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Automakers are going back to the future in 2012

Everything old is new again.
Image: 012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
The fifth generation of the BMW M5 premium sports sedan is set to go on sale in the spring. It will will have the most powerful engine ever fitted in a series-produced BMWAP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Everything old is new again.

Revamped versions of some of America's best-known cars — the Toyota Camry, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford Taurus, the Volkswagen Beetle, the BMW 3 Series — are all going on sale in the 2012 model year. The industry hopes that as buyers trickle back after the economic slump, they'll be delighted by new styling, significantly better fuel economy and, in the Camry's case, lower prices.

While gas prices have moderated since the spring, automakers say efficiency remains one of buyers' top considerations, and they'll have plenty of new gas sippers to choose from.

The new Chevrolet Sonic subcompact and redesigned Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa and Kia Rio are all expected to get close to 40 miles per gallon. Toyota is releasing the Prius V, a wagon version of its wildly popular Prius hybrid, that's expected to get 43 mpg. There will be several new small cars on the market, including the Mini Coupe, Scion iQ, an as-yet-unnamed Dodge and the sporty Hyundai Veloster.

And for those who don't want to use any gas at all, electric carmaker Tesla will be bringing out an all-electric family sedan called the Model S, while Ford will release an all-electric Focus.

But driving enthusiasts, take heart. There will be plenty of brawn on the market, too. The 2012 Jaguar XKR-S coupe is one of the fastest Jaguars ever built, capable of accelerating to 100 miles per hour in 8.7 seconds. Jeep is releasing the Grand Cherokee SRT8, a performance version with a 470-horsepower Hemi V-8. The fifth generation of the BMW M5 sports sedan boasts a 560-horsepower V-8. Even the little Fiat 500 will be getting an Abarth sport edition.

Here is a rundown of new cars that will go on the market between now and next fall:

TL: Refreshed 2012 version went on sale last spring. Gets new front and rear styling, noise and vibration improvements and a six-speed automatic transmission. City fuel economy goes to 20 miles per gallon and highway to 29, an increase of 3 mpg over the 2011 model. Base price is $36,490 including shipping.

A6: The big luxury sedan is all new for 2012 with styling that matches the rest of the German automaker's car lineup. The company used aluminum body panels and a steel frame to cut weight by 78 pounds from its predecessor. The new version also has an aluminum suspension. It will be powered by two engines, a 3-liter supercharged V-6 with 310 horsepower and a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 211 horsepower. Prices start at $42,595 including shipping.

A7: The five-door fastback coupe also is all new for 2012, powered by a 310-horsepower V-6 engine and standard all-wheel-drive. It also has aluminum and steel construction and comes standard with 18-inch wheels, all-season tires and a leather interior. Prices start at $60,125 including shipping.

A8: Gets a 6.3-liter 12-cylinder engine with 500 horsepower.

TT RS: Gets the RS nameplate in the United States with a turbocharged 360-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that goes from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds. The RS starts at $57,725 including shipping.

Continental GT: Bentley has fiddled with the V-12 engine on the Continental GT coupe to squeeze out 15 more horsepower, bringing it to a total of 567. What else would you expect from a six-liter engine that gets 19 mpg on the highway? The GT can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 198 mph. Inside, there's a new 8-inch touchscreen in the dash with navigation and other controls, and luxury touches like hand-sewn, fluted leather seats. The GT starts at $189,900.

M5: The fifth generation of this premium sports sedan is set to go on sale in the spring. The new M5 will have the most powerful engine ever fitted in a series-produced BMW mated to a new, seven-speed double clutch transmission. The V-8 is expected to get up to 560 horsepower, 10 percent more than its predecessor, and 500 pound feet of torque, a 30 percent increase. But BMW says fuel economy will improve 30 percent. A driver's footrest and standard iDrive 10-inch dashboard control screen are among the standard perks. Pricing and exact fuel economy will be released closer to the M5's arrival in dealerships.

3 SERIES: An all-new 3 Series midsize sedan is scheduled to be released this spring as a 2013 model. Few details are available, although spy photos have been popping up on the Internet. BMW is expected to offer a turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine on the entry-level 328i, instead of a V-6. It's expected to get more horsepower and torque than the current V-6, but will get far better fuel economy. Pricing hasn't been announced, but the current 3 Series starts at $34,600.

VERANO: The luxury version of the Chevrolet Cruze aimed at the Lexus IS 250 and Acura TSX goes on sale in the fall of 2012. It's powered by the same 2.4-liter, 177 horsepower, four-cylinder engine as the Regal, with a zero-to-60 time of eight seconds and an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. A turbocharged 2-liter engine will come later. General Motors promises that the car will be among the quietest in its class. It's starting price is $23,470 including shipping.

General Motors' luxury brand is getting a little stale, but help is coming in the 2012 model year in two key market segments where it does not now compete.

ATS: The ATS, a rear-drive small car aimed squarely at the BMW 3 Series, will debut in the summer. GM hasn't released many details, but teaser pictures look like a shrunken Cadillac CTS sports sedan with a high rear and sloping hood. We're not sure what will power the thing, but there has been speculation about a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder and a 3.8-liter V6. GM says the car has to perform, handle and ride better than the BMW, and its engineers are working to make sure that comes true. No price was released, but it's expected to come in under the lowest-price 3 Series sedan, the 328i, which starts at $34,600.

XTS: Cadillac hasn't had much to compete with in the big front-wheel-drive part of the market, but that also will change in the spring with the debut of the XTS. The car is likely to have a soft ride and probably won't be a road burner. GM executives have said it's aimed at the traditional Cadillac buyer, and that means senior citizens, few of whom value cornering and zero-to-60 times. But it's likely to get good gas mileage for its size. No details were released about engines, transmissions or price of the car, to be built in Ontario.

SONIC: The General gets serious about selling mini-cars in the U.S. for the first time with the Chevrolet Sonic, an Americanized version of a new tiny global vehicle. The Sonic comes as a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback, and it has the same engines as its bigger brother, the Chevrolet Cruze. That means the Sonic will be faster from zero to 60 and should get better gas mileage than the Cruze, upwards of 40 mpg on the highway. The base engine in the Sonic is GM's old 1.8-liter, 135 horsepower four banger. Drivers also can elect the Cruze's 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with 138 horsepower. Five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are available. GM engineers promise that the car will handle better than its main competitors, the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. With a base price of $14,495 including shipping, it's pricier than some competitors, but GM says it has more standard equipment, including 10 air bags, air conditioning and alloy wheels. It's due in showrooms this fall.

CAMARO: The all-powerful Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, equipped with massive 6.2-liter, 550-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine, is a new version of the venerable muscle car. General Motors borrowed the name from a 1960s all-aluminum racing engine. The ZL1, due out early in 2012, will look different from the existing Camaro with a new front grille and carbon fiber center section of the hood. The car will have a "track-ready" suspension, high-performance six-speed manual transmission and huge brakes. Performance numbers haven't been released, but the Cadillac CTS-V, with same engine, goes from zero to 60 mph (100 kph) in a crazy-fast 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 191 mph. No price has been announced.

MALIBU: An all-new midsize car built on European underpinnings comes out early next year as a 2013 model, replacing a car that was good in its day but has been passed up by the competition in the highly popular segment. GM says it will have an all-new, 190 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, which makes it more efficient than older engines. The company promises a wider, more athletic stance and handling that's comparable to more expensive sport sedans. GM also brags that it will have best-in-class aerodynamics for better fuel efficiency. Mileage for the base model hasn't been released yet. The current car gets 22 in the city and 33 on the highway. An eco version of the 2013 Malibu with GM's e-Assist technology, which shuts off the engine when the car stops for traffic lights and uses an electric motor to help it accelerate, is supposed to get 38 mpg on the highway and 26 in the city. It also has 10 air bags. GM has not released the price.

300 SRT8: The flagship brand gets a pavement-eating version of the 300 luxury sedan, powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with 470 horsepower. It's supposed to go from zero to 60 in the high 4-second range with a top speed of 175 mph. Chrysler promises great handling, too.

TOP-SECRET COMPACT: With the U.S. auto market moving toward compact cars for fuel economy and cost reasons, Dodge has been left at the curb with lackluster Caliber. But the new Chrysler-Fiat company is promising far better things with the debut of a new compact sedan in the second quarter of next year. The name hasn't been released yet, but it's code-named "PF," and it's based on the stylish Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The sporty Italian compact is powered by engines ranging from a 1.4-liter turbo with 120 horsepower to a 235 horsepower turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder. Alfa also has some small diesels powering the Giulietta, but it's unlikely they will come to the United States. Dodge has released no information on the car but says it will debut at the Detroit auto show in January.

VIPER: The ultimate roadster makes a comeback in 2012 after a one-year absence. Chrysler says it will look different from the 2010 version and will handle better with improvements to its chassis. Horsepower is likely to increase from the 2010 version, which had a whopping 600 with a special V-12 engine. The company has released little information on the car.

CHARGER SRT8: Gets a 470 horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that features 45 more horsepower and 50 more lb.-ft. of torque than its predecessor. Zero-to-60 time in the high 4-second range.

FIAT 500 ABARTH: Named for Italian race-car maker Abarth, which is now part of Fiat, the sportier version of the Fiat 500 is scheduled to go on sale in the United States in the first half of 2012. The 500 Abarth is currently sold in other countries with a 135-horsepower 1.4-liter engine, but the U.S. version could get Fiat's turbocharged 170-horsepower 1.4-liter. Fiat plans to announce more in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

FIAT 500 CABRIO: The 2012 Fiat Cabrio convertible went on sale earlier this summer. Its fully automatic cloth top can retract at speeds of up to 60 mph. Drivers can choose from three cloth top colors — red, black or tan — to go with the 14 exterior and 12 interior color combinations. The 101-horsepower, four-cylinder engine can get up to 38 mpg when paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The Cabrio starts at $19,500.

ELECTRIC FIAT 500: Fiat plans to sell an all-electric version of the Fiat 500 in the second half of 2012. No other details have been released.

FF: New for 2012, the FF is Ferrari's first four-wheel-drive car. The company says the FF also is its most powerful four-seater ever. It has a new 6.3-liter V-12 with 651 horsepower and can go from zero to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. The price hasn't been released, but Ferrari says it will be around $300,000.

ELECTRIC FOCUS: Ford's first all-electric car, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, goes on sale at the end of 2011. Ford hasn't said how many miles the car will be able to go on a charge, but says it will be competitive with other electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, which has a range of around 73 miles. Ford is also releasing the sporty Focus ST in the latter half of 2012, a specially tuned version with a turbocharged four-cylinder with 247 horsepower. Pricing on those models hasn't been announced.

TAURUS: Ford is releasing a redesigned Taurus sedan in the spring as a 2013 model. It's lower and wider, for a more aggressive look, and will have the MyFord Touch voice-activated entertainment and navigation system. It will also get Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which will give it 237 horsepower but keep fuel economy at 31 mpg.

VERTREK: Ford is expected to replace the boxy, aging Escape small SUV with a new small SUV in early 2012. The sleek Vertrek concept, introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, gave a strong hint at what it will look like, but Ford hasn't released other details.

CIVIC: Redesigned for 2012 but doesn't look dramatically different from the old model. New Civic has a re-engineered 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and boosts fuel economy. There's also a more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower in the Si performance version, and a new powertrain in the Civic Hybrid that boosts combined city-highway fuel economy to 44 mpg with a new lithium-ion battery. The gas-powered "HF" — or "high fuel economy" — model gets 41 mpg on the highway. Prices start at $16,355 for a stripped-down DX model, including shipping.

CR-V: The fourth generation of the small crossover SUV vehicle gets a redesign with a sleeker exterior and improvements that make it more fuel efficient. Details haven't been released, but the new CR-V goes on sale in late 2011.

PILOT: The venerable people hauler gets an update with sleeker styling and better gas mileage due to aerodynamic refinements. Goes on sale in September. Further information wasn't released. Prices start at $29,280 including shipping.

ACCENT: The revamped fourth-generation subcompact went on sale in the summer. It has Hyundai's 1.6-liter direct injection engine that puts out 138 horsepower and gets 40 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy is 18 percent better than its predecessor with a manual transmission and 11 percent better with an automatic. It has electronic stability control and six airbags standard. Hyundai claims it has the roominess of a compact even though it's smaller. Base price is $13,205 with a manual transmission, including freight.

GENESIS: Hyundai's full-size luxury entry gets an update with an aggressive grille and front fascia. The 3.8-liter V-6 gets direct fuel injection to boost horsepower by 15 percent to 333, as well as improved gas mileage. Hyundai adds an R-Spec model with a new 5-liter direct injection engine that makes 429 horsepower. All engines get a Hyundai-developed eight-speed transmission. Prices start at $35,050 including shipping.

VELOSTER: The sporty three-door compact coupe has a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission or dual-clutch automatic and will get 40 mpg on the highway. It has a hatch, one large door on the driver side and two shorter doors on the passenger side. The Veloster will start at $18,060, including shipping, when it goes on sale this fall.

JX: Nissan plans to introduce the JX, a seven-passenger crossover, in the spring of 2012 as a 2013 model. The company says the all-new vehicle will have Infiniti's elegant design, flexible seating with easy access to the third row and advanced technology. The company plans to release more details at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

XKR-S: The 2012 XKR-S coupe is one of the fastest Jaguars ever built, capable of accelerating to 100 miles per hour in 8.7 seconds. It has a top speed of 186 mph. The XKR-S's five-liter V-8 engine, now in its third generation, has been supercharged to give it 550 horsepower, but also has more precise direct injection to save fuel. The XKR-S gets 22 miles per gallon on the highway. It starts at $132,875, including shipping.

GRAND CHEROKEE SRT8: The top-selling Grand Cherokee SUV gets a souped-up version from Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team. The high-performance SUV will go from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 160 mph, which is comparable or faster than many performance sedans. It's the most powerful Jeep ever with an all-new 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with 470 horsepower. The company also says it's the best-handling Jeep ever with a new adaptive damping suspension.

RIO/RIO5: Kia has redesigned its compact sedan and hatchback, giving them more power — 138 horsepower — while still improving highway fuel economy to 40 mpg. The Rio also has some luxurious options, including a hands-free entertainment system and back-up camera. Pricing hasn't been released for the Rio, which is expected to go on sale in October, but its predecessor started at $12,990.

CADENZA: Kia's replacement for the flagship Amanti sedan is expected in the summer. Kia hasn't released details, but dealers say it will have a more luxurious interior and a 165-horsepower four-cylinder engine or 290-horsepower V6.

AVENTADOR LP 700-4: The new model has a V-12 engine that puts out 700 horsepower. The four-wheel-drive car can go from zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds. It costs $389,995 including shipping.

Land Rover
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE: Land Rover is targeting new entry-level customers with the Evoque, a small crossover that comes in either three- or five-door configurations. Land Rover bills the Evoque as its lightest, most fuel-efficient vehicle ever, with highway fuel economy of 28 mpg. But the crossover still has power, thanks to its new 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and off-road capability. It also has lots of luxury features, including a heated windshield and steering wheel. The Evoque starts at $45,995, including shipping.

GS 350/450h: Lexus plans to release both the gas version and the hybrid version of the midsize GS sedan early next year as 2013 models. The GS has a new look, with an aggressive, hourglass-shaped grille and a clean design meant to maximize aerodynamic efficiency. Inside, Lexus put more emphasis on the driver by lowering the steering wheel, improving the field of vision and making the seats more supportive. There are nice perks, too, like 18-way power seats. The 350 has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 306 horsepower. The 450h mates that engine to an electric motor, boosting horsepower to 338. Fuel economy numbers haven't been released, but Lexus says the 450h will have 30-percent better fuel economy than the outgoing GS hybrid, which gets 25 mpg on the highway.

GRANTURISMO CONVERTIBLE: Gets a sport version for 2012 with a 4.7-liter, 444-horsepower V-8 engine, improved handling, new seats and a sportier sound.

GRANTURISMO MC COUPE: Maserati adds a coupe at the top of the MC line and says it's the fastest and best-handling of its cars. The coupe gets the same 444 horsepower V-8 as the GranTurismo convertible plus aerodynamic body work. It has a top speed of 185 mph.

CX-5: The CX-5 small crossover, due out in February as a 2013 model, has a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that is expected to significantly improve fuel economy. Mazda plans to release more details this fall at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

MAZDA5: The 2012 Mazda5, a small, six-seat minivan that went on sale last winter, has distinctive, swooping lines carved into its sliding doors and more interior room. There's a new, 157-horsepower four-cylinder engine that gets up to 28 miles per gallon. For a sportier ride — or to help you forget you're in a minivan — there's a six-speed manual transmission and an optional spoiler. The Mazda5 starts at $19,990, including freight.

C-CLASS: A two-door coupe is new for 2012, and the four-door sedan has been refreshed with new bumpers, front grille, headlights and an aluminum hood. The interior also was redesigned. There's a choice of two new direct fuel injection engines with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Depending on trim line, available engines include a turbocharged 1.8-liter, 201-horsepower four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V-6 with 302 horsepower. The high-performance C63 AMG has a 6.3-liter V-8 with 451 horsepower.

CLS-CLASS: The four-door coupe is all new for 2012 with all models powered by new biturbo direct-injection V8 engines. The CLS550 is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 with 402 horsepower, yet it gets 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the freeway. The CLS63 AMG has a stop-start system that stops the engine at traffic lights and restarts it almost instantly when the light turns green. The high-performance version has a 5.5-liter V-8 with 518 horsepower. An optional performance package raises output to 550 horsepower.

M-CLASS: The all-new third generation of the SUV hit showrooms earlier in the summer. It sits about an inch lower than its predecessor and is slightly longer and wider. The ML350 BlueTec diesel version has more power than in the past with 240 horsepower, while the ML350 4Matic gets a new direct-injection V-6 engine with 302 horsepower. It starts at $49,874, including shipping.

SLK-CLASS: The third-generation small SLK Roadster is new for 2012. The SLK250 is powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that has 201 horsepower, while the SLK350 is powered by a 3.5-liter, 302 horsepower V-6. The high-performance SLK55 AMG is the most powerful SLK ever, with a 5.5-liter V-8 with 415 horsepower, and it can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It also features cylinder shutoff to get better gas mileage. The SLK starts at $55,675, including shipping.

COUPE: The mini-car from BMW that made tiny trendy comes out with its first two-seater, the Mini Coupe. Powerplants range from a 121-horsepower four-cylinder in the Coupe and 181 horsepower in the Cooper S Coupe to the MINI John Cooper Works Coupe, with 208 horsepower. The car has a hard-shell, sloping roof and rear spoilers, as well as a hatch and 9.8 cubic feet of luggage space.

LANCER: SE model gets all-wheel drive with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a snowbelt state focus. Heated seats and 16-inch alloy wheels are added. Pricing hasn't been released, but the 2011 model started at $15,295.

GT-R: Nissan has modified the 3.8-liter, V6 engine on the 2012 GT-R sports car so it now gets 530 horsepower, compared to 485 on the previous model. To reduce air resistance, Nissan has enlarged the grille openings and added lighter weight, aluminum-forged 20-inch wheels. The GT-R will also be available in a new "Black Edition," with custom black-and-red leather seats and metallic black wheels. The car also gets slightly better fuel economy — 23 miles per gallon on the highway, compared to 21 on the 2011 model. The 2012 GT-R is available now at 650 select Nissan dealers, starting at $89,950.

VERSA: Nissan has redesigned the Versa small car from the ground up. It has a new, lighter underbody for more nimble driving, a new, more fuel-efficient engine and transmission, and a more aerodynamic design. Nissan says the Versa will get 30 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on the highway, an improvement of around 4 mpg over its predecessor. The 2012 Versa went on sale in August and starts at $10,990, excluding shipping, for a manual transmission and hand-cranked windows. If you want power windows and an automatic, the Versa SV starts at $14,560.

911 CARRERA: The seventh generation of the 911 Carrera, due out in February, is 4 inches longer but 100 pounds lighter thanks to its new aluminum and steel frame. Porsche said the 350-horsepower, 3.4-liter boxer engine will also save more fuel than previous models, thanks to an automatic stop/start function that reduces engine usage, and other improvements. The sportier 911 Carrera S will have a 400-horsepower, 3.8-liter boxer engine, an improvement of 15 horses over the previous model. The 2012 Carrera will be officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. The 911 Carrera Coupe will start at $82,100, excluding shipping, while the Carrera S will be $14,000 more.

GHOST: Gets an extended wheelbase model with an additional 6.7 inches of interior space over the standard Ghost. It costs $290,000.

9-5: Gets a wagon version and choice of two engines, a 2-liter four or a 3-liter V-6. So far, it's unclear how Saab's bankruptcy protection filing in early September will affect sales, but Saab says the filing doesn't affect Saab North America.

SCION iQ: Scion's iQ minicar, which has been sold as a Toyota in Europe and Asia since 2008, goes on sale on the West Coast in October and will come to the rest of the country over the following six months. It's 120 inches long, or about 4 inches longer than the Fiat 500, and its 94-horsepower engine gets 37 miles per gallon. It starts at $15,995, including shipping.

FR-S: Scion debuted a concept version of this rear-wheel-drive sports car at the New York Auto Show in April, and said something very similar will be out next year. Scion is using a Subaru 2.0-liter boxer engine, because of its flat size and shape, but few other details are known. Scion says the car will cost less than $30,000.

IMPREZA: The fourth-generation of the compact debuts with new four- and five-door designs, more agile handling and better fuel economy. A new 2-liter engine gets the all-wheel-drive car to 36 mpg on the highway and 27 in the city, 30 percent better than its predecessor. Trunk and cargo room are increased. The Impreza starts at $18,245, including shipping.

MODEL S: Electric car maker Tesla hopes to extend its customer base beyond its Roaster sports car with the Model S, a sedan due out in the middle of 2012. The sedans will cost around $50,000 — half the price of a Roadster — and will allow drivers to get different battery packs based on their needs, from one that gets 160 miles per charge to one that gets 300. Tesla said it had 5,300 reservations for the sedan at the start of this summer; it plans to produce 5,000 Model S sedans in 2012.

CAMRY: Toyota unveiled the new Camry sedan in August. It's quieter and roomier than the 2011 model and gets significantly better fuel economy. The four-cylinder engine gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway, while the hybrid version gets 41 mpg. Toyota will also offer Entune, a new entertainment system that lets drivers connect to mobile phone applications like Pandora through voice commands or a touch screen. The Camry goes on sale in October and starts at just over $22,000, including shipping.

PRIUS V: The five-passenger, wagon version of the wildly popular Prius hybrid goes on sale in October, a launch that was delayed by several months because of the earthquake in Japan. The "V" stands for "versatility," with 6 more inches of cargo space. It's also slightly taller and wider. The Prius V is expected to get 42 miles per gallon. Toyota hasn't announced the price.

YARIS: The three-door and five-door hatchback versions of the Yaris small car are getting a makeover. They've got a sportier design and are nearly 3 inches longer than the 2011 models, improving cargo space. The Yaris starts at $14,875, including shipping.

JETTA: Gets a GLI high-performance version for 2012 with a starting price of $23,495, excluding shipping. The GLI is powered by a 2-liter turborcharged gas engine with 200 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a dual clutch automatic optional.

GOLF: Golf R version arrives early next year with a high-output version of the 2-liter turbocharged four, with more than 250 horsepower.

NEW BEETLE: The company's iconic Beetle gets a squat, sloped design for 2012 with 2.5-liter five-cylinder and 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The 170-horsepower in-line five-cylinder engine gets 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Prices start at $18,995 excluding shipping.

PASSAT: The midsize Passat is all-new with a significantly lower price than its predecessor at $19,995, excluding shipping. The base model has a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. It also comes with a 2-liter TDI diesel, a turbocharged 140-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower.

TIGUAN: The small crossover SUV gets an update with a sleeker look, and a redesigned grille and redesigned taillights. The transmission was also tweaked to improve fuel economy.

S60: The 2012 S60 midsize sedan has a sportier design and improved fuel economy, now up to 30 mpg. The base engine is a five-cylinder with 250 horsepower. Volvo is also offering the world's first pedestrian detection technology. The S60 starts at $32,025, including shipping.