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2K11 Auto Expo Preview

2011 Porsche Panamera
2011 Porsche Panamera Speedracer Syndication

The 2k11 model year is one of the strongest in the automotive industry in several years. Practically every manufacturer American and Foreign will have strong line ups. Check out the 2k11 models below, some of which I have already tested and see which strikes a chord with you. After you have been introduced to the models below, visit the 24th annual North Carolina Auto Expo from Thursday February 10—Sunday February 13.

TEST DRIVES

2k11 Scion tCPrice Range: $19,000.00—$22,000.00Engine: 2.5 liter four cylinder producing 180 horsepower and 173 pounds feet of torque0—60: 7.6 seconds (manual)Fuel Economy: 23 mph city, 31 mpg highwayKey Competitors: 2k11 Kia Coupe, 2k11 Honda Civic Coupe, 2k11 Mini CooperNotes: The first generation Scion tC, like the xB was spunky, unique and cool. Sadly, the second generation tC is a bit more mainstream. However, I was impressed with its level of sporty performance and comfort features. The 2k11 Scion tC features reclining rear seats, a huge sun roof with moon roof, tight steering and a sporty suspension. For the price, the Scion tC could be the best entry level performer on the market.

2k11 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500Price Range: $50,500.00—$56.000.00Engine: 5.4 liter V8 producing 550 horsepower and 510 pounds feet of torque0—60: 4.2 seconds (manual)Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 23 highwayKey Competitors: Roush 427R Mustang, Roush Stage 3 Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger SRT8 Notes: My test of the 2k11 Ford Shelby GT500 was hampered by sub-30°f temperatures, near track level racing tires and a major snow storm. However the 2k11 Shelby GT500 proved to be one of the most powerful cars I have tested. Acceleration was simply incredible accented by a lovely exhaust note. The only competitor that can match and or exceed the 2k11 Shelby GT500 is the excellent Roush 427R or Roush Stage 3. Ford went all out on this one!

2k11 Hyundai Genesis CoupePrice Range: $22,300.00—$35,300.00Engines: 2.0 liter four turbo charged cylinder producing 210 horsepower and 223 pounds feet of torque, 3.8 liter V6 producing 306 horsepower and 266 pounds feet of torque 0—60: 6.8 seconds (2.0 liter turbo), 6.1 seconds (3.8 liter)Fuel Economy: 2.0 liter 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway (manual) / 3.8 liter 17 mpg city 26 mpg highway (manual)Key Competitors: Dodge Challenger V6, Ford Mustang V6, Chevrolet Camaro V6, Infiniti G37 CoupeNotes: In a recent test, the 2k11 Ford Mustang V6 was faster around a road course than the 2k11 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Although faster, the 2k11 Ford Mustang V6 feels heavy, is not as crisp or sporty feeling as the 2k11 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Not only that, but when dressed in the right color and equipped with the right wheels, the 2k11 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is the best looking coupe in its class with exception to the Infiniti G37 Coupe. Just one sit behind the wheel and a short drive will make you forget about V6 powered American muscle.

2k11 Toyota AvalonPrice Range: $33,000.00—$37,000.00Engine: 3.5 liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 pounds feet of torque0—60: 7.1 secondsFuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highwayKey Competitors: Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Azera, Lexus ES350, Notes: The Toyota Avalon does not have many, true, direct competitors. It is very similar to an old school Buick. The Toyota Avalon is very long, has large soft seats with reclining rear seats, light, smooth steering, great leg room and a huge trunk. Surprisingly, straight line acceleration is pretty exciting for such a docile model. The Avalon is like a big soft sofa. It is comfortable, has lots space and has many convenient features, much like the Buicks of old.

2k11 Lincoln MKX Price Range: $37,000.00—$41,000.00Engine: 3.7 liter producing 305 horsepower and 280 pounds feet of torque0—60: 7.1 secondsFuel Economy: 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway (front wheel drive) / 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway (all-wheel drive)Key Competitors: Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX350Notes: If you own or operate a smart phone or an MP3 player, you will be very comfortable operating some of the features of the Lincoln MKX. The stereo volume and fan controls for the climate system two elegant touch bars. Simply touch the bar, which lights up with contact and slide your finger from side to side to increase or decrease stereo volume or the climate fan speed. Then there are LCD screens on either side of the instrument cluster with Microsoft like Windows operation. Most importantly the 2k11 Lincoln MKX is very luxurious, comfortable and very stylish. This could be the best luxury crossover on the market.

2k11 Buick RegalPrice Range: $27,000.00—$35,000.00Engines: 2.4 liter four cylinder producing 182 horsepower and 172 pounds feet of torque / 2.0 liter turbo charged four cylinder producing 220 horsepower and 258 pounds feet of torque0—60: 9.8 seconds (2.4 liter), 7.4 seconds (2.0 liter) Fuel Economy: 2.4 liter: 19 mpg city, 30 mpg highway (automatic) / 2.0 liter: 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway (automatic) 19 mpg city, 29 mpg highway (manual)Key Competitors: Acura TSX, Volvo S60Notes: When Buick touts the Regals European roots, its not a stretch because it is heavily based upon the German produced Opel Insignia. In fact, the production for the Buick Regal began in Germany on the same assembly line as the Opel Insignia. The Regal is a handsome car, featuring good fit and finish, a nice ride and good performance.

2k11 Ford FiestaPrice Range: $14,000.00—$18,000.00Engine: 1.6 liter four cylinder producing 120 horsepower and 112 pounds feet of torque0—60: 9.5 secondsFuel Economy: 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway (automatic)Key Competitors: Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Suzuki SX4, Toyota YarisNotes: As an automotive journalist I have access to many cars for testing and few of them impress me instantly. The 2011 Ford Fiesta did exactly that, impress me instantly. Its dynamic style, cool features, versatility and surprising levels of sport performance make it the one to have. Simply put, ever competitor in the 2k11 Ford Fiestas class has some major catching up to do.

2k11 Porsche PanameraPrice Range: $76,000.00—$145,000.00 Engines: 3.6 liter V6 producing 300 horsepower and 295 pounds feet of torque, 4.8 liter V8 producing 400 horsepower and 369 pounds feet of torque, 4.8 liter twin turbo charged V8 producing 500 horsepower and 568 pounds feet of torque.0—60: 5.8 seconds (3.6 liter), 5.2 seconds (4.8 liter) and 0-62 4.0 seconds (4.8 liter turbo)Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city 24 mpg highway / 16 mpg city 24 mpg highway / 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highwayKey Competitors: Audi A8, BMW 7, Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte and Mercedes-Benz S-classNotes: The 2k11 Porsche Panamera is one of those rare cars that does everything well. It is luxurious, comfortable, powerful, fast and performs like a two-door sports coupe. On the other hand, with pricing starting at $76,000.00 it should do everything well. The only thing that the Panamera does not do well, is look good. During my test session on the famed Road America race course, I was able to push the Panamera to 141 mph on the straight and 132 in the curves. Oh, by the way this was done on a wet track, nuff said.

PREVIEWS

2k12 Ford FocusPrice Range: $17,000.00—$23,000.00Engine: 2.0 liter four cylinder producing 160 horsepower and 146 pounds feet of torque 0—60: N/AFuel Economy: 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highwayKey Competitors: Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla, Notes: The 2k12 Ford will feature torque vectoring control which uses one wheel braking to increase stability and cornering performance. This is a feature typically only found on high-end sports cars.

2k11 Chevrolet VoltPrice Range: $39,000.00—$44,000.00Engines: 1.4 liter four cylinder producing 63 horsepower, 111 kW generator & 55 kW generator0—60: 9.2 seconds, electric-only / 9.0 seconds with gas engine assistFuel Economy: 93 mpg—electric only, 37 mpg—petrol only, 60 mpg combined Key Competitors: Honda Insight, Nissan Leaf, Toyota PriusNotes: The Chevrolet Volt is a gasoline assist electric vehicle. Unlike traditional hybrids that employee gasoline engines that power the vehicle, the gasoline engine in the Chevrolet Volt is used to generate more electricity. This gives the Volt a greater range than other electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf.

2k11 Honda CR-ZPrice Range: $20,000.00—$25,000.00Engines: 1.5 liter four cylinder producing 128 horsepower and 123 pounds feet of torque, 100.8 volt electric generator producing 13 horsepower and 58 pounds feet of torque0—60: 8.3 secondsFuel Economy: 35 mpg city, 39 mpg highway (automatic) / 31 mpg city, 37 mpg highway (manual)Key Competitors: Kia Forte Coupe, Mini Cooper, Scion tCNotes: The 2k11 Honda CR-Z is one of the first attempts to bring sporty style and performance to the hybrid arena. It is also the only hybrid available with a manual transmission.

2k11 Hyundai ElantraPrice Range: $15,000.00—$23,000.00Engine: 1.8 liter four cylinder producing 148 horsepower and 145 pounds feet of torque0—60: 9.1 secondsFuel Economy: 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highwayKey Competitors: 2k11 Chevrolet Cruze, 2k12 Ford Focus, 2k11 Honda Civic, 2k11 Toyota CorollaNotes: The Elantra has a host of features that would not be expected on an economy car. This could be the 2k12 Ford Focus strongest competitor.

2k11 Nissan LeafPrice Range: $33,000.00—$35,000.00Engines: Laminated 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery 192 cells, 80 kW AC synchronous electric motor0—60: 7—9 seconds (estimated)Fuel Economy: 47 miles on one charge under aggressive driving, 120 miles on one charge under conservative drivingKey Competitors: Chevrolet Volt, Honda Insight, Toyota PriusNotes: The Nissan Leaf is one of only a handful of all electric models available. Unlike hybrids that utilize petrol engines, the Leaf does not employee any petrol at all.

2k12 Volvo S60Price Range: $31,000.00—$38,000.00Engines: 2.5 liter turbo charged five cylinder producing 250 horsepower and 266 pounds feet of torque, 3.0 liter turbo charged in-line six cylinder producing 300 horsepower and 295 pounds feet of torque0—60: 6.2 seconds (3.0 liter)Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway (2.5 liter) / 18 mpg city, 22 mpg highway (3.0 liter)Key Competitors: Audi A4, BMW 3, Buick Regal, Lexus IS350, Mercedes Benz C, Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen Passat CCNotes: The 2k12 Volvo S60 has many of the top line features that made the S60R such a great performer. Some of those features including 300 turbo charged horses and sticky all-wheel drive.

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