This has been a really busy year for automakers. Virtually every major company is releasing a number of significant vehicles for the 2015 model year. But which ones carry the most weight? Over at the Car Connection, they set about determining which represented the most significant contributions to their respective manufacturers.
“This year, there’s a bigger than usual crop of brand-new cars. Some are vehicles never seen before — vehicles that could make or break some car brands — while others are wholesale reinventions of existing nameplates, with new styling or technology, or both,” said Marty Padgett, at The Car Connection.
Here are the following 17 vehicles — some are doubled up, like the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon twins, so the numbering won’t reflect the number of vehicles discussed. They are arranged alphabetically.
1. Acura TLX
As far as luxury cars go, Honda’s (NYSE:HMC) Acura line could be considered the most sensible. There’s no raucous super sedans, insane sports cars (yet), and throughout the entire portfolio, there’s not one V8 to be found. The TLX, which is set to replace both the TL and TSX, is the result of Honda focusing its efforts on its sedans, and diverging from its bread-and-butter SUVs. Car Connection lauded the TLX, calling it “pretty darned brilliant, with the best-tuned suspension you can buy for the money.”
2. Alfa Romeo 4C
The Alfa Romeo 4C’s gorgeous looks belie the true purpose of what might be one of the best drivers’ cars we see next year: the 4C symbolizes Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States auto market, and it’s doing so in style. “Dynamically imperfect but damn close to it, the 4C is a limited-run come-on that’s basically been fabricated out of thin air for a singular purpose. To make some noise,” Car Connection said.
3. Audi A3
The Audi A3 is exceptionally important for the German brand because it’s Audi’s best chance to compete with the likes of BMW and Mercedes on a volume level. Priced at just over $30,000, it’s the most affordable Audi on the market, and with the arrival of diesel and high-performance variations, there should be an A3 for everyone’s taste. “By the time they’re all on sale, the A3 lineup will include the sedan, an Avant wagon, a pretty convertible, and diesels, sports models, and a plug-in hybrid hatchback,” Car Connection noted.
4. BMW i8
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the BMW i8 — this is not a volume seller, but instead a technological showcase for BMW’s electric car and plug-in hybrid powertrain. At $135,000, it’s among the most expensive BMW’s available, though it’s also the most advanced. The i3 is BMW’s strong foot forward and a good indication of wheat future BMW performance projects might look like.
5. Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
“The mid-size truck class finally gets a new entry next year, when the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon stake a claim on some of the shoppers who’d otherwise buy an aging Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier,” Car Connection said. Perhaps long overdue, GM is adding its two cents to the mid-size pickup race, and hopefully reinvigorating the demand that was left stagnant after Ford, Dodge, and GM exited the race a few years ago, leaving just Toyota and Nissan to fill in. The biggest news, though, is the arrival of the 2.8 liter diesel unit for the 2016 model year — a development that could rattle the cage of segment, and even the larger full-size pickups.
6. Ford F-150
The the topic of full-size pickups, the biggest contribution to that pool this year will be the aluminum alloy-clad Ford (NYSE:F) F-150. Eschewing diesel engines or hybridization for efficiency gains, Ford has opted to go with turbocharging and weight-loss. Real-world results aren’t out yet, but it’s expected that the most efficient F-150 trim will play in the mid to high 20s, on par with many mid-size sedans.
7. Ford Mustang
“The first all-new Mustang in decades, the 2015 pony car brings with it fresh new styling, an advanced chassis, a plusher interior, and a trio of engines including a new four-cylinder turbo,” Car Connection says. Though it’s already popular overseas, this is the car that will make Mustang a global brand. “The Mustang also has its first independent suspension across the board, ever — all the better to take on the refreshed Challenger Hellcat and the Chevy Camaro,” Car Connection adds.
8. Hyundai Genesis Sedan
The previous Genesis sedan from Hyundai occupied a sort of purgatory-like space in the auto world. It’s wasn’t a luxury sedan per se, but kind of in between; the 2015 model, redesigned from the ground up, makes no misconceptions about what it is. “This time, with revamped infotainment gear, more refined finishes, and a full suite of active safety features, the Genesis might just cause those champagne glasses over at Lexus to quake a bit.”
9. Jeep Renegade
The subcompact SUV segment has been on fire, but Jeep has largely sat it out — though not for much longer. Enter Renegade: its latest foray into the compact crossover market. “Combining Fiat’s expertise with small, fuel-efficient vehicles into Jeep’s notoriety for ruggedness and iconic styling, the Renegade will take on compact cars like the Kia Soul, with the added spiff of true off-road capability,” Car Connection said of the cute ute.
10. Lincoln MKC
The Lincoln MKZ was the first attempt at revitalizing the brand, but it can’t do it alone; the MKC is Lincoln’s second chance, and given the state of the crossover market at the moment, it’s arriving right on time. “The MKC comes only with turbocharged engines, and has its own sheetmetal and interior, including a pushbutton transmission,” Car Connection said.
11. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
“The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been part of the entry-luxury set since the 1990s. Now it’s growing a bit, and moving to its new home at the Mercedes plant in Alabama,” Car Connection said. “In the process, it’s taking on big change: The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class isn’t just departure from what the C-Class has been, it feels like a clear break with the past–and that’s a very good thing.” It looks more refined and premium than ever, and presents a luscious cherry on top of the decadent cake that Mercedes has spent years building.
12. Porsche Macan
If Porsche has been looking to grow volume, they’ve got the right idea: the Macan is perfect for those who want a Cayenne but either can’t afford it or don’t need its large footprint. Compact utility is all the rage now, and Porsche is now gunning for the likes of the Q5, the X3, and the GLK — all three of which have been been a dominant force in boosting the volume of luxury cars over the last couple of years.
13. Subaru Legacy/Subaru Outback
The Subaru has long bragged standard all-wheel drive, but the 2015 Legacy and Outback models now have the fuel consumption specs needed to play among the big dogs. Historically, Subaru has been a niche brand, but the new Legacy promises to fling the outdoor enthusiasts’ favorite into the mass market, where it has the potential to shake up sales from the likes of the Accord, Camry, and Altima.
14. Volkswagen Golf/Volkswagen GTI
Normally, you shouldn’t mess with something if it’s not broken, but sooner or later, VW was going to have to update the Golf. It has, and with the redesign comes new powertrains, a lighter body, and a range of new models — everything from a new Golf SportWagen to an all-electric e-Golf, Car Connection said. This is one of those cars that once it’s updated, the industry follows suit.