Consumers looking to buy a new car may want to hold off. Some noteworthy, and in many cases affordable, 2012 models have yet to become available at local dealerships.
To whet your appetite for a new a set of wheels, MainStreet talked to car experts to find out which cars will be hitting the marketplace in the next year that everyone will want.
©Courtesy of Volkswagen
Consumers who weren't a big fan of the car when it was rebooted in 1994 will be happy to know that 2012 is the year of a whole new Beetle. Or perhaps a whole new old Beetle since Volkswagen's latest version looks more like the original.
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"It's been completely redesigned," Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for the car valuation site Kelley Blue Book, says. "It's a more substantial car, much less precious-looking."
When it debuts this fall, consumers should expect to pay around $18,995 for the base model, Nerad says.
©Courtesy of Hyundai
2012 Hyundai Veloster
According to Edmunds.com, Hyundai's 2012 Veloster has a spacious interior, a 40-mpg highway rating and can be purchased with a load of attractive options, including a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, Pandora Internet radio, a rearview camera, a GPS and an upgraded audio system. But it's what's on the outside that makes this car truly unique.
"It's a three-door coupe," says Alex Nunez, automotive senior editor for ConsumerSearch.com. He explains that the car has one door on the driver side, giving it a sleek appearance from that angle, and two doors on the passenger side, which makes it a bit more practical.
"Hyundai's got a lot of other good cars coming out this season, and so they're having a little fun with this one," Nunez says.
The 2012 Veloster is expected to debut in September. Nunez estimates the base model will be in the $17,000 price range.
©Courtesy of Mini USA
2012 Mini Coupe
"It's similar, but much sportier," Brent Romans senior editor with Edmunds.com says. He adds that the car also has many more distinctive features, including stripes on the exterior and matching plastic trims within the interior.
Romans estimates that when it debuts it will carry an MSRP between $22,000 and $32,000, depending on which features you'd like added to the car. The fuel economy is expected to range from 25-29 mpg in the city and 33-37 mpg on the highway.
©Courtesy of Ford
2012 Ford Focus Electric
Set to debut in late 2011, "This is the car that Ford is introducing to compete with the Nissan Leaf," Romans says.
According to Ford, the Focus, which will run on power from a high-voltage lithium-ion battery system, and will have a mileage-equivalency rating that's 1 mpg better than the Chevrolet Volt. Its lithium-ion battery pack can also be charged in half the time it takes to recharge the Nissan Leaf.
The car will come with a 120-volt "convenience cord" for charging at any standard outlet, and a 240-volt wall-mounted home charging station that charges the car in three to four hours will be available for purchase at an extra cost. The car is also being packaged with an advanced technology system that helps drivers monitor their energy consumption and mileage closely.
The MSRP for the new Focus has not been released, but the Leaf, its major competitor, currently sells for around $33,000.
©Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Prius V
"V" stands for versatility in this alternative to Toyota's popular hybrid. The V is also much longer, taller and wider than the original.
"It's got interior room that rivals a small SUV," Nunez says. Aside from being a hybrid, the V also comes with other environmentally-friendly features and is extra-fuel efficient. This includes a panoramic roof made of resin instead of glass (to make the car lighter) and a pitch-and-bounce control system to maintain its balance on undulating payments.
Due in late summer, Toyota hasn't set an MSRP yet, but experts believe it will be a few thousand dollars more than the standard Prius, of which 2011 models go for $21,000 to $29,000.