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BusINess » Business Transportation » Meet the Rookies!

Meet the Rookies!

A host of all-new vehicles hits the market for 2011 with names that may be unfamiliar to the uninitiated. Meet the new kids.

Since it’s hard to tell the players without a scorecard, here’s a rundown of the brand new models with never-before-seen nameplates that are making their major league debuts at dealers’ showrooms for the 2011 model year:

• Chevrolet Cruze: This premium compact sedan is handsomely styled and features a relatively spacious, quiet and rich-looking interior. It comes powered by either of two four-cylinder engines and boasts 40 mpg on the highway in its “Eco” version. Ten air bags and stability control are standard, with myriad features offered.

• Chevrolet Volt: This futuristically styled electric sedan is able to run for 25 to 50 miles on electricity alone before a small gasoline engine kicks in to run a generator that powers the electric motor for as long as there’s fuel in the tank. Its battery range is enough for a typical commute, yet it remains practical for longer trips.

• Chrysler 200: This is a restyled and renamed version of the midsize sedan formerly known as the Sebring. It features myriad improvements, among them a new 283-horsepower V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.

• Fiat 500: Featuring cutesy retro-flavored styling, the subcompact Cinquecento coupe, as it’s called in Italy, comes powered by an economical 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s the first Fiat-branded model sold in the U.S. in over 25 years and is available through select Chrysler dealers.

• Ford Fiesta: Offered as either a sedan or hatchback, this subcompact features dynamic exterior styling inside and out. It delivers lively handling and stellar fuel economy that tops out at 40 mpg; it’s mechanically related to the also-new Mazda2.

• Honda CR-Z: This sharply styled two-seat sporty hybrid hatchback is entertaining to drive with peppy acceleration and crisp handling. It includes selectable “sport” and “eco” modes to enhance either its performance or fuel economy.

• Hyundai Equus: The largest and priciest Hyundai to date, the rear-drive V8-powered Equus is the company’s lower-cost alternative to a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It comes with a roomy back seat and offers lots of gadgetry; it serves as an executive limousine in South Korea.

• Lexus CT 200h: Lexus’ smallest car is a compact hybrid hatchback that teams a 1.8-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor generator to deliver energetic acceleration. A four-wheel independent suspension promises playful handling, with myriad safety equipment and luxury features offered.

• Mini Countryman: Mini’s first crossover could be the most practical sports car ever, with four doors and available all-wheel drive. Otherwise, it retains the standard model’s go-kart-like handling and likewise comes powered by either a standard 122-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, or a peppier 184-horsepower turbocharged version.

• Nissan Juke: This is a compact crossover with eccentric coupe-like exterior styling that’s highlighted by exaggerated wheel arches; inside, the center stack of dashboard controls is styled to resemble a motorcycle’s gas tank. It comes powered by a 188 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with all-wheel-drive system available to enhance the car’s already agile handling.

• Nissan Leaf: Coming wrapped in a distinctively rounded design, this small all-electric vehicle promises a 100-mile range on a charge; your mileage, however, may vary. It can be charged via a standard wall outlet overnight, but it’s quicker with the optional high-voltage charging station.

• Scion iQ: This “premium micro-subcompact” hatchback is distinctively styled and features oddly juggled seating for three adults with 10 airbags spread around its diminutive cabin. With good fuel economy as its 1.3-liter engine’s prime virtue, performance may well be an afterthought. Consider it a slightly more-practical alternative to the Smart ForTwo.

© CTW Features

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