Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012-2013 - The Year of the Midsize

Chevrolet just announced that the first of its redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu midsized sedans just shipped out to dealers. The first models are the Malibu Eco models with the eAssist engine. (Don't call it a mild hybrid, even though that's what it is.) The Eco model is rated at 25 MPG city and 37 MPG highway. That's a higher highway figure than the 2006-2011 Honda Civic. Whereas the eAssist system really takes a toll on the luggage space on the Buick LaCrosse, which was the first GM car to be eAssisted, the Malibu reportedly keeps 14 cubic feet of luggage space. Chevy's high-mpg thunder was somewhat stolen earlier this month when Ford unveiled its 2013 Fusion models. The Fusion has a wide range of engines but directly competitive to the Malibu Eco, Ford will offer a Fusion with a 1.6 liter Ecoboost turbocharged engine which is also expected to deliver about 37 MPG highway. Ford will also offer a full hybrid with MPG better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid and a plug-in electric Fusion with expected MPGe at or near 100 MPG. Some UAW members will finally get a chance to build the Fusion as Ford will be adding a Fusion production line to its Flat Rock, Michigan plant. This will supplement the Mexican plant that currently builds the Fusion.

For a detailed comparison of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and 2013 Ford Fusion, check out this article at (which is the source of the picture to the right showing the Malibu on the top and the Fusion on the bottom).

In addition to the Malibu and the Fusion, in the late summer this year, you can expect Honda to release the redesigned Honda Accord. It looks like Honda is going all out this time, with redesigned engines including hybrids and plug-in hybrids like Ford.

My first impression is that the new Fusion and the new Accord will make other newish designs such as the Malibu and the new-for-2012 Toyota Camry seem dull and old-fashioned by comparison. Chrysler and others following on the heels of the Accord will have their work cut out for them in fighting for market share. Chrysler is expected to bring out a replacement for the 200 on a Fiat platform with a new generation of engines and transmissions. I don't expect the new Chrysler until MY 2014. The bottom line is that if you are planning on buying a family sedan in the near future, you should try to hold off until at least this coming fall. Not only will there be a whole new generation of attractive contenders, the best of what's out there now may come with huge incentives to stay competitive.

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