2011 L.A. Auto Show Winners and Losers: Production Cars

This year's L.A. Auto Show will make attendees' heads spin in terms of all the new production cars on display. Automakers are rolling out important cars from full-size luxury sedans to the smallest of compact cars. Actually, one company did both. How did the automakers execute these ideas in their final form, which will hit car dealerships within the next year? Cars.com editors Joe Wiesenfelder, David Thomas, Kelsey Mays and Mike Hanley weigh in. You can also read our thoughts on L.A.'s Concept Cars.

2013 Cadillac XTS (above)

Joe Wiesenfelder: Winner
There's much to like here: lots of space, a high-quality interior and what appears to be a smart new interface — though I insist that physical buttons and knobs needn't be banished for touch-sensitive panels. True, the front-drive platform deviates from Cadillac's rear-wheel-drive push, but frankly, few of the full-size rear-wheel-drive competitors are engaging to drive either.

Mike Hanley: Loser
Despite the XTS' compelling technology, I'm underwhelmed by the design. Cadillac's rear-wheel-drive CTS sedan has great proportions, but the brand's creased styling looks wrong on the XTS, especially around its tall rear end. It makes me wonder what kind of design a rear-wheel-drive platform would have yielded.

By David Thomas | November 18, 2011 | Comments (9)

Cars.com Podcast: 2011 New York Auto Show Edition

This week, we gather all four editors in one room to discuss what we liked and didn’t like at this year’s New York International Auto Show, which continues through this weekend.

We debate why we gave certain models a “winner” or “loser” designation, and there is some heated — OK, slightly animated — back-and-forth regarding a few of the cars on display.

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By David Thomas | April 29, 2011 | Comments (2)

New Car Tracker: 4.28.11

After the New York International Auto Show this month, it’s clear that 40-mpg cars will come out at a furious rate this year. The 2012 Kia Rio, Mazda3, Hyundai Accent and Honda Civic can all reach that mark, and all are either on the way or on sale now. To see which ones will be available sooner rather than later, keep track below.

As always, we remind our readers that we don't list rumored models, only confirmed vehicles and time frames.

By Joe Bruzek | April 28, 2011 | Comments (5)

Volvo Boosts Power With R-Design S60, XC60

2012 Volvo S60 R Design

Volvo is increasing the power in the R-Design-trimmed S60 and XC60 for the 2012 model year. Both vehicles now have a power rating of 325 horsepower and 354 pounds-feet of torque. The turbocharged inline-six-cylinder in both models is the same one found on each trim’s T6 model, but here the engine produces an additional 25 horsepower to better match the sporting aspirations of the more expensive R-Design trim level.

Each model comes with standard all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. The S60 R-Design will have a starting price of $42,275 and the XC60 R-Design will start at $43,150 when they both go on sale this summer.

The R-Design trim is new for the second-generation S60; the last time it was available on the model was in 2007. It's essentially a sportier, more aggressive-looking S60 T6. The suspension has been lowered on the model, and the chassis has been stiffened with a front strut brace and rear monotube dampers.

Exterior changes on the S60 include a new lowered front end design. The rear bumper gets the same treatment. Unique 18-inch alloy wheels and dual exhaust designs are also included. On the inside, there are front seats with larger bolsters and unique color combinations.

We already thought the S60 T6 had enough performance for the casual driver for a lower starting price of $37,700. It’ll be interesting to see whether these changes can help the model better compete with the BMW 3-Series for performance buyers.

Check out our shots of the two models from the New York International Auto Show. Tell us in the comment section below if you think the changes are worth the cash.

By Colin Bird | April 27, 2011 | Comments (3)

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Video

The current-generation Chevrolet Malibu was a turnaround vehicle for General Motors in the midsize-sedan segment despite some of its shortcomings, including lackluster design and powertrain. The next-generation 2013 Malibu warms over those problem areas, according to Cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder, though rear passenger space might be a little tight compared with other cars in the segment.
By Colin Bird | April 27, 2011 | Comments (14)

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Video

Reinventing a long-lived icon is hard to do, but it looks like Volkswagen managed to pull off the right balance with modernizing the 2012 VW Beetle, according to Cars.com editor Mike Hanley. Interior quality is a step up from the previous model, and there’s a large suite of modern, fuel-efficient powertrain options. Despite the unique styling, the car is functional, with decent cargo space to boot. Watch the video for more details.

By Colin Bird | April 26, 2011 | Comments (6)

2012 Fiat 500c Video

The 2012 Fiat 500 recently went on sale, and the Italian automaker is already showing off a new variant, the 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio. The model is less a convertible and more of a giant sunroof experience, according to Cars.com editor Kelsey Mays. Like a convertible, though, you do lose some visibility and a lot of trunk space.
By Colin Bird | April 26, 2011 | Comments (0)

Why Do Subcompacts and Compacts Get Such Similar Mileage?

No longer is 40 mpg only the province of the hybrid.

With four new members from the New York International Auto Show — the Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Mazda3 — the crop of 40-plus mpg, non-hybrid gasoline cars available will creep into the double digits by the end of the year. You don’t necessarily have to downsize to get the best mileage: The 2012 Ford Focus SFE will be rated 28/40 mpg city/highway, while the pint-sized Ford Fiesta SFE gets 29/40 mpg. The entry-level Accent gets 30/40 mpg; the Elantra, its larger sibling, is rated 29/40 mpg. The stick-shift Chevy Cruze Eco gets 28/42 mpg, and GM expects the forthcoming Sonic to secure a 40 mpg highway rating.

In most cases, the compact cars are significantly larger, heavier and more powerful than their subcompact siblings. Why then is their gas mileage so similar? At the auto show, I posed the question to automakers and analysts. The simple answer: aerodynamics.

By Kelsey Mays | April 26, 2011 | Comments (15)

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Video

After a year’s absence from the market, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is back, and more powerful than ever, according to Cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder. The new 465-horsepower V-8 is also more fuel efficient. Wrapped around the new powertrain is a new exterior along with with monstrous wheels and a more luxurious interior, which now includes high-resolution instrumentation.

By Colin Bird | April 26, 2011 | Comments (5)

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Video

At first glance the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe can look bloated from the rear, but the car is actually trimmer in person, according to Cars.com editor Kelsey Mays. There hasn’t been a C-Class coupe on the market for more than six years. Watch the video to see whether the return of the body style was worth the wait.

By Colin Bird | April 25, 2011 | Comments (2)

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