Posts Tagged ‘Best New Cars’
April 12th, 2012
When we first reported on the totally redesigned 2013 Lexus GS 350 last August, Lexus took every opportunity to remind the press and potential buyers that unlike the last GS, the new model was a true world-class driver’s car. We must admit we had a chuckle at that, but now that the GS 350 bested the likes of the BMW 535i, Infiniti M37 S and Audi A6 3.0T in a recent Motor Trend comparison test, it is Lexus who’s having the last laugh.
“The Lexus proved the most entertaining, rewarding, and confidence-inspiring up, down, and along our demanding Malibu road loop. Ultimate driving machine? Oh, yeah.” – Motor Trend
The GS 350, equipped for the test with the F-Sport performance package, didn’t lead the field in any quantifiable metric, but nailed the all-important driver engagement test. Combine a slick 6-speed paddle-shifted automatic that never has to hunt for the right gear, driver-adjustable settings for suspension damping, razor-sharp steering response and a willing 3.5-liter V6 and you get one no-apologies midsize that begs to be driven hard.
Inside the GS 350 stands out even in this high-rent district, called the “richest, most aesthetically pleasing cabin in its class.” Motor Trend panned the Lexus for its “abstract art piece” exterior styling, but we kind of like it and you may, too. Has Lexus pulled off a coup? Your own test drive is surely in order.
Midsize Luxury Sport Sedan Pricing
2012 BMW 535i: $53,395; As-Tested $63,245
2012 Audi A6 3.0T: $50,775; As-Tested $57,470
2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport: $53,465; As-Tested $58,800
2012 Infiniti M37 S: $55,795; As-Tested $61,225
February 24th, 2011
#1 — 2011 Nissan LEAF
While the 2011 Nissan LEAF may indeed be the best car of the year, what it represents is far more important. Being the first all-electric vehicle ever to be sold in the United States, the LEAF is a vision that has been decades in the making. A combination of better batteries, more environmentally conscious drivers and government-subsidized tax breaks all contributed to bringing the first commercially viable EV to fruition.
But what you really want to know is what makes it our number one choice. Luckily, there’s no shortage of reasons. First, the fact that it is an all-electric car means that you will never have to pay for gas. Ever.
Its average 100-mile range makes the LEAF the ideal candidate for a commuter car, and the ability to charge it over night in your own garage makes driving it practically worry-free. Plus, with all the federal tax breaks available, the LEAF and its home charger are well within the means of most Americans.
When it comes to how the car drives, the LEAF performs like just about any other car—with some slight (and more than welcome) differences. Because electric motors have 100% of their torque available at any given time, the LEAF’s acceleration is immediately responsive, delivering performance on par with even some sports cars. And because the LEAF doesn’t have a traditional transmission, the acceleration is smooth and seamless.
With the arrival of the Nissan LEAF, things are definitely going to change. Soon an electric infrastructure will be built to better support EVs, and before you know it, a good percentage of the cars on the road will be electric. While we don’t see the internal combustion engine going the way of the dodo any time soon, the addition of EVs will help offset our collective carbon footprint. And that’s something we can all smile about.
See if the 2011 Nissan LEAF is coming to your neighborhood. Click here to find out.
February 24th, 2011
#4 — 2011 Kia Optima
When the 2011 Kia Optima was first unveiled at last year’s New York Auto Show, people could hardly believe that a car that has been so forgettable its entire life could evolve into something so substantial.
Underpinned by the extremely successful Hyundai Sonata platform, the Kia Optima gets a big head start in the suspension department striking the time-honored balance of both sporty handling and compliant ride quality.
Although the Optima and Sonata share the same platform, the Optima is in no way just a re-skinned Sonata. The Optima gets its own unique sheet metal that distinguishes it from its more streamlined Sonata cousin, making it also really stand out among other sedans.
[2011 Kia Optima Pictures]
Not only is the new Optima good-looking, but it’s also very well-equipped. Between a 200-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and a 274-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, both of the Optima’s engine options are solid choices.
The Optima is poised to overthrow the mainstays of the midsize class, and it has just what it takes to do it too.
#3 — 2011 Chevrolet Volt
The Chevy Volt is a car that needs no introduction. With its gas engine-supplemented all-electric power plant, the Volt has captured the imaginations of drivers across the country. The onboard gas engine, as you’re all probably well aware of by now, acts as a generator and provides a charge for the batteries when they’re low, extending the car’s range. This range extender engine never directly powers the car, and is the reason the Volt is still classified as an EV rather than a plug-in hybrid.
It is that very same reason the Volt has been heralded as the electric car for America. With a combined fuel economy of 72 mpg and an all-electric range of 35 miles, the Volt is an EV that can actually take to the open road without its driver constantly worrying about running out of juice.
The Volt will change the automotive landscape in more ways than we can foresee, and is easily one of the most important cars of this year.
Only two cars left in our countdown! Stay with us to find out which car is #1!
February 24th, 2011
#6 — 2011 Audi A8
When it comes to luxury super sedans, the competition couldn’t be fiercer. In order to stay ahead of the game, manufacturers have set their sights high. Really high. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Audi has done with the 2011 Audi A8.
Loaded with technology, the all-new Audi A8 brings new meaning to the term “mobile office.” With its new MMI Touch (Multi Media Interface Touch screen) controls, available rolling wi-fi hotspot and Google-integrated navigation and infotainment system, the A8 literally has all the comforts of home. In fact, it might just offer even more comfort with its finely crafted, plush leather interior.
Naturally, the Audi A8 has ample power from its 4.2-liter twin-cam V8 engine. With 372 horsepower and 328 lb-ft. of torque on tap combined with Audi’s own Quattro all-wheel drive, the A8 can rocket from 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.
Safety is also an area where the A8 performs exceedingly well. Its aluminum alloy space frame chassis provides rigidity, while steel reinforced pillars better protect the car from side impacts and rollovers. Opt for the technology package and you get even more safety with the Audi PreSense collision detection system, LaneAssist blind spot detection system and Night Vision Assistant thermal camera display.
The 2011 Audi A8 offers supreme luxury along with a previously unheard of level of safety, and elevates the class to even greater heights.
#5 — 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe
Without a doubt, the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe was the most anticipated car of last year. That’s true, at least, if you’re a car enthusiast. Although the name might be a mouthful to say, the title of “M1” is reserved for BMW’s supercar of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Nevertheless, the 1-Series M Coupe is as potent as they come, with a retuned twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that puts out a whopping 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque.
Being a BMW M car, the 1-Series M Coupe features an excellent suspension. And with slightly less weight than the larger M3 and the shorter wheelbase of the 1-Series, that means this car boasts some serious handling credentials—which some say even rival those of the original E30 M3.
Although the car’s specs should speak for themselves, BMW has released info about the 1-Series M Coupe’s real world performance that has gotten enthusiasts even more excited. Having a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds and completing a lap around Germany’s famed Nurburgring Nordschleife in 8 minutes, 12 seconds—faster than both the previous generation M3 and outgoing M5—the 1-Series M Coupe certainly has the performance to back up its numbers.
What really seals the deal for the 1-Series M Coupe though is the fact that it’s the least expensive BMW M car ever made. And while $47,000 may still sound like a lot of money, it’s a performance bargain when you consider that the current M3 costs a good $10,000 more. The 2012 1-Series M Coupe successfully captures everything that BMW stands for and is likely a taste of things to come from the Bavarian automaker.
We’re halfway through our countdown! Stay tuned for the top four!
February 24th, 2011
#8 — 2011 Ford Explorer
Ford surprised everybody when it announced that the 2011 Ford Explorer would be built on a unibody platform instead of the traditional body-on-frame design that has been employed since the Explorer’s introduction in the early ‘90s. Although this choice may have upset some enthusiasts, it was a good move on Ford’s part. Having a unibody frame means that the new Explorer rides less like a truck and more like a car—something that the Explorer’s target market probably cares about. On top of receiving new underpinnings, the Explorer went through a major design overhaul, inheriting the same edgy good looks as the Flex and F-150.
With these improvements, the Explorer has matured into a more versatile sport utility vehicle. With optional SYNC connectivity and MyFord Touch, all of the Explorer’s many functions are either at your fingertips or just a voice command away. While comfort and convenience take priority over off-road capability, the new Explorer can still hang with the best when it comes to playing in the dirt. With its advanced Terrain Management system, the Explorer can optimize its performance for any given terrain.
Still not convinced that the Explorer is worthy of this list? The Explorer was recently named the 2011 North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then we don’t know what will.
#7 — 2012 Buick Regal GS
The GS designation is a sacred mark to fans of past Buicks, gracing such legends as the Skylark GS, Wildcat GS and even the king of Buick muscle cars, the GSX. While we may never again see the glory days of the muscle car era, the 2012 Buick Regal GS promises to bring driving excitement back to the Buick brand.
The Regal GS will do this in two ways. First, by gaining more power with a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder engine, the Regal GS breaks any misconceptions about a Buick being a “grandpa car.” Secondly, being underpinned by the German-engineered Opel Insignia platform, the Regal GS features inherently better handling than any previous Buick. And with Buick’s HiPerStrut front suspension, the Regal GS should experience less torque steer (a phenomenon all too common in high-powered front-wheel drive cars) than some of its competitors.
But performance isn’t the only thing this Buick has going for it. It only takes one look at the Regal GS to realize that it means business. Large vents in the front bumper hint at the car’s turbocharged powerplant, while the molded dual exhausts give the rear end a sleek and tidy appearance. To top it all off, Buick added some 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels—dripping with chrome, of course.
The 2012 Buick Regal GS is both a breath of fresh air from a brand that has had little to offer in the way of excitement lately, and a reminder of the dominating performance Buicks used to deliver.
Check back later for more exciting new cars!