After several years of disappointment in the height of the recession, the new car market is back with a vengeance. Total auto sales topped 15 million in 2013, marking the highest level since 2007, according to CNN Money. Those numbers should only go up in 2014, thanks in part to a robust lineup of models that include impressive updates to the BMW 328i and Chevrolet Impala as well as the eco-friendly Nissan Leaf and an all-new Cadillac CTS for the style conscious luxury set.
BMW 328i Wagon
The station wagon once received overwhelming derision from the masses, but thanks to the BMW 328i, this is no longer the case. The BMW 328i offers all the space of the standard station wagon but without the extra impediment of a clunky exterior. Its sleek look is reminiscent of a sportier vehicle category, making it the ideal fusion of style and practicality. Add with an impressive highway fuel economy of 43 miles per gallon, and it’s no wonder the New York Daily News refers to the BMW 328i as the ultimate wagon revival.
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the ultimate family car for anyone who doesn’t want to look like he or she is actually driving a family car. As Jalopnik notes, older versions of the Impala primarily served as fleet vehicles, but the 2014 update turns the Impala into a model worth owning. The LTZ upper-tier model is especially impressive, with just under $40,000 netting the owner a souped-up interior that includes the exclusive MyLink entertainment system, leather seating, satellite radio and a host of advanced safety features.
The obvious main advantage of owning a Nissan Leaf: It’s electric. The 2014 Leaf boasts a city fuel economy of 126 miles per gallon in the city and 101 miles per gallon on the highway, resulting in a combined gas mileage of 114 mpg. But as Clean Technica points out, there’s more to the Nissan Leaf than its ability to run on less gas. The handling is surprisingly adept, and critics applaud the clean lines and sleek look. The 2014 model proves a surprisingly affordable option, too. It’s asking price is nearly $29,000, but the federal tax credit brings the asking price down to just $21,480. This leaves plenty left over for auto insurance and such extras as the Leaf cargo organizer or eco-design package.
Cadillac fans argue that the CTS deserved Motor Trend’s label of 2014 car of the year. But even those initially put off by the vehicle’s minimum price of $40,000 find themselves intrigued by its exceptional handling capabilities. Of course, as always, the main strength of the Cadillac CTS lies in its incomparable styling. Critics note that, unlike past Cadillac models, the CTS is anything but clunky. Techies also enjoy using this vehicle, as it comes equipped with an intuitive CUE infotainment system, as well as a 13-speaker Bose system that will satisfy even the pickiest audiophile. The Cadillac CTS includes such helpful features as OnStar assistance, blind spot warning capabilities, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control and parking assistance.