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2012 North American International Auto Show Review

 2012 proved to be another exciting year for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with many new production and concept cars being unveiled.

      It started off with the North American car and truck of the year awards with the honors going to the Range Rover Evoque for truck of the year and the Hyundai Elantra for car of the year. Now, Hyundai has made some excellent cars in recent years, and the Elantra is no exception, but I easily consider it third among its other two competitors for the award; Motor Trend’s car of the year ,Volkswagen Passat and Car and Driver ten best winner Ford Focus.

Production Debuts

      The following are slated for North American production and should be in dealerships by year end. 

2013 Ford Fusion

      Following the “One Ford” imitative, whose aim is to have vehicles based on a global platform, the new Ford Fusion has a design similar to the Focus and Fiesta, which were also developed under “One Ford”.  

      2013 brings in an all new four-cylinder only lineup as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.  Non-hybrid Fusions will have three engine options: a 170-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder; a 179-hp, 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder; and a 237-hp, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. All engines come standard with front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic with a six-speed manual available with the 1.6-liter engine and all-wheel drive available with the 2.0-liter engine. Also of note, the 1.6-liter engine equipped with the automatic transmission will have an automatic start stop function which Ford says reduces fuel consumption by 3.5 percent.

      For the hyper-milers out there, the Fusion will be available with Ford’s first plug-in hybrid, called the Fusion Energi, as well as a conventional hybrid. The hybrids will come with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder mated to permanent-magnet AC synchronous motor for a total output of 185 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. Both models will have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) driving the front wheels. 

      The new fusion is expected to get class-leading fuel efficiency for both gas and hybrid versions. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine has an expected fuel economy of 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. The Fusion Hybrid is expected to get 47mpg city and 44 mpg highway, which beats the Toyota Camry hybrid by 4 mpg city and 5 mpg highway.  The Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is expected to get 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent, used to measure plug-in hybrid fuel economy compared to a conventional gasoline engine) which is 8 MPGe more than the Chevrolet Volt (and hopefully won’t catch on fire).

      The Fusion will be offered in three different trim levels: S, SE and range-topping Titanium. However specific details about what is included in these packages has yet to be released

2013 Dodge Dart

      Before you start thinking of a new Dart Demon tearing down the drag strip, I have to disappoint you by saying that the new Dodge Dart shares very little with the old one apart from name. Being that the new Dart is front-wheel drive, only comes with four cylinder engines and only comes as a sedan.

      But also unlike the old Dart, the new one actually looks good. It has attractive, flowing lines and some styling cues borrowed from the Charger, like the “racetrack” full-length taillamp with 152 LEDs.

      The new Dart will be available in three trim levels; SE, SXT, Rallye and R/T.

      The SE, SXT and Rallye edition Darts will receive a 2.0-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine that makes 160 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque with a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine with 160-hp and 184 lb/ft of torque as an option on the SXT and Rallye.

      The Dart R/T’s only engine choice will be a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 Turbo engine good for 184-hp and 171 lb/ft of torque.

      All of the engines come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission with a six-speed automatic optional on the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter Tigershark engines and a new six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission available on the 1.4-liter engine.

      Thanks to Dodge’s Fiat ownership, the new Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giuletta which not only reduces production costs for Dodge but should provide a fun and exciting driving experience.

      Dodge will offer the cutomer many options to customize their Dart with fourteen interior combinations and twelve exterior colors with 60’s inspired colors like Header orange and Citrus Peel green.

      The compact car segment is getting ever more competitive with nearly 1.2 million of them sold last year and the Dart could be Dodge’s ticket to a bigger piece of that pie. 

2013 Mercedes Benz SL class

      With the introduction of the SLS convertible last year, the SL class is no longer Mercedes’ most expensive convertible. But that doesn’t mean Mercedes has paid any less attention to the über luxurious hardtop convertible and the SL gets overhauled for 2013.

      SL stands for “super lightweight” which harkens back to the original 300SL in the 1950’s.  However, lightweight is not something that comes to mind when you see the two ton luxurious convertible.  But Mercedes dedicated itself to shedding extra weight off the SL and it managed to lose 275 pounds mostly thanks to a new all-aluminum bodyshell.

      The 2013 SL550 will lose its 5.5-liter V-8 engine in favor of a new 4.7-liter V-8; however it will retain the SL550 moniker. Despite its smaller displacement, the new 4.7-liter engine will develop 12 percent more horsepower to 429 and increase torque a whopping 32 percent to 516 lb/ft all while improving fuel economy(official fuel economy numbers have yet to be released).

      Another new and interesting option is the Magic Sky Control roof that complements the standard glass roof. The Magic Sky Control turns the glass roof from completely transparent to a dark opaque with just a push of a button, perfect for hot summer days. 

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

      The rear-wheel drive Genesis Coupe receives its first major update since its introduction in 2008 and it couldn’t have been better.

      For starters, both the 3.8-liter V-6 and 2.0-liter four-cylinder receive power increases. The 3.8-liter V-6 gets direct injection and gains 42 horsepower to 348 and raises torque to 295 lb/ft. This means that the V-6 Genesis Coupe has an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 10.0:1 which is better than both the BMW 335i coupe and G37 coupe.

      The 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine receives a new twin-scroll turbocharger and a 53-percent larger intercooler which contribute to a 30 percent increase in horsepower to 274 and a 23-percent increase in torque to 275 lb/ft.  Another neat feature of the 2.0-liter engine is anti-knock sensors that can allow the engine to run on regular gasoline, which if you’ve ever owned a forced induction car, is a major advantage to always running on premium. However you will take a 14-horsepower penalty as well as torque being brought down to 260 lb/ft.

      Also new to the Genesis coupe is the addition of an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters which will complement the carryover six-speed manual. Despite the power increase, the 3.8-liter improves fuel economy to 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the automatic and 18/27 mpg for the manual. The 2.0-liter turbo also gets a modest increase in fuel economy when equipped with the automatic transmission to 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. 

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

      One major disappointment I had when test driving the quirky, three-door Veloster was the lack of performance from its 138-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Well, Hyundai must have been listening as they will now offer a turbocharged model for 2013.

      The turbo model uses the same direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine but bolts on a twin-scroll turbocharger that boosts the Veloster’s output to 201hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and runs on regular(not premium) gasoline.

      The new Veloster Turbo also has other features that distinguish it from the weaker Veloster like a ground effects kit, sport tuned steering, LED taillights and an attractive matte gray paint.

2013 Scion FR-S

      Although the FR-S was technically unveiled at the L.A. autoshow in November, I didn’t get see the car first hand until the North American show. The FR-S looks every bit as stunning as the FT-86 concept car with styling cues that resemble the Lexus LF-A (what ever happened to real car names?). The only styling mishap is a badge on the front fenders that have the number “86” (in reference to the Toyota Corolla AE-86) with two horizontally opposed cylinders surrounding it. The badge looks like it was just stuck on and it interrupts the otherwise beautiful lines of the car.

      The FR-S is powered by 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder engine (also known as a “Boxer” engine) that was developed in collaboration with Subaru and to drifters and autocrossers delight, it is rear wheel drive.

      The 2.0-liter engine uses the classic boxer engine layout perfected by Subaru with Toyota’s new D4-S injection system that uses both direct and port fuel injection.  The engine makes 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque which is impressive in the fact that it makes 100 hp a liter but it’s unimpressive in that its main competitor, the Hyundai Genesis coupe, has 274-hp with its turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder. This means that unless the there is a huge price advantage, which I don’t expect will happen, the FR-S will have a tough time competing.

      The FR-S will be available with two transmissions; a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. The automatic will come with manual shifting via paddle shifters as well as rev-matched downshifts.

      Because of the joint engineering efforts, the FR-S has a twin sister, the Subaru BRZ. Both cars are nearly identical with the exception of a few trim pieces and the badge on the front bumper.

      You can also sign up for a chance to buy the first 86 FR-S’s at www.scionfirst86.com  

2013 Audi A4/S4

      The Audi A4 and its performance variant, the S4, will receive some minor updates for 2013 including a new fascia as well as the A4 Allroad being confirmed for US delivery.

      Also new for 2013 is electromechanical steering that doesn’t provide any assistance when driving straight, which supposedly reduces emissions.

      The same engines carry over for 2013 including 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 211 hp for the A4 and Allroad and the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with 333 hp on the S4.


Chevrolet Code 130R and Tru 140S

      Chevrolet said they have done extensive research into the youth market to see what we want as buyers. What they have come up with from this research is the rear-wheel drive Code 130R and the front-wheel drive Tru 140S

      The Code 130R shares looks and general dimensions of the BMW 1-series with a 2+2 seating layout. It has a kind of retro muscle-car look to it and would be a great candidate to resurrect the Nova name.

      The True 140S is meant to be an “affordable exotic” . It was shown in an impressive matte white paint, à la Audi R8 GT. It will be a three door hatchback with seating for four. There is also chance of hybrid or plug-in hybrid version as it is based on the same platform as the Volt and Cruze.

      Both concepts have a 1.4-liter turbo similar to the one in the Cruze Eco but with a power bump to 150-hp and 148 lb/ft of torque. The Code130R will come with eAssit mild-hybrid technology while the Tru 140S will have a start/stop function.

Acura NSX

      Acura unveiled a concept version of its venerable NSX and it will be both all-wheel-drive and a hybrid.

      Like the NSX from the 90’s the concept is powered by a VTEC V-6 but will feature direct-injection and a dual clutch transmission

      The NSX will utilize a unique 2 Electric Motor Drive Unit with a bilateral torque adjustable control system connected to the new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.

      But do NSX buyers really care to have a hybrid powertrain? After all, hybrid gadgetry adds a considerable amount of weight and I’ve even seen some NSX’s from the 90’s with their catalytic convertors either removed or gutted, hardly environmentally friendly. 

2013 Honda Accord Coupe

      The all-new ninth generation 2013 Accord is set to go on sale this fall and Honda gave a preview of how the new coupe version will look.

      The new coupe looks more aggressive than the outgoing model with a larger front air dam and deeply set headlights. The looks were further enhanced by the 20-inch wheels and candy apple red paint on the show car.

      The 2013 Accord will offer an all new engine line-up that consists of two gasoline engines and a plug-in hybrid. The base engine is a direct injected 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with with 181-hp and 177 lb/ft of torque. The 2.4-liter will be available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a new continuously variable transmission (CVT).

      The plug-in hybrid Accord will mate a 2.0-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine paired with a 120kW electric motor to achieve an electric only range of 10-15 miles in the city with a full recharge in only four hours using a household 120-volt outlet. The engine will be mated to a new electric CVT transmission for even more efficient driving.

      The 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 gets reengineered for 2013 with an unspecified increase in both power and fuel economy. The V-6 will again be available with a 6-speed manual or an all new 6-speed automatic.