2012 New Car Preview
Rising oil prices and tougher fuel-economy requirements are the inspiration for the latest wave of fuel-saving vehicles. Prominent among them are more small cars, gas-electric hybrids, and electric cars. However, many larger mainstream vehicles are being tweaked to improve their gas mileage by more conventional means, such as innovations in turbocharging, weight reduction, aerodynamics, and direct fuel injection.
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Here’s our take on some of the most notable new models.
The A6 redesign features lighter aluminum body panels and a direct-injection 310-hp 3.0-liter V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission to help improve fuel economy. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 211 hp paired with a CVT. The front wheels have been moved farther forward, allowing for more cabin room, and the MMI driver-interaction system is said to be a bit easier to operate. Available gadgets include a color heads-up display, a night-vision display, and LED headlights.
Bottom line: It’s significant that Audi and BMW are bringing four-cylinder engines to their elite sedans.
The smallest Buick in decades is an entry-level sedan based on the Chevrolet Cruze. But it uses the same more powerful 177-hp four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission as the larger Regal. The Verano has a touch-screen navigation system and uses advanced sound-deadening techniques. Higher trims will offer a heated steering wheel and other plush features.
Bottom line: This compact yet upscale Buick will be a welcome addition for consumers who want luxury features without going to a larger car.