The auto industry is feeling good after several rough years during the recession. Sales of new cars and trucks are expected to reach 15.5 million or more this year, their highest level since the recession, and many think they'll continue to rise in 2014. Low-interest auto loans and moderating gas prices are helping spur consumers to buy.
There are some common threads among the new models in 2014. Automakers are all updating their interiors, replacing hard plastic with soft-touch arm rests and dashboards, and adding larger touchscreens, cooled seats and more ways for drivers to access their smart phones.
Luxury carmakers like Mercedes and Maserati are adding lower-priced models to their ranges, hoping to boost sales, while lower priced brands like Kia are moving upmarket.
Fuel economy is important. Honda and Porsche have new hybrids, BMW is releasing its first electric car and Mazda will soon become the first Japanese automaker with a non-commercial diesel in the U.S. market. Electric car maker Tesla expects to introduce its Model X crossover by the end of this year.
Many automakers are also adding stop-start technology, which automatically shuts the car down at stop lights to save fuel. There's also more use of aluminum and high-strength steel to cut the weight out of cars.
But here's what you really want to know: Which vehicle has a new in-car vacuum cleaner? The Honda Odyssey minivan, of course. And which one has optional fiber optics sewn into the headliner to look like stars? That would be the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
Here are the 2014 highlights from each brand.
The new 2014 MDX, Acura's seven-passenger SUV, went on sale in June. It has lots of new standard features, including keyless entry, jeweled LED headlights, sliding second-row seats and an 8-inch touchscreen dashboard display. It also has some new optional features, including adaptive cruise control that works at speeds as low as 20 mph and a lane-keeping system that nudges the wheel to keep the car in the center of its lane. The MDX is built on a new underbody and is 2.8 inches longer. It's also 275 pounds lighter than the previous model, thanks to wider use of high-strength steel and aluminum. Acura says that gives it a nimbler feel and better fuel economy of 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Under the hood is a new, 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 290 horsepower and a six-speed transmission. For the first time, a two-wheel-drive model is available. The MDX starts at $43,185 including shipping.
Acura got a new flagship sedan in March when the 2014 RLX went on sale. With a new, 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 engine, the 310-horsepower RLX is the most powerful Acura sedan yet. It gets 24 mpg in combined city and highway driving, which is 1 mpg better than its chief competitor, the Lexus GS 350. Acura stretched the sedan for a roomier interior and also makes standard AcuraLink, which connects to drivers' phones for real-time traffic updates, text messaging and other features. Options include adaptive cruise control that works at speeds as low as 20 mph, and a lane-keeping system that nudges the wheel to keep the car in the center of its lane if the driver is drifting. The RLX starts at $49,345 including shipping.
High-performance line gets and update with standard LED headlights and round two-outlet exhaust. There's a new 550-horsepower V-10 engine available with a new seven-speed transmission that can take the car from zero to 60 in 3.3 seconds. R8 starts at $114,900 excluding shipping.
A track-tested performance variant is added to the A 7 lineup. The RS 7 gets a twin-turbo 4-liter V-8 with 560 horsepower that takes the car from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Audi says it's the most powerful RS model yet. Goes on sale in the fall.
Audi SQ 5
First high-performance S model added to Q5 SUV lineup. Supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 354 horsepower; goes from zero to 60 in 5.1 seconds. Available in the summer.
Bentley Flying Spur
All new with traditional Bentley styling, contemporary cues and a sporty stance. All-new interior with hand-crafted leather and wood veneers. Powered by Bentley's 616-horsepower, 6-Liter twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine and an eight-speed transmission. Goes from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. Priced north of $200,000. We don't know if that includes shipping, but it doesn't matter.
BMW's first electric car, the i3, goes on sale in the U.S. next spring. It's expected to go 80 to 100 miles on a single charge and has an optional, gas-powered generator that can maintain the battery's charge if the car is too far from a charging station. Drivers can opt for an optional wall-mounted charging station that can get the battery 80 percent charged in less than three hours. On the outside, the i3 — which is made almost entirely from high-strength carbon fiber instead of steel to save weight — will turn heads with its chunky, wraparound windows and big, 19-inch wheels. The i3 starts at $41,350, or $45,200 with the range-extending generator. That doesn't include state, local and federal incentives, including a $7,000 federal tax credit for electric cars.
The 328d midsize sedan has a 2-liter, turbocharged diesel engine with 180 horsepower, marking the return of diesel to the U.S. 3-Series lineup. When combined with BMW's fuel-saving EfficientDynamics program, which includes automatic shutdown at stops, regenerative braking and optimal aerodynamics, the 328d will get an estimated 45 miles per gallon on the highway. The 328d starts at $41,525, including shipping.
The 5-Series also gets a new diesel. The BMW 535d has a six-cylinder, turbocharged diesel with 255 horsepower. Estimated fuel economy is not yet available. The 535d starts at $57,525.
Production of the 2014 X5 began in South Carolina in August; the seven-passenger SUV goes on sale later this fall. The third-generation X5 looks longer and more sharply defined than its predecessor, with a rounded and pronounced nose. On the inside, navigation and a 10-.2-inch touchscreen dashboard is now standard, and buyers can now opt for heated rear seats. The base model, the sDrive35i, is the first X5 with rear wheel drive. It has a turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 with 300 horsepower and starts at $52,800. An all-wheel-drive version is $55,100. At the top of the lineup is the xDrive50i, with a 445-horsepower, turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8. It starts at $68,200. Early next year, a diesel version, the xDrive35d, will arrive in the U.S. It has a new, 265-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 and starts at $56,700. BMW estimates it will get 26 miles per gallon on the highway.
The aging flagship sedan of the brand traditionally driven by old people loses some of its wrinkles. The LaCrosse, in its first update since 2009, gets some minor cosmetic changes on the outside in an effort to make it look more rounded and modern. It also gets LED daytime running lamps and tail lights and a larger front grille. Inside, the seats are new and more supportive, and the center stack gets an update with fewer buttons than the old models. Base engine is GM's 2.4-liter four-cylinder with the "e-Assist" electric motor to boost gas mileage. Updated versions were hitting showrooms in August. Starting price is $34,060 including shipping.
Buick's German-engineered sports sedan gets similar cosmetic changes to the LaCrosse on the outside. Inside, more supportive seats and a simpler dashboard and center console give it a sportier look. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder "e-Assist" engine and electric motor become standard, and the suspension was tuned to be more responsive. A new, more powerful version of GM's 2-Liter turbocharged engine, with 259 horsepower, is in the sportier models, the turbo and GS. Updated versions hit showrooms in the fall. Price hasn't been announced. Old one starts at $29,015 including shipping.
Cadillac's aging midsize sports sedan will be reworked from the ground up to better compete with the BMW 5-Series. That means less fat so it can handle better, GM says. The new CTS, due out late this year, will be 200 pounds lighter than the BMW 528i and 250 pounds less than the current CTS. The new version is longer and lower than the 2013 model, and its angles are far less severe. The interior gets a more upscale, hand-crafted look. There's a choice of three engines: a holdover 3.6-liter V-6 with 321 horsepower; a 2-Liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 272 horsepower; and the Vsport has a new 3.6-litre twin-turbo that puts out 420 horsepower. Two transmissions are available: a six-speed automatic and an eight-speed automatic. Price hasn't been announced. Current version starts at $39,990 including shipping.
The flashy big SUV is completely redone based on General Motors' new pickup truck chassis. Details and prices haven't been announced yet, but the new SUV is due out early next year. Current version starts at $63,745.
The muscle car gets a small freshening for 2014 with a reshaped front and rear to make it more modern and athletic looking. But the big news is that the Z/28 is back as a no-frills, lighter, high-performance version. Last sold in 2002, the Z/28 has been reengineered at 3,800 pounds, about 100 pounds lighter than a standard Camaro. It can hit the racetrack with bigger brakes and the Corvette's powerful 7-liter, 500 horsepower V-8. But to shed weight, it forgoes some creature comforts. It has a one-speaker radio, stiff seats and only comes with a manual transmission. Air conditioning is an option, and there's less sound insulation. Goes on sale early next year. Expected to cost more than $55,000.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
First new version of the American sports car icon in nine years arrives at showrooms late this summer. The 2014 Corvette Stingray has a 455 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that can take the car from zero to 60 mph in under four seconds. Yet it can get up to 30 mpg in "Eco" mode with a seven-speed manual transmission. The aerodynamic car's engine can run on just four cylinders at highway speeds. A 1,000-person team at GM made the 2014 version lower and sleeker, saving weight by replacing the steel structure with aluminum. The hood is made of lightweight carbon fiber. The interior gets a more modern look with new touch screens. The new car starts at just under $52,000.
The homely midsize car gets an emergency refresh after just a year on the market in an effort to boost sagging sales in the most competitive part of the U.S. car market. It gets a new 2.5-liter, 196 horsepower four-cylinder engine and stop-start technology to raise combined city-highway mileage to 27 mpg. Designers also changed the front end to give it a more modern grille with chrome accents and a hood that slopes downward. Engineers also gave back-seat passengers 1.25 inches of added legroom by reshaping the back of the front seats. The chassis and suspension, including new springs inside the front struts, will cut body roll in turns and improve the ride, GM said. Due in showrooms in the fall, the Malibu will start at $22,965.
All-new 2014 pickup trucks hit showrooms during the summer with a badly needed revamp that was delayed by General Motors' bankruptcy. The 2014 trucks look a little more aggressive and aerodynamic than their predecessors, and GM says they have quieter cabs and updated steering, suspensions and brakes. They're also 200 pounds lighter than Ford and Chrysler competitors, according to GM. GM offers three revamped engines: a 262-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 that it says can tow a substantial trailer; a 325-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8; and a 6.2-liter V-8 with 376 horsepower. They can switch seamlessly to run on only four cylinders to get better gas mileage. There's also a step built into the rear bumper to gain access to the bed. Doors fit into recesses in the body to make the trucks quieter. A heavy-duty version also is due out next year. A Silverado crew cab with a standard box, the most popular variation, starts at $33,495.
First Chevy high-performance rear-drive sedan in 17 years goes on sale late this year. The Australian-built car is a new version of the Pontiac G8, a much-revered sporty car that died when GM scrapped the Pontiac brand late in 2010. All SS models come loaded and seat five. Leather seats with added side bolstering for spirited cornering. Lane departure warning, blind-spot detector and backup camera, plus front collision alert are available. Wide, athletic stance with wheels pushed out. Slight "power bulge" in the aluminum hood. Big brakes. Same 6.2-liter V-8 engine now used in the 2013 Corvette, with 415 horsepower. The SS can go from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds.
Completely redone full-size SUV, built on the pickup underpinnings with the same engine and transmission choices, comes out in the first quarter. GM has released few details, but engine choices and body styles are likely to be similar to the pickup trucks. Current model starts at $42,595 including shipping.
The big seven-passenger SUV gets freshened with a new interior, additional electronics and voice commands, and a new eight-speed automatic transmission that raises gas mileage nearly 13 percent on the V-6 model to 25 mpg on the highway. The outside gets new LED lighting for running lamps and new tail lamps.
Ferrari sold all of its 499 limited-edition LaFerrari hybrid supercars before they even debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in March. The LaFerrari has a 6.3-liter V-12 engine that gets a staggering 950 horsepower when it works together with the electric motor. The LaFerrari costs $1.3 million.
The cute little Italian car that Jennifer Lopez used to tool around New York gets four doors and more room inside. So much room that Fiat says it seats five and is considered a large car. The 500L is powered by a 160-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. There's a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions. It's already on sale in the U.S. with a base price of $19,100 excluding shipping.
Ford has freshened its smallest car with a new trapezoid grille to match Ford's other new sedans, the Fusion and Focus. But the real difference is under the hood. Later this fall, Ford will offer its 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine — now only in Europe — for the first time in North America. The 1.0-liter gets 123 horsepower and should deliver more than 40 mpg on the highway. Also new this fall is the sporty Fiesta ST hatchback, with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine with 197 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission. The ST has a specially tuned sport suspension, racing seats and aluminum pedals. The 2014 Fiesta starts at $14,000 with the base engine, a 1.6-liter four cylinder with 120 horsepower that gets 32 mpg in city and highway driving. The Fiesta ST starts at $21,400.
A new version of the sports car — which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014 — is expected to go on sale in the spring. No details have been released.
The Fusion midsize sedan, which went on sale at the end of 2012, has a new engine choice: a turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost with 178 horsepower. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-liter I4 EcoBoost that used to be paired with that transmission is still an option on the Fusion, but only with a manual transmission. The new engine gets 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The 2014 Fusion starts at $21,900, but to get the new engine, you have to upgrade to an SE, which starts at $24,650. Other new options include inflatable rear seat belts and cooled front seats in the high-end Titanium trim level.
Ford Transit Connect Wagon
After a seven-year hiatus, Ford gets back into the minivan market with the Transit Connect Wagon, which is expected to go on sale at the end of this year. The vehicle, which is based on Ford's Transit Connect commercial van, has the van's high roof and industrial look but the tapered nose and trapezoid grille of Ford's cars. It comes in five- or seven-seat versions and has sliding doors on both sides. Ford will offer two four-cylinder engines: A 2.5-liter and a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that will get an estimated 30 mpg or more on the highway. Pricing hasn't been revealed, but Ford says it will compete at the lower end of the minivan market with vehicles like the Dodge Grand Caravan, which starts at $19,995.
Completely revamped 2014 versions of the upscale pickup reached dealers during the summer. Like the Chevy Silverado, the Sierra looks a little more rounded and aggressive than the current model. It also gets three revamped engines: a 262-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 that it says can tow a substantial trailer; a 325-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8, and a 6.2-liter V-8 with 376 horsepower. They can switch seamlessly to run on only four cylinders to get better gas mileage. There's also a step built into the rear bumper to gain access to the bed. And the doors fit into recesses in the body to make the trucks quieter. GM is trying to give the Sierra the image of a more upscale truck with nicer interior materials. A heavy-duty version also is due out next year. Sierra crew cab with a standard box, the most popular variation, starts at $33,995 including shipping.
New version of the big SUV based on the Sierra underpinnings with the same engines and transmissions is due out in the first quarter of next year. Pricing wasn't announced. Current Yukon starts at $43,450 including shipping.
Chrysler Group's answer to the hot-selling Honda CR-V will make its way to showrooms late in the summer after some software tweaks to the new nine-speed transmission. The new Cherokee has a dramatic look that makes one wonder if it's a Jeep. It ditches the traditional boxy look for a more aerodynamic style and replaces the brand's round headlights with sharply angled slits. It has a much smaller grille. The interior is plush and full of luxury options. The Cherokee replaces the aging Liberty, which was badly in need of an update. It comes standard with a 184 horsepower four-cylinder engine that can get up to 31 mpg on the highway. The Cherokee also has a system that disengages the rear axle when all-wheel-drive isn't needed. It will start at $22,995, or $400 less than the Liberty.
Honda Accord Hybrid
The Accord, which was new for the 2013 model year, gets a hybrid version in 2014. Honda says the hybrid, which goes on sale in October, should get 49 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway and 47 mpg combined, which would make it the most efficient midsize hybrid on the market. The Accord hybrid has Honda's new two-motor hybrid powertrain. One motor is fixed to the back of the engine and serves as a generator for the lithium-ion battery, which can power the car in all-electric mode at low to medium speeds. A second motor transfers power to the front wheels and is recharged from regenerative braking. The hybrid system is paired with the Accord's new, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Icy blue accents around the grille and headlights will help you spot them on the road. Pricing hasn't been released, but a plug-in hybrid version of the Accord, which gets 46 mpg combined, went on sale last year starts at $39,780.
A new version of the subcompact Fit is expected sometime in 2014, but Honda hasn't released any details. A Fit-based small SUV, shown in concept form at the Detroit auto show in January, is also expected to debut in 2014.
The world's first in-vehicle vacuum cleaner makes its debut on the updated 2014 Odyssey minivan. The styling is a little sharper on the front and rear. A six-speed transmission is now paired with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine on all trim levels, improving fuel economy to 19 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway (up 1 mpg from the previous model, which offered a five-speed transmission). Other features now standard on all trim levels are Bluetooth connectivity, a four-way power passenger seat, and a text-messaging system that lets you hear and respond to incoming texts. The Odyssey starts at $28,825 including shipping, but you'll have to pay a lot more for the vacuum cleaner. That's only available on the Touring Elite model, which starts at $44,450.
The 2014 Equus luxury car gets some revisions, including a grille with thinner chrome bars and new 19-inch wheels for a sportier look and a revised suspension for better handling. Inside, the materials have been upgraded and both the instrument panel and the rear console controls have been redesigned to improve their ergonomics. There's a larger, 7-inch instrument panel display and a larger, 9.2-inch dashboard display with larger and more legible graphics. A blind spot detection system is now standard. The 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 429 horsepower remains the same, and so does the fuel economy. The Equus gets 18 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The 2014 Equus, which starts at $61,000, went on sale in July.
The QX60 crossover, previously called the JX35, gets a hybrid version that's available in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive. Fuel economy and pricing haven't been released for the hybrid, which goes on sale in September.
New to Infiniti's lineup is the entry-level Q50, a small competitor to the Lexus IS and BMW 3-Series. It has a low, wide look and taut lines. Under the hood is a 328-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 that gets 20 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. A hybrid version, which gets an estimated 36 mpg on the highway, is also available. The Q50, which went on sale this summer, starts at $36,700 (excluding shipping) for the base model and $43,950 for the hybrid.
The two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports convertible was unveiled at the Paris auto show in 2012 and went on sale in the U.S. earlier this summer. Jaguar says the F Type has the company's most advanced use of lightweight aluminum to date, giving it a stiffer and more dynamic ride. There are three engine choices: Jaguar's new 3.0-liter V6 with either 340 horsepower or 380 horsepower outputs, or a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with 495 horsepower. The latter can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph. All are mated to an eight-speed transmission. On the inside, Jaguar has modified its touch-screen controls and now has physical dials for heating and ventilation. On the outside, there's a big grille and vertical headlights that follow the sleek lines of the car. To help the flow, the door handles remain flush with the car until they're unlocked, and a hidden rear spoiler rises at 60 mph and lowers again when the speed drops below 40 mph. The F Type starts at $69,000 excluding shipping.
After a four-year absence, a top-of-the-line R sport model returns to Jaguar's XJ sedan lineup. It has a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 550 horsepower and 502 pound feet of torque mated to an eight-speed transmission, and it can go from zero to 60 mph in a blistering 4.4 seconds. The XJR also has new, low-profile 20-inch wheels. A stop-start system, which shuts the vehicle down at stop lights, helps save fuel economy, which clocks in at 18 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The XJR starts at $116,000.
Kia pulled its full-size Amanti sedan off the market three years ago. Now, it returns and gets significantly more upscale with the 2014 Cadenza. The Cadenza's big, 18-inch wheels and long, contoured hood give it a premium look. It's equipped with Kia's most powerful V6 engine ever, a 3.3-liter V6 with 293 horsepower, and has several new standard features, including a navigation system and rear-view camera in an 8-inch dashboard touch screen. Options on higher trim levels include Kia's first lane departure warning system, which beeps if the driver leaves the lane, and water-repellent front side windows. The Cadenza starts at $35,100, which includes complimentary maintenance for 36 months or 37,000 miles.
The 2014 Forte small car, which went on sale in March, is bigger and sportier than the outgoing model. There are three trim levels: the base LX with a 1.8-liter, 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission that starts at $15,900; an LX with an automatic transmission starting at $17,400; and the EX, which has a 2.0-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder engine and starts at $19,400. The LX gets 29 mpg in combined city and highway driving; the EX gets 1 mpg less. On the inside, the Forte has premium standard features, including wheel-mounted audio controls, satellite radio, power windows and heated folding side mirrors. Cruise control and keyless entry are optional. Two variations will go on sale this fall: The Forte5 hatchback and Forte Koup two-door. Those performance-oriented models will have two engine choices: The 2.0-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder or a new, turbocharged 1.6-liter I4 with 201 horsepower. Pricing hasn't been announced for the Koup or the Forte5.
The 2014 Sorento crossover isn't completely new, but it has been significantly updated. It sits on a new chassis — to improve ride and handling — and has a new standard engine, a 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder with 191 horsepower. A new 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower is also available. The redesigned Sorento — which seats five or seven with the optional third row — offers two Kia firsts: a blind spot detection system and a power liftgate with programmable height levels. The outside is bolder with a larger grille and optional 19-inch wheels, while the inside is more sophisticated, with a simpler dashboard and a bigger, 8-inch touchscreen that's standard on higher trim levels. The Sorento, which went on sale in the spring, starts at $24,100.
The funky, boxy Soul has a more premium look in its second generation, with more width and length and a more aggressive grille. Inside, there are upgraded materials and a larger, 8-inch touch screen in the dashboard. To improve the driving dynamics, the body is stiffer and the suspension has been reworked. There's an updated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 130 horsepower on the base model, and a 2.0-liter, direct-injection I4 with 164 horsepower on higher trim levels. Pricing and fuel economy numbers haven't been released for the new Soul, which goes on sale this fall.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Land Rover boasts that the 2014 Range Rover Sport is its fastest vehicle ever, with a zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a much more agile feel thanks to its new, lighter aluminum underbody. The inside is more luxurious and contains a new folding third row with two seats. Under the hood, there's a 3.0-liter V6 with 340 horsepower or a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with 510 horsepower. The base engine gets 23 mpg on the highway; the V8 gets 17 mpg. The Range Rover Sport, which goes on sale this fall, starts at $63,495.
The 2014 IS, the smallest sedan in the Lexus lineup, now stands apart with the bold, spindle-shaped grille of other new Lexus models. The engines — a 2.5-liter, 204-horsepower engine in the IS 250 and 250 F Sport and a 3.5-liter, 306-horsepower V6 in the 350 and 350 F Sport — are carried over from previous models, but fuel economy has improved slightly, to 30 mpg on the highway for the 250 and 28 mpg for the 350. The biggest difference is in the driving dynamics. Lexus says steering is smoother and responds better to the driver, while a revised suspension improves performance. Lexus also did some spot welding on the body of the car to make it more rigid and improve the ride comfort. Inside, there's more room thanks to a 3-inch increase in the wheelbase and thinner front seats. Another feature new to the IS is standard folding rear seats. The IS 250 starts at $35,950, while the IS 350 starts at $39,465.
Ford relaunched its luxury Lincoln brand in the spring with the new MKZ midsize sedan. It was the first of four new Lincolns expected over the next four years. The company hasn't yet confirmed which new vehicle will be next, but it's widely expected to be the MKC small crossover. If it looks anything like the concept shown in January at the Detroit auto show, the MKC will have subtly undulating sides and a panoramic glass roof. It will also get the brand's new Black Label trim level, with exclusive paint colors and premium interior touches like suede-wrapped pillars. Pricing hasn't been released.
Maserati hopes to expand its customer base with the new Ghibli, a smaller four-door sedan designed and priced to compete with the Audi A7, BMW 6-Series and other high-volume luxury car makers. Pricing hasn't been released, but it's expected to be in the $65,000 to $70,000 range, or around half the cost of the larger Quattroporte. There are two engine choices: a 3.0-liter V6 with 345 horsepower in the base model and a 3.0-liter V6 with 404 horsepower for the sporty S version. The transmission is an eight-speed manual. Maserati promises more details in late September.
The Quattroporte sedan is longer and lighter than before, but still has Maserati's distinctive oval grille and elegant, minimalist styling. The base engine is the 3.0-liter V6 with 404 horsepower shared with the smaller Ghibli S. Also offered is a new 3.8-liter turbocharged V8 with 523 horsepower. For the first time, the sedan is offered with four-wheel drive. Pricing will be released later this fall when the car goes on sale.
The third generation Mazda3 small car, which goes on sale this fall, now has the same elegant swooping lines, elongated hood and narrow headlights of the larger Mazda6. The Mazda3 now has Mazda's Skyactiv suite of fuel-saving technologies, which include lighter materials and a more efficient engine. The interior is upgraded, with new standard features including push-button start, automatic power door locks and keyless entry. It also offers new safety features, including a lane departure warnings system, a forward collision warning system and a system that automatically applies the brakes in low-speed situations to avoid a collision. There are two four-cylinder engine choices: the 2.0-liter with 155 horsepower and a 2.5-liter borrowed from the Mazda6 with 184 horsepower. Hatchback and sedan models with the 2.0-liter are estimated to get around 40 mpg on the highway; fuel economy with the 2.5-liter is a little lower. The Mazda3 starts at $16,945.
The 2014 Mazda6 midsize sedan went on sale early in 2013 but has already gotten an update. Mazda is now offering its iELOOP technology on the Mazda6's top trim level. The system captures energy during braking and uses it to power all the vehicle's electrical components, including headlights, climate control and audio systems. Mazda says the system makes the Mazda6 the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid on the market, at 40 mpg on the highway and 32 in combined city/highway driving. The iELOOP system is part of a $2,000 option package on the Grand Touring edition of the Mazda6, which starts at $29,695. Mazda also plans to offer a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine in the Mazda6 this fall, which will make it the first Japanese automaker to sell a non-commercial diesel in the U.S. Fuel economy and pricing for the diesel hasn't yet been released.
Mercedes offers a relatively low-priced entry-level small four-door car with the CLA. It looks like a coupe and has a new inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine with gasoline injected directly into cylinders. It also has a seven-speed automatic transmission. Standard 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth technology and 5.8-inch color display. CLA250 front-drive car goes on sale in September with a 208 horsepower engine and a base price under $31,000. An all-wheel drive version comes early next year. There's also the CLA45 AMG all-wheel-drive with 355 horses that goes on sale in November.
All models get freshening with new standard LED headlights and tail lamps and redesigned rear bumpers. Inside, there's new grain on the dash, an analog clock, and the gear shift lever is moved to the steering column. Models already are on sale, starting at $51,900 excluding shipping.
The brand's flagship big sedan is redesigned for 2014 and will be the first car with no light bulbs because all of its lights are LEDs. The base S550 has a 4.6-liter biturbo V-8 with 455 horsepower. Rear-drive versions get Mercedes "Magic Body Control" in which cameras scan the road and adjust the suspension for the best driving comfort. Car also gets a more luxurious interior and safety upgrades. The S550 goes on sale in November, as does the high-performance S63 AMG 4Matic.
The hatchback subcompact comes to America powered by a tiny 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that puts out 74 horsepower. Has a continuously variable transmission and gets up to 44 mpg on the highway. Company says it's the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car in the U.S. that isn't a hybrid. Due out in the fall, price not yet announced.
SUV is redesigned for the 2014 model year with a standard third-row seat that folds flat. Lightweight, more aerodynamic body with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. Starts at $23,820 including shipping.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid
For the first time, Nissan's Pathfinder midsize SUV gets a hybrid version. The Pathfinder hybrid, which goes on sale this fall, has a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor paired to a lithium-ion battery that sits under the third row of seats. Nissan says the result gets 250 horsepower, which is equivalent to the 3.5-liter V6 engine in the non-hybrid. Pricing and fuel economy estimates haven't been released.
A new version of the Rogue small crossover recently debuted. Nissan is releasing details in mid-September.
Nissan Versa Note
The Versa Note, which went on sale in July, adds a five-door hatchback to the subcompact Versa lineup. It has a sharper, more sculpted look than the Versa sedan but the same 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It gets 40 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg in the city. Among the high-end options are a 5.8-inch touch-screen display with navigation and hands-free text messaging. Also available are a rear-view mirror and around-view monitor, which combines images from several cameras to show the driver a bird's eye view around the car as its backing out. The Versa Note starts at $13,990 for a manual transmission and $15,240 for an automatic. Prices exclude shipping.
Porsche's redesigned two-seater is about 60 pounds lighter and stiffer for a better ride. The reworked engines provide more power but better fuel economy, clocking in at 32 mpg on the highway (up from 27 mpg in the previous model). There's a 2.7-liter flat-six cylinder engine with 275 horsepower in the base model or an optional 3.4-liter flat-six cylinder with 325 horsepower. The Cayman also gets fuel economy gains from an electrical steering system, which replaces the old hydraulic one; a stop-start function that automatically stops the car and restarts it at traffic lights; and a separate system that recaptures energy during braking and coasting and uses it to charge the battery. There's a six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed automatic. Other updates: Keyless entry and adaptive cruise control. Pricing starts at $52,600.
The Panamera sedan will come in three new variants later this fall: the S E-Hybrid, Porsche's first plug-in hybrid; and two executive versions of the Panamera 4S and Turbo models that are longer and come with a new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine that gets 420 horsepower. Porsche says the hybrid can produce up to 95 horsepower in all-electric mode; a 333-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 kicks in after about 20 miles or so of all-electric driving. Fuel economy hasn't been released for the hybrid, but the turbocharged versions get 18 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The base Panamera starts at $78,100. The hybrid is $99,000, while the Executive 4S is $125,600. The lineup tops out at $161,100 with the Executive Turbo.
Ram Heavy Duty
Ram updates its 2500 and 3500 work pickups. Both get new frames, and the 2500 gets the company's link-coil suspension. Also new is an optional 6.4-liter, 410 horsepower V-8 engine. Air suspensions are optional as well. The 2500 starts at $30,695 including shipping and is due in showrooms in the fourth quarter.
Rolls Royce Wraith
The two-door, four-seat Wraith has the unmistakable and imposing front end of a Rolls with a rakish slanted roof in the rear. It's the most powerful Rolls ever built, with a 6.6-liter V12 engine that gets 624 horsepower. Inside, there's a new system that uses GPS data and navigation to scan the road ahead and automatically pick out the right gear from the eight-speed transmission. Another first is a rotary controller for the dashboard screen that has a touch-sensitive pad that lets you "write" who you want to call or where you want to go with your finger. Want more? You can have 1,340 fiber optics sewn into the headliner to make it look like you're driving under a starry sky. Pricing will start around $300,000 when the Wraith goes on sale later this year.
The 2014 Scion tC sports coupe, which went on sale in June, has sportier, more aggressive styling thanks to its bigger grille, narrower headlights and 18-inch wheels. Inside, a 6.1-inch touchscreen audio system is standard; Scion is making the system standard across its entire lineup in 2014, a first for a non-luxury brand. The tC coupe has a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 179 horsepower and either a six-speed manual transmission or an updated six-speed automatic. It gets an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The tC coupe starts at $19,965.
The small SUV has been in dealers much of the year, and it's selling faster than just about any other car in America. The versatile Forester, with ample space in the back for a wet dog, comes standard with a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to power all four wheels. It's the only small SUV to ace an insurance group's offset frontal crash test. Starts at just under $22,000 excluding shipping.
Subaru XV Crosstrek
It's Subaru's first gas-electric hybrid, aimed at the environmentally sensitive outdoorsy crowd that wants efficiency while hauling kayaks to the river. It has stop-start technology that shuts down the engine at red lights to save fuel. Yet it has all-wheel-drive capability and the same 8.7-inch ground clearance so it can go on trails. The Crosstrek has a 2-liter Boxer engine with 148 horsepower, plus a 13.4 horsepower electric motor and a continuously variable transmission that keeps the engine revving in an optimal range for gas mileage and power. Automatic gets 33 mpg on the highway and 28 in the city. Starts at just under $22,000 excluding shipping.
Tesla Model X
Electric car maker Tesla currently makes just one sedan, the Model S. Its next vehicle, the Model X crossover, is expected to go on sale toward the end of 2014. A preproduction version shown at the Detroit auto show last January had seven seats and unique gull-wing doors that open vertically instead of sliding to the side. Like the Model S, the Model X will have a choice of batteries — 60 kWh or 85 kWh — and a large touchscreen dashboard. The Model X will also have an all-wheel-drive option, something the Model S doesn't have right now. More details, including price and equivalent fuel economy, will be released next year.
The redesigned 2014 4Runner has a distinctive, architectural front grille and a standard roof rack on all trim levels. Inside, there's more second-row leg room thanks to sculpted front seats, and lower trim levels get nicer features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The 4.0-liter, 270-horsepower V6 remains, and gets 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway for the 4x4 or 23 for the 4x2. Pricing hasn't been released for the SUV, which goes on sale in September.
The 11th generation of the Corolla — one of the best-selling small cars on the planet — goes on sale in September. Toyota took a risk with an edgier, more chiseled design, and LED headlights give the car a more premium look. The car is nearly 4 inches longer, which makes the interior roomier, especially for the rear passengers. Toyota also added more carpet insulation and other materials to make the cabin quieter. There are two four-cylinder engine choices: a 1.8-liter with 132 horsepower, which is carried over from the previous generation, and the 1.8-liter with Toyota's Valvematic technology, which slightly improves fuel economy and horsepower by offering a broader range of valve timing. There's a four-speed automatic transmission in base models, but Toyota expects most buyers will opt for its new six-speed continuously variable transmission. Toyota estimates the Corolla gets 37 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in the city. An Eco version gets 40 mpg on the highway with the help of aerodynamic improvements, low rolling resistance tires, a spoiler and the Valvematic engine. The Corolla starts at $17,610 — including an $810 shipping fee — for a base version with a manual transmission or $18,210 for a base automatic. The ECO version starts at $19,510.
Toyota hasn't yet released details on the new Highlander SUV, which will go on sale early in 2014. A hybrid version will hit the market in the spring.
The 2014 Tundra full-size pickup truck gets a complete makeover, with a bigger, bolder grille up front, improved suspension below and an integrated spoiler in the rear to improve fuel economy. A backup camera is standard on all trim levels, a first for the full-size pickup segment. On the inside, Toyota has made ergonomic improvements, including installing more comfortable front seats that move back farther, and reduced wind noise. There's a new top-of-the-line model, the 1794 Edition, which pays homage to the San Antonio ranch, founded in 1794, where Toyota's plant is now located. It has a western theme, with saddle brown leather seats, suede accents, and premium features like heated and cooled seats and navigation. The engine choices — a 4.0-liter, 270 horsepower V6; 4.6-liter, 310-horsepower V8; and a 5.7-liter, 381-horsepower V8 — are carried over from the previous model, which got up to 17 mpg in city and highway driving. Pricing hasn't been released for the truck, which goes on sale in September.
Sometime during the model year, the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine will be replaced by a 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter turbocharged four to increase gas mileage by 17 percent. Current five-cylinder Beetle gets 31 mpg on highway. New GSR retro racer line is added, and Beetle Turbo becomes the R-Line. Price wasn't announced. The Beetle Coupe starts at $19,995 excluding shipping, while the convertible starts at $24,995.
VW's top seller gets the new 1.8-liter turbocharged and a direct-injection four-cylinder engine to replace the 2.5-liter five-cylinder. New engine gets 36 mpg on highway. A 30th anniversary GLI performance model comes late in the model year. Jetta starts at $16,720 excluding shipping.
The midsize VW gets the same 1.8-liter turbocharged engine to replace the five cylinder. Starts at $20,845 without shipping.