Local General Motors dealerships have recently welcomed the all-new Spark and the completely redesigned 2013 Malibu to their showrooms, and they're really excited about the new models' market prospects.
The Malibu is the most recent arrival, having come in just two weeks ago. It's a little shorter than its predecessor but makes up for that by being a little wider. And the seats have been redesigned for greater comfort on long-distance drives.
"The 2013 Malibu is a beautiful car," said Ryan Pastetnik, Jim Gauthier Chevrolet's general sales manager.
The model's ECOTEC 2.4L four-cylinder, 182-hp engine is made more energy-efficient with eAssist technology, which features regenerative braking. This captures power normally lost during coasting or braking, converts it to electricity and stores it for when it's needed, helping keep the lithium-ion battery charged.
When the car is stopped, it automatically switches from using gas to energy from the lithium-ion battery. The 15-kilowatt motor-generator unit brings the engine to a smooth stop and prepares it for a seamless start when the brake pedal is released.
The result is 11.3 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving and up to 7.3 on the highway.
Pastetnik notes the top-end LTZ models have 2.5-litre engines that produce 197 hp. and come with Camaro-like LED taillights and vibrant two-tone leather interior options. Other options for the 2013 Malibu include Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system (which comes with a seven-inch touch screen and lets passengers stream music via Bluetooth or USB), a reverse camera and remote engine start.
The base-model Malibu starts at $26,495 (including freight and PDI).
The Chevy Spark is GM's new entry in the mini-car market. What sets the Spark apart from its competition, Pastetnik said, is that it comes with "tons" of standard equipment. The model runs on a 1.2L I-4 engine with variable valve timing -- which helps make the engine more efficient -- and a five-speed manual transmission. There's also an available four-speed automatic transmission.
Pastetnik added that there are a lot of new vibrant retro colours from which to choose such as green, pink and orange.
The Spark starts at $14,995 (including freight and pdi). Pastetnik noted that GM is the only manufacturer offering rebates and zero-per-cent financing.
"The Spark is catching on very well," he added.
New Ford Escape also in showrooms
Ford dealers also have a new model in stock to attract the driving public. The 2013 Escape arrived at local dealers in July.
Birchwood Keystone Ford sales rep James Foord said the redesigned 2013 SUV/crossover is powered by a choice of engines -- a 2.5L 168-hp 4-cylinder, a 1.6L 173-hp 4-cylinder turbo and a 2.0L 237-hp four-cylinder turbo. A six-speed automatic transmission is now standard with all three engines whether you opt for front- or four-wheel drive.
The new model is both larger and heavier than its predecessor and is 20-per-cent more fuel-efficient.
During a walkaround, Foord pointed out the new Escape's extra trunk space (which can be increased by laying the rear seats down flat) and power lift gate, which can be operated by a switch on the dash, the key fob or a hatch release handle. There is also a non-contact motion sensor (for those who don't opt for the tow package) that activates the power-opening feature after detecting a foot swing a few inches under the rear bumper (as long as the person approaching is holding the fob).
Foord also noted the optional automatic parallel-parking feature that helps steer the Escape into the parking space. The option is included in a Technology Package that also provides blind-spot warning, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear object sensors and panoramic backup camera.
Other new features this year are a 110-volt plug-in in the back (the 2012 model had only a 20-volt plug-in), a capless fuel system that prevents any gas leakage, heated seats with five different temperature settings and the optional MyFord Touch information centre.
The 2013 Ford Escape ranges in price from just over $23,000 for the base S model to just under $40,000 for the top-of-the-line Titanium 4WD model.