By The Car Family
With an improving economy and the desire for many to own more fuel-efficient vehicles, a schism is opening between the practical and the look-at-me crowd. The result is more sophistication and a more difficult choice for buyers. It is no longer simple to buy a vehicle of your dreams without doing significant research. That is why sites such as this are so valuable in helping you winnow out the wheat from the chaff. Here are some of the most significant new cars at this point.
The ILX is a more refined Honda Civic with upgrades nearly everywhere from the suspension to the interior to the engine. You can also get it as a hybrid or a hot rod version with 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual. Look for prices to go into the mid $30,000 range and start ten grand less.
Small families in a hurry will like the RDX with a 3.5-liter V-6 creating 273 hp that uses a six-speed automatic. There is an available all-wheel-drive system. Priced between $35,000 and $41,000.
For around $50,000 you can own an all new RLX that comes with front-wheel drive or as a hybrid with all-wheel drive. Lots of technology and fairly good fuel mileage as well. Pricing will most likely be around $50,000.
Back again and this time a bit tame compared to the previous version. A tough looking little wagon with a turbocharged four cylinder engine. Figure $40,000, but not nearly as rugged as its older brother.
The RS5 coupe has a V8 that makes 450 hp and is mated to an even-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. This slippery two door is going to make friends quickly with the highway patrol as the rear spoiler deploys automatically at 75 mph. Perhaps a performance bargain at $80,000 or so.
Now with a twin-turbo V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission and a plethora of high-end goodies, this Audi combines both performance and luxury.
Similar in nearly every way to the S6, except it costs more and is a hatchback.
The S8 is a big, fast sedan with power from a twin-turbo V-8 trumps and an abundance of technology and performance features. Oh, this 520 horsepower version is going to cost you well over $100,000.
Bentley Continental GT V8
We thought the GT was a bargain at $150,000 when it came out ten years ago. It’s now $177,000 and up, and you are reduced to just eight cylinders. Oh, you still have 500 horsepower and are driving one of the world’s most expensive gas hogs.
BMW 640i Gran Coupe
It is all about looks with this sort of new model with previous mechanics and a sculptured four door design. If you like it and have close to $80,000 you won’t have to worry about some of the impractical elements such as a small trunk and reduced visibility. You also need to control your impulses when deciding on options. but you are going to be seen in one of the all-time family-friendly babe magnets.
Seriously expense with a turbocharged V-8 places 560 hp at your disposal. For about $107,000 this is a very fast machine that handles well. Best advice, pay an extra seven grand and get the convertible. Rich speed demons will love it.
A small SUV with the BMW character for those with over $30,000, this model looks a lot like its sister, the X3 with the same engines, all-wheel drive availability, the availability of a M Sports package. A plethora of options, but most important is the fact that this just might be the most useful and “inexpensive” BMW you can buy.
A small Buick, who would have thought. Nevertheless, GMC is on a roll and this is one luxury placed small car, but far from tiny. The 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder has plenty of pep and the interior is very upscale, Look for pricing in the $20,000 plus range. Going to be interesting to see if this model brings the younger fold to the dance.
Buick Verano Turbo
The news this year is the turbo and, honest, you can order this Buick with a manual transmission. Add the usual Buick reliability and interior treatments and you have a fun, fast, family vehicle for about $30,000.
The American BMW, this line of Cadillacs has a vast array of options from turbocharged four and six cylinders power plants to a manual transmission to all-wheel drive and sophisticated suspensions. Starting prices around $34,000.
This bigger cad is filled with luxury features as those of olden days. A 300 hp plus engine makes it a highway cruiser. With options, the $45,000 price sprints to nearly $60,000 for this front-wheel drive model. The Cue system takes voice cues and runs the information and entertainment controls. Huge touch screen. A lot of car for the money.
Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible
Convertible, that is all you need to know. Over 500 horsepower and the wind in your hair for $77,000 or so.
A fresh face, underpinnings, and a 2.5-liter engine, a 2.4-liter hybrid and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 303 hp to keep face with the competition. Priced well under $30,000. Much more youthful looking then Ford. A family oriented winner.
A couple of engine options including a form of hybrid for this well-priced and equipped model. Don’t pay more for the competition until you check it out. Prices starting around $22,000.
Chevrolet Sonic RS
A sporty compact, this sleek model has upgraded appearance and suspension and brakes. The turbo engine creates excitement and at $20,100 it does that.
This is a price leader with great fuel mileage and room for four adults. Prices too low to mention here. Just kidding. About $13,000.
Built on a sporty Alfa Romeo platform and sharp looking, the Dart is a a low-priced, well-finished car that should draw people back to the dealerships who are looking for value and looks. Starts under $17,000.
Bigger may be better. We love the Fiat for what it is, fun-to-drive and cute. The new version is bigger and more expensive. If you need four doors this Fiat may be just right.
The C-Max hybrid can be ordered as a standard hybrid or a plug-in. We tend to wait a while before buying new vehicles laden with technology.
Ditto, the Escape is all new in design, and look for prices to be higher as well. A lot of competition in this segment and the trick rear hatch that opens by detecting your foot passing under the rear part of the vehicle is interesting, but what about just hitting the remote key fob?
Well, it sure looks different and comes with a variety of power train configurations. Look for competitive pricing, but check out Ford’s quality ratings first. They are now 23rd, according to J.D. Powers.
GMC Terrain Denali
More is the operative word here. More safety features, comfort and good fuel economy with the base engine. If you must have a SUV, this one is highly recommended with great fuel economy and interior room. Priced in the mid $20,000 range for the base version.
Honda does not let us test their vehicles. As such all we can say is that there is a lot of competition in this category and we highly recommend you drive them all before making a decision. Do your homework first, because there are a lot of options. As for hybrids, Honda has lagged behind Toyota for years after getting a head start with its terrific, but small, Insight. If you are considering this type of power train take the time to see the price of replacement battery packs, too. We can recommend three Honda models based on past experience. First, the expensive Odyssey van. Next, the CRV crossover. Finally, the Fit with the latter being the best value overall. Consumer Reports rates the Accord highly.
Hyundai Elantra GT
An exceptional combination of sporty, fuel-frugal, and family-friendly features make this bargain priced Hyundai a great choice for those on a budget or who just like to have fun. Prices under $19,000 to start. Remember, if you don’t want the sporty model, the base Elantra is a winner, too. Hyundai is clearly providing good-looking vehicles with superior gas mileage and warranty. If you have a dealership near check out the line.
Hyundai Santa Fe
With room for seven in some versions, this Hyundai is loaded with features and priced right starting at $23,000. Expect gas mileage to be in the low 20 mpg range. The Sport model has two rows of seats. If your choice is to go with front-wheel drive and the smaller engine your mileage could easily be 30 percent better.
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Looks and features are the reason for the Veloster. Good fuel economy, reasonable performance and interesting options for about $23,000.
A three row SUV, this well equipped luxury model is an extensive list of safety items and enough goodies to entertain the family as well. Prices start at $41,000.
The bread and butter car of the Lexus line-up along with the RX, the new ES is longer and better and improved in every regard. Excellent fuel mileage and performance make this a dominate player in this market segment. Also available as a hybrid and you can average nearly 40 mpg in mixed driving with this option.
Interesting looking and using a variety of engine combinations that are shared with the Ford Fusion, the MKZ can be ordered with all-wheel drive and as a hybrid. Prices around $36,000. A direct competitor to the Lexus ES so check resale values, too.
A tremendous value in base form, this SUVish hauler gets a class-leading 25 to 31 mpg and plenty of technology and standard features. There isn’t much downside on this model, and it even is available with all-wheel drive. Prices start in the low $20,000 range, but don’t expect luxury, expect a useful people mover that will probably be invisible to the highway patrol.
The GL can be order with a Bluetec’s turbo-diesel, a V-6 a V8, a 4.7-liter turbo, or an AMG 5.5-liter twin turbo V-8, so be prepared to spend some time test driving a variety before buying. The new model can hold seven passengers. Prices start around the mid-$60,000 range and escalate to well over $100,000 depending on your need for speed.
Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec
It is here, a diesel SUV, and with prices below $40,000 and fuel mileage in the 22 mpg range it might make sense, but be aware the higher diesel fuel costs must be considered in comparison to the premium fuel recommended for gas engined versions.
Interesting looks is what this Mini offers. Priced around the mid $20,000 depending on options.
Believe it or not this Nissan is catching on with those who like value, performance and features. Only the Toyota Camry sold more in this market segment. It is fun to drive and if you are easy on the throttle with the base engine you can easily get 35 mpg. A best value if you are looking for a family car that doesn’t take away driving enjoyment.
Now a crossover, the Pathfinder gets better fuel-economy, a better ride, and treats inhabitants better. Priced in the $30,000 area, the model has a lockable all-wheel drive option and third row seating. It also has the great Nissan’s Around View monitor that must be seen to be believed. That alone is worth a drive to the Nissan dealership.
All new and sharper looking and more expensive, this Porsche is no longer the poor man’s 911, but now stands alone as a top performing sports car. The S model is the one to have, but the extra horsepower will cost you over $10,000 more. Base price is about $50,000.
Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ
The Scion is less expensive, but both sporty cars are back to basics funmobiles. The reason we compared them together is that they were developed together. In a way, they are the new Mazda Miata with a starting price in the mid $20,000, a long list of extra cost options, and Subaru’s four cylinder, 200-hp boxer engine. As close to a thrill ride as you are going to get for this price and and it has a 25 combined mpg to justify the purchase.
Priced about $90,000 and with enough horsepower to challenge most anything this side of a drag strip, the modernized Viper is no longer so touchy to drive with electronics to help control the power.
Subaru XV Crosstrek
The XV Crosstrek is a more outdoor friendly Impreza. Cute, gets exceptional gas mileage for an all wheel drive vehicle, and with a starting price around $20,000 well equipped, this crossover might have the right combination to attract more buyers the same way the Outback did for the Legacy.
Tesla Model S
Tesla is a sporty electric motor powered sedan that is sexy and handles well. Driving range between charges depends on speed and the use of other features such as air-conditioning. The best thing about this model is that it is available. A tribute to tenacity. If you have the money this is a car you want to be seen driving.
Bigger, no. Better, yes. This is a far sportier, more fun to drive, and still roomy sedan. Same engine options as the Camry. A great family sedan starting above $30,000 and more eager to please. Passengers will never know it isn’t a Lexus.
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Sleeker, but retaining its charm, the new Beetle has the same engines as its hard-top, VW sisters. Prices should hover around the $30,000 range. And wait till you see the option packages that date from previous decades. Cool. You just have to go.
Family conference: Our best values of the year are the Scion FR-S and its twin, the Subaru BRZ. You are not going to find more fun for the money. Our best family vehicle is the Toyota Prius Plug-In. A real world 67 miles per gallon, lots of cargo space, easy to load and park. If you live where inclement weather rules, go with the Audi Allroad or the new BMW X1, if you can afford it, the GMC Denali. Best value is the Hyundai Elantra, Dodge Dart, and Chevrolet Spark.
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