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 Versa Note fills the 5-door hatchback slot in Nissan's line-up and brings sharp styling and unique technologies to the sub-compact class.
The Versa Note is front-wheel drive and is powered by a 109-hp 1.6-liter four cylinder engine mated to either a five-speed manual or Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Safety comes from six standard airbags, front seat-belt pretensioners, engine immobilizer, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability and traction control. A rear view camera is available, as is a surround view monitor system, part of an SL Tech package that includes a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth streaming audio and NissanConnect which provides Google functionality as well as real-time fuel, flight and weather information.
Acura has never been a company that’s been afraid to take risks—and this year, they’re gambling that America is ready for its new TSX Sport Wagon. They could be right. After all, it offers a choice of a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or 3.5-liter V-6, good fuel economy and seating for five, plus the handling of a sports sedan and the versatility of an SUV. Standard features include a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats, premium audio system and Bluetooth connectivity. The TSX sedan, meanwhile offers similar features and echoes the new wagon’s styling with updated front and rear fascias and new 17-in. alloy wheels. Available technologies include a new hard disc drive-based navigation system with a full VGA color screen.
GM’s Acadia hits the family sweet spot with 7- or 8-passenger seating, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive layout, and towing capacity of 5200 lb. The second-row Smart Slide system makes it easy to crawl in or out, and you don’t have to travel far down the option list to find a kid-friendly rear-seat entertainment system. Families who avoided the worst of the Great Recession’s carnage may want to examine the upscale Denali, which includes perforated leather seats with matching door trim, heated and cooled driver and passenger seats, a head-up display and Dual SkyScrape sunroof. GMC keeps things simple with a single powertrain configuration, a 288-bhp VVT V-6 with 6-speed automatic. For 2012, there are new colors and some formerly optional equipment is now standard.