L.A. Auto Show: New Models and New Lineups

Automobile shows are usually about introducing new models. The script is changing for this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show in that some brands — Chrysler, Dodge and Lotus among them — are wiping the slate clean and introducing new lineups.

“Chrysler Brand Replacing Entire Model Lineup in ‘11,” the company announced Monday, in a news release detailing the new vehicles it would present at the show, which runs Friday through Nov. 28 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The company said the makeover would be so complete, it will even change its logo. While Chrysler’s lineup is not large — comprised of, really, only three models — the announcement does mark a turning point for the brand. Meanwhile, Chrysler’s stablemate, Dodge, is making changes that involve even more models — six — although the redesigns are not as dramatic.

Nissan is introducing three new vehicles at Los Angeles: a minivan, a sedan concept and a crossover convertible. Nissan will also heavily tout its Leaf electric car, which goes on sale next month. Its luxury marque, Infiniti, will also unveil a new hybrid.

Such a strong presence for Nissan, Infiniti, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat — returning here for the first time in 27 years — at the Los Angeles show is seen as especially significant. A year ago, those automakers essentially shunned this stop on the worldwide circuit of auto shows. Over all, it is seen as a hopeful sign of a recovery in the industry. These new introductions, plus dozens of others, will help breathe life into a show that was in danger the last two years, during the depths of the industry’s depression, of becoming moribund.

Here are quick looks at other Los Angeles debutantes:

• Acura is showing a midcycle face lift of the TSX sedan; interior and performance improvements are also on tap. A rumored unveiling of the upcoming TSX wagon, said a Honda spokesman, Kurt Antonius, was not true.

• Audi will give America its first official look at the upcoming A7 Sportback and the Quattro concept that wowed the recent Paris show.

• BMW has the latest X3 “sports activity vehicle” to show off; the vehicle should be on sale any day now.

• Buick will introduce a new “e-Assist” mild hybrid technology that will boost fuel economy on its 2012 LaCrosse sedan from 30 miles per gallon on the highway to 37 (and from 19 in the city to 25). The Regal GS concept will also be on display.

• Cadillac is likely to unveil a front-wheel-drive crossover concept that would slot into its lineup under the SRX.

• Chevrolet, which once scrubbed plans for a convertible version of its reborn Camaro, will confirm it has done a 180 on that stance; the new drop-top, appropriately, makes its debut in sunny Southern California. The model will be on sale as soon as next spring.

• Chrysler is taking the covers off a new Chrysler 200 midsize sedan — really little more than a redesign of the unloved Sebring, in three different flavors. Also to be shown is the re-envisioned Town & Country minivan. Coming soon (probably at the Detroit auto show next January) is the next 300 sedan.

• Dodge has the new 2011 Durango crossover, which shares a platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the next Charger sedan. The Charger was actually previewed two weeks earlier to enthusiastic response at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas. Dodge will also sport a redesigned split-crosshair grille, a signature styling element.

• Fiat, back in North America with its acquisition of a large stake in Chrysler, will give an indication what the American version of the cute 500 minicar will look like.

• Ford will continue to introduce variants of its coming Focus design. The basic United States production version, on sale early next year, will be revealed in Los Angeles. Expect no surprises from previous concept versions shown at earlier auto shows — it’s essentially the same car. The ST performance street machine and a racecar version, the Global Touring Car, will also be on display. Also, the next Explorer, introduced last July, will be at its first auto show. Expect a new Boss Mustang and new engine offerings for the F-150 pickup.

• At Honda, an electric-vehicle concept and a next-generation plug-in hybrid platform will make their respective debuts.

• Hyundai displays its 2011 American-made Elantra.

• Infiniti will feature the M Hybrid, the brand’s first hybrid powertrain developed in-house. This vehicle was also shown in August to limited audiences at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance.

• Jaguar will grace the show with the lovely C-X75 concept, which was arguably the star of the Paris motor show last month. Response has been so overwhelmingly positive since then, its status as “just a design concept” has morphed into “yes, we could build it.” They can even price it: a production version could cost $300,000.

• Lotus, previously a niche brand consisting of one or two models, is reinventing itself with five new models that it says will be introduced in the next five years. The models include a revival of the Esprit and Elan nameplates, a reborn Elise, the Elite and Eterne, which would be the brand’s first sedan. A sixth new model, a hybrid electric city car, is also a possibility.

Mazda will treat Los Angeles audiences to its future styling direction, as executed in the upscale and elegant Shinari sedan concept. Mazda showed it to a few journalists in August, then withheld it from the Paris auto show last month. Its world debut was scheduled for Geneva next March, but then unexpectedly advanced to Los Angeles instead.

• Mercedes-Benz says it will provide details about a fuel-cell concept vehicle here and unveil a 555-horspower AMG version of its CLS coupe.

• The long-awaited Americanized version of Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV electric car was previewed in the week before the Los Angeles show. Show-goers will have the first public viewing of the little electric car, which is already on sale in Japan. The United States version is a bit lower and wider, but can still travel up to 60 miles on a battery charge.

• Nissan’s three world premiers are the new Quest minivan, a convertible Murano crossover and the Maxima-sized Ellure sedan concept. The Ellure marks a new direction for Nissan styling as a whole, going forward; redesigns are coming in 2011 for the Altima, Versa and Sentra. The Quest and Murano drop-top go on sale next spring.

• Porsche’s Cayman coupe will be revamped into a lighter and sportier iteration, possibly to be called the Clubsport, to be offered for sale in late 2011. Other Los Angeles introductions include the 911 Carrera GTS, a commemorative edition Speedster and a recently unearthed 1950 356.

• The 4-door version of the Range Rover Evoque will be shown; a 2-door version was unveiled in Paris. Based on the LR2’s platform, the wind-cheating, low-slung Evoque is scheduled to go on sale next fall.

• The first official public showing of the Cadillac SRX-based 9-4X crossover is the highlight of little Saab’s auto show offerings. Saab may also show the 9-3 ePower concept.

• Subaru promises its “Confidence in Motion” concept will point a new styling direction for the brand, which is working with Toyota on a new sports car. This may not be that car, but Impreza fans will be impressed.

• Speaking of joint ventures, Toyota will show the next-generation of its RAV4 electric vehicle, which it is working on with Tesla. It will be available as a 2012 model.

• Volkswagen will be popping the top on its latest Eos convertible.

• Although Volvo doesn’t have a separate press unveiling scheduled, its chief executive, Stefan Jacoby,  is giving the show’s keynote address and is expected to have information about the C30 electric vehicle.

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