that February is still a slightly better month than January. Expect bigger changes in March.

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2011 Ford Lease Rates – February 2011


Looks like Ford’s Explorer has decent lease rates this month. The residual is fair and so is the money factor (on the XLT model). The challenge would be getting dealers to discount the car enough so that the payments fall within a reasonable range. A few things to note on the Explorer. There are a lot of cash rebates available, but not all will qualify. The $1000 cash incentive being promoted right now is not applicable to lessees. However, if you currently own or lease a 1995 or newer Explorer, Sport Trac, Freestyle, Taurus X or Mountaineer, you get a whopping $1500 bucks toward the lease of a new Explorer. There are other rebates that can be found by going to Edmunds.com.

As you can see in my calculations, the Explorer still needs a little work. The rates are okay, but the discounts are still lacking. I think the deal would be much better if you qualify for any of Ford’s rebates.


Here is a sample calculation based on TrueCar’s Southern California sale price and do not include local taxes. Please note that your dealer calculations may vary due to local fees/taxes.

2011 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD
MSRP – $33,995
Sale Price – $32,213 ($1000 rebate not applicable to leases)
Monthly – $409+ tax
RWG Rating – 85.7

For Dealer Quotes, Click Here.


This month’s lease rates have been brought to you by LeaseCompare.


2011 Ford Explorer Base 4WD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 63% | .00031 base money factor
36-month | 15k miles | residual 54% | .00104 base money factor
48-month | 15k miles | residual 45% | .00208 base money factor

2011 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 64% | .00031 base money factor
36-month | 15k miles | residual 55% | .00104 base money factor
48-month | 15k miles | residual 45% | .00208 base money factor

2011 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD
24-month | 15k miles | residual 61% | .00031 base money factor
36-month | 15k miles | residual 52% | .00104 base money factor
48-month | 15k miles | residual 42% | .00208 base money factor

2011 Edge Limited AWD
36-month | 15k miles | residual 57% | .00125 base money factor

2011 Ford Edge SE AWD
36-month | 15k miles | residual 57% | .00125 base money factor

1101ford

2011 Ford Lease Rates – January 2011


My first impression on the Explorer’s numbers is that it isn’t half bad. I’ve seen much worse. However, getting a good deal here ultimately comes down to the final sale price, which is (at best) only a 4% discount from MSRP here in Southern California. Not very good if you ask me. I didn’t expect the Explorer to lease well since the Edge isn’t that much better. If Ford were to discount around 10% instead, I could see this being a better lease. Until that happens, I would recommend looking elsewhere for your next SUV.


Here is a sample calculation based on TrueCar’s Southern California sale price and do not include local taxes. Please note that your dealer calculations may vary due to local fees/taxes.

2011 Ford Explorer Base 4WD
MSRP – $30,995
Sale Price – $29,785
Monthly – $416+ tax
RWG Rating – 78.83

For Dealer Quotes, Click Here.


This month’s lease rates have been brought to you by LeaseCompare.


2011 Ford Explorer Base 4WD
24month | 15k miles | residual 62% | .00031 base money factor
36month | 15k miles | residual 53% | .00115 base money factor
48month | 15k miles | residual 45% | .00229 base money factor

2011 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD
24month | 15k miles | residual 63% | .00031 base money factor
36month | 15k miles | residual 54% | .00115 base money factor
48month | 15k miles | residual 44% | .00229 base money factor

2011 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD
24month | 15k miles | residual 63% | .00031 base money factor
36month | 15k miles | residual 54% | .00115 base money factor
48month | 15k miles | residual 44% | .00229 base money factor

1101ford-edge-review

Test Drive : 2011 Ford Edge SEL

Last month during the holidays, I got a chance to spend about 30+ minutes with the 2011 Ford Edge SEL. I played around with the Touch system, explored the interior and all it’s compartments, and took it around the block on a test drive. Here are my impressions of the Ford Edge, which my local dealer claims it’s selling like hot-cakes and justifies a $2000 mark-up (Yeah, right).

Drive – Plenty of torque and the engine was quite smooth. The suspension did a decent job absorbing the uneven pavement, like all CUVs should. The cabin is quiet and sound insulation is above average. Handling was a bit too floaty for my taste, but this may be biased since I prefer cars over trucks. The Edge drives like a car twice its size, but it’s still manageable in tight quarters.

Interior Features & Quality – Ford has improved their interior materials, however, it is still a notch below other brands it tries to compete with. Leather felt hard and cheap. Door panels are made of hard plastic, but you can still push these panels in without much effort, which makes them appear rather flimsy. The dash is made of soft rubber, which is pleasant to the touch. Panoramic moonroof is nice, but seems to require more involvement than the usual “one-touch” moonroofs I am accustomed to.  The voice-activated Sync system worked like a charm. My sales man had a very heavy accent and it still managed to set the correct temperature on the first try. MyFord Touch is feature-rich, but poorly executed. I consider myself  a tech-savvy individual, but after about 15 minutes dabbling in it, the only thing I managed to do is learn how to navigate through the radio. One of the features I did like was sharing your 3G-enabled device’s internet and turning the car into a wifi hotspot. Unfortunately, the interface was somewhat sluggish and it’s touch-sensitive screen required more than a few touches to navigate from menu to menu. The overall touch user-interface was not intuitive and I think the average person may find it too complicated and/or distracting to use while driving. I recommend waiting for the next-gen MyFord Touch and see if Ford address some of the shortcomings of the current system.

Cargo – Pretty decent cargo space, specially when rear-seats are folded down making it extremely practical. SEL model has one-touch release buttons to fold down the back seats, very cool.

MPG – 19/27 mpg, which is very good for a CUV of this size. The SE model gets 1 less MPG highway, which I can’t quite understand why.

Price –  Starting at $27k (SE model), this truck comes with a decent array of standard features. However, fancy features like Bluetooth, leather and Nav are optional. Opt for the top of the line Sport model and you will be paying upwards of $41k. The SEL model I test drive was priced around $36k, plus a dealer mark-up of about $2000, which bumped it up to about $38k.

Overall – In terms of value, I find the Edge overpriced, even without the dealer mark-up. Sure, the Touch system cannot be found in any other non-Ford vehicle at the moment, but it’s user-friendliness seems to negate all that wonderful technology. The qualify and craftsmanship is definitely a step above what Ford has produced in the past, however, it is still a step below some of the other CUVs it tries to compete against in this price range.

Recommendation – Despite it’s shortcomings, it is still a solid CUV and the Ecoboost engine should only make the Edge that much more appealing (for a price). If I were in the market for a CUV (which I sort of am at the moment), I would probably opt for the SE which tops out slightly above $29k. You still get a nice set of standard features and it doesn’t exactly break the bank.

edgemain

2011 Ford Lease Rates – December 2010

logo_fordMy Take: I know, the Monthly-Round was supposed to be my last post of the year, but I couldn’t help but look around at the Ford Edge’s lease rate’s since I plan to go test drive one next week. To my surprise, there’s what I found…

2011 Ford Edge Sport FWD

MSRP $40145
Sale $35690
Monthly $429 + tax
Rating 92.04

Not bad huh? This deal effectively qualifies the Edge as a “Missing the Cut” candidate, which is pretty impressive for a domestic brand. Now the debate isn’t really about whether this is a good deal or not. Instead, one has to ask oneself whether they really want to lease a $40k Ford Edge over a luxury brand. I will have that answer after I’ve driven it.

Happy Holidays!

FIND A FORD DEALER NEAR YOU

2011 Ford Edge Sport FWD
36-month | 15k miles | residual 53% | 0.00052 base money factor

2011 Ford Edge Limited FWD
36-month | 15k miles | residual 54% | 0.00052 base money factor

espritmain

2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the LA Auto Show, courtesy of Audi. This year, unlike the previous one, has been filled with some pleasant surprises. There were some unusual absences from high-end players such as Ferrari and Lamborghini (they were usually found at the Concourse, but I didn’t see any time time around), but I personally felt that many of the mainstream brands plus Lotus did enough in their showcases to make up for it. Concept cars such as Mazda’s Shinari and Nissan’s Ellure provided a nice preview of what’s to come. Overall, I was most impressed with Lotus’s new product line and I really hope that their new direction will result in sustainable success. I know some of the purists out there are disappointed with the company straying from their roots, but I think that given their financial situation, they probably didn’t have much of a choice.

As usual, here is my rundown of what I found interesting at the show this year.

Porsche. Like always, you will find Porsche in that all-familiar room just to the right of the West Hall entrance. Notable rides are the Cayenne Hybrid, Speedster and the Cayman R, to name a few. Overall, strong showing.

Ford. The Explorer reminds me a lot of a Range Rover, which I’m not all that crazy about. The Focus ST is one sweet hatch that should easily smoke most of the competition and give the MS3 a run for it’s money. They were also running a $50 gift car promo for test driving a Ford, which I signed up for. I was planning to test drive the Edge anyway, so why not make $50 bucks out of that experience, right?

Lincoln. Despite Ford’s success with their core brand, Lincoln is in severe need for an overhaul. I did not like ANY of their cars. The marketing, the design, everything…just doesn’t work. The “shark-teeth” grill has to go too. Plus there really isn’t anything original here, just a bunch of pimped-up and re-badged Ford models which some may find difficult to love.

Mitsubishi has not made anything significant in quite some time and this year is no exception. They do have a mini EV, but I can’t see how folks would want something that small when they can opt for something like a Leaf or a Fit EV. Besides that, the Eclipse looks unchanged and there are better crossover options than the Outlander.

Volvo brought in a plug-in electric C30, but besides that, I didn’t see anything new. That isn’t a bad thing, I think Volvo has a very capable line-up with the newly redesign S60 and the XC60. Here is a random fact for you, the actual trunk space of the S60 is 4 cubic inches smaller than my wife’s Jetta Wolfsburg. That is pretty sad considering how much smaller the Jetta is compared to the S60.

Subaru showcased the new Impreza Concept and I love it! If Subaru doesn’t produce this (as is), they are insane. On a side note, I spent some time inside the Forester and I liked it better than the Outback. Afterwards, I went to TrueCar and optioned both vehicles and realize how much cheaper the Forester is compared to the Outback. Anyway, it looks like the Outback will be scratched from my shopping list on Round 3 of “Replacing the G“, which I will probably get to sometime next month or early next year.

Dodge/Jeep/Chrysler seems to have come a bit more prepared this year. As you know, I was pleasantly surprised by the Grand Cherokee’s redesign. I also took a liking to the new Charger which is vastly improved compared to the outgoing model. It seems more polished and it looks better in person than in pictures. I also climbed into the 3rd row seat of a Durango, which was actually adequate for someone around my size (5’10). I don’t think I would want to ride back there for more than a few hours though. For about $30k, you can get a base Durango with a 3rd row and a V6, which is in line with Honda’s Pilot and Toyota’s Highlander. Ironically, the Chryslers were underwhelming; the C300 looked almost unchanged and the 200 appeared underdeveloped, even in it’s sporty S trim.

Fiat brought tall, leggy models…err “product advisers” and the 500 into the show. This micromobile will only appeal to those shopping for a Smart car, which doesn’t apply to most of us. Surprisingly, these 6-foot “product advisers” actually fit inside these cars.

Nissan came ready to play this year and brought in some heavy hitters. The besides the usual fare (GT-R, Z, Rogue, Murano, Altima and Maxima), Nissan brought the Leaf, Juke, the convertible Murano and the Ellure concept, which produced many “oohs and ahhhs” from the crowd. The likelihood of ever getting a Nissan with “suicide” doors is probably zero, but it would be nice to see some of those design elements on future Altimas and Maximas.

Honda brought the FC, which is actually leased in limited quantities right now. Not exactly a new car, but certainly unique. I tried to cozy up with the CrossTour since it’s such a good deal this month, but couldn’t. Somehow, this car has a tendency to attract empty-nesters so I was probably one of the youngest people anywhere near the CrossTour. A new Fit was introduced as a EV, which should compete nicely with the Leaf. I also tried to cozy up with a fully-loaded Pilot and I think I could see myself in one. Sure, its ugly, but the interior is not half bad. Hypothetically, I can imagine my family being a “Honda family”; with the wife rolling in an Accord. Me rolling in a Pilot and a pimped out CR-Z R hiding inside my garage. Aah! I can see it now…

Lotus. I actually had to wait in line to get into their showroom because there were just so many people wanting in. That actually proved to be a good thing because it allowed me to take pictures peacefully without folks walking in front of me, which allowed me to take decent shots of their entire line-up. As I mentioned before, I have high hopes that Lotus will prevail in bringing their brand more mainstream. When that happens, maybe this blog will be worth over $100k, then I will just sell it and buy one of those Esprits! Haahaa, yeah, right.

Hyundai’s newest redesign comes as the Elantra. Like the Sonata, the Elantra got a heavy makeover and the results are pleasing. The interior is redone in a very Sonata-esque fashion which should appeal to most folks. The compact sedan market is suddenly seeing HUGE competition with the Focus, Corolla, Cruze and the Elantra getting significant updates. Here’s hoping Honda doesn’t get left behind because the Civic is starting to look aged. I also got a chance to sit inside a Sonata Hybrid and it feels…exactly the same as the other ones. The Hybrid should be arriving in dealerships sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

Audi sent me a pair of tickets to the show this year via a Twitter promotion, so many thanks to the folks in Audi’s marketing/PR department. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of Audi pictures for two reasons: a) way too crowded. b) nothing I haven’t already seen at the OC Auto Show in October.

Lexus brought the LFA, a re-badged/re-tuned Prius and their usual suspects. The LFA looks unchanged from the prototype pics I took a year or two ago, so seeing it again was anti-climactic. The Lexus “Prius” comes to us as the Lexus 250h, which according to some “First Drive” reports, isn’t all that exciting. Toyota used to hold a special place in my heart (my very first car was a hand-me-down ’80 Toyota Cressida), but not anymore. Cost-cutting has really killed the brand for me and I will not longer consider one, not even in luxury form. Of course, this isn’t really news to you guys.

Mercedes-Benz didn’t bring anything newsworthy to the table. I was hoping they would bring the 2012 ML and CLS, but I didn’t see them. It is very possible that I might have missed them because  I was wrapped up with the latest incarnations of the E-Class (convertible & wagon).

BMW showed off the 6-series concept which I looks sharp and a very solid replacement for the existing 6. I also saw the newly redesign 5 and I feel that they did an admirable job with that one too. Less impressive was the X3 which doesn’t seem to offer anything extraordinary relative to the $700+ per month lease payment some of us have estimated (see discussions in BMW November 2010 lease rates post).

MINI introduced the Countryman, which is essentially a four-seat compact SUV. Yup, a MINI SUV…it’s like an oxymoron.

Buick. The LaCrosse is an excellent Lexus ES killer and the Regal is supposed at least put up a fight in a world dominated by the 3-series. So far reports say otherwise on the CXL, so GM introduces the Regal GS. A 2.0L Turbo four that pumps out 255hp and 295ft of torque. Sounds impressive, but I would much rather have the Pontiac G8 GT’s thundering V8 under my hood even at the expense of lower MPG. As for the fit-and-finish, the Regal looks classy and well-put together inside and out, but still, BMW has no reason to fear anyone not named Infiniti.

Mazda put on a serious show with the Shinari concept. If any of this sweet ride’s design elements ever cross over into the Mazda6 or perhaps the RX8, you will see one in my driveway.

Acura. With the exception of the TSX wagon, Acura did not have anything new to show this time around. Not even a concept. Upon closer inspection, I’ve come to realize I don’t want a TSX wagon. I don’t care for it’s styling, I much prefer the sedan.

Cadillac showed the ULC concept which is probably not likely to hit the streets. Besides that, there isn’t anything else that isn’t already on sale.

Infiniti finally decided to bring the Essence to LA. This concept created a nice buzz around the show, which a big crowd gathering around it to take pictures. If Nissan is as daring as I think they are, they should put this model into production so that it can compete against other high-end performance coupes.

Volkswagen revamped the Eos and the Touareg which brings a sort of “uniformness” to the whole VW line. I personally dig it, so no complaints here. The Jetta SEL with Sports Pkg caught my eye and I found this package to be effective in making the Jetta look less “vanilla”. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much to the simplified interior. One has to wonder why this trim doesn’t come with a DSG.

The Rest. After about 4 and a half hours, I was so tired that I ended up skipping the rest of the manufacturers. Some for good reason (Toyota) and other because I had no choice. I don’t think I missed too much though. Maybe the Range Rover Evoque, but that’s about it.

If you haven’t made it to the show yet, go check it out! If you are in the market for a new car in the next 12 months, even more of a reason to go! Should you be on the fence about it or simple don’t live anywhere near downtown LA, here are some pics to wet your appetite. Enjoy!