Archive for the ‘Hyundai’ Category

Here is the 2015 Porsche Macan, nearly naked with its standard 3.0L V6 engine showing. Note how the hood wraps around the sides, rather than just the top, of the car.

Here is the 2015 Porsche Macan, nearly naked with its standard 3.0L V6 engine showing. Note how the hood wraps around the sides, rather than just the top, of the car.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (2) 2014 Porsche Cayman ext

2014 Porsche Cayman S – even more so, my favorite Porsche. This one ticked every box for options. Lovely, but expensive, of course.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (3) 2014 Porsche Cayman S interior

The interior of the 2014 Porsche Cayman S fit like a hand-tailored glove. Seat adjustments are nearly infinite. Every surface was covered by leather or quality plastics.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (4) 2014 Honda Civic Coupe

I know I’m supposed to care about yet another reboot of the Honda Civic, but I don’t. It looks similar to the 2013 Civic Coupe, but it is different and supposedly better. It would sell whether or not Honda changed it.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (5) 2014 Honda Civic Sedan int

This is the interior of a 2014 Honda Civic Sedan EX with leather and navigation. It’s better than the “refreshed” Toyota Corolla. The seats are still too short for my long legs.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (6) Kia K900 front

The new Kia K900 (don’t call it the K9) is a new flagship rear-drive luxury sedan for Kia. While I wasn’t bowled over by its styling, I thought it was handsome and understated. It’s based on the Hyundai Genesis rear-drive platform and shares greasy bit with the Genesis.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (7) Kia K900 rear

The rear of the Kia K900.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (8) Kia K900 int

The interior of the Kia K900 looked and felt good. Those Koreans sure know how to copy quality. While it’s not German, it is pretty much the match for Infiniti or Lexus. I probably wouldn’t order a car with a white interior, but the show car looked great, right down to the bleached wood accents.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (9) 2014 Kia Soul ext

The Kia Hamsters are back with a new 2014 Soul. It looks much like the first gen Soul, but there are some subtle differences. It sold so well, Kia didn’t want to stray too far from the original formula.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (10) 2014 Kia Soul int

The interior of the Soul is much improved. Plastics and switchgear are better. I got a good feeling sitting there. Seats are better too. I hope they are more comfortable on longer trips.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (11) 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Summer Edition

Poor Mitsubishi. I don’t know if we will see them next year in the US market. They showed a 2013 – yes 2013 – Outlander Sport, Summer Edition.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (12) 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage DE int

Want an entry level car that looks like the interior is 20 years old? Look no further than the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage DE. This thing is stark. I think you will probably see them in rental fleets as I don’t see it being a big seller.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (13) 2014 Mitsubish Mirage DE ext

This is the face of the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage DE. I don’t know how this thing escaped the design studio. Wait, I think it NEVER SAW the design studio. Ugly. The only reason to buy this thing is because of the fuel economy. EPA rates it at 44 mpg highway. But I bet it takes a long time to get to highway speed with a 1.3L 3-cylinder engine.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (14) 2014 Ram 3500 Promaster Cargo Van

This rebadged Fiat commercial van, the 2014 Ram 3500 Promaster Cargo Van, replaces the Mercedes Sprinter van that Dodge/Ram used to sell. It’s ugly, kind of like an unhappy cat fish, but supposedly it’s a good work truck. Note the acres of black plastic around the front and side. This area gets banged up easily in daily work duties, so it’s less expensive to maintain an repair. That’s not a bad idea, but it’s not very pretty.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (15) Nissan GT-R

This Nissan GT-R looked very menacing up on the stand. Very serious boy-racer.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (16) Nissan Sentra Nismo Concept

Finally, a Sentra someone might be excited to buy. This is a Nismo (Nissan Motorsports) Sentra Concept.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (17) Youabian Puma

I’m not sure what it is or why it was at the auto show. While the Youabian Puma is an interesting (train wreck), cartoonishly-large design exercise, there is no way anyone is going to buy one. It’s a Frankenstein mash up. It rides on a Volvo C70 platform (a compact front drive platform). It has headlights from the small Volvo, but taillights from a Buick Enclave. It’s 242 inches long, 93 inches wide and 72 inches tall. The tires are 44 inches tall! The engine is a 7.0L LS7 Corvette V8 mated to a GM 6-speed automatic transmission. The LA-based company wants $1.1 million for it. Right. I’d pass over 3 Ferraris or a Bugatti Veyron for this thing. I know they did this for publicity, but what’s the end game? No investor will touch it and not even Jay Leno would buy it.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (18) Honda Gear Concept Art Center

This is an Art Center student design study. It was labeled as a Honda Gear Concept. It has more personality than a standard-issue Honda Fit.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (19) 1963 Corvette Asteroid Barris Kustoms Rear

I know I included pictures of the 1963 Corvette Asteroid in my coverage of Day 1, but I couldn’t resist more pictures. It is a 1963 model, according to the literature, but no split rear window. It was done by the legendary George Barris of Barris Kustoms.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (20) 1963 Corvette Asteroid Int

Here’s a better shot of the interior of the 1963 Corvette Asteroid.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (21) 2014 Cadillac CTS front

2014 Cadillac CTS V-Sport

LAAutoShow Day 2 (22) 2014 Cadillac CTS rear

Rear of the 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L 4 (AWD).

LAAutoShow Day 2 (23) Cadillac Elmiraj

Another glamour shot of the stunning Cadillac Emiraj concept. Supposedly this is the blueprint for the long rumored rear drive Cadillac flagship.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (24) 2014 Bentley Continental GT Convertible V8

When you can’t afford your Bentley Continental GT Convertible with the 6 liter W-12 engine, you can bet the “budget” version with the V8.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (25) 2014 Bentley Flying Spur

I do like the the new Bentley Flying Spur. Here’s a shot of the front. I had a tail shot in my Day 1 coverage.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (26) 2014 Bentley Mulsanne

The Bentley Mulsanne is about as big and powerful as a locomotive. It’s the most expensive Bentley you can buy and it looks and feels the part of ultra luxury.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (27) 2014 Chevy Camaro ZL1 convertible int

Considering the 2014 Chevy Camaro ZL1 Convertible starts at $61,000, I think you should expect a better interior. Sure you’re paying for the 580 horses, but the the whole interior has the feeling of a Soviet gulag.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (28) 2014 Chevy Camaor ZL1 Convertible ext

At least the exterior of the $61,000 Camaro ZL1 screams fast. Because it IS fast. It also is a giant YELLOW FLAG to your local police department or the CHP looking to issue speeding tickets.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (29) 2014 Chevy Camaro Z28 side

The 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 looked fantastic in this matte white paint – like it was frozen in time. Unfortunately it won’t be a factory option. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it will probably cost more than the ZL1.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (30) 2014 Chevy Camaro Z28 rear

The black carbon fiber spoiler looks great on the 2014 Camaro Z/28. Available in the Spring of 2014 as a late 2014 model. Go figure. Why not a 2015?

LAAutoShow Day 2 (31) 2014 Chevy SS rear

This 2014 Chevrolet SS is very disappointing. I know it will drive great because it’s based on the dearly departed Pontiac G8. But for $45k (no options), I want something that looks the part of a 415 HP muscle car with a Corvette V8.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (32) 2014 Chevy SS front

The front of the 2014 Chevy SS screams “rental” not “muscle.”

LAAutoShow Day 2 (33) 2014 Chevy SS int

The interior of the Chevy SS is better than the Camaro, but still not exactly lavish for something that costs as much as a BMW 535i.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (34) Chevy Colorado Lifeguard concept

This Lifeguard Beach Patrol Concept looks like a good use for Chevy’s new mid-size Colorado pickup truck.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (35) Chevy Tahoe Black from SEMA Concept only

This 2014 Chevy Tahoe Black was a hold over from the SEMA show in Las Vegas. As it stands, it’s only a concept, but I have no doubt it would find lots of buyers if GM gave it the green light.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (36) 2014 Chevy Spark side

This poor little 2014 Chevrolet Spark looked lonely so I took its picture. Will it find love from a teenage girl? I don’t know.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (37) 2014 Chevy Spark int

The interior of that 2014 Chevy Spark screams RENTAL, not “Buy Me.”

LAAutoShow Day 2 (38) 1963 Chevy Corvair Greenbrier Van

Love, love, love this 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Van. It was used as a video booth for the Auto Show, but I’m told it drives perfectly and makes it to shows all over So Cal. Fantastic.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (39) 2014 Maserati Quattroporte Zegna Edition

This photo doesn’t do justice to the interior of this special edition Zegna Maserati Quattroporte. The seats, dash, headliner and almost all the touch surfaces are tailored in expensive designer fabric. Ermenegildo Zegna is a high-end Italian fashion designer.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (40) 2014 Maserati Quattroporte Zegna rear

Only 100 Zegna Edition Maserati Quattroportes will be produced. The nice gentleman didn’t have a price, but if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. The base Quattroporte starts at $108,000, but this isn’t the base model.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (41) 2015 Maserati Ghibli side

The 2015 Maserati Ghibli shares some chassis and system components with the Chrysler 300, but it’s no Chrysler. It’s affordable for a Maserati, starting at $65,600.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (42) 2015 Maserati Ghibli int

You can see a bit of the Chrysler 300 in the 2015 Maserati Ghibli, but most people won’t see much DNA swap. It looks and feels the part and costs about as much as a BMW 550i (but without the V8). Still, it’s more distinctive and exclusive than the BMW.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (43) Jaguar CX17 concept SUV

You knew this was inevitable. As luxury manufacturers chase profits, everyone wants in on the SUV gravy train. The Jaguar CX17 Concept is quite handsome. I like its proportions.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (44) Jaguar CX17 concept SUV

The Jaguar CX17 has a great interior, but that will never see production. But make no mistake, Jaguar will get an SUV, sooner than later. The demand and profit potential is too much to resist, even if it doesn’t fit the Jaguar brand DNA.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (45) 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe white side

I wanted to add some car porn shots of the beautiful 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (46) 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe Rear R

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe rear.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (47) 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe red side

2015 Jaguar F-Type R in Red.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (48) Lexus IS F-Sport chassis

Lexus had this fun display. It takes you under the chassis of the IS F-Sport. Lexus desperately wants you to think of the brand as sporty, so this was an all-out effort. But not many people I know think of Lexus as sporty. Luxurious and quiet. Well made. But not sporty.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (49) 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport

See? More sporty Lexus. This is the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (50) 2015 Volvo V60 int

In my Day 1 coverage, I had an exterior shot of the 2015 Volvo V60 Sport Wagon. This is the inside of the V60. It’s pretty much the same as the S60 sedan.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (51) 2014 BMW 335i GT xDrive side

This is the 2014 BMW 335i GT xDrive. Yeah, I know, it’s a mouthful. Still, I don’t see many takers. The extra room in the back seat was to cater to the Chinese market. It won’t find many buyers in the U.S.

The 2015 BMW i8 looks good from every angle.

The 2015 BMW i8 looks good from every angle.

A good side shot of the BMW i8.

A good side shot of the BMW i8.

I guess I haven't gotten tired of the 2015 BMW i8 yet. Very exotic to my eye.

I guess I haven’t gotten tired of the 2015 BMW i8 yet. Very exotic to my eye.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (55) 2014 BMW K 1600 GTL Exclusive

This is quite the cruiser motorcycle. The 2014 BMW K 1600 GTL Exclusive. God knows how much it is, but not cheap.

Look what showed up in LA! The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 Crossover.

Look what showed up in LA! The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 Crossover.

The 2015 GLA250 is meant to do battle with the BMW X1. It almost looks like the X1. But the GLA is small. Maybe too small for some.

The 2015 GLA250 is meant to do battle with the BMW X1. It almost looks like the X1. But the GLA is small. Maybe too small for some.

There is a good amount of cargo space in the GLA. Far more than its cousin, the CLA 4-door coupe.

There is a good amount of cargo space in the GLA. Far more than its cousin, the CLA 4-door coupe.

The interior of the 2015 GLA250 is pretty much the same as the CLA.

The interior of the 2015 GLA250 is pretty much the same as the CLA.

This is the front of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Very nice if you can afford it.

This is the front of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Very nice if you can afford it.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (61) Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept reaar left

By far, the show-stopping concept car was the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo. This is the kind of imagination I like to see at an auto show. Simply fantastic from any angle.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (62) Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept rear

The rear of the Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept. Wow!

LAAutoShow Day 2 (63) Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept Side

Calling Batman! The semi-gloss metallic paint makes the car look almost surreal. Like you are looking at a futuristic film.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (64) Mercedes GLA45 AMG concept

This is a thinly-disguised concept car. The inevitable AMG version of the GLA will be very close to this concept Mercedes GLA45 AMG.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (65) 2014 Mercedes SLS AMG front

I know it’s been discontinued, but the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with the gullwing doors is a showstopper, every time. Love the matte paint.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (66) 2014 Mercedes SLS AMG side

The gullwing doors of the SLS AMG Coupe are quite impractical, but who doesn’t want to be seen getting out of this for a red carpet event?

LAAutoShow Day 2 (67) 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet int

Mercedes has its CLA and GLA, but Audi has an all-new A3. This is the interior of the A3 Cabriolet. Quite nice, considering it’s around $30,000 to get in the door of a sedan. Not sure how much the Cabriolet will be.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (68) 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet front left

The 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet looks terrific and certainly telegraphs Audi family resemblance and DNA.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (69) 2015 Audi A3 sedan rear

2015 Audi A3 Sedan. Hopefully we will get the A3 Sportsback again. But so far, no commitment from Audi.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (70) 2015 Audi A3 sedan front

The front of the 2015 Audi A3 sedan.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (71) 2015 Audi S3 side

You knew that if there was an A3, there would be an S3. We probably won’t see it on sale for another year, either as a 2015 or 2016 model.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (72) 2015 Audi S3 int

The interior of the Audi S3.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (73) 2014 Audi SQ5 front

Want a sporty Crossover? Can’t wait for the Porsche Macan Turbo? Well look no further than the 2014 Audi SQ5.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (74) 2014 Audi SQ5 int

Interior of the 2014 Audi SQ5.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (75) Audi A3 e-tron concept hybrid

The Audi reps wouldn’t give me any timing or specs for this A3 e-tron. But they did say that it would be a hybrid, not pure electric drive.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (76) 2014 Audi R8 V10 ext

Ah, more car porn. Here’s a very striking Audi R8 V10.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (78) VW Cross Blue Coupe Twin Drive BlueMotion Concept rear

This is the very long-named Volkswagen Cross Blue Coupe Twin Drive BlueMotion Concept. Why they are calling an SUV a coupe is beyond me, but these days anything with a low roof-line is called a coupe.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (77) VW Cross Blue Coupe Twin Drive BlueMotion side

It’s almost a given that this will be produced, probably at VW’s Chattanooga, TN plant. VW needs a 7-passenger SUV beyond the Touareg, so this will be it.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (79) VW Cross Blue Coupe Twin Drive BlueMotion Concept interior

The interior of VW’s Cross Blue is nearly production ready. Some of the show car gloss will be lost, but the shapes and placement of controls is pretty much how it will be for production.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (80) 2015 VW e-Golf

This is another shot of the 2015 e-Golf. An Electric Golf? Sure, I bet it’s fun to drive too.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (81) 2014 Mazda 3 front

The 2014 Mazda 3

LAAutoShow Day 2 (82) 2014 Mazda 3 hatch side

A side view of the 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (83) Mazda Clubsport 3 Concept

This is the Mazda Clubsport 3 Concept. Fun for the show, and it probably previews the future Mazdaspeed 3.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (84) Bass Pro Shop Toyota Tundra

Yeah, I know. Who cares about the Toyota Tundra, right? I mean it doesn’t sell very well, nowhere near Toyota’s lofty projections. But you have to love this Bass Pro Shop edition.

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While this was advertised as a “Concept” it pretty is exactly the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

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This is the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

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This is the all-new 2014 MINI Cooper. It’s a little bit bigger, and a little more frugal.

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Here’s the 2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop.

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The interior of the 2014 MINI Cooper S is where the big changes occur. Note that the toggle switches no longer operate the windows and that the middle red switch is the ignition!

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I like the center instruments on this MINI Cooper S. The plastics are upgraded, not as hard and tinny.

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It’s kind of hard to tell here, but the power window stitches are on the driver’s arm rest, where they should be. Finally.

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The sports seats (optional) on the new MINI Cooper have better, extendable thigh support. Something I found lacking on my Clubman when I owned it. Nice to see the upgrade.

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Yes, a little bigger and a little more room in the MINI Cooper.

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2014 MINI Cooper Hardtop

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The John Cooper Werks version of the MINI Cooper S Coupe.

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Rear of the 2015 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (97) 2015 Subaru WRX Limited rear

This is the 2015 Subaru WRX Limited. I hope it will satisfy hardcore fans of the Subaru WRX.

LAAutoShow Day 2 (98) VIA Motors Extended Range Electric Pickup Truck

Here’s something different. This is the VIA Motors Extended Range Electric Pickup truck. The window says it’s good for 800 hp and 50 mpg. I don’t know the price, but it won’t be cheap with all those batteries.

Acura: How do you get people back into your showrooms if you’re the neglected quasi-luxury brand of Honda? Acura thinks the first step is to offer a luxury version of the Honda Civic and remake it’s flagship RL that could only find 38 buyers last month.

The 2013 Acura ILX is coming to showrooms in the 2nd quarter of 2012 – so soon. It will have three powertrain choices: A 2.0L  4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed automatic (Civic); a 2.4L 4-cylinder with a 6-speed manual transmission (Civic Si) and a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine with a hybrid electric motor and an automatic (CVT) transmission (Civic Hybrid).  The styling and interior design far surpasses the current un-loved Civic.

2013 Acura ILX interior - much better than the Civic!

2013 Acura ILX - Front

2013 Acura ILX - Rear

Once again, Honda/Acura has rejected the idea of a proper rear-drive luxury flagship for Acura.  The current RL has been languishing on the market, mostly unchanged, since 2005. No one bought the $50,000+ RL in 2005 because the TL, Acura’s version of the Honda Accord,  is about the same size, equally well-equipped and is $10 – $15,000 LESS.   Sales of the RL for all of 2011 were only 1,096 units. And Acura dealers probably had to give those away at steep discounts.

At the New York show, Acura previewed the new RLX in concept form. There aren’t many details, but it will continue to be a front-drive/AWD car with a V6 engine and the possibility of a hybrid drivetrain.

The RLX Concept seems to be a very conservative sedan with an Acura grille. It's nice, but as a flagship statement and as the material expression of Honda's engineering prowess, I'm not impressed.

The RLX Concept is very Japanese, but not very distinguishable in the very crowded near-luxury field. You know, the 2013 Toyota Avalon looks like this too.

BMW:  BMW has finally decided to bring the X1, it’s small SUV to the United States.  The X1 is nearly identical in size to the outgoing 3-series wagon because it’s made on the same platform in the same factory in Germany.  It weighs only 3,527 pounds, a whopping 585 pounds lighter and 6.5 inches shorter than the X3.  It’s main competition will be the Mercedes-Benz GLK.

The X1 sDrive28i will be the entry-level rear-drive model with the company’s new 2.0L dual turbo 240 hp engine, starting at $31,545.   BMW will also offer the X1 with its excellent 3.0L inline dual-turbo six with 300 hp, starting at $39,345.   Missing, as usual, is a 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.  The X1 hasn’t yet been officially rated by the EPA, but BMW hints that in base rear-drive form, it should get around 23 mpg in the city and an impressive 34 mpg on the highway.

Given its more compact size, low entry level price, American’s never-ending love for SUVs and impressive fuel economy, I think the little X1 will be a hit.

2013 BMW X1. It looks like the X3, but with a little less cargo space. I'm thankful that you can still buy it without BMW's xDrive AWD system.

The interior of the 2013 X1 is very BMW-familiar. Since the X1 is much more closely-related to the 2011 3-series, it lacks the austere interior of the current 1-series coupe/convertible.

Buick: Oh, General Motors, I know you’re trying to get us to like Buick. You’ve put out some interesting products. The new LaCrosse is competent, as is the Regal and the all-new Verano.  Sales for the first quarter of 2012 are down about 16.5% from the same period last year, so there are high hopes that the Verano and the newly-refreshed 2013 Enclave will spice up sales.

The large Enclave SUV is based on GM’s Lambda platform that underpins corporate cousins the Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia.  Here are some pictures, see if you can see if you can spot the changes (hint, they are hard to see).

The 2013 Buick Enclave has only subtle styling changes. Nothing radical. The headlight array is different, giving the front a more aggressive look.

The center stack on the dash has an upgraded infotainment system and I'm told that the wood surrounding it is real, even if it looks fake.

Chevrolet:  It’s happened, Chevrolet has made an Impala that may find a home outside its natural habitat – corporate rental fleets. Based on the same platform as the Buick LaCrosse and the upcoming Cadillac XTS temporary flagship, the handsome new Impala leaps into showrooms early in 2013 as a 2014 model.

The base engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine making 195 hp and 187 lb-ft of torque. Optional will be the same 2.4 liter four with GM’s eAssist mild hybrid technology. The top engine is the ubiquitous 3.6 liter V6 making 303 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard on models.

The upgraded interior materials look good and are soft to the touch. French stitching abounds over the dashtop, the instrument panel cowel and the center control panel.  Another feature is the same active noise cancellation system also found in the LaCrosse.

The good news is that the Impala is finally competitive. The bad news is that its direct competitor is the Buick LaCrosse. GM’s eating its own children, again.

The handsome new 2014 Chevy Impala is a Buick LaCrosse with less bling.

Another nice picture of the 2014 Chevy Impala. Cool house too. It looks like the photo shoot was in Palm Springs.

The 2014 Impala has the aura of a near-luxury car. Good for Chevy, but not so good for corporate sister Buick. Why pay for a Buick when you can get essentially the same thing for thousands less with a Chevy badge?

The detailing and materials for the interior have advanced at least two generations over the ancient rental fleet Impala currently on-sale. The Chevy MyLink infotainment system, including native apps and touch-screen navigation look pretty cool here.

Fisker: The Fisker Karma is the flashy king of hybrids, but it’s also the price king.  As part of Fisker’s plan to expand its line up and create a volume nameplate, Fisker had planned on purchasing and re-purposing an old GM plant in Delaware with a Department of Energy loan. The project car was code named Nina.

In a rapidly changing environment for hybrids and electric cars, Fisker is now waffling on the Delaware plant and the DOE loan has been suspended. Fisker says it has secured private funding for the new car.  But to tease us all, Fisker has released pictures of Project Nina, now renamed the Atlantic.

It has strong design ties to the Karma, but this “affordable” plug-in hybrid – an extended range electric vehicle – is supposed to have a price tag in the $45,000 range (half the price of the Karma).  It ditches the 2.0L GM EcoTec engine in the Karma in favor of a BMW-sourced 2.0L inline 4 cylinder engine. A123 systems is still scheduled to supply the battery pack, but after the problems with the battery pack on the Karma, that could change too.

Behold the Karma Atlantic:

Henrik Fisker certainly has a flair for design. There are no bad angles on this 2014 (?) Atlantic ErEV.

There will be no confusion that this is a Fisker. Style is abundant.

The Atlantic design prototype’s glass roof shows off a ridged ‘spider’ structure. According to Fisker, this incredibly strong construction also allows the Atlantic to offer a remarkable amount of rear headroom for a car with its sleek, coupe-like stance.

Hyundai: While Hyundai didn’t wow us with a flashy show car or a zippy variant like the Veloster, we did get to see the 2013 Santa Fe, which is a key crossover in Hyundai’s portfolio. The big news, besides the fresh, “Fluidic Sculpture” sheet metal and upgraded interior, was that the Santa Fe would be available in normal and long-wheel base versions.  This sets the stage for the exit of the Hyundai’s large crossover, the Veracruz, which found only 622 homes last month. In other words, everyone forgot it existed.

The two row Santa Fe Sport has a base 2.4L direct-inject 4-cylinder engine good for 190 hp.  A 2.0L direct-inject turbo four making 264 hp is optional.  The three row Santa Fe’s only engine is a 3.3L direct-inject V6 good for 290 hp. All versions have a standard in-house sourced six-speed automatic and are available in both front and all-wheel drive.  The base Sport with front drive is good up to 33 mpg.  The Sport Turbo is only slightly less at 31 mpg.

As a sign of a new automotive trend, the 2013 Santa Fe Sport is 266 pounds less than the outgoing model. Less weight = more efficient. Prices haven’t been released, but the base Santa Fe Sport shouldn’t be much more than the outgoing base Santa Fe which is $23,225.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has a more aggressive trapezoidal grille.

The 2013 Santa Fe's smaller "D" pillar should help side visibility.

The interior of the 2013 Santa Fe looks rich and handsome. I like the new big navigation screen.

Infiniti: Nissan’s electric branch grew a new Leaf and this time it’s called the LE. Wow, Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division, couldn’t come up with a better name than that? While the Nissan Leaf can charitably be described as “geek chic,” the Infiniti LE got all the designer duds and more LED bobbles than Lady Gaga at a rave.

The Infiniti LE Concept is around the size of the Leaf, but it has a trunk, not a hatchback and bears more than a passing resemblance to the Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai calls it “Fluidic Sculpture” while Infiniti calls it “Hamon” (ripple) design.   Based on the Leaf’s platform, the LE packs a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack good for a claimed 100 miles. Nissan claimed the same thing for the Leaf, but 70 miles was more realistic in normal driving in So Cal warm weather.

The headline technology is the wireless inductive energy flow charging system. A pad would be installed on your garage floor, connected to the electricity source. Park your EV over the pad and a receptor at the bottom of the car siphons electrons through microwaves.  Nissan says the LE could be in showrooms in two years; however it’s unclear which will be ready first: the car or the charging system.

Infiniti isn’t talking price, but the Leaf SL starts at $37,250. Figure the Infiniti has to be at least $10,000 more.

The Infiniti LE Concept EV. It shimmers in the electric blue LEDs.

The Infiniti LE Concept reminds me of the Hyundai Elantra. That's both good and bad. I think the Elantra sports a modern, flowing design; but an Infiniti is supposed to be an expensive luxury car, not an entry-level subcompact.

Inductive charging is a cool idea that can't be here fast enough.

The interior of the Infiniti LE Concept. Infiniti can't get enough of those blue LEDs. It does make for a futuristic vibe.

Lexus:  With the new Toyota Camry introduced last year, it was only a matter of time before a new Lexus ES rolled out. The 2013 Lexus ES350 is a welcome change to its dowdy predecessor.  The new ES sports modern fluidic styling favored by Asian manufacturers, along with the slightly risky “spindle” face first introduced earlier this year on the larger rear-drive GS350. Power will come from an updated version of Toyota’s 3.5L direct-inject V6.  In the Camry, the non-direct injection engine makes 268 hp and in the GS the direct inject engine is rated at 306 hp.

However for me, the real “excitement” (if that word can be applied to a Lexus) is that the new ES gets a much needed, sweeping revision of its interior.  Banished to history is the ugly center stack tombstone in favor of the handsome horizontal dash lines first seen in the GS.

Lexus didn't take much risk with the 2013 ES350; however, it certainly is modern and some think the spindle grille makes it a bit aggressive. It just looks like a hooked fish to me.

The sweeping horizontal lines of the 2013 ES interior is a complete 180 from its predecessor. The optional bamboo wood looks rich and it's real.

For others, though, the big news was that there will be an ES300h hybrid for the first time. Naturally, it will be based on the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid, so it won’t be saddled with the unpopular wildebeest-look of the hybrid-only Lexus HS250h. The Camry Hybrid has a combined fuel economy of 40 mpg, so I’d expect the heavier Lexus to be slightly less.

2013 Lexus ES Hybrid

An interior detail of the 2013 Lexus ES Hybrid.

Lincoln: Can Ford’s renaissance spread to Lincoln? Ford’s only remaining “luxury” brand is Lincoln. The venerable luxury brand, once famous for such amazing products as the 1938 Lincoln-Zephyr or the 1963 Continental “slab side” “suicide door” convertible (think Kennedy assignation), has been used and abused for decades and is in the hospital on life support.

Every current Lincoln is a rebadged Ford and Lincoln has been starved of a proper flagship rear-drive sedan for decades. It’s going to take time and money, lots of money, to revive Lincoln and find new customers. The last of Lincoln’s old-school customers were abandon when Ford threw the last shovel of dirt over the long-dug grave of the venerable rear-drive Town Car/Crown Victoria.  Somehow, a rebadged Taurus – the MKS – was supposed to take its place. It didn’t.

The first step for the new, new Lincoln is the 2013 MKZ. Still saddled with the ridiculous three letter meaningless nameplate, the MKZ is, once again, a rebadged Ford Fusion. However, this time, Ford thinks that there is enough sheet metal, interior and engine distinction to quell the critics and be the platform for another “relaunch” of the brand.

The new MKZ’s base engine will be Ford’s excellent 2.0L direct-inject EcoBoost good for 240 hp.  While the Fusion doesn’t get a V6 this time around, the Lincoln MKZ will be available with a 300 hp 3.7L direct-inject V6. The MKZ hybrid will have the same system in the Fusion Hybrid that Ford says will be good for 41 mpg in the city/36 highway.

Lincoln also promises all the latest in electronic safety wizardry, active noise cancellation and, for the first time, “world-class customer service,” all-new showrooms and a staff trained at the (groan) Lincoln Academy. In short, Lincoln is going after a Lexus customer experience. Hum… we will see how that works out.

Overall, I love the new MKZ, but its Fusion sister is also sensational. At least this time around, you can’t go wrong with either product.

The 2013 Lincoln MKZ. This is the new face of Lincoln. It's high style, but it does nothing for me. It just looks derivative. The sheet metal is well rendered and provides style lines and V-shaped hood stamping provides visual interest. The LED running lights are nice, but almost a must-have cliche these days.

The coupe-like styling of the 2013 MKZ is in vogue, but the integrated real spoiler and full-width horizontal taillights are quite handsome, sporty and a cool touch.

Lincoln thinks that this gigantic, optional 15.2 square foot panoramic glass sliding roof panel will be a defining feature of the new MKZ. This spectacular overhead shot should be everywhere because it really makes the car special.

The handsome, futuristic new interior of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ may be hard for older customers to live with. Everything is by touch screen or touch panel. Note that even the traditional transmission shifter is gone in favor of push-button controls on the left side of the center console.

The 10.1" full-color navigation and control screen is lovely and at the proper height. Notice the transmission selection buttons to the right of the steering wheel, on the center panel.

Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes is revamping its SUV line up. First was the ML, followed by the GLK (to better compete with the BMW X1 and now the full-size GL).  I’ve always liked the GL because it seems to wear its angular styling like a beautiful Hugo Boss suit. The styling for 2013 continues the previous angular styling language, but with rounded edges and a more prominent nose similar to what we first saw on the 2012 ML.

The three-row, seven seat 2013 GL comes with three engine choices, as before, but with some new hardware. The GL350 BlueTec diesel is powered by a revised 3.5L V6 common-rail injection turbo-diesel good for 240 hp and an intoxicating 455 lb-ft of towing torque. As you’d expect, the diesel will be the fuel economy leader.  The GL450 has a 4.7L V8, as before, but this time it’s part of Mercedes’ all-new architecture that uses direct injection and twin turbos to pump out 362 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The top-line GL550 ditches the naturally-aspirated 5.5L V8 in favor of the same 4.7L V8 twin-turbo in the GL450, except the output is up to a whopping 429 hp with a gut-wrenching 516 lb-ft of torque, surpassing the diesel (but much more thirsty).  All engines are mated to Mercedes’ latest 7-speed automatic transmission with 4-Matic all-wheel drive as standard equipment.

As usual, Mercedes-Benz promises the very latest in advanced safety technology, including a slew of airbags and air curtains, optional blind-spot detection, lane keeping assistance, cross-wind stabilization and Pre-Safe Braking that will stop the car for you if it senses an eminent crash.

My favorite new option, however, is the optional Designo quilted seats. Expect them to be expensive.

These Designo quilted seats on the 2013 Mercedes GL look divine and I'm sure the price will choke a horse.

The GL is assembled at Mercedes’ Tuscolusa, Alabama plant for the worldwide market. Expect the GL350 diesel to start around $63,000, the volume leader GL450 to start at $64,000 and the mighty GL550 to start in the $87,000 range.

This 2013 GL350 BlueTec (diesel) as well as the V8 models are fitted with a full array of LEDs. If there is a contest between Mercedes and Audi as to how many LEDs can adorn the front of a car, I think the new GL may win.

The GL is basically a large, boxy wagon. Sort of like the German version of the long-gone but glorious Jeep Wagoneer.

The interior of the new GL is beautifully appointed with rich materials and pleasing, horizontal lines. Of course, the latest version of Mercedes' infotainment system, COMAND, is at the driver's eye level to reduce distraction.

Nissan: Nissan is rolling out five new or refreshed models in the next 15 months. First up is the company’s volume leader, the Altima. The Altima is an all-important vehicle for Nissan as it accounts for roughly one third of its total U.S. sales. Last year, Nissan sold 268,981 Altimas.

The refreshed styling looks much more like Nissan’s flagship sedan, the Maxima. That’s a bit odd because the Maxima is getting a bit tired and in need of its own refresh.  The 2013 Altima comes standard with a new 2.5L inline four with variable valve timing, but no direct injection.  It pushes output up to 182 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. Mated to another continuously variable transmission (CVT), Nissan says the Altima will return 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway – a marked increase over the outgoing model.   Nissan’s 3.5L V6 carries over and with the CVT, it has improved fuel economy of 22/30.

The Altima also went on a diet and lost 79 pounds while increasing the use of high-strength steel leading to a claimed 30% increase in structural rigidity. A sophisticated multi-link rear suspension is good news for both ride and handling. NissanConnect is standard, and with Bluetooth 2.0, makes fast and easy connection with smartphones. The base Altima comes in at $21,500, just $1,000 more than the last generation base model – but you do get more kit and a better car for the money.

I think it’s a good, safe refresh and it will continue to be a volume leader for Nissan.

2013 Nissan Altima

The interior of the 2013 Nissan Altima shows a more mature, rich design. The seats are supposedly specially designed to reduce fatigue.

The new NissanConnect infotainment system should make using your smartphone easier. The controls are a combination of old-fashion knobs and a modern touch-screen. It's nice to have a rear view camera and dual-zone automatic climate control. It all looks upscale.

SRT: Street and Racing Technology. Historically, SRT was the in-house tuning brand applied to all Chrysler Group brands.  However, about a year ago, Ralph Gilles, the talented designer of the original Chrysler 300 and the Senior Vice President of Design for the Chrysler Group, was asked to lead SRT into its own brand identity. Gilles is now President and CEO of SRT in addition to his VP of Design duties.  Lucky man.

Rumors were flying that the new Viper would be built on an Alfa Romeo 8C platform, but that was all a smoke screen. The Viper has updated the outgoing chassis and upgraded the Viper’s signature V10 engine. Here are the numbers: The all aluminum 8.4 liter V10 engine packs 640 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission.  At launch, no automatic or dual-clutch automated manual is available. Yet.

For the first time, the Viper will get stability control; however, there is an off switch. It also gets a much more civilized and handsome interior.  It weighs approximately 3,350 pounds and balances the weight at nearly a 50/50 ratio, front to back.  SRT says the Viper should top out at 206 mph.  Prices haven’t been announced, but Car and Driver estimates a price tag in the $120,000 range. Get in line, they will all sell.

The 2013 SRT Viper is stunning at every angle.

The 2013 SRT Viper. I love the taillights, all LEDs, of course. Red seems a very fitting color for the new snake.

The Viper's V10 engine is a thing of beauty under those fantastic cross-braces. SRT says the cross-braces help increase structural rigidity by 50 percent!

The new interior of the Viper GTS is just stunning with the red and black Nappa leather. The thin-shell seats are sourced from the same vendor used by corporate cousin, Ferrari.

Wow - a fully functional center stack with real amenities including the excellent, easy-to-use corporate infotainment system found in other Chrysler products. The contrasting French stitching is a nice touch. The interior finally catches up to the boy-racer greasy bits underneath.

Subaru: Last year, Subaru introduced an all-new Impreza, its volume sedan and hatchback.  Variants inevitably follow any new Impreza and first up is the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. It’s basically an Impreza Sport (a 4-door hatchback) that’s raised 9 inches with a black-cladded sill, cool new wheels and roof rails.

The XV Crosstrek has the same 2.0L 148 hp, 145 lb-ft of torque boxer engine found in the Impreza. Transmission choices are a 6-speed manual or Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT.  Of course, the company’s symmetrical all-wheel drive is standard. No matter how you slice it,  you won’t be breaking any speed records and climbing steep grades will tax the engine.  The XV is a “active lifestyle” vehicle, ready to carry a surfboard or bicycle, go camping or skiing. Cargo is good at 52 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.

Subaru says the XV Crosstrek is good for 25 mpg in the city and 33 mph on the highway.  It should start around $23,000.

There is no question that the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek will be a hit with the Subaru faithful. The Impreza Sport is always in short stock, many selling even before they are delivered to the dealer. The XV will enjoy the same high demand.

The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Love the orange paint and black-painted wheels.

The extra 8.7 inches of ground clearance give the driver of the XV Crosstrek a commanding view of the road without being a mammoth SUV.

The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek has a large hatch and the back seats fold flat for ease of loading and unloading cargo.

The cockpit of the XV is 100 percent lifted from the Impreza.

Toyota: Toyota surprised everyone in New York with the redesigned Avalon. The Grand Dowager of Toyota has traditionally been a Buick for customers who gave up on Buick. Large, spacious, cushy and semi-plush defined the interior while deadly boring styling clad the exterior. Well, no more.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon is a complete re-imagining of the Toyota flagship.  While the styling is derivative – I see a Camry nose on top of the new Fusion’s trapezoidal grille and from the rear it looks like the all-new Hyundai Azera. The sweeping headlights have the look of the new Lincoln MKZ.  All this is a good thing, because it makes the Avalon competitive in this larger near-luxury sedan category that includes the redesigned 2013 Hyundai Azera, the 2012 Buick LaCrosse, the Chrysler 300 and the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

Toyota was short on specifics, but since the Avalon is built on the Camry platform, it’s likely to have at least the corporate 3.5 liter V6 engine, which in the Camry, has 268 hp and 248 lb-foot of torque.  A six-speed automatic is the only transmission.

From the pictures, you can see that the new interior is about as close to a Lexus as a Lexus. The current base Avalon is $33,195 and I’d expect the new Avalon available late this year to be in the same price range.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon. Who knew Toyota could design and produce such a sleek vehicle? It will be built in Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant alongside the Camry.

The new Avalon takes its styling cues from the four-door coupe school. The C-pillar sweeps into the trunk at a rakish angle giving the illusion of a coupe. The Mercedes CLS started the trend and it's been picked up by many different manufacturers including on the Volkswagen CC and the Audi A7.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon's dash has real style now and Lexus quality.