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Kia introduced the Concept EV3 at the LA show to make a visual statement, not to preview any technical powertrain details. (Kia)

LA auto show 2023: Revenge of the hybrids

In the EV capital of the U.S., hybrid and gasoline-only powertrains aren’t going anywhere.

Electrification was still a thing at mid-November’s 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show, but there was no lack of ICE and hybrid powertrains sprinkled throughout the various debuts and unveilings. The Lucid Gravity made a splash, but it was the Hyundai Motor Group that made it to the top of the news list after Amazon announced it would start selling Hyundai vehicles online sometime in 2024.

Hyundai / Kia
The HMG had more to say than the Amazon deal, in any case. Kia brought the all-electric EV3 and EV4 to preview its future EVs. The sneak peek was only skin-deep, though, as Kia did not provide any technical details for these design concepts. Numbers were left to the 2024 Kia Sorento X-Pro, which made its North American debut in LA. The X-Pro is a beefier Sorento that can now tow up to 4000 lb (1814 kg) with standard BF Goodrich 17-inch all-terrain tires, center-locking differential and X-Pro emblems. Hybrid and PHEV versions of the Sorento will arrive later, likely as 2025 model year vehicles.

Hyundai brought the 2024 Ioniq 5 N to its first American auto show, but it was the 2024 Santa Fe that was new. The updated, more angular SUV has a 110.8-in (2814-mm) wheelbase, almost an inch longer than the 2023 model, which had a 108.9-in (2766-mm) wheelbase. That change leads to a 1.4-in (36-mm) increase in second-row legroom, at least in the ICE model. That version uses a standard 2.5-L 4-cyl. that produces 277 hp and 311 lb-ft (422 Nm). The longer 2024 Santa Fe can also be had with available 21-inch (533-mm) alloy wheels, and the XRT trim has fitments for 30-inch (762-mm) all-terrain tires.

A hybrid Santa Fe with a six-speed automatic transmission follows the ICE next spring. The hybrid will be powered by a 1.6-L direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cyl. and an electric motor that have a total output of 232 hp and estimated torque of 271 lb-ft (367 Nm). Oh, but the hybrid only gets a 0.8-in (20-mm) increase in second-row legroom compared to the 2023 Santa Fe.

Toyota brought two notable newbies to LA, the 2025 Crown Signia and the 2025 Camry, both of which will now be available only with hybrid powertrains. The Crown Signia is the SUV version of the already SUV-like Crown sedan and will use a 2.5-L 4-cyl. along with a pair of electric motors for a total output of 243 hp. Toyota estimates the Crown SUV will get 36 mpg (6.5 l/100 km) combined. On-demand all-wheel drive will be standard, and the Crown Signia will be able to tow up to 2700 lb (1225 kg) and will be available next summer.

The 2025 Toyota Camry uses a similar setup, with a 2.5-L, 4-cyl. and two electric motors to produce either 225 hp (FWD models) or 232 hp (AWD). Toyota said its engineers tuned the new hybrid system to reduce engine rpm and increase power from the traction battery at lower speeds. The 2025 Camry – available only as a hybrid – arrives at dealerships in the spring.

Technical updates to the 2025 Subaru Forester include a 10% stiffer chassis in order, the company said, to create improved dynamic performance and ride quality. Stronger welding techniques and more structural adhesive — approximately 26.2 feet (8 m) was used in the outgoing model, around 88.5 feet (27 m) is used for the new version — mean the new Forester should be smoother and quieter. Power will come from a 2.5-L boxer 4-cyl. that produces 180 hp and 178 lb-ft. Available wheel sizes range from 17 to 19 inches (432 to 483 mm).

Hofer Powertrain
Suppliers took advantage of the reduced number of OEMs at the 2023 LA show (Stellantis pulled out in the weeks before the show started, citing the then-ongoing UAW strike). Hofer Powertrain, for example, presented the global debut of its “extraordinarily rapid” Ultevate Ultra EV battery module. Hofer said the Ultevate Ultra battery can go from 5% to 85% state of charge (SOC) in five minutes and then up to 100% in eight minutes, with a compatible charger. Hofer said the Ultevate Ultra technology has a charging current of up to 1140 amps and a charging power of more than 1 megawatt (MW) at the vehicle level.

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