Five Brand New Passenger Cars for 2011
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze four-door sedan replaces the Chevrolet Cobalt as the brand's entry-level compact offering. Riding on an all-new platform, the Chevrolet Cruze also features two fresh four-cylinder engines: a 1.8-liter unit that generates 136 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque, and a 1.4-liter, turbocharged mill that produces 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. The latter returns fuel mileage of 24-mpg city and 36-mpg highway, helping the Cruze find its place amongst the ultra-efficient passenger cars in its class. Transmission choices for the vehicle include a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.
Those who opt for the base 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will see an equipment list that offers air conditioning, OnStar, a trip computer, an MP3-capable CD player and power windows and door locks. The Cruze lineup tops out with the LTZ trim that offers automatic climate control, a stiffer suspension system, disc brakes at all four corners and larger 18-inch wheels. Heated leather seats and an iPod interface for the stereo system are also included on the LTZ.
2011 Mazda MAZDA2
New passenger cars don't come much smaller than the 2011 Mazda Mazda2, a model that shares its basic platform with the recently introduced Ford Fiesta. Available exclusively as a four-door hatchback, this subcompact keeps things simple by offering only two trim levels. The MAZDA2 Sport offers basic accommodations that include air conditioning, power windows and door locks and a CD player (with MP3 capability) while the Touring model installs a spoiler and fog lights as well as cruise control, nicer seats and a trip computer.
Both versions of this new passenger car come with the same economy-focused four-cylinder engine. Displacing 1.5-liters, the motor squeezes out 100 horsepower and 96 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is somewhat thirstier than expected for such a small engine, coming in at 28-mpg around town and 35-mpg on the highway when equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is also available as an option.
2011 Hyundai Sonata
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata has been completely redesigned so as to improve on interior room, handling, power and fuel efficiency in comparison with the 2010 model. Aiming for the upper tier of affordable mid-size passenger cars, the Hyundai Sonata comes with a heavy equipment list, even in base trim: power windows and door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, a trip computer, satellite radio, a CD player than can read MP3 digital music files and Bluetooth integration are all on the list of standard features. Opting for the Sonata Limited provides the most extensive array of comfort items, such as heated leather seats, dual automatic climate control and nicer interior and exterior trim.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata rolls from the factory with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine as its mechanical starting point. Rated at up to 200 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque (with the SE model's duel exhaust option), the Sonata maintains frugal fuel economy of 24-mpg city and 35-mpg highway. The new passenger car is also available with a 274 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor that offers nearly the same fuel mileage.
2011 Volkswagen Jetta
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is a clean-slate reinterpretation of the automaker's most affordable sedan. Upsized to better compete against other new passenger cars, the 2011 Jetta provides additional rear seat room compared to the 2010 edition, and its styling is bolder than that of the outgoing model. Standard equipment is also up, although there is still the option of the Jetta Base that offers only steel wheels and power windows and door locks as its primary features.
Three engine choices can be had in the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, starting out with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that provides 115 horsepower and 32-mpg on the highway. Moving up to the available 2.5-liter four-cylinder introduces an additional 65 horsepower while lowering highway efficiency by only 1-mpg. The Volkswagen Jetta TDI's turbodiesel, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine eclipses most other new passenger cars in its class in terms of frugality, providing 42 highway miles per gallon to go with its 140 horsepower. A mix of six-speed automatic and manual transmissions handles the gear shifting duties for the 2011 Jetta.
2011 Kia Optima
The Kia Optima enters the new passenger car market with a completely redesigned face for 2011. Revised styling lifts the Optima out of its economy car roots and the vehicle's re-engineered platform is a mechanical twin of the previously mentioned Hyundai Sonata. Although not quite as generously equipped as the Hyundai, the Optima still provides more features than many of its competitors at a similar price point, with items such as keyless entry, air conditioning, a CD player and power windows and door locks all included free of charge in the base model. Kia has worked hard to give the passenger car a completely different look inside and out when compared against the Sonata, but the 2011 Optima still shares its drivetrain DNA with the Hyundai. This means that buyers must choose between a 200 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 274 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Highway fuel economy for each motor is rated at 35-mpg and 34-mpg, respectively, and transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.