Car guys are a little bit different from most people. We spend the run-up to New Years thinking not of which resolutions we'll keep for two weeks (about that diet…), but rather which new cars are arriving over the next 12 months. Like any other year, 2013 will bring an assortment of new, updated, and refreshed vehicles to dealerships all across the country. While we'll give some of those new cars only a passing glance, others will have us counting down the days until we slip behind the wheel. Here are the top ten cars we're most excited to drive in 2013.
Ah, the Toyota Corolla. It's far from the most exciting car in the nation, and sticks out like a sore thumb amongst this list of sports cars and luxury machines. But with than a quarter-million copies sold in 2012, the Corolla is one of America's best-selling new cars (it will easily out-sell every other entry on this list other than the GM pickup trucks). So while an all-new Corolla, due this year as a 2014 model, fails to light the fire in car enthusiasts' hearts, it's an extremely important part of the automotive landscape. Our spy photos reveal that the 2014 Toyota Corolla will probably attempt to move upmarket with more chrome trim, a wider shiny grille aping that of the Camry, and an updated interior with large gauges and an assortment of new infotainment systems. No, we don't hang Corolla posters on our bedroom walls, but we recognize that it will be important to a large number of new-car buyers.
Though we wish they were more innovative and represented a more radical approach than today's models, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks are seriously important models for General Motors. The trucks racked up 575,479 (highly profitable) sales in 2012, making the Silverado and Sierra GM's most important vehicles. The pickup truck segment has become increasingly competitive as each of Detroit's Big Three manufacturers uses a different approach to attract buyers. For Ram, it's more luxurious interiors and comfort bits like air suspension, while Ford has focused on technologies like turbocharged V-6 engines and in-cab connectivity. If GM wants to stay in the running, the new Silverado and Sierra need to offer something special -- and we can't wait to test that by putting these pickups through their paces.
The futuristic Cadillac Converj caught our eye when it debuted at the 2009 Detroit auto show. Not only did the small coupe mimic the rakish design of the CTS coupe, it also was said to pack the same range-extended electric powertrain as the Chevrolet Volt. Given how much we like the Chevrolet Volt -- it was our 2011 Automobile of the Year – it’s only logical we'd love a more luxurious Cadillac version. Luckily for us, the brand announced that it will introduce a production model called the Cadillac ELR at the Detroit auto show next week. Though it will be based on the Chevrolet Volt, the ELR will have a more glamorous interior, an attractive two-door body, and it will likely receive a more powerful electric motor, larger battery, and gutsier range-extending gasoline engine. That should make for an even better plug-in car than the Volt.
The Jeep Liberty is on hiatus, but will return shortly. Production of the tough, body-on-frame SUV stopped in summer 2012 so that Jeep could upgrade its Toledo, Ohio, factory to build a brand-new, car-based Liberty. The 2014 Liberty will use the same CUSW chassis as the 2013 Dodge Dart -- and that CUSW architecture is, in turn, derived from the lauded Alfa Romeo Giulietta. In other words, expect the new Liberty to offer on-road comfort and performance that Jeeps could heretofore only dream of. Based on positive first impressions driving the Dart, we have high hopes for the next new Italian-American to arrive since Fiat helped rescue Chrysler from bankruptcy. Expect the new Jeep Liberty to debut at a major auto show this year.
6. 2014 Mazda 6
"Zoom-Zoom" isn't just a catchy marketing slogan; it's the truth about how all Mazdas drive. We are routinely impressed that the automaker injects fun, responsive dynamics into every vehicle it produces. Given how much we love driving the new CX-5, which was the first Mazda based on the company's new fuel-saving SkyActiv technologies, we're eagerly looking forward to time with the Mazda 6. Not only do we expect it to be more satisfying to drive than typical midsize sedans, the sultry concept-car looks are a refreshing change from the segment's normal array of bland, similar boxes. Attentive readers will note we already drove an early international version of the 6 in 2012, but we won't drive one on American soil until later this month.
Not familiar with the Infiniti Q50? Perhaps you remember its predecessor, the G37 sedan. Yes, Infiniti's name-change means its sports sedan will wear a different badge as well as many other updates. The Q50-née-G37 sedan (the coupe/convertible replacement will be called Q60) is an important model for Infiniti as it's a relatively affordable model meant to attract younger, less affluent luxury buyers. What's in store for the 2014 Q50? First and foremost, the sports sedan may be the first production car with Infiniti's new steer-by-wire technology that supposedly improves precision while reducing uncomfortable kickback. Next, look for an updated version of the G37's 3.7-liter V-6 engine. And on top of that, reports suggest Infiniti will eventually launch a "super sedan" under its IPL banner -- possibly with a twin-turbo V-6. Regardless of whether that monster materializes, we're eager to drive the 2014 Infiniti Q50 in order to see whether it matches up to its German rivals. A teaser photo of the new car's headlight is shown here.
Not long after we got our first taste of the 2013 Ford Focus ST, the Blue Oval whet our hot-hatch appetites by showing a concept version of the Fiesta ST. Though we originally though the three-door Fiesta ST would be a Europe-only affair, the car later appeared at the Los Angeles auto show with five doors -- significant because American-market Fiestas are sold only in the latter configuration. That sounded like promising news for fast-Ford fans, and sure enough, Ford eventually confirmed that the 2014 Fiesta ST was heading to American showrooms. A 1.6-liter turbo-four engine will offer 197 hp, more than enough for such a small and light vehicle. We're excited to take the Fiesta ST to twisting roads and racetracks, given how poised and nimble the big-brother Focus ST is in corners. Changes compared to a regular Fiesta include stiffer suspension springs, new steering knuckles, larger disc brakes, 17-inch wheels with summer tires, and a suitably boisterous bodykit.
Progress is a wonderful thing, especially when it allows automakers like Porsche to make its cars both quicker and more fuel efficient. After dishing up the fantastic Boxster roadster -- with more powerful engines and more aggressive styling -- Porsche showed us its new Cayman. Given that none on our staff dared relinquish the keys to the Boxster ("I think I'm going to be running quite late this morning, boss," wrote copy editor Rusty Blackwell), it's no surprise we're looking forward to driving the hardtop Cayman. Key specs include a 275-hp, 2.7-liter flat-six engine in the base car, and a 3.4-liter mill with 325 hp in the Cayman S. It goes on sale in spring 2013.
When Jaguar deliberately names a new model to pay homage to the D-Type and E-Type, you know car enthusiasts will pay attention. The 2014 Jaguar F-Type has our full attention as we wait to drive the roadster later this year (a coupe is expected to follow next year). The graceful, elegant styling drew our attention; the promise of emotive engines and true sports-car driving dynamics held our gaze. Jaguar plans to offer the F-Type with a choice of a supercharged V-6 with 340 hp or 380 hp, and a supercharged V-8 with 495 hp. Given that this will be the company's first true sports car in years, it's tough to wait until we can drive an F-Type.
Few sports cars have the name recognition and cachet of the Chevrolet Corvette, so it's big news when an all-new version hits showrooms. And the C7 Corvette debuting at the Detroit auto show really is all-new -- only a sandwich bag's worth of parts are carried over from the current C6 model. Under the hood, look for a new 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine with about 450 hp and trick features like fuel-saving cylinder shut-off. A seven-speed manual and six-speed automatic are the likely transmission choices; our spy photos reveal the interior will adopt advanced LCD screens instead of analog instruments, stitched leather surfaces, and a newly contoured steering wheel. Oh, and Chevrolet says the 2014 Corvette will hit 60 mph in about four seconds flat. When the first test car arrives at our offices, there may be a fistfight for the keys.