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10 hot cars to watch for 2013

Consumer Reports News: December 28, 2012 10:08 AM

Despite the winter chill, the auto show season is heating up, revealing a number of exciting redesigns, new models, and refreshes coming up in 2013.

We saw a few at the recent LA Auto Show and expect more to be displayed in Detroit in mid-January. Check out our list of 10 models to watch.

Audi Q3
Following the BMW X1 and Buick Encore, Audi enters in the compact luxury SUV market with the Q3. The Q3 is primarily based on the Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as components from other VW platforms. It is roughly 10 inches shorter than the larger Q5 SUV. In addition to the gasoline 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo, a 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine will be offered.

Chevrolet Corvette
A redesigned Corvette is just around the corner, marking the seventh-generation for this iconic American sports car. With a new LT1 V8 engine, Chevrolet is claiming the new Corvette will reach 0-60 mph in sub-4 seconds and be the most fuel-efficient Vette in history, with 26 mpg on the highway. The new coupe will break cover next month at the Detroit auto show.

2014-Chevrolet-Silverado-trailer.jpgChevrolet Silverado
Pickup trucks are a huge market, where the leading competitors see continued improvements. Chevrolet is looking to move forward in this segment with revised styling, powertrains, upscale amenities, and high-tech safety features more commonly associated with upscale cars. There is also a promised emphasis on fuel economy, although no numbers have been revealed. The new Silverado and its twin the GMC Sierra hit dealerships in the spring.

Fiat 500L
Fiat is looking to expand their reach and broaden their appeal of the brand by going bigger with the 500L, a five-seater similar to the Mini Cooper Countryman. Despite the name, the 500L is not based on the 500 but the larger Fiat Punto. In contrast, the rear seat is amazingly roomy and access is easy. The 500L will have an enormous sunroof running the length of the top and lots of glass area to aid visibility.

Ford Transit Connect
Taking a fresh spin on the minivan market, Ford is releasing the Transit Connect microvan next fall. Replacing a decidedly, barebones, commercial-focused van, the redesigned Transit Connect will be available to seat either five or seven passengers and have sliding doors like traditional minivans, but have better fuel economy. Ford projects that it will achieve 30 mpg on the highway with the optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine.

Honda Civic
Barely 18 months after launching 2012 redesign, Honda unveiled a substantial freshening. The new Civic addresses some of the shortcoming that caused Consumer Reports to score the car too low to be recommended. In testing now we've found, the ride is no longer choppy and road noise is noticeably reduced. Interior materials are nicer, as well.

Jaguar-F-type-pr-f.jpgJaguar F-Type
The F-Type is a two-seater roadster that's larger than a Porsche Boxster or Mercedes-Benz SLK, and it will be price positioned below the XK. Three supercharged engines are available: two V6 ones ranging from 340 to 380 horsepower and a 495-hp supercharged V8. The only transmission is an 8-speed automatic that facilitates manual overrides through paddles on the steering. The F-Type is intended to be a high-performance sports car,with premium-level luxury features. Jaguar chose a soft-top design rather than a retractable hardtop in the interest of folding speed, lighter weight and trunk space. The S version and the V8 will feature an adaptive suspension to better restrain ride motions. The F-Type goes on sale in spring 2013.

The new Mazda6 follows on the heels of a number of midsized sedan redesigns this past year. Mazda's midsized sedan will offer the company's SkyActiv fuel-efficiency technology, but no fuel economy numbers have been released. The Mazda6 will be available in January, and a diesel powered version will come out in the fall of 2013.

Subaru Forester
The redesigned Forester now catches up with the Subaru line with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and an electric power steering to boost fuel economy. The interior gets a significant upgrade with soft-touch surfaces and a widely available backup camera. We look forward to testing this popular model when it goes on sale in March.

2013-Toyota-RAV4-r-pr.jpgToyota RAV4
The RAV4 pioneered the car-based sport-utility vehicle segment in the 1990's, and now this perennially popular model enters its fourth redesign. One trademark feature the RAV4 lost was the clunky side-swinging rear door with its mounted spare tire. The optional V6 engine is gone and so is the 3rd row option. It now gets a 6-speed automatic, an upgraded interior, simplified trimline and option structure and an optional power lift gate. The RAV4 goes on sale in January.

We'll be purchasing and testing most of these new cars in the coming months, so check back for exclusive first drive videos and full road tests. In addition, see all the new vehicles and many more in our New Car Preview, as well as the Los Angeles and upcoming Detroit auto show coverage.

Liza Barth

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