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cars.com On the Road Weekly Publication

By Jim Gorzelany

CTW Features

With New Year's in the rearview mirror, here's a look at what to expect among the 2012 models.

• Audi A7. This sleek “four-door coupe” is a more expressive looking hatchback alternative to the A6. Like that model it comes powered by a lively 310-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and offers Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system for traction on wet or dry roads. Myriad high-tech features include a navigation system that allows users to enter destinations via fingertip handwriting recognition.

MSRP: $59,250

• Buick Verano. Buick’s newest and smallest sedan is a plusher version of the compact Chevrolet Cruze. A standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 180-hp. Standard amenities are plentiful and include 10 air bags; the car also packs full smartphone connectivity with the ability to stream audio tracks directly from Internet music services. A heated steering wheel is among its top-shelf options.

MSRP: $23,470.

• Chevrolet Sonic. The subcompact Sonic sedan and hatchback replaces the discontinued Chevy Aveo with added style and sophistication. Its aggressive exterior and interior styling borrows visual cues from motorcycles. With handling that’s surprisingly sporty, the Sonic packs a choice of either a standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine or a quicker 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged version. Available features include a remote starter and heated front seats.

MSRP: $13,735.

• Hyundai Veloster. While not exactly a sports car, the Veloster is entertaining in its own right. It comes wrapped in sleek coupe-like styling that hides a rear door on the passenger’s side for easier access to the back seat. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine generates a sufficient 138-hp, and the Veloster is reasonably lively in turns. It offers Internet music streaming from an iPhone and Hyundai’s new Blue Link communications system.

MSRP: $17,300.

• Mitsubishi i. The egg-shaped all-electric Mitsubishi i boasts a range of roughly 80 miles on a charge from either a 120- or 240-volt circuit that should be sufficient for most commuters. The four-passenger compact provides decent interior space with all the basic amenities, and qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit to help offset the otherwise near-luxury-car cost.

MSRP: $29,125.

• Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Smaller and far sportier than any other Range Rover, the expressively styled compact Evoque comes in both two- and four-door versions. It packs a punch with a 240-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. All-wheel-drive is standard and includes a multi-terrain mode; the optional MagneRide suspension is the same technology offered in Corvettes and Ferraris. An available surround camera gives a 360-degree view around the car for easier and safer parking.

MSRP: $43,145.

• Scion IQ. The ultra-mini IQ hatchback coupe is small even by subcompact car standards, being suited mainly for city dwellers requiring economical transportation in a park-anywhere package. It features modern, almost mechanical-looking styling with oddly aligned seating for three adults and one small child or a parcel. The rear seat backs can fold flat to accommodate a modest amount of cargo. A 1.3-liter engine generates just 94 hp, but boasts 37 mpg.

MSRP: $15,265.

• Toyota Prius V. The second gas/electric model in Toyota’s expanding hybrid car line is a longer wagon-like alternative to the standard Prius that seats five passengers with added interior room and cargo capacity. It teams a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor/generator to net 134 hp, with a frugal 44-city/40-highway mpg. It features Toyota’s Entune multimedia system that includes support for mobile apps via Bluetooth smartphones and offers many upscale features.

MSRP: $26,400.


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