Saturday, September 19, 2009
New promising model year cars to keep an eye on
DAMASCUS, MD (MarketWatch) -- The new year is already here as far as cars are concerned and the ball has dropped, taking the wraps of some promising new wheels.
1. Ford Taurus
The Taurus has gotten a makeover and congratulations to Ford for making it look fresh. The interior is very modern with the center console sweeping into the interior. It is quiet and comfortable.
The base model comes with a 263 horsepower Duratec V-6 rated at 18-28 mpg and mated to a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is the buyer's choice.
I had a chance to drive the higher performance version, the SHO, and it had plenty of acceleration and was most comfortable. It gets a twin turbocharged V-6 that bangs out 365 horsepower with a zero to 60 time in the 5-second range. However, the SHO also carries a hefty $40,000 price tag. The base model starts at $25,170 with a nice list of standard equipment.
Bottom line: Ford's big bet for this auto year.
2. Chevrolet Equinox
This CRV/RAV4 competitor got a stem-to-stern makeover -- picking up a 4-cylinder engine along the way, and a fancier interior. Just in time, too, as the move to crossover vehicles picks up what new-car steam there is out there. The inline 4 is good for 182 horsepower. It comes with a 6-speed automatic and that will net you an EPA rating of 22-32 mpg. A more powerful V-6 is also in the mix.
The Equinox maintains its two-row seating and comes with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The base price is $23,185.
Bottom line: Can it attract Honda and Toyota trade ins?
This new Buick faces an uphill battle against the competition, such as the Lexus, and another uphill fight to lure younger customers into the Buick showroom.
While I am content to leave the outside styling analysis to you, the interior of this car has won praise far and wide. The wrap-around dash looks fresh and, heavenly day, an adult or two can fit in the back seat. A four- and a six-cylinder engine are offered with the base model starting at almost $28,000 and the top of the line CXS at $33,765.
Bottom line: It surprised many people when GM decided to hang on to Buick. Here's the first answer as to what they intend to do with it.
4. Mazdaspeed 3
The speedster of the 3 line gets the same styling makeover as the plain Mazda 3, complete with the big grin up front. But it is under the hood where matters differ. The Mazdaspeed edition gets a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4 that bangs out 263 horsepower. Look for zero to 60 times in the upper 5-second range, along with crisp handling and an affordable price of $23,195 for the base model. It is EPA rated at 20-28 mpg.
5. Subaru Legacy
Here is another car that got a redesign for 2010. The Legacy got a bit bigger, with the wheelbase up 3 inches to 108. Rear seat room benefited here along with trunk space.
A 170-horsepower four is the base engine. With a CVT transmission, the Legacy sips gas at an EPA-rated 23-31 mpg. The base price is just shy of $20,000 and that, of course, also gets you the well-known all-wheel drive, something that will be handy in the winter weather many of us face in another few months.
Bottom line: The Suby moves up in classy appearance and interior with still attractive pricing.
A bonus look at a car slated for next year: 2011 Ford Fiesta
If the move in this country is toward smaller cars, as many believe, the Fiesta should fit right in. A hit in Europe, the Fiesta has a very nice interior that is both modern and cool. It zipped nicely around inner-city traffic in a brief test drive and seemed well screwed together.
The base engine is a 118 horsepower four with a 5-speed manual tranny. It is EPA rated at 28-38 miles per gallon. The Fiesta is shorter than a Focus and just a delight to park with 19 fewer inches to fit in the available space. It has been Ford's best selling car in Europe.
Bottom line: The Blue Oval's big bet for 2011.