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2010 LA Auto Show: Random notes, tidbits, and quotes

Consumer Reports News: November 22, 2010 09:35 AM

With the 2010 LA Auto Show media days behind us, my notebook still contains many interesting, and even fun, anecdotes that don't readily fit into our traditional coverage. A couple items might be familiar to those who follow us on Twitter @CRcars, but I wanted to share these few highlights...

Powered by testosterone. Some of the best lines of the show came in the Dodge press conference, when Dodge President and CEO Ralph Gilles was introducing the revamped Charger. He enthusiastically noted that this version delivered "much more sex per pound" and that it was like "Superman and Clark Kent, all in one." Gilles also said that when the Charger is parked nearby, it "makes other vehicles wet their pants." Whew! Sounds like a lot to live up to.

Best looker. In my book, it's the Jaguar C-X75 (above). Its mercurial lines seem to actively flow even as the car sits there. Best of all, this extended-range EV concept works as both sculpture and performer; it can go gasoline-free for almost 70 miles and clock a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds. Second place for design goes to the Mazda Shinari.

Who knew? One of the most perplexing questions circulating on the show floor was how, exactly, do you pronounce the name of Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric car. Some of the various iterations I heard included such stabs as "My ev," "My E-V," and "My eve." It turns out they're all wrong. According to two official Mitsubishi sources, the car is called the "I car, powered by MiEV" (pronounced "meev"). MiEV, by the way, is short for Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle technology. But many of the car's friends just call it "i-meev."


Worth a second look. The best display at the show was for the all-wheel-drive Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4. The car was mounted on a vertical wall with an icy-looking motif and the blurb, "Goes well over ice."

An answer to which question? Nissan billed the Murano CrossCabriolet as the first convertible crossover. There may be a good reason why there haven't been others. We like the Murano, but a droptop SUV? We'll watch its progress with interest.

Small, but punchy. The most irreverent speaker at the show was Mike McQuary, CEO of Wheego Electric Cars and former president of the Mindspring ISP. Since the small startup company couldn't afford the lavish press parties of the major automakers, for example, he invited the small group of attendees at the conference to meet him in the convention center's back alley to "split a bottle of Mad Dog" wine. He acknowledged the multiple "Car of the Year" honors won by the Chevrolet Volt, mentioning that it "barely nosed out George Jetson's flying car." And after paying tongue-in-cheek homage to various industry leaders in the EV market—and admitting that "there is ample evidence that I am not a genius"—he summed up his support of electric cars in general by paraphrasing JFK: "Ask not what your car can do for you; ask what your car can do for your country."

Rik Paul

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