Ever since the demise of the RSX, nee Integra, Acura has been without a true entry-level model. (The TSX has become too close to the TL in size, design, and price to perform that function.) Enter the smaller, cheaper ILX. Is it the second coming of the Integra, the frisky subcompact that once attracted young people to the brand? Not really. The ILX has a bit of an identity crisis, as it comes in three distinct iterations. The car is based on the Honda Civic sedan, and although Acura designers did a good job of disguising that fact, we wouldn't exactly call it handsome. The interior, at least, is a wholesale improvement over the Civic's more downmarket cabin. The chassis also has been comprehensively upgraded, with more sophisticated dampers for better ride quality and retuned, quicker steering that's more lively and precise. There's also additional sound deadening and NVH control. The volume-model ILX has a 150-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (up from 1.8 liters and 140 hp in the Civic) that is hitched to an automatic transmission with only five speeds. Acura reaches out to greenies with a hybrid ILX, which lifts the Civic Hybrid's powertrain intact for a 39/38 mpg EPA city/highway rating. The most interesting ILX variant uses the Civic Si as its starting point. Priced at $30,095, it features the Si's 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed manual. One problem for the ILX may be that it's not that much cheaper than a TSX: when adjusted for the TSX's extra equipment, the difference is less than $1000.
On sale Now
Engines 2.0L I-4, 150 hp, 140 lb-ft; 2.4L I-4, 201 hp, 170 lb-ft; 1.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 111 hp, 127 lb-ft
Sales of the Acura RL have all but dried up in recent years, so the division (and its dealers) must be eagerly awaiting the new flagship sedan, the RLX. Besides adding a letter to better align its name with most of the rest of Acura's lineup, the new sedan breaks with the past in other ways but not all. It remains smaller than some competitors -- Acura describes it as a mid-size sedan with the interior space of a large sedan. The overall length is the same, but the wheelbase has grown two inches. Again Acura uses a V-6, but it's a new direct-injected engine that displaces 3.5 liters. It makes 310 hp in its base, front-wheel-drive application. The uplevel model is a hybrid, in which the V-6 combines with three electric motors to deliver "more than 370 hp." The hybrid drives all four wheels, in a preview of the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system expected in the new NSX. Acura is predicting EPA ratings of 30 mpg city and highway for the RLX hybrid. High-tech niceties include four-wheel steering (for the FWD model), two LCD screens, and connectivity that permits Internet radio, Bing search functionality, and audio feeds from Facebook and Twitter.
On sale Early 2013
Price $50,000-$56,000 (est.)
Engines 3.5L V-6, 310 hp; 3.5L V-6/electric hybrid, 370+ hp
Aston Martin AM310 Vanquish
Stepping in for the DBS, Aston's new range-topping AM310 Vanquish looks to improve both performance and usability. The updated 5.9-liter V-12 adds variable valve timing; output rises to 565 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to a six-speed automatic transaxle (no manual this time). A new launch-control system helps drivers race from 0 to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds. The engine sits lower in a new iteration of Aston's bonded-aluminum chassis, which again features adaptive dampers and standard carbon-ceramic brakes. The Vanquish's body takes design cues from the limited-edition One-77 supercar and makes more extensive use of carbon fiber than ever before, including in the hood, front fenders, trunk lid, trunk enclosure, door surrounds, and roof (the last of which may be left exposed if a buyer so chooses). Weight is held to just 3613 pounds and is distributed 50/50 front/rear. Despite casting nearly the same shadow as a DBS, the new Vanquish has a roomier two-place cabin (two-plus-two seating is optional), along with more stowage and a greatly enlarged trunk. Capacitive-touch switches and a new rotary controller lend modern flair to the characteristic Aston Martin jewel-box interior.
On sale Early 2013
Price $280,000 (est.)
Engine 5.9L V-12, 565 hp, 457 lb-ft
Terminal velocity 183 mph
The original 1999-2005 Allroad made good on its name with a turbocharged V-6 for storming the interstate and an adjustable-height air suspension for tackling the trail. Unfortunately, the Allroad's second act in the United States isn't nearly as versatile. Based on the no-longer-sold-in-America A4 Avant wagon, the new Allroad is essentially a styling exercise that adds matte-finished lower cladding, a bright chrome grille, and brushed metal trim. Mechanically, the only difference between the Avant and the Allroad is a 1.5-inch suspension lift, but Audi is banking on the image of a tougher wagon appealing to a larger set of Americans.
On sale Now
Engine 2.0L turbo I-4, 211 hp, 258 lb-ft
Marketing magic Some rugged-looking trim multiplies wagon sales.
Audi's RS badge denoting the ultimate performance models by Quattro GmbH has been a rare sight on U.S. roads. An RS6 sedan was a one-year-only offering in 2003, the RS4 sedan and convertible were sold in 2007-2008, and the TT RS arrived last year. For 2013, we're going to get another RS model, the RS5 coupe, to face off against the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. The normally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 from the S5 coupe is now good for 450 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque in the RS5. It is paired with a seven-speed S tronic transmission and, naturally, Quattro all-wheel drive -- but this is an enhanced version that can send as much as 85 percent of the torque to the rear wheels (the default torque split is 40/60 front/rear). To telegraph that performance visually, the RS version gets a unique lower fascia, diffusers, grille, and flared fenders; a rear spoiler deploys automatically at 75 mph. To make the same point aurally, there's an optional sport exhaust. With the RS5, Quattro GmbH is speaking a little louder in the U.S. market.
In : Automotive