2022 LA Auto Show Highlights: Some Big Splashes on the Coast
Eco-friendly, sporty, and just plain outrageous: Toyota, Subaru, and Porsche lead a diverse group of new and redesigned models.
Sunny Los Angeles thrives in its eccentricities. Where else can you surf in the morning, nosh on taco truck bites for lunch, ski in the afternoon, and settle down for a Michelin-starred dinner at night?
As if to mirror its surroundings, the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show that kicked off Nov. 17 boasted U.S.-market and global debuts of an extensive selection of practical hatchbacks, eco-friendly models with unexpected style, and a bonkers off-roader. Some, such as the stylish Toyota Prius, will save fuel. Others, such as the revamped Fiat 500e, eschew gasoline altogether. And then there’s the Porsche 911 Dakar, an unabashed throwback to the German sports-car builder’s rally-racing heritage in Africa.
Los Angeles County, the anchor of America’s biggest car market, boasts nearly 22,000 miles of pavement, making it the perfect playground for these debuts, which will hit the road soon enough. Here’s a look at the biggest newsmakers, listed alphabetically, followed by a look at some concept cars.
2024 Fiat 500e
The cheeky, retro-style Fiat 500 is back, this time with only an electric motor. Its looks still channel the 1950s original that helped put postwar Italians on the road, but what’s underneath is markedly 21st century.
Fiat is mum for now on power output and range. With sales set to start in early 2024, Fiat has plenty of time to dole out more details. The Italian automaker last offered the 500 in the U.S. in 2019, and even then the electric version was only offered in select markets.
2024 Kia Seltos
Kia’s smallest SUV sees a host of minor tweaks, though buyers who spring for the optional turbocharged engine will find 195 hp at their disposal. That’s 20 hp more than the 2023 model.
Inside, higher-end versions of the Seltos will offer twin 10.25-inch displays to serve as the instrument cluster and infotainment screen.
If you’ve been eying a Seltos, you won’t have to wait too long for the updated model. Kia says it’ll be in showrooms during the first half of 2023.
2023 Porsche 911 Dakar
Capitalizing on a safari-style car trend, Porsche takes its iconic 911 and ratchets its suspension upward by nearly 2 inches—and it can climb another inch or so via separate hydraulic lifters on each axle. There’s an optional carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic roof basket with built-in lights, should you need more cargo space for your off-road adventures.
The result is a high-riding car that might seem incongruous compared with the rest of the sleek, low-slung 911 lineup, but there’s historical precedent. The 911 Dakar draws its name from the grueling Dakar Rally, which Porsche won in 1984 and 1986.
Porsche will build just 2,500 911 Dakars. The company will offer a two-tone paint scheme that evokes those ’80s race cars. Lucky buyers will be able to choose their race numbers, too.
2024 Subaru Impreza
Subaru trims down its Impreza lineup for 2024 and drops the previously available sedan in favor of a redesigned hatchback-only lineup. Following Subaru custom, two flat-four engines will be available: a base unit rated at 152 hp and an upsized 182-hp, 2.5-liter flat-four borrowed from Subaru’s bigger Outback and Forester models. Standard all-wheel drive sticks around, which is sure to maintain the Impreza’s popularity in snowbound states.
Fans of row-it-yourself gearboxes may lament the lack of a manual transmission option. If you must have a manual Impreza, the outgoing model is one of only a few cars to still offer a three-pedal arrangement, so the clock is ticking. As a consolation prize, Subaru has revived the sporty RS nameplate. The 2024 Impreza RS uses the bigger engine and features unique styling elements inside and out.
Inside the cabin, the Impreza will offer a big 11.6-inch touchscreen arranged in a vertical, or portrait, orientation.
2023 Toyota Prius
Did the Toyota Prius just visually pirouette 180 degrees? Trading the outgoing model’s brash, slice-and-dice style in favor of swoopy, futuristic lines, the 2023 Prius cuts a dashing profile for the first time. It’s just as unique inside, with a dashboard that’s more conventional in form than any Prius before, and yet loaded with more tech features.
The new Prius hit the gym, too. Its power output grows substantially: from 121 to 194 hp (196 hp on AWD models) and as much as 220 hp in the available Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Fuel economy, however, doesn’t take a back seat. Toyota’s estimates are as high as 57 mpg combined, a slight increase over the outgoing model, while the Prime plug-in hybrid is estimated to offer more than 35 miles of electric-only range on a full charge. An all-wheel-drive version will also join the lineup, and EPA fuel efficiency estimates are forthcoming.
Toyota has (finally) switched from a nickel-metal hydride battery pack to a lighter, smaller, and higher-output lithium-ion unit for the Prius. An available solar roof can harness the sun’s energy to push some power back into the battery, but Toyota hasn’t said just how much.
The base model’s 8-inch touchscreen can be swapped out for a 12.3-inch widescreen display on higher-end models. Its software can perform over-the-air updates, too.
Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept
Whether to show off their design departments’ prowess or to hint at what’s to come, concept cars matter to automakers.
Toyota | bZ Compact SUV Concept interior
In LA, Toyota took the wraps off a new compact SUV called bZ that looks like an amped-up version of the company’s current C-HR. Its bZ name—that’s Beyond Zero, in Toyota-speak—indicates an all-electric powertrain. One standout feature is the waterfall-like infotainment touchscreen that could offer a more ergonomic approach to controls than today’s flat or subtly curved displays.
Genesis X Convertible Concept
Genesis, Hyundai’s Lexus-fighting upscale brand, showed off a low-slung droptop concept called the X Convertible. Its shield-like LED lighting up front gives off a vaguely Italian vibe, while a driver-centric cabin with warm brown and blue hues goes almost nautical. Even though convertible sales have plummeted, these stylish cars still grab plenty of attention. Despite the segment’s cooling, the X Convertible may merely be a showpiece for Genesis design.