auto

LA Auto Show brings out the new cars

Tara Baukus MelloAuto show season kicked off in the U.S. last week with the opening of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and seven automakers took the wraps off 10 new cars that are headed into production. Here's a quick overview of the cars that will be in showrooms in the coming months.

The automaker with the most debuts was General Motors, which used the show to unveil its new cars for 2011 -- the Buick Regal, Cadillac CTS Coupe and the Chevrolet Cruze -- which will be aimed at younger buyers. The Buick Regal, which is expected to go on sale in late spring 2010, will essentially be a rebadged version of the Opel Insignia, featuring a European-tuned suspension and an optional turbocharged engine for a performance-oriented driving experience.

2011 Buick Regal


2011 VW Up Lite


Hyundai Sonata


2011 Ford Fiesta

The Cadillac CTS Coupe will arrive in summer 2010, about a year after it was originally expected, and will be a two-door version of the popular CTS sedan. A low-volume new car, the CTS Coupe will compete with the Audi 5 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupes. The compact Chevrolet Cruze will feature the interior space of a midsize sedan and will offer a choice of several engines, including one that will get 40 mpg on the highway. Already available overseas, the Cruze will replace the Cobalt when it goes on sale in the U.S. in fall 2010.

Volkswagen debuted two new cars: the New Beetle Final Edition and the Up Lite concept car. Its iconic New Beetle goes into its last year of production in 2010, with just 1,500 units each of the coupe and convertible versions. The New Beetle Final Edition, which will feature a unique paint scheme, sport suspension, 17-inch wheels and final edition badging, goes on sale in spring 2010. The Up Lite concept car is a four-seater diesel-electric hybrid that will first go on sale in Europe in 2011, while an electric-only version will go on sale in the U.S. in 2014.

Already on sale in Europe and Asia, the 2011 Ford Fiesta will arrive in U.S. showrooms in summer 2010. Ford displayed the sedan and five-door hatchback body styles at the show. It will compete with the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla. Powered by a 119-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine, the Fiesta will be available with such upscale features as heated seats, remote start and Ford's Sync system with navigation.

Echoing the sleek styling of its new Genesis, Hyundai unveiled its redesigned Sonata sedan. In showrooms next month, it will be offered initially with a choice of two, four-cylinder engines, while a hybrid version will arrive by the end of the year. While its competitors include the midsized Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry, it is slightly larger and offers more passenger and trunk space than those competitors.

On the sport sedan front, Infiniti unveiled its 2011 M sedan in Los Angeles just prior to the show's opening. Arriving in April, the redesigned sport sedan will be offered with a choice of two more powerful engines than earlier models -- a new V-6 and a 400-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8, while a hybrid version will arrive in spring 2011. Technology features include a blind-spot intervention system, which warns a driver and can adjust the steering wheel if another car is in the driver's blind spot during a lane change, and an "eco pedal," which helps drivers improve fuel economy by 5 percent to 10 percent using built-in, adjustable resistance in the gas pedal for lead-footed drivers.

Indeed, Porsche is expecting the lead-footed driver to buy its new Boxster Spyder, which arrives on sale in February. The convertible, which has been designed with speed in mind, features a lightweight canvas top, aluminum doors and trunk lid and lighter weight windows, seats and wheels than the Boxster coupe. The weight reduction gives it a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds -- 0.2 seconds faster than the Boxster S.

Toyota aims to recharge the minivan market with its redesigned Sienna, giving it a more aggressive, stylish look and offering a sport model for the first time.

On sale in February, the 2011 Toyota Sienna will come with either a 187-horsepower, 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine or a 266-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and will seat either seven or eight, depending on the configuration. Five trim levels will be offered, including the new sporty SE version which will have a sport-tuned suspension and large, 19-inch wheels.

Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Tara Baukus Mello is a freelance writer who has written about automotive topics of interest to consumers since 1995. If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars.

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