Autos: The 2013 new model smackdown

With a rush of new rivals hitting the road this October, it's time for a few old names to shift into high gear.

Happy new year
Happy new year
In cars as well as politics, incumbency equals power. You recognize the names immediately: Ford F-150, Chevrolet Suburban, Jeep. They are established brands with high public recognition and deep customer loyalty.

But no place in the automotive firmament is secure. There are always challengers and upstarts angling to dethrone the king. The maneuvering begins with product planning, continues in the design studio and engineering halls, and gets communicated in marketing and advertising. By the time they reach the showroom floor, the new arrivals are ready to make their mark.

With the start of the 2013 model year on October 1, an unusual number of incumbents will be faced with serious competition -- and could find themselves surprisingly vulnerable. Technology is changing quickly, the marketplace is fluid, and customers are fickle. No model has a moat that is unbridgeable.

Here's a look at who will be challenging them in key matchups:

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated August 01 2012: 5:45 AM ET
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