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2013 Automobile Of The Year: Let The Testing Begin – Rumor Central

2013 Automobile Of The Year: Let The Testing Begin

It’s that time again. No, we’re not talking college football, major-league baseball post-season action, or even habitual trips to the cider mill for freshly-pressed juice and sugary treats. It’s time for Automobile’s editors and contributors to break out of the offices, retreat to a secretive spot in western Michigan, sample some of the latest and greatest sheetmetal on the market, and ultimately name one vehicle as the 2013 Automobile Of The Year.

Our testing and deliberation runs this entire week, and here’s a quick peek at what cars we’re bringing along in tow. One of these contenders will ultimately be named the 2013 Automobile of the Year. We won’t publicly name a winner until November, but if you want to keep tabs on our testing and thought process, you’re in luck. Turn to Automobile’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter (look for the #AMAoY hashtag) to come along for the ride!

2013 Acura ILX Premium

The manual transmission is one of the best to come from Honda to date — the clutch is perfectly weighted and boasts linear take-up, and shift throws are smooth, short, and positive.”

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 201 hp @7000 rpm

Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $30,095

As-tested: $30,095

 

2013 Audi RS5 Coupe

“With its silky engine, lively differential, and stout brakes, the RS5 is every bit worthy of the RS badge.”

Engine: 4.2-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 450 hp @8250 rpm

Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $69,795

As-tested: $75,820

2013 Audi S7

“Luxury, performance, and style — the S7 delivers everything the A7 does, only with a sportier edge. We’re still smitten with the less powerful, more efficient supercharged V-6 in the A7, but the twin-turbo V-8 is similarly sweet for those who demand more.”

Engine: Twin-turbo, 4.0-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 420 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $79,695

As tested: $86,170

 

2013 BMW 335i Sport Line

“In the 335i, you revel in the engine’s noise. Its broad, flat torque curve means you don’t have to rev the engine — but you want to. You want to hear it, you want to feel it, and you wind up loving it. More so than ever, it’s an emotional decision rather than a rational one — but with three pedals in the driver’s footwell, there’s still no sport sedan better than a BMW 335i.”

Engine: Turbocharged 3.0-liter DOHC I-6

Power: 300 hp @ 5800 rpm

Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $43,295

As tested: $55,745 

 

 

2012 BMW M5

“The M5′s got almost all of the refinement of the current 5-series, all of the tech features, gorgeous styling, and elegant interior. And then it’s got razor-sharp handling and the best steering we’ve seen in a 5-series in a long time, if not ever. And then it’ll rip that smile off your face with outrageous acceleration.”

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 560 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $92,095

As tested: $106,695

 

2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

“Getting some seat time in the X1 reminded us just how much better the old 3-series worked. Sure, it doesn’t have quite as many gadgets and gizmos — and neither the 1-series, the X1, nor the old 3-series is as pretty as the new 3-series — but those earlier cars have a fundamental, built-in “just right” factor. The steering, the brakes, the ride, the handling, and all the secondary controls and instruments just feel perfect.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 240 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $33,245

As tested: $45,095

 

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Premium

“The ATS is a solid effort that at last puts a Cadillac on par with the German competitors it has fixated on for so long.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter

Power: 272 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 260 hp @ 1700 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $44,315

As tested: $45,910

2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 Premium

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V-6

Power: 321 hp @ 6800 rpm

Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $44,315

As tested: $45,910

 

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

“By the spec sheet alone, the result of the engineers’ efforts reads much like a CTS-V: 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V-8, magnetorheological dampers, limited-slip differential, and a tad too much weight. But with the Camaro, engineers sacrificed some of the Cadillac’s civility to place greater emphasis on tuning the ZL1 for days at the track and nights at the drag strip.”

Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter OHV V-8

Power: 580 hp @ 6100 rpm

Torque: 556 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $56,295

As tested: $58,335

 

2013 Dodge Dart Limited

“The Dart’s Italian DNA is perhaps most visible to the driver. While the steering rack isn’t especially communicative, it makes up for it with a quick ratio, a natural feeling of heft, and excellent straight-line stability.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4

Power: 160 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $21,785

As tested: $25,065

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

“The turbo four blats to life with a distinct and characterful exhaust note (fitting, given that aftermarket exhaust kits were one of the Abarth company’s earliest and most successful products). The exhaust is quite loud under acceleration but the noise fades almost completely when you’re just cruising.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4

Power: 160 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $22,700

As tested: $25,200

2013 Ford Focus ST

“The Focus ST is not exactly a world-beater in terms of refinement, handling balance, or ergonomics. But it does offer a lot of car and performance for the money, it scores an undisputed ten on the entertainment scale, and it won’t fall apart when pushed to the limit.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 252 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,495

As tested: $28,170

 

2013 Ford Fusion SE

“Much has been made of the new Fusion’s styling, which completely walked away from the previous version, instead embracing elements from Aston Martin (the front end), the Audi A7 (the tapered tail), and the Hyundai Sonata (the side view). That may be a disparate trio, but the result is a cohesive whole, and one with an undeniable family resemblance to other recent Fords.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 178 hp @ 5700 rpm

Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,495

As tested: $26,040

2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 240 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $32,995

As tested: $37,670

 

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

“Ford understands that in the hybrid arena, it’s all about the MPGs. Thus, the company is justifiably proud that the new Fusion Hybrid brought home EPA ratings of 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway, numbers that not only well surpass the 41/36 mpg ratings of the previous model but, more importantly, solidly beat the target Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 43/39 mpg—not to mention the also-ran Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s 35/40 mpg.”

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 w/ electric motor

Power(engine/ electric motor): 141 hp @ 6000 rpm/ 118 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (engine/ electric motor) 129 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm/ 117 lb-ft

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $27,995

As tested: $30,975

 

2013 Honda Accord Sport sedan

The four-cylinder Honda Accord, despite its copycat styling, suffers from very little in the way of drawbacks. In fact, it’s good enough for us to say it has squeaked past the Toyota Camry and regained its spot at the top of the class.

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 185 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 181 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,180

As tested: $24,180

 

2013 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

Engine: 3.5-liter SOHC V-6

Power: 278 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $33,140

As tested: $33,140

 

2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport

“The new GS350, particularly the F Sport, shows real progress in making a more rewarding driver’s car.” 

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 303 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque: 274 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $47,745

As tested: $55,869 

 

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

“The CX-5 is a flexible, thoughtful, sharp-looking vehicle that has been crafted from the ground up to give its all in the service of those who love to drive.”

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 155 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $27,840

As tested: $29,165

 

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550

“The new SL’s interior is more opulent than that of any previous SL; every last piece is high-style, from the dash vents to the small, leather-lined, embossed shifter. The aging Comand system feels unnecessarily complicated compared with newer systems from other makers, and the gauges themselves look slightly plasticky and cheap, but overall, this is Benz’s most glamorous and well-constructed interior.”

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 429 hp @ 5250 rpm

Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $106,405

As tested: $123,445

 

2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster

“Turbo lag is not an issue, and this engine gleefully zings the Roadster down urban freeways and rural two-lanes, accompanied by a snarling exhaust note — and the occasional racy popping through the exhaust on throttle lift-off.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 181 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $28,050

As tested: $33,650

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

It’s the Altima’s bells and whistles that Nissan hopes will lure customers away from the Camry — and this new Nissan is packed full of tech goodies aped from more expensive vehicles. All Altimas are equipped with a keyless push-button ignition, and most trim levels include remote starting.

Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 182 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,880

As tested: $27,005 

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V-6

Power: 270 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $31,580

As tested: $32,135

 

2013 Porsche Boxster S

“The Boxster is still a very connected, very visceral drive, no matter what all the improvements to ride quality and refinement might lead you to expect. We’re left unsupervised on the track for a couple of hours and, frankly, it’s gut-wrenching to hand back the keys.”

Engine: 3.4-liter DOHC flat-six

Power: 315 hp @ 6700 rpm

Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $61,850

As tested: $85,410 

 

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

“If you’ve ever driven a Porsche 911, you’ll immediately know that the 991 is different. In quantifiable terms, it’s leaps and bounds better than any previous 911. It sounds even better, it rides even better, it feels even better, it’s even more comfortable, better equipped, and it’s far better looking.”

Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC flat-six

Power: 400 hp @ 7400 rpm

Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $97,350

As tested: $124,910 

 

2013 Subaru BRZ Premium

The Subaru BRZ, however, is very much a sports car, and it’s the kind we don’t see much anymore: light, lithe, fun, and affordable. That’s an unusual formula in this age of overpriced, overpowered image machines. The BRZ offers a world of usable, accessible performance with a straightforward purity that’s rare today, and the car itself should be accessible to a broad swath of enthusiast drivers.

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four

Power: 200 hp @ 7000 rpm

Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $26,265

As tested: $26,265

 

2012 Tesla Model S Performance

“Pulling this handle, we slid into our red car, inhaling the rich aroma of Nappa leather upholstery and noting the low seating position. We gaped at the most overpowering feature, namely, the glossy, sports-bar-sized central touchscreen, which has more graphical modes than magicians have hats and rabbits. The driver’s instrument display also made us blink and gape. There are no bezels, indicators, counters, gauges, or needles. Watchmaker Edmond Jaeger would weep at the sight.”

Battery: 85-kWh, Lithium-ion

Motor: Three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor

Power: 416 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 443 lb-ft

Transmission: Single-speed transaxle

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $93,570

As tested: $102,270 

 

By Automobile Staff

The Top Five Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive in 2012

The Top Five Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive in 2012

The New Year promises to bring lots of automotive cheer and new sheet metal to Motor Trend’s garage. Below is a list of more than a dozen new vehicles slated to hit the market in 2012, which should be more than enough to keep us busy 2013 Subaru BRZ With Prototypes 300x187 imagewith drives, tests, and reviews. The Motor Trend staff was tasked with the difficult job of picking their top three cars from the list below that they can’t wait to drive in 2012, and from there we tallied up the Top 5 vote getters. Do you agree with the winners? Sound off below.

2012 BMW M5
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Chevy Sonic RS
2013 Dodge Dart
2013 Ford Focus ST
2013 Ford Shelby GT500
2013 Mini Countryman JCW
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 SRT Viper
2013 Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S
2013 Subaru WRX/STI
2013 Tesla Model S
2013 Volkswagen Golf R

1. 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Toyota and Subaru have been hard at work jointly developing an affordable and fun-to-drive, rear-wheel drive sports car for the masses. And if you’ve been visiting www.motortrend.com, you’ve probably noticed both companies teasing us with sketches, specs, show cars, camouflaged cars, and on and on and on for years now. Well, 2012 is the year to find out if all the hard work and teasing has been worth the wait. And from our initial drives thus far, the BRZ and FR-S look very promising.

First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S
First Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ

2. 2013 SRT Viper

After a years-long hiatus, the Viper is coming back with its snake eyes set on the Corvette and Porsche 911. Expect many changes to the iconic American sports car, especially with Fiat now at the helm of Chrysler. We’ve heard the Italians, who know a little bit about sports cars, have been involved in the new Viper’s development. In addition, the 2013 Viper will be sold under the newly formed SRT brand, s0 it’s more critical than ever that the new Viper will be a world-class performer both on and off the track. As MT’s digital director Mike Floyd states, the 2013 SRT Viper is the “halo car SRT/Chrysler desperately needs if it’s going to be taken seriously as a true global performance brand.” And just to reiterate, “the pressure on this one is massive,” says editor-in-chief Ed Loh. “Looking forward to the return of the beast.”

3. Tied: 2012 BMW M5 and 2013 Cadillac ATS

2012 BMW M5BMW M5 front bottom view 300x187 image
How will a turbocharged, eight-cylinder M5 perform on the road and on the track? That’s exactly what MT staffers are eager to find out. Road test editor Scott Mortara was among the first bunch of lucky journalists to drive the new M5 and he seemed to like it. “Without a doubt, the new 2012 BMW M5 is better than its predecessor in every way,” Mortara wrote in his first drive review of the 2012 M5. “Some say they’ll miss the high-rpm V-10 screaming under the hood. Not me. I’ll take this subtle torque monster any day. Much like a purveyor of fine spirits, when an automaker starts with quality components, and adds time, insight, and desire, it’s possible to create something amazing — a vintage that can truly be savored. With the new M5, BMW has done just that.”

2013 Cadillac ATS
“Every few years some car maker declares they’ve cracked the 3 Series code,” said senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “None succeed. However, Caddy actually went to Germany, Bimmer’s home turf. So, maybe.”2013 Cadillac ATS Autobahn1 300x187 image

Just maybe. So what is Lieberman talking about exactly? Well, as former editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie adds, “the engineering team picked the delightful E46 3 Series as its dynamic benchmark for the new baby Caddy.”   And as we’ve seen from the countless videos Cadillac has produced, the development team has spent countless hours and laps around the famed Nurburgring for testing. Given what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to imagine what else General Motors could’ve done to develop its new 3 Series fighter. MacKenzie continues, “I can’t wait to find out if Detroit can really out-BMW BMW.” Neither can we.

4. Three-Way Tie: Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf R, and Tesla Model S

2013 Ford Focus ST
With past generations of the Focus, we Americans have always lamented that the sportiest Focus models over the years were sadly out of our reach, available only in Europe and elsewhere. That all changes with the 2013 Focus ST. The 2012 Ford Focus has proven itself as having good bones; with the additional performance of the ST model, Ford may again have a real hot hatch competitor in the U.S. — if it’s not priced out of the market. So what are we looking forward to exactly? Basically, it’s the 2.0-liter, 250-hp, turbocharged, Ecoboost four banger wrapped around sleek sheetmetal. “After years of watered-down, rental-fleet Foci, Ford finally brings us a real contender in the ST,” said news director Ed Sanchez. “The VW GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 will have to make room in the sandbox for the new kid from Dearborn.”

2012 Volkswagen Golf R2012 Volkswagen Golf R Front Three Quarters 300x187 image
We liked the first-gen Volkswagen R32, which was armed with the burbling 250-hp,VR6 engine and a manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive. The VR6 carried over in the second-gen R32, but it was only offered with the DSG transmission, which wasn’t a bad thing — unless you, like most of us in the office,  are diehard fans of the third pedal. The 2013 Golf R is coming to America in manual transmission-form only and will be powered by a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder making 260-hp, and fitted with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Will we miss the VR6? Stay tuned to find out.

2012 Tesla Model S
Following the incredibly fast Tesla Roadster comes the Model S, the electric car for every (well off) man. Tesla recently confirmed a base price of $49,900, which includes a 40kWh battery and a range of 160 miles, which should be good enough for most Americans. “Sexy styling, cutting-edge tech. What’s not to like,” asks Sanchez.  “Granted, Tesla has its share of skeptics and haters, but this could be the breakthrough car for the still-struggling electric upstart.”

5. Tied: 2013 Dodge Dart and 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo

2013 Dodge Dart Front 300x187 image

2013 Dodge Dart
It’s been awhile since Dodge has produced a remotely memorable compact car (Dodge Neon anyone?). The 2013 Dodge Dart should change that. “As the Caliber retires, we might soon see an Elantra-like transformation here for Dodge in the compact car segment,” opined copy editor Zach Gale. “I can’t wait to discover whether that nine-speed automatic transmission performs smoothly or constantly hunts for gears.”

2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
Executive editor Ron Kiino recently had some wheel time behind the new 991 Porsche 911 and expects it to continue on as a sports car benchmark. “When we want to say just how quick a car is, or how well it handles, or how amazing its steering is, well, there’s one reference we turn to, Kiino wrote in his first drive of the 2012 Porsche 911. ‘”The new Evo corners as well as a 911!’ ‘This ‘Vette is even quicker than a 911!’ ‘The GT-R is so fast it can hang with a 911 Turbo!’ You get the point.” And like always, Porsche will keep things interesting with a number of variants such as the turbo. “The old 911 Turbo was Veyron-lite; delivering staggering acceleration and a swaggering sense of invincibility on the road,” said MacKenzie. “My wheeltime in the new Carrera S suggests this latest 911 is the best ever. If the new 911 Turbo delivers the same step-change, it’s going to be a helluva car.”

By Erick Ayapana

Watch a Tesla Model S Smoke a 2005 Dodge Viper SRT10 at the Drag Strip

Watch a Tesla Model S Smoke a 2005 Dodge Viper SRT10 at the Drag Strip

We didn’t crown the Tesla Model S Car of the Year just because it was a technological marvel – it also earned the golden calipers because it’s damn fast (among other reasons). Reconfirmation of the Model S’ dynamic abilities comes from Florida, where DragTimes.com drag raced a Model S against a last-generation Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster.

Viper Vs 300x165 imageThe DragTimes.com video shows a Model S Performance, complete with the 85 kW-hr battery pack thoroughly smoking a lightly modified 2005 Viper SRT10 at the strip. On paper, the Model S really doesn’t stand a chance – its electric motor in the lineup-topping model makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, compared to the stock 2005 Viper’s 8.3-liter V-10, which makes 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. In fact – our testing confirms that this isn’t exactly a fair matchup, considering the fastest Model S we’ve tested hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.0 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph. The last Viper Roadster of the same era we tested needed 3.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph and 11.8 seconds at 123.6 mph to knock out the quarter mile. Nonetheless, just like when the Model S drag raced a BMW M5, it’s the Tesla that comes out on top here, likely because the EV is an incredibly easy car to launch.

DragTimes.com’s 12.371 seconds at 110.84 mph quarter mile time for the Tesla Model S just edges out our time of 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, reportedly earning the Model S the world record for quickest production electric vehicle in the quarter mile from the National Electric Drag Racing Association. Less powerful and expensive Model S trims use 40- and 60 kW-hr batteries instead of an 85 kW-hr battery pack.

In other Tesla news, CEO Elon Musk is reaching out to the chief engineer of the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in an effort to help the plane maker sort out its lithium-ion battery troubles, Reuters reports. The 787 fleet has been grounded after a series of high-profile fires in the 787′s battery compartment. Musk, who also heads commercial space transport company SpaceX, uses the same type of batteries in the Tesla Model S and in SpaceX’s rockets. The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries for main flight control systems.

Check out the Model S racing a Viper in the video below.

Source: DragTimes.com, YouTube, Reuters

By Christian Seabaugh

2013 Automobile of the Year: These Are The 10 Finalists – Rumor Central

2013 Automobile of the Year: These Are The 10 Finalists

Happy Automobile of the Year week! With just days to go before we release the identity of the 2013 Automobile of the Year, we thought it would be best to catch you up on the proceedings and let you know a little bit more about what went down earlier this month.

What Happened:

We took 28 of the best and brightest cars that were new for the 2012/2013 model years to our favorite western Michigan hideaway, Gingerman Raceway in South Haven. Over the course of three days (two driving just on public roads, one driving just on Gingerman’s 2.1-mile road course), editors had the chance to drive each and every one of them and name a winner.

To make our jobs (slightly) easier, we also decided to name a “shortlist,” 10 finalists that went from merely being nominated for 2013 Automobile of the Year to being on the final ballot when we chose a winner. We’ve revealed the final ten in the following pages, and provided a little bit of real-time insight as our editors climbed out of each car, snapped photos on Instagram, and tapped out quick responses on Twitter.

By Ben Timmins

Feature Flick: Tesla Model S Takes on 2005 Dodge Viper Roadster at the Drag Strip – Rumor Central

Feature Flick: Tesla Model S Takes on 2005 Dodge Viper Roadster at the Drag Strip

The Tesla Model S is quick and capable – that much was established when it was crowned Automobile of the Year – but the car has just proved itself again against another high-performance car on the drag strip. This new video from DragTimes.com shows the electric car going head to head with a last-gen Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster, with a surprising result.

The DragTimes.com video shows a Model S Performance, complete with the 85 kW-hr battery pack thoroughly smoking a lightly modified 2005 Viper SRT10 at the strip. On paper, the Model S really doesn’t stand a chance – its electric motor in the lineup-topping model makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, compared to the stock 2005 Viper’s 8.3-liter V-10, which makes 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. In fact – Motor Trend testing confirms that this isn’t exactly a fair matchup, considering the fastest Model S we’ve tested hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.0 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph. The last Viper Roadster of the same era tested needed 3.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph and 11.8 seconds at 123.6 mph to knock out the quarter mile. Nonetheless, just like when the Model S drag raced a BMW M5, it’s the Tesla that comes out on top here, likely because the EV is an incredibly easy car to launch.

DragTimes.com’s 12.371 seconds at 110.84 mph quarter mile time for the Tesla Model S just edges out Motor Trend’s time of 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, reportedly earning the Model S the world record for quickest production electric vehicle in the quarter mile from the National Electric Drag Racing Association. Less powerful and expensive Model S trims use 40- and 60 kW-hr batteries instead of an 85 kW-hr battery pack.

In other Tesla news, CEO Elon Musk is reaching out to the chief engineer of the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in an effort to help the plane maker sort out its lithium-ion battery troubles, Reuters reports. The 787 fleet has been grounded after a series of high-profile fires in the 787′s battery compartment. Musk, who also heads commercial space transport company SpaceX, uses the same type of batteries in the Tesla Model S and in SpaceX’s rockets. The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries for main flight control systems.

Check out the Model S racing a Viper in the video below.

Source: DragTimes.com, YouTube, Motor Trend, Reuters




By Christian Seabaugh

The 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars – Rumor Central

The 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars

Just because you’ve grown up, settled down, and had a kid or two doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. While you may have to take a pass on that late-night partying you once did, you can stay in touch with your younger self with a car that’s fun to drive and can double as a family vehicle. However, finding a vehicle that appeals to you both as an enthusiast and a head of household isn’t always easy, because compromises will have to be made both in packaging and in handling.

To help the gearhead parents out there, Automobile Magazine has put together a list of the 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars. These are cars that you might consider when you’re looking for something that will fit your spouse and children but you don’t want to join the herd and settle for a boring crossover or minivan. You want something that reminds you of that two-seater you traded in for the car seat. It’s doable, as evidenced by these exciting four-doors.

By Donny Nordlicht

MT Poll: Which 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender Will Win COTY?

MT Poll: Which 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender Will Win COTY?

It’s Car of the Year time again! Over the past two weeks we’ve been teasing new 2013 Car of the Year contenders every day. With the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year announcement coming Monday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. EST, we thought it’d be fun to ask which contender you think will take home the golden calipers.

But since we get this question at each Of The Year event, we’d like to provide a friendly reminder that Car of the Year is only open to new or significantly updated vehicles that cost $120,000 or less. That means that the 2013 Ford Fusion is eligible for Car of the Year because it’s a full update, while the 2013 Ford Focus ST isn’t, since only one trim level is new, not the whole car. With that cleared up, let’s take a look at the contenders.

2013 Acura ILX front motion view 300x187 imageAcura ILX – We Like: Available swift-shifting manual and Honda Civic Si drivetrain. We Don’t Like: Questionable value in certain trims.

BMW 3 Series – We Like: The developed and mature feel of the car; “amazing” handling. We Don’t Like: A bit softer than previous 3 Series cars

Cadillac ATS – We Like: Excellent steering, firm chassis and impressive dynamics. We Don’t Like: Balky manual transmission.

Cadillac XTS – We Like: Exceptionally smooth ride; rock solid at triple-digit speeds. We Don’t Like: 3.6-liter V-6 could use a bit more refinement.

Chevrolet Malibu – We Like: We generally liked the Malibu’s interior design. We Don’t Like: We found the backseat too cramped for adults.

2013 Chevrolet Spark front side motion view4 300x187 imageChevrolet Spark – We Like: Surprisingly fun to toss around; well-appointed interior. We Don’t Like: Low handling limits.

Coda EV Sedan – We Like: It’s a cheap and cheerful electric car, with a long range. We Don’t Like: Subpar interior, bland design.

Dodge Dart – We Like: Pleasant styling, excellent value. We Don’t Like: “Dead” steering feel.

Ford C-Max—We Like: Ease of electric-only driving, the fact that it’s a fun-to-drive hybrid. We Don’t Like: Tires lack the grip to live up to the chassis.

Ford Fusion – We Like: Excellent steering feedback on 1.6 EcoBoost model; vast array of engine, transmission, and drivetrain options. We Don’t Like: Not as fun to drive as the outgoing Fusion.

2013 Honda Accord coupe front motion view 300x187 imageHonda Accord – We Like: Crisp handling, and buttoned-down interior. We Don’t Like: Surge-y, on-off throttle response at low speed with the CVT.

Hyundai Azera – We Like: Comfortable, roomy cabin with huge trunk. We Don’t Like: Polarizing styling.

Lexus ES – We Like: High-quality interior and roomy backseat. We Don’t Like: Hybrid suffered from a sloppy transition between regenerative and mechanical braking.

Lexus GS – We Like: Whole lineup was fun to drive – even the Hybrid; high-caliber interior design and materials. We Don’t Like: The haptic, mouse-like controller that operates the infotainment system.

2013 Lexus LS front motion view 300x187 imageLexus LS – We Like: Comfortable and quiet ride; V-8 grunt. We Don’t Like: Not as much of a game-changer as the original LS.

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class – We Like: An excellent Grand Tourer; felt unflappable at high speeds. We Don’t Like: More horsepower than handling prowess.

Nissan Altima – We Like: Beautiful interior and comfortable seats. We Don’t Like: Could benefit from retuned steering.

Nissan Sentra – We Like: Baby Altima styling, and genuinely roomy interior. We Don’t Like: CVT and engine moan.

Porsche 911 – We Like: An incredibly usable supercar. We Don’t Like: Too obvious that Porsche spent more time developing the PDK than the manual.

2013 Porsche Boxster front motion view21 300x187 imagePorsche Boxster – We Like: Exceptional build quality, beautiful balance. We Don’t Like: Poor value.

Scion FR-S – We Like: Incredibly fun to drive and an excellent value. We Don’t Like: Cheap-feeling interior.

Subaru BRZ – We Like: Terrific chassis; superb balance, and steering. We Don’t Like: We want more power.

Tesla Model S – We Like: Long range combined with excellent performance. We Don’t Like: Styling a bit safe.

Toyota Avalon – We Like: Great ride and handling; nicely appointed interior. We Don’t Like: A face only a mother could love.

2013 Toyota Prius C front side view1 300x187 imageToyota Prius C – We Like: Cheap and cheerful appeal. We Don’t Like: This car is no fun.

Which contender do you think will take home the Golden Calipers as our 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year? Sound off in the poll and in the comments below.

To compete for the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year title, contenders must be all new or significantly revised 2013-model-year cars or 2012-model-year cars that went on sale too late for 2012 COTY consideration. All eligible vehicles are invited to compete. Check back to MotorTrend.com on November 12 at 3:30 p.m. PST / 6:30 p.m. EST to discover what will become the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year!

By Christian Seabaugh

Rest in Pieces – Cars that Bit the Dust in 2011

Rest in Pieces – Cars that Bit the Dust in 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, we take a break from our New Year’s celebrations to pour a little Colt .45 (or Champagne, your call) out for our dead homies. As good of a year as 2011 was with vehicles like the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Chrysler 300 SRT8, and Ferrari FF making their debut, a lot of great cars like the Ford Crown Victoria and Ranger (and a few others we could probably live without) ended their production runs for good this year. Let’s take a moment of silence and remember our lost comrades, both loved, and unloved.

2011 buick lucerne front view 300x187 imageBuick Lucerne/Cadillac DTS – Like the Panther platform Fords, the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS were two dinosaurs of days past. The Lucerne and DTS were both relics of the days when GM was ditching its rear-drive flagships for big front-drive sedans. While these cars will never be as iconic as other cars from the era that lasted just as long, we’d be remiss forgetting about these two luxo-barges.

Cadillac STS 300x187 imageCadillac STS – Unlike the Cadillac DTS, the STS started off on a good foot when it debuted in 2005, being a true rear-wheel drive luxury sedan. Sadly for the STS, it was neglected and by the time it went out of production this year, it had received no real significant updates, leading it to its ultimate replacement by the new, front-drive XTS.

2011 chevrolet aveo 5 rear view 300x187 imageChevrolet Aveo – There are very few cars that we wish didn’t exist and sadly, the Aveo is one of them. The definition of a penalty box on wheels, the Aveo was full of hard plastics, marginal workmanship, and a lethargic engine; the Aveo just plainly wasn’t good. While its replacement, the Sonic, is called the Aveo overseas, in the U.S. we’re much better off with the car, and the nameplate six feet under.

2011 chevrolet HHR front three quarter 300x187 imageChevrolet HHR – With the Chevy Cruze replacing the Cobalt last year, it was only a matter of time before the Cobalt-based HHR went out of production as well. Not as derided as the Cobalt, the HHR was essentially the hatchback version of the Cobalt. With a retro design inspired by early Suburbans and an available panel wagon and hot-hatch SS version, the HHR was actually a neat little car. Will it be greatly missed? Probably not; the Cruze is twice the car the HHR ever was. Now if only Chevy would bring the Cruze hatch to our shores…

2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 front three quarter motion 300x187 imageDodge Caliber – The Dodge Caliber is another car that couldn’t leave us soon enough. On paper, the Caliber seemed like a great idea: it was packed with unique features like its “Cool Zone” storage and its tailgate-mounted swing-down speakers, and it looked like a mini-SUV, which was great for pre-recession America. Unfortunately for Dodge, that’s not the America we live in anymore. Even more unfortunate is that the Caliber just wasn’t a good car. It was woefully slow, wildly inefficient (the 2012 Dodge Charger gets better highway mpg than the CVT-equipped Caliber, 31 mpg versus 27 mpg), and filled to the brim with cheap, hard plastics. Dodge is a different company than it was in 2007 when the Caliber arrived, and the Caliber is no longer representative of what the company can do. Goodbye Caliber, your replacement, the 2013 Dart, can’t come soon enough.

2011 dodge nitro front view 300x187 imageDodge Nitro – The Dodge Nitro left us with very little fanfare. The rebadged and less-capable Dodge version of the Jeep Liberty is probably most famously known as the vehicle Fiat head Sergio Marchionne described as “the most significant hole in our product portfolio.” With it gone, Chrysler was able to increase production of the hot-selling Wrangler. We’d say that’s a fair trade.

ferrari 612 scaglietti 300x187 imageFerrari 612 Scaglietti – Sometimes good things must come to an end, so better things can be. The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was one such car. While a fantastic sports car and an even better grand tourer, its replacement, the all-wheel drive Ferrari FF is a much better car in just about every way. While we’ll fondly remember the 612 Scaglietti, the FF will more than make up for the 612’s loss.

Ford Crown Victoria/Lincoln Town Car/Mercury Grand Marquis – The last Panther-platformFord Crown Victoria front three quarters 300x187 image Ford rolled off the line this year, leaving behind cops and cabbies who no-longer have a go-to choice for a workhorse sedan. The Ford Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Grand Marquis became American icons, and we hold a special place in our hearts for these antiquated beasts of burden.

Final Ford Ranger front three quarter1 300x187 imageFord Ranger – A recent addition to this list, the very last Ford Ranger rolled off the production line just this month – a white Ranger Sport destined for bug killing duties at Orkin. The Ford Ranger was the last true compact pickup for sale in the United States, and while the nameplate may live on overseas, here the Ranger will be greatly missed.

Honda Element front three quarter 300x187 imageHonda Element – The Element was Honda’s take on rival Toyota’s Scion xB. By all accounts, the Element was a much more versatile beast, and proved popular with the outdoorsy crowd. Honda did its best to increase its appeal to all, introducing a sporty version and even a dog-friendly version, but ultimately the Element’s sales compared to Honda’s other SUVs didn’t justify its continued production.

2012 lotus elise front  300x187 imageLotus Elise/Exige – The Lotus Elise and Exige left our market not because they were bad cars, but because their federal smart airbag exemption sadly ran up this year, banishing two of the most visceral and back-to-basics driver’s cars from our shores. All’s not lost however, as the next-generation Elise and Exige will meet federal regulations, and if you can’t wait that long, there’s always the track-only Exige S to hold you over for the next couple years.

2012 maybach 57 300x187 imageMaybach 57/62 – Mercedes-Benz brought the Maybach brand back in 2002 and hoped the name would rise from the ashes and regain its pre-war prestige. While 57 and stretched 62 were essentially no more than tarted-up S-Classes, the car proved popular with the hip-hop crowd, and was arguably featured in just as many songs and music videos as the Cadillac Escalade. Sadly, poor sales didn’t justify Mercedes’ continued support of the brand, and so it quietly discontinued the luxury marquee early this month.

2011 mazda rx 8 grand touring left side 300x200 imageMazda RX-8 – With the death of the Mazda RX-8 comes the death of the Wankel rotary engine in Mazda’s lineup. While much loved by enthusiasts, many found the rotary-powered RX-8’s appetite for fuel and oil hard to stomach, and consequently, the four-door coupe’s sales didn’t meet Mazda’s expectations. Gone in the U.S., the RX-8 will soldier on in Japan for another year or two before being discontinued. Here’s hoping for the rotary’s return in the future.

2010 mercury mariner hybrid 300x187 imageMazda Tribute/Mercury Mariner – The Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner were two badge-engineered versions of the Escape that were often forgotten. The Mariner died with Mercury back in January, while the Tribute gets replaced by the (very good) Mazda-engineered CX-5.

Mercury – Mercury was the first of three brands to disappear this year, way back in January. Ford could no longer justify the brand which at that point had only three models: the Mariner (rebadged Ford Escape), the Milan (rebadged Fusion) and the Grand Marquis (a rebadged Crown Victoria).  With Mercury out of the way, Ford only has to worry about reviving Lincoln from the dead. Fittingly, the last Mercury to roll off the line was the iconic Grand Marquis back in January.

2012 mitsubishi eclipse front three quarters 300x187 imageMitsubishi Eclipse – The Eclipse that went away this year is but a shadow of its former self. The Eclipse was the equivalent of a star high school athlete who comes back for his twenty year reunion fat, balding and ugly. Early Eclipses were turbocharged all-wheel drive scamps that were true performance machines. The current Eclipse is no more than a secretary special. While there are rumors that the Eclipse may make a return in the future, unless it regains the performance pedigree of its past, we can probably live without it.

2011 mitsubishi endeavor front view 300x187 imageMitsubishi Endeavor – File this one under, “They still made this?” The Endeavor was all-new for 2003 and mostly unchanged since then. Rumor has it Mitsubishi will have a replacement for it in a few years, but by all accounts the death knell for the Endeavor sounded long ago.

2011 dodge dakota 4x4 front view 300x187 imageRam Dakota – Sadly, with the death of the Ram Dakota another small pickup leaves our marketplace, leaving just the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon to fly the American flag in the midsize pickup arena. The Ram Dakota started life as a Dodge in the late 1980s and was fairly successful up until the middle of the last decade. Since then, it languished mostly unchanged, save for it leaving the Dodge brand for Ram. Not all is loss though; Ram is reportedly readying a Fiat-based Dakota replacement in the coming years.

2012 Saab 9 4x front three quarters 300x187 imageSaab – If any brand on this list had a long, painful death it was Saab. The events leading up to Saab’s long and drawn out demise have been covered extensively on these pages, so we won’t bore you with the details. We will however, miss the plucky Swedes and the 9-3, 9-4X, and 9-5 which were great examples of Saab making do with the poor cards it was dealt.

2010 tesla roadster sport on flatbed 300x187 imageTesla Roadster – The Tesla Roadster took the world by storm when the electric car from the California-based startup first hit the scene in 2008. Here was one of the first modern electric cars that you could buy, and it happened to be a Lotus Elise-based sports car. Sadly Tesla’s federal smart airbag exemption expired at the close of 2011, leaving Tesla without a car to sell until the Model S hits in the summer of 2012.

2012 volvo S40 front three quarters 300x187 imageVolvo S40/V50 – The Volvo S40 and V50 were unceremoniously dropped from Volvo’s U.S. lineup this year due to lagging sales. The real shame is the loss of the V50, which was the last true station wagon that Volvo sold on our shores. For a brand that cut its teeth in the U.S. selling “turbo brick” wagons, the death of the V50 and its S40 sibling mark the end of an era.

By Christian Seabaugh

Top 10 Road Trip Cars with 400 Horsepower or More and Room for Four

Top 10 Road Trip Cars with 400 Horsepower or More and Room for Four

With the holidays fast approaching and enthusiasts planning road trips to visit family and friends, we’ve put together this list of the top 10 coolest road trip cars with 400 hp or more that can accommodate at least four full-size adults. From four-wheel-drive SUVs for those who may traverse deep snow to rear-drive sedans and a wagon for those whose travels will feature sunshine and dry roads, we’ve got the field covered for drivers who demand 400 hp or more.

Click through to read our picks for the top 10 road trip cars with 400 horsepower or more and room for four.

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By Jason Udy