L.A. Auto Show: Consumer Reports' auto show favorites

As the automotive test director for Consumer Reports, Jake Fisher drives hundreds of cars a year and is known as one of the toughest critics in the auto industry. The Times took a cruise with Fisher at the L.A. Auto Show on Thursday and asked what he thinks are the most important new cars to make their debuts at the show.

1: The Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup truck.

“It really looks impressive and it is nice to see an auto company taking smaller pickup trucks seriously,” Fisher said.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

“The truck looks good. It has modern equipment and technology and also good choices of powertrains, a four-cylinder, six-cylinder and they are promising a diesel,” Fisher said. “This might be a vehicle that will make a good daily driver and not use as much gas as a full-size truck.”

2: The  Hyundai Tucson hydrogen fuel cell crossover.

“This is something that they are actually building and are going to start selling this spring, it is not a concept,” Fisher said. “It appears that fuel cell technology is moving ahead much quicker than the battery technology used in electric cars.

“The Achilles' heel is that the car still looks just like a Tucson. Generally hybrids and electric cars that look like a normal car don’t do that well and that could be a problem with this car.  If you drive a fuel cell car you want to advertise it to the world.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Auto Show 2013

“Hyundai might gained more attention if they made it look different, put leather and luxury materials in the interior and called it a Genesis FC.” (Genesis is Hyundai’s upscale line.)

3: BMW’s i3 and i8

Both make extensive use of lightweight carbon fiber construction and are distinctive looking, Fisher said.  The i3 is an electric vehicle while the i8 is an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid sports car.

“They are both interesting vehicles and show how the rest of the industry has misjudged the market,” Fisher said.

“Look at electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus and the Honda Fit, they are small economy cars,” Fisher said. “Now we are finding out that the electric cars that sell have to be distinctive and have to be competitive in the higher-end segments. This is a shift.

“People are not buying these vehicles to save money, they are doing it to make a statement.”


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