For outdoorsy Southern California, there’s often a battle between adventure capability and daily driver comforts when searching for a car. But luxury motoring and off-road adventure need not be mutually exclusive. Here are seven of the latest rugged-yet-refined rides -- all of which debuted at the 2018 LA Auto Show --that can allow camp-bound Californians to safely hit the dirt without having to slum it.
With more than a quarter-century since Jeep’s last true pickup truck, the Comanche, the unveiling of its midsize 2020 Gladiator had the L.A. show buzzing. While sharing nearly half of its parts with the Jeep Wrangler, the Gladiator, like its 1962 namesake (and unlike the Wrangler-based 1980s Jeep Scrambler), is truly a dedicated pickup: 31 inches longer than a four-door Wrangler, with a 19.4-inch longer wheelbase and a 5-foot steel bed. Initially offered with a 285-horsepower Pentastar V-6 engine, it can tow 7,650 pounds and haul 1,600 pounds. With a choice of two advanced 4x4 systems and able to drive through 30 inches of water, the new Gladiator has serious off-road chops. The interior, however, enjoys high-end amenities like Uconnect infotainment and seemingly endless personalization options (one variant at the LA Auto Show dripped with $8,000 in Mopar accessories).
BMW’s X5 luxury Sports Activity Vehicle has been a two-decade success story for good reason: this mid-size marvel is not only practical and handsome, but also athletic and fun. Its new fourth iteration only builds on this reputation, with new safety and tech features plus a choice of six- or eight-cylinder turbocharged engines (with a plug-in hybrid to follow). But what further sets it apart is an optional off-road package -- including self-leveling air suspension, a locking rear differential, and front and rear underbody armor -- that makes it genuinely capable in the wilds. Highlights of the model’s myriad new technologies include the debut of BMW’s iDrive 7.0 infotainment system, available 360-degree camera, and Extended Traffic Jam Assistant.
Famed for robust yet comfortable vehicles inspired by the company’s Scandinavian heritage, Volvo revealed the lifted-and-clad 2020 Cross Country version of is stylish V60 five-door wagon at the LA Auto Show. With nearly three inches more ground clearance than a regular V60, with a higher seating position, standard all-wheel drive, Hill Descent Control and a dedicated off-road driving mode, the Cross Country earns its name, while an immaculate interior and state-of-the-art safety features live up to reputations reaching back nearly a century. For drivers who like to both enjoy the natural environment and help protect it, mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid V60 Cross Country models will follow.
The swankier sister of Toyota’s legendarily rugged Land Cruiser, the long-running Lexus LX full-size SUV was unveiled in its limited edition Inspiration Series trim at the LA Auto Show. This $100K indulgence includes striking Black Onyx paint, a rear-seat entertainment system, and “Climate Concierge,” which individually heats and cools four cabin areas (including the seats and steering wheel).
Other luxury debuts with off-road capabilities at the LA Auto Show include Lincoln’s 2020 Aviator mid-size luxury SUV, with its Deep Conditions driving mode designed for off-road environments, and the all-electric R1S SUV and R1T pickup truck from American startup Rivian which, with their long-range battery packs and 3-foot wading ability, plunge futuristic EV engineering deep into the great outdoors
- Paul Rogers, Custom Publishing Writer