DETROIT – After a blitz of new models hit the United States last year, automakers slowed down, at least on the surface.
But the new models for 2013 are in key parts of the auto market and will have a bigger impact on car buyers.
For the 2012 model year, car companies flooded the market with 47 new or revamped vehicles. So far for 2013, there are only 32, according to the Edmunds.com auto website. But many of the introductions are in small and midsize cars – the two biggest segments in this country.
Nissans Altima midsize sedan, with its luxury interior and 38 miles per gallon on the freeway, is raising the bar. But Fords new Fusion comes out later in the year, as does a new Honda Accord. Chevrolets four-cylinder Malibu also is just getting to showrooms.
In the small-car market, Chryslers Dodge brand introduced a brand-new Dart during the summer built with Fiat technology, giving the company a strong competitor in a market where it hasnt been for years.
Heres a more detailed look at just some of whats new for the 2013 model year:
ILX: The all-new compact luxury car went on sale in May. It has three engine choices: a 2-liter, 150-horsepower four-cylinder; a 2.4-liter four with 201 horsepower; and Acuras first gas-electric hybrid, with a 1.5-liter engine and an electric motor. The car starts at $25,900.
ZDX: The cross between a coupe, sedan and SUV gets minor exterior styling changes for the new model year. It goes on sale in October. The current version starts at $46,120.
ALLROAD: The wagon returns after a seven-year absence, powered by the brands 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has a wider track and more ground clearance to handle snow and gravel. Its on sale now, starting at $39,600.
Q5: The SUV gets cosmetic changes, including a new grille, bumper and rear tail lamps, and lift gate. Gets an optional 3-liter supercharged V-6. Theres a new hybrid gas-electric version with lithium-ion batteries and the 2-liter, four-cylinder engine. It has an eight-speed automatic transmission. All models come out in the fall. Pricing hasnt been announced.
135is: This is a performance model that sits at the top of BMWs 1 Series lineup. The 135is has a 3.0-liter V-6 with 320 horsepower (compared with 230 horsepower for the base 128i coupe). Buyers can choose a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. It also has a sport suspension, special rims and grille, and other sporty touches. The 135is starts at $44,145 and goes on sale this fall.
X1: The small crossover is finally coming over from Europe, where it went on sale four years ago. Its nearly 7 inches shorter and 3 inches narrower than the X3, making its long BMW hood seem even more prominent. The base model has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and an estimated 27 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The X1 goes on sale this fall starting at $31,545.
ENCLAVE: GMs 5-year-old big crossover SUVs, including the Enclave, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia, get a bit of a facelift in an effort to stretch their lifespan. The Enclave, which seats up to eight, keeps its 3.6-liter V-6 engine, and its six-speed automatic transmission gets an update. Engineers also refined the people-hauler to make it quieter.
It gets new front and rear fascias, a new grille and headlight design, and new tail lamps. It goes on sale in October or November. The price has not been announced, but itll almost certainly be more than the 2012 model, which starts at $36,500.
ATS: The Generals all-new rear-wheel-drive small sports sedan hit showrooms during the summer. Cadillac has high hopes that it can compete with BMWs 3-Series, which dominates the segment. Last year, BMW sold more than 94,000 3-Series cars, including sedans, coupes, stations wagons and convertibles. Cadillac says the ATS is quick, nimble and quiet. Its styling is like a small CTS sedan.
The ATS is powered by a choice of three engines: a 2-liter four-cylinder turbo with 270 horsepower; a 2.5-liter inline four with 200 horsepower; and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 318 horsepower. Manual and automatic transmissions are available. It starts at $33,095, and the 2.5-liter version can get up to 33 mpg on the highway.
SPARK: Its an all-new mini-car, even smaller than the dinky Chevrolet Sonic. The Spark, which comes only as a hatchback, seats four. GM says it has bold colors and comes with 10 air bags for safety. It also has a 7-inch touch screen which can display smartphone navigation, videos, photos and contacts for dialing.
Designed to compete against the Fiat 500, the Smart fortwo and the Scion iQ, the Spark has a 1.25-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. It can get up to 38 mpg on the highway. It went on sale during the summer and has a starting price of $12,245.
300: Chryslers stylish flagship is mostly unchanged, except that the 3.6-liter V-6 engine on the 300S sport model now has eight more horsepower, for a total of 300. The base model, which starts at $29,845, now includes heated leather seats and optional all-wheel-drive.
DART: A game-changing small car for Dodge, which hasnt really competed in this segment since the Dodge Neon in the 1990s. The Dart looks more expensive than its $15,995 starting price would suggest, thanks to exterior touches like big wheels and LED lighting across the back, and interior features like the softly wrapped, backlit dashboard.
The Dart, which went on sale in June, is a product of Chryslers marriage with Italian automaker Fiat and is built on the platform of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a five-door hatchback sold in Europe. It also borrows Fiats penchant for personalization, with 14 different interior and trim combinations and 12 exterior paint colors.
Under the hood is the standard 2-liter I4, dubbed the Tigershark, that puts out 160 horsepower, and a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo, also with 160 horsepower. A 2.4-liter turbo in the sporty R/T version comes out toward the end of 2012 with 184 horsepower. Transmissions include a six-speed automatic, a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual clutch transmission. The base model gets 36 mpg on the highway and 25 in the city; the Aero version gets up to 41 mpg on the highway.
500 TURBO: The Fiat 500 Turbo, which goes on sale this fall, sits between the Fiat 500 and the performance Fiat 500 Abarth in the Italian carmakers lineup. It has a 135-horsepower, 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine linked to a five-speed manual transmission. Thats 25 horses less than the Abarth. The 500 Turbo also has some styling differences, including a larger fascia and a liftgate-mounted spoiler. It starts at $20,200, or around $2,500 less than the 2012 Abarth.
ESCAPE: The new Escape small SUV, which went on sale in June, ditches the boxy styling of the old version in favor of the aerodynamic, chiseled look of Fords new cars. At first glance, the new Escape looks smaller than the old one, but its actually 4 inches longer and has slightly more cargo space thanks to design tricks like thinner seats. It also has the same 3,500-pound towing capacity.
The Escape comes with three four-cylinder engine choices, including a 1.6-liter EcoBoost that can get up to 33 mpg on the highway. It also has an industry-first feature: an optional liftgate that opens automatically when the driver waves a foot under the bumper. The Escape starts at $22,470.
ACADIA: The eight-seat big crossover SUV gets an update, including an exterior design with LED lighting. Inside, there are more soft-touch materials and ambient lighting. A rear camera is standard, as is a front-center air bag. The Acadia goes on sale in the fall. Pricing hasnt been announced. The 2012 version starts at $32,835.
ACCORD: Hondas top-selling vehicle is new from the ground up, with a sedan and coupe. It faces serious competition from midsize rivals in the largest segment of the U.S. auto market. The new car has a more sculpted, athletic look on the outside and an interior that Honda promises to be luxurious. Its smaller on the outside yet bigger on the inside, with improved handling over the old version.
The new version gets three new engines that Honda says will be among class leaders in efficiency. Theres a 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder, a revised 3.5-liter V-6, and a two-motor plug-in hybrid that uses gas and electricity. The plug-in hybrid has a 6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and an electric motor. It can go 10 to 15 miles on battery power. The Accord goes on sale in the fall. Pricing wasnt announced. The current sedan starts at $21,480.
SANTA FE: There are two new versions of the crossover SUV. One model, the Long Wheel Base, or LWB, has three rows of seats and can seat up to seven people, better appealing to big families. Its due out in January. The other version is the Sport, which seats five. It debuted in August.
The Sport has two engines, both four-cylinders. Standard is a 190-horsepower 2.4-liter. Theres also a 2-liter, 264-horsepower turbo. Both have direct fuel injection, meaning the gas and air are mixed in the cylinder surrounding the piston. Thats more powerful and efficient than older engines. The LWB has only one engine, a 290-horsepower direct-injection V-6. The price of the LWB hasnt been released; the Sport starts at $24,450.
EX37/FX37: Infiniti has upgraded the base engine on both its small EX SUV and midsize, performance-oriented FX SUV. The new 3.7-liter V-6 gets 325 horsepower, or 22 more than the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6. As a result, the EX35 and FX35 have been rechristened the EX37 and FX37. Both are set to go on sale soon. Pricing hasnt been announced, but the 2012 EX started at $35,800 and the FX started at $43,700.
ES: The ES midsize car now has the distinctive spindle grille and sharper lines of its bigger siblings, the GS and LS. The interior is roomier, with updated electronics. The 268-horsepower engine is the same as the 2012 model, and it gets around 27 mpg on the highway. But there is a new hybrid version, the ES 300h, which gets an estimated 40 mpg. The ES starts at $36,100; the hybrid starts at $38,850.
MKZ: Ford has spent the past two years plotting the comeback of its flagging Lincoln line, which was the best-selling luxury brand in America 20 years ago but fell into mediocrity when Ford failed to invest in it. The new MKZ midsize sedan is the first glimpse of the big changes Ford is planning for Lincoln, which will get seven new vehicles by 2014.
The new MKZ, out in the fall, has a sweeping, panoramic glass roof among its options. The signature Lincoln split-wing grille is redesigned and toned down, and the sides sweep back into a sharp tail that sits above another Lincoln signature: a narrow strip of taillights across the back of the car. Inside, its elegant, with push-button shifting that eliminates the need for a shifter and opens up the console for more storage space.
The MKZ shares a 2.0-liter, 240-horsepower EcoBoost engine with the Ford Fusion, but buyers can also opt for a 3.7-liter, 300-horsepower V-6 or a 45-mpg hybrid version. The MKZ starts at $35,925, which is a little less than one of its primary targets, the Lexus ES, and about the same as its other, the Cadillac CTS.
C250: The Coupe and Sport/Luxury Sedan get a direct-injection, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 201 horsepower. They are on sale. The Sport Sedan starts at $35,350, the Luxury Sedan at $35,770. The Coupes base price is $37,800.
C300 4MATIC: The Sport/Luxury Sedan gets new direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 with 248 horsepower. Also gets stop-start technology that shuts off the engine when the car is stopped and restarts it when the driver presses the gas pedal. They are on sale. The Sport Sedan starts at $38,950, the Luxury Sedan at $39,360.
OUTLANDER SPORT: Outside, the small crossover SUV gets refreshed with new front and rear fascia with two-tone look. The interior is spruced up with new chrome door trim accents. A new ES model comes with four-wheel drive. It goes on sale shortly, starting at $19,170.
ALTIMA: The 2013 version of Nissans best seller has a more elegant, luxurious look, with a dramatic, tapered grille and chrome strips along the windows. Even more dramatic is its fuel economy: up to 38 mpg with its 182-horsepower, 2.5-liter I-4, which is the best fuel economy in the midsize segment (and 20 percent better than the outgoing Altima). A 270-horspower, 3.5-liter V-6 that gets 31 mpg on the highway is also available.
The Altima has a new hands-free system that connects to the drivers smartphone and new safety features like blind spot and backup warning systems. It starts at $21,500, or $1,000 more than the outgoing Altima.
RAM 1500: Chryslers workhorse gets a refresh after three years on the market. It gets a new, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, which gets 42 percent more horsepower and at least 20 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing Ram, which got 20 mpg on the highway.
The Ram has several new features designed to save gas, including an eight-speed transmission and a system that temporarily shuts down the truck at stop lights. The available 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 has 395 horsepower and 10 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing model. Theres a new grille and fascia and interior upgrades. Pricing hasnt been announced, but the 2012 Ram starts at $22,120 for a regular cab, $33,015 for a quad cab and $43,275 for a crew cab. The Ram goes on sale this fall.
FR-S: Toyota hopes to invigorate its youth-oriented Scion brand with the FR-S sports car, which went on sale in June. Its a sexy, two-door four-seater that pays homage to past Toyota speedsters like the Celica and the AE86 Corolla. The FR-S has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder flat boxer engine, which lets it sit low like Porsches and other supercars.
The engine was jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru, which helps explain why the FR-S looks a lot like the 2013 Subaru BRZ. The FR-S has 200 horsepower. It starts at $24,955 for the six-speed manual.
XV CROSSTREK: The new compact crossover combines five-door design and everyday comfort. It has a new 148-horsepower, 2-liter engine with a continuously variable transmission that doesnt shift gears, so the engine revs at optimal speed. It can get up to 33 mpg on highway. Its on sale, starting at $21,995.
MODEL S: Electric carmaker Tesla, which made its name four years ago with the introduction of the Roadster electric sports car, is entering new territory with its first mass-market, five-seat sedan. The base Model S can go 160 miles on one charge, but buyers can upgrade to batteries that go 230 miles or 300 miles. The luxurious interior includes a 17-inch touch screen that replaces all the knobs and buttons on the dash.
Each Model S comes with a charger plus adapters for a standard 110-volt household outlet, a 240-volt outlet and a public charging station. The Model S, which went on sale in June, starts at $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. The high-end Signature Performance version starts at $97,900.
AVALON: Toyotas full-size sedan is getting a sharper, more angular new look and, for the first time, a hybrid version. It has a plusher interior and some smart new features, including a bin in the dash that stores two mobile devices, and touch-sensitive climate and entertainment controls. Toyota says the new hybrid will get 40 mpg in combined city and highway driving. But otherwise, Toyota hasnt released details about the engine lineup or price. The Avalon goes on sale later this fall.
RAV4 EV: The electric RAV4 is the first all-electric, five-seat SUV on the market. Its battery and drive system are borrowed from Tesla Motors, a maker of high-end electric cars, and its expected to travel around 100 miles on a charge.
The electric RAV4 starts at $49,800, which is more than double the $22,650 starting price of the gas version, although the electric RAV4 will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit that will narrow the gap. Toyota only expects to sell 2,600 electric RAV4s over the next three years, partly because theyll only be sold in certain markets. Sales begin in California soon.
BEETLE: The cute retro bug coupe gets a convertible version and a 140-horsepower diesel that can get 41 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission. The diesel is on sale already; the convertible arrives late this year. It starts at $19,795.
JETTA: The hybrid version goes on sale late in the fall. Few details have been announced, but its expected to get 45 mpg in combined city and highway driving. No price has been announced yet. The S model stays the same, and other Jettas get minor upgrades, including a new chrome radiator grille and chrome window trim on the outside, and metallic trim on the dashboard and doors. Also the steering wheel, shift knob and hand-brake lever are leather-wrapped on the SE model. Non-hybrid Jettas already are on sale, starting at $16,675.
XC-60: The 2013 version of the XC60 mid-size SUV has two new safety features: high-beam lights that automatically switch to low when traffic is coming, and a front camera that monitors speed limits and displays them in the instrument cluster. There are no updates to the 3.2-liter V-6, which gets 240 horsepower and up to 25 mpg on the highway. The XC60 starts at $34,200, up nearly $1,000 from the 2012 model.