The biggest crowds at the 2012 New York International Auto Show tend to surround the displays of exciting dream cars, from the row of Bentleys and Rolls-Royces to the newly unveiled SRT Viper and Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG performance machines. That’s no huge surprise. These models often have the sleekest styling, and they’re the ones you’re the least likely to spot on the street. But automakers are also showing off improved versions of the cars you will see every day and which more auto show attendees will actually be able to afford. Here’s a look some the show’s more budget-friendly cars turning heads this year.

2013 nissan altima image credit brady holt 5 Everyman Cars Turning Heads At The 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 Nissan Altima (credit: Brady Holt)

2013 Nissan Altima
The biggest news is the redesigned 2013 Nissan Altima midsize family sedan. The Altima may not be as exciting to look at as, say, the new Viper, but it features an eye-catching spec sheet nonetheless. Nissan promises an attainable $21,500 base price, and an expected 38 miles per gallon on the highway from the standard four-cylinder engine. A powerful V6 will also be offered. If the EPA confirms the latter figure, the Altima will be the most fuel-efficient car in its class (with the exception of pricey gas-electric hybrid versions). The new Altima is also roomier than the outgoing 2012 model, and sports a nicer interior with more in-dash electronics.

2013 toyota avalon image credit brady holt 5 Everyman Cars Turning Heads At The 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 Toyota Avalon (credit: Brady Holt)

2013 Toyota Avalon
One size up from the Altima, Toyota unveiled its redesigned 2013 Avalon on Thursday. Toyota is promising greater levels of style and luxury for its flagship sedan. The current model is considered stodgier than such competitors as the Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis.

2014 Chevrolet Impala
The redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Impala, meanwhile, is also trying to shed its old image. The current Impala is an old-school car, mostly popular among rental car companies and police departments. The new version, however, is more stylish and more fuel-efficient, but alas, it’s also more expensive.

2013 smart fortwo image credit brady holt 5 Everyman Cars Turning Heads At The 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 Smart Fortwo (credit: Brady Holt)

2013 Smart Fortwo
Although none of these new debuts — the Altima, Avalon and Impala — is a true luxury car, each features roomy seating for five adults and a plush, feature-laden interior. For the polar opposite of luxury, look to the newly updated 2013 Smart Fortwo, which made its U.S. debut on Wednesday. The Smart has revised styling and an upgraded interior, but it retains the familiar two-seat configuration, and those who remember get queasy over the parallel parking portion of their driver’s license test will appreciate the car’s easy-to-park size.

2013 Subaru Legacy
Another updated mainstream car shown at the New York show is the 2013 Subaru Legacy midsize sedan. The Legacy has a new, more fuel-efficient engine, a redesigned front end, and new safety and convenience features like emergency automatic braking and adaptive cruise control. Like most other Subarus, the Legacy has standard all-wheel-drive.


For more great, firsthand coverage of the
2012 New York International Auto Show,


Brady Holt, a Washington D.C. newspaper reporter, has had a lifelong interest in cars in the automotive world, and he’ll share his thoughts at every available opportunity. Brady has written for since 2008, and covered the ’08 New York International Auto Show with’s Inside Line team as a student journalist. His work can be found on


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