Camper friendly trucks and high-performance racers: An editor’s notebook at the LA Auto Show 

It’s nice to see public events return to near-normal conditions. Though not as all-encompassing as pre-Covid auto shows, the LA Auto Show offered a few treats to car buffs, auto media, and other regular attendees at the special event opening day called Automobility LA.

Rugged, do-it-yourself camping gear was a theme at this year’s LA Auto Show

This year’s themes were similar to what’s been building up in recent years — electric crossover utility vehicles, SUVs and pickups showing off camping gear, and expensive high-performance cars with some of them being zero emission vehicles. 

The LA Auto Show, one of the industry’s iconic events, was canceled in 2020, rescheduled to May 21-31, 2021, and was then postponed until Nov. 19-28 of that year. It was fairly well attended last year with people wearing masks and showing proof of vaccinations or evidence of testing negative for Covid. This year, Autombobility LA took place on Nov. 17, which kicked off the LA Auto Show through Nov. 27 — including being open 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving Thursday. 

The ride and drives were revamped with an outdoor EV Test Track powered by Electrify America, offered test drives on the track from Chevrolet, Genesis, Kia, VinFast (a Vietnamese startup offering eSUVs) and Volkswagen; and Porsche during the first weekend only. 

Attendees enjoyed seeing a new offering — indoor test rides inside the exhibit halls featuring new EVs — Ford F-150 Lightning, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Nissan Ariya. In West Hall, the Camp Jeep, Ford Bronco Built Wild, and RAM Truck Territory, were available to be driven around tracks that included roller-coaster-style humps somewhere around half the elevation peak you usually see in amusement parks. Other test drive cars were available outside the convention center from Ford, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram, Toyota, and Volkswagen. 

Show attendees got a kick out of driving a Ford Bronco over a ramp.

Other show highlights included:

  • Hyundai introduced an electric Ioniq 6 with a 340-mile range in its North American version. The Ioniq 6 EV, with an arched design, is coming to the US next spring. 
  • British company Charge Cars showed off its 67, a carbon-fiber-clad EV inspired by a 1967 Mustang that has a starting price of $460,000. A variety of interior and exterior trim options are available for modification upon request, the company says. 
  • The all-electric Fiat 500e will be coming back to America in the first quarter of 2024. It’s likely to use the higher-powered 117-hp electric motor from the European version, though more details will come out lately. Fiat’s parent company Stellantis expects it will be part of building the Fiat brand in America. 
  • Czinger founder Kevin Czinger and crew were present to show off the 21C, a high performance $2.3 million hybrid hypercar. It’s built as a 3D printed sports car by about a dozen robots at its facility in Los Angeles in an efficient small space. Established in 2019 by Founder and CEO Czinger, former head of Coda Automotive, This company is shooting for achieving success through future Human‑AI design within an environmentally sustainable system. 
The Czinger 21C got a lot of attention during Automobility LA, the first day of the auto show.

Nine finalists were named for the 2023 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY). The jurors vote based on elements including automotive innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction, user experience, and value.

The finalists for each category, in alphabetical order, for

North American Car of the Year:

Acura Integra

Genesis G80 EV

Nissan Z

North American Truck of the Year:

Chevrolet Silverado ZR2

Ford F-150 Lightning

Lordstown Endurance

North American Utility Vehicle of the Year:

Cadillac Lyriq 

Genesis GV60 

Kia EV6

Six of them are electric: Genesis G80 EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Lordstown Endurance, Cadillac Lyriq, Genesis GV60, and Kia EV6. The winners will be announced at a special event in Detroit on January 11, 2023.

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