Revamped versions of some of America's best-known cars are out this year, along with new fuel-sippers, electrics and high-powered performance machines.
Here's a rundown of the 2012 cars on the market through next fall (all prices include shipping).
GranTurismo MC Coupe: Maserati adds a coupe at the top of the MC line and says it's the fastest and best-handling of its cars. The coupe gets the same 444-horsepower V-8 as the GranTurismo convertible plus aerodynamic body work. It has a top speed of 185 mph.
CX-5: The CX-5 small crossover, due out in February as a 2013 model, has a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv engine that is expected to significantly improve fuel economy and produce fewer emissions.
Mazda5: The 2012 version of the Mazda5, a small, six-seat minivan that went on sale last winter, has distinctive, swooping lines carved into its sliding doors and more interior room. There's a new, 157-horsepower four-cylinder engine that gets up to 28 mpg. For a sportier ride, there's a six-speed manual transmission and an optional spoiler. The Mazda5 starts at $19,990.
C-Class: A two-door coupe is new for 2012, and the four-door sedan has been refreshed with new bumpers, front grille, headlights and an aluminum hood. The interior also was redesigned. There's a choice of two new direct-injection engines with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Depending on trim line, available engines include a turbocharged 1.8-liter, 201-horsepower four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V-6 with 302 horsepower. The high-performance C63 AMG has a 6.3-liter V-8 with 451 horsepower.
CLS-Class: The four-door coupe is all new for 2012 with all models powered by new biturbo direct-injection V8 engines. The CLS550 is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 with 402 horsepower, yet it gets 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the freeway. The CLS63 AMG has a stop-start system that stops the engine at traffic lights and restarts it almost instantly when the light turns green. The high-performance version has a 5.5-liter V-8 with 518 horsepower. An optional performance package raises output to 550 horsepower.
SLK-Class: The third-generation small SLK Roadster is new for 2012. The SLK250 is powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that has 201 horsepower, while the SLK350 is powered by a 3.5-liter, 302 horsepower V-6. The high-performance SLK55 AMG is the most powerful SLK ever, with a 5.5-liter V-8 with 415 horsepower, and it can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It also features cylinder shutoff to get better gas mileage. The SLK starts at $55,675.
Coupe: The mini-car from BMW that made tiny trendy comes out with its first two-seater, the Mini Coupe. Power ranges from 121 horsepower in the Coupe to 208 horsepower in the John Cooper Works Coupe. The car has a hard shell, sloping roof and rear spoilers, as well as a hatch and 9.8 cubic feet of luggage space.
Versa: Nissan has redesigned the Versa small car from the ground up. It has a new, lighter underbody for more nimble driving, a new, more fuel-efficient engine and transmission, and a more aerodynamic design. Nissan says the Versa will get 30 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway, an improvement of around 4 mpg over its predecessor.
The 2012 Versa went on sale in August and starts at $10,990, excluding shipping, for a manual transmission and hand-cranked windows. If you want power windows and an automatic, the Versa SV starts at $14,560.
911 Carrera: The seventh generation of the 911 Carrera, due out in February, is 4 inches longer but 100 pounds lighter, thanks to its new aluminum and steel frame. Porsche says the 350-horsepower, 3.4-liter boxer engine will also save more fuel than previous models, thanks to an automatic stop/start function that reduces engine usage, and other improvements. The sportier 911 Carrera S will have a 400-horsepower, 3.8-liter boxer engine, an improvement of 15 horses over the previous model. The 911 Carrera Coupe will start at $82,100, excluding shipping, while the Carrera S will be $14,000 more.
iQ: Scion's iQ minicar, which has been sold as a Toyota in Europe and Asia since 2008, went on sale on Dec. 1 on the West Coast and will roll out to the rest of the country over the next five months. It's 120 inches long, or about 4 inches longer than the Fiat 500, and its 94-horsepower engine gets 37 mpg. It starts at $15,995.
FR-S: Scion debuted a concept version of this rear-wheel-drive sports car at the New York auto show in April, and said something very similar will be out next year. Scion is using a Subaru 2.0-liter boxer engine, but few other details are known. The automaker says the car will cost less than $30,000.
Impreza: The fourth generation of the compact debuts with new four- and five-door designs, more agile handling and better fuel economy. A new 2-liter engine gets the all-wheel-drive car to 36 mpg on the highway and 27 in the city, 30 percent better than its predecessor. Trunk and cargo room are increased. The Impreza starts at $18,245.
Model S: Electric carmaker Tesla hopes to extend its customer base beyond its Roaster sports car with the Model S, a sedan due out in the middle of 2012. The sedan will cost around $50,000 --half the price of a Roadster -- and will allow drivers to get different battery packs based on their needs, from one that gets 160 miles per charge to one that gets 300. Tesla says it had 5,300 reservations for the sedan at the start of this summer; it plans to produce 5,000 Model S sedans in 2012.
More next week
Camry: Toyota unveiled the new Camry sedan in August. It's quieter and roomier than the 2011 model and gets significantly better fuel economy. The four-cylinder engine gets 35 mpg on the highway, while the hybrid version gets 41 mpg. Toyota will also offer Entune, a new entertainment system that lets drivers connect to cellphone applications such as Pandora through voice commands or a touchscreen. The Camry went on sale this month and starts at just over $22,000.
Prius V: The five-passenger wagon version of the wildly popular Prius hybrid goes on sale this month, a launch that was delayed by several months because of the earthquake in Japan. The "V" stands for "versatility," with 6 more inches of cargo space. It's also slightly taller and wider. The Prius V is expected to get 42 mpg. It starts at $26,400.
Yaris: The three-door and five-door hatchback versions of the Yaris small car are getting a makeover. They've got a sportier design and are nearly 3 inches longer than the 2011 models, improving cargo space. The Yaris starts at $14,875.
New Beetle: The company's iconic Beetle gets a squat, sloped design for 2012 with 2.5-liter five-cylinder and 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The 170-horsepower in-line five-cylinder engine gets 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Prices start at $18,995 excluding shipping.
Passat: The midsize Passat is all new with a significantly lower price than its predecessor at $19,995, excluding shipping. The base model has a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. It also comes with a 2-liter TDI diesel, a turbocharged 140-horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower.
Tiguan: The small crossover SUV gets an update with a sleeker look, including redesigned grille and taillights. The transmission was also tweaked to improve fuel economy.
S60: The 2012 S60 midsize sedan has a sportier design and improved fuel economy, now up to 30 mpg. The base engine is a five-cylinder with 250 horsepower. Volvo is also offering the world's first pedestrian-detection technology. The S60 starts at $32,025.