Home » These Are Your Top Guesses For The Car Involved In That Fatal Hit-And-Run In California. Let’s Try To Pare Them Down

These Are Your Top Guesses For The Car Involved In That Fatal Hit-And-Run In California. Let’s Try To Pare Them Down

Hit And Run Cars Topshot
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Earlier this week, the Capitola Police Department asked for our help. A pedestrian had been struck and killed by a crossover SUV that fled the scene, and the trail was getting cold. Thankfully, the awesome Autopian community is full of top-notch car geeks who know their stuff, so the search for the hit and run CUV turned up several possible models. Sadly, we don’t have a definitive answer, so here, let’s have a look at our top guesses and see if we can pare them down even further.

While we still aren’t entirely sure on what the suspect vehicle is, your help narrowed it down to several possible vehicles, often with multiple shoutouts in the comments. So, here are the six most-plausible vehicles as chosen by you. Before we get to them, here are the images we have. Here are screenshots of the front and rear of the suspect’s car:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

402079676 680687234165206 4129457457336788564 N

402103870 680687354165194 603693199133212901 N

Here someone has stitched them together:

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403602088 10232481346961114 4814607842403706585 N

Here’s a ring camera showing the suspect’s vehicle at about 17 seconds in going from right to left:

OK, now let’s have a peek at what Autopian readers think the car is:

Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the brand using two horizontal light elements per corner has a model on this list. After all, the taillight signature works, and the car features both a shark fin antenna and various five-spoke wheel designs. However, there’s some doubt about whether the split headlights would blend together enough to produce the right look in footage, and the car in the stills doesn’t appear to have roof rails, as the GV80’s bright silver roof rails should glint or otherwise show on camera. Oh, and the dash-to-axle ratio looks far too short to be anything on a longitudinal architecture. Mind you, given the, ahem, limitations of CCTV, it’s possible the roof rails could’ve hid in the shadows and the dash-to-axle could’ve been distorted.

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2013 to 2019 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape

Lots of people are suggesting the previous-generation Ford Escape as a possible culprit, but there are a few reasons why it doesn’t seem plausible. Firstly, the base S trim that came without roof rails should’ve come with a short mast antenna. Secondly, the taillights have an illumination pattern completely at odds with the taillights in either the still shot or the video. Otherwise, this was a popular guess.

2022+ Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet Traverse Ls

Here’s another domestic crossover that people suspect could be the vehicle in the photos. Slim headlights, a base model without a roof rack, close base trim wheel designs, a somewhat boxy silhouette with a sloping nose, and the all-important shark fin antenna make this somewhat plausible. Admittedly, the taillight elements seem a bit close together, but I’ve certainly been wrong before.

2011 to 2013 Toyota Highlander

2011 Toyota Highlander

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The second-generation Highlander adopted a shark fin antenna during its facelift, and you could get it without roof rails. The headlight pattern seems to work, and the taillight pattern isn’t a half-bad match, but there is the minor detail of the wheels. Since the base trim came with seven-spoke alloys, those would need to be swapped out for the Sport trim or the hybrid’s five-spoke wheels to match this description. If anything, that would make such a vehicle even more distinctive.

2020+ Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport Rear

This is a particularly good guess made by multiple people. Available without roof rails? Check. Horizontally-split taillights? Check. Slim LED headlights? Check. Shark fin antenna? Check. Short dash-to-axle? Check. You could even get previous model year examples with a set of split-five-spoke wheels that look pretty damn close to what’s seen in the footage. Definitely call this one plausible.

2023+ Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot Lx Rear

Speaking of crossovers that tick a ton of boxes, a handful of commenters have mentioned the current Honda Pilot, and it definitely seems plausible. While the front end is a bit blunt, everything else lines up well, and it’s hard to guess some cues in the stills thanks to the distortion of CCTV lenses and the way most rolling shutters work. Still, this is among the best matches so far.

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John Paul Jose even put together this graphic:

Similarities To 2023 Or 2024 Honda Pilot Especially Ex L Trim Level

That’s pretty darn convincing.

What Have We Learned?

Well, many crossovers look similar if you view them through a grainy camera feed in the dark. I’m beginning to get a sense of why Loch Ness Monster sightings are a thing. Still, your help has narrowed down the options considerably. In any case, please press on. A hit and run killer is still out there, rolling around in a car on stilts.

Let’s see if we can at least come to some kind of consensus in terms of assigning each vehicle a likelihood-of-being-the-car value.

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(Photo credits: Genesis, Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Land Rover, Honda)

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John Paul Jose
John Paul Jose
4 months ago

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel Newspaper: “Earlier this week, police seized a 2023 black Honda Pilot parked near the Capitola Mall that investigators believe was involved in the fatal crash, Dally said” https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2023/12/01/woman-arrested-in-fatal-capitola-hit-and-run/?utm_source=ground.news&utm_medium=referral

John Paul Jose
John Paul Jose
4 months ago

FYI- no mention in news of what vehicle was driven by this suspect, but an arrest was made: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ksbw.com/amp/article/soquel-man-arrested-for-deadly-capitola-hit-and-run/46013894

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
4 months ago

Side note…..the headline kind of feels, I dunno, sleazy? Like this is a game or trivia to figure out.

Maybe something more like: “California Police still need our help identifying a fata hit and run”

D-dub
D-dub
4 months ago

More accurate stitched-together image, correcting geometry errors of the one in the post:

https://i.ibb.co/vhWVQxK/STITCHED2.jpg

Rockafella
Rockafella
4 months ago

Ok, I think I got it! 2014-2016 Acura MDX!

Look at lights in this video: https://youtu.be/tC0FTutVMuU?si=ML0rdaWF1U0M57EQ

Why else? From front to back…
1) Sloped front end
2) Headlights cast bluish tint as seen in Ring and YouTube videos
3) Front view no other lights (e.g. DRLs or markers lower in the bumper)
4) 5 spoke alloys came on base models
5) No roof rack common, especially on base models
6) Sharks fin towards back of roof
7) Taillight pattern when illuminated (two bars in a single lens)
8) License plate mid tail gate. Not too low like the Kias or Jeep Cherokee I checked
9) Horizontal reflectors in rear bumper down low. In 2017 they became vertical
10) Proper proportions on front wheel and rear overhang. I was always thinking something long-ish

Give me your second opinions. Let’s hope this is accurate so the police can move to finding the suspect!

Last edited 4 months ago by Rockafella
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago
Reply to  Rockafella

Is there some reason you can’t accept that it is a 2023+ Pilot? While the lights on the Acura have similarities, they are not a match. The roof line is also off. It just is a new Pilot.

Rockafella
Rockafella
4 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

My reason is the headlights. Those are HIDs that are color shifting (degrading due to age) from white to blue. New cars have LEDs that cast a bright white. Here are the new Pilot headlights, the color temp is very different.

https://youtu.be/bmqqoN3zfWI?si=_wFcVprVQ8PsiVhq

The difference is really clear in the video at the 19 second mark.

Rockafella
Rockafella
4 months ago
Reply to  Rockafella

Here is more info on color shift for those interested in mid aughts technology. We have cars with both LED and HIDs so a point of comparison.

https://genesislamp.com/pages/light-bulb-information/high-intensity-discharge-hid-light-bulb-facts.html#:~:text=After%20about%20100%2D500%20hours,occurs%20at%20the%20same%20time.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago
Reply to  Rockafella

I would put shape way above color and the shapes match the 2023 Pilot perfectly. Color are just too dependent on so many factors and can shift quite a bit from angles and lenses and CCDs and so on. Note that I am not arguing with you about the lighting color being a factor, just that it’s less reliable than other elements. For instance, I also find the shape of the roof to be more Pilot straight than MDX arced.

Rockafella
Rockafella
4 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Now this is solved, I stand corrected! I learned a thing or two around prioritization identification. Time to train my AI model better…..

Newcarpetsmell
Newcarpetsmell
4 months ago
Reply to  Rockafella

MDX tail lights wrap around farther and connect near the license place. The bottom light also expands near the tip.

Rockafella
Rockafella
4 months ago
Reply to  Newcarpetsmell

If you look at the video at 22 seconds you will see the taillights look quite wide.

I find the stills to be misleading, the light flare is sending all kinds of mixed signals.

Happy to be proven wrong so we can get on step closer to the right answer.

Newcarpetsmell
Newcarpetsmell
4 months ago
Reply to  Rockafella

MDX has a more sloped rear window and the rear bumper protrudes. The photo appears flatter with a bumper that rounds under.

Last edited 4 months ago by Newcarpetsmell
Noahwayout
Noahwayout
4 months ago
Reply to  Rockafella

Acura MDX doesn’t have squared front wheel wheels with thin black cladding like the SUV in the picture. The Honda 2023+ Pilot matches this perfectly.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

I am really enjoying this. My thought to be sure would be post the best cleaned up photos we can find. And eliminate vehicles one by one based on nonchangable features. I mean sure those 5 spokes are clear but are interchangeable in 5 minutes. But slope, taillights, headlights, 4 doors, etc you cannot change.

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