Squrrell’s Automotive Top Picks for 2013

The Canadian International Auto Show is nearly upon us, which tells me it’s time to call out my favourite cars of the present and near future. They might not all be at the show this year, but I’m going to put my bum in as many of these as possible!

2013 Honda Accord Sport

The Sport model of the new Honda Accord comes with a manual transmission, meaning it’s intended as a car for drivers. The manual transmission in the Sport trim is unique to Canada, too. Our friends in the states have to make do with a CVT automatic. What this tells me is that Honda Canada thinks Canadians are awesome enough to warrant bringing the magic for us in an affordable trim, and I’m hoping we show them it was a good idea. Even in automatic, though, this car is getting rave reviews.

The real story, for me, is the price. Starting at $25,490, the Sport trim gets the big wheels and nice exterior upgrades. This feels like an amazing deal.  Honda’s sport Civic, the Si, while very nice, actually costs more.  Gotta get behind the wheel of the Accord Sport this year.

Ford Focus ST

While my favourite car in its category is still the Mazdaspeed3, the Ford Focus ST is fresher, newer, and more refined. I drove a pre-production version of the ST last summer, and it was certainly impressive. While I wait for the next Mazdaspeed3 to show up, this is the one I would probably pick. With four doors and an über-practical hatch and cargo area, it’s a race car built for moms and dads.

Mazda 6 Diesel

Supposedly coming out late in 2013, the brand new Mazda6 diesel will be the only mainstream sedan to go head to head with the VW Jetta TDI. From the early reports I’ve read about this car, it could be a real standout.

Mercedes B-Class

Forget the old B-Class, which was apparently a solid car but aged poorly over the last few years, the new one looks hot (or maybe even “hawt”). Starting at a hair under $30,000, seemingly well-equipped, I think this new B-Class might be a break-out hit for Mercedes if they can get younger buyers to look at it.

Ford Transit Connect Wagon

I’ve had a soft spot for the Transit Connect van in Europe for a long time, and I’ve often dreamt of a minivan variant (yes, my dreams are that lame). I thought the same about the Mercedes Sprinter, too. When the Transit Connect came to Canada, we were one step closer, and now, finally, my dream will be a reality!

It’s worth noting that this will also be the first Minivan rolling out of Ford since 2007.  GM, Ford just put you on notice for a minivan revival!

Chevy Trax/Buick Encore

Tiny. It’s the new small. The Chevy Trax and Buick Encore might just be the cutest utes yet. The price looks good, and we Canadians are privileged enough to get the (I’m guessing) cheaper Chevy variant. It runs on my favourite GM engine, the 1.4L Turbo from the Chevy Cruze. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.

Cadillac ATS

The hype among auto journalists is that the Cadillac ATS drives better than the new BMW 3-series. SERIOUSLY? If Cadillac has beat BMW at its own game, then that makes the ATS one to watch.

SRT Viper

Formerly a Dodge, the Viper is now under a new brand, SRT, which was formerly their performance model designation.  The new SRT Viper, which is apparently 99.9% domestic, can’t help but look like it’s benefited from the input of Chrysler’s new Italian owners, Fiat.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Too awesome to be called the “Base Corvette,” GM called it the Stingray, resurrecting the iconic name from the 1960s (though, back then it was separated into two words: “Sting Ray”). It looks incredible, delivers more power with less gas, and should be priced to beat everything else for performance value.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hands-down, the best Hyundai I’ve ever driven, and maybe better than all the other mid-sized SUVs out there. I’ve already driven it, so check out the review.

VW Golf

There’s a new Golf coming. Unlike the Jetta, the Golf has retained the full-fat German car feel at an accessible price, so a new one is always worth checking out. It looks more upscale than the current model, and the buzz is that it might even be better than its close relative, the new Audi A3.

 

I can’t wait to get to the Canadian International Auto Show next week and see some of these new cars “in the metal.” There’s nothing quite like seeing, touching and sitting in the real thing – and the Auto Show makes that easy.

See you at the show!

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