posted on December 7th, 2017

The Los Angeles Auto Show is one of the premier stops on the auto show calendar for both manufacturers and fans. The LA show has built an identity around displaying the newest technology and featuring futuristic concepts that push the industry forward, and this year certainly was no exception.

Aston Martin Vantage
Ford GT

In addition to some of the recently debuted supercars like the Ford GT, Aston Martin Vantage, and Porsche GT2RS, LA was crawling with innovative and boundary-pushing machines. Volkswagen’s ID concepts offer a glimpse into the future of motoring — a future that’s colorful, electric, and self-driving. Tesla of course brought the Model 3, which attracted predictably large crowds.

VW ID Buzz Concept
VW ID Concept

But the 2017 LA Auto Show saw more than 50 official vehicle debuts, enough to compile into a book. So we selected a handful of the most exciting and impactful cars making their first public appearance in the City of Angels this month. Here are the cars you should know about that debuted at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.

2019 Chevrolet ZR1 Convertible

When it comes to American sports cars, the ZR1 is king. Any red-blooded American enthusiast worthy of the stars and stripes knows this. Which is why gearheads from sea to shining sea rejoiced when the 2019 Corvette ZR1 coupe debuted in Dubai just over two weeks ago, looking very ticked off indeed. Now, Chevrolet has released the first convertible ZR1 since 1970, which promises an even more insane and exhilarating driving experience than its coupe counterpart.

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 comes with a supercharged 6.2L LT5 V8 that makes 755 horsepower and 712 lb-ft, and just might be capable of nuclear fission. Typically, a drop-top has to bulk up on structural reinforcements to handle that kind of force, but Chevy says the convertible ZR1 will be within 60 pounds of the coupe. With its massive air intakes, carbon fiber fins and bulges, and absolutely colossal rear wing, the ZR1 is the opposite of subtle. But with a top speed well above 200 mph, 0-60 time under three seconds, and a price tag of just $123,995, the Corvette ZR1 remains the ultimate bargain supercar.

2019 BMW i8 Roadster

The BMW i8 Roadster has also arrived, making its debut alongside an updated coupe in LA. The new i8 keeps the futuristic styling and ostentatious butterfly doors, but both the roofless and roofed versions have more power, new interior trims, and increased electric-only range. The 2019 i8 still uses a 228-hp turbocharged 1.5L inline three, but a larger battery bumps up total power by 12 horsepower.

The i8 Roadster has a power-electric soft top that can open while moving 30 mph, if you’re the impatient type. For unlimited headroom and improved visibility, you have to trade in the back row of seats available in the 2+2 coupe, but it’s an easy call. If you’re thinking about dropping over $150,000 for a hybrid sports car, the Roadster is the 2019 i8 to get.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

On the surface, the new Wrangler doesn’t look much different than the outgoing Wrangler. That’s because it isn’t. Smartly, the “all-new” JL Wrangler retains the timeless silhouette, utilitarian construction, and sense of freedom that has made the Wrangler an icon since Jeep’s inception. Both the two-door and four-door variants have grown a few inches, but incredibly, approach and departure angles have improved for more extreme wheelin’. The interior looks a lot better, the much-maligned zipper soft-top is gone, and the stock headlights will be more powerful than the JK’s pathetic pen lights. The doors and roof still come off and the tires are still big, so expect the 2018 Wrangler to dominate all the Jeep stuff.

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

The Mercedes-Benz CLS was the first to introduce us to the “four-door coupe,” for better or worse. The third-gen CLS continues this design ethos, and somehow manages to look both aggressive and very pretty at the same time. The sharklike nose, the clean swooping roofline, the subdued back end — it all works. It wields Mercedes’s new turbocharged 3.0L inline-six and an electric motor to the tune of 362 horsepower and 364 lb-ft of torque. That’s right, it’s a hybrid. For Mercedes, this hybridized inline-six setup figures to take over the world and represents a big change from the CLS’s previous offerings.

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T

Barebones 911. You’re already in, aren’t you? At $103,150, it costs $11,000 more than the base Carrera, but the Carerra T is the purist’s choice for an entry-level 911. It has the same 370-hp twin-turbo 3.0L flax-six and the same seven-speed manual transmission (with optional dual-clutch PDK), but the T stands for Touring, which means it’s lighter. Porsche has replaced the Carrera T’s door handles with pull straps, thinned out its windows, and removed sound insulation. The result is the lightest Carrera available, at a claimed 3,142 pounds. Since it’s a Porsche, many expensive and weight-adding options are available, but that’d ruin the point, wouldn’t it?

2019 Subaru Ascent

It’s finally here. Subaru has unleashed its long-anticipated three-row SUV, the largest Subie ever. Hear that sound? That’s Subaru executives rubbing their hands together because families everywhere are already chucking all their dollars at the exploding Japanese automaker. Subaru has more than tripled their sales since 2008, and their introduction of a brand-new model in the world-swallowing SUV segment means you’re about to see a whole bunch of Ascents on the road.

The Ascent’s 152 cubic feet of cargo room pits it against the likes of the Honda Pilot and Volkswagen Atlas. Its turbocharged 2.4L boxer engine routes 260 hp and 277 lb-ft to all four wheels, of course, and it’ll come with all the infotainment gadgets and cupholders required of a family SUV. The base version will start at around $30,000.

2019 Volvo XC40

This is Volvo’s first entry in the compact SUV market (CUV). You may be thinking to yourself, “Great, another crossover blob that’s not actually a car.” And I would tend to agree with you, except the XC40 seems like it’ll be quite good. Like all new Volvos, it looks fantastic. The interior is even better, with premium materials and clever little slots and pockets that only the Swedes would think of. The all-wheel drive T5 version will start at around $35,000 when it goes on sale next summer, and when it does, the Volvo XC40 will give Mercedes’s GLA and the BMW X1 a run for their money.

Steven is an avid car guy and content specialist at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.