The Coolest Things on Four Wheels: Highlights from the L.A. Auto Show

Fuels |  3 min. read

The last big car show of 2018 was the L.A. Auto Show – so to kick off 2019, here are some of the highlights from Los Angeles (and one bonus item).

The practical cool:

2019’s version of the Mazda 3, with the new Skyactiv-X engine.  This is Mazda’s twist on the internal combustion engine, which uses much less gas, without sacrificing power and performance (prototypes were getting almost 15 mpg more).  The trick?  The Skyactiv-X uses a very lean fuel mixture, and ignites it with a combination of the traditional spark plug AND the compression ignition of a diesel engine.  When it hits the showroom next room, odds are good that it will be available with automatic and manual transmissions, and maybe even all-wheel drive.  Stay tuned.

And it looks pretty fine too…

(Photo from Mazda)

The nostalgic cool:

Jeep is making a pickup truck again.  And if that got your attention, you probably don’t need to be told that Jeep hasn’t done that since the early ‘80s.

You can get your Jeep Gladiator with a V-6 and a six-speed manual transmission, or an eight-speed automatic.  You can take it off-road (and for the full dust-eating experience off-road, you can pop off the hard top, or fold down the soft top, whichever one you choose).

Oh, and if you like numbers – you can throw 1600 pounds in the back (well, probably not throw it all at once, unless you’re REALLY buff), or you can tow 7600 pounds worth of, well, whatever you can get up into a trailer.

It looks like this…

(Photo from Jeep)

The “did I just see that?” cool:

Ok, so maybe “cool” isn’t quite the right word.  Maybe the Karlmann King just belongs in the “did I see that” category.

The “King” comes with a 6.8 liter, V10 (yes, 10) engine.  But that 398 horsepower isn’t just for show.  You’ll be needing it to drive this 5-ton SUV around town, though there is an optional bulletproofed exterior, and that adds another 3300 pounds or so.  And the bulletproofing could come in handy, because pedal to the floor, you’re topping out a bit under 90 miles an hour – so you won’t be outrunning your enemies (though you could probably crush them).

If you’re thinking that would look good in your driveway, make sure your driveway is more than 8 feet wide.  And make sure your bank account is holding at least a couple million you won’t need any time soon.  On the other hand, it DOES look like a stealth fighter…

(Photo from Karlmann King)

The future cool:

The Micro Wave Ignition (MWI).  Yep, this German start-up has a really different spin on the internal combustion engine.  No more spark plugs, period.  This engine would use pulsed microwaves to ignite the fuel – and the engineers at MWI say that could cut fuel consumption (gas or diesel) by ONE THIRD, and emissions by even more.  And this new engine can go into existing cars – so if it works, you might be able to microwave your favorite ride.

Crazy?  Well, we’ll see – but maybe it’s worth noting that one of the backers of MWI used to be the CEO at Porsche (Wendelin Wiedeking), so we figure he knows a thing or two about what makes cars work.

We can’t show you an MWI car, because there aren’t any yet.  But could it look something like this?

Ok, no.  It couldn’t.

But there is much to look forward to in 2019, and beyond, in the world of cars (and the internal combustion engines that keeps making them go).