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Los Angeles Auto show: 5 cars sure to draw crowds

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Like recent car sales, sport utility vehicles will headline this year's Los Angeles Auto Show -- big ones, small ones, redesigned ones and brand new models.

A redesigned Jeep Wrangler, an all-new small SUV from Volvo and a three-row family hauler from Subaru will be among the highlights of the show, which is open to the public from Dec. 1-10.

Introductions of these and other models to the press this week will combine with a technology conference about self-driving cars and other future automotive technology.

In honor of this tech conference, the show is trying to rebrand itself as "Automobility LA." But we will continue to call it the LA auto show and focus on a combination of concept cars, as well as the cars that you can find at dealerships as early as next year.

Along with SUVs, new electric models, reflecting another ongoing automotive trend, will also be on display. One of the most interesting is the electric Mini.

The exposition kicks off the 2017-18 U.S. major auto show season, with Detroit following in January and New York in April.

Here's a closer look at five of the most interesting vehicles being introduced at the LA show.

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep

The Wrangler, built to cope with off-road rocks and mud in the version pictured above, also has a more everyday four-door version that works well for passengers and cargo. The 2018 model has been completely redesigned, but the look is still familiar with the barred grille and round headlights.

Except for the photo release, parent Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has been stingy with details. The company has said the new Wrangler will have more safety and advanced technology features. And the 2018 model will retain such traditional features as a fold-flat windshield for off-roaders. The first 2018 Wranglers are expected to reach dealerships by spring.

Volvo XC 40

Volvo

The all-new XC 40 will be the smallest SUV in the Volvo lineup, which also includes the XC60 and XC90. The exterior styling follows the recent Volvo look, but is a far cry from the boxy Volvo wagons many of us grew up seeing on the road.

The XC40 aims to compete with subcompact luxury SUVs like the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class priced in the $35,000 neighborhood. The top level XC40, called T5, equipped with all-wheel drive and a 250 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, will arrive at dealers early next year.

Subaru Ascent

Subaru

Subaru already has three SUVs -- the Forester, the Outback and the Crosstrek -- but none of them is especially suitable for bigger families. The company aims to remedy that with the Ascent, which has three rows of seats and can seat seven.

Like all Subarus, the Ascent will come with all-wheel drive. It will compete with SUVs like the Honda Pilot and Volkswagen's new Atlas, presumably in the range just over $30,000. The Ascent -- shown only as a concept in the picture above until its LA introduction this week -- will be available in early 2018.

Mini Electric

BMW

The Mini Electric is part of parent BMW Group's push to offer 25 electrified vehicles, a dozen of them fully electric, by 2025. The Mini Electric is still a concept vehicle designed for city use that the company describes as showing "how pure electric day-to-day mobility might look in the years ahead."

On a less lofty plane, the concept car has recognizably Mini styling with a signature brightly-colored roof. The company promises it also will have the go-kart maneuverability that Mini loyalists love. A production model of Mini Electric is expected in 2019.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes CLS-Class originated the since much-copied, stylish "four-door coupe" look. The 2018 redesign to be shown in LA is the third generation of the CLS. The company so far has only coyly released the above photo of the car's outline.

Automotive journalists who have seen prototypes and expected specifications report that one gasoline engine option will be a 362-horsepower six-cylinder with an added electric motor to boost acceleration. No price has yet been announced, but if you have the deep pockets to handle it, prices for the 2017 CLS ranged from $75,150 to $108,900. The CLS is expected to go on sale by mid-2018.

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