The Great Depression that was a pall on last year’s LA Auto Show has been lifted and replaced by some real optimism and some terrific new models and concepts.  I’ll put up as many pictures as I can on this post (November 17) and I’ll do another one tomorrow (November 18).

The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide is a beautiful sight. I've already seen a few running around LA. It's an instant classic.

The "baby" Aston Martin Vantage ditches its V8 in favor of the V12 from the DB9. I hear a call from the producers of Entourage now.

The 2012 (I think) Audi A7 Sportsback 4-door "coupe" is a looker, no matter what angle.

The side/rear view of the A7 looks great!

The A7's array of LED running lights is wonderful.

The "concept" BMW 6-Series Coupe is almost identical to the production version coming next year as a 2012 model. It's not as radical, but it's quite beautiful and gets most of its styling cues from the new 5-series sedan.

The BMW 6-Series Coupe's interior is a very inviting place to spend time. Sign me up!

The 2011 BMW X3, 2nd Generation. That's it? I'm bored already.

The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe looks good from every angle. I see it around town, but it's always an old person driving it. I think Cadillac was hoping for a younger demo.

The Cadillac ULC (Urban Luxury Concept) was a hit. It's slightly smaller than a MINI Coupe. I don't expect to see it produced.

The interior of the Cadillac ULC is pure concept vehicle. GM is good at these teases.

The 2011 Camaro RS Convertible is a looker. Now if Chevy could fix the cheap interior.

The 2011 Camaro RS Convertible's interior looks better in photos. Still no place in the dash for a navigation screen.

The 2011 Chevy Volt is everyone's Car of the Year. It looks better in white. It also looks like a Chevy Cruze inside.

I wish the 2011 Volt looked more like the original concept car.

The controls are cool and smooth. Chevy wants you to think Apple iPod. The parts-bin steering wheel doesn't help the Volt feel special.

The 2011 Ford Explorer Limited. It's a clean-page remake of Ford's pioneering SUV.

The 2011 Explorer glows with technology. Fairly nice interior materials too.

The Explorer's center seats fold for more room. Even the third row isn't bad - small kids only.

Lots of cargo space in the new Explorer, particularly if the third row disappears.

The 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric should be here in the first 1/2 of 2011. Expect a 60-70 mile range on a ful charge.

The Transit Connect Electric's battery pack is made in the USA by Johnston Controls & SAFT, a French battery company.

The Electric Transit Connect doesn't lose any cargo space. The battery replaces the gas tank.

Ford resusitates the Boss with this 2012 Mustang Boss 302. Where's the independent rear suspension?

Ford killed the Crown Victoria after nearly 30 years of duty. This new Taurus with the Police Interceptor package is what you'll start seeing on the streets.

The 2012 Ford Focus with a Rally package. Probably not available to US customers.

The rear of the 2010 Focus hatchback before the press conference.

The 2012 Fisker Karma. I'll believe it when I see it on the road.

The Karma doesn't have a bad viewing angle.

Watch out Toyota Camry Hybrid, there's a new Korean kid in town, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Blue Drive Hybrid. It sure looks nice!

The Hyundai Sonata Blue Drive Hybrid is nice inside too.

The Infiniti Essence Concept has flowing, beautiful, sexy lines. Don't expect production.

Infiniti gets its own M-series hybrid. Probably a year from now as a 2012 model.

Jaguar's C-X75 Supercar Hybrid concept, with Jag's lead designer, Ian Callum. It won't make production, but the diesel turbines charging batteries is ultra geek-cool.

The Jag C-X75 really works, you just can't drive it fast. I hope the body finds a place in Jag's stable. Perhaps a new E-Type.

Watch out Camry, Accord and Altima. First sister Hyundai creates a Camry-killer Sonata. Now Korean twin Kia has the all-new 2011 Optima.

The Kia Optima EX uses a 2.0 liter gas direct-injection turbo engine.

The front of the 2011 Optmia is futuristic and modern at the same time. It's a really good alternative to the Japanese stuff.

The interior is well sorted and angled toward the driver (like what BMW used to do). The plastics are still a bit cheap, but a step up for Kia.

The 2011 Lincoln MkZ hybrid is a gussied up Ford Fusion Hybrid. The interior is a quantum leap over the lowely Ford. It's also priced the same as the gas version of the car. So why not opt for the Hybrid?

The Mazda Shinari Concept is supposed to foreshadow future Mazda design, including a new Mazda6.

The new Mazda5 minivan. I'm still not wowed by the styling. I'll wait to see what Ford's upcoming C-Max will look like in the metal.

The upcoming Mercedes B-Class Fuel Cell electric vehicle will be sold (leased) in So Cal. All you need to do is fill it with hydrogen.

At last, a new 50-state legal Mercedes-Benz E-class diesel sedan. The E350 Bluetec diesel wil be here sometime next year.

The second generation Mercedes-Benz CLS is here. This is the car that started the 4-door "coupe" luxury category. The new CLS63 AMG shown here in matte finish was stunning.

The nose of the 2011 Mercedes CLS is a bit controversial, but I think it's quite handsome.

The big Mercedes S-Class coupe, the new CL63 AMG, with a twin-turbo 4.4 liter AMG V8, has real presence. Merc's coupes are always "special."

The MINI Countryman 4-door SUV is here. It has more room than the Clubman and may be much more useful to small families and anyone who wants more room and a real back seat.

The 2012 Nissan Murano Convertible is the answer to the question that no one asked. The factory chop job is superb. I didn't get to see it with the canvas top up.

The Nissan Murano's interior is familiar, but the materials a grade better than the stock SUV.

The Porsche crest was enamel over the carbon fiber hood of a 911 GT3. I wonder how much that cost?

This classic Porsche greets you as you enter the Porsche pavilion (always separate from all other exhibitors - you wouldn't want Porsche with the "lesser" cars, would you?)

The 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder. Damn, this is the best-looking Boxster ever. Too bad it's not a good daily driver.

I expect to see lots of these new Cayenne S Hybrids running around LA. The 2011 models are light years better than the first generation Cayennes.

The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is probably my favorite new car. The rest of the world gets it now, we get it a year from now as a 2012 model.

The rear of the 2-door Range Rover Evoque looks great too. It's not the most spacious SUV, but it's certainly the most stylish.

The 4-door Evoque will probably be the volume leader. The introduction of the Range Rover Evoque will also signal the birth of the separate brand Range Rover from Land Rover.

All the interior surfaces are high quality, soft touch materials. Starting price will be around $40,000.

The Evoque will get a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine from Ford, tuned by Range Rover (same as in the 2012 Focus!). All US models will be all-wheel drive.

The 2011 Volvo S60 will be Volvo's bread-and-butter sedan. It's better than anything in recent memory from Volvo.

The 2011 Volvo S60's interior is Swedish Modern, but definitely NOT Ikea.

It appears that Volvo will have an electric C30 in a year or two. It looks production ready.

For 2011, the Volkswagen Eos gets its first facelift. The corporate grille looks handsome on the Eos, not so much on the Jetta.

The New Jetta gets the 2.0 liter TDI engine in the Golf. I'm still very disappointed with the cheap plastics and other materials in the new Jetta. Also the crappy rear suspension. Not good.

The redesigned 2011 Touareg gets a V6 TDI engine as well as a gas-electric hybrid version (like the Cayenne Hybrid). But the price? Yikes. Well over $50k for either.

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