Subcompact SUVs, Luxury Vehicles Rule 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show| Edmunds

Subcompact SUVs, Luxury Vehicles Rule 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

SANTA MONICA, California — Subcompact SUVs and high-end sedans are set to take center stage at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, according to Edmunds Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell.

"Subcompact SUVs are a hot topic in L.A. with the introduction of the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X and Mazda CX-3," Caldwell said. "The key to success for these vehicles is delivering the utility American car shoppers love in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package."

The healthier U.S. economy is part of the reason for the proliferation of high-end sedans aimed at executives at this year's show.

Mercedes-Benz is reviving its Maybach brand to house its new ultra-luxury version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and Porsche is introducing the Panamera Exclusive Series.

"This is certainly a departure from the fuel sippers we've seen at the L.A. show over the past five years," Caldwell said.

Car shoppers should not expect automakers to highlight fuel economy with their show offerings.

"In recent years, it seemed like the most buzzed-about vehicle features at an auto show was its fuel economy," Caldwell said. "However, a competitive MPG number is now the price of entry.

"Today, automakers seem to be striving to differentiate themselves through technology offerings. Car shoppers seem to have embraced this trend as many are demanding in-vehicle technology in the form of connectivity, driver assist or safety features."

In what is expected to be one of the bigger showings, Ford will debut the 2016 Explorer SUV.

The mood at the show will be positive, as the National Automobile Dealers Association said on Monday it expects the good times to roll into next year.

Automakers are expected to sell nearly 17 million cars and trucks in the U.S. in 2015, according to the latest NADA forecast.

"Rising employment and wages, continued low interest rates and lower gasoline prices all signal an increase in new light-vehicle sales in 2015," NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly said in a statement.

NADA represents about 16,000 dealerships.

Edmunds says: Car shoppers will continue to crowd showrooms in 2015 and they'll get lots of inspiration at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

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