The Ford Focus Electric is taking the fight to eco-themed rivals like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. If you want to impress the neighbors, tell them the EPA's equivalency formula pegs the Focus Electric at 110/99-mpg in city and highway driving. Of course, this fun fact is tempered by the Focus Electric's estimated total driving range of 76 miles — that's better than the Mitsubishi i and about even with the Nissan Leaf. The Focus Electric accepts charge at 6.6 kW versus 3.3 kW in the Leaf. According to Ford's estimate, that means a full recharge via a 220-volt outlet is accomplished in 4 hours, or half the time you'd need for the Leaf. Performance is peppy, especially at city speeds, and top speed is set at 84 mph. A display on the dashboard fills with butterflies if you're gentle about applying the gas pedal. MyFord mobile apps allow you to locate charging stations, or pre-heat and pre-cool the car while it's plugged into the grid (thereby saving battery life once you're on the road).
The Ford Focus range has expanded to include two new models this year: the sport-oriented ST version and an electric-powered model. The Focus 5-door hatchback continues to offer an excellent mix of agile handling, cargo room, and strong fuel economy. Under the hood is a 160-bhp 2.0-liter inline-4 coupled to a standard 5-speed manual, with a 6-speed PowerShift automatic or range-topping 6-speed PowerShift with SelectShift manual controls optional. The ST is all about carving corners, while the Titanium trim level loads the Focus 5-door with luxury touches like leather seating, a 10-speaker Sony audio system, SYNC with MyFord Touch, push-button start, and dual zone automatic climate controls. For a sinister touch, the SE Black Pack appearance package includes a piano black grille, 17-inch machined alloy wheels and, as you might have guessed, a black paintjob to match.
With more than eight million sold since 1973, the Civic needs no introduction. Yet the all-new ninth generation for 2012 does. Sedans and coupes gain more sophisticated styling, improved fuel economy and new technology. Civic DX, LX, EX and HF receive a massaged 140-bhp 4-cylinder engine that nets EPA 41 mpg on the highway for the last. Sporty Si models boast a new 201-bhp 2.4-liter four mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The Civic Natural Gas returns with expanded availability nationwide. Honda gives the Civic Hybrid a larger 1.5-liter gas engine, more powerful electric motor and lithium-ion batteries resulting in 44 mpg ratings for city and highway. A multi-information display, Eco Assist and Econ mode are standard on most Civics.
The Suzuki Kizashi is a well equipped sport sedan. The Kizashi has a lengthy list of standard equipment and offers dynamic performance and premium design.
Available in front-wheel drive with a six-speed manual or CVT transmission, or all-wheel drive with CVT, the Kizashi offers exceptional value in S, SE, Sport GTS, and Sport SLS trims. The Kizashi is equipped with a 185-hp 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine with the six-speed manual or a 180-hp version with the CVT. Standard features include sport bucket seats, projector headlamps, keyless â??Smartpassâ?� pushbutton start system, automatic dual-zone climate control, and steering wheel audio controls. Safety features include a class exclusive eight airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, and tire pressure monitoring system. As well, the Kizashi already meets 2014 NHTSA crash standards. Optional features include a Rockford-Fosgate audio system, leather interior, heated power seats and Bluetooth hands-free calling.
The 2013 Suzuki Kizashi sport sedan offers exceptional value and performance and carries over from 2012.
The Volkswagen Jetta is the least expensive German sedan in the North American market. Now in its sixth generation, the Jetta looks to provide something for everyone with a wide range of trims and powertrains.
The Jetta sedan offers four different engines, a 115-hp 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder, a 1.8-liter turbocharged gas four-cylinder generating 170 horsepower, a 140-hp 2.0L TDI clean-diesel four-cylinder for those looking for maximum fuel economy, and a 210-hp 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder in the GLI. Buyers that go with either gas engine can choose between a five-speed (six-speed in wagon) manual transmission or six-speed Tiptronic automatic; while TDI and GLI buyers select from either a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed DSG auto with Tiptronic. All Jetta's are standard with safety features such as six air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability program, tire pressure monitoring, brake assist, seatbelt pretensioners, traction control and head restraints at all seating positions. To set the GLI apart, it includes sport bumpers and side skirts, tinted taillights, red brake calipers and 17-inch alloy wheels. The GLI Autobahn trim adds features such as 18-inch wheels, a power sunroof, heated seats and a Fender premium sound system.
For 2014, the big news is that the 2.5L five-cylinder engine has been replaced by a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder.