In a bid to compete with the incoming crop of miniaturized crossover vehicles, such as the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, Buick is set to introduce the Encore in early 2013. With roughly the same interior volume of a Chevrolet Sonic 5-door, the Encore will also share its turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec engine, outputting 140 bhp with 148 lb.-ft. of torque. This should return some respectable fuel economy figures, thought we're slightly concerned about its acceleration potential. Manufacturer specs have the Encore carrying an additional 415 lb. over the Sonic LTZ for the front drive model, and around 535 lb. more with all-wheel drive. BMW's slightly heavier X1, by comparison, will come with no less than 240 bhp (and 260 lb.-ft.) and as much as 300 bhp (with 300 lb.-ft.). Regardless, the Encore promises an environment of luxury within a tiny package. It'll come with features such as remote ignition, dual climate control, Bose premium audio, as well as Buick's first application of active noise cancelling technology—dubbed QuietTuning. As safety is always a concern, especially with smaller vehicle segments, the Encore is available with a number of electronic aids (forward collision alert, lane departure warning), as well as 10 standard airbags to shield occupants when things head south. Only time can tell if this new ilk of automobile will find success in the U.S. market, though the Encore should have a leg up on price over the competition.
Fresh off a complete redesign in 2012, the 2013 Honda Civic offers a few more refinements to help it maintain its popularity in the compact class.
Available in sedan or coupe bodies, all but the Si and GX trims are powered by a 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional five-speed automatic. The performance-oriented Si comes with a 201 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four bolted only to a six-speed manual, while the GX is powered by a dedicated natural gas version of the 1.8-liter gas engine, and a five-speed automatic. A unique HF trim ekes out additional fuel economy with the help of aerodynamic add-ons, lightweight alloy wheels and low rolling-resistance tires. Standard safety features on all Civics include electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, six airbags, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring. Tech features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera with guidlines and ECO-Assist technology on all trims for 2013, automatic climate control for EX models and up, front fog lights for EX-L models and subscription free FM traffic updates with the optional navigation system.
The 2013 Civic is refreshed with refined interior and exterior styling, as well as safety, feature, comfort and chassis improvements.
The Hyundai Genesis sedan is a carryover model for 2013 which means no changes from 2012. Nevertheless, it’s worth reviewing what you get for your money. There are three powertrain choices: a 3.8-liter V-6 with 333 bhp; a 4.6-liter V-8 with 385 horsepower; and the Genesis 5.0-liter with an impressive 429 bhp. The transmission for each model is an 8-speed automatic with shift interlock and Shiftronic for those who like to choose gears. And the Genesis also boasts rack-and-pinion steering, disc brakes front and rear, independent suspension, and ample interior room, plus a good-size trunk (15.9 cubic feet). Cruising in the Genesis is a delight with an impressive sound system by Lexicon with 17 speakers, a choice of two navigation systems and a Bluetooth hands-free telephone link. For comfort there is an automatic climate control system, wood-grain interior accents, leather seating surfaces, and more. This is a family-size sedan that offers lots of space, many comfort features and very comfortable ride quality. With all the changes Hyundai has made in several of its other cars for 2013, it’s no wonder that the Genesis sedan is a carryover, especially considering all the improvements made for 2012.
Carroll Shelby lent his name to a lowly Dodge Omni and added a turbo engine that availed muscle-car power to the financially disabled in 1985. These days, a number of hot compacts do the same thing, but none have the tall “wagonhatch” body of the Caliber SRT4. This year the Caliber’s steering knuckles were revised to limit the wrist-snapping torque steer that plagued the SRT4 last year, and a new rear anti-roll bar takes a bit more work off the front tires. In addition, the Richard Petty Driving Experience now comes with the purchase of the SRT4, which offers astounding acceleration from its aluminum 2.4-liter turbocharged four. The large hood scoop is functional and necessary, not just another automotive codpiece, and optional are Goodyear F1 exotic fair-weather tires that increase grip.
Unlike most car models, the Kia Forte comes in several distinct flavors. The brand’s centerpiece is the Forte sedan, offered in LX, EX and SX trim. It’s a comfortable and agreeable ride with a solid standard features package across the board. The SX trim, with its performance-tuned suspension, 17-in. wheels, bigger front brakes and 173-bhp engine is the sportiest of the lot. But if sport is what you’re after, move directly to the 2-door Forte Koup SX—not an aggressive ride, but one that will certainly put a grin on your face in the turns. Buyers who are more in a family-about-town way should give the Forte 5-Door serious consideration. The hatchback opens to provide 19.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, compounded when the second-row seats are folded. All Forte variants enjoy a robust list of standard features.