The Los Angeles Auto Show opens to the public Friday. Here are some of the most talked-about vehicles that will be making their world debuts at the event:
MAZDA6 DIESEL: Mazda will offer a diesel version of its new, sportier Mazda6 sedan in the second half of next year. It’s not releasing full details yet, but says diesels can get 30-percent better fuel economy than gasoline-powered cars. Mazda says it will be the first Asian automaker to offer a clean diesel engine in a non-commercial vehicle in North America.
SUBARU FORESTER: The new Subaru Forester, which will go on sale this spring, has more leg room and cargo space (74.7 cubic feet) than the previous model of the small SUV. The base 2.5-liter, 170 horsepower engine remains the same, but buyers can also upgrade to a new, 250-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter. The design is less boxy and more aerodynamic, with a new mesh grille and sporty front bumper.
JAGUAR XFR-S: It’s the second model in Jag’s ultra-high performance lineup, with only 100 being offered for sale in the U.S. during the 2014 model year. It has a 550-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine that takes it from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds, yet it avoids a gas-guzzler tax by getting 23 mpg on the highway. The car starts at $99,000 and goes on sale early in the summer.
PORSCHE CAYMAN: The third generation of the two-seat mid-engine sports coupe is lower, longer, lighter and faster than the old model, yet more efficient, Porsche says. The base model has a 2.7-liter, 275 horsepower engine, while the sportier Cayman S has a 3.4-liter motor with 325 horsepower. The S can hit 60 mph from a standing start in 4.4 seconds. The Cayman goes on sale in the spring and starts at $52,600.
TOYOTA RAV4: The fourth-generation of Toyota’s RAV4, which practically invented the crossover segment when it first went on sale nearly 20 years ago. The latest RAV4 has sharper, more aggressive styling, better fuel economy (up to 31 mpg on the highway), a new six-speed transmission and other features to help it compete against its archrival, the Honda CR-V. The V6 engine option, side-hinged liftgate and optional third-row seat will no longer be offered.
HONDA CIVIC: Honda is showing off a new Civic compact car, revamped just 19 months after the company introduced the last one. Honda did a lightning-quick revision of the popular car after realizing that compacts from other automakers had caught and passed the top-selling Civic. Honda is expected to address criticism that the 2012 model was noisy, cheap-looking and didn’t handle or perform as well as older Civics.
FIAT 500e: The Fiat 500 mini-car is bulking up and going electric. The Italian automaker is showing two new versions of the 500 at the show: An all-electric model that Fiat says will go 80 miles when fully charged and a longer, four-door model that seats five and offers twice the room of the tiny 500. The 500e will go on sale in California in the second quarter of 2013, while the elongated 500 will hit dealerships all over the country in the middle of next year.
BMW i3: The battery-powered concept car, which swaps the traditional steel body for lighter carbon fiber, gives some clues about where BMW is going with its first electric car. BMW says the concept car can go 80 to 100 miles on a battery charge. It has a 170 horsepower electric motor and is rear-wheel drive. Battery cells are under the floor, lowering the car’s center of gravity for better handling. The cell around the passengers is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. No word on when the car will come to showrooms.
ACURA RLX: It’s a new version of the aging big Acura, the RL. The 2014 RLX will have an all-wheel steering system that controls the steering angles for better handling, a new communications setup and LED headlamps. It’s also 275 pounds lighter and has a new 310-horsepower V-6 that gets 31 miles per gallon on the highway. The Honda luxury brand says it will deliver a new level of performance, sophistication and comfort.
CHEVROLET SPARK EV: An all-electric mini-car that will go on sale in California, Oregon, Canada and South Korea next summer. Other markets are expected to follow. General Motors won’t release many details, but says the Spark EV will cost less than $25,000 with a federal tax credit and will go at least as far on a charge as rivals like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV, which can go more than 70 miles.
FORD TRANSIT CONNECT WAGON: After a six-year hiatus, Ford gets back into the minivan business with the Transit Connect Wagon. It seats up to seven, has dual sliding doors and will be instantly recognizable thanks to its short size and high roofline. It will get 30-plus miles to the gallon and start around $20,000. The Transit Connect Wagon goes on sale in the fall.