As the unofficial beginning of auto show season (or maybe that should be the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show), the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show offered quite a few opportunities for car and truck makers to make some news, show off a few special editions and even drop a world debut or two.
It won't surprise anyone to know that we were most interested in pickup truck technology and information. That typically means our time at this show is pretty quiet, but we did find a few things that caught our eye and either had us asking awkward questions or being quite impressed.
Here are a few things we liked during the L.A. auto show press preview days. For more information about the dates, times and admission costs of the show that runs through Nov. 27, click here.
World Debut: 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Chevrolet rented a large property in L.A.'s warehouse district where it created a nice off-road course and metal hill climb for the new Colorado ZR2 mid-size pickup. With food trucks, guest rides, dyno drag racing and all the engineers we could want, we learned a great deal about the new truck and its special Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers.
Ram 1500 Rebel Mojave Sand Reveal
Recently announced, the 2016 L.A. show was our first opportunity to see the new Mojave Sand Package in the flesh. It definitely has a clean and confident look, but how many more special editions is Ram going to squeeze from the Ram 1500? And how is it that they all have a crew-cab gross vehicle weight rating several hundred pounds less than every other truck in the segment?
Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Carhartt: A No-Brainer
Question: What could be more perfect than combining an American work-clothing manufacturer (headquartered just outside Detroit) with an American heavy-duty work-truck manufacturer?
Answer: Nothing. The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Carhartt concept truck, seen at the SEMA and L.A. shows, seems like it would be a no-brainer. Offering it as a special edition or even a separate trim package on Chevy's HD lineup should be an instant success.
Volkswagen Atlas Engine Confusion
In the old days, it was pretty simple: You opened the hood and you could tell if it was a V-8, inline four-cylinder, V-6, inline six-cylinder or whatever. Nowadays, it's different. When did it become OK to make your engine look like it's not the type of engine that it actually has? The all-new VW Atlas SUV has a transverse-mounted V-6 with a plastic engine cover disguising it to look like a straight-six. Why?
Nissan Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition
We have to say, this was pretty cool. In honor of a new special-edition Nissan Rogue and the newest "Star Wars" movie set to debut in December, Nissan (you guessed it, with a product placement in the movie) brought a life-sized Empire TIE fighter to sit over the top of its Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition mid-size SUV. As you also might have guessed, the show booth was filled with "Star Wars" paraphernalia.
Futuristic Lincoln Navigator Concept
One of the most impressive concept vehicles on display was the futuristic Lincoln Navigator first seen at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. It offers a single, double-wide gull-wing passenger door on both sides of the vehicle, a drop-down set of stairs and a form-fitted rear clothes closet in the back of the full-size SUV.
Ram Rebel TRX Concept
When it first debuted at the 2016 State Fair of Texas, we knew the Ram Rebel TRX concept was going to be popular with enthusiasts, and from what we've heard from Ram, it continues to get high praise wherever it goes. Assuming Ram green-lights this project, the trick will be to price it right and bring as much of the visual and performance impact from the concept into the production truck. No doubt LA showgoers will be drooling.
A Monster of Mercedes Mastery
If we could have only one vehicle from the show that was not a pickup truck, it would be the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x4 Squared. Excluding the silly nomenclature, it's hard to argue with 35-inch tires, eight remote reservoir adjustable shocks, massive portal axles, 17 inches of ground clearance and 450 pounds-feet of torque. All for just $226,000.
Jet-Fighter Raptor Shifter
There are few details in a pickup truck that better articulate what its intended use is likely to be than the gear shifter — be it on the column, in the center console or a dial on the dash. This joystick-style shifter is one of our favorites from any pickup and it just happens to be from a 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor. It looks more like a cockpit controller in a fighter jet or high-performance helicopter than a functional way to control the transmission gearing in a pickup.
Kia Tank Tracks
Anytime you put rubberized tank tracks on an SUV or pickup truck, it just looks cool and we're sure it would be a blast to drive. This one, however, would be doubly interesting because its Kia's idea of what autonomous driving could be. Imagine programming your route to the top of a mountain after a fresh snowstorm: You and your passengers (all facing each other — see below) simply sit back and enjoy the scenery until you reach your destination. You arrive, put on your skis or grab your snowboards and head down the hill. Of course, you program the Kia to meet you at the bottom of the hill all warmed up and ready to shuttle you to the next mountain peak.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears, Mark Williams