New Cars for 2017: $50k-$100k

The cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs you need to know about for the 2017 model year

September 9, 2016

When you look back on 2015, which storylines spring to mind? The world’s first climate-change accord? Caitlyn Jenner? Donald Trump? The discovery of ice mountains on Pluto and water on Mars? The NFL’s Deflategate? Likely yes to all and plenty more, but in Automobile land we’ll also remember the sale of almost 17.5 million light vehicles in the United States—an all-time high besting the previous mark, set in 2000, by almost 70,000. It wasn’t exactly a surprise. Favorable economic headwinds, the return of, ahem, relatively cheap gasoline, exciting new technologies, and most crucially, a full slate of intriguing automotive offerings sent a record number of consumers into showrooms. But enough about last year: Say hello to the new vehicles that have either just debuted or will shortly. Do they have what it takes to drive the market toward another sales benchmark? Numbers through the first half of 2016 indicate, yes, indeed they do.

$50k-$100k

BMW M2

BMW M2 – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base Price: $52,695

BMW says the i8—its electrified wedge of an exotic—sits atop its lineup, but as far as we’re concerned, the M2 is Munich’s hottest prospect in years. We can’t help but think “E46 M3” every time we drive it, and its welcome lack of complication inspires us to simply nod in respect whenever we lay eyes on it.

With a maximum output of 365 hp and 369 lb-ft from BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged N55 engine, the M2 reaches 60 mph in 4.2 or 4.4 seconds (seven-speed dual-clutch vs. six-speed manual transmission). But this aggressively bodied, still somewhat stubby M car is not about numbers. Whether on the street or at the racetrack, it’s about cornering, steering, drifting, sliding, braking, and everything else you can think of that defines the art of driving—and that made many of us give a damn about cars in the first place. We appreciate being able to disable the electronic nannies, especially for track days, but with them on or off, we’ve driven few cars that make it easier to approach our own limits without spiking stress levels off the chart.

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport – 8x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base price: $66,445

In 1963, legendary Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov had his team build five race-ready Grand Sport versions of his Sting Ray before his corporate overlords suspended all direct involvement in motorsports. (The cars didn’t compete officially, but Duntov found racers to campaign them privately.) Chevy once again taps into that heritage by creating another Corvette Grand Sport. The track-friendly car has model-specific wheels, updated anti-roll bars, and retuned springs, as well as exterior improvements such as front fender inserts and wider rear fenders. An optional Z07 package adds carbon-ceramic brakes, a carbon-fiber aero kit, and sticky Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires. Chevy will soon offer a Collector Edition featuring an exclusive design motif, a unique build sequence number, and headrests embossed with the outline of an original Grand Sport race car. A convertible Grand Sport will also be available as well. You’ll spend more for the open-top version—but if that’s your bag, have at it.

2017 ford f 150 raptor left front angle

Ford F-150 Raptor

On sale: Fall
Base price: $51,000 (est)

Ford’s previous Raptor was obnoxiously endearing: It combined trophy-truck looks with desert pre-runner suspension technology that made it hugely capable when turning commutes into off-road races. Ford’s new Raptor takes that Baja-winning formula and builds a truck that is more than most need—and that’s the Raptor’s beauty.

A 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 sits where Ford’s 6.2-liter V-8 once did, and even with the displacement and cylinder subtraction, it’s more powerful than before with more than 410 hp. Ford also cut nearly 500 pounds from the previous Raptor’s weight and introduced six preset driving modes, including a Baja mode for “high-speed desert running.” A must, if you ask us. The Raptor also uses Ford’s 10-speed automatic designed to cope with the stresses of off-road running and towing, as well as help with fuel economy and comfort. We expect the new Raptor to be a sure-fire hit.

Mercedes Benz C Class Cabriolet

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet – 5x All-Star Winner

On sale: Fall
Base price: $51,000 (est)

Mercedes is popping the top on its C-Class as part of an expansion of the brand’s convertible lineup, and we say: Bring on the sunshine. The base version of the new soft-top C is powered by the brand’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbo-four with 241 hp mated to a nine-speed automatic, and it’s available with 4Matic all-wheel drive.

If you need more wind-in-the-hair action, step right up to the AMG C43 fitted with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 or the AMG C63 versions powered by AMG’s wicked 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. Much of Benz’s top-tier tech has trickled down to the C as standard or optional equipment, including the convertible-specific Airscarf neck-warming and Aircap wind-buffeting systems.

Porsche Macan GTS

Porsche Macan GTS

On sale: Now
Base price: $68,250

Porsche continues to set the benchmark for building SUVs that drive like purebred sports cars. The Macan GTS is the latest, slotted between the Macan S and Macan Turbo. Whether it’s on a 911, Cayenne, or Panamera, Porsche’s GTS package is designed to strike a balance between performance and sex appeal. The story is no different with the Macan GTS. It’s powered by an upgraded 360-hp, twin-turbo V-6 matched to the brand’s seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic and is fitted with bigger brake rotors from the Macan Turbo. It also features a more sonorous exhaust system and a standard air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management.

Inside, GTS-specific leather sport seats with Alcantara trim come standard alongside the new Porsche Communication Management infotainment system, and contrasting seat belts with matching stitching are part of the must-have interior package.

Audi TT RS

Audi TT RS

On sale: 2017
Base price: $61,000 (est)

Hairdresser stereotypes do not apply to the Audi TT RS, a properly sorted sports coupe and roadster that commands respect. The TT RS is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder making an impressive 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with the power distributed through Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Put the spurs to it, and the TT RS will clip 60 mph in roughly 3.6 seconds on to a 174-mph top speed.

The coupe is 22 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, and the TT RS features a lower suspension with an adjustable magnetic ride setup, a carbon-ceramic brake option, and either an electrically deployable or fixed rear spoiler. Its new interior mimics the R8 supercar, giving it a thoroughly luxurious feel unlike many in its class. And if the TT RS isn’t your style, a new RS3 lands around the same time next year.

Ram Power Wagon

Ram Power Wagon – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Fall
Base price: $53,000 (est)

Want to drive on some dirt? Buy a truck. Want to go overlanding, exploring way beyond the tendrils of 4G services, through 30 inches of water? Or maybe you need to tow 10,000 pounds of cargo. Then you’ll want a Ram Power Wagon, and not just because it gets a blacked-out nose job. A beefed-up version of the Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup, the Power Wagon is designed to take you anywhere and back, no matter the terrain.

Providing that kind of performance from the factory is no small feat, requiring dozens of upgrades, such as steel bumpers, a 12,000-pound Warn winch with a 125-foot cable, dual recovery hooks, electronically disconnecting anti-roll bars for better articulation, front and rear electronically locking differentials, and more. All of that gear would cost a pretty penny à la carte, and with the Power Wagon it comes right from the factory with a warranty.

Mercedes Benz E Class

Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 2x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base price: $53,075

Now that the S- and C-Class have had their time in the limelight, Benz is revamping the middle child of its sedan lineup. The E’s new look brings it in line with its brethren—maybe almost too much so—but it’s a handsome update over the previous car nonetheless.

The E300 is the first model to arrive here. It features the same 241-hp, 2.0-liter turbo and nine-speed automatic combo that’s been spidering throughout Mercedes’ lineup, with rear drive and 4Matic all-wheel drive available. Expect to see the requisite AMG versions down the line as well as the E400 4Matic Wagon, coming next spring with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter with 329 hp. If you want advanced autonomous features, top-shelf safety options, and impressive entertainment tech, including a 12.3-inch screen dominating the dash, you’ve come to the right brand.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – 2x All-Star Winner

On sale: December
Base price: $58,000

The previous ZL1, introduced in 2012, brought back a name from the late ’60s. Seeing how the original 1969 Camaro ZL1 would go down a quarter-mile drag strip in about 13 seconds on stock tires—at a time when most competitors wouldn’t get close to that even on slicks—the new-age ZL1 needed to perform. And seeing how we turned a quarter-mile in about 12 seconds in the 580-hp, supercharged Camaro ZL1, we’d say it did.

What surprised us most about the muscle car with a historic moniker, though, was how comfortable it became when you left the strip and hit the road. Thanks to its adaptive magnetorheological suspension and selectable driving modes, you could dichotomize your driving style to get the most out of the Camaro, which liked being a lion at the track but a pussycat on city streets. We figure it’ll be much the same with the new ZL1 that’s based on the sixth-generation Camaro, which is a much better car than its predecessor.

The ZL1 still comes in two body styles—coupe and convertible—and still packs a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine and a finely tuned chassis with big, fat Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar tires at all four corners. But the engine now produces a square 640 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque, and the chassis now benefits from an electronically controlled rear differential. The ZL1 weighs up to 200 pounds less than the car it replaces, and it will no doubt outperform its predecessor in just about every way. You can opt either for a six-speed manual transmission with no-lift shift—a feature that lets you keep your foot flat on the accelerator between gear changes—or a seriously tantalizing 10-speed automatic that supposedly shifts faster than Porsche’s fantastic PDK dual-clutch transmission. Both gearboxes feature launch control.

Inside the ZL1, once again you’ll find heavily bolstered Recaro seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in faux suede, as well as new features such as the optional Performance Data Recorder (seen first on the Corvette) that can log lap times and sync vehicle telemetry with an on-board video system. Outside, the signature Mohawk hood and hollow FlowTie front badge make comebacks, and engineers spent more than 100 hours in the wind tunnel and on the track to improve the ZL1’s aerodynamics and cooling. We have no reason not to be excited by this all-new ZL1, which is built on an even better foundation than the previous version we loved. We expect this new one to remain an extremely powerful car with an amicable split personality, and one that’s very satisfying to drive regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.

Genesis G90

Genesis G90

On sale: Now
Base price: $62,500 (est)

Hyundai’s Equus luxury sedan stood atop the brand’s lineup for some time, but now the cushy four-door has assumed the mantle as the flagship for the Genesis lineup and been given a new name: G90. It comes standard with a 365-hp, 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 and rear-wheel drive. Optional is a 420-hp, 5.0-liter direct-injected V-8 as well as all-wheel drive. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and adaptive suspension dampers help keep its ride smooth.

The G90 is also loaded with standard and available features, including auto-leveling headlights, a raft of safety tech, a full-view camera system, a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with navigation, a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, wireless-device charging for front passengers, and reclining heated seats for rear passengers. The G90 and G80 sedan are the first of several Genesis models to follow in the next five years, and if they’re anywhere near as feature-rich and luxurious as the G90, we think the fledgling Korean luxury brand will have a great shot at future success.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia

On sale: Fall 2016
Base Price: $70,000 (Quadrifoglio) (est)

The 50-1 long shot. The adorable underdog. Seriously, who isn’t rooting for Alfa Romeo to make a real go of it in the U.S. again? Alfa’s latest foray into the U.S. market began with the 4C, a delightfully flawed, mighty mite of a sports car with a limited niche. Now comes the hard part: convincing the sport sedan crowd that the Alfa Romeo Giulia is an Italian butt kicker, a viable alternative in a fiercely competitive segment.

To that end, Alfa will start with the hot stuff first in the form of the Quadrifoglio version of the Giulia. Pushing 505 hp out of its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6, the highest-spec Giulia is Alfa’s answer to the M3s and C63s of the world, and purists will surely rejoice that it’s launching with a six-speed manual (an eight-speed auto will also be available). Our own Georg Kacher recently got behind the wheel of a Quadrifoglio and said, “She is a powerful lady, the new Giulia, physically strong and with a mindset to match. Its character remains calm, the chassis couldn’t be more composed, and the controls are cooperative.” We’ll put $10 down on the 50-1 car.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

On sale: Now
Base price: $83,000 (Before tax incentives)

Tesla’s chief mad scientist/CEO Elon Musk thrives on pushing boundaries with every new vehicle the brand produces, and the Model X is no different. Tesla’s first-ever SUV, the six- or seven-passenger Model X is capable of traveling up to 257 miles on a single charge depending on spec and sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in a “Ludicrous” 3.2 seconds. Then there are the Model X’s show-off falcon-wing rear doors and its massive glass roof, two elements that contribute to the vehicle’s wow factor. But they also add weight, potentially shortening its range.

While Tesla has evolved into a brand that’s developed an Apple-like cult following, Musk admits the car biz is getting increasingly difficult. “We got carried away with making things that maybe weren’t necessary to make the car sell,” he said after the X launched late last year. Indeed, all that built-in complexity with the Model X’s design has led to scattered reports of post-launch issues and one recall. But generally speaking, the Model X hews to much the same formula as the Model S: game-changing range and power for an EV, stunning interior tech, and bold features you won’t find from any other manufacturer—necessary or not.

Porsche 718 Cayman

Porsche 718

On sale: Now (Boxster) / November (Cayman)
Base Price: $57,050 (Boxster) / $54,950 (Cayman)

Porsche is reaching into its heritage bag again to revive a naming convention—and more important, turbocharged four-cylinder engines—across its new 718 Cayman and Boxster ranges. In addition to the new turbo engines, both models feature fully revised exteriors and upgraded interiors, and for the first time since it debuted, the Cayman now carries a lower price tag than its Boxster counterpart.

The 2.0-liter direct-injection, intercooled engine in the base 718 models produces 300 hp and 280 lb-ft, with S variants rocking a 2.5-liter version with 350 hp and 309 lb-ft. The deeper, at times boomy, sound produced by the turbo flat-fours is definitely different, but don’t let it turn you off. There are other upgrades too, such as quicker steering lifted from the 911 Turbo, a stronger rear subframe, wider rear wheels, better front brakes, and stiffer shocks and springs. Net result: the quickest, fastest Boxsters and Caymans yet.

Mercedes Benz GLS Class

Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

On sale: Now
Base price: $67,975

Mercedes’ GLS-Class replaces the GL in the company’s new SUV naming convention. With a base price of $67,975 for a 350d diesel and $125,035 for the fiery 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8, the GLS-Class spans price brackets but continues to deliver the luxury that consumers have come to expect from an industry leader in interior style, materials, and fit and finish.

The GLS remains the go-to SUV for wealthy suburbanites taking their children to lacrosse, but the AMG treatment allows this family hauler to evolve from a boring Starbucks runabout to a hungry predator. The AMG GLS 63 develops 577 hp and is capable of hitting 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, plenty quick to return a downtrodden spirit to the land of the living.

Volvo V90

Volvo V90

On sale: 2017
Base price: $50,000 (est)

Volvo is known for its station wagons in the U.S. and continues to offer them here despite the seismic shift toward sport-utility vehicles that has largely killed off the wagon market. So it’s no surprise that despite the potential sales hurdles Volvo has decided to bring the new V90 to the States. It doesn’t hurt from a manufacturing-cost perspective that the V90 is a variant of the handsome S90 sedan and is built off Volvo’s large vehicle platform, with its long dash-to-axle proportions and four-cylinder engine mounted transversely between the front wheels.

Like the S90 and XC90 SUV, the V90 will likely be offered with three engines: the base T5 250-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four; the T6 316-hp, 2.0-liter turbo/supercharged four; and the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid variant with 400-plus combined hp and an expected 30-plus-miles of all-electric range. Front- or all-wheel drive will be offered, with AWD standard in the T8. While Volvophiles will rejoice at the return of the big Swedish wagon, the low roofline combined with modern roof-crush standards allows for two-row seating only. Volvo buyers looking for a higher-riding, three-row model will keep flocking to the XC90.

Maserati Levante

Maserati Levante

On sale: October
Base price: $73,250

Maserati’s SUV is finally here, but will the market notice? Maserati designed the Levante, the first crossover in the company’s 100-plus-year history, as a foil for the likes of the Porsche Cayenne andBMW X5. Based on our first drive, we think it has the chops to compete with its stated German bogies, especially the top-spec Levante S, which features a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 424 hp mated to a smooth eight-speed automatic (a base-model spec is also available).

The Levante’s advanced air suspension system, a multiple-mode setup designed to further tune the vehicle depending on the situation, improves off-road maneuvering and on-track stability. The Levante also features numerous sport and luxury-themed interior options, including a slick silk getup by fashion house Zegna and loads of standard and available safety and convenience features.

Lexus LC 500

Lexus LC 500

On sale: Spring 2017
Base price: $95,000 (est)

Four years ago, the Lexus LF-LC concept debuted at the Detroit auto show in front of a surprised but definitely pleased crowd. Many a mandible hit the floor when that same crowd saw the production LC 500 earlier this year. It’s rare that a concept’s design is distilled so faithfully into the final product, but the juice was worth the squeeze for what Lexus considers to be its flagship model.

For all of its daring styling, the LC 500 is at its core a classic grand tourer, complete with a powerful 5.0-liter V-8 with 467 hp and a gorgeous interior that will keep Japanese tanneries working around the clock. On the other hand, advancements such as the coupe’s 10-speed automatic transmission and new lightweight rear-wheel-drive platform point the way forward to the brand’s vision of the future of luxury.

Audi S4

Audi S4 – 2x All-Star Winner

On sale: Early 2017
Base price: $50,000 (est)

While the Audi S4’s evolutionary exterior design is conservative in nature, things are far more interesting beneath its skin. You’d be forgiven if you thought the S4 and the S3 are the same car thanks to their almost identical designs—but that’s where it ends, as the S4 makes use of a new platform, engine, and transmission.

The internally coded B9 S4 uses a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 354 hp and 368 lb-ft, up 21 hp and 43 lb-ft from the previous supercharged powerplant. The lower weight also helps the S4 hit 60 mph in roughly 4.6 seconds, with a limited top speed of 155 mph.

Audi also fitted the S4 with a sport suspension, sport differential, variable steering rack, and adaptive dampers to better cope with both the pounding of racetracks and uneven pavement. The S4’s only transmission is Audi’s eight-speed automatic, forgoing the dual-clutch found in much of the rest of the lineup, though it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker given its refinement.

$35k-$50K

Volvo S90

Volvo S90

On sale: Fall
Base Price: $47,945

The handsome, conservatively understated S90 luxury sedan was meant to be the first of the new-generation Volvos, but its launch was delayed so the hot-selling XC90 crossover could take introductory honors.

The S90 is an equally fresh, sophisticated Scandinavian take on the modern luxury sedan that showcases much of the same innovative engineering and design work found on the XC90. Given that the S80, Volvo’s largest sedan until now, has been on sale since the heart of the Ford partnership in 2006, the S90 is a long-overdue arrow in Volvo’s burgeoning quiver as it moves toward a new chapter under the ownership of China’s Geely.

Drawing its design language from the much-loved Volvo Concept Coupe that bowed at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show, the S90 has a clarity and simplicity that place it firmly within the tradition of Volvo sedans. Up front, its concave, oval-shaped grille is a nod to the old Volvo P1800, but it’s flanked by striking new headlights with “Thor’s hammer” LED lighting signatures we expect to see on all Volvos going forward. Large C-shaped taillights dominate the rear, a motif that will carry over to the V90 wagon derivative when it arrives next year.

The S90 is based on the same platform as the XC90 and will utilize the same engine range. It will launch with the brand’s 2.0-liter turbo/supercharged T6 four-cylinder (which makes 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in the XC90 as well) and the base T5 2.0-liter turbo-four. The T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid with roughly 400 hp combined will follow a few months down the line. Front-wheel drive is standard on the base T5 model, while both the T6 and T8 feature all-wheel drive.

Another of the platform’s major advantages is its from-scratch integration of advanced safety technologies. The S90 will come with Volvo’s latest generation of Pilot Assist II semi-autonomous driving capability as standard, meaning it will be able to accelerate, decelerate, stop, and steer on its own—at least on roads with clear lane markings at speeds up to 30 mph in the city and 80 mph on the highway. Its City Safety technology can identify more than just cars; it’s also been engineered to stop the S90 if it senses cyclists, pedestrians, or wildlife.

This tech isn’t quite at the point where you can kick back and have a coffee while reading a book, but the S90’s elegant and stylish interior will make you wish you could. Within the cabin, driver and passengers will be treated to high-end leather, wood, and metal trim. As in the XC90, Volvo has for the most part dispensed with buttons, replacing them with virtual controls on the giant Sensus Connect touchscreen infotainment system. Fully digital instruments greet the driver, along with an ornate engine stop-start switch and drive-mode selector dial in the center console.

Chevrolet Bolt 01

Chevrolet Bolt

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $37,500

If this all-electric vehicle looks like the box the Tesla Model 3 will come in, that’s OK. Chevy’s four-door, five-passenger, front-wheel-drive hatchback it calls a “crossover-utility vehicle” has plenty of interior space for its size. GM is using the Bolt as an autonomous-tech test bed and is expected to make it a staple of its Maven car-sharing program. Thus, the future of urban mobility is powered by a 288-cell, 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack developed in partnership with LG Chem, feeding a single-motor electrical drive, rated at 200 hp and 266 lb-ft.

Chevy estimates a sub-7-second 0-60 mph launch for the 3,580-pound Bolt and claims especially impressive acceleration in the 30- to 50-mph range. Aggressive brake regeneration will make one-pedal driving possible, and among the more impressive features are a 10.2-inch MyLink color touchscreen, a rear-camera mirror, surround vision, MyChevrolet mobile app, and EV navigation mapping to find charging stations. At $37,500 before tax incentives, the Chevy Bolt is $2,500 higher than the sleek Model 3, but it has these advantages: It’s on sale at least
a year ahead of the Tesla, and it’s built by an automaker that sells a lot of conventional vehicles to offset its cost.

Audi S3

Audi S3

On sale: Fall 
Base price: $43,500 (est)

The subtlety face-lifted S3 is designed for people who want something more elegant and upscale than the S3’s cousin, Volkswagen’s Golf R, but don’t want a minivan or compact crossover. And as we found out when we first drove it, the S3 is an impressive, quick, small sporty car you can live with daily.

Its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine remains, with power boosted by 10 hp to 302 and 15 lb-ft to 290. The car’s exterior gains a new front fascia and new S4-style headlights, which make the two cars look quite similar. Inside, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with its 12.3-inch TFT display replaces the old analog gauges.

With more power and better looks, the S3 will no doubt be even more fun to drive. It remains one of the best values for those wanting affordable luxury with an added bit of sporting performance to beat back the drudgery of everyday life.

Nissan Armada

Nissan Armada

On sale: Now
Base price: $40,000 (est)

The Nissan Armada is an outlier in the full-size SUV category; Nissan sold fewer than 13,000 of the massive people-haulers stateside last year. So it’s probably a smart move then that Nissan is mixing things up and giving the new Armada the same bones as its global Patrol, the brand’s go-anywhere, do-anything utility vehicle that has battled the Toyota Land Cruiser for decades. Ditching the Titan’s platform for the Patrol’s gives the Armada larger, fully boxed frame rails, which increase torsional stiffness by 20 percent, Nissan says. But its sheetmetal and the multilink rear suspension have both been redesigned for the North American market, meaning the Armada has been optimized for the mall parking lot instead of a bombed-out goat trail. At least it has the go to match its show, with a 390-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Cadillac XT5

Cadillac XT5

On sale: Now
Base price: $39,990

While Cadillac has lagged behind other luxury carmakers in exploiting the crossover segment, it plans to make up for lost time by rolling out four new models in rapid succession, with the midsize XT5 leading the charge. Using an all-new chassis, the XT5 is more than 250 pounds lighter than the SRX crossover it’s replacing and some 650 pounds lighter than its Mercedes-Benz GLE-Classcompetitor. The XT5’s interior is impressively clad in leather with an overall style similar to that of the CT6 sedan. Outside, its new look represents the face of Cadillac crossovers to come.

For now, the XT5 is powered by one engine, a 310-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 with an active fuel management system that can shut off two cylinders when full power is not needed, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Much of the latest in Cadillac tech and safety options are also available as part of the XT5’s package.

Audi A5

Audi A5/S5

On sale: Spring 2017 (est)
Base price: $42,000 (est) /$54,500 (est

After eight years, the svelte first-generation A5 is ready to bow out. In its place will be a sharpened, lightened, and redesigned A5 and S5. Visually, the new A5 is similar to the outgoing car, but with a tighter, straight-edged design. The A5 sports a slightly longer wheelbase than the outgoing car, while aluminum and other lightweight materials help to reduce curb weight. Inside, it’s a wonderland of metal, leather, and suede, and Audi’s new optional Virtual Cockpit stuns with extremely high-def visuals. A six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will be available when the A5 launches with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, spitting out 252 hp and 273 lb-ft to either the front or all four wheels. Hop up to the S5, and Audi slots in a new twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 354 hp and 368 lb-ft, sent to all four wheels through a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. The S5 will snap to 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds. If this isn’t quite as quick as you hoped, hold out for the inevitable track-ready RS5 variant.

Genesis G80

Genesis G80

On sale: Fall
Base price: $39,700

The Hyundai Genesis sedan has transformed into the Genesis G80, as it and Hyundai’s other luxurious outlier, the Equus, are moving under the umbrella of the burgeoning high-end Genesis brand. Aside from a couple new badges, though, the G80 will essentially be the same car as the current model.

As with the Genesis sedan, you’ll be able to get your G80 with a 3.8-liter V-6 or a 5.0-liter V-8, rear- or all-wheel drive, a well-equipped base model or a fully optioned example with features such as heated rear seats and a suite of active safety systems. We hear the V-8 might eventually be replaced by the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 found under the hood of the G90 (aka Equus), but there’s no official word on that yet. While the then-Genesis sedan wasn’t quite the match of its luxury competition, with a new team of designers, engineers, and marketers, the G80 and the Genesis brand as a whole could well soon be.

Audi A4 Allroad Quattro 01

Audi A4 Allroad Quattro

On sale: Fall
Base price: $44,000 (est)

We still wish the U.S. market got Audi’s A4 wagon, but this butched-up, crossover-like Allroad Quattro fills the void where the A4 Avant would go. As demand for compact crossovers increases, mashups such as the Allroad will likely become more prevalent.

The Allroad shares the A4 sedan’s underpinnings, with an additional 1.3 inches of ground clearance plus body cladding and fender flares to give it an armored appearance ready to tackle dirt or snow. The standard A4 engine remains as a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 252 hp to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

The Allroad’s interior also shares its design and materials with its unlifted A4 sibling; however, it doesn’t boast the 12.3-inch TFT display found in other Audi products, such as the S3, TT RS, or R8. It does receive an off-road driving mode that isn’t found in the standard A4, signifying its go-anywhere character.

Mercedes Benz SLC Class 01

Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class

On sale: Now
Base price: $48,875

Out with the SLK, in with the SLC. Mercedes has been on a renaming kick lately, and its compact hardtop roadster has been bestowed with a new moniker, ostensibly to better align it with the C-Class with which it shares some commonality. Power and drive for the base model is Benz’s bread-and-butter 2.0-liter turbo-four/nine-speed automatic combo.

The AMG SLC43 is the new addition to the lineup, replacing the V-8 powered SLK55. The SLC43 uses the automaker’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 362 hp, also paired with the nine-speed auto. While hp is down considerably over the SLK55, the SLC43’s acceleration to 60 mph is just a tick off, at 4.6 seconds. On the outside, the SLC benefits from a minor exterior face-lift that gives it a burlier appearance.

Inside are some new trim bits, including a new steering wheel, and the SLC is now available with more of the brand’s top-tier safety and technology features. Overall, it’s a fresh approach for the long-running roadster consistent with Benz’s sporting-yet-composed spirit of late.

Lincoln Continental

Lincoln Continental

On sale: Fall
Base price: $45,485

Reviving the Continental nameplate is a big risk on Lincoln’s part, but it’s the right time to roll the dice. The brand has been trapped inside a Blue Oval-shaped shadow, trying and mostly failing to distinguish itself from its parent company. This car could be the distinctive product that Lincoln can truly call its own.

The Continental name comes with lofty expectations, but Lincoln is confident the spacious sedan’s focus on “quiet luxury” will help distinguish it. High-end Revel audio, 30-way adjustable leather seats, electronically opening and closing doors, and a potent 3.0-liter twin-turbo six with 400 hp are all in the arsenal. Even so, it’s a shame much of the panache of the elegant concept car didn’t make it to production, and its FWD architecture is more evidence that Ford isn’t quite loosening Lincoln’s leash yet. Will the Continental find its footing in the luxury sedan market? We shall see.

Infiniti Q60

Infiniti Q60 – 3x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base price: $42,000 (est)

Thanks in large part to a stout twin-turbo V-6 and a muscular, tastefully executed exterior design, the new Q60 is a sports coupe that should warrant the attention of any enthusiast.

At the heart of the Q60 is its 3.0-liter six making 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque in top spec trim, backed by a seven-speed automatic. (A 300-hp version of the six and a 208-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four are also available.) As the turbos spool up and the Q60’s pace increases, it almost feels as though some DNA from its distant GT-R cousin has been fused into the package. Moreover, Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering rack allows for the communicative chassis to tell you exactly where the front wheels are on the pavement.

The Q60, beautiful inside and out, is also stuffed with the latest in Infiniti’s entertainment and safety tech.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base price: $40,000 (est)

The Jeep Grand Cherokee remains an excellent SUV. Its ride is smooth, and its standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic combo is nearly bulletproof. And though very capable off-road as is, most Grand Cherokees are never tested in the wild, their toughest route being a two-track to the family cabin.

But for those who do want to go where few Grand Cherokees have gone before, there’s the Trailhawk, the model that deserves an emphasis on “Jeep” first. It arrives with a locking rear differential, skidplates, and 10.8 inches of ground clearance. It’s the real deal when it comes to off-roading, but you already knew Jeep doesn’t just slap a “Trail Rated” badge on its vehicles—they have to earn it.

Acura MDX 01

Acura MDX

On sale: Now
Base price: $44,890

Drawing inspiration from Acura’s Precision design concept that debuted at this year’s Detroit auto show, the redesigned MDX is a fresh update to the rather comely outgoing model. Acura’s aim was to improve the overall fuel efficiency and standard equipment of its popular midsize crossover. To that end, the MDX adds a standard electric parking brake with auto-hold, automatic high beams, satellite radio, and four USB ports scattered around the cabin.

The biggest news, however, is the addition of the MDX Sport Hybrid, which features a version of Acura’s new performance-themed all-wheel-drive powertrain, a 3.0-liter V-6 mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission working in concert with three electric motors (two powering the rear wheels and one integrated with the transmission). The setup reportedly boosts city efficiency over the non-hybrid by 7 mpg for an estimated fuel-mileage rating of 25/26 mpg city/highway. Standard-spec MDX models feature a 3.5-liter V-6 paired with a nine-speed automatic.

The 2017 MDX also features a raft of standard and available active safety systems, including the so-called AcuraWatch package, which features automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and low-speed follow.

$25k-$35K

Honda Ridgeline

Honda Ridgeline

On sale: Now
Base price: $30,375

From the moment the first-gen Ridgeline appeared in 2006, some questioned whether it was really a truck. But it found a following, and the new 2017 version takes Honda’s reinvention of the pickup to the next level, even as it adopts a more conventional exterior.

The Ridgeline does a lot of trucklike things well, such as towing up to 5,000 pounds. Honda brags about the Ridgeline’s list of “segment leading” features: the 1,584-pound payload capacity, 50-inch width between wheelwells in the bed, a long list of standard and available safety options, and triple-sealed cabin quietness. Against its supposed competitors, the Ridgeline chalks many spec-sheet victories. And thanks to its four-wheel independent suspension, carlike interior, soft yet supportive seats, and torque-vectoring rear wheels on all-wheel-drive models, it drives more like a well-balanced, comfort-minded sedan.

All 2017 Ridgelines come in only four-door cab and short-bed form, with a single engine, Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the standard six-speed automatic transmission with multidisc lockup-clutch torque converter, the Ridgeline’s engine feels strong.

The Ridgeline is available in two-wheel and all-wheel drive, but as before and unlike traditional trucks, it is front-drive-based. In AWD form, the Ridgeline is primarily front-drive too, but it can send up to 70 percent of torque rearward when needed. The new model’s torque-vectoring AWD system is 46 percent faster than before in engaging the rear wheels and has 20 percent more torque capacity.

Whip down a rough dirt road, and the Ridgeline can run with two of the best of the current midsize truck segment—the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma. We know because we drove them back to back on a range of off-road courses. Will the Ridgeline fare as well as the Chevy or the Toyota at Moab or crossing the Rubicon? Probably not, but it will go more places than 95 percent of the owners of any of the three trucks will ever dare. And its suite of safety technologies bests the offerings from GM and Toyota, the Honda boasting adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, and more.

The Ridgeline’s bed has a trunk built beneath it, as well as other integrated features, but one drawback is that the tailgate and bed floor are noticeably higher than the Colorado and Tacoma—which can make it tougher to get items up and into the bed, especially for shorter users.

Honda isn’t aiming to poach buyers from the midsize truck crowd. Instead, it’s looking squarely at the crossover market. If you hold prejudices that dictate what a truck’s nationality should be—this one’s built in Alabama, by the way—or how it should be made or what it should look like, un-truck yourself. Give the Ridgeline a look.

Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica

On sale: Now
Base price: $29,590

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles deserves kudos for staying the course and introducing the Pacifica, Chrysler’s all-new, sixth-generation minivan. The stylish Pacifica offers a choice of seating for six, seven, or eight; it’s also the best-driving Chrysler people-mover yet, thanks in large part to a new architecture developed from the ground up. There’s tech aplenty, including multiple TV screens, individual controls, and entertainment options.

The Pacifica’s appearance treads toward crossover territory, but with its convenient, foot-operated electric sliding side doors, improved Stow ’n Go seating, and all that gear in the rear to keep the peanut gallery entertained, we are deep in the feature-laden heart of minivan country. The good-looking interiors are hip; even better is the fact that the Pacifica is good to drive. Credit an all-new trailing-arm, independent rear suspension—not to mention weighing up to 250 pounds less than its predecessor, thanks to an aluminum hood and sliding doors, a magnesium liftgate inner, and extensive use of high-strength steel.

Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, Chrysler’s upgraded 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 has a modest bump in power, to 287 hp and 262 lb-ft, but it feels more refined. If you’re looking to go greener, a plug-in hybrid version arrives this fall.

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $30,195 (est)

Development of the last-generation Camaro’s 1LE performance package came about unexpectedly; the last SS model had horrible on-track understeer, so Chevy created a $3,500 1LE looks-and-suspension upgrade for the V-8 model to address the issue. Even though the all-new, sixth-gen Camaro sorted out most of its predecessor’s shortcomings, Chevy figured buyers would want the popular 1LE package, which once again includes a matte black hood, unique spoilers, and upgrades to the wheels, tires, brakes, and cooling. The new kit is now even more desirable because this time out it also cribs the Corvette Stingray’s magnetorheological suspension and electronically controlled rear differential.

The package is also more accessible: Manual-equipped V-6 Camaros can now benefit from upgraded suspension components, too. Unfortunately there’s no 1LE for the new turbo-four Camaro, but we expect Chevy will soon bring out a higher-performance variant of that car.

Buick LaCrosse

Buick LaCrosse

On sale: Now 
Base price: $32,990

If you liked Buick’s 2015 Avenir concept, you’ll be delighted to see the brand has incorporated several styling touches from that show car into the all-new 2017 LaCrosse sedan. The LaCrosse is longer and lower than the car it replaces, while shedding 300 pounds through increased use of high-strength steel, among other changes. A new five-link rear suspension, optional adaptive-damping system, and reduced ride height hopefully mean sharper handling to boot.

An all-new version of GM’s 3.6-liter V-6—an engine used in GM’s product range from Chevy to Cadillac—serves duty underhood, pushing out 305 hp and 268 lb-ft in the LaCrosse, with an eight-speed automatic doing the shifting. Cylinder deactivation and stop-start tech help save fuel, and an optional twin-clutch, all-wheel-drive system is available. The LaCrosse’s interior features upscale leather and wood with a renewed focus on keeping all touch points soft and comfortable. Despite a longer wheelbase, rear legroom shrinks slightly. A host of safety tech, including automatic park assist and pedestrian detection, is available, as is wireless phone charging, a head-up display, and either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat 124 Spider

On sale: Now
Base price: $25,990

Fiat Chrysler’s global head of design Ralph Gilles is heralding the reborn 124 Spider as “the anti-commodity [Fiat needs] right now.” He’s right that the once-spirited Italian brand’s stable is about as bland as plain yogurt, and the 124 Spider has an ace in the hole: It shares its platform with the tossable, enjoyable Mazda MX-5 Miata. And perhaps the Spider’s place on the production line in Hiroshima will put to rest concerns from classic Fiat owners, many of whom are probably digging through their garage for the old toolbox.

The 124 Spider has unique sheetmetal, interior pieces, spring and shock tuning, and its own turbocharged MultiAir 1.4-liter engine with 164 horsepower backed by either a six-speed manual or automatic. It’s a bit heavier than its donor car, yet that’ll hardly be a big concern for most of its prospective buyers. Fiat is also offering a spicier Abarth variant for those who love a rowdy exhaust as much as they hate their neighbors.

GMC Acadia

GMC Acadia

On sale: Now
Base price: $29,995

The new GMC Acadia is significantly lighter, more sophisticated, and more crossover-like in design than the model it’s replacing. In the first major overhaul to the Acadia this decade, GMC was able to shave up to 700 pounds off the new model, thanks largely to the use of a new GM crossover platform with a much smaller overall footprint than before.

The big weight reduction allowed engineers to add a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 194 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. But the engine to get is the 310-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that creates 271 lb-ft of torque. It hits 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Both models use a six-speed automatic transmission and start-stop technology to improve city mileage.

The Acadia maintains its comfy interior with a 50/50-split third row for abundant storage. The optional captain’s chairs in the second row are worth the investment, especially if your growing teens need extra space. They will also appreciate the USB plugs in all three rows to keep personal devices charged.

Kia NIRO

Kia NIRO

On sale: Early 2017
Base price: $27,000 (est)

Though the Niro is the first model unveiled on Hyundai Motor Group’s new DE dedicated hybrid platform, the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid will beat it to market by a few months. Niro’s advantage is it will be marketed as a crossover, though it will be front-wheel-drive only. But it looks more like a tall hatchback. The Niro is motivated by a 1.6-liter I-4 with a 43-hp electric motor for a total output of 146 hp and 195 lb-ft, with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission doing the shifting. Because the Niro is heavier than the Ioniq sedan, Kia expects 50-plus mpg to the Hyundai sedan’s 56 mpg.

The powertrain’s slickest feature is Predictive Energy Control, which uses the navigation system to optimize battery recharging downhill while “expending” energy going uphill, so it will rely on the gas engine for high loads. Kia says the Niro’s hybrid powertrain will feature smooth transitions from electric stop-start mode to EV mode to full internal-combustion power.

Toyota 86

Toyota 86

On sale: Fall
Base price: $26,500 (est)

The Scion FR-S has died along with the Scion brand, but the car lives on as the improved Toyota 86. The brilliant little coupe’s new name is in line with the FT86 and GT86 badges the car wears in other parts of the world, and it references the 2.0-liter flat-four’s “square” 86-mm bore and stroke. Revisions to the boxer engine have wrought the sports car’s first power gains since its 2014 launch. Output is now 205 hp and 156 lb-ft on manual-equipped cars, while the final-drive ratio is shorter. The paddle-shift automatic version soldiers on with 200 hp and 151 lb-ft. Other changes include revised spring/damper rates to give the 86 a little more body control, hopefully without taking away its tail-happy attitude. All the other standard mid-cycle refresh items are here, too, such as restyled front and rear ends and new wheels.

Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander

On sale: Fall
Base price: $31,500 (est)

Efficiency is the name of the game for the refreshed 2017 Toyota Highlander. While the standard Highlander retains its 2.7-liter I-4, an all-new 3.5-liter, direct-injected V-6 good for “significantly more” power replaces the outgoing V-6 of the same displacement. Six-cylinder models also lose the old six-speed in favor of a new eight-speed automatic. Fuel economy should improve from the current V-6’s 19/25 mpg city/highway.

Those looking for maximum fuel savings will still want to opt for the hybrid V-6 powertrain mated to a CVT. For 2017, Toyota is making it easier to get into a Highlander Hybrid by expanding the available trim range from Limited and Platinum spec to less feature-heavy LE and XLE grades.

In addition to minor styling changes and unique upper front grilles for all trim levels, Toyota has packed the 2017 Highlander with more features, including four extra USB ports and the Toyota Safety Sense package. It bundles pre-collision and lane departure warning with adaptive cruise control and auto high beams. Lastly, a new SE trim level includes 19-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension, among other cosmetic touches.

Mazda MX 5 Miata RF

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF – 12x All-Star Winner

On sale: Early 2017
Base price: $31,500 (est)

Like many hotly anticipated sports cars, each new-generation MX-5 Miata tends to sell well out the gate, only to dwindle as time goes on. Additionally, some 60 percent of last-gen Miatas were sold with a power hardtop, so there was no way Mazda was going to keep its roadster soft-top only. But instead of going the same hardtop route as before, Mazda broke with tradition by building the Miata Retractable Fastback, which isn’t really a roadster at all.

Heresy or not, the power-folding targa-style coupe looks like an all-new car, and that’s probably a smart move. Its elegant rear buttresses and more premium interior, complete with exclusive Nappa leather and improved sound deadening, could lure new customers who have only thought of the Miata as a cheap convertible in the past. The folding top adds about 100 pounds without sacrificing any precious trunk space. Otherwise it’s the same Miata we know and love, which is a good thing indeed.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan

On sale: Summer 2017
Base price: $25,500 (est)

Volkswagen’s first-generation Tiguan compact crossover was a nice-driving vehicle in its segment, but it never quite caught on with U.S. buyers, be it due to inadequate marketing, non-competitive pricing, or other factors. The second-gen hopes to buck that trend; Volkswagen says it is expanding the Tiguan’s reach in an effort to capture more crossover buyers.

VW’s method will be to introduce a whole lineup of Tiguan body styles. The so-called long-wheelbase version is the one likely to arrive in the U.S. first and will be built in both VW’s Chinese and Mexican plants. Slightly larger than the outgoing Tiguan and stuffed with three rows of seating, it will likely feature a choice of either a 1.8- or a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.

In Europe, a short-wheelbase, raked-roof Tiguan Coupe is being developed with a possible R performance model to follow, but we’re unlikely to see either one in the States.

The Tiguan is an important vehicle for VW given the ultra-hot crossover market, but whether the all-new version is able to win back VW customers in the U.S. and help stop the fiscal hemorrhaging spawned by the automaker’s diesel scandal remains to be seen.

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

On sale: Fall
Base price: $31,000 (est)

Any car that features an iPad-sized screen on its center stack always garners praise from the media, and the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid is no exception. But what’s far more impressive is the Prime’s 600 miles of total range and a battery pack that can carry the car 22 miles on electric power only; that’s more than double the range of the previous Prius plug-in.

The Prius Prime drives first on electricity from the 8.8-kWh battery pack and then, using a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, it operates like a traditional hybrid. The Prius Prime will also feature what Toyota calls the dual motor generator drive system, which uses both the electric motor and generator to drive the car to improve acceleration.

The Prius Prime advances one of the most recognizable profiles on the road with its more powerful-looking front end. The interior is equally impressive, with an eye-catching central-mounted gauge display at the top of the dash. Then there’s that 11.6-inch, high-definition tablet. It will let you run a suite of special Prime apps. This Prius can also nearly drive itself and park itself too. But it’s the tablet on the dash everyone will notice. They always do.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Fall
Base price: $34,990 (est)

What separated the standard Tacoma TRD and the TRD Pro when Toyota released the package in 2014 were factory-installed upgraded Bilstein shocks, new front springs, a front skidplate, and a ton of other cosmetic items. Toyota looks to keep that theme alive with the new TRD Pro. Adding to the existing TRD trim level, the TRD Pro is for those who want to go farther off the beaten track—and beat it up.

The TRD Pro is available only as a double-cab, four-wheel-drive, short-bed option with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine and either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. It features TRD-specific wheels wrapped in Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires, TRD springs with a 1.0-inch lift, Fox shocks, and an electronically locking rear differential.

It also receives a front quarter-inch aluminum skidplate and fender cladding to protect from rocks and debris. As in all Tacoma models, the TRD comes complete with a built-in GoPro camera to record your off-road adventures.

Nissan Titan

Nissan Titan

On sale: Fall
Base price: $28,500 (est)

Unveiled at the New York auto show earlier this year, the new half-ton 2017 Nissan Titan is the heavy-duty Titan XD’s volume-market sibling, designed to go up against the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra.

Far from just a rescaled XD, the standard Titan contains many parts unique to this version. The frame is different from the XD’s, and its overall length is 14.7 inches shorter, which should make the Titan easier to maneuver in urban settings, despite a cab size and overall width that’s identical between the two. Five trim levels, from S to Platinum Reserve, and 5.5-, 6.5- and 8-foot bed lengths are available. At launch, the Titan will only be sold with the XD’s optional 5.6-liter V-8 with 390 hp and 401 lb-ft, but down the road Nissan will add a smaller V-6 engine to the half-ton lineup. The V-8 is paired to a seven-speed automatic, and the Titan can be had with rear- or four-wheel drive.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe

On sale: Now
Base price: $31,695

The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport boast 350 new parts. Both get new front and rear fascias, a more aerodynamic brushed-metal grille, and restyled wheels and side skirts, among other items. Inside, each Santa Fe model adds a rearview camera to its standard equipment list, while the Santa Fe Sport gets an optional 7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto. The latter system is now standard in the three-row Santa Fe, which also gets a third-row USB charging port. Like last year’s new Sonata, Santa Fe models get a power reduction, with the Sport’s 2.4-liter I-4 dropping 5 hp to 185 hp and the 2.0-liter turbo I-4 in the Santa Fe losing 25 hp to wind up at 240 hp. The changes, Hyundai says, broaden the midrange torque band and improve fuel economy up to 2 mpg.

Under 25k

Ford Escape

Ford Escape

On sale: Now
Base price: $24,495

Demand for compact crossovers is on track to approach 40 percent of the automotive marketplace within the decade, and Ford has every intention of maintaining and growing its strong share of this red-hot segment with the refreshed 2017 Escape. It gains two new engines: a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four making 179 hp and delivering 23/30 mpg city/highway (FWD) and a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four with 245 hp that delivers similar mileage.

The revised Escape’s driving dynamics are almost identical to that of the outgoing model, which Ford says is deliberate because buyers had no concerns with how the Escape behaved. Additionally, Ford says crossover shoppers care less about the engine’s size and power and more about features and technology. To that end, the Escape delivers a host of connectivity and technology options, including Sync Connect, Sync 3, and FordPass.

The Escape is the company’s second-best-selling vehicle behind the almighty F-150, but it’s engaged in a cold war with other brands as offerings in the segment proliferate. The latest updates should help keep the Escape more than competitive.

Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet Cruze

On sale: Fall 
Base price: $22,190

The second-generation Chevrolet Cruze, now available as a hatchback, features sleeker lines and a new version of GM’s 1.4-liter turbo-four that produces 153 hp and 177 lb-ft, backed by a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. It shed 250 pounds during its makeover and will now reach 42 mpg on the highway, according to Chevy. It comes standard with start-stop technology to help improve its city fuel economy as well. And its best-in-class wheelbase length of 106.3 inches helps make for a remarkably smooth ride on the highway.

Outside, its pointed nose and sharper character lines lend the Cruze a more futuristic look. Inside, it adds loads of technology such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to allow drivers to operate their smartphone via the center stack’s 7-inch touchscreen. It’s also available with blind-spot detection, lane keeping assistance, wireless phone charging, and OnStar’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.

While the Cruze has been a solid offering in the fiercely competitive compact sedan segment, the new-for-2017 hatchback model might have what it takes to make it all the way to the top of buyers’ shopping lists.

Kia Forte

Kia Forte / Forte5

On sale: Now
Base price: $17,340

A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission option in the hatchback and a new engine lineup are part of a major face-lift of the Kia Forte sedan and Forte5 hatchback for the 2017 model year. Base and LX sedans now come with a port-injection, 147-hp, 2.0-liter I-4, while the Forte EX and Forte5 LX and EX feature a gasoline direct-injection, Atkinson-cycle, 164-hp 2.0-liter. The Forte5 SX is powered by a 1.6-liter gas direct-injection turbo-four. At press time, EPA estimates listed the 2017 direct-injection 2.0-liter Forte sedan with a six-speed automatic at 25/33 mpg city/highway. A new S trim level slides between the Forte LX and EX sedans, adding a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip. The EX comes with 17-inch wheels, LED taillamps, and a smart key. Available options on the sedan include rear cross-traffic alert, front collision warning, dynamic bending lights, and autonomous emergency braking.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now 
Base price: $22,995

After decades of letting its models age without significant updates, Ford proved it would do a much better job at refreshes with the 2010 Fusion, which turned out to be much more than just a minor touch-up of the original 2007 model. While Fusion version 2.5, a face-lift of the second-generation midsize sedan, isn’t as extensive, with its Aston Martin-esque grille intact above a reworked lower fascia, it doesn’t need to be.

Upgrades include an electronic dial to control the six-speed automatic as in its Lincoln MKZplatform sibling, an angle-parking feature added to its parallel parking assist, and a new Platinum trim level adapted from the European Ford Mondeo Vignale, further encroaching on Lincoln MKZ territory.

The Fusion carries on with five powertrain options, front- or all-wheel drive, and hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. The new Fusion Sport comes with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 (see “Lincoln territory”). Although we didn’t get to drive the Sport model during the ’17 Fusion’s introduction in May, we called the car the “BMW of consumer-grade sedans.” For 2017, the popular Fusion SE starts at $23,995, the Sport is $34,350, and an Energi Platinum plug-in hybrid starts at $39,995 before federal tax incentives.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic – 2x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base price: $19,475

For now, the new Civic comes in three distinct flavors: a sedan, a coupe, and the soon-to-arrive hatchback. It has two excellent engine options, with a base direct-injection, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder and the 2.0-liter port-injected i-VTEC, paired with either a six-speed manual or a CVT.

Honda added almost 3 inches to the Civic sedan’s length, more than an inch to the wheelbase and nearly 2 inches to its width in an effort to give it even more stable performance. The coupe now shares the same wheelbase and width but is more than 5 inches shorter. The ride is smooth, the handling sharp, the styling muscular. And the Civic’s reputation for reliability should help it stay atthe top of the sales charts.

Fuel economy is another area where Honda excels. With the 1.5-liter engine, the sedan gets 31/42 mpg city/highway, the coupe 31/41 mpg. While the exterior is the polar opposite of the outgoing model, the interior remains sleek, well built, and comfortable. A tray at the base of the center stack will hold your cellphone and allow you to plug it into a USB port easily.

Included in Honda’s Sensing Package are a number of technologies such as adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, and even a low-speed follow system designed to help take the grind out of gridlock.

Chevrolet Trax

Chevrolet Trax

On sale: Fall 
Base price: $21,000 (est)

The original Chevrolet Trax always felt like it was a quickly cobbled together, tiny SUV thrown onto the scene to grab customers. The exterior was boxy, and the interior felt cheap. But Chevy got what it wanted: the second-best-selling compact crossover in America.

The 2017 Trax has matured with more thoughtfulness inside and out. The interior is more refined, with a true dual-cockpit design more in line with Chevrolet’s other offerings.

There’s a redesigned center stack with a new 7-inch display, and GM’s OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot-spot system is now available.

While the Trax carries over its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, its exterior adopts a front end more in line with the rest of the Chevy family, sharing a similar grille and headlights. It keeps its chunky body, which lends it a more rugged look, but it should maintain its solid ride.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

On sale: Now
Base price: $23,885

By catching up with the latest Hyundai Tucson platform, the new Sportage takes the good—nearly 18 percent more cargo space and roomier passenger space, thanks to a 1.2-inch wheelbase stretch and 1.6-inch length increase—with the bad, which is 600 more pounds. EPA mileage is a middling 20-23/23-30 mpg city/highway. The Sportage maintains its fun, stylish image. LX and EX trim levels come with a 181-hp, 2.4-liter I-4. The SX Turbo, which gets larger brakes and firmer damping, ups the ante to $33,395, and its 2.0-liter engine is rated at 240 hp with FWD and 237 hp with AWD (a $1,500 option on all trim levels). All come with a six-speed automatic.

While hp and torque have been reduced in the SX Turbo, torque delivery is broader and comes earlier. This is still a crossover, but it’s enjoyable to drive, with well-controlled body motions. But if you crave a Sportage for its ability to make Costco runs in style, stick with the 2.4-liter LX or EX.

Smart Fortwo Cabrio

Smart Fortwo Cabrio

On sale: Now
Base price: $18,000 (est)

How many times have you said to yourself, “If only the new Smart Fortwo were available as a convertible, I’d buy one”? Never? Well, that hasn’t stopped Smart from launching the Fortwo Cabrio, an open-top version of its third-generation city car. The electrically operated roof retracts in about 12 seconds, and it should withstand 500 trips through a car wash.

Equipped with the same 89-hp, 100-lb-ft, 0.9-liter turbocharged I-3 as the coupe version, the Fortwo Cabrio will also be available with the same five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch gearboxes. The convertible top assembly adds about 176 pounds to the curb weight, meaning not only is it half a second slower from 0 to 60 mph (taking around 10.6 sec), it’s also about 1 mpg less fuel efficient.

Toyota C HR

Toyota C-HR

On sale: Fall
Base price: $22,500 (est)

We’ve been following the development of the Toyota C-HR for some time now and finally saw the production version earlier this year at the Geneva auto show. Originally slated for sale in the U.S. as a Scion, the death of Toyota’s sub-brand means the crossover will instead greet buyers in Toyota showrooms.

The C-HR is designed to go head to head with Nissan’s surprise sales standout, the funky-looking Juke, which explains the Toyota’s heavily stylized sheetmetal. We expect the little crossover to also direct some buyers away from other micro-utes such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3.

Built on the same New Global Architecture platform as the third-generation Prius, Toyota initially will offer the C-HR with a version of that car’s 1.8-liter hybrid powertrain. A standard powertrain is said to follow, but it likely won’t be the tiny 1.2-liter turbo I-4 scheduled for Europe. Plan on a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four instead, paired to a CVT and either front- or all-wheel drive.

Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $19,000 (est)

The redesigned 2017 Subaru Impreza features a sharp exterior design and additional power, and it’s underpinned by an all-new global platform. Subaru will offer four versions of the Impreza, including a high-performance 2.0i Sport model available as a sedan or wagon.

Engineers added another inch to the Impreza’s wheelbase to reach 105.1 inches and 1.6 inches to the car’s overall length. For stability, Subaru lowered the car’s height by 0.4 inch and widened the track by 1.5 inches. Add in a 70 percent more rigid chassis, and the new Impreza should handle better than the outgoing model. Subaru’s signature 2.0-liter boxer engine adds direct injection to boost
its horsepower to 152 (up from 148) and is mated to a CVT. The performance model includes a seven-speed manual-mode function.

The Impreza will include Subaru’s EyeSight system bundling adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and sway warning. There is also lane keeping assistance, blind-spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $24,900 (est)

The Ioniq is a forward-thinking hatchback offered three ways: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all electric. Hyundai’s simple approach is quite sensible, using one general body style and platform to cradle three green powertrains.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Ioniq have a single electric motor housed between the 1.6-liter inline-four engine and the dual-clutch transmission, which works with the hybrid system’s electric motor to help buffer out the typical shuddering produced by dry dual-clutch transmissions when accelerating from a stop.

The all-electric Ioniq required a fair amount of rejiggering due to its bespoke powertrain. Whereas the hybrid and plug-in hybrid use a multilink rear suspension, the all-electric model employs a torsion-beam rear end so that its larger 20-kWh battery pack can fit under the rear passenger seats. Dealers in all 50 states will sell the hybrid Ioniq, while the plug-in hybrid and all-electric Ioniqs will be stocked in the 10 ZHEV states and available nationwide by special order.

$25k-$35K

Honda Ridgeline

Honda Ridgeline

On sale: Now
Base price: $30,375

From the moment the first-gen Ridgeline appeared in 2006, some questioned whether it was really a truck. But it found a following, and the new 2017 version takes Honda’s reinvention of the pickup to the next level, even as it adopts a more conventional exterior.

The Ridgeline does a lot of trucklike things well, such as towing up to 5,000 pounds. Honda brags about the Ridgeline’s list of “segment leading” features: the 1,584-pound payload capacity, 50-inch width between wheelwells in the bed, a long list of standard and available safety options, and triple-sealed cabin quietness. Against its supposed competitors, the Ridgeline chalks many spec-sheet victories. And thanks to its four-wheel independent suspension, carlike interior, soft yet supportive seats, and torque-vectoring rear wheels on all-wheel-drive models, it drives more like a well-balanced, comfort-minded sedan.

All 2017 Ridgelines come in only four-door cab and short-bed form, with a single engine, Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the standard six-speed automatic transmission with multidisc lockup-clutch torque converter, the Ridgeline’s engine feels strong.

The Ridgeline is available in two-wheel and all-wheel drive, but as before and unlike traditional trucks, it is front-drive-based. In AWD form, the Ridgeline is primarily front-drive too, but it can send up to 70 percent of torque rearward when needed. The new model’s torque-vectoring AWD system is 46 percent faster than before in engaging the rear wheels and has 20 percent more torque capacity.

Whip down a rough dirt road, and the Ridgeline can run with two of the best of the current midsize truck segment—the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma. We know because we drove them back to back on a range of off-road courses. Will the Ridgeline fare as well as the Chevy or the Toyota at Moab or crossing the Rubicon? Probably not, but it will go more places than 95 percent of the owners of any of the three trucks will ever dare. And its suite of safety technologies bests the offerings from GM and Toyota, the Honda boasting adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, and more.

The Ridgeline’s bed has a trunk built beneath it, as well as other integrated features, but one drawback is that the tailgate and bed floor are noticeably higher than the Colorado and Tacoma—which can make it tougher to get items up and into the bed, especially for shorter users.

Honda isn’t aiming to poach buyers from the midsize truck crowd. Instead, it’s looking squarely at the crossover market. If you hold prejudices that dictate what a truck’s nationality should be—this one’s built in Alabama, by the way—or how it should be made or what it should look like, un-truck yourself. Give the Ridgeline a look.

Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica

On sale: Now
Base price: $29,590

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles deserves kudos for staying the course and introducing the Pacifica, Chrysler’s all-new, sixth-generation minivan. The stylish Pacifica offers a choice of seating for six, seven, or eight; it’s also the best-driving Chrysler people-mover yet, thanks in large part to a new architecture developed from the ground up. There’s tech aplenty, including multiple TV screens, individual controls, and entertainment options.

The Pacifica’s appearance treads toward crossover territory, but with its convenient, foot-operated electric sliding side doors, improved Stow ’n Go seating, and all that gear in the rear to keep the peanut gallery entertained, we are deep in the feature-laden heart of minivan country. The good-looking interiors are hip; even better is the fact that the Pacifica is good to drive. Credit an all-new trailing-arm, independent rear suspension—not to mention weighing up to 250 pounds less than its predecessor, thanks to an aluminum hood and sliding doors, a magnesium liftgate inner, and extensive use of high-strength steel.

Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, Chrysler’s upgraded 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 has a modest bump in power, to 287 hp and 262 lb-ft, but it feels more refined. If you’re looking to go greener, a plug-in hybrid version arrives this fall.

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $30,195 (est)

Development of the last-generation Camaro’s 1LE performance package came about unexpectedly; the last SS model had horrible on-track understeer, so Chevy created a $3,500 1LE looks-and-suspension upgrade for the V-8 model to address the issue. Even though the all-new, sixth-gen Camaro sorted out most of its predecessor’s shortcomings, Chevy figured buyers would want the popular 1LE package, which once again includes a matte black hood, unique spoilers, and upgrades to the wheels, tires, brakes, and cooling. The new kit is now even more desirable because this time out it also cribs the Corvette Stingray’s magnetorheological suspension and electronically controlled rear differential.

The package is also more accessible: Manual-equipped V-6 Camaros can now benefit from upgraded suspension components, too. Unfortunately there’s no 1LE for the new turbo-four Camaro, but we expect Chevy will soon bring out a higher-performance variant of that car.

Buick LaCrosse

Buick LaCrosse

On sale: Now 
Base price: $32,990

If you liked Buick’s 2015 Avenir concept, you’ll be delighted to see the brand has incorporated several styling touches from that show car into the all-new 2017 LaCrosse sedan. The LaCrosse is longer and lower than the car it replaces, while shedding 300 pounds through increased use of high-strength steel, among other changes. A new five-link rear suspension, optional adaptive-damping system, and reduced ride height hopefully mean sharper handling to boot.

An all-new version of GM’s 3.6-liter V-6—an engine used in GM’s product range from Chevy to Cadillac—serves duty underhood, pushing out 305 hp and 268 lb-ft in the LaCrosse, with an eight-speed automatic doing the shifting. Cylinder deactivation and stop-start tech help save fuel, and an optional twin-clutch, all-wheel-drive system is available. The LaCrosse’s interior features upscale leather and wood with a renewed focus on keeping all touch points soft and comfortable. Despite a longer wheelbase, rear legroom shrinks slightly. A host of safety tech, including automatic park assist and pedestrian detection, is available, as is wireless phone charging, a head-up display, and either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat 124 Spider

On sale: Now
Base price: $25,990

Fiat Chrysler’s global head of design Ralph Gilles is heralding the reborn 124 Spider as “the anti-commodity [Fiat needs] right now.” He’s right that the once-spirited Italian brand’s stable is about as bland as plain yogurt, and the 124 Spider has an ace in the hole: It shares its platform with the tossable, enjoyable Mazda MX-5 Miata. And perhaps the Spider’s place on the production line in Hiroshima will put to rest concerns from classic Fiat owners, many of whom are probably digging through their garage for the old toolbox.

The 124 Spider has unique sheetmetal, interior pieces, spring and shock tuning, and its own turbocharged MultiAir 1.4-liter engine with 164 horsepower backed by either a six-speed manual or automatic. It’s a bit heavier than its donor car, yet that’ll hardly be a big concern for most of its prospective buyers. Fiat is also offering a spicier Abarth variant for those who love a rowdy exhaust as much as they hate their neighbors.

GMC Acadia

GMC Acadia

On sale: Now
Base price: $29,995

The new GMC Acadia is significantly lighter, more sophisticated, and more crossover-like in design than the model it’s replacing. In the first major overhaul to the Acadia this decade, GMC was able to shave up to 700 pounds off the new model, thanks largely to the use of a new GM crossover platform with a much smaller overall footprint than before.

The big weight reduction allowed engineers to add a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 194 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. But the engine to get is the 310-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that creates 271 lb-ft of torque. It hits 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Both models use a six-speed automatic transmission and start-stop technology to improve city mileage.

The Acadia maintains its comfy interior with a 50/50-split third row for abundant storage. The optional captain’s chairs in the second row are worth the investment, especially if your growing teens need extra space. They will also appreciate the USB plugs in all three rows to keep personal devices charged.

Kia NIRO

Kia NIRO

On sale: Early 2017
Base price: $27,000 (est)

Though the Niro is the first model unveiled on Hyundai Motor Group’s new DE dedicated hybrid platform, the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid will beat it to market by a few months. Niro’s advantage is it will be marketed as a crossover, though it will be front-wheel-drive only. But it looks more like a tall hatchback. The Niro is motivated by a 1.6-liter I-4 with a 43-hp electric motor for a total output of 146 hp and 195 lb-ft, with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission doing the shifting. Because the Niro is heavier than the Ioniq sedan, Kia expects 50-plus mpg to the Hyundai sedan’s 56 mpg.

The powertrain’s slickest feature is Predictive Energy Control, which uses the navigation system to optimize battery recharging downhill while “expending” energy going uphill, so it will rely on the gas engine for high loads. Kia says the Niro’s hybrid powertrain will feature smooth transitions from electric stop-start mode to EV mode to full internal-combustion power.

Toyota 86

Toyota 86

On sale: Fall
Base price: $26,500 (est)

The Scion FR-S has died along with the Scion brand, but the car lives on as the improved Toyota 86. The brilliant little coupe’s new name is in line with the FT86 and GT86 badges the car wears in other parts of the world, and it references the 2.0-liter flat-four’s “square” 86-mm bore and stroke. Revisions to the boxer engine have wrought the sports car’s first power gains since its 2014 launch. Output is now 205 hp and 156 lb-ft on manual-equipped cars, while the final-drive ratio is shorter. The paddle-shift automatic version soldiers on with 200 hp and 151 lb-ft. Other changes include revised spring/damper rates to give the 86 a little more body control, hopefully without taking away its tail-happy attitude. All the other standard mid-cycle refresh items are here, too, such as restyled front and rear ends and new wheels.

Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander

On sale: Fall
Base price: $31,500 (est)

Efficiency is the name of the game for the refreshed 2017 Toyota Highlander. While the standard Highlander retains its 2.7-liter I-4, an all-new 3.5-liter, direct-injected V-6 good for “significantly more” power replaces the outgoing V-6 of the same displacement. Six-cylinder models also lose the old six-speed in favor of a new eight-speed automatic. Fuel economy should improve from the current V-6’s 19/25 mpg city/highway.

Those looking for maximum fuel savings will still want to opt for the hybrid V-6 powertrain mated to a CVT. For 2017, Toyota is making it easier to get into a Highlander Hybrid by expanding the available trim range from Limited and Platinum spec to less feature-heavy LE and XLE grades.

In addition to minor styling changes and unique upper front grilles for all trim levels, Toyota has packed the 2017 Highlander with more features, including four extra USB ports and the Toyota Safety Sense package. It bundles pre-collision and lane departure warning with adaptive cruise control and auto high beams. Lastly, a new SE trim level includes 19-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension, among other cosmetic touches.

Mazda MX 5 Miata RF

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF – 12x All-Star Winner

On sale: Early 2017
Base price: $31,500 (est)

Like many hotly anticipated sports cars, each new-generation MX-5 Miata tends to sell well out the gate, only to dwindle as time goes on. Additionally, some 60 percent of last-gen Miatas were sold with a power hardtop, so there was no way Mazda was going to keep its roadster soft-top only. But instead of going the same hardtop route as before, Mazda broke with tradition by building the Miata Retractable Fastback, which isn’t really a roadster at all.

Heresy or not, the power-folding targa-style coupe looks like an all-new car, and that’s probably a smart move. Its elegant rear buttresses and more premium interior, complete with exclusive Nappa leather and improved sound deadening, could lure new customers who have only thought of the Miata as a cheap convertible in the past. The folding top adds about 100 pounds without sacrificing any precious trunk space. Otherwise it’s the same Miata we know and love, which is a good thing indeed.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan

On sale: Summer 2017
Base price: $25,500 (est)

Volkswagen’s first-generation Tiguan compact crossover was a nice-driving vehicle in its segment, but it never quite caught on with U.S. buyers, be it due to inadequate marketing, non-competitive pricing, or other factors. The second-gen hopes to buck that trend; Volkswagen says it is expanding the Tiguan’s reach in an effort to capture more crossover buyers.

VW’s method will be to introduce a whole lineup of Tiguan body styles. The so-called long-wheelbase version is the one likely to arrive in the U.S. first and will be built in both VW’s Chinese and Mexican plants. Slightly larger than the outgoing Tiguan and stuffed with three rows of seating, it will likely feature a choice of either a 1.8- or a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.

In Europe, a short-wheelbase, raked-roof Tiguan Coupe is being developed with a possible R performance model to follow, but we’re unlikely to see either one in the States.

The Tiguan is an important vehicle for VW given the ultra-hot crossover market, but whether the all-new version is able to win back VW customers in the U.S. and help stop the fiscal hemorrhaging spawned by the automaker’s diesel scandal remains to be seen.

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

On sale: Fall
Base price: $31,000 (est)

Any car that features an iPad-sized screen on its center stack always garners praise from the media, and the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid is no exception. But what’s far more impressive is the Prime’s 600 miles of total range and a battery pack that can carry the car 22 miles on electric power only; that’s more than double the range of the previous Prius plug-in.

The Prius Prime drives first on electricity from the 8.8-kWh battery pack and then, using a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, it operates like a traditional hybrid. The Prius Prime will also feature what Toyota calls the dual motor generator drive system, which uses both the electric motor and generator to drive the car to improve acceleration.

The Prius Prime advances one of the most recognizable profiles on the road with its more powerful-looking front end. The interior is equally impressive, with an eye-catching central-mounted gauge display at the top of the dash. Then there’s that 11.6-inch, high-definition tablet. It will let you run a suite of special Prime apps. This Prius can also nearly drive itself and park itself too. But it’s the tablet on the dash everyone will notice. They always do.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Fall
Base price: $34,990 (est)

What separated the standard Tacoma TRD and the TRD Pro when Toyota released the package in 2014 were factory-installed upgraded Bilstein shocks, new front springs, a front skidplate, and a ton of other cosmetic items. Toyota looks to keep that theme alive with the new TRD Pro. Adding to the existing TRD trim level, the TRD Pro is for those who want to go farther off the beaten track—and beat it up.

The TRD Pro is available only as a double-cab, four-wheel-drive, short-bed option with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine and either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. It features TRD-specific wheels wrapped in Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires, TRD springs with a 1.0-inch lift, Fox shocks, and an electronically locking rear differential.

It also receives a front quarter-inch aluminum skidplate and fender cladding to protect from rocks and debris. As in all Tacoma models, the TRD comes complete with a built-in GoPro camera to record your off-road adventures.

Nissan Titan

Nissan Titan

On sale: Fall
Base price: $28,500 (est)

Unveiled at the New York auto show earlier this year, the new half-ton 2017 Nissan Titan is the heavy-duty Titan XD’s volume-market sibling, designed to go up against the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra.

Far from just a rescaled XD, the standard Titan contains many parts unique to this version. The frame is different from the XD’s, and its overall length is 14.7 inches shorter, which should make the Titan easier to maneuver in urban settings, despite a cab size and overall width that’s identical between the two. Five trim levels, from S to Platinum Reserve, and 5.5-, 6.5- and 8-foot bed lengths are available. At launch, the Titan will only be sold with the XD’s optional 5.6-liter V-8 with 390 hp and 401 lb-ft, but down the road Nissan will add a smaller V-6 engine to the half-ton lineup. The V-8 is paired to a seven-speed automatic, and the Titan can be had with rear- or four-wheel drive.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe

On sale: Now
Base price: $31,695

The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport boast 350 new parts. Both get new front and rear fascias, a more aerodynamic brushed-metal grille, and restyled wheels and side skirts, among other items. Inside, each Santa Fe model adds a rearview camera to its standard equipment list, while the Santa Fe Sport gets an optional 7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto. The latter system is now standard in the three-row Santa Fe, which also gets a third-row USB charging port. Like last year’s new Sonata, Santa Fe models get a power reduction, with the Sport’s 2.4-liter I-4 dropping 5 hp to 185 hp and the 2.0-liter turbo I-4 in the Santa Fe losing 25 hp to wind up at 240 hp. The changes, Hyundai says, broaden the midrange torque band and improve fuel economy up to 2 mpg.

Under 25k

Ford Escape

Ford Escape

On sale: Now
Base price: $24,495

Demand for compact crossovers is on track to approach 40 percent of the automotive marketplace within the decade, and Ford has every intention of maintaining and growing its strong share of this red-hot segment with the refreshed 2017 Escape. It gains two new engines: a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four making 179 hp and delivering 23/30 mpg city/highway (FWD) and a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four with 245 hp that delivers similar mileage.

The revised Escape’s driving dynamics are almost identical to that of the outgoing model, which Ford says is deliberate because buyers had no concerns with how the Escape behaved. Additionally, Ford says crossover shoppers care less about the engine’s size and power and more about features and technology. To that end, the Escape delivers a host of connectivity and technology options, including Sync Connect, Sync 3, and FordPass.

The Escape is the company’s second-best-selling vehicle behind the almighty F-150, but it’s engaged in a cold war with other brands as offerings in the segment proliferate. The latest updates should help keep the Escape more than competitive.

Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet Cruze

On sale: Fall 
Base price: $22,190

The second-generation Chevrolet Cruze, now available as a hatchback, features sleeker lines and a new version of GM’s 1.4-liter turbo-four that produces 153 hp and 177 lb-ft, backed by a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. It shed 250 pounds during its makeover and will now reach 42 mpg on the highway, according to Chevy. It comes standard with start-stop technology to help improve its city fuel economy as well. And its best-in-class wheelbase length of 106.3 inches helps make for a remarkably smooth ride on the highway.

Outside, its pointed nose and sharper character lines lend the Cruze a more futuristic look. Inside, it adds loads of technology such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to allow drivers to operate their smartphone via the center stack’s 7-inch touchscreen. It’s also available with blind-spot detection, lane keeping assistance, wireless phone charging, and OnStar’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.

While the Cruze has been a solid offering in the fiercely competitive compact sedan segment, the new-for-2017 hatchback model might have what it takes to make it all the way to the top of buyers’ shopping lists.

Kia Forte

Kia Forte / Forte5

On sale: Now
Base price: $17,340

A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission option in the hatchback and a new engine lineup are part of a major face-lift of the Kia Forte sedan and Forte5 hatchback for the 2017 model year. Base and LX sedans now come with a port-injection, 147-hp, 2.0-liter I-4, while the Forte EX and Forte5 LX and EX feature a gasoline direct-injection, Atkinson-cycle, 164-hp 2.0-liter. The Forte5 SX is powered by a 1.6-liter gas direct-injection turbo-four. At press time, EPA estimates listed the 2017 direct-injection 2.0-liter Forte sedan with a six-speed automatic at 25/33 mpg city/highway. A new S trim level slides between the Forte LX and EX sedans, adding a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip. The EX comes with 17-inch wheels, LED taillamps, and a smart key. Available options on the sedan include rear cross-traffic alert, front collision warning, dynamic bending lights, and autonomous emergency braking.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now 
Base price: $22,995

After decades of letting its models age without significant updates, Ford proved it would do a much better job at refreshes with the 2010 Fusion, which turned out to be much more than just a minor touch-up of the original 2007 model. While Fusion version 2.5, a face-lift of the second-generation midsize sedan, isn’t as extensive, with its Aston Martin-esque grille intact above a reworked lower fascia, it doesn’t need to be.

Upgrades include an electronic dial to control the six-speed automatic as in its Lincoln MKZ platform sibling, an angle-parking feature added to its parallel parking assist, and a new Platinum trim level adapted from the European Ford Mondeo Vignale, further encroaching on Lincoln MKZ territory.

The Fusion carries on with five powertrain options, front- or all-wheel drive, and hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. The new Fusion Sport comes with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 (see “Lincoln territory”). Although we didn’t get to drive the Sport model during the ’17 Fusion’s introduction in May, we called the car the “BMW of consumer-grade sedans.” For 2017, the popular Fusion SE starts at $23,995, the Sport is $34,350, and an Energi Platinum plug-in hybrid starts at $39,995 before federal tax incentives.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic – 2x All-Star Winner

On sale: Now
Base price: $19,475

For now, the new Civic comes in three distinct flavors: a sedan, a coupe, and the soon-to-arrive hatchback. It has two excellent engine options, with a base direct-injection, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder and the 2.0-liter port-injected i-VTEC, paired with either a six-speed manual or a CVT.

Honda added almost 3 inches to the Civic sedan’s length, more than an inch to the wheelbase and nearly 2 inches to its width in an effort to give it even more stable performance. The coupe now shares the same wheelbase and width but is more than 5 inches shorter. The ride is smooth, the handling sharp, the styling muscular. And the Civic’s reputation for reliability should help it stay atthe top of the sales charts.

Fuel economy is another area where Honda excels. With the 1.5-liter engine, the sedan gets 31/42 mpg city/highway, the coupe 31/41 mpg. While the exterior is the polar opposite of the outgoing model, the interior remains sleek, well built, and comfortable. A tray at the base of the center stack will hold your cellphone and allow you to plug it into a USB port easily.

Included in Honda’s Sensing Package are a number of technologies such as adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, and even a low-speed follow system designed to help take the grind out of gridlock.

Chevrolet Trax

Chevrolet Trax

On sale: Fall 
Base price: $21,000 (est)

The original Chevrolet Trax always felt like it was a quickly cobbled together, tiny SUV thrown onto the scene to grab customers. The exterior was boxy, and the interior felt cheap. But Chevy got what it wanted: the second-best-selling compact crossover in America.

The 2017 Trax has matured with more thoughtfulness inside and out. The interior is more refined, with a true dual-cockpit design more in line with Chevrolet’s other offerings.

There’s a redesigned center stack with a new 7-inch display, and GM’s OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot-spot system is now available.

While the Trax carries over its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, its exterior adopts a front end more in line with the rest of the Chevy family, sharing a similar grille and headlights. It keeps its chunky body, which lends it a more rugged look, but it should maintain its solid ride.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

On sale: Now
Base price: $23,885

By catching up with the latest Hyundai Tucson platform, the new Sportage takes the good—nearly 18 percent more cargo space and roomier passenger space, thanks to a 1.2-inch wheelbase stretch and 1.6-inch length increase—with the bad, which is 600 more pounds. EPA mileage is a middling 20-23/23-30 mpg city/highway. The Sportage maintains its fun, stylish image. LX and EX trim levels come with a 181-hp, 2.4-liter I-4. The SX Turbo, which gets larger brakes and firmer damping, ups the ante to $33,395, and its 2.0-liter engine is rated at 240 hp with FWD and 237 hp with AWD (a $1,500 option on all trim levels). All come with a six-speed automatic.

While hp and torque have been reduced in the SX Turbo, torque delivery is broader and comes earlier. This is still a crossover, but it’s enjoyable to drive, with well-controlled body motions. But if you crave a Sportage for its ability to make Costco runs in style, stick with the 2.4-liter LX or EX.

Smart Fortwo Cabrio

Smart Fortwo Cabrio

On sale: Now
Base price: $18,000 (est)

How many times have you said to yourself, “If only the new Smart Fortwo were available as a convertible, I’d buy one”? Never? Well, that hasn’t stopped Smart from launching the Fortwo Cabrio, an open-top version of its third-generation city car. The electrically operated roof retracts in about 12 seconds, and it should withstand 500 trips through a car wash.

Equipped with the same 89-hp, 100-lb-ft, 0.9-liter turbocharged I-3 as the coupe version, the Fortwo Cabrio will also be available with the same five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch gearboxes. The convertible top assembly adds about 176 pounds to the curb weight, meaning not only is it half a second slower from 0 to 60 mph (taking around 10.6 sec), it’s also about 1 mpg less fuel efficient.

Toyota C HR

Toyota C-HR

On sale: Fall
Base price: $22,500 (est)

We’ve been following the development of the Toyota C-HR for some time now and finally saw the production version earlier this year at the Geneva auto show. Originally slated for sale in the U.S. as a Scion, the death of Toyota’s sub-brand means the crossover will instead greet buyers in Toyota showrooms.

The C-HR is designed to go head to head with Nissan’s surprise sales standout, the funky-looking Juke, which explains the Toyota’s heavily stylized sheetmetal. We expect the little crossover to also direct some buyers away from other micro-utes such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3.

Built on the same New Global Architecture platform as the third-generation Prius, Toyota initially will offer the C-HR with a version of that car’s 1.8-liter hybrid powertrain. A standard powertrain is said to follow, but it likely won’t be the tiny 1.2-liter turbo I-4 scheduled for Europe. Plan on a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four instead, paired to a CVT and either front- or all-wheel drive.

Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza – 1x All-Star Winner

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $19,000 (est)

The redesigned 2017 Subaru Impreza features a sharp exterior design and additional power, and it’s underpinned by an all-new global platform. Subaru will offer four versions of the Impreza, including a high-performance 2.0i Sport model available as a sedan or wagon.

Engineers added another inch to the Impreza’s wheelbase to reach 105.1 inches and 1.6 inches to the car’s overall length. For stability, Subaru lowered the car’s height by 0.4 inch and widened the track by 1.5 inches. Add in a 70 percent more rigid chassis, and the new Impreza should handle better than the outgoing model. Subaru’s signature 2.0-liter boxer engine adds direct injection to boost
its horsepower to 152 (up from 148) and is mated to a CVT. The performance model includes a seven-speed manual-mode function.

The Impreza will include Subaru’s EyeSight system bundling adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and sway warning. There is also lane keeping assistance, blind-spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq

On sale: Late 2016
Base price: $24,900 (est)

The Ioniq is a forward-thinking hatchback offered three ways: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all electric. Hyundai’s simple approach is quite sensible, using one general body style and platform to cradle three green powertrains.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Ioniq have a single electric motor housed between the 1.6-liter inline-four engine and the dual-clutch transmission, which works with the hybrid system’s electric motor to help buffer out the typical shuddering produced by dry dual-clutch transmissions when accelerating from a stop.

The all-electric Ioniq required a fair amount of rejiggering due to its bespoke powertrain. Whereas the hybrid and plug-in hybrid use a multilink rear suspension, the all-electric model employs a torsion-beam rear end so that its larger 20-kWh battery pack can fit under the rear passenger seats. Dealers in all 50 states will sell the hybrid Ioniq, while the plug-in hybrid and all-electric Ioniqs will be stocked in the 10 ZHEV states and available nationwide by special order.

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About jaydt_PH

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