Practical sedans: The most anticipated cars of 2012
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For car buyers hopping off the fence and into showrooms, there are plenty of great models to choose from, from domestic as well as import brands. Yet there's always that nagging feeling: is it worth waiting for something even better just around the corner?
Toyota Motors is just now rolling out a new version of its flagship Camry, and next year, virtually all of its major rivals will be updated too. That will be the best opportunity to shop around.If you're looking for a mid-sized family car, you just might want to wait until 2012, when most of the biggest sellers in this category will be redesigned and updated with more efficient engines and advanced technologies.
General Motors is aiming to get a jump on the rest of the pack by moving up the debut of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO by three months, to early 2012. It's a so-called "mild hybrid" that gets 38 miles per gallon through the use of an electric-motor generator and features like regenerative braking and start-stop technology, providing nice fuel economy without the price premium of some other hybrids on the market. Other versions of the restyled Malibu, featuring an all-new, high-powered four-cylinder gas engine, go on sale next summer.
Then there's the new Ford Fusion, featuring a sleek design previewed in the EVOS concept form. The production version will debut in January at the Detroit auto show, and will go on sale later in 2012. Also expected next year are redesigned versions of the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, two other big players in the mid-sized segment. No doubt it'll be a buyers' market for mid-sized cars.
There will also be a lot of action in the compact crossover-utility segment. Later this year, Honda will be rolling out its 2012 CR-V, with more aggressive styling and better fuel economy, and Ford will be introducing a redesigned 2012 Escape, with three new fuel-efficient engine choices, including a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that is expected to get better highway mileage than the current 31-mpg Escape Hybrid. Toyota is also expected to introduce a new version of the Rav4, including a plug-in version developed with electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors.