2011 New Cars: Asia

September 21, 2010
Hyundai/Kia continues its new-product onslaught with new Sonata variants, a redesigned sportage, and the ultraluxurious Equus. The stunning Lexus LFA supercar, which finally arrives in December, seems like it comes from another era, while the Nissan Leaf will try to face down the Chevy Volt to be the car of the future. Honda's CR-Z puts a new spin on an old idea, while the battle in the battle in the 'burbs heats up as a new odyssey engages the Toyota Sienna.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Kia Sportage Nissan Juke Three Quarters
Acura TSX Sport Wagon
2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon Side
New: A longer roof and a hatch for Acura's smallest car
Noteworthy: It's a bit surprising to see Acura offering the TSX wagon to Americans, but building the car is fairly simple. Since the TSX is Europe's Honda Accord, Acura merely needs to mount a new grille and spruce up the interior to add a wagon to the lineup. Leather upholstery, a sunroof, and dual-zone climate control are standard. Acura won't offer the V-6 or the six-speed manual that can be had in the sedan. Instead, a four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed automatic is the only powertrain, which should be good for 30 mpg on the highway.
On sale: December
BASE PRICE: $32,000 (est.)
SPECS: 2.4L I-4, 201 hp, 170 lb-ft; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed
All right, Crosstour and ZDX haters, here's your wagon. If you don't buy it, they'll stop selling it. Just like every other wagon.
Honda Odyssey
2011 Honda Odessy Top Rear
New: A fresh take on Honda's minivan.
Noteworthy: With every new minivan, automakers can't seem to resist the claim that they are "redefining" the segment. Honda is no exception, calling attention to the new Odyssey's lower roofline and wider track along with its "lightning-bolt" beltline. However, styling cues hardly count as reinvention, and the Odyssey remains a classic minivan-the epitome of an efficient people mover. Power still comes from a 3.5-liter V-6, but fuel economy should climb substantially, to 19/28 mpg in certain trims. Standard equipment includes seating for eight and fifteen (!) beverage holders.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $27,500 (est.)
SPECS: 3.5L V-6, 250 hp, 245 lb-ft; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Automakers are fixated on making minivans cooler, but we admire the Odyssey and its peers for their unparalleled versatility.
Honda CR-Z
2011 Honda Cr Z Front Three Quarters
New: A fresh approach to recapturing the CRX's essence.
Noteworthy: Honda has turned to a hybrid powertrain to modernize the frugal fun of the 1980s CRX. With a continuously variable transmission, the CR-Z delivers 35/39 mpg city/highway, but you'll want the six-speed manual (which drops fuel economy to 31/37 mpg) for a significantly more engaging experience. Despite the added weight of the batteries and the electric motor, Honda has managed to keep the CR-Z's weight at an impressively low 2637 pounds, which makes for a tossable little two-seater
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $19,950
Specs: 1.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 122 hp, 123 lb-ft; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
The CR-Z may live up to the CRX ethos, but we're still hoping for a hotter Si model.
Hyundai Equus
Aiming Even Higher
Hyundai Equus Front Three Quarters
The 2008 introduction of the Genesis sedan has been the exclamation point on Hyundai's rapid ascension from bargain brand to mainstream automaker. Now, the company is continuing its ambitious march forward with the bigger, pricier, and more luxurious 2011 Hyundai Equus. The philosophy and the competitive targets of the Equus aren't far from those of the Genesis-they're simply one size larger. Rather than aiming for a Mercedes-Benz E-class or a BMW 5-series, think S-class and 7-series.
The Equus will utilize the same 4.6-liter V-8-producing 385 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque on premium gasoline-found under the hood of the Genesis. Although it doesn't have the most potent engine in its class, the Equus has more power than many others in the segment. Thrust is hearty from anywhere on the tachometer, and Hyundai claims 6.4-second 0-to-60-mph capability. In more relaxed driving, the engine and the six-speed transmission are smooth and in sync.
Electronically controlled air springs and dampers allow the driver to select a firmer, sportier setting or stay with the standard, comfort-oriented suspension stiffness. Whatever the setting, though, the chassis feels neither as composed nor as comfortable as those of its competitors. Around a small handling course at Hyundai's South Korea R&D center, the Equus exhibited an extreme propensity to understeer and revealed handling capability far below that of a comparable BMW or Benz. The steering is also troubling, with artificial and lagging power assist from the electrically driven hydraulic pump.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $55,000 (est.)
Specs: 4.6-liter V-8, 385 hp, 333 lb-ft; rear-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Hyundai ambitiously moves into another premium segment, but the Equus falls short of what we've come to expect.
Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai Sonata Three Quarters In Motion
New: The Koreans are closer than ever to Honda and Toyota with this new mid-size sedan.
Noteworthy: Following the spring launch of the base 2.4-liter Sonata, Hyundai adds turbo and hybrid models this fall. The turbo isn't a sporty racer; instead, it's a refined V-6 alternative. Despite its impressive 274-hp output, the boosted four-cylinder returns very respectable fuel economy numbers: 22/34 mpg city/highway. The hybrid drives comfortably thanks to a six-speed automatic gearbox instead of the CVT more commonly paired with a hybrid system. Fuel economy should come in at 37/40 mpg. As good as the two optional engines are, the 198-hp base four-cylinder unit is powerful and smooth enough to satisfy even our particular tastes. In all Sonatas, though, the seats and the steering leave something to be desired.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $19,915
SPECS: 2.4L I-4, 198 hp, 184 lb-ft; 2.0L turbo I-4, 274 hp, 269 lb-ft; 2.4L I-4/electric hybrid, 209 hp, 195 lb-ft; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Not only are Hyundai's products increasingly competitive, but they also pack more originality and personality than previous models.
Infiniti G25
Infiniti G25 Front Three Quarters
New: A smaller V-6 and a lower price.
Noteworthy: The new entry-level G uses a 2.5-liter V-6 in place of the 3.7-liter in the G37. It loses about 110 hp but should still be reasonably quick-which is good because you might need to make up time in case you get lost, since no navigation system is available. Nor is a sport package or a manual transmission. Still, opting for the smaller engine means you can get lots of other options, including a sunroof, for what today's base G37 costs.
On sale: October
BASE PRICE: $32,000 (est.)
SPECS: 2.5L V-6, 218 hp, 187 lb-ft; rear-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
At Infiniti, it's more horsepower for the coupe and less for the sedan.
Infiniti G37 IPL
2011 Infiniti Performance Line G Three Quarters 2
New: The birth of a new performance brand.
Noteworthy: Built to take on the BMW 335is, the Infiniti Performance Line (or IPL) G37 is an extended sport package for an already sporty coupe. Infiniti has managed to squeeze an additional 18 hp out of the VQ-series V-6, and the IPL comes with custom nineteen-inch wheels, an aero kit, and upgraded suspension and brakes. Available with either a manual or an automatic, it also comes nearly fully loaded.
On sale: Late 2010
BASE PRICE: $49,000 (est.)
SPECS: 3.7L V-6, 348 hp, 278 lb-ft; rear-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
We don't need no stinking turbos! Infiniti proves once again that pulling more horses out of the VQ is easier than pulling rabbits out of a hat.
Infiniti M37/M56
Infiniti M37 M56 Front Three Quarters
New: The completely revamped M gets lots more power and voluptuous new sheetmetal.
Noteworthy: For Infiniti, the G37 is the franchise, but the redesigned new M is special enough to fulfill its role as flagship. Curvaceous new styling looks like no previous M and carries into the richly appointed interior. The V-6 (3.7 liters) and V-8 (5.6 liters) engines are larger and much more powerful than before but still manage to be more economical. Both again offer the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. A plethora of high-tech features are on hand, ranging from the useful (Infiniti's excellent navigation system) to the dubious (the available four-wheel steering, which makes for oddly abrupt turn-in).
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE RANGE: $47,115-$60,915
SPECS: 3.7L V-6, 330 hp, 270 lb-ft; 5.6L V-8, 420 hp, 417 lb-ft; rear- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
The third iteration of Infiniti's M sedan should be the first to emerge from obscurity.
Infiniti QX56
Infiniti QX56 Front Three Quarters
New: Infiniti's full-size, three-row SUV rides on a new body-on-frame platform and packs the same eight-cylinder punch as the M56 sedan.
Noteworthy: Full-size SUVs may not be in vogue, but Infiniti isn't about to give up on such a profitable segment. A puffy shape polarizes, but there's no question that the interior is absolutely rich. An optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control System replaces antiroll bars and calms the tall SUV's ride, particularly for rear passengers. The tire-pressure monitoring system knows when you're adjusting tire inflation and honks the horn when you've reached the recommended pressure.
On sale: Now
Base price range: $57,650-$60,750
SPECS: 5.6L V-8, 400 hp, 413 lb-ft; rear- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Not as handsome as a Land Rover, but not as finicky, either.
Kia Sportage
2011 Kia Sportage Front Three Quarters Passenger
The Kia nameplate is synonymous with value, but the Korean manufacturer is trying to change that. Oh, it'll keep the value, but it wants to add design to its strengths. If the Sportage looks vaguely like an oversize Italian hot hatch, it's no coincidence-it was penned by a designer from Italy. And if its LED daytime running lights look familiar, it's no surprise-Kia's design head is the former Audi design boss.
The Sportage shares its platform with something slightly more Korean-the Hyundai Tucson. That means it has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed stick or a very smooth six-speed automatic. The new engine makes more power than last year's optional V-6, which is a pleasant surprise, but the Sportage isn't exactly quick in a straight line. A turbocharged 2.0-liter with more than 270 hp is coming next year, and that model will also have adaptive dampers. The additional thrust will turn the Sportage into one of the quickest cute-utes, but the dampers may be overkill, as it already offers surprisingly well-balanced handling and amazingly good body control.
Top-spec Sportages offer dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, keyless start, and leather seating. The driver's seat is power-operated and can be cooled at the touch of a button. This is hardly the stuff you'd expect from a Kia.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $18,990
SPECS: 2.4L I-4, 176 hp, 168 lb-ft; front- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed
Yet another dramatic new-model makeover from Hyundai/Kia.
Kia Optima
Kia Optima Front Three Quarters
New: A mid-size sedan with some style.
Noteworthy: To replace the aged Optima, Kia has wrapped Hyundai Sonata mechanicals in a fresh, distinctive wrapper. The Optima starts as fairly basic transportation (with sixteen-inch steel wheels) but can be equipped like a near-premium sedan with options such as a panoramic sunroof. The powertrain lineup exactly mirrors that of the Sonata, with normally aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinders plus a hybrid model.
On sale: October
BASE PRICE: $19,000 (est.)
SPECS: 2.4L I-4, 198 hp, 184 lb-ft; 2.0L turbo I-4, 274 hp, 269 lb-ft; 2.4L I-4/electric hybrid, 209 hp, 195 lb-ft (est.); front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Choosing between Sonata and Optima will largely be a matter of styling preference.
Kia Sorento
Kia Sorento Three Quarters Off Road
New: A mid-size crossover for the budget-conscious buyer.
Noteworthy: The Sorento has made strides in design but hasn't come quite as far in driving dynamics. It's competent on the road but doesn't ride as well as the competition. The interior is nothing special, but all Sorentos come nicely equipped, with aluminum wheels, a USB audio input, and Bluetooth. There's an available third-row seat, but it's suitable only for kids less than four feet tall.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE RANGE: $23,190-$27,095
SPECS: 2.4L I-4, 175 hp, 169 lb-ft; 3.5L V-6, 276 hp, 248 lb-ft; front- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
It certainly looks and drives better than previous Kia sport-utes, but the Sorento's strongest selling point is still value.
Lexus LFA
Lexus LFA Side In Motion
New: Everything from the shrieking V-10 to the composite body shell, made from carbon-fiber weaved in-house by Toyota.
Noteworthy: If you've just decided you want one, you're probably too late. Lexus is producing only 500 LFAs, 171 of which are headed to the United States. To get in line for a lease-that's right, no outright purchases yet-you need to make it through the company's vetting process.
On sale: January 2011
BASE PRICE: $380,000 (est.)
SPECS: 4.8L V-10, 553 hp, 354 lb-ft; rear-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed: Yes, it's more expensive than a Ferrari 458 Italia and no faster than a Corvette ZR1, but it's exotic and exhilarating- a huge achievement for Lexus.
Lexus GX460
Lexus GX460 Side
New: Better fuel economy and on-road performance-but still a traditional truck with body-on-frame construction and a live rear axle.
Noteworthy: Unlike its Toyota 4Runner cousin, the GX460 retains V-8 power. The engine has been downsized from 4.7 to 4.6 liters (hence the name change from GX470), but it is both more powerful and more efficient. Towing capacity remains an impressive 6500 pounds.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $52,345
SPECS: 4.6L V-8, 301 hp, 329 lb-ft; 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Last spring's voluntary recall over handling concerns could hurt sales for what was already destined to be a low-volume niche product.
Mazda2
Mazda2 Rear Three Quarters
New: A teensy entry in a growing segment.
Noteworthy: The 2 has been on the road elsewhere since 2007, but it's finally arrived on our roads. The 2 is at the head of its class where weight is concerned, and it's one of the first cars to drop significant poundage compared with its predecessor-not that we saw the previous 2 here. At 2306 pounds, the four-door hatchback is among the lightest cars on the road and is a full 200 pounds lighter than its platform-mate, the Ford Fiesta. It doesn't have the Fiesta's high-tech options, but it does have a very reasonable starting price, and it comes standard with a good measure of fun.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $14,730
SPECS: 1.5L I-4, 100 hp, 98 lb-ft; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Zoom Zoom who? With only 100 hp, the 2 isn't exactly tire-roastingly fast. But it's still good fun.
Mazda5
Mazda5 Rear Three Quarters In Motion
New: America's only mini-minivan gets a smiley face, another gear, and more power.
Noteworthy: The 5 remains the smallest minivan on the market and the only one that ups the fun-to-drive factor with a manual transmission-one that now has six gears. The 2.3-liter engine has been replaced by the 2.5-liter that's optional in the smaller 3. Plus, the 5 gets the full Nagare ("flow") styling treatment, with wind-inspired swooshes down what used to be flat flanks.
On sale: January 2011
Base price: $19,500 (est.)
Specs: 2.5L I-4, 167 hp, 168 lb-ft (est.); front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
This freshening should help the Mazda 5 hold its ground when this class of one grows to include a small Ford minivan in late 2011.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander SE Front In Motion
Until now, if you loved the looks of the Lancer sedan but wanted the versatility of a hatchback, your only choice was to wait until nighttime, put on very dark glasses, and sneak quietly over to the awkward-looking Lancer Hunchback-er, Sportback.
The 2011 model year brings renewed visual confidence to the Lancer lineup with the Outlander Sport. Don't let its name fool you-the Sport isn't an Outlander with a sport package; it's a different model altogether. It shares its wheelbase with the Outlander, but the Sport measures almost fifteen inches less from nose to tail, giving it short overhangs that enhance its already aggressive proportions.
Apparently, Mitsubishi didn't get the memo that guys like power, because instead of the larger SUV's two engine choices (a 2.4-liter four or a 3.0-liter V-6), it comes only with the 2.0-liter I-4 from the base Lancer sedan. Luckily, the base front-wheel-drive, manual-transmission Outlander Sport weighs in at just under 3100 pounds, so it can, in fact, hit 60 mph in one calendar day. Opting for the CVT and adding four-wheel drive slows the Outlander Sport considerably, however.
Perhaps more important, the options list includes navigation, heated seats, HID headlights, and a 710-watt sound system. Check all the boxes, and the sticker still won't break $27,000-and that's appealing to everyone.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $19,200
SPECS: 2.0L I-4, 148 hp, 145 lb-ft; front- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed
With a new crossover, Mitsubishi is funneling its resources where it thinks they'll have the most impact.
Nissan Juke
Nissan Juke Three Quarters
Let's get the obvious out of the way: the Juke looks like a frog. But unlike frogs, the Juke looks far better on the road than it does in photos. Also unlike a frog, the Juke is a man-made design meant to appeal to younger guys. To that end, it combines the roofline of a sports car with the big wheels, the flared fenders, and the ground clearance of an SUV.
We don't get it, either, but we do think the Juke is fun to look at. It also succeeds at that trademark crossover miracle, where the tall version looks bigger, more substantial, and far more expensive than the car it's based on (in this case, the Nissan Versa).
Plus, it's really fun to drive-and in ways the Versa isn't. First of all, it's got a turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder under the hood strapped to a CVT and four-wheel drive (front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual are standard). The four-wheel-drive version uses a torque-vectoring rear differential to mitigate understeer, and it replaces the front-wheel-drive car's torsion-beam rear suspension with an independent setup.
Inside, the painted center console is made to look like a motorcycle's fuel tank, and the seats are surprisingly supportive, although the steering wheel doesn't telescope, so it's always too far away. The coolest feature is i-CON, a driver-selectable chassis-tuning system like Audi's Drive Select. Sure, the changes to throttle mapping and power-steering boost are neat, but i-CON's coolest feature is its interface: it uses the climate-control buttons. Press a button, and the labels change from HVAC functions to i-CON functions. Even with the bold exterior styling, it's the i-CON buttons we could stare at all day.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $20,000 (est.)
SPECS: 1.6L turbo I-4, 188 hp, 177 lb-ft; front- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed
Think of it as the Cube's masculine alter ego.
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf Front Three Quarters
New: The beginning of the end for the fossil-fuel-powered car.
Noteworthy: Nissan starts its slow rollout of the all-electric Leaf in December and expects to produce 100,000 Leafs (Leaves?) in Japan over the next two years, before a Tennessee plant comes online to add an additional 150,000 per year. That's a tall order for the world's first mass-market electric vehicle, but there may just be enough demand for the Leaf.
Loaded with 600 pounds of lithium-ion batteries, the Leaf is a heavyweight at 3700 pounds. The batteries store 24 kWh of juice, enough, Nissan says, to travel 100 miles. We expect real-world range to be about 70 miles-in ideal weather conditions. (The Leaf has a simplistic battery-temperature management system, so range likely will be compromised in cold weather.)
Like most EVs, the Leaf is surprisingly quiet and deceptively quick, and it offers generous interior space with an enormous amount of headroom. Whether Leaf sales take off is this year's biggest question-and one that every other automaker is watching carefully.
On sale: December (limited availability)
BASE PRICE: $32,780
SPECS: 107 hp, 207 lb-ft AC motor; lithium-ion battery, 24 kWh; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
With the first affordable, mass-market electric car, Nissan hopes the Leaf will do for it what the Prius did for Toyota.
Scion tC
Scion Tc Front Three Quarters
New: Restyled exterior and interior, upgraded engine and transmissions.
Noteworthy: The Scion tC has always been reasonably fun to drive and a good value. Now it seems to be maturing into a genuinely sporty coupe. A larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 180 hp-19 hp more than the outgoing model-and is paired with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
The rest of the car has been similarly fortified, with eighteen-inch wheels, bigger disc brakes, and a lower ride height. Scion has also tuned the electric power steering to provide better feedback.
On sale: Late 2010
Base price: $18,995
Specs: 2.5L I-4, 180 hp, 173 lb-ft; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
It's taken six years, but the tC may finally be a worthy successor to the Toyota Celica.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI
A trunk and suspension changes bring the STI closer to the Evo.
Subaru Impreza WRX Front Three Quarters
After a three-year absence, the STI sedan is bacl. And so is the boy-racer wing. The STI shares the same wide body as the WRX sedan, but underneath the chiseled Subaru wrapper is a more nimble, rally-bred car. Differences include stiffer antiroll bars, increased spring rates, and new suspension bushings in the front control arms to provide quicker turn-in and improve overall steering feel. It's not enough, though, to give the Subaru's steering-which still feels overboosted and artificial-the crisp precision of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's. The extroverted rear wing can't hide, but at least it's high enough not to affect rearward visibility, and it does provide valuable downforce. Completing the handling makeover are new eighteen-inch wheels that are four pounds lighter per corner than those on the 2010 car.
Other improvements for 2011 are inside the cabin. Subaru has finally given the STI an interior worth showing your friends. New amenities include Bluetooth with audio streaming plus USB and auxiliary audio inputs. Other luxury items like leather seating and a sunroof are available with the Limited trim level, but the dash is still plagued by hard plastics. One of the few things untouched for 2011 is the engine. The familiar turbocharged boxer four-cylinder retains its 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque, and the only transmission available is a six-speed manual. Unlike the competition, Subaru has no plans to offer a dual-clutch automatic anytime soon.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $34,720/$36,720 (sedan/hatchback)
Specs: 2.5L turbo flat-4, 305 hp, 290 lb-ft; 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Subaru is still playing catch-up to the Lancer Evolution, but we might have to wait for an all-new model until that's achieved.
Subaru Impreza WRX
Subaru Impreza WRX STI Rear Three Quarters
New: The same aggressive, wide-body styling as its high-performance STI brother.
Noteworthy: To fill the beefy wheel wells, the "Rex" now has standard seventeen-inch lightweight wheels that grow one inch in width to eight inches. Track has been widened by about 1.5 inches front and rear, and the rear subframe bushings are stiffer. There's also a new grille and rear spoiler. Power from the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is unchanged and is still routed to the ground via a dated five-speed manual transmission.
On sale: Now
Base price: $26,220
SPECS: 2.5L turbo flat-4, 265 hp, 244 lb-ft; 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Look-alike styling makes the WRX an even better value for those who can't afford an STI.
Toyota 4Runner
Toyota 4runner Three Quarters
New: The venerable off-roader makes some concessions to fuel economy.
Noteworthy: A 4.0-liter V-6 is now the only engine choice, and it actually makes 10 hp more than the departing V-8. Torque, which is down 28 lb-ft, is another matter. That, along with new SAE tow-rating standards, explains the 2300-pound drop in towing capacity, to a maximum of 5000 pounds.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $30,335
SPECS: 4.0L V-6, 270 hp, 278 lb-ft; rear- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
The 157-hp four- cylinder was too small, the V-8 too big. The V-6 is just right.
Toyota Sienna
Toyota Sienna Rear Three Quarters
New: More attractive sheetmetal, a revised interior, and the only four-cylinder in the kid-hauling segment.
Noteworthy: The SE model has an upgraded suspension and uniquely tuned electric power steering. It's quite enjoyable to drive. Really.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $25,270
SPECS: 2.7L I-4, 187 hp, 186 lb-ft; 3.5L V-6, 265 hp, 245 lb-ft; front- or 4-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
Smart families will opt for the Sienna over the more expensive, less capable Venza.

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