Now that the Monte Carlo is dead and gone, the Impala is shouldering the load for Chevy in the midsize segment and on the track in NASCAR events. The front-drive sedan is certainly no “Car of Tomorrow”; the basic platform dates back to the ’80s, although it has been updated. It is one of the few cars to come in a 6-passenger configuration and offers a wide range of engine choices. The base engine is a 211-bhp 3.5-liter pushrod V-6. The LTZ has a 224-bhp 3.9-liter pushrod six. And the relatively hairy SS has a pushrod 5.3-liter V-8 that sends 303 bhp to the front axle. Chevy has worked hard at keeping the value end of the bargain going by adding such features as dual-zone climate control, traction control, ABS, new thorax side-impact airbags and Bluetooth connectivity.
R&T Overview:As Chevy's biggest sedan, the Impala holds six folks if you get the optional bench front seat, although these days it feels a bit tight to have an adult passenger seated at your right elbow instead of a cushy armrest. However, there's a space in American culture for a car that can take mom, pop, two kids, granny and gramps to breakfast Sunday morning. The Impala uses the most advanced overhead-cam 3.6-liter V-6 engine shared by other GM cars, and it can run on E85 ethanol fuel if you live in the Corn Belt. It also comes standard with a 6-speed automatic, as well as standard anti-lock brakes, stability control and a suspension that is not too squishy. Competitors may be larger and quieter, but Impala makes for a clandestine drive.
The BMW X3 is a versatile Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), blending all-road capability and utility with athletic car-like performance and handling.
The X3 is available in two trim levels: xDrive28i and xDrive35i. The xDrive28i is powered by a 240-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, while the xDrive35i has a 300-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder; both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic manual shift mode. Standard equipment on the xDrive28i includes 18-inch alloy wheels, power tailgate, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a USB adapter and BMW's iDrive system. The xDrive35i is further outfitted with a panoramic moonroof, Xenon adaptive headlights and genuine wood interior trim elements. The X3's xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system, Dynamic Stability Control with rollover sensor, and Hill Descent Control combine to offer excellent handling, traction and stability for a wide variety of terrain and weather conditions. Additional safety-related features include anti-lock disc brakes, front side-impact airbags, overhead airbags for both rows, active front head restraints, run-flat tires and a security system.
For 2014, the X3 is now standard with auto-dimming exterior mirrors and interior review mirror, universal garage-door opener, and storage package.
From mild to wild, Mercedes offers E-Class models to suit everyone's fancy. The E350 sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon gain a new 3.5-liter 302-bhp direct-injection V-6 and 7-speed automatic. An unchanged BlueTEC diesel remains a sedan option. E550 models receive a new 402-bhp 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8. A wagon joins the sedan for the hot E63 AMG treatment including a new 518-bhp 5.5-liter V-8 and 7-speed MCT transmission. The former also features a panorama roof and rearview camera. E-Class safety, infotainment and luxury equipment varies by model. Convertibles are fitted with a 2-piece Aircap wind deflector to help reduce turbulence with the top down. Wagons have standard 7-passenger seating, a power tailgate and rear air suspension.
The Cruze is Chevrolet's newest entrant in the highly contested compact sedan segment. It is based on a global platform that has been refined for America with an emphasis on fuel economy.
The Cruze features two new small-displacement four-cylinder engines; a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo, or a 138-hp naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter. Depending on trim, a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. Available safety features include ten airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control and anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer. The Cruze can be equipped with features such as heated leather power seating, sunroof, remote start, satellite radio, navigation system and automatic climate control.