If you want a preview of how vehicles will change under the new fuel economy rules, look at two sedans arriving this year: the redesigned Hyundai Sonata and the new Buick Regal.
The mid-sized 2011 Sonata, which went on sale last month, is 131 pounds lighter than the previous generation. Hyundai won't offer an optional V-6 engine, says John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
"Everybody knows that mid-sized sedans are supposed to have a four-cylinder base engine and an optional V-6, right?" Krafcik says. "We say no, there's no need for a V-6 in a mid-sized car anymore -- that's ridiculous.
"It's clear that by 2016 you won't find a V-6 in a mid-sized car. I guarantee it, other than perhaps a few specialty vehicles or low-volume vehicles."
The engine in all Sonatas is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder with gasoline direct injection, rated at 198 hp. The weight of the base GLS model with manual transmission dropped from 3,292 pounds to 3,161 pounds.
General Motors, meanwhile, will offer the 2011 Buick Regal, due this spring, with two four-cylinder engines but no V-6. It's a new vehicle with a revived name.
The twist is that the smaller of the two is the premium engine. The base engine is a 2.4 liter, direct-injection, inline four-cylinder making 182 hp, while the upscale option is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder rated at 220 hp.
A GM spokesman said the trend will be to "tiny engines making enormous amounts of power."
(Source: Automotive News)