The fun and practical A3 rolls into 2013 unchanged. This is Audi's smallest model in the U.S., but don't underestimate the appeal of this compact wagon. Some might be turned off by having to opt for a 5-door — which is probably why the next A3 sold here will be a sedan. A rev-happy and direct-injected gasoline 2.0-liter 4-cylinder delivers 200 bhp and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel-drive is standard, though you can spend a little extra for a 6-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox that comes paired to Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system. While it's nicely sized for city driving, the backseat still offers a decent amount of stretch out space and there's a useful 19 cu. ft. of cargo room. Fold the rear seats down, and that swells to an impressive 39 cu. ft.
As the first result of the Chrysler and Fiat partnership, the brand new Dodge Dart shares a platform with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback. However, Dodge’s engineering team put in overtime to give this American-built sedan its own style and character. The result is not only good-looking, both inside and out, but also surprisingly fun to drive – especially equipped with the optional turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir engine. A perfectly fine 160-bhp 2.0-liter “Tigershark” 4-cylinder powers the base model. At the top of the range is another Tigershark 4-cylinder, this time a 184-bhp 2.4-liter that is standard on the sporty R/T model. Between the two is the turbo 1.4-liter, which delivers a stout 160-hp and impressive fuel economy figures. For our money, the smallest engine is probably the best of the trio. There are three transmissions offered across the range: a 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, and 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual. We found the Dart to be agile and extremely well behaved, and noticeably more enthusiastic than segment leaders like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
Extensively redesigned, this is the eighth generation of Chevy's midsize sedan. The wheelbase is 4.5 in. shorter and the track over 2 in. wider, lending visual muscle to the otherwise conservative styling. Chevy claims a 20-percent chassis rigidity upgrade, as well as more room in the classy interior, despite reduced dimensions. There are three engine choices, all with direct fuel injection, led by the new 182-hp Ecotec 4-cylinder that's the heart of the eAssist Eco model. A mild gas/electric hybrid, the Eco is rated for 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, topping the Malibu charts. The Malibu delivers creamy ride quality with quiet operation, and a 259-bhp 2.0-liter turbo four is available to satisfy those with a need for speed.
The Sorento is Kia's entry into the cross-over utility vehicle (CUV) segment. The Sorento features unibody construction and a streamlined, modern appearance.
The Sorento is available in front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) in five- or seven-seat configurations. A 191-hp direct-injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 290-hp 3.3-liter V6 are the available engine choices. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the wheels. All-speed traction control, stability-control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, overhead curtain airbags, anti-whiplash head restraints and ignition disable are just a few of the standard safety features offered. Alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, heated front seats, navigation system and a rearview camera are all available.
The Sorento has been significantly refreshed and repackaged for 2014.
Mazda has hit a home run with the Mazda3, available in 4-door and 5-door versions. This compact sedan has a 155- bhp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions. The upper-level S versions come with a 167-bhp 2.5-liter engine with 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic. The Mazda3 is a complete automobile, with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control and more. Besides all the features, the driving is a delight in the Mazda3 models, with ample power and good handling characteristics. It's no wonder we see lots of young people having fun in these Mazdas. But there's also plenty of room for carrying equipment and/or luggage, especially with the 5-door model and its rear hatch. Although mostly a carryover for 2013, the 3 has a host of upgrades and updates.