Hot New Cars: Sensible But Sexy

  • Cars Coming to Main Street

    Getting more for your gas money usually means driving a smaller, more fuel-efficient car, and automakers are catering to those consumer needs, as well as the needs of those who want safer, greener and even more luxurious cars. MainStreet attended the New York International Auto Show, and here’s a look at what we found, from the more sensible, environmentally-friendly cars to simply gorgeous ones that some may just like to dream about.
    Safety at Ford
  • Safety at Ford

    Following serious safety concerns involving Toyota Motor’s (Stock Quote: TM) cars, Ford Motor (Stock Quote: F) made a particular effort to highlight its new car safety features at the auto show as well as show off some of the technology used to develop those safety features. Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood told MainStreet that it uses sophisticated crash-test dummies and computer modeling to determine certain types of impacts to the human body in order to design new features, including an inflatable seatbelt for kids in the event of a collision.
    Smart Cars
  • Smart Cars

    Smart cars are some of the cheapest and most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road and, ever-sensitive to environmental concerns, the company mounted a bike rack to one of its displays, for drivers who are especially motivated to reduce emissions. Price: $11,990 for the Smart Fortwo In dealerships: Now
    GMC Granite
  • GMC Granite

    Large trucks still had a strong presence at the auto show, suggesting that not all car-buyers are looking to downsize. GMC showed off its tough-looking Granite concept car, which has been referred to as an “urban utility vehicle.” It’s still just an idea, however, and whether it will actually go into production is yet to be determined.
    Gas-Powered Efficiency
  • Gas-Powered Efficiency

    Makers of hybrids, electric cars and alternative energy vehicles may have been racing to get ahead of the pack and capture show attention, but there were a few gas-powered cars that boasted near-hybrid-caliber fuel efficiency. That means drivers who might have trouble finding electric car charging stations and mechanics familiar with greener vehicles will have the option to buy fuel-efficient cars too, enjoying significant savings at the pump with a more traditional car.
    Chevy Cruze Eco
  • Chevy Cruze Eco

    The Chevrolet Cruze Eco can get up to about 40 miles per gallon on the highway, thanks to improved aerodynamics, lighter materials and a new Ecotec engine, Cruze vehicle line director Chuck Russell told MainStreet. When the Cruze goes on sale later this year, there will be both a traditional Cruze, which has slightly different aesthetics, a lower height, underbody panels and aluminum wheels, and a Cruze Eco, but the price difference between the two won’t be much more than a few hundred dollars, Russell says. Price: Unavailable In dealerships: Later this year
    Toyota Yaris
  • Toyota Yaris

    The fuel efficient gas-powered Toyota Yaris seems to be widely ignored by many car buyers interested in fuel efficiency, possibly opting instead for the company’s slightly larger, much more expensive and attention-grabbing Prius. The new Toyota Yaris could get you up to 39 mpg on the highway, according to some estimates. Meanwhile the Prius, which starts at $22,800, gets about 48 mpg, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimates under real driving conditions. Price: $12,605 for a base model In dealerships: Now
    BMW’s Minis
  • BMW’s Minis

    The little Mini Cooper, with its short and wide stance like a bulldog (a comparison that the brand made apparent at the New York auto show – there were giant leashes attached to their display vehicles) is also a fairly fuel-efficient small car that gets 29 mpg on its six-speed manual version and slightly fewer on an automatic. Price: $22,300 for a Mini Cooper S In dealerships: Now
    Mini Goes Electric
  • Mini Goes Electric

    The Mini brand also showed off an electric version of its iconic vehicle. Last year, the BMW subdivision chose 450 people to test out the new, all-electric car in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles, according to The New York Times. However, some anxious electric Mini drivers, who signed on to one-year leases, are still concerned about being stranded with a depleted battery and no place to charge. Price: Unavailable In dealerships: Hopefully soon
    Nissan Leaf
  • Nissan Leaf

    Nissan (Stock Quote: NSANY) displayed its all-electric Leaf, which stands for Leading, Environmentally-friendly and Affordable Family car. It's advertised as a zero-emissions vehicle. Price: $32,780 In dealerships: December 2010 in some areas, 2011 nationwide
    Chevy Volt
  • Chevy Volt

    Unlike other gas-electric hybrids, the Volt runs primarily on electricity, but when the battery is depleted, gasoline is used to power its electric motor. GM announced at the New York International Auto Show that it’s partnering with several utility companies nationwide to build charging stations for test models of the plug-in vehicle. Price: To be determined In dealerships: Later this year
    Plug-In Prius
  • Plug-In Prius

    Despite car recalls and further safety concerns, Toyota sales have still been rising. And a plug-in version of the popular Toyota Prius could help the automaker crawl out of the ditch into which the brand’s image has fallen. Price: $40,000 or more according to some estimates In dealerships: 2011
    Honda CR-Z
  • Honda CR-Z

    The small and sexy Honda (Stock Quote: HMC) CR-Z is a sporty hybrid coupe that can get about 60 mpg of gasoline. In Japan, the sleek two-seater was in high demand when it entered the market, and with fuel efficiency better than a Toyota Prius, it should be a hit in the U.S., too. Price: About $20,000, according to some estimates In dealerships: Later this year
    Hybrid Hyundai Sonata
  • Hybrid Hyundai Sonata

    A hybrid version of Hyundai’s Sonata “beats the class-leading Ford Fusion hybrid in highway mileage and comes up 1 mpg shy in combined at 38 miles per gallon,” according to USA Today. Price: To be determined In dealerships: Later this year, according to The New York Times.
    Mazda 2
  • Mazda 2

    The Mazda 2, billed as an eco-friendly car with a lighter body, is a subcompact likely to have improved fuel economy compared to other small cars. Price: $14,730 In dealerships: This summer
    Fuel Alternatives
  • Fuel Alternatives

    In addition to hybrid-electric and pure electric cars, a number of automakers showed off their alternative energy auto options, including those that run on diesel, natural gas or E85 ethanol. Mazda, for instance, announced plans for its first clean diesel engine that’s expected to come in the company’s cars in 2012.
    The Police Caprice
  • The Police Caprice

    A new Chevy Caprice police cruiser even made an appearance at the New York auto show. Drivers can expect to see this tough car in their rearview mirrors in 2011. It will be capable of running on E85 ethanol, GM says.
    Honda and Natural Gas
  • Honda and Natural Gas

    Honda showed off a natural-gas-powered vehicle hooked up to a Phill natural gas home fueling appliance for about $3,500 plus $1,000 to $2,000 for installation, according to HowStuffWorks. In dealerships: Now
    A Little Bit of Luxury
  • A Little Bit of Luxury

    The most expensive car brands may be off many car-buyers radars given the tough economy and unsteady job market, but what’s a car show experience without a taste of luxury and a look at the painfully unattainable? Here are a couple of cars that might not within your budget, but we can still dream.
    Lexus HS 250h
  • Lexus HS 250h

    The Lexus HS hybrid is definitely a luxury car, but it boasts the use of plant-based materials, eco-friendly plastics and a combined fuel efficiency rating of 35 mpg. Price: Starting at $34,650 In dealerships: Now
    The Essence of Infiniti
  • The Essence of Infiniti

    Luxury car brand Infiniti displayed its jaw-dropping Essence concept car at the New York International Auto Show. And it’s not just a thing of beauty; it has a conscience as well. It’s a rear-wheel-drive two-seater that’s gas-electric hybrid powered. With 592 horsepower, it can really bolt too.
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