LOS ANGELES - As in 12 previous years, the day started with some big news at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
"I'm proud to announce that Green Car Journal's 2018 Green Car of the Year is the innovative and groundbreaking Honda Clarity," said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal, which has been handing out the award at this show since 2005.
Not a lot of fanfare in the ceremony, but it is a significant announcement for Honda's alternative energy car, available with three different drivetrains. The availability of the Clarity as a hydrogen fuel cell, plug-in electric, or a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid helped convince Cogan and his fellow judges that the Honda deserved the honor this year.
For fanfare, it was hard to beat Nissan's news conference on the eve of the auto show. They got a little help from a galaxy far, far away.
"The biggest, most intimidating walker, and the First Order's arsenal, with the biggest vehicle in our Nissan fleet," is how Nissan's Jeremy Tucker described the heavily customized Titan pickup, also helping promote the upcoming Star Wars film, "The Last Jedi."
Sorry, you can't buy it, as the special truck was built for show duty and promotional appearances.
If you're fortunate, however, you can buy a new Porsche. As usual, the German sports car maker has taken over its own separate building at the L.A. Convention Center for an elaborate display of its cars
"If California were its own country, California would be the fifth largest market for Porsche worldwide. So that tells you a little bit about how important it is for Porsche," said Luke Vandezande, a spokesman for Porsche Cars North America.
While Porsche's cars are red-hot in terms of performance, red hot in terms of sales describes pretty much anything shaped like an SUV. And they're here in abundance.
Debuts of new or revised models included the Hyundai Kona compact, the Lincoln Nautilus mid-size, the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid compact, the Infiniti Q50 mid-size, the Range Rover SV Autobiography ultra-luxury model, and the Volvo XC40, which will compete in the premium compact SUV class when it goes on sale next spring.
"The compact SUV segment is the hot segment to be in. And this is the first time that Volvo has ever offered a luxury compact SUV in the United States," said Russell Datz, spokesman for Volvo Car USA.
As Volvo goes after people looking for a trimmer size, Lexus is finally giving customers an option of more seats in its popular RX model. The new RX-L means three rows of seats, where once you could only get two rows.
Finally, Toyota brought a cool new SUV concept to the auto show. It's called the FT-AC, for "future Toyota adventure concept." While based on a crossover SUV platform, it has the rugged looks and rugged capability of a true off-road model.