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October 14, 2011

News & Features

What's in store: New models and major changes for 2012 (Part 2: Fiat To Lexus)

The Associated Press

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FIAT
500 Abarth: Named for Italian race-car-maker Abarth, which is now part of Fiat, the sportier version of the Fiat 500 is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in the first half of 2012. The 500 Abarth is currently sold in other countries with a 135-horsepower, 1.4-liter engine, but the U.S. version could get Fiat's turbocharged 170-horsepower, 1.4-liter. Fiat plans to announce more next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

500 Cabrio: The 2012 Fiat Cabrio convertible went on sale this summer. Its fully automatic cloth top can retract at speeds of up to 60 mph. Drivers can choose from three cloth-top colors -- red, black or tan -- to go with the 14 exterior and 12 interior color combinations. The 101-horsepower, four-cylinder engine can get up to 38 mpg when paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The Cabrio starts at $19,500.
Electric 500: Fiat plans to sell an all-electric version of the 500 in the second half of 2012. No other details have been released.

FERRARI
FF: New for 2012, the FF is Ferrari's first four-wheel-drive car. The company says the FF also is its most powerful four-seater ever. It has a new 6.3-liter V-12 with 651 horsepower and can go from zero to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. The price hasn't been released, but Ferrari says it will be around $300,000.

FORD
Electric Focus: Ford's first all-electric car, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, goes on sale at the end of 2011. Ford hasn't said how many miles the car will be able to go on a charge, but says it will be competitive with other electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, which has a range of around 73 miles. Ford is also releasing the sporty Focus ST in the latter half of 2012, a specially tuned version with a turbocharged four-cylinder and 247 horsepower. Pricing on those models hasn't been announced.

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Ford

Taurus: Ford is releasing a redesigned Taurus sedan in the spring as a 2013 model. It's lower and wider, for a more aggressive look, and will have the MyFord Touch voice-activated entertainment and navigation system. It will also get Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which will give it 237 horsepower but keep fuel economy at 31 mpg.

Vertrek: Ford is expected to replace the boxy, aging Escape with a new small SUV in early 2012. The sleek Vertrek concept, introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, gave a strong hint at what it will look like, but Ford hasn't released other details.

HONDA
Civic: Redesigned for 2012 but doesn't look dramatically different from the old model. The new Civic has a re-engineered 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and boosts fuel economy.

There's also a more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower in the Si performance version, and a new powertrain in the Civic Hybrid that boosts combined city-highway fuel economy to 44 mpg with a new lithium-ion battery. The gas-powered "HF" -- or high fuel economy -- model gets 41 mpg on the highway. Prices start at $16,355 for a stripped-down DX model.

CR-V: The fourth generation of the small crossover SUV gets a redesign with a sleeker exterior and improvements that make it more fuel-efficient. Details haven't been released, but the new CR-V goes on sale in late 2011.

Pilot: The venerable people hauler gets an update with sleeker styling and better gas mileage due to aerodynamic refinements. Went on sale in September. Prices start at $29,280.

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Hyundai

HYUNDAI
Accent: The revamped fourth-generation subcompact went on sale in the summer. It has Hyundai's 1.6-liter direct-injection engine that puts out 138 horsepower and gets 40 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy is 18 percent better than its predecessor with a manual transmission, and 11 percent better with an automatic. It has electronic stability control and six airbags standard. Hyundai claims it has the roominess of a compact even though it's smaller. Base price is $13,205 with a manual transmission.

Genesis: Hyundai's full-size luxury entry gets an update with an aggressive grille and front fascia. The 3.8-liter V-6 gets direct fuel injection to boost horsepower by 15 percent to 333, as well as improve gas mileage. Hyundai adds an R-Spec model with a new 5-liter direct-injection engine that makes 429 horsepower. All engines get a Hyundai-developed eight-speed transmission. Prices start at $35,050.

Veloster: The sporty three-door compact coupe has a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission or dual-clutch automatic and will get 40 mpg on the highway. It has a hatch, one large door on the driver's side and two shorter doors on the passenger side. The Veloster starts at $18,060.

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Infiniti

INFINITI
JX: Nissan plans to introduce the JX, a seven-passenger crossover, in the spring of 2012 as a 2013 model. The company says the all-new vehicle will have Infiniti's elegant design, advanced technology and flexible seating with easy access to the third row. The company plans to release more details at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

JAGUAR
XKR-S: The 2012 XKR-S coupe is one of the fastest Jaguars ever built, capable of accelerating to 100 mph in 8.7 seconds. It has a top speed of 186 mph. The XKR-S's 5-liter V-8 engine, now in its third generation, has been supercharged to give it 550 horsepower, but also has more precise direct injection to save fuel. The XKR-S gets 22 mpg on the highway. It starts at $132,875.

More next week

JEEP
Grand Cherokee SRT8: The top-selling Grand Cherokee SUV gets a souped-up version from Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team. The high-performance SUV will go from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 160 mph, which is comparable or faster than many performance sedans. It's the most powerful Jeep ever, with an all-new 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with 470 horsepower. The company also says it's the best-handling Jeep ever with a new adaptive damping suspension.

KIA
Rio/Rio5: Kia has redesigned its compact sedan and hatchback, giving them more power -- 138 horsepower -- while still improving highway fuel economy to 40 mpg. The Rio also has some luxurious options, including a hands-free entertainment system and back-up camera. Pricing hasn't been released for the Rio, which is expected to go on sale this month, but its predecessor started at $12,990.

Cadenza: Kia's replacement for the flagship Amanti sedan is expected in the summer. Kia hasn't released details, but dealers say it will have a more luxurious interior and a 165-horsepower four-cylinder engine or 290-horsepower V-6.

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Land Rover

LAND ROVER
Range Rover Evoque: Land Rover is targeting entry-level customers with the Evoque, a small crossover that comes in either three- or five-door configurations. Land Rover bills the Evoque as its lightest, most fuel-efficient vehicle ever, with highway fuel economy of 28 mpg.

But the crossover still has power, thanks to its new 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, as well as off-road capability. It also has lots of luxury features, including a heated windshield and steering wheel. The Evoque starts at $45,995.

LEXUS
GS 350/450h: Lexus plans to release both the gas version and the hybrid version of the midsize GS sedan early next year as 2013 models. The GS has a new look, with an aggressive, hourglass-shaped grille and a clean design meant to maximize aerodynamic efficiency. Inside, Lexus put more emphasis on the driver by lowering the steering wheel, improving the field of vision and making the seats more supportive. There are nice perks, too, like 18-way power seats.

The 350 has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 306 horsepower. The 450h mates that engine to an electric motor, boosting horsepower to 338. Fuel-economy numbers haven't been released, but Lexus says the 450h will have 30 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing GS hybrid, which gets 25 mpg on the highway.

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