While Nissan's Versa sedan came in for a ground-up redo for 2012, the 5-door Hatchback version carries over from the 2011 model year with two models, S and SL. Perhaps to soothe hatchback fans, Nissan ups the ante by adding four new option packages for the S model and then making what was the Premium package now standard equipment on the SL edition. With that upgrade come such extras as the Bluetooth Hands-free phone system, the "Intelligent" key and 16-in. alloy wheels. Opt for the S version and you get the 122-bhp 1.8-liter twincam four with a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. SL models also have the 1.8 but are only fitted with the CVT transmission. Now the Vehicle Dynamic Control system is standard on both S and SL models.
Kia scarcely breathed on the midsize Optima for 2012. No need, really, since the Optima has quickly become a standout in its class. Holding to its competitive price point, the Optima delivers a wallop in the styling category, both inside and out. The view from 50 ft. conjures notions of a svelte European ride, but so does the 5-ft. perspective. Inside, while the material composition reminds us of the Optima’s budget-minded status, casual buyers will thrill at the well-executed design, not to mention the many upscale standard goodies available across the LX, EX and SX trim packages. If you’re looking for premium fuel economy, check out the Optima Hybrid (35 city/40 highway), with its parallel hybrid gas-electric system.
Once in a while, there comes an automotive form so advanced, it remains timeless. In the crossover world, that vehicle is undoubtedly the Infiniti FX—a vehicle so outlandishly styled, updates to its exterior aesthetic have essentially been rendered unnecessary. All the same, this year the FX sports a new front grille and fascia design, along with standard heated front seats on all models and a new Limited Edition FX35 AWD model with exclusive features. Available in rear- or all-wheel drive with 3.5-liter V-6 or thumping 5.0-liter V-8, the FX offers all the technology its futuristic styling would suggest, including Intelligent Brake Assist, Distance Control Assist, Continuous Damping Control, Adaptive Front lighting, Rear Active Steer and 21-in. wheels.
The Chrysler 200 is a true contender in the ultra-competitive midsize car category, offering value through a high level of standard equipment.
The front-wheel drive 200 is offered in both sedan and convertible body styles. Sedan offerings come in Touring and Limited, while the convertible is available in Touring, Limited and S trims. Two engines supply power: a 173-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 283-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, mated to either a four-speed automatic or a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode. Standard equipment on Touring models include aluminum wheels, an 8-way power driverâ??s seat, automatic climate control, satellite radio and a garage door opener. The Limited trim is further equipped with fog lights, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, heated front seats and leather upholstery, as well as a multimedia centre with internal memory, USB port, Bluetooth streaming audio and DVD video capability. The S trim gets exclusive chromed exhaust finishers and wheel treatment, along with upgraded audio. Safety features include stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, active front head restraints, six airbags, tire pressure monitoring and a security system.
The 2013 Ford Fusion sedan has been completely remodeled and engineered for better performance and fuel efficiency. Immediately apparent is the Aston Martin-like grille Ford designers have added to the front fascia. It looks great, even if Aston designers might be less than happy with the result. There are three inline-4 cylinder engines to choose among, and each has been tuned for better efficiency. A naturally aspirated 170-bhp 2.5-liter serves as the base engine. Offering equal power output is a turbocharged 1.6-liter that returns 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway – this is the only version available with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Last but not least is a 237-bhp turbocharged 2.0-liter. All-wheel-drive is optional, as are useful features like Active Park Assist, a fuel saving automatic stop-start system, and intelligent cruise control.