Previewing 2016’s best models
CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
From redesigned versions of familiar rides to entirely new speedsters, 2016 is sizing up to be a club dance of excitement for autos. There are even plug-ins from unlikely sources — luxury crossovers and affordable sub-compacts. Check out the highlights.
Mercedes-Benz GLC. The butch-square GLK crossover will be missed, but not so much after driving this replacement with air suspension, 241 horsepower turbo-4 and 9-speed transmission. The gorgeous interior flows with wood and stitched leather. Infotainment is bolstered by a gesture-controlled touchpad, Wi-Fi and smartphone-enabled remote starting. And the price is appealing. Base price: $38,950.
Ford Edge. Edge cribs the popular Fusion’s styling and comes with a 245 horsepower turbo-four (30-MPG hwy) or 300 horsepower EcoBoost V6. Adaptive cruise, crash avoidance with brake support, lane-keeping assist and hands-free liftgate are available. Comfort thyself with heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Inflatable rear safety belts enhance safety. Base price: $28,100.
Volvo XC90. While all new, styling is pure Volvo with Thor’s Hammer LED driving lights and strong shoulders. Inside, look for cloud-based apps, head-up display and Bowers & Wilkins audio. Being a Volvo, safety is fortified with road sign reading technology, and pedestrian avoidance system. A turbocharged/supercharged 2.0-liter engine with 316 horsepower and 20/25-MPG works with an air suspension for swift motoring. A plug-in will soon follow. Base price: $49,800.
All the pretty horses
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. The Italians challenge Germans and Americans with a rear-drive hot rod driven by a 505 horsepower BiTurbo V6 that achieves 0-60 mph in 3.8s. An active aero front splitter, torque-vectoring differential and carbon fiber hood, roof and driveshaft enhance performance. Alfa’s racing-inspired Cloverleafs convey intentions. Base price (est): $50,000.
Buick Cascada. Buick’s first convertible since the Reatta flaunts sexy curves over a German-engineered chassis. The canvas top folds in 17s at speeds up to 31 mph. Innovative roll-over bars deploy should the worst happen. Under-hood is a 1.6-liter turbo-four delivering 200 horsepower. Get it with 4G Wi-Fi and 20-in. wheels. Base price: $33,065.
Cadillac CT6. Extensive aluminum keeps it light — all the less for the 400 horsepower twin-turbo V6 with AWD to move. A turbo-4 and 3.6-liter V6 are also available. Corvette’s Magnetic Ride Control smooths all pavement. A lavish interior checks 4G Wi-Fi, Night Vision display, exterior video recorder, seat massagers and Bose Panaray audio. It can even park itself and avoid pedestrians. Just wait for the plug-in edition! Base price (est): $70,000.
Go green (and save green)
Chevy Volt. Chevy’s range-extended plug-in gets re-styled, but that’s not the big news. Upgraded electrics increase non-fossil range from 38 to 53 miles, after which the gas engine keep it going. Recharge in 4.5 hours (240v). A simpler interior features 4G Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay. Base price: $33,120.
Scion iA. Essentially a Mazda2, Scion’s new sub-compact comes standard with keyless entry, push button starting, low-speed pre-collision system and rear camera. Also get Bluetooth, touchscreen, 2 USB ports and apps for Pandora, Aha and Stitcher. Navigation is optional. A sport-tuned suspension and 106 horses 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (33/42-MPG) add to the fun. Base price: $15,700.
Smart ForTwo. Smart love becomes easier. It’s wider for enhanced stability and shoulder room — and more powerful with a turbo-three that delivers 89 horsepower, 100 lb.-ft. of torque and 33/39-MPG city/hwy. Suspension and transmission refinement are vastly improved. A completely re-designed interior adds JBL audio, crosswind assist and forward collision warning. Smarts were crash tested against Mercedes C- and S-Class models to ensure safety. Base price: $14,650.
Tesla Model X. Model X is way cool given a 250 miles all-electric range, seating for seven and falcon wing rear doors. It even has a medical grade HEPA air filter to remove pollution from the cabin and create positive pressure to protect in case of a bio-attack. Pull a 5,000-lb. trailer (enough for a classic car or a couple of jet skis). If you liked the Model S sedan, you’ll pulse for the crossover version. Base price: $75,000.
Haul ass (and lumber)
Toyota Tacoma. Marty McFly’s pickup arrives in the future with a beefier design and bicycles/gear bed attachments. Gadgets include a GoPro mount under the rearview mirror, app-based Entune infotainment system, JBL speakers and wireless phone charging. Turn wheels with a 159 horsepower 2.7-liter I4 (19/23-MPG city/hwy) or 278 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 (19/24-MPG) for up to 6,800 lbs. towing. Base price: $23,300.
Nissan Titan XD. The newly-crowned Truck of Texas harbors a 5.0-liter Cummins turbo-Diesel V8 that delivers 310 horsepower, 555 lb-ft. of torque and 12,000-lbs. towing capacity. An Infinitiesque interior coddles with heated cooled Zero Gravity seats, Rockford Fosgate audio and heated rear benches. Convenience is enhanced with a 120-volt in-bed plug, LED cargo lighting and Around View Monitor. Sales commence this fall. Base price (est): $30,000.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 6, 2015.