New Cars 2013

Tom Salt A. J. Mueller Morgan Segal
new-cars-2013

In the auto industry, change is the only constant. For evidence, see the barrage of new products for 2013 -- more than seventy new offerings, which we've gathered here. Rather than simply reporting on the facts and specs, we attempt to give these new cars a bit of context. It's a dynamic, fast-moving industry, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Acura ILX
Ever since the demise of the RSX, nee Integra, Acura has been without a true entry-level model. (The TSX has become too close to the TL in size, design, and price to perform that function.) Enter the smaller, cheaper ILX. Is it the second coming of the Integra, the frisky subcompact that once attracted young people to the brand? Not really. The ILX has a bit of an identity crisis, as it comes in three distinct iterations. The car is based on the Honda Civic sedan, and although Acura designers did a good job of disguising that fact, we wouldn't exactly call it handsome. The interior, at least, is a wholesale improvement over the Civic's more downmarket cabin. The chassis also has been comprehensively upgraded, with more sophisticated dampers for better ride quality and retuned, quicker steering that's more lively and precise. There's also additional sound deadening and NVH control. The volume-model ILX has a 150-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (up from 1.8 liters and 140 hp in the Civic) that is hitched to an automatic transmission with only five speeds. Acura reaches out to greenies with a hybrid ILX, which lifts the Civic Hybrid's powertrain intact for a 39/38 mpg EPA city/highway rating. The most interesting ILX variant uses the Civic Si as its starting point. Priced at $30,095, it features the Si's 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed manual. One problem for the ILX may be that it's not that much cheaper than a TSX: when adjusted for the TSX's extra equipment, the difference is less than $1000. That factor may hinder this outreach effort.

On sale Now
Price $26,795-$35,295
Engines 2.0L I-4, 150 hp, 140 lb-ft; 2.4L I-4, 201 hp, 170 lb-ft; 1.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 111 hp, 127 lb-ft
Smaller than...a TSX, by 6.5 inches in length, 1.8 inches in width, and 1.1 inches in height.


Acura RDX
Acura targeted aggressive-driving single males with its last RDX, but the new version takes a much different tack as it tries to win the affections of couples and small families. Gone is the high-strung turbocharged four-cylinder engine -- instead, we find a 3.5-liter V-6 that calmly spins out 273 hp (33 hp more than before) and 251 lb-ft of torque; it's mated to a six-speed automatic and actually gets better mileage than the old four. The optional all-wheel-drive system is no longer Acura's SH-AWD (which uses torque vectoring to help carve corners), but it's lighter and more efficient. The old car's punishing ride quality is much better. The suspension tuning has mellowed considerably, which together with the more refined powertrain and the addition of active noise cancellation make for a more relaxed driving experience. Finally, a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase helped Acura engineers create a roomier interior despite exterior dimensions that remain compact.

On sale Now
Price $35,215-$40,315
Engine 3.5L V-6, 273 hp, 251 lb-ft
Room for Family of five.


Acura RLX
Sales of the Acura RL have all but dried up in recent years, so the division (and its dealers) must be eagerly awaiting the new flagship sedan, the RLX. Besides adding a letter to better align its name with most of the rest of Acura's lineup, the new sedan breaks with the past in other ways but not all. It remains smaller than some competitors -- Acura describes it as a mid-size sedan with the interior space of a large sedan. The overall length is the same, but the wheelbase has grown two inches. Again Acura uses a V-6, but it's a new direct-injected engine that displaces 3.5 liters. It makes 310 hp in its base, front-wheel-drive application. The uplevel model is a hybrid, in which the V-6 combines with three electric motors to deliver "more than 370 hp." The hybrid drives all four wheels, in a preview of the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system expected in the new NSX. Acura is predicting EPA ratings of 30 mpg city and highway for the RLX hybrid. High-tech niceties include four-wheel steering (for the FWD model), two LCD screens, and connectivity that permits Internet radio, Bing search functionality, and audio feeds from Facebook and Twitter.

On sale Early 2013
Price $50,000-$56,000 (est.)
Engines 3.5L V-6, 310 hp; 3.5L V-6/electric hybrid, 370+ hp
Boomer appeal Will Acura's do-more-with-less philosophy resonate this time?


Aston Martin AM310 Vanquish
Stepping in for the DBS, Aston's new range-topping AM310 Vanquish looks to improve both performance and usability. The updated 5.9-liter V-12 adds variable valve timing; output rises to 565 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to a six-speed automatic transaxle (no manual this time). A new launch-control system helps drivers race from 0 to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds. The engine sits lower in a new iteration of Aston's bonded-aluminum chassis, which again features adaptive dampers and standard carbon-ceramic brakes. The Vanquish's body takes design cues from the limited-edition One-77 supercar and makes more extensive use of carbon fiber than ever before, including in the hood, front fenders, trunk lid, trunk enclosure, door surrounds, and roof (the last of which may be left exposed if a buyer so chooses). Weight is held to just 3613 pounds and is distributed 50/50 front/rear. Despite casting nearly the same shadow as a DBS, the new Vanquish has a roomier two-place cabin (two-plus-two seating is optional), along with more stowage and a greatly enlarged trunk. Capacitive-touch switches and a new rotary controller lend modern flair to the characteristic Aston Martin jewel-box interior.

On sale Early 2013
Price $280,000 (est.)
Engine 5.9L V-12, 565 hp, 457 lb-ft
Terminal velocity 183 mph


Audi Allroad
The original 1999-2005 Allroad made good on its name with a turbocharged V-6 for storming the interstate and an adjustable-height air suspension for tackling the trail. Unfortunately, the Allroad's second act in the United States isn't nearly as versatile. Based on the no-longer-sold-in-America A4 Avant wagon, the new Allroad is essentially a styling exercise that adds matte-finished lower cladding, a bright chrome grille, and brushed metal trim. Mechanically, the only difference between the Avant and the Allroad is a 1.5-inch suspension lift, but Audi is banking on the image of a tougher wagon appealing to a larger set of Americans.

On sale Now
Price $40,495
Engine 2.0L turbo I-4, 211 hp, 258 lb-ft
Marketing magic Some rugged-looking trim multiplies wagon sales.


Audi RS5
Audi's RS badge -- denoting the ultimate performance models by Quattro GmbH -- has been a rare sight on U.S. roads. An RS6 sedan was a one-year-only offering in 2003, the RS4 sedan and convertible were sold in 2007-2008, and the TT RS arrived last year. For 2013, we're going to get another RS model, the RS5 coupe, to face off against the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. The normally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 from the S5 coupe is now good for 450 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque in the RS5. It is paired with a seven-speed S tronic transmission and, naturally, Quattro all-wheel drive -- but this is an enhanced version that can send as much as 85 percent of the torque to the rear wheels (the default torque split is 40/60 front/rear). To telegraph that performance visually, the RS version gets a unique lower fascia, diffusers, grille, and flared fenders; a rear spoiler deploys automatically at 75 mph. To make the same point aurally, there's an optional sport exhaust. With the RS5, Quattro GmbH is speaking a little louder in the U.S. market.

On sale Now
Price $80,000 (est.)
Engine 4.2L V-8, 450 hp, 317 lb-ft
Feeding the rivalry Audi is finally taking it to the M3.


Audi S6
As good as its supercharged V-6 is, the Audi A6 needed an eight-cylinder engine to truly compete against the BMW 550i and the Mercedes-Benz E550. The S6 answers the call with a twin-turbo V-8 and a bevy of upgrades that shape Audi's mid-size sedan into something sportier than the competition. The eight-speed automatic transmission has been traded for a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, air springs replace the steel coil springs, and a torque-vectoring rear differential is standard. The S6 isn't as hard-hitting as a BMW M or a Mercedes-Benz AMG car. Instead, it combines finesse, agility, and power with the civility and price tag of an eight-cylinder 5-series or E-class.

On sale Late 2012
Price $72,000 (est.)
Engine 4.0L twin-turbo V-8, 420 hp, 406 lb-ft
Feeding the rivalry The S6 is only the start. We expect an RS6 with more than 500 hp to follow.


Audi S7
It's everything that's good about the S6 packaged as a svelte hatchback. The price for such beauty is an additional $7000 and another 110 pounds. It's worth every penny and every pound.

On sale Late 2012
Price $79,000 (est.)
Engine 4.0L twin-turbo V-8, 420 hp, 406 lb-ft
Feeding the rivalry Mercedes-Benz may have been first, but Audi does it better.


Audi S8
Just as BMW has never seen fit to build an M7, don't expect to see an RS8 anytime soon. That leaves the S8 as the quickest, most powerful large Audi sedan. The old V-10 has been kicked to the curb, but the new twin-turbo V-8 trumps it in every objective measure, with more power, more torque, and more miles per gallon. Power delivery is linear and lively although not as intoxicating as with the ten-cylinder screamer. Of course, isolation and refinement are just as fundamental to the S8 as performance. This full-size sedan protects its luxury-car cred with technology in spades, including a Wi-Fi hot spot, Google Earth maps, an air suspension, and the ability to run on just four cylinders at cruising speeds.

On sale Late 2012
Price $115,000 (est.)
Engine 4.0L twin-turbo V-8, 520 hp, 479 lb-ft
Feeding the rivalry With the S8, Audi adds a third engine for its large sedan, mimicking the diverse powertrain strategy of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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