In automotive circles, there’s always a lot of excitement over the latest and best – so it comes as no surprise that we’d highlight some of the most innovative and new ones, those we consider breakout cars of 2011.

With so many great products from automakers to consider, we’ve selected just a few – and are including hybrids, passenger cars, SUVs/CUVs and one minivan. Check out IseeCars list of breakout cars of 2011.

  • 2011 Nissan LeafChief claim to fame is that it’s the world’s first mass-marketed all-electric car, but the 2011 Nissan Leaf – while it has limited availability rightNissan Leafnow – is undoubtedly a game-changer. Just plug it into a standard 110-volt outlet for a full charge in about 18 hours, or opt for an 8-hour charge using a dedicated 240-volt outlet. Nissan says Leaf can go up to 100 miles on a full charge. The car’s not cheap, with starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $32,780 (about $25,280 after applicable tax savings), and it is small. USA Today comments: “Overall: Generally sweet to drive, but still a second or third car for most Americans because of unexpected demands, unplanned trips that could exceed range.”
  • 2011 Chevrolet VoltWith a growing list of awards, including Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year, 2011 North American Car of the Year, Green Car Journal Car of the Year, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt has jumpstarted the mainstream hybrid market. Chevy calls it an extended-range electric vehicle, and with its electric motor and gasoline engine combo, Volt can go up to 300 miles. The Detroit Free Press says of the Volt: “It’s fun to drive, practical, good-looking and in a league of its own technically. The sleek compact accelerates briskly. Its handling is responsive and sporty. The interior provides plenty of space and comfort for four adults.”
  • 2011 Hyundai EquusKorean automaker Hyundai makes the list with the all-new 2011 Equus – a luxury large sedan that gives consumers who generally shop Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus another fine choice. Besides the stunning exterior style, 385-horsepower V8 engine, and ZF six-speed automatic transmission, Equus boasts all the luxury and safety features expected in a luxury rear-wheel drive sedan. There’s also Hyundai’s innovative valet-style customer service, and owners manual on an iPad Hyundai gives to buyers. AutoBlog remarks: “The cabin is where the Equus shows that it’s truly meant to do battle against the likes of the Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series….The Equus is the real deal.”
  • 2011 Ford ExplorerAll-new for 2011 and named North American Truck of the Year, the Ford Explorer midsize crossover strikes a balance between off-road ability and on-road comfort in one great-looking vehicle. That the old Explorer was a truck-like SUV that was in need of redesign is forgotten with this all-new car-like version. Consumer Guide observes: “Overall, it strikes a good balance between the rugged character of its predecessor and the car-like dynamics of a modern crossover. If that’s what you’re looking for in an SUV, Ford has you covered.”
  • 2011 Toyota SiennaCompletely redesigned for 2011, the 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan is no longer a second-choice consideration behind Honda Odyssey. It’s also the only minivan with available all-wheel drive (AWD). With a starting MSRP of $24,560, it’s also one of the least expensive. Reviewers praise the optional 3.5-liter V6 engine for its power and fuel efficiency. Car and Driver comments: “We might go so far as to call the new Sienna the best-looking minivan extant.”

    Other breakout cars of 2011 include the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Fiesta, Honda CR-Z, Fisker Karma, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and Lexus CT 200h.

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