From wild to mild: A look at Detroit's 2013 lineup
DAMASCUS, Md. (MarketWatch) -- From performance to penny-pinching, there should be something for everyone in Detroit's 2013 lineup, featuring the resurrected Viper from Chrysler, a generation-ending Corvette from Chevrolet and updated gas-sippers from Ford and Chevy.
If there is one constant link in my research of 2013 models, it is that Detroit finally got the word that weight reduction is a must. While most customers won't notice it, shedding a few pounds should improve gas mileage across the board.
Rebounding Chrysler will offer driving enthusiasts a redesigned Viper and Viper GTS. It was designed to maintain all the traits that made the old Viper what it was before production ceased in 2010: No automatic tranny, no cup holders, no automatic parking systems here. It's raw power, excellent handling and lower weight for the return in '13.
Performance remains the name of the game as an 8.4-liter V-10 still lurks under the hood with its 640-horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque that Chrysler claims is the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports car engine in the world. Various engine modifications result in gains of 40 hp and 40 pound-feet of torque. It will be tied only to a six-speed manual transmission. Top speed is a touch over 200 mph, with 0 to 60 in the low 3-second range. The GTS will be more oriented to the weekend racing enthusiast with a SRT track package featuring Pirelli P Zero Z-rated tires among other items.
Drivers who want to burn rubber will love the steering-wheel-mounted launch control in both models. Overall structure stiffness is said to be up by 50%, with about a 100-pound weight reduction thanks to the Viper's carbon fiber and aluminum body.
Exterior styling remains identifiable as a Viper but with many new touches. It's what Chrysler designers call "a naked woman on a beach" style
Inside, there is improved legroom, higher class materials and an analog tach readout with the option of an additional digital speed readout on a customizable color screen between the instruments. The new Viper will also include a lap timer. A separate 8.4 inch touchscreen houses radio, climate controls, navigation and phone controls. It is also inside that we see the influence of Fiat(FIATY) (F) , Chrysler's Italian owners, with seats from Sabelt, the same company that produces them for Ferrari.
The snake will have stability control for the first time but in the U.S. it can be switched off. All scoops and vents are functional, a priority according to the top brass. Look for the 2013 Viper to hit the streets in fourth quarter of 2012.
Early Take: It might lead you to a tattoo.
A complete redesign for the Fusion, known in the rest of world as the Mondeo, gives this midsize sedan a much-needed modern look. It should attract customers who prioritize fuel economy with a choice of gas, hybrid and plug-in powertrains. There will be a 170-hp, 2.5-liter four, a 1.6-liter four banging out 179 hp and a 2.0-liter four good for 237 hp. Ford (F) claims the hybrid model will hit 62 mph on electric power alone or 47 mpg city/44 highway.
The base cloth interior is made using "recycled sustainable yarns," according to its maker.
Overall, the Fusion remains the same size as the current model but gains five inches in the wheelbase, helping rear-seat room, which grows from 29 inches to 38 inches. Prices will range from $21,700 for the base S mode to just over $32,000 for the top-of-the-line SEL. Look for the new Fusion in late summer or early fall.
Early Take: A great looking fuel-sipper.
Chevrolet (GM) finally releases the Spark city car. The five-door hatchback will come with a 1.2-liter, 84-horsepower four mated to a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Chevy is bragging about the 7-inch color screen that will display smartphone-based navigation, media and hands-free calling. The Spark is longer than the Fiat 500 by five inches at nearly 145 inches, but they are virtually the same width.
Chevy says the Spark will seat four and come in base and more upscale 1LT and 2LT trim levels. The EPA has yet to release its economy estimates, but a sure bet would be in the 30 to 40 mpg range with prices from just over $12,000 to just shy of $16,000. It should be in dealer showrooms shortly.
Early Take: If gas goes back to $4 a gallon …
The hot-selling Chevy Traverse will get a new front end style similar to the Malibu. A new, more-upscale interior is also said to be in the works for the Traverse and its brothers at GMC and Buick. At some point in the relatively near future, we will see a redesigned Chevy Silverado pickup, the nation's second-best-selling vehicle. Chevy is saying bye-bye to the Avalanche pickup/SUV after the 2013 model year.
If the rumor mill is correct, probably in the 2013 calendar year, a remodeled Corvette will hit the streets. It will remain a front engine, V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive American hot rod. Chevy certainly will update the interior and install new seats. GM only says that 2013 "will be the final year for the C6 generation."
A 2013 model-year convertible with a 427-cubic-inch (7-liter) engine is a certainty, blending what GM says will be elements of the Z06 and ZR1 models. Get ready for lots of head-to-head contests with the Viper, since this new 'Vette will sport a 505 horsepower V-8 with 470 pound-feet of torque and six-speed manual tranny. GM cites a zero to 60 time as 3.8 seconds and 11.8 seconds through the quarter mile. Top speed is said to be excess of 190 mph. And it will handle with lateral acceleration of 1.04 g.
The first 427-powered Corvettes rolled off the assembly line in the 1966 model year.
Early Take: A great way to conclude the C6 generation.