It looks like 2016 is shaping up to be another banner year for the auto business. Not only are sales expected to remain healthy – provided gas prices and interest rates don’t rise up to land a one-two sucker punch to the industry’s jaw in the months ahead – there’s a worthy slew of brand new and fully redesigned models on the way to help lure shoppers into dealers’ showrooms.
By our count there’s at least 40 new and refreshed vehicles coming for 2016. Here, we’re featuring a baker’s dozen of the most significant passenger cars in the accompanying slideshow to debut in the months ahead, including sedans, coupes and convertibles. We’ll follow up next week with the cream of the latest crop of trucks and crossovers.
Among this rich harvest of fresh-picked cars coming to market is an impressive assortment of both racy and luxurious models, with each designed to stir the senses, but using somewhat different spoons.
For starters, Acura resurrects the low-slung NSX sports car for 2016 after an 11-year absence, and reinvents it as a high-tech gas/electric hybrid that promises neck-snapping performance and head-turning good looks. Mercedes-Benz debuts a redesigned version of its quick and costly AMG GT sports coupe, though it loses the previous rendition’s gull-wing doors in the process. Also, Buick brings back sexy in the form of the curvaceous new Cascada convertible, while Chevrolet ushers the Camaro coupe/convertible into its sixth generation – this time with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood – and Mazda gives the pert and peppy MX-5 Miata a long-overdue makeover.
In Pictures: 13 Hottest New Cars For 2016
Accommodating new luxury cars for 2016 include the brand-new Cadillac CT6, a rear-drive flagship sedan with a choice of turbo-four and V6 engines, and the incredibly opulent Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach. What’s more, Cadillac goes all in to help keep pace with the growing fleet of European-brand high-performance luxury cars with a 464-horsepower compact ATS-V sedan and a midsize CTS-V with a rocket-like 640-horsepower.
Acura brings back the low-slung NSX sports car for 2016, and this time around it’s a fast and frugalgas/electric hybrid. A twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine is augmented by a three-motor electric Sport Hybrid drive system (two at the front, one at the rear) to deliver what should be impressive bursts of speed via a nine-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and the automaker’s Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system. Among its many sophisticated chassis control features, a “launch” function ensures sudden and sure acceleration from a standing start. A fully independent suspension promises adept handling, while carbon-ceramic brake discs at all four corners ensure sure stopping abilities. Expect a sticker price in the mid-$100,000 range.
Convertible sales have been slumping in recent years, but Buick hopes to bring back open-air excitement with its curvaceous Cascada. The first Buick ragtop in a quarter century, it comes with a modest back seat to enable four-passenger seating when necessary. The insulated soft-top folds in 17 seconds, and can operate while the car is moving at speeds up to 31 mph. A 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct injected four-cylinder engine should produce around 200 horsepower, which would make the compact Cascada sufficiently peppy. A long list of standard and optional features include an onboard subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot for connecting mobile devices to the Internet.
Cadillac pumps up its lineup with sheer muscle for 2016 in new high-performance limited production “V” versions of the compact ATS and midsize CTS. Available in both coupe and sedan renditions, the track-ready ATS-V features a 464-horsepowertwin-turbocharged V6 engine that Caddy says enables the car to reach 60 mph in a mere 3.8 seconds and attain a top speed of 189 mph. An onboard performance data recorder allows owners to record high-definition video of their drivingexploits and easily share them on social media.
Returning to Caddy’s lineup for 2016, the latest CTS-V sedan is the most powerful Cadillac ever, with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 packing a 640-horsepower punch. It’s capable of reaching 60 mph from a standing start in 3.7 seconds, on the way to a 200 mph limit. As with the ATS-V, the CTS-V features specific styling cues inside and out, added luxury features and myriad performance upgrades to help rein in all those galloping horses.
General Motors’ luxury car division debuts its long-awaited new full-size rear-drive flagship sedan thisfall, the CT6. It’s designed to take on premium European luxury sedans with its handsome big-car looks, spacious and richly styled interior and loads of technology. Eschewing a traditional V8 under the hood, the car instead comes powered by a choice of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 3.6-liter V6 or a new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that’s estimated to generate as much s as 400 horsepower; an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with all-wheel-drive included with V6 models. The CT6’s myriad performance andconvenience features are too numerous to list here, but include a 360-degree-view around-the-car monitor (with on-the-go recording capabilities), articulating heated/cooled and massaging rear seats and a 34-speaker Bose audio system.
Chevy takes the venerable Camaro sports coupe/convertibleinto its sixth generation this fall with updated styling and engineering that puts its archrival, the Ford Mustang (itself redesigned for 2015) firmly in its crosshairs. Slightly smaller than before, the Camaro’s overall look is freshbut familiar, retaining its low profile and high belt line but with re-sculpted curves and creases front and rear that help give the car a meaner and more contemporary look. Inside a freshly cast interior features adjustable ambient lighting and dual color displays. For the first time the lineup includes a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 2.0-liter version that nets a surprising 275 horsepower. Next step up is a new 3.6-liter V6 that generates a V8-like 355 horses (and without a turbocharger, no less) with active cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. Meanwhile, the top SS coupe and convertible lead the 2016 lineup with a new 6.2-liter small-block V8 that’s rated at 455 horsepower. Each of the three engines can drive the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Selectable driving modes afford as many as eight vehicle driver-adjustable attributes for asmoother ride or more tenacious handling as desired, and an overly aggressive “Track” setting with SS models.
Chevy re-launches the midsize Malibu sedan with added style and substance to help resurrect the car’s otherwise moribund sales. The new version features nicely freshened exterior styling that borrows cues from the larger Impala, with a bold new front-end treatment; inside, there’s a more spacious interior with a much-needed boost in rear legroom. A 1.5-liter 160-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine is standard and promises an estimated 27/37-mpg in city/highway driving, with a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four alternately available. Meanwhile, a new gas/electric-powered Malibu Hybrid is estimated to achieve 48/45-mpg fuel economy. A new Teen Driver feature lets parents monitor vehicle speed, distance driven and other factors, mutes the audio system if the front-seat occupants aren’t wearing their safety belts and warns the driver when the vehicle is traveling over a preset speed.
The so-called extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt sedan receives a major redesign for 2016 with more dynamic exterior styling, an improved interior and a longer estimated operating range on a charge. The Volt can now run for up to around 50 miles solely on battery power (up from about 35 with the current model), after which a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine engages to run a generator that, in turn, runs the car’s electric motor; at that point the car’s range is limited only by the amount of gas left in the tank. While the Volt still doesn’t go as far on a charge as even a mediocre electric car, a motorist will never become stranded at the roadside with a depleted battery. Think of it as the automotive equivalent of the combo players that eased America through the transition from VHS tapes to DVDs. Chevy promises slightly quicker acceleration with improved fuel economy, which should continue to favor those with modest commutes that can rely mostly on all-electric operation.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda’s low-slung two-seat roadster is redesigned for just the third time in a quarter century, and takes on a welcomely aggressive look that replaces the former version’s “happy face” styling theme. A freshened interior isboth better looking and more accommodating than before, with added features. A new SKYACTIV-technology 2.0-liter engine is estimated to generate 155 horsepower and attain an estimated 27/36-mpg with the available six-speed automatic transmission (27/34 with the standard six-speed manual). About 150 pounds lighter in weight than before, expect the MX-5 Miata to retain the precise handling abilities for which it’s renown.
Mercedes-Benz AMG GT
Mercedes’ hottest car is recast for 2016 with audacious exterior styling that, for better or worse, eschews the prior model’s signature vertical-opening doors for conventional ones. A 4.0-liter 456-horsepower V8 is set to be the base engine, but it won’t make its way over here until spring 2016; in the meantime, the top S version launches with a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that channels 503 raging horsepower to the pavement via the rear wheels. Mercedes claims thecar will make a 3.7-second run from 0 to 60 mph; a seven-speed automated manual transmission is included. An adjustable exhaust system allows a driver to varythe sound the car makes according to the drive mode selected, for either a quieter and more benign driving experience or a louder and racier one. A low center of gravity, nearly optimal front-to-rear weight distribution and a sophisticated adaptive suspension at all four corners promise uncanny cornering prowess. As its six-figure price tag would indicate, the AMG GT comes with no shortage of luxury and safety-minded features.
Mercedes-Benz Maybach S600
The luxury automaker’s flagship line of sedans adds a new over-the-top model for 2016, the Maybach S600. Starting at nearly $190,000, it essentially takes over where the automaker’s since-discontinued Maybach line of ultra-luxury cars left off. It’s over eight inches longer than the standard S-Class models, with more interior room, richer accommodations and a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine that’s rated at a launch-happy 523 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. We assume many will be used as chauffeur-driven executive cars.
Toyota’s youth-oriented division launches two new small cars for 2016, the first of which is the subcompact iA sedan. Sharing components with the Mazda2, the iA is engineered to deliver entertaining handling and packs a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that promises an estimated 42 mpg in highway driving; it can be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with a selectable sport mode. Expect the car to come in a single well-equipped version, with a standard low-speed accident avoidance system helps a driver avoid or at least minimize the damage of collisions in around town driving, starting in the $16,000 range.
The larger of Scion’s two new 2016 models, the compact iM hatchback is essentially a wagon-like version of the Corolla sedan (in a sense, it fills the gap left behind by the discontinued Toyota Matrix). It packs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a choice of a six-speed stick shift or a gearless CVT automatic transmission with both a sport setting and a manual mode that emulates seven “shift points.” As with other Scion models the iM should come in a nicely configured single-spec model, and will likely start at under $20,000.