Coming for 2021: Small crossovers and EVs star at LA Auto Show

November 26, 2019

If cars had astrological years, 2020 will be the year of the small crossover. That's our takeaway from the unofficial start of the new car year—the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, which runs through December 1, where precocious 2021 vehicles strut their stuff on the silver floor, and those 2020 models late in the womb finally emerge into the hot white light of expectation. 

What should you expect from next year's new cars, based on the dozens of vehicles launched in LA? A handful of stars that move the industry forward such as the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E are complemented by a host of supporting vehicles that represent the times, such as the 2020 Land Rover Defender. Then there is the B movie, the Tesla Cybertruck concept vehicle launched last week that dominated social media feeds. It will likely never arrive on roads as designed, but such is the fantasy reality of Los Angeles. 

Here’s to the stars and supporting cast that might not be the flashiest or the best, but promise to do well when they arrive on dealer lots next year.

STARS

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

Ford’s all-electric crossover with a targeted 300-mile range is the Blue Oval’s most important vehicle since the aluminum 2015 F-150 pickup, and might be the most important vehicle for the brand this millennium. Sure, it’s not a Mustang despite the name and badging, but the Mach-E is neither a C-Max or Ford Focus electric compliance car. The Mach-E is a dedicated EV with a distinct and stylish persona meant to sell in larger numbers. The long nose and coupe-like roofline evoke the Jaguar F-Pace and Germanic sport crossovers, while the performance potential borrows from Tesla’s playbook of making impressive cars that just happen to be electric. Offered in two battery capacities and in rear- or all-wheel drive, the Mach-E targets a newer and younger crowd than the beloved Mustang. A 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen dominates the cabin, which is otherwise spartan and clean. The cargo area has two load floor heights, indicating a thoughtfulness to use every space to capacity. Buttons on the doors replace door handles to improve aerodynamics and give it a flush, futuristic vibe. We’ve heard it rides well, “remarkably well-finished and tight, with no squeaks or rattles,” wrote John Voelcker in Green Car Reports. It’s due late next year. 

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, 2019 LA Auto Show

One of the best-selling crossovers gets a charge with a 39-mile electric range and more performance. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid that uses the same Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4 as the traditional hybrid but power is boosted by electric motors to make 302 horsepower total (the traditional hybrid is 219 hp and 163 pound-feet of torque). With all-wheel drive, the RAV4 Prime can hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, which makes it the second fastest Toyota in the lineup behind the Supra. The RAV4 Prime aims for a sweet spot with crossover drivers who can use the electric range for most day-to-day driving but then hit the road without range anxiety on the weekend. The plug-in will come in the sporty SE and XSE trims with standard active safety features. It’s due in the summer. 

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

Yup, it looks even better in person. Arguably the most anticipated vehicle of the year, the mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 is a mind-boggling force on the spec sheet: 495-hp 6.2-liter V-8 with a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic that can hit 60 mph in just three seconds (with the Z51 package). America’s supercar is stunning to behold, even more so when you consider the notoriously nickel-and-diming General is selling it for only $60,000 in base trim.  

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S, 2019 LA Auto Show

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S, 2019 LA Auto Show

The entry-level version of Porsche’s first all-electric vehicle is a blistering performance sedan that points the way forward for Porsche. Electric can be exciting and efficient and still retain that Stuttgart DNA. Starting at about $106,000, the Taycan 4S is not an electric car for the masses, but it’s also more reasonable than the $187,000 Taycan Turbo S, which hits 60 mph in a whipsaw of 2.6 seconds. The 4S does it in 3.8 seconds. The rear seats don’t leave much leg room, but the design is eye-catching from all corners of the floor.

SUPPORTING CAST

2020 Lincoln Corsair

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring

Lincoln’s small crossover based on the Ford Escape is more a cameo than a star. The interior is simple, understated, refined, and well done, with the textured metallic or wood trim piece above the vents running from door to door, a narrow center console, and those lovely Lincoln seats. The Grand Touring plug-in hybrid debuted in LA, with a 25-mile range and all-wheel drive. Lincoln is making good cars again, but they’re pricing them like they know it. A loaded Corsair Reserve can top $60,000, and while Grand Touring PHEV pricing hasn’t been announced, we’re expecting it to be more than $50,000. 

2020 Nissan Sentra

LA Auto Show - 2020 Nissan Sentra

LA Auto Show - 2020 Nissan Sentra

LA Auto Show - 2020 Nissan Sentra

LA Auto Show - 2020 Nissan Sentra

LA Auto Show - 2020 Nissan Sentra

LA Auto Show - 2020 Nissan Sentra

Compact sedans still sell, and the redesigned 2020 Nissan Sentra is larger, more powerful, more efficient, and comes with more standard safety features than the sedan it replaces. Nissan promises it’s more fun to drive, with a more potent 149-hp 2.0-liter inline-4  and new steering and suspension systems. A rear USB port, as well as better toe room under the seats, targets the youthful shoppers who may be lugging around friends. It will cost less than $20,000 in base versions when it rolls into dealer lots late in January. 

2020 Land Rover Defender

2020 Land Rover Defender, 2019 LA Auto Show

2020 Land Rover Defender, 2019 LA Auto Show

2020 Land Rover Defender, 2019 LA Auto Show

2020 Land Rover Defender, 2019 LA Auto Show

2020 Land Rover Defender, 2019 LA Auto Show

2020 Land Rover Defender, 2019 LA Auto Show

The Defender is back, with the boxy off-roading SUV coming as either a two-door Defender 90 and the larger four-door Defender 110. The rugged 110 X is cool, exposed rivets and all, but all that advanced technology in such an off-road intended vehicle should come with its own repair team. Due in spring. 

2021 Chevy Trailblazer

2020 Mazda CX-30

2021 Kia Seltos

2021 Mazda CX-30, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Mazda CX-30, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Kia Seltos, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Kia Seltos, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer, 2019 LA Auto Show

All small crossovers, all new. They all have black cladding around the wheels and sills, they have bold grilles and hatches with integrated spoilers. The CX-30 has the most powerful engine, while the Trailblazer and Seltos have more efficient turbocharged options. They’re all more similar than different, with available all-wheel drive and standard active safety features, except for the Seltos. 

As new car season rolls on, the class of 2020 and 2021 promises to usher in more high horsepower performance cars, more brand-defining electric vehicles, and a crossover to fill every spot in the lineup.


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