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Cruising into Los Angeles

CNET Car Tech editors drive down to the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show.


We recounted the first part of our trip to the Los Angeles Auto Show previously. Continuing on down the coast towards Santa Barbara, it got darker as the day wore on and, as there was no automatic setting, we had to manually turn on the Highlander Hybrid's headlights. And we were holding around 24mpg, making a gas stop necessary on the way down. It was good mileage for an SUV, but not dramatic. We shifted seats periodically, giving everyone the opportunity to sit in the reclining rear seat.

We had taken Highway 101 down, a more scenic route than I-5, but just after Ventura, the Garmin Nuvi portable navigation unit we were using in lieu of a Toyota-installed option directed us to turn inland, on Highway 126. After a quick discussion, we settled on trusting the machine. But 15 miles along this strange road, which lost its freeway status and subjected us to signals and cross-traffic, we began to wonder. The GPS said we needed to go another 20 miles before our next turn, onto I-5. We stuck it out, believing in the power of the GPS to find the shortest route.

We approach the towers of downtown L.A. CNET Networks/Sarah Tew

Sarah never managed to find an NPR station, so she pulled out her iPod and suggested it might have some good music. We hooked it up to the Highlander Hybrid's standard auxiliary input and let her play DJ. We also got a chance to test the Highlander Hybrid's emergency maneuverability. An obstacle, which at first looked like a tire, appeared in the road ahead. Kevin Massy, behind the wheel, made a quick veer into the center lane, dodging what turned out to be a harmless tumbleweed. The Highlander Hybrid swayed in a disconcerting fashion, but stayed upright. Kevin commented that the car never felt out of his control during that incident, so we give it good marks for obstacle avoidance.

Once we hit I-5, our doubts about the Garmin Nuvi were dispelled, as our hotel was only 20 minutes away. We cruised through the downtown towers of Los Angeles and into our hotel, ready for the next day's madness of the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show.