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The 7 most important cars at the 2017 Los Angeles auto show

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Swimming pools, movie stars, and lots of brand new cars: that’s Los Angeles in a nutshell. America’s biggest new car market served as the backdrop for more than a dozen new car debuts.

With relatively cheap gas and increased consumer interest in high-riding crossovers and SUVs, this year’s show is a reminder that new car buyers want room passengers, gear, and a commanding view of the road ahead. SUVs and crossovers dominated the headlines, although there was plenty of talk about eco-friendly technologies.

The auto show opens to the public Friday.

Here’s a look at the 7 most important debuts at the Los Angeles Convention Center:

2019 Infiniti QX50

Suddenly, Infiniti’s curvy styling all comes into focus with the 2019 Infiniti QX50. This compact luxury crossover enters a crowded market, but its upmarket style and a turbocharged engine designed to balance performance and fuel economy should help it stand out.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

No vehicles is as emblematic of its brands as the Jeep Wrangler. Even though it looks like last year’s model, it’s hard to say that Jeep is playing it safe with the 2018 Wrangler. It’ll be available as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid and it offers far more off-road chops than ever before. Plus it looks fantastic.

2018 Lexus RX350L

Three-row crossover shoppers now have a reason to visit a Lexus showroom. The automaker simply stretched its hot-selling RX and stuffed in a third row of seats. Success? Well, it looks good, and it hardly dilutes the RX’s virtues.

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Sure, it’s just a Lincoln MKX with a new grille and a new name, but the Lincoln Nautilus signals that the brand is getting more serious about its luxury intentions. The brand will drop its wonky MK-nomenclature in favor of more evocative names. Nautilus is a good step.

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Its looks may be evolutionary, but the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class boasts an advanced inline-6 engine mated to a mild-hybrid powertrain that should will eventually make its debut in other cars bearing the brand’s three-pointed star badge. We can’t wait to drive one. And to stare at it more.

2018 Nissan Kicks

Nissan’s decision to call the Kicks a crossover is a misnomer. It’s only offered with front-wheel drive and it boasts just 125 horsepower. Still, it’s stylish and we expect it to be priced aggressively.

2019 Subaru Ascent

As if Subaru dealers needed more foot traffic, the automaker’s new three-row Ascent crossover gives Outback and Forester owners with growing families no reason to be disloyal to their favorite brand. More than just a longer and taller Outback (it’s actually not related to the Outback at all), the Ascent also debuts a new turbo-4 engine.

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