In 2013, the automobile industry saw a revival in every way imaginable. The world’s top vehicle manufacturers hit home runs with new products while they opened factories and hired scores of new employees. For auto consumers, the introduction of game-changing vehicles is what made 2013 a year to remember. Here are the 10 cars that made the biggest mark, several of which were named finalists for North American Car of the Year.
When Mercedes (DDAIF.PK) decided to release a car south of the $30,000 mark, it sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Consumers have been happy to pick up the CLA without being branded as “entry-level” Benz buyers. While the long-term effects on the Mercedes brand can’t be quantified, this car was an undeniable disruptor in 2013. It was nominated for 2014 North American Car of the Year.
It’s safe to say 2013 will go down as a monumental year for General Motors (NYSE:GM). The leading U.S. automaker managed to regain control of the shares held by the U.S. Treasury while introducing some spectacular vehicles, many of which are up for Car and Truck of the Year honors. GM’s crown jewel was the thrilling 2014 Corvette Stingray, the car that has many saying the automaker has delivered a world-class sports car.
While some car companies stumble with bland cars that don’t make sense for performance or value, Mazda (MZDAF.PK) has been wowing critics and consumers with attractive, fun-to-drive vehicles that somehow hover under $25,000. The Mazda6 may be the company’s shining achievement. The North American Car of the Year finalist manages to get 40 mpg while satisfying drivers on every performance and style front.
Like GM, Ford (NYSE:F) built up an absurd amount of anticipation for its update of its original pony car. Fans of American muscle seemed satisfied with the 2015 Mustang’s fastback design as well as the increased power of its V8 engine. Global consumers may gravitate toward the EcoBoost engine option, meaning Ford may have solved the tricky task of compromising without leaving loyal fans wanting.
Though the BMW (BMAXY.PK) i3 didn’t wow the world with its looks, the leading luxury automaker delivered numerous innovations with its first all-electric vehicle. Working on a fully sustainable production model, BMW constucted the car with mainly Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic. The German company is banking big on carbon fiber as the next big thing in the industry. With investments in the companies producing these materials, BMW will be ahead of the competition if it sticks.
6. Porsche 918 Spyder ($845,000)
Reports of the Porsche (POAHY.PK) 918 Spyder’s seven-figure price tag were slightly exaggerated, but there is no doubt this hybrid supercar is the ultimate toy for millionaires. Packing an electric motor that combines with a V8 to deliver 887 horsepower, the 918 Spyder is the most fearsome car that can spin around town without a drop of gas. Porsche reminded the world why its name holds such prestige in the automotive world with this 2013 release.
GM landed the coveted Motor Trend Car of the Year award with the Cadillac CTS, but it made an even greater impact with the 2014 Chevy Impala. This car ended the reign of foreign cars in the Consumer Reports ratings for highest-scoring sedan. GM didn’t just edge the finalists, either. The 2014 Impala landed a 95 in the Consumer Reports test, the third-highest score of all time. Victories in bread-and-butter sedan categories are essential to GM’s revival, and the Impala is up for North American Car of the Year honors.
The world’s leading automaker proved hybrid vehicles are part of a winning strategy in 2013. The Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius led California in all vehicle sales for much of the year, staking its claim on the title of the biggest auto market in the United States. That achievement cannot be overstated, but the Prius was also named the best value automobile by Consumer Reports, making its impact on 2013 undeniable.
Though Toyota had an attractive fuel-cell vehicle at the future at the Tokyo Auto Show, Honda (NYSE:HMC) made a major statement by promising to bring its FCEV to the market in 2014. It will mark the second hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle Honda has on the road. This technology allows vehicles greater range and shorter refueling times when compared to battery-powered electric cars, making the innovation among the biggest auto industry stories of the year.
While Ford racked up sales with its Focus and F-Series pickups, the Dearborn automaker’s midsize Fusion made outstanding gains on the market. Through November, the Fusion was the sixth-best selling car in the United States, which made it the top U.S. entry with more than 40,000 units on top of the Chevy Cruze. The Fusion proved a little style goes a long way in the segment when it posted a 51-percent sales increase on the year.