auto

New cars make splash at Frankfurt show

Tara Baukus MelloThe 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show in Germay kicked off the 2010 model year season last week with a wide variety of cars that will be finding their way to U.S. shores. While there were 85 production and concept cars that were unveiled by automakers at the show, here are the highlights of some of the mass production cars that will be available in U.S. showrooms shortly (potential sticker prices weren't disclosed).

BMW unveiled two vehicles that will mark its entrance into the hybrid market in the U.S. The ActiveHybrid X6 crossover will arrive at dealerships late this year, while the ActiveHybrid 7 sedan will go on sale in the U.S. next spring. Both vehicles combine a gasoline engine with two electric motors to make performance-oriented hybrids. The ActiveHybrid X6 will produce 480 total horsepower and accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, making it the most powerful hybrid vehicle available, according to BMW. The ActiveHybrid 7 sedan will produce 455 total horsepower and do zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, while getting 15 percent better fuel economy than its 7 Series gasoline counterpart.
BMW ActiveHybrid X6
BMW ActiveHybrid 7

Ford will be returning to the minivan segment with its Grand C-Max, a seven-seater that is currently available in Europe. The C-Max will be redesigned for both markets next year, with the U.S. version going on sale in late 2011. It will feature sliding rear doors, an upscale interior and a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that is expected to get about 34 mpg on the highway.

Luxury wagon fans can celebrate that they'll have another alternative in the segment when Mercedes-Benz brings its E-Class wagon to U.S. dealerships in the middle of next year as a 2011 model. Mercedes says only one model, the E350 4Matic, will be available initially. It will feature a 268 horsepower V-6, a seven-speed automatic transmission and more cargo capacity than its competitor the Audi A6 Avant.

Ford Grand C-Max

While introduced in Frankfurt as concept cars, Mini showed coupe and roadster versions of its Cooper model that it has confirmed will go into production, though it didn't say when. Both are two-seaters that are slightly smaller than the current Mini Cooper. They are designed to appeal to performance-minded drivers and will likely only be offered with the top-of-the-line Cooper engine, a 175-horsepower, turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder.

Saab took the wraps off its redesigned 9-5 Sedan, which will be offered in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive versions and will be available with a 300-horsepower, V-6 engine. It is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms late next year.

Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota has stepped up to the plate -- an electric plate -- with the introduction of its Prius Plug-In, a version of its current Prius hybrid that can be plugged into a household outlet for recharging and can travel on its electric motor only for 12 miles before its hybrid powertrain kicks in. The Prius Plug-In was officially called a concept vehicle at Frankfurt because it's not going into full production. Toyota says it will produce 500 cars for testing next year before making the final decision on full production. Rumor is that it will have a production version that can travel a longer distance on electric power late next year to compete with the Chevrolet Volt.

Volvo unveiled redesigned versions of its C30 coupe and C70 hardtop convertible. The C30 received new exterior styling and minor interior changes, and a sport model was added, featuring chassis updates for a high-performance, driving experience. It will go on sale in early 2010. Volvo also showed its redesigned C70, which has new front-end styling, LED taillights and minor interior changes. It will be available in dealerships late this year.

If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.

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