Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.
Honda finally pulled the wraps of the 2013 Accord coupe and sedan, which will go on sale later this year. The new Accord wears smarter, tighter styling that includes optional LED head- and taillights, strong character lines, and more aerodynamic body panels. It's a little bit smaller than the 2012 Accord, but Honda says the new model will have more interior room thanks to improved packaging. We already know the base engine is a 188-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four, while the upgrade mill is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 271 hp. There also will be a plug-in hybrid model that should debut at a later date.
This is our first look at the all-new Ford Transit, a cargo van that will replace Ford's aging E-Series/Econoline in the U.S. market. Set to go on sale later this year, the Transit is rear-wheel drive and will offer both a turbodiesel and a gasoline 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. The camouflage likely hides a butch front end that resembles that of the Ford F-150 pickup truck. Inside, expect a smart interior that matches most other modern Ford cars and crossovers, replete with technologies like Sync, Bluetooth, and blind-spot monitoring.
The Dodge and SRT brands announced this week that they will abandon NASCAR competition after the 2012 season. The move is not very surprising, given that no race teams are signed up to use Dodge/SRT vehicles next year. Penske Racing, the last full-time time using the company's race cars, announced in March it would instead switch to Ford NASCAR racers for 2013. Unfortunately, Dodge was almost ready to unveil its redesigned 2013 Sprint Cup Charger. Officials say they hope to return to NASCAR at some point in the future.
Buick this week announced how much its 2013 Verano Turbo will cost: $29,990 after destination, a number that beats out similarly sized and similarly equipped competitors. The Verano Turbo packs a 250-hp punch thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available as a no-cost option. Standard equipment includes niceties like heated leather seats, a backup camera, parking sensors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 2013 Buick Verano Turbo goes on sale this fall.
Hyundai also announced the price for its new crossover, the 2013 Santa Fe Sport. The five-seat crossover starts at $25,275 after destination, representing a price bump of $1725 compared to the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe. The base model comes with a 190-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four engine, while ponying up $28,525 gets buyers a 2.0-liter turbo-four good for 264 hp. A six-speed automatic is standard on all models; adding all-wheel drive costs $1750. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport goes on sale later this summer.
Jaguar announced the F-Type roadster this spring at the New York auto show, and has since shown us several prototype models wearing camouflage. This week, Jaguar confirmed that the production-ready F-Type will make its debut in late September at the Paris Motor Show. The two-seat aluminum F-Type is supposed to take Jaguar back toward small, pure sports cars. It will launch with a choice between a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine. An eight-speed automatic transmission will send power to the rear wheels. Expect more details when the Jaguar F-Type makes its public debut on September 27.
Audi will launch a refreshed version of the R8 supercar for 2013, so the company plans to run out this year's model with 50 Exclusive Selection Edition models. There will be 20 copies for R8s equipped with the 4.2-liter V-8 engine, and 30 copies for R8s with the 5.2-liter V-10 engine. V-8 cars get a unique Daytona Gray exterior paint contrasted with Crimson Red accents for the leather interior. Cars with the V-10 wear Ibis White paint and have various white interior accents. Both models also get the tinted taillights from the Audi R8 GT. The 2012 Audi R8 Exclusive Selection Edition cars reach dealerships later this month.
Many automakers are now offering their cars with matte paint finishes, providing a way for owners to have their rides stand out from the crowd of shiny cars. But it turns out that caring for such paint finishes isn't as simple as with normal cars. Improper care and maintenance could damage the paint finish, and that wouldn't be covered under the vehicle's warranty. To get the skinny on caring for matte paint finishes, we talked to BMW, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and car-car company Meguiar's. The bottom line: never take these cars through a car wash.
First Drives: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE, 2013 Lexus LS460, 2013 Mini Paceman Prototype
This week we got behind the wheel of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE on a track. The $3500 package is designed to improve the handling and braking of the big Camaro, turning it into a truly track-ready proposition. The transformation is successful, and the Camaro 1LE now feels like a sports car for people who like to hit the track. The 2013 Lexus LS460 doesn't feel radically different from the 2012 model, but it again demonstrates just how Lexus made a name for itself in this country. The new luxury sedan remains comfortable, quiet, composed, and filled with nice technology and luxury appointments. The 2013 Mini Paceman is the latest addition to Mini's already extensive lineup. The two-door version of the Countryman crossover is meant to be sportier, and so it has stiffer suspension, more rakish styling, and a lower center of gravity than the four-door Countryman.