2011 was an interesting year for automakers and we saw big gains for GM, while Toyota struggled with issues related to the natural disasters in Japan.
2012 Hyundai Sonata
The Sonata has transcended boundaries, catapulting to No. 1 in the midsize rankings amongst countless publications with features found in $30,000 cars. Class leading fuel efficiency (24/35 mpg with its 2.4-liter four cylinder and 37/40 mpg with hybrid) and a technology package consisting of Blue Link telematics with real person turn by turn navigation, standard Bluetooth is exceptional for its value (base $19,695; turbo for $23,095). Its power train 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty continues to reign as longest overall of any vehicle in any class.
2012 Audi A6
Audi hit recording breaking sales numbers this year and the A6 is one reason why. The BMW 5-Series strongest competitor's sports an aggressive front and rear fascia to create a muscular build and its in-car tech shines with its all-new MMI infotainment system connected to Audi Connect, a suite with Google Maps integration, Wi-Fi hotspot, and myAudi account access. A6 pricing starts at $41,700 and $49,900 for the 3.0T. Look for the A6 to follow in the 5-Series and E-Class' trail going into 2012.
2012 Ford Focus
The Focus refocused with a massive overhaul to its in-car tech (MyKey and MyFord infotainment and safety system empowering speed restrictions), torque vectoring control for improved vehicle stability, and a fresh redesign. This Focus comes with a new 2.0-liter inline four cylinder for 160HP with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automated manual transmission returning 26/36 mpg. Look for its electric version to enter production in 2012. Pricing starts at $16,500.
Winner of the 2011 North American Truck of the Year award, the Explorer reversed its identity by going all-out with a new all-wheel-drive crossover body, producing improvements to fuel efficiency (17/23 mpg; 20/28 mpg with EcoBoost), the premiere of inflatable seatbelt airbags, an IIHS Top Safety Pick distinction, and value at $28.280. Look for the Explorer to break 100,000 units again in 2012 as its crossover platform taps the surface of its potential.