Every year, a few dozen new and redesigned models hit the streets. They’re unveiled to great fanfare at auto shows. Ads and TV commercials build the hype. And car watchers fill the social sphere with growing anticipation and buzz. But when the rubber meets the pavement at our track, some new models measure up to the expectations and others fall well short. Here are new or redesigned 2012 models that either pulled away from the pack in our testing or, well, stalled at the starting line.
The year's top vehicles
The redesigned A6 is a joy to drive. In our Ratings, it leapfrogged over competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz and tied the Infiniti M37 as our top-scoring midsized luxury car. The A6 succeeds in many areas: It’s agile, quiet, and quick. Its supercharged V-6 engine delivers potent power and a commendable 22 mpg overall, even with all-wheel drive. The ride is absorbent, and the sumptuous, impeccably finished cabin is outfitted with the latest high-tech electronic features. (See our complete Audi A6 road test and Ratings.)
This has been a good year for new, fun-to-drive cars. In addition to the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, the Hyundai Veloster is a welcome entry in the sporty-car class. Its edgy styling stands out on the road. And its asymmetrical design—with a single rear door on the passenger side—helps make it surprisingly livable. The Veloster’s nimble handling, slick shifter, and quick, well-weighted steering add to the fun factor. Its 31 mpg overall helps at the pump. And a low, $20,000 sticker price makes it easy on your wallet. (See our complete Hyundai Veloster road test and Ratings.)
Subaru’s 2012 redesign breathed new life into the all-wheel-drive Impreza sedan and hatchback. They are now more well-rounded, enjoyable cars, with nimble handling, roomy interiors, and absorbent rides that rival some luxury sedans. Fuel economy improved to 27 and 26 mpg overall, respectively, impressive for AWD cars. All of that helped the sedan’s test score jump 10 points to 82, enough to make it the top small sedan in our Ratings and earn it a Top Pick designation in our April autos issue.
At a time when some high-profile models have dropped in our Ratings after a reworking, the Camry’s 2012 redesign has made it more competitive. Each version we tested—four-cylinder, V-6, and Hybrid—earned a higher test score than the model it replaced. The Hybrid is especially impressive, squeezing out a best-in-class 38 mpg overall and providing a well-equipped package for less than $30,000. As a result, it now tops our family-sedan Ratings and was a Top Pick. The Camry might lack pizzazz, but this thoroughly modern sedan has few faults. (See our complete Toyota Camry road test and Ratings.)
Toyota Prius V
2012 saw the release of two new models in the growing Prius hybrid line. The subcompact Prius C was unimpressive. But the larger V wagon rates among the top models in its class. Compared with the familiar Prius hatchback, the V has been stretched in all dimensions to provide notably more cargo space and a roomier rear seat. Yet it still achieved an excellent 41 mpg overall in our testing. That combination gives the Prius V a blend of versatility and fuel economy that no other car can match. (See our complete Toyota Prius V road test and Ratings.)