Opening next week, the Los Angeles Auto Show kicks off the auto show season here in the United States. As always, industry professionals and members of the press will be given the opportunity to check out the latest offerings from manufacturers before the doors of the L.A. Convention Center open up to the public on November 22nd. We’re gearing up this week here at NADA in anticipation of exciting new product announcements from across all segments, and while there are many noteworthy new introductions planned, a couple in particular stand out. Two vehicles on my hot list are the new Lincoln MKC and Subaru WRX because the success of each means a lot to each respective brand.
One of the most anticipated and talked about vehicles on hand will be Lincoln’s new MKC compact crossover, which is based on the popular Ford Escape. We’ve seen Ford attempt to do this before with the Mercury Mariner which wasn’t a huge success, but things this time around should be different. While it’s based on the Ford Escape, unlike the Mariner, the MKC will be entirely reskinned and gussied up with available high-end options like continuously controlled damping. The MKC really needs to wow luxury crossover buyers if it expects to compete against segment favorites from Germany like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class.
The new MKC launch means a lot for the brand and rides on the coattails of the recently introduced MKZ sedan, which didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated. If you remember back to earlier this year, Lincoln’s brand revival kicked off in February with a series of TV commercials introducing the redesigned MKZ and “new” brand. Because of a slew of quality and production issues, the MKZ didn’t actually hit the streets until several months later, which hurt the hype surrounding the car. The MKC will be the second installment in a four-model brand comeback effort, and after the MKZ rollout debacle a smooth launch is much needed for the brand. Lincoln’s year-to-date sales (through October) are down by 3.0% compared to last year; however MKZ deliveries are up by 6.4% which is a good sign for the brand’s new product design.
Another hot vehicle to scope out is the new next generation Subaru WRX, which has been a longtime favorite amongst brand owners. There are rumors and renderings floating around about the car and while nothing is set in stone, it looks like the next generation WRX will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four, down a half liter from the current 2.5. Another rumor echoing throughout automotive communities is the availability of a CVT transmission, something you don’t typically associate with performance-oriented vehicles. An automatic has always been an option for WRX buyers, although the take rate has never been very high. We’ve talked a lot about Subaru as a brand recently because of their strong value retention and growing sales success here in the United States. Year-to-date sales for the brand are up by 28.1% compared to last year, though it is important to note that Impreza deliveries are down by 5.1%, so hopefully the buzz surrounding the new WRX help the Impreza bounce back into positive territory.
Make sure to check out our Twitter feed next week for on-the-spot first impressions and pictures of all the new products, as well as next week’s blog entry where I’ll share a more in-depth analysis of the new products unveiled.