January 13, 2013

News & Features

13 for '13: Outstanding cars that'll make it a year to remember

Special to NWautos

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A 2013 Toyota RAV4 (top), 2013 Buick Encore (right) and 2014 Porsche Cayman (left) are among the ones to watch this year.

Since the apocalypse didn't happen last month, perhaps you're planning to celebrate humanity's survival by buying a new car. Being 2013, it seems appropriate to look at a baker's dozen of the most significant models arriving this year. Some are in showrooms, some will be out soon. Be patient — it's not the end of the world.

2014 BMW i3:
If a battery-powered Bimmer doesn't electrify you, the carbon-fiber passenger-cell construction should amp you up. The radically shaped rear-drive hatchback arrives in late 2013. Boeing is cooperating with manufacturing and recycling methods to bring new uses to carbon-fiber scrap.

2013 Buick Encore: February brings the petite follow-up performance to Buick's large Enclave crossover. It's like nothing else on the market. Packed with premium features, the Encore is 10 inches shorter than a CR-V. Yep, that small.

2014 Cadillac CTS: Singlehandedly responsible for bringing respect back to the wreath-and-crest brand, the CTS moves up a half-size to compete directly with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. Cadillac's design language gets softened when it appears in late 2013.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette: Perhaps the most anticipated car of 2013. The C7's lithe exterior lines are evolutionary, and cabin materials are vastly improved. The affordable supercar should deliver 450 horsepower. Transmissions include a seven-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. Camp out at Chevy dealers in spring for your first look.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra:
Muscular but conservative, the pickup twins are built with loads of steel. Interiors are quieter and more luxurious; controls can be used while wearing work gloves. Choose between a V-6 or two V-8s, due out in spring. Extended-cab models get front-hinged rear doors. Finally.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid:
Powered by a 137-horsepower four-cylinder and two electric motors, an EV mode powers this family sedan for 10-15 miles solely on electric power with its lithium-ion battery fully charged. The plug-in version arrives soon; the standard hybrid system bows in summer.

2014 Kia Forte:
The plain also-ran compact sedan becomes a dramatically sculpted competitor for the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra in March. Think 7/8-scale Optima. Peter Schreyer's designs have made Kia a force to be reckoned with; the second-generation Forte continues the streak in the first quarter of the year.

2013 Lincoln MKZ:
The sleek sedan that begins the Lincoln Motor Company's design renaissance finally competes with the Lexus ES. Choose a turbocharged four-cylinder, V-6 or hybrid powertrain. The panoramic glass roof dramatically slides over the back window. It's trickling into showrooms now.

2014 Mazda6:
Draped in swoopy sheet metal, the enthusiast's midsize sedan arrives soon. A super-clean diesel launches in summer. i-ELOOP, the world's first capacitor-based regenerative braking system, powers the electrics.

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV:
Mercedes finally brings its small hatchback to the U.S., only not the gas-drinking version. Powered by a torquey 134-horsepower motor, the Tesla-sourced lithium-ion battery pack provides a 125-mile range. This EV with a jolt of prestige arrives at the end of the year.

2014 Porsche Cayman:
Many, including me, feel that the Cayman is Porsche's most perfectly executed vehicle. This third-generation coupe has epic handling, a crafted interior and gravitas that must be experienced. Start salivating in spring.

2014 Subaru Forester:
Subaru's most popular model becomes more fuel efficient. It doesn't move the style needle much, but hey, it's a Subie. We love the Forester for its practical mission and standard all-wheel drive. It goes on sale in the early part of the year.

2013 Toyota RAV4: Toyota's popular CUV stays about the same size but dresses up in crisper clothes. No more V-6, the 176-horsepower four-cylinder is bolted to a new six-speed automatic and a more sophisticated AWD system. The cargo hold's side-opening door has been replaced with a liftgate, providing Northwesterners shelter from the rain. Coming in March.

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