Coming Attractions: The Coolest Cars of 2013

By Sam Jemielity

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NFL season isn’t the only reason to be excited for the fall. Many new model year vehicles will be hitting showrooms in the coming weeks and months as automakers roll out their 2013 (and in a few cases 2014) offerings. We’ve scanned the automotive horizon to find the new rides we can’t wait to tackle.

Jaguar has delivered some of the most strikingly designed cars of the last decade thanks to the aesthetic genius of Ian Callum, poached from Aston Martin. But it’s hard for an automaker to make inroads in the Midwest and East Coast with rear-wheel drive cars that struggle in inclement weather. That’s why we can’t wait to try out the 2013 Jaguar XJ and XF with all-wheel drive, ready to tackle the worst that the snow belt can throw at a car. On top of that, Jaguar rolls out new fuel-efficient V6 engines in the XF and XJ that still deliver 340 horsepower. Bring on the snow! And more exciting news: Jaguar will be launching a two-seater convertible sports car with the sick F-Type in 2013. Next year will be good for fans of the leaping cat.

Acura’s all-new compact luxury sedan, the ILX, takes aim at 20- and 30-something drivers looking for style, performance, technology and value. With a base price below $30K, making it accessible to younger consumers, the ILX comes with three engine options: a 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine, a 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine and a hybrid IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) mill. Acura hasn’t done much in recent years to quicken the pulse of lead-footed gearheads, so we’re hoping the ILX breaks the streak.

The ILX has some stiff competition in the luxury sport sedan segment, with Cadillac debuting the all-new ATS. With three available engines topped by a 3.6-liter 321-horsepower V6 and both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models available, the ATS comes with available heads-up display, magnetic ride control, a sporty but well-crafted interior and Cadillac’s well-received CUE (Cadillac User Experience) tablet-style infotainment system. It adds up to a seductive package that aims to lure fans of the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and other entry-level luxury sport sedans.

You’ll have to wait a little longer for Mercedes-Benz to bring a more entry-level sport sedan into the mix, but it might be worth the wait for the 2014 CLA-Class. This compact four-door coupe took its bow as a concept at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show. Borrowing styling cues from the CLS, the CLA concept is extremely elegant and sporty looking. Its exact ETA and the available powertrains are still to be determined, but we can’t wait to welcome the CLA class sometime later next year.

When the Hyundai Veloster came out in 2011, it was a fun and fast-looking car that couldn’t run anywhere near competition like the VW GTI or the Mini Cooper S. Enter the 2013 Veloster Turbo with 201 horsepower, much more ready to step up against other hot hatches on the market. With an aggressive grille that sets it apart from the standard Veloster, the Turbo is a slick-looking upgrade. Hitting showrooms this summer, the Veloster Turbo boasts a performance-tuned engine, suspension and steering; 18-inch alloy wheels and a sporty interior geared toward track-day enthusiasts.

Okay, odds are you’ll never buy the new Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed, but it’s nice to know it exists, just in case your tech startup gets bought out by Google. With a horsepower boost, the new Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed is the most powerful four-door Bentley has ever produced. Hitting zero to 60 in a scant 4.5 seconds and attaining a top speed of 200 miles per hour is quite an achievement for a car with a curb weight in the ballpark of a Ford F150 4x4 SuperCrew.

At long last, it seems BMW will finally bring its so-called sports activity vehicle, the X1, to U.S. shores. Originally slated to arrive in 2011, this compact crossover has been delayed several times because of unexpectedly good sales in Europe (leading to a shortage of models) as well as strong sales of other BMW SUV models in the States. But at long last, this stylish small SUV has arrived in trim packages up to the M Sport Line, which outfits the X1 with the sporting performance and appearance of BMW’s M series.

Would you pay $40,000 for a Kia? The automaker wants to find out. When it rolls out in the United States next year, the Kia Cadenza will be the brand's flagship sedan — at least until an even more upscale model, based on Kia's K9 concept, arrives a year later, if rumors can be believed. Estimates put the Cadenza sticker in the high 30s to low 40s. Given the improvement Kia has shown in the last few years with the well-received Forte and Optima, we have high hopes for this halo car. Expect luxury aspirations inside, outside and under the hood when this car debuts next year.

The Boxster has always been one of the ultimate drivers’ cars, but it also probably had the least exciting design of any Porsche. Not so the all-new Boxster S. With side air intakes inspired by the 550 Spyder, swooping wings over the rear wheels and large air intakes up front, the Boxster S might now be the most wicked-looking Porsche on the road.

We can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport that debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Boasting the same potent twin turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes the Taurus SHO a blast to drive, the all-wheel drive Sport also has aggressive styling, with a blacked-out Range Rover–style grille, 20-inch wheels and dual exhaust. Add in a luxurious, technologically loaded interior, and the Explorer Sport will make tough competition with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8 and Dodge Durango R/T for fans of high-performance domestic SUVs.

It’s hard not to want to get behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Impala after watching the opening scene of the movie Drive with Ryan Gosling. And as luck would have it, Chevy’s giving the historic nameplate an upscale upgrade for the 2014 model year, so there will soon be an all-new model to try. We’re not sure yet if we love the design, but we definitely want to get behind the wheel. Of the available engines, there’s no debate; you’ll want to drive it with the 3.6-liter, 303-horsepower V6. It should be more than enough to recreate the feel of running from the LAPD. Not that we condone that.


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