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October 7, 2011

News & Features

What's in store: New models and major changes for 2012 (Part 1: Acura to Dodge)

The Associated Press

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Everything old is new again.
Revamped versions of some of America's best-known cars -- the Toyota Camry, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford Taurus, the Volkswagen Beetle, the BMW 3 Series -- are all going on sale in the 2012 model year. The industry hopes that as buyers return after the economic slump, they'll be delighted by new styling, significantly better fuel economy and, in some cases, lower prices.

While gas prices have moderated since the spring, automakers say efficiency remains one of buyers' top considerations, and they'll have plenty of new gas sippers to choose from.

But driving enthusiasts, take heart: There will be plenty of brawn on the market, too. The 2012 Jaguar XKR-S coupe is one of the fastest Jaguars ever built. Jeep is releasing a performance version of the Grand Cherokee. Even the little Fiat 500 will be getting an Abarth sport edition.

Here's a rundown of the 2012 cars on the market through next fall (all prices include shipping).

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Acura TL

ACURA
TL: Refreshed 2012 version went on sale in the spring. Gets new front and rear styling, noise and vibration improvements and a six-speed automatic transmission. City fuel economy goes to 20 mpg and highway to 29, an increase of 3 mpg over the 2011 model. Base price is $36,490.

AUDI
A6: The big luxury sedan is all new for 2012 with styling that matches the rest of the German automaker's car lineup. The company used aluminum body panels and a steel frame to cut weight by 78 pounds from its predecessor. The new version also has an aluminum suspension. It will be powered by two engines: a 3-liter supercharged V-6 with 310 horsepower and a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 211 horsepower. Prices start at $42,595.

A7: The five-door fastback coupe also is all new for 2012, powered by a 310-horsepower V-6 engine and standard all-wheel drive. It has aluminum and steel construction and comes standard with 18-inch wheels, all-season tires and a leather interior. Prices start at $60,125.

A8: Gets a 6.3-liter, 12-cylinder engine with 500 horsepower.

TT RS: Gets the RS nameplate in the U.S. with a turbocharged 360-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that goes from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds. The RS starts at $57,725.

BENTLEY
Continental GT: Bentley has fiddled with the V-12 engine on the Continental GT coupe to squeeze out 15 more horsepower, bringing it to a total of 567. What else would you expect from a 6-liter engine that gets 19 mpg on the highway? The GT can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 198 mph. Inside, there's a new 8-inch touchscreen in the dash with navigation and other controls, and luxury touches like hand-sewn, fluted leather seats. The GT starts at $189,900.

BMW
M5: The fifth generation of this premium sports sedan is set to go on sale next spring. The new M5 will have the most powerful engine ever fitted in a series-produced BMW mated to a new, seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

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BMW M5

The V-8 is expected to get up to 560 horsepower (10 percent more than its predecessor) and 500 pound-feet of torque, a 30 percent increase. But BMW says fuel economy will improve 30 percent. A driver's footrest and standard iDrive 10-inch dashboard control screen are among the standard perks. Pricing and exact fuel economy will be released closer to the M5's arrival in dealerships.

3 Series: An all-new 3 Series midsize sedan is scheduled to be released in the spring as a 2013 model. Few details are available, although spy photos have been popping up on the Internet. BMW is expected to offer a turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine on the entry-level 328i, instead of a V-6. It's expected to get more horsepower and torque than the current V-6, but will get far better fuel economy. Pricing hasn't been announced, but the current 3 Series starts at $34,600.

BUICK
Verano: The luxury version of the Chevrolet Cruze, intended to challenge the Lexus IS 250 and Acura TSX, goes on sale in the fall of 2012. It's powered by the same 2.4-liter, 177-horsepower four-cylinder engine as the Regal, with a zero-to-60 time of eight seconds and an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. A turbocharged 2-liter engine will come later. General Motors promises that the car will be among the quietest in its class. Its starting price is $23,470.

More next week

CADILLAC
ATS: The ATS, a rear-drive small car aimed squarely at the BMW 3 Series, will debut in the summer. GM hasn't released many details, but teaser pictures look like a shrunken Cadillac CTS sports sedan with a high rear and sloping hood. It's uncertain what will power the thing, but there has been speculation about a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.8-liter V-6.

GM says the car has to perform, handle and ride better than the BMW, and its engineers are working to make sure that comes true. No price was released, but it's expected to come in under the lowest-priced 3 Series sedan, the 328i, which starts at $34,600.

XTS: Cadillac hasn't had much to compete with the big front-wheel-drive cars on the market, but that will change in the spring with the debut of the XTS. The car is likely to have a soft ride and probably won't be a road burner. GM executives have said it's aimed at the traditional Cadillac buyer, and that means senior citizens, few of whom value cornering and zero-to-60 times. But it's likely to get good gas mileage for its size. No details were released about engines, transmissions or price of the car, to be built in Ontario.

CHEVROLET
Camaro ZL1: The powerful ZL1, equipped with massive 6.2-liter, 550-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine, is a new version of the venerable muscle car. GM borrowed the name from a 1960s all-aluminum racing engine. The ZL1, due out in early 2012, will look different from the existing Camaro, with a new front grille and carbon-fiber center section of the hood.

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Chevrolet Camaro

The car will have a "track-ready" suspension, high-performance six-speed manual transmission and huge brakes. Performance numbers haven't been released, but the Cadillac CTS-V, with the same engine, goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 191 mph. No price has been announced.

Malibu: An all-new midsize car built on European underpinnings comes out early next year as a 2013 model. GM says it will have an all-new, 190-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, which makes it more efficient than older engines. The company promises a wider, more athletic stance and handling that's comparable to more expensive sport sedans.

GM also says it will have best-in-class aerodynamics for better fuel efficiency. Mileage for the base model hasn't been released yet. The current car gets 22 in the city and 33 on the highway. An eco version of the 2013 Malibu, with GM's mild-hybrid e-Assist technology, is supposed to get 38 mpg on the highway and 26 in the city. It also has 10 air bags. GM has not released the price.

CHRYSLER
300 SRT8: The flagship brand gets a pavement-eating version of the 300 luxury sedan from the company's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team, powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with 470 horsepower. It's supposed to go from zero to 60 in the high four-second range with a top speed of 175 mph. Chrysler promises great handling, too.

DODGE
Top-secret compact: Dodge is promising its new compact sedan, based on the stylish Alfa Romeo Giulietta, in the second quarter of next year. Dodge has released no information on the car, but says it will debut at the Detroit auto show in January.

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Dodge Viper

Viper: The ultimate roadster makes a comeback in 2012 after a one-year absence. Chrysler says it will look different from the 2010 version and will handle better with improvements to its chassis. Horsepower is likely to increase from the 2010 version, which had a whopping 600 with a special V-12 engine. The company has released little information on the car.

Charger SRT8: Gets a 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that features 45 more horsepower and 50 more pound-feet of torque than its predecessor. Zero-to-60 time is in the high four-second range.

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