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2013 Automobile Of The Year: Let The Testing Begin – Rumor Central

2013 Automobile Of The Year: Let The Testing Begin

It’s that time again. No, we’re not talking college football, major-league baseball post-season action, or even habitual trips to the cider mill for freshly-pressed juice and sugary treats. It’s time for Automobile’s editors and contributors to break out of the offices, retreat to a secretive spot in western Michigan, sample some of the latest and greatest sheetmetal on the market, and ultimately name one vehicle as the 2013 Automobile Of The Year.

Our testing and deliberation runs this entire week, and here’s a quick peek at what cars we’re bringing along in tow. One of these contenders will ultimately be named the 2013 Automobile of the Year. We won’t publicly name a winner until November, but if you want to keep tabs on our testing and thought process, you’re in luck. Turn to Automobile’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter (look for the #AMAoY hashtag) to come along for the ride!

2013 Acura ILX Premium

The manual transmission is one of the best to come from Honda to date — the clutch is perfectly weighted and boasts linear take-up, and shift throws are smooth, short, and positive.”

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 201 hp @7000 rpm

Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $30,095

As-tested: $30,095

 

2013 Audi RS5 Coupe

“With its silky engine, lively differential, and stout brakes, the RS5 is every bit worthy of the RS badge.”

Engine: 4.2-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 450 hp @8250 rpm

Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $69,795

As-tested: $75,820

2013 Audi S7

“Luxury, performance, and style — the S7 delivers everything the A7 does, only with a sportier edge. We’re still smitten with the less powerful, more efficient supercharged V-6 in the A7, but the twin-turbo V-8 is similarly sweet for those who demand more.”

Engine: Twin-turbo, 4.0-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 420 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $79,695

As tested: $86,170

 

2013 BMW 335i Sport Line

“In the 335i, you revel in the engine’s noise. Its broad, flat torque curve means you don’t have to rev the engine — but you want to. You want to hear it, you want to feel it, and you wind up loving it. More so than ever, it’s an emotional decision rather than a rational one — but with three pedals in the driver’s footwell, there’s still no sport sedan better than a BMW 335i.”

Engine: Turbocharged 3.0-liter DOHC I-6

Power: 300 hp @ 5800 rpm

Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $43,295

As tested: $55,745 

 

 

2012 BMW M5

“The M5′s got almost all of the refinement of the current 5-series, all of the tech features, gorgeous styling, and elegant interior. And then it’s got razor-sharp handling and the best steering we’ve seen in a 5-series in a long time, if not ever. And then it’ll rip that smile off your face with outrageous acceleration.”

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 560 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $92,095

As tested: $106,695

 

2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

“Getting some seat time in the X1 reminded us just how much better the old 3-series worked. Sure, it doesn’t have quite as many gadgets and gizmos — and neither the 1-series, the X1, nor the old 3-series is as pretty as the new 3-series — but those earlier cars have a fundamental, built-in “just right” factor. The steering, the brakes, the ride, the handling, and all the secondary controls and instruments just feel perfect.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 240 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $33,245

As tested: $45,095

 

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Premium

“The ATS is a solid effort that at last puts a Cadillac on par with the German competitors it has fixated on for so long.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter

Power: 272 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 260 hp @ 1700 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $44,315

As tested: $45,910

2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 Premium

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V-6

Power: 321 hp @ 6800 rpm

Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $44,315

As tested: $45,910

 

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

“By the spec sheet alone, the result of the engineers’ efforts reads much like a CTS-V: 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V-8, magnetorheological dampers, limited-slip differential, and a tad too much weight. But with the Camaro, engineers sacrificed some of the Cadillac’s civility to place greater emphasis on tuning the ZL1 for days at the track and nights at the drag strip.”

Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter OHV V-8

Power: 580 hp @ 6100 rpm

Torque: 556 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $56,295

As tested: $58,335

 

2013 Dodge Dart Limited

“The Dart’s Italian DNA is perhaps most visible to the driver. While the steering rack isn’t especially communicative, it makes up for it with a quick ratio, a natural feeling of heft, and excellent straight-line stability.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4

Power: 160 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $21,785

As tested: $25,065

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

“The turbo four blats to life with a distinct and characterful exhaust note (fitting, given that aftermarket exhaust kits were one of the Abarth company’s earliest and most successful products). The exhaust is quite loud under acceleration but the noise fades almost completely when you’re just cruising.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4

Power: 160 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $22,700

As tested: $25,200

2013 Ford Focus ST

“The Focus ST is not exactly a world-beater in terms of refinement, handling balance, or ergonomics. But it does offer a lot of car and performance for the money, it scores an undisputed ten on the entertainment scale, and it won’t fall apart when pushed to the limit.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 252 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,495

As tested: $28,170

 

2013 Ford Fusion SE

“Much has been made of the new Fusion’s styling, which completely walked away from the previous version, instead embracing elements from Aston Martin (the front end), the Audi A7 (the tapered tail), and the Hyundai Sonata (the side view). That may be a disparate trio, but the result is a cohesive whole, and one with an undeniable family resemblance to other recent Fords.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 178 hp @ 5700 rpm

Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,495

As tested: $26,040

2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 240 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $32,995

As tested: $37,670

 

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

“Ford understands that in the hybrid arena, it’s all about the MPGs. Thus, the company is justifiably proud that the new Fusion Hybrid brought home EPA ratings of 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway, numbers that not only well surpass the 41/36 mpg ratings of the previous model but, more importantly, solidly beat the target Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 43/39 mpg—not to mention the also-ran Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s 35/40 mpg.”

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 w/ electric motor

Power(engine/ electric motor): 141 hp @ 6000 rpm/ 118 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (engine/ electric motor) 129 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm/ 117 lb-ft

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $27,995

As tested: $30,975

 

2013 Honda Accord Sport sedan

The four-cylinder Honda Accord, despite its copycat styling, suffers from very little in the way of drawbacks. In fact, it’s good enough for us to say it has squeaked past the Toyota Camry and regained its spot at the top of the class.

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 185 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 181 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,180

As tested: $24,180

 

2013 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

Engine: 3.5-liter SOHC V-6

Power: 278 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $33,140

As tested: $33,140

 

2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport

“The new GS350, particularly the F Sport, shows real progress in making a more rewarding driver’s car.” 

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 303 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque: 274 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $47,745

As tested: $55,869 

 

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

“The CX-5 is a flexible, thoughtful, sharp-looking vehicle that has been crafted from the ground up to give its all in the service of those who love to drive.”

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 155 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $27,840

As tested: $29,165

 

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550

“The new SL’s interior is more opulent than that of any previous SL; every last piece is high-style, from the dash vents to the small, leather-lined, embossed shifter. The aging Comand system feels unnecessarily complicated compared with newer systems from other makers, and the gauges themselves look slightly plasticky and cheap, but overall, this is Benz’s most glamorous and well-constructed interior.”

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 429 hp @ 5250 rpm

Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $106,405

As tested: $123,445

 

2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster

“Turbo lag is not an issue, and this engine gleefully zings the Roadster down urban freeways and rural two-lanes, accompanied by a snarling exhaust note — and the occasional racy popping through the exhaust on throttle lift-off.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 181 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $28,050

As tested: $33,650

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

It’s the Altima’s bells and whistles that Nissan hopes will lure customers away from the Camry — and this new Nissan is packed full of tech goodies aped from more expensive vehicles. All Altimas are equipped with a keyless push-button ignition, and most trim levels include remote starting.

Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 182 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,880

As tested: $27,005 

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V-6

Power: 270 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $31,580

As tested: $32,135

 

2013 Porsche Boxster S

“The Boxster is still a very connected, very visceral drive, no matter what all the improvements to ride quality and refinement might lead you to expect. We’re left unsupervised on the track for a couple of hours and, frankly, it’s gut-wrenching to hand back the keys.”

Engine: 3.4-liter DOHC flat-six

Power: 315 hp @ 6700 rpm

Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $61,850

As tested: $85,410 

 

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

“If you’ve ever driven a Porsche 911, you’ll immediately know that the 991 is different. In quantifiable terms, it’s leaps and bounds better than any previous 911. It sounds even better, it rides even better, it feels even better, it’s even more comfortable, better equipped, and it’s far better looking.”

Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC flat-six

Power: 400 hp @ 7400 rpm

Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $97,350

As tested: $124,910 

 

2013 Subaru BRZ Premium

The Subaru BRZ, however, is very much a sports car, and it’s the kind we don’t see much anymore: light, lithe, fun, and affordable. That’s an unusual formula in this age of overpriced, overpowered image machines. The BRZ offers a world of usable, accessible performance with a straightforward purity that’s rare today, and the car itself should be accessible to a broad swath of enthusiast drivers.

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four

Power: 200 hp @ 7000 rpm

Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $26,265

As tested: $26,265

 

2012 Tesla Model S Performance

“Pulling this handle, we slid into our red car, inhaling the rich aroma of Nappa leather upholstery and noting the low seating position. We gaped at the most overpowering feature, namely, the glossy, sports-bar-sized central touchscreen, which has more graphical modes than magicians have hats and rabbits. The driver’s instrument display also made us blink and gape. There are no bezels, indicators, counters, gauges, or needles. Watchmaker Edmond Jaeger would weep at the sight.”

Battery: 85-kWh, Lithium-ion

Motor: Three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor

Power: 416 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 443 lb-ft

Transmission: Single-speed transaxle

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $93,570

As tested: $102,270 

 

By Automobile Staff

Hagerty Picks 10 Future Classics, Do You Agree? – Rumor Central

Hagerty Picks 10 Future Classics, Do You Agree?

Picking which cars will become classics is a lot like playing the stock market: it takes a little insight and a lot of luck. Insurance company Hagerty thinks it has found ten new cars on sale today that will become sought-after classics in the future.

“This year’s Hot List is comprised of vehicles from a wide variety of market segments and manufacturers, but they all share one thing in common — a certain ‘cool’ factor that will be remembered by car enthusiasts for many years to come,” explains Hagerty president and CEO McKeel Hagerty. Take a look at the list below, and let us know whether you agree with the company’s picks in the comments section.

SRT Viper: Hagerty selected it because it celebrates the mantra of “no replacement for displacement” even as other automakers downsize engines. We said the 8.4-liter V-10 engine, “has always been a thundering powerhouse, but it now packs the explosive immediacy that a proper ten-cylinder engine deserves.”

Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible: This swan-song for the sixth-generation Corvette was essentially a Z06 convertible. Hagerty says that the last year of any Corvette is especially valuable; we say the 505-hp, 7.0-liter V-8 — “is still in our minds the best Vette engine” — will attract power-hungry future buyers.

Audi RS5: Hagerty the RS5′s sultry styling as a reason why it will eventually attain classic status, but we think there’s another reason: performance. Even though it came third in a comparison test, we found “the Audi is unbelievably quick;” it trounced a BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, and Porsche Boxster S on a track.

Porsche Cayman S: No argument here; we love the redesigned Porsche Boxster, and its hardtop cousin, the Cayman, is one of the cars we’re most excited to drive this year. “Like the updated Boxster, the new Porsche Cayman is more powerful and more efficient than the outgoing version,” we said. It will do 0-to-60-mph in as little as 4.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 175 mph.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible: Forget the Corvette 427 — this 580-hp supercharged monster is the most powerful convertible Chevrolet has ever put into series production. We love it just as much as the coupe version: “Whether the roof is made of steel or polyester doesn’t change the fact that the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a fabulous sports car that delivers both big performance and big fun.”

Tesla Model S: Hagerty was presumably influenced by the fact that we named Elon Musk’s luxury machine our 2013 Automobile of the Year. “More than any electric car that has come before it, the Model S feels and drives like a gasoline car of the same price,” making it a game-changer that’s sure to become a future classic.

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP: With only 500 destined for the U.S. market, this hopped-up Mini will certainly have exclusivity on its side. Need another reason the JCW GP will become a classic? It has 211 hp and can reach 150 mph, more than enough performance from such a petite hatchback.

Subaru BRZ: We agree with Hagery’s recognition of the BRZ as “one of the lightest sports coupes” on sale today, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the car is mechanically paired with the Scion FR-S. Still, it’s clearly a thrilling car that will resonate with enthusiasts for years to come. “A sports car doesn’t need to look good in the stats box, it just needs to be a great drive,” we said. “And the BRZ is a great drive.”

Volkswagen GTI: A two-time Automobile of the Year recipient, Hagerty agrees with us that the GTI is “fun, cool, and practical.” The German hatchback expertly fuses performance with day-to-day livability, and just like all GTIs since 1976, it has a devotee cult of followers. “The key to that code, of course, is the blend of athleticism, practicality, and performance that was the basis of the original GTI,” we said.

Ford Focus ST: The GTI has a challenger in the form of a turbocharged Focus. The go-fast hatch represents the first time in a decade that Ford has brought a high-performance compact to America, and Hagerty believes that alone will attract collectors. “The Ford ST is not exactly a world-beater in terms of refinement, handling balance, or ergonomics,” we said. “But it does offer a lot of car and performance for the money.”

So, which of these will become future classics, and which hot cars did Hagerty forget? Sound off in the comments section below.

Source: Hagerty




By Jake Holmes

Gran Turismo 6 Details Revealed, Demo Coming This Summer

Gran Turismo 6 Details Revealed, Demo Coming This Summer

The next-generation of simulation racing games is coming. While celebrating the storied marquee’s 15th anniversary at Silverstone, Sony announced that Gran Turismo 6 is coming to PlayStation 3 this holiday season, with the first playable demo coming in July.

2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance GT6 front three quarter turn 300x168 imageSony touts Gran Turismo 6 as bringing new levels of realism and authenticity to the sim racing genre. GT6 boasts an entirely new game and physics engine, the latter of which includes a new aerodynamic model, a new tire model, and a new suspension and kinematics model. Like its rivals at Forza 4 (which worked with Pirelli to help with its tire models), the GT6 team joined with Yokohama and KW Automotive to help develop a more realistic experience in the latest Gran Turismo game.

Gran Turismo 6 will reportedly be released this holiday season, though it’s probably worth noting that GT6′s predecessor, Gran Turismo 5, was the subject of multiple delays. Still, there are a few reasons to remain optimistic. For starters, all of the cars and tracks in GT5 will be carried over to GT6, which will include 1200 cars at launch (though as production manager Kirill Ougarov joked on Twitter, “1100 of them will be Skylines”).  The newest Gran Turismo will also include seven new tracks (including Silverstone), bringing the track total to 33. There will be 71 different track layouts in the game, with 19 of them new. If those grow old, the course maker function has been improved.

Gran Turismo 6 Silverstone 7 300x168 imageWith the announcement of GT6, Sony is planning on continuing its collaboration with Nissan’s GT Academy, the program that turns Gran Turismo gamers into real-life racers. GT Academy returns this July, with the release of the GT6 Silverstone demo.

Speaking of the demo, Sony released a short teaser of the killer graphics and cars we can expect to see in GT6, including the 1986 Audi Quattro rally car, and the 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance.

Here are the cars you’ll be able to drive in the July demo. Bold text indicates the car is new to the Gran Turismo series:

-          1991 Acura NSX

-          2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

-          1968 Alpine a110 1600S

-          1986 Audi Quattro S1 rally car

-          2009 Ferrari 458 Italia

-          1971 Ferrari Dino 246 GT

-          2006 Ford GT

-          2012 KTM X-Bow R

-          1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400

-          2007 Light Car Company Rocket

-          2010 McLaren MP4-12C

-          2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

-          2008 Nissan 370Z (GT Academy Version)

-          2008 Nissan 370Z Tuned Car (GT Academy Version)

-          2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition (GT Academy Version)

-          Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 N24 Shulze Motorsport

-          Nissan Leaf G (GT Academy Version)

-          2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance

-          2012 Toyota 86 GT

2012 KTM X Bow GT6 rear high 300x168 imageSome other cool Gran Turismo 6 facts, straight from associate online editor Nate Martinez, our man on the ground:

- 200 cars more than GT5

- A lot more tuning parts than GT5

- A lot more Downloadable Content (DLC)

- “Adaptive Tessellation” (not pixilation) to vehicle models allows for greater details shown

- Several thousand tuning parts will be available

- GT5 had limited wheels; GT6 will have tons more freedom and choices

-New tracks added every month via DLCs

- Updated Course Maker for GT6

- 10 square kilometers of scenery available

- New algorithm for highly detailed backgrounds and layouts

1986 Audi Quattro S1 rally car GT6 side 300x168 imageGame Engine:

- New rendering engine

- For PS3, pushes unit to its limits

- Flexible expandability

- 50x increase of dynamic range vs. GT5

- Hi-res photographic backgrounds during gameplay result of dynamic range

Community Club/Race Organizer:

- GT5 missed this feature; GT6 will not

- Players can form own communities (local, domestic, global)

- Can organize own racing series and championships

1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400 GT6 front three quarter track 300x168 imageNew User Interface:

- Directional keys and touch operation balance

- Faster responsiveness; shorter loading times

- UI No 1. goal = much faster

Multi Device Compatibility:

- New for GT6

- PlayStation, smart phone, tablet, PC

- Best driving experience is on the PS3

- “Get involved with GT6 practically anyplace.”

- Activity with other OEMs and automotive brands, such as the partnership with Toyota and the 86s, will be announced later in next 6 months

- Next GT Academy starts in July 2013

- Winners now will race a NISMO GT-R GT3 for FULL season

By Christian Seabaugh

The Apoca-List: 10 Cars You Must Drive Before the End of the World

The Apoca-List: 10 Cars You Must Drive Before the End of the World

It’s nearly December 21, which means we’ll soon know whether the end of days is truly at hand. Before the world does go up in flames from an enormous solar flare or gets sucked into a black hole – as some believe will happen – we feel it’s important for you to experience some of the best automotive creations humanity has to offer. As such, we’ve assembled our top 10 vehicles you must drive before the end of the world.

Below, in no particular order, you’ll find a list of cars, trucks, and SUVs that will provide one last thrill before the Earth’s demise. Click through to read about all 10 picks!

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Front-Drive Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet Bound for U.K. in 2013 – Should We Get It?

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By Alex Nishimoto

Motor Trend’s Top 10 Most Popular Web Articles of 2012

Motor Trend’s Top 10 Most Popular Web Articles of 2012

Yes, ladies and gentleman, it’s already that time of year – the time for mistletoe and eleventh-hour overnight shipping; for social gatherings you’d rather not attend, and for family dishes you’ve waited a year to devour. For us, the end of December means reviewing all the work that we’ve produced since the beginning of 2012.

To celebrate what’s been a big year at Motor Trend, we’ve gathered our most popular online articles for 2012. The Top 10 stories don’t all feature sexy Italian supercars, nor are they all from 2012. In reality, there’s only one “exotic” on the list (and it’s not even in production yet) and two articles from last year that are still going strong.

Without further ado, here are MT’s biggest online hits for 2012. Click through to discover what was most popular on MotorTrend.com during 2012!

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Hot Rod Unlimited Episode 24: Bondurant Driving School in C6 Corvettes

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By Nate Martinez

Weekend Roundup: 2012 Chicago Auto Show, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Cruze Wagon – Rumor Central

Weekend Roundup: 2012 Chicago Auto Show, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Cruze Wagon

Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.

2012 Chicago Auto Show

Check out our coverage of this week’s Chicago auto show, with news and photos from all the new product debuts. New cars on display at this year’s show range from practical rides like the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT and 2012 Nissan NV200 van, to performance offerings like the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible and 2013 Nissan 370Z.

Tesla Model X Prototype Crossover Revealed with Falcon Door Fixation

Tesla this week revealed the Model X, an all-electric SUV from the maker of electric sports cars. The most notable design touch is what Tesla CEO Elon Musk calls “falcon doors”, which rise up above the SUV’s body when opened. Power will come from lithium-ion batteries in two different sizes, allowing anywhere from 200 to 300 miles per charge. The Model X rides on air suspension and is expected to weigh about 4700 pounds. The car should go into production next year before reaching customers in 2014.

Chevrolet Cruze Wagon Debuting at Geneva Motor Show

Chevrolet will use the Geneva Motor Show to introduce a wagon version of the Cruze. The new variant will be 3.2 inches longer than the Cruze sedan, and will offer between 17.7 and 53.0 cubic feet of cargo capacity, easily trouncing the 15.4 cubes on offer in the sedan version. This is actually the third body style for Chevrolet’s strong-selling compact — although the Cruze is offered only as a sedan, European buyers can also choose from a five-door hatchback. Sadly, chances of the Cruze wagon making it to the U.S. market are close to nil.

Buick Makes eAssist Standard on 2013 Regal, Adds Automatic Option to 2012 Regal GS

Buick announced a mild powertrain shuffle for its Regal sedan. The 2012 Regal GS sports sedan will henceforth offer an optional automatic transmission, expanding the appeal of the formerly manual-only car. Buick says acceleration times and fuel-economy for the automatic Regal GS will be equivalent to the manual-transmission version. Buick also announced that for 2013, the Regal sedan will drop its base inline-four powertrain and make the car’s eAssist mild hybrid system standard. The eAssist drivetrain combines a 2.4-liter inline-four gas engine with an electric motor-generator, returning lofty EPA ratings of 25/36 mpg (city/highway).

New Mitsubishi Outlander Making Debut at Geneva Motor Show

Mitsubishi will show the next-generation of its Outlander crossover in Geneva. The three-row model adopts a new exterior design and is said to have higher-quality interior components than the current Outlander. Additional equipment includes a power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a collision-avoidance braking system. Mitsubishi also will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the new Outlander, with an eco-friendly powertrain derived from the company’s PX-MiEV II concept car. The Outlander goes on sale here toward the end of 2012.

Spied: 2013 Nissan Altima Prototype in Michigan

Though the midsize sedan won’t be revealed publicly for a few more months, we managed to snap photos of the 2013 Nissan Altima testing on a Michigan highway. The sedan appears to have grown a bit compared to the current Altima, with new taillights and a redesigned front grille. Nissan plans for the 2013 car to be a “very strong contender” in a crowded segment that is dominated by the Toyota Camry. There will almost certainly be a hybrid version, with regular powertrain options likely comprising a small inline-four and a 3.5-liter V-6.

Ford Personnel Shifts: Kuzak and Booth to Retire, Huntsman Joins Board

Two senior executives at Ford Motor Company announced their retirement this week, and the Blue Oval announced that a former presidential candidate would join Ford’s board of directors. Ford chief financial officer Lewis Booth, who has been with the company since 1978, will retire April 1. Derrick Kuzack, vice president for global product development, has worked for Ford since 1978 and also will retire April 1. At the same time, Ford says former GOP presidential hopefuly Jon Huntsman, Jr., will join the company’s board of directors. Huntsman previously served as United States Ambassador to China under President Obama, and was governor of Utah.

Spied! 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL in Los Angeles

Mercedes-Benz will soon update its GL-Class SUV, and our colleagues at Motor Trend managed to snap some photos of the next GL driving around Los Angeles. We spy only minor changes to the exterior of this three-row prototype, including restyled taillights and new LED running lights. Instead, expect major changes under the hood. The GL550 will probably stop using a 5.5-liter V-8 in favor of the newer, more efficient twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8. We can safely expect the next version of the Mercedes GL to debut next year.

Nissan Previews Invitation Concept Ahead of Geneva Debut

Nissan also previewed a car that will be unveiled in Geneva, the Invitation concept. It foreshadows a European-market hatchback that will fit between the Micra and Juke in Nissan’s lineup. The Invitation is based on the company’s B/V platform, which underpins the new Versa sedan. However, it’s unknown whether this car will ever be sold in America. When it goes on sale in Europe in 2013, the car will be badged as the Nissan Note.

First Drives: 2012 BMW 335i, 2012 Toyota Prius C

This week we drove a powerful German sports sedan and a small, thrifty Japanese hybrid. The former was the 2012 BMW 335i, the gutsiest version of the new F30-generation 3 Series currently on sale. The 300-hp 335i is plenty fast and rewards drivers with excellent handling, but we wish the BMW had more steering feel. At the other end of the automotive spectrum is the 2012 Toyota Prius C, which packs the company’s famous Hybrid Synergy Drive into a small hatchback body. The Prius C is an excellent hybrid car that feels even more refined than prior versions of the Prius, but the subcompact’s interior doesn’t feel as upscale or attractive as in non-hybrid competitors like the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio.







By Jake Holmes

Green Technology of the Year finalists announced, broad range included

Green Car Technology Award nominee Fisker Automotive powertrain



Green Car Journal, which gives out its Green Car of the Year Award at the Los Angeles Auto Show each November, has created a Green Car Technology Award. The first award of its kind will be will be presented at the Washington Auto Show January 31, 2012.



The award was created not for specific vehicle models but for components that help reduce fuel use and greenhouse-gas emissions. Motors, on-board communications systems and powertrain components are among the technologies that fit GCJ’s bill.



With that in mind, Green Car Journal‘s 10 nominees include the Fiat MultiAir, the Fisker Automotive extended-range plug-in powertrain, the Ford Energi plug-in hybrid, the Mazda Skyactiv system, and both the Tesla Model S and Toyota RAV4 battery-electrics (which were both built by the same cast of characters). Ford’s EcoBoost direct injection system and its Stop-Start hybrid systems also made the list, as did the Honda Eco Assist fuel-saving system and the Nissan Easy-Fill Tire Alert system.


Green Car Journal gave this year’s Green Car of the Year Award to the Ford Fusion. Check out the announcement press release below.

Related Gallery2012 Fisker Karma: Second Drive

2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma

By Danny King

Top 10 Most Collectible Cars of 2013

10. Ford Focus ST

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Interested in nabbing yourself a future collectible? Hagerty Insurance specializes in classic cars and is predicting the top 10 most collectible cars of 2013 that are under $100,000.

Listed based on the vehicle’s MSRP, the Ford Focus ST kicks off the list in the number-10 spot with a starting price of $23,700. Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, the American automaker’s hot hatch is an undeniable bargain at under $25,000. Hagerty believes its performance and price will make it an attractive collectible in years to come.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Ford Focus ST Review – Video


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By Jason Siu

Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #322 LIVE!

Autoblog Podcast graphic



We’re set to record Autoblog Podcast #322 tonight, and you can drop us your questions and comments regarding the rest of the week’s news via our Q&A module below. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven’t already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.



Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #322


  • 2014 Jeep Cherokee
  • Tesla predicts a profit
  • 2014 Bentley Flying Spur
  • Interview with Ford Atlas Concept designer Gordon Platto



[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator


By Dan Roth

Rest in Pieces – Cars that Bit the Dust in 2011

Rest in Pieces – Cars that Bit the Dust in 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, we take a break from our New Year’s celebrations to pour a little Colt .45 (or Champagne, your call) out for our dead homies. As good of a year as 2011 was with vehicles like the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Chrysler 300 SRT8, and Ferrari FF making their debut, a lot of great cars like the Ford Crown Victoria and Ranger (and a few others we could probably live without) ended their production runs for good this year. Let’s take a moment of silence and remember our lost comrades, both loved, and unloved.

2011 buick lucerne front view 300x187 imageBuick Lucerne/Cadillac DTS – Like the Panther platform Fords, the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS were two dinosaurs of days past. The Lucerne and DTS were both relics of the days when GM was ditching its rear-drive flagships for big front-drive sedans. While these cars will never be as iconic as other cars from the era that lasted just as long, we’d be remiss forgetting about these two luxo-barges.

Cadillac STS 300x187 imageCadillac STS – Unlike the Cadillac DTS, the STS started off on a good foot when it debuted in 2005, being a true rear-wheel drive luxury sedan. Sadly for the STS, it was neglected and by the time it went out of production this year, it had received no real significant updates, leading it to its ultimate replacement by the new, front-drive XTS.

2011 chevrolet aveo 5 rear view 300x187 imageChevrolet Aveo – There are very few cars that we wish didn’t exist and sadly, the Aveo is one of them. The definition of a penalty box on wheels, the Aveo was full of hard plastics, marginal workmanship, and a lethargic engine; the Aveo just plainly wasn’t good. While its replacement, the Sonic, is called the Aveo overseas, in the U.S. we’re much better off with the car, and the nameplate six feet under.

2011 chevrolet HHR front three quarter 300x187 imageChevrolet HHR – With the Chevy Cruze replacing the Cobalt last year, it was only a matter of time before the Cobalt-based HHR went out of production as well. Not as derided as the Cobalt, the HHR was essentially the hatchback version of the Cobalt. With a retro design inspired by early Suburbans and an available panel wagon and hot-hatch SS version, the HHR was actually a neat little car. Will it be greatly missed? Probably not; the Cruze is twice the car the HHR ever was. Now if only Chevy would bring the Cruze hatch to our shores…

2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 front three quarter motion 300x187 imageDodge Caliber – The Dodge Caliber is another car that couldn’t leave us soon enough. On paper, the Caliber seemed like a great idea: it was packed with unique features like its “Cool Zone” storage and its tailgate-mounted swing-down speakers, and it looked like a mini-SUV, which was great for pre-recession America. Unfortunately for Dodge, that’s not the America we live in anymore. Even more unfortunate is that the Caliber just wasn’t a good car. It was woefully slow, wildly inefficient (the 2012 Dodge Charger gets better highway mpg than the CVT-equipped Caliber, 31 mpg versus 27 mpg), and filled to the brim with cheap, hard plastics. Dodge is a different company than it was in 2007 when the Caliber arrived, and the Caliber is no longer representative of what the company can do. Goodbye Caliber, your replacement, the 2013 Dart, can’t come soon enough.

2011 dodge nitro front view 300x187 imageDodge Nitro – The Dodge Nitro left us with very little fanfare. The rebadged and less-capable Dodge version of the Jeep Liberty is probably most famously known as the vehicle Fiat head Sergio Marchionne described as “the most significant hole in our product portfolio.” With it gone, Chrysler was able to increase production of the hot-selling Wrangler. We’d say that’s a fair trade.

ferrari 612 scaglietti 300x187 imageFerrari 612 Scaglietti – Sometimes good things must come to an end, so better things can be. The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was one such car. While a fantastic sports car and an even better grand tourer, its replacement, the all-wheel drive Ferrari FF is a much better car in just about every way. While we’ll fondly remember the 612 Scaglietti, the FF will more than make up for the 612’s loss.

Ford Crown Victoria/Lincoln Town Car/Mercury Grand Marquis – The last Panther-platformFord Crown Victoria front three quarters 300x187 image Ford rolled off the line this year, leaving behind cops and cabbies who no-longer have a go-to choice for a workhorse sedan. The Ford Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Grand Marquis became American icons, and we hold a special place in our hearts for these antiquated beasts of burden.

Final Ford Ranger front three quarter1 300x187 imageFord Ranger – A recent addition to this list, the very last Ford Ranger rolled off the production line just this month – a white Ranger Sport destined for bug killing duties at Orkin. The Ford Ranger was the last true compact pickup for sale in the United States, and while the nameplate may live on overseas, here the Ranger will be greatly missed.

Honda Element front three quarter 300x187 imageHonda Element – The Element was Honda’s take on rival Toyota’s Scion xB. By all accounts, the Element was a much more versatile beast, and proved popular with the outdoorsy crowd. Honda did its best to increase its appeal to all, introducing a sporty version and even a dog-friendly version, but ultimately the Element’s sales compared to Honda’s other SUVs didn’t justify its continued production.

2012 lotus elise front  300x187 imageLotus Elise/Exige – The Lotus Elise and Exige left our market not because they were bad cars, but because their federal smart airbag exemption sadly ran up this year, banishing two of the most visceral and back-to-basics driver’s cars from our shores. All’s not lost however, as the next-generation Elise and Exige will meet federal regulations, and if you can’t wait that long, there’s always the track-only Exige S to hold you over for the next couple years.

2012 maybach 57 300x187 imageMaybach 57/62 – Mercedes-Benz brought the Maybach brand back in 2002 and hoped the name would rise from the ashes and regain its pre-war prestige. While 57 and stretched 62 were essentially no more than tarted-up S-Classes, the car proved popular with the hip-hop crowd, and was arguably featured in just as many songs and music videos as the Cadillac Escalade. Sadly, poor sales didn’t justify Mercedes’ continued support of the brand, and so it quietly discontinued the luxury marquee early this month.

2011 mazda rx 8 grand touring left side 300x200 imageMazda RX-8 – With the death of the Mazda RX-8 comes the death of the Wankel rotary engine in Mazda’s lineup. While much loved by enthusiasts, many found the rotary-powered RX-8’s appetite for fuel and oil hard to stomach, and consequently, the four-door coupe’s sales didn’t meet Mazda’s expectations. Gone in the U.S., the RX-8 will soldier on in Japan for another year or two before being discontinued. Here’s hoping for the rotary’s return in the future.

2010 mercury mariner hybrid 300x187 imageMazda Tribute/Mercury Mariner – The Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner were two badge-engineered versions of the Escape that were often forgotten. The Mariner died with Mercury back in January, while the Tribute gets replaced by the (very good) Mazda-engineered CX-5.

Mercury – Mercury was the first of three brands to disappear this year, way back in January. Ford could no longer justify the brand which at that point had only three models: the Mariner (rebadged Ford Escape), the Milan (rebadged Fusion) and the Grand Marquis (a rebadged Crown Victoria).  With Mercury out of the way, Ford only has to worry about reviving Lincoln from the dead. Fittingly, the last Mercury to roll off the line was the iconic Grand Marquis back in January.

2012 mitsubishi eclipse front three quarters 300x187 imageMitsubishi Eclipse – The Eclipse that went away this year is but a shadow of its former self. The Eclipse was the equivalent of a star high school athlete who comes back for his twenty year reunion fat, balding and ugly. Early Eclipses were turbocharged all-wheel drive scamps that were true performance machines. The current Eclipse is no more than a secretary special. While there are rumors that the Eclipse may make a return in the future, unless it regains the performance pedigree of its past, we can probably live without it.

2011 mitsubishi endeavor front view 300x187 imageMitsubishi Endeavor – File this one under, “They still made this?” The Endeavor was all-new for 2003 and mostly unchanged since then. Rumor has it Mitsubishi will have a replacement for it in a few years, but by all accounts the death knell for the Endeavor sounded long ago.

2011 dodge dakota 4x4 front view 300x187 imageRam Dakota – Sadly, with the death of the Ram Dakota another small pickup leaves our marketplace, leaving just the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon to fly the American flag in the midsize pickup arena. The Ram Dakota started life as a Dodge in the late 1980s and was fairly successful up until the middle of the last decade. Since then, it languished mostly unchanged, save for it leaving the Dodge brand for Ram. Not all is loss though; Ram is reportedly readying a Fiat-based Dakota replacement in the coming years.

2012 Saab 9 4x front three quarters 300x187 imageSaab – If any brand on this list had a long, painful death it was Saab. The events leading up to Saab’s long and drawn out demise have been covered extensively on these pages, so we won’t bore you with the details. We will however, miss the plucky Swedes and the 9-3, 9-4X, and 9-5 which were great examples of Saab making do with the poor cards it was dealt.

2010 tesla roadster sport on flatbed 300x187 imageTesla Roadster – The Tesla Roadster took the world by storm when the electric car from the California-based startup first hit the scene in 2008. Here was one of the first modern electric cars that you could buy, and it happened to be a Lotus Elise-based sports car. Sadly Tesla’s federal smart airbag exemption expired at the close of 2011, leaving Tesla without a car to sell until the Model S hits in the summer of 2012.

2012 volvo S40 front three quarters 300x187 imageVolvo S40/V50 – The Volvo S40 and V50 were unceremoniously dropped from Volvo’s U.S. lineup this year due to lagging sales. The real shame is the loss of the V50, which was the last true station wagon that Volvo sold on our shores. For a brand that cut its teeth in the U.S. selling “turbo brick” wagons, the death of the V50 and its S40 sibling mark the end of an era.

By Christian Seabaugh