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.