2012 Ford Focus ST

The 2012 Ford Focus ST is a new high performance hatchback that takes aim at other sporty powerful compact hatches such as the Subaru Impreza WRX, Mazda MazdaSpeed3, and Volkswagen GTI.

The Focus ST has not previously been available in North America but the Focus SVT was a higher performance version of the model that was last offered in the U.S. for the 2004 model. The Focus SVT had a 2.0-liter 170 horsepower engine.

Engine and Power

The Focus was all-new for 2011 so there are otherwise few changes for the 2012 model year. The Focus ST features Ford’s lightweight, all-aluminum 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost® engine, which is also seen in the 2012 Ford Explorer.

In the Focus ST, the engine produces an estimated 247 horsepower and 250 pound feet of torque. In comparison, the Impreza WRX has 265 horsepower, the MazdaSpeed3 has 263 horsepower, and the VW GTI has 200 horsepower. Expect a Focus ST 0-60 time of under 6 seconds.

Features and Options

The Focus ST has a sporty design, distinctive from other Focus trim lines. The model has unique 18” Y-shaped alloy wheels and front and rear upsized disc brakes for quicker stops. Optional features include partial leather Recaro® seats, heated seats, eight-way adjustable seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and bi-xenon headlights.

The model has uprated shock absorbers and springs that lower its chassis by one centimeter. This gives the car a lower center of gravity and better handling than other Focus trim.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy has not yet been announced but the Focus ST comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. The model uses high-pressure direct injection, twin-independent variable cam timing, and a low-inertia turbocharger to conserve fuel. The Focus ST is front-wheel drive but has a torque steer compensation system that counteracts the effects of torque steer feel for the driver.

Coming in 2012

The Focus ST its global debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. It goes on sale in the U.S. in calendar year 2012. The model brings back more competition in the sport hatchback market as the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and Dodge Caliber SRT-4 were both discontinued.

The Focus ST will be available in more than 40 markets and an ST Wagon will be sold in Europe. Buyers in six continents can enjoy the performance, agility, sound quality, and driving dynamics of this car.

Pricing has not been announced but expect a starting MSRP of about $25,000 making the Focus ST one of the cheapest performance cars you can buy.

Originally posted 2011-09-24 19:24:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Toyota Yaris

The 2012 Toyota Yaris is a refreshed version of this subcompact model. While the model has many changes for 2012 perhaps the biggest change is that the sedan is no longer offered. With the growing sales of hatchbacks and their greater cargo capacity, Toyota has decided to refocus the Yaris as a hatchback only.

The Yaris comes in thee primary trim lines: L, LE, and SE. The SE trim is offered as a five-door only and has 16” alloy wheels. The L and LE offered three door trims. USB, Bluetooth, and auxiliary connections are standard.

2012 Changes

The 2012 Yaris has a sharper exterior with new front and rear fascias and new headlights and taillights. While the 2009-2011 Yaris had an awkward appearance, the 2012 Yaris looks a bit sportier, more along the lines of the new Hyundai Accent hatchback. The model’s height has been lowered by 0.6” inches to improve handling and balance.

The 2012 Yaris has a new instrument panel and redesigned thee-spoke steering wheel. The wheelbase grows by 1.9” allowing for greater interior room. Cargo room increases by an impressive 25% over the 2011 model. The Yaris also offers an impressive nine airbags standard.

Engine & Fuel Economy

Toyota seems to be going the way of Honda and making only modest engine changes. The model still has a 1.5-liter 106 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

The Yaris also retains its antiquated four-speed automatic transmission option (a five-speed manual is standard) while several of its competitors offer six-speed transmissions. Toyota has made the engine lighter and extracted more fuel economy in the Yaris.

The 2012 Yaris’ fuel economy improves to 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway with the manual and 30/35 with the automatic, which is comparable to the Honda Fit and Mazda Mazda2. According to Motor Trend, the 2012 Yaris SE has a 0-60 time of 9.1 seconds with the manual.


The 2012 Toyota Yaris has a starting MSRP of $14,115 with the 3-door L model. The top line Yaris 5-Door SE with the four-speed automatic starts at $17,200. The 2012 Yaris is on sale now.

Originally posted 2011-12-05 01:19:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mini Roadster

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a clear choice if you are looking for an affordable two-seat convertible. It is the cheapest two-seat convertible you can buy as a 2012 model with a starting price under $25,000 and has been highly regarded since it debuted more than 20 years ago for the driving experience it provides.

After the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky ended their brief runs after the 2009 model year, the MX-5 Miata was the only model of this type available in its price range. It has no direct competition. However, this is about to change as the Mini Roadster will go on sale in North America in mid-2012.

A True Convertible

Mini already offers a convertible offering for the four-seat Cooper. It is a fully automatic soft-top that retracts in just 15 seconds. The soft-top also has a built in sun roof. The Cooper convertible starts at an MSRP of $25,650 offering Mini’s 1.6-liter 121 horsepower base engine.

The convertible is also available in the Cooper S trim,with the turbocharged 181 horsepower engine, and the John Cooper Works trim, which gets 208 horsepower out of its turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

What separates the new Mini Roadster is that it is a true two-seat convertible. The concept of the model was first shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show and the model is set to make its formal debut at the January 2012 Detroit auto show.

MINI auf der IAA 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jürgen Stemper // Bloemche

Engine and Power

The Mini Roadster will feature the same engines as the Cooper. The base model with the 121 horsepower engine is expected to start at about $24,000, which is comparable to the MX-5 Miata. However, the Mazda offers a 2.0-liter 167 horsepower engine and a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds. The base Mini Roadster will be significantly slower but should offer very crisp, agile handling.

To have superior acceleration, buyers will need to step up the Mini Roadster S or Mini Roadster John Cooper Works. However, the Roadster S will likely start at a price near $30,000.

Differences Between the Cooper Convertible

Mini began offering the Mini Coupe for the 2012 model year. It is a two-seater with a trunk, unlike other Cooper models that have a hatchback. The Roadster will essentially be the convertible version of the Coupe. The Roadster will have stainless-steel rollover bars, a more steeply raked windshield, and have a roof height 0.9 inches lower than the Cooper convertible.

The Roadster will also have a manual soft-top, with a center-mounted latch on the windshield header. However, raising the roof is made easier by a push button that activates pneumatic springs to hasten the time it takes to put the roof in place. Unlike the Cooper convertible, which comes in three different colors and racing stripes, the Roadster will only be offered with a black top.

MINI Cooper Cabrio * MIautumn
Creative Commons License photo credit: jiazi

Advantages and Disadvantages the MX-5 Miata

The Mini Roadster has several advantages over the MX-5 Miata. One clear edge is in trunk space. The Roadster has 8.5 cubic feet compared to just 5.3 cubic feet for the Mazda. It also offers an optional six-speed automatic transmission whereas the Mazda has just a five-speed automatic transmission.

While fuel economy has not yet been announced, the Mini Coupe S has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway, which is about 20% better than the Mazda. The 2012 MX-5 Miata has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.

The Roadster’s disadvantages to the MX-5 Miata are topped by the fact that it offers significantly less power at a comparable price. It also does not offer a power top, unlike the MX-5 Miata, which has retractable top trim lines. Learn more about affordable new convertibles in our Cheap Convertibles article.

Originally posted 2011-10-31 22:53:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

New Yaris for 2012

Entering its sixth model year in the U.S., the subcompact Toyota Yaris is being redesigned for 2012. Unfortunately, it will not be on sale until late in 2011 giving newly designed 2012 competitors the Hyundai Accent and Chevy Sonic an edge out of the gates.

The 2012 Yaris will sport a redesigned exterior and interior improvement. Its power train and underpinnings are largely expected to carryover from the 2011 model, but expect better fuel economy. The 2011 model has a 1.5-liter 106 horsepower four-cylinder engine across all trim lines.

The 2011 Yaris gets EPA rated fuel economy of 29-mpg city and 36-mpg highway with the five-speed manual and 29/35 with an automatic transmission. Toyota is working on an ultra efficient 1.3-liter engine with start-stop technology but that is not expected to debut in North America for a few years.

Expect Toyota to do something about the antiquated optional four-speed automatic transmission in the 2011 Yaris. The Yaris currently offers a less powerful engine than nearly all its competitors without offering better fuel economy. Perhaps a continuously variable transmission will be in the offing to replace the four-speed auto to get the model to the 40-mpg highway range.

The 2011 Yaris is offered in six trim lines with a three-door hatch, five-door hatch, and four-door sedan. While the five-door hatch and four-door sedan will be seen in the 2012 Yaris, it is unknown whether the bargain priced three-door hatch will continue. The Yaris is known as the Vitz in its home market of Japan.

Toyota Vitz RS 1.5 2007
Creative Commons License photo credit: Peter Zoon

Expect the 2012 Yaris to have a starting MSRP in the $14,000 range when it debuts late this fall. Toyota has been starting to get production back on track after the fallout from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Yaris is assembled in Japan. Other competitors include the Ford Fiesta, Mazda Mazda2, and Honda Fit.

Originally posted 2011-07-07 00:27:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2011 Honda Civic

The 2011 Honda Civic is a compact model that has been a strong seller for Honda for more than 20 years. This is the sixth year of its current generation. The 2011 Civic is unchanged from the 2010 model year. This is due to the fact that an all-new Civic will be released for 2012.

The Civic has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $15,605. It is offered in four primary trim lines in sedan and coupe forms. Trim lines in order of price are: DX, LX, EX, and Si. The coupe models only have two doors while the sedans have four doors with seating for up to five. In terms of price difference, the entry level DX coupe has an MSRP of $15,605 while the DX sedan’s MSRP is $15,805.

The Si is for drivers who want performance, as the engine has 57 more horsepower than other trims. Si trims have a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 197 horsepower. There is also a Civic Hybrid, which is offered in sedan form only and provides even greater fuel economy. But it is technically a separate model.

Most 2011 Civics are offered with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine producing 140 horsepower. This is about average for its class. However, the all-new 2012 Ford Focus has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 160 horsepower and offers a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2012 Focus is already on sale.

When the Civic debuted in 2006, it had a striking design for a compact car and received rave reviews from the automotive press. It won the Motor Trend 2006 Car of the Year award. However, after six years, some of its competitors have released new models that have exceeded the Civics power, fuel economy, interior refinement, safety features, and transmission. For example, many new compact models offer traction control and electronic stability control as standard features.

An up-level Civic LX sedan with an automatic transmission (AT) has a starting MSRP of $20,405. It comes standard with sunroof, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, CD, ABS, and driver, passenger, and side airbags. The Civic offers an optional navigation system and ECS. To get traction control and ESC standard and add leather seating, buyers would need to step up to the Civic EX-L sedan with AT and navigation of $23,955. Only Civic 4-door models (except SI) with optional ESC made the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s safest 2011 small cars list.

Pictures of the 2012 Honda Civic have been released. It will be interested to see what improvements Honda makes in the new Civic. In the meantime, buyers may be able to find good deals on 2011 Civics. For example, until May 2, 2011, Honda is offering 0.9% financing for 60 months for qualified Civic sedan buyers. The 2012 Civic is expected to go on sale later this spring.

Originally posted 2011-04-10 17:26:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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