Seven Cars We Think Will Do Well in 2012

December 30th, 2011

2013 Ford Fusion

The New Year is a time for resolutions (which usually fail) and for predictions (ditto). So, in the following piece, we will hedge our bets by naming vehicles that have already shown promise, or the hope of promise. That, of course, is the trick behind making predictions—stack the deck a little bit.

There are no guarantees in the auto business, and while everyone looks forward to a banner year, some of the following cars are brand-new and as yet untested. All are reportedly good, and it will be interesting to see how the public responds. Let us know if we are off-base, out of line, or on the money.

Ford moves to a global platform and complete redesign with the 2013 Fusion and, except for some spy photos, its appearance is a secret. Above is a fair rendering of what the car may look like. It will go live at the Detroit Auto Show in January. The new car has lots of tech-y stuff and will be Ford’s big play in the midsize game, with a wide choice of powertrains.

The company should sell some 240,000 Fusions in 2011 and now has about 12 percent of the midsize segment. It is looking for a 50 percent sales increase.

2012 Toyota Camry HybridToyota will sell a lot of its reskinned Camrys for 2012, but it also hopes to sell some 50,000 Hybrids, a much better car. Bengt Halvorson found it “well sorted, …completely seamless and remarkably well packaged.” The Hybrid will do 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds, pretty swift for a Camry, and it gets 43 mpg city, which is amazing.

2013 Cadillac ATS, artist's renderingDespite the comments of our resident GM critic here, I think Cadillac’s new ATS has a chance to revitalize the company’s sporting image with a car that just might finally challenge the midsize Germans. With a strong turbo 2-liter four and a broad torque band, the ATS also offers buyers a choice to move on from the stodgy German styling many have grown tired of. Above is a rendering; the actual car will be at the Detroit show.

Dodge DartWe told you earlier this month about the new Dodge Dart, based on an Alfa platform. It has enough engineering clout to do very well in the compact sedan class. Even with a choice of three engines, the car has its work cut out for it to compete with the Cruze and the Focus. Aside from engine details, we don’t yet know much about the car. But hope springs eternal that it will contain more bits from Alfa than the platform.

2013 Nissan FrontierThe Nissan Frontier, a compact pickup, is better than most in its class. The company is updating most of its vehicles for 2012-3, and the Frontier will finally get a redesign and, maybe, a broader range of engines. It’s highly configurable, comes with great engine choices and gets very decent mileage. The U.S. has got to get its smaller pickups back.

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEI recently wrote that the real test for diesels in the U.S. will be the Passat TDI and how well Volkswagen can develop a market for it. The car performs better than many hybrids in terms of torque and fuel economy. Its interior has been much improved over the standard gas-powered SE Passat’s. What I didn’t mention is the outstanding longevity of diesels, which, for many people, is the big reason to buy ’em and keep ’em.

Hyundai Elantra TouringFinally, for smaller crossovers, the Hyundai Elantra Touring is sometimes overlooked but should be better known. The 2012 car is a sharp-looking, lower-cost alternative to its competition, with most all the goodies you need standard. All Elantras are design-sharp, but you won’t find any small crossover as elegant and well-made as this.

Okay, give us your vote for which of the cars we picked will sell well in 2012—and which ones won’t. Happy New Year!

—jgoods

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Ford Fusion
Used Toyota Camry
Used Chevrolet Cruze
Used Ford Focus
Used Nissan Frontier
Used Volkswagen Passat
Used Hyundai Elantra Touring

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  1. Randy
    | #1

    The dart might be an interesting car but we won’t know until next month. I keep liking that TDI and might just take a test drive.

    I’m not sure how Cadillac can challenge “stodgy german styling” with GM cookie cutter styling. Almost everything Cadillac makes looks the same and their styling is at least five years old. Pull a five series beemer up next to that ATS and start looking under the hood and opening the doors and trunk. The BMW exudes quality and high engineering, while the Cadillac exudes short cuts.

    Toyota hybrids should impress the press, as Toyota is king of the hybrids and got there bye developing hybrids as real technology and not a bolt-on gimmick as most of the other car makers have done.

  2. | #2

    Top pic looks suspiciously like the current Mondeo

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