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No matter how many types of vehicles are for sale, one fact will always stand: sedans sell. Consider the Ford Taurus - the old, best-selling one - or the Toyota Camry. It's simple. Buy a good sedan and you've got a friend for many, many, miles. Buy a bad one and get to know your dentist, thanks to the amount of porcelain you're sure to grind off your choppers. This year - and in the near future - there are a number of interesting sedans to test drive, from the Hyundai Genesis to the BMW 335d clean diesel. We start off with the most-recently revealed models.
Photo Credit: Staff, Automakers
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2009 Acura TSX
The 2009 Acura TSX is a tale of two Hondas. Good Honda: Giving the TSX more style, room and luxury to go with proven handling fun. Bad Honda: No turbo or diesel for now, and no significant upgrade one model year after the Accord was completely reworked? With the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, performance upgrades are modest and confined to eight more lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or a sporty five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
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BMW CS Concept
The most significant thing about the BMW CS Concept is that it's here and looking very production-feasible, even with a slightly crazy-yet-elegant approach to the sheet metal. While it's mostly a design direction at this point, the specs come in as slightly larger and longer than the 7 Series, which lights up the speculation machine regarding a possible new 8 Series. For BMW fans, the CS signals that the Bavarian automaker is now seriously in the game against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Porsche Panamera. With plenty of powertrains to choose from, the CS Concept could be making it's way stateside in very quick order.
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2009 Honda Fit
It seems like only yesterday when we welcomed your cute and cheery presence to these shores, praising your ability to do so much while asking for so little in return. We're talking about the little Honda Fit, which thanks to rising fuel prices and its general popularity saw an 87-percent increase in sales last year. Clearly, there are plenty of you out there interested in diminutive transportation. For 2009, Honda has updated the Fit with a simplified rear Magic Seat, the choice of five-speed manual or automatic transmissions, additional storage provisions, safety technology including the brand's ACE body structure and a bevy of airbags, and gently revised styling.
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2009 Kia Optima
Kia updates but doesn't drastically change the Optima sedan for 2009. Among the tweaks are revised front and rear exterior styling, a more powerful four-cylinder engine, variable-valve technology, an available navigation system, a USB port, and a new SX trim with sport-tuned suspension. Like the model it replaces, the new Optima will be available with four- and six-cylinder engines; the smaller powerplant is mated to a five-speed manual or a Sportmatic five-speed automatic transmission, whereas the V-6 works only with the automatic. Output for the 2.4-liter four is rated at 175 horsepower and 169 lb.-ft. of torque; the V-6 carries over with 185 horses and 182 lb.-ft. of torque.
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2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS
When we drove the CLS two years ago, the most notable characteristic was its good looks. That hasn't changed; it's still a sleek car with what amounts to mostly cosmetic changes for 2009. In addition to a mild nose job, the grille has two bars instead of four and the upper and lower openings have gray mesh. In back, a new rear bumper is joined by new taillamps and exhaust tips. Beyond the cosmetic changes, there are few changes. The next generation of the E-Class is due next year, and with the CLS on the same platform, it seems likely that a thorough redesign of the CLS will follow in short order.
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2009 Nissan Maxima
When the Nissan Maxima debuted in 1990, Nissan called it a Four-Door sports car, beckoning driving enthusiasts to climb behind the wheel. It worked, and the Maxima's sporty demeanor won over buyers. Since then, the Maxima got steadily bigger and heavier, losing its sporty edge even to its underling, the Altima sedan. But not anymore. The 2009 Nissan Maxima once again wears the Four Door Sports Car moniker, and with a 290 horsepower V-6, sport-tuned suspension and aggressive but elegant looks, Nissan looks ready to reestablish the Maxima as its premier sedan offering.
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2009 Pontiac G8 GXP
Pontiac dresses up the G8 sedan's lineup with a new more powerful GXP model, sporting a 402-horsepower V-8, an optional six-speed manual transmission, slightly revised and sportier styling and a 0-60 mph run in about 4.7 seconds. What serves as the greatest difference between the Pontiac G8 GT and the newly-announced GXP variant is the latter's V-8 engine boasting horsepower in excess of 400. That, and the optional manual transmission enthusiasts have been begging for since the G8's initial debut.
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Suzuki Kizashi 3 Concept
Whether or not Suzuki can deliver on the promise of the Kizashi 3 Conceptremains to be seen, but - wow - what a stunner. Due to be sold as a 2010 model, the concept that debuted at the New York Auto Show was the third and final installment of Suzuki's Kizashi series, and almost looks drivable now: save for a few of the obvious concept traits seen above. Powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, the Kizashi 3's for-sale version is tabbed to do about 300 horsepower. All that power goes to all four wheels courtesy of Suzuki's all-wheel-drive system.
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2009 Ford Fiesta
Ford is bringing one of its biggest selling models back to the U.S. market after a nearly three decade absence. Only the Mk. I made it to these shores. Now the Mk. VIII is poised to debut in North America between 2008 and 2010. Debuting in Geneva in three and five-door versions, it is still unclear if the U.S. will get either hatchback model or only a sedan. Ford has given no indication what engine the U.S. version would have. However, based on the Fiesta's history and the competitors it faces in the U.S. market, the most likely engine is the 1.6 liter inline-four cylinder.
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Mitsubishi Prototype S
The Prototype S is outfitted with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 240 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque. A twin-clutch gearbox transfers power to the Active Center Differential, which drives all four wheels. It's the same system from the previous generation Evolution, and the drivetrain that will grace the Ralliart. While the Evolution is the top dog, some of the prestige and performance goodies have rubbed off onto the new Ralliart. The Prototype S is a sharp looking hatchback and in Ralliart trim could be a worthy competitor to the WRX Sportwagon and a good choice for buyers seeking utility and performance in one car.
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2009 Acura RL
Acura has officially unveiled the 2009 RL, representing a thorough revisiting of its flagship sedan. The RL hasn't exactly set the world on fire since its introduction in 2005, namely for its overly subdued styling. Acura kicked it up a notch with an MDX-inspired grille, new headlights and taillights. The new look is certainly aggressive, and with a bigger engine it has the chops to back it up. Acura bumped engine displacement from 3.5-liters to 3.7-liters, with a commensurate increase in horsepower from 290 hp to an even 300 hp. Torque bumps up from 256 lb.-ft to 271 lb.-ft.
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2008 BMW 5 Series
You wouldn't know it at first glance - or even a second or third glance - but the BMW 5 Series receives styling updates for the 2008 model year. They're very subtle, so much so that we almost had to take BMW's word for it that things actually had changed. The same holds true for the updated interior, which features further refinements to BMW's iDrive system. What isn't so subtle is what's under the hood. Both six cylinder engines in the 5 Series are updated with more power and refinement.
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2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring
Hyundai takes its successful four-door sedan and makes it into a five-door, aka a hatchback or wagon. The Touring will use the same engine as the sedan and can be bought with the four-speed, sport-shift automatic or the five-speed manual. As a nod to driving enthusiasts, Hyundai outfits the manual transmission with a short-throw shifter, while music lovers get an iPod connection via USB. Cargo space with the rear seats folded down is a healthy 65.3 cubic feet.
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2009 Hyundai Sonata
Like the little brother who's actually bigger and maybe even better than his older sibling, the Hyundai Sonata is all about getting attention showing that it's a serious player among the Accords, Camrys and Malibus. With this 2009 refresh, Hyundai has taken that small half step toward building a sedan that competes against all competitors. Indeed, with added power and efficiency, an improved interior and a new grille, the Sonata has the right stuff to get noticed. On sale in February of 2008 and at a base price of $18,795, the Sonata is sure to get quite a bit of attention.
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2009 Mitsubishi Galant
The 2009 Mitsubishi Galant that debuted at the Chicago show features a new model in the lineup, revised styling and some reconfigured options packages. A four-cylinder Sport Edition joins the range for the first time, and Mitsubishi says the new options setup on the V-6 Sport model results in roughly $1,000 in savings compared to the Galant's competition. Saving money is always good of course, but we're most interested in the styling updates. The nose and tail both receive tweaks, and all of it for the good.
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2009 BMW 335d
BMW, not content to let rival Mercedes-Benz bask in the diesel spotlight, is bringing a twin-turbo, diesel-powered 3 Series sedan to all 50 of these United States late in 2008. Like its Teutonic rival, BMW uses urea injection to turn nitric oxides into nitrogen and water vapor, and thereby meeting emissions regulations. The system also doesn't need to be refilled any more often than when owners have the engine oil changed, a move by both automakers to lessen any inconvenience. BMW's diesel is a 3.0-liter, inline-six cylinder, twin-turbo engine that is already sold in other parts of the world. The 335d goes on sale in the fall.
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2008 Chevrolet Impala 50th Anniversary Edition
Fifty years is a long time for one automotive nameplate to survive. Heck, many don't make it past their first product cycle. So it's understandable that Chevrolet would be proud of the 50th anniversary of its Impala sedan. Never mind that there was a decade there when the Impala wasn't in the lineup, it's been 50 years since it first came out, and it's time to celebrate. But...but...why does the 50th Anniversary Edition have a V-6 engine? Chevy is basing the 50th anniversary edition off the LT, complete with its 211 horsepower 3.5-liter pushrod V-6 engine connected to a four-speed automatic. At least it gets the FE3 sport suspension.
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Ford Verve Sedan Concept
As car buyers faced with new environmental concerns and higher gas prices, we've had to change our perception about the vehicles we drive, with many of us opting for smaller, fuel-efficient alternatives. In turn, manufacturers such as Ford have had to adapt, which has lead to the development of the European-styled Verve Sedan Concept, a sub-Focus four-door the company promises will deliver much more than fuel efficiency when it arrives for the 2010 model year. In all likelihood, the production model will bear the Fiesta nameplate with power coming from a 1.6-liter gasoline engine.
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2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan
With the ubiquitous thumping-bass techno soundtrack, fog machines and plenty of back lighting, Hyundai brought forth the famed V-8 Genesis Sedan. Executives from the Korean automaker stressed that they're looking to disrupt what car buyers' perceptions are when it comes to luxury vs. price. With its rear-drive, V-8 power, the Genesis is aimed squarely at the luxury market and includes some truly luxo features - radar smart cruised control, self-leveling and cornering HID head lamps, heated and cooled seats and more. A Lexicon audio system with 17 speakers is available, and Hyundai is quick to point out that the only other car with that system is the Rolls Royce.
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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
With a starting price of $32,999, the 2008 Lancer Evolution GSR is expensive, no doubt. So much so that it leaves a gaping hole between it and the non-turbo Lancer GSR in terms of price and performance. Thus, the Lancer Ralliart is born, with a price in the mid-$20,000. The engine is essentially a detuned version of the Evolution's engine. Final power numbers weren't released, but Mitsubishi estimates peak output of 235 horses, all routed through the same six-speed Twin Clutch-SST automated-manual transmission that's found on the Evolution MR. Also included is the Active Center Differential, but the Evolution's Active Yaw Control is not available.
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2009 Toyota Venza Crossover Sedan
Toyota took the wraps off the Venza Crossover Sedan in Detroit, and yes, you're reading the word "crossover" followed by the word "sedan." Toyota says it "will be a unique blend of sedan and sport utility vehicle." Sounds a lot like the BMW X3. The Venza has two engine options: a 3.5-liter V-6 and a 2.7-liter inline four cylinder. Toyota hasn't released performance figures for the standard 2.7-liter engine. The V-6 produces 268 horsepower and 246 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines will be mated to a six-speed, sequential-shift automatic transmission, which will drive the front wheels or all four.
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2009 Volkswagen CC
Artfully sculpted, this vehicle attempts to alter the definition of what constitutes a sedan and, more important, what constitutes a Volkswagen. With sophisticated styling and technology more deserving of an Audi, the launch of the CC unleashes haunting memories of short-lived Phaeton. Two engines will be available with the 2009 CC, starting with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that boasts 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. Or buyers can opt for the 3.6-liter V-6 pushing 280 horses and 266 lb.-ft of torque. The front-drive turbo-four comes with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, whereas the V-6 gets standard 4Motion all-wheel drive and the six-speed Tiptronic automatic.
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