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Midsize Makers Set for Shoot-out

Automakers see opportunity as motorists downsize.

by on Apr.09, 2012

Nissan reveals the redesigned Altima sedan.

Potential buyers are getting a first good look at the new 2013 Nissan Altima, this week, at the New York Auto Show where it is making its global debut.  Betting show-goers will like what they see – especially the 38 mile-per-gallon highway mileage number — the Japanese maker is betting it can jump from midsize also ran to a leader in the critical automotive segment.

“We are expecting to compete at the top level, and we are going to take a shot at being number one in the segment,” says Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

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Industry analysts anticipate Nissan will, indeed, gain some ground with the launch of the more stylish and fuel-efficient Altima.  But they caution that the maker can’t take things for granted.  It is far from the only manufacturer looking to gain ground in the midsize market – which is expected to generate nearly one in six new vehicle sales in the U.S. market this year.

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Buick Makes eAssist Standard on Compact Regal

Also introduces automatic option on sporty GS.

by on Feb.07, 2012

The 2012 Buick Regal shown with Regals past.

Buick will drop the conventionally-powered I-4 version of its Regal model, making the “mild” hybrid eAssist the standard powertrain for the compact sedan starting in 2013.

That’s the same strategy that the maker has taken with the midsize Buick LaCrosse.  In the smaller Regal, the gas-electric driveline delivers as much as 36 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.

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Meanwhile, the mid-luxury General Motors brand has announced it will introduce a new automatic gearbox for the sporty, turbocharged version of the compact sedan, the Regal GS.  Until now, it has only been available with a six-speed stick, a sales-limiting factor in today’s U.S. market.

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First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco

GM’s midsize gets a mild hybrid mileage boost.

by on Dec.19, 2011

Chevrolet will got to market first with the new 2013 Malibu Eco model.

There was a time, not all that many years ago, when General Motors owned the American midsize market.  But a procession of poorly designed and executed products all but ensured that the Japanese would take command – products like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry today dominating the critical market segment.

The General began to signal its intent to regain its once-lofty position with the launch of an all-new Chevrolet Malibu in 2008 – the domestic sedan going on to win kudos as North American Car of the Year.  Now, Chevy hopes to ramp things up a couple more notches with the launch of the next-generation Malibu.

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We headed to Austin, Texas to spend some time in the new midsize sedan – or, more precisely, in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco.  That’s the “mild” hybrid version that will be coming to market in the coming months, with the mainstream version to follow some months later once its all-new 4-cylinder engine is ready for production.

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