A place where even the parking valets get to go off-roading.
We've been roaming the displays at the L.A. Auto Show all day (today was the first of Media Days; the show opens to the public this weekend), and we came across lots of cool new OE offerings. And while we didn't find a whole lot of new 4x4-specific machinery on display, we did come across a couple of intriguing entries, and one totally awesome wheeler-friendly promotion that'll be going on outside the L.A. Convention Center while the show proceeds throughout the month.
First off, the folks at Land Rover unveiled the 2012 Range Rover Evoque five-door sedan, a companion to the two-door coupe that made its debut at the Paris Auto Show last summer. We dig the overall design and dimensions of this thing, though the very-high beltline could affect visibility in the dirt, and rear-seat legroom is a bit on the tight side. And while there's no transfer-case low-range onboard, the already-legendary Terrain Response 4WD system is included with the Evoque, and if it works as well as the system we tested last week on an LR4 (read all about it in our April '11 issue), we'll wager dollars to donuts that this thing will outwheel just about any other AWD---and possibly, some low-range-equipped 4WDs---on the market today. It should go on sale about a year from now, with prices starting around $40K.
Cooler still was Land Rover's transformation of the Convention Center courtyard into an off-road dirt pile, where guests (namely, us) could pilot a bunch of Range Rovers over some steep and off-camber mounds to test the Terrain Response, Hill Descent and related systems. We're glad to see Land Rover making a dedicated appeal to the off-road market again since their vehicles, while more street-tuned and aimed at the luxury buyer segment than ever, are still astonishingly capable performers in the backcountry, even rollin' on 20s.
Also today, Dodge took the wraps off the new Durango, which we had the opportunity to test-drive last weekend in the California wine country around Napa. Now based off the Grand Cherokee chassis, with an additional five inches of whelbase, the new 'Rango is obviously much lower and leaner than the previous-gen truck-based bloatmobile that ceased production two years ago. Base engine is the new 260hp Pentastar 3.6L V-6, though the 380hp 5.7L V-8 Hemi is an available option on upscale R/T and Citadel models---and if you want the Hemi, you can get a transfer-case low-range gear, too, so while the new Dodge is a much more street- and mileage-friendly vehicle than its predecessor, it can still be had as a genuine 4WD. Prices for base-model 4x4s are in the low to mid-$30Ks, and the vehicle should be on sale within the next couple of months. We'll have more on this rig in a future issue of the print mag.
Also for AWD lovers, Subaru unveiled their latest Impreza concept, and while it reminded us a of a bulked-up Nissan Altima with Camaro headlamps and a tacked-on Subaru grille treatment, we imagine it'll make a perfectly fun little rally car whenever the production model rolls off the assembly line, most likely two to three years from now.
Finally, while it's not a four-wheeler, we simply fell in love with this beauty: The Jaguar C-X75 concept, a high-tech tribute to old-school C-Type racers of yore (with a passing nod to the the XJ-220 of the early 1990s) that first appeared at Paris but which was making its North American debut in L.A. She's actually a hybrid supercar, if you can believe it, powered by four electric motors (one per wheel) along with twin turbine (i.e., aircraft-style) engines. Stats? Zero to 30 in three seconds and a top speed of 200+ mph. We have no doubt that the jet engines will eventually be replaced by a V-12 (or something like that) if this rig ever sees production, and a $200,000 supercar is not exactly the kind of thing we'll ever take out to whomp across Johnson Valley---but hey, if some guy handed you the keys to one of these, wouldn't you like to drive it?