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.
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.
The Toyota Yaris combines a well-tailored, roomy interior with agile performance and a fuel efficient engine in an entry-level car.
The front-wheel drive Yaris is available as a hatchback (three-door or five-door) or a four-door sedan. The subcompact Yaris is powered by a 106 horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which is mated to either a five-speed manual transmission, or a four-speed automatic. The hatchback is available in three trim levels, L, LE and SE, the sedan comes as one base level trim. Safety features in the hatchback include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, electronic stability and traction control, whiplash lessening front seats, tire pressure monitoring, front seatbelt pretensioners and nine-airbags, including a driver's knee bag and driver/front passenger seat-cushion airbags.
The Nissan Maxima is a sport sedan with a sleek exterior and modern interior. This newest version maintains the trademark stylish, sporty look and feel while still providing comfortable luxury features that Maxima owners have come to expect.
The Maxima is offered in two trims: 3.5 S and 3.5 SV. A 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Standard safety fare includes; traction control, stability control, dual-stage front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, full-length overhead curtain airbags, front seat active head restraints, and a tire pressure monitor. Available technology includes a voice-activated navigation system, rear camera, dual-panel moonroof, XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather, and a 9.3 GB Music Box hard drive.
Ever since hot rodding began in the 1940s, enthusiasts have been in love with the idea of a small car with a big engine. Why keep up with the Joneses when you can blow their doors off? Case in point: The Lexus IS F. In a space normally occupied by no more than a 3.5-liter V-6, Lexus engineers crammed a 5.0-liter V-8 pumping out 416 bhp and mated it to an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a manual mode. Essentially carryover for 2013, the IS F comes standard with 19-in. forged alloy BBS wheels, 10-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and a 13-speaker audio system. In addition to obvious exterior cues, the IS F gets a special interior treatment with two-tone leather/Alcantara seats and aluminized trim.