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.
The Q7 offers a lot more than room for 7-passengers onboard. As Audi's range-topping SUV, the Q7 rolls on relatively unchanged. Base models come with a 280-bhp supercharged V-6, while a higher output version used in the S Line ups power to 333 bhp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. Yet it's hard not to fall for the charms of the TDI turbodiesel. Sure, the 225-bhp turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 lacks the ponies of its gasoline-fed siblings. But factor in 425 lb.-ft. of torque — along with a respectable 25-mpg highway average — and the Q7 TDI could offer the best mix of power and practicality. The S Line model is the choice for those who want to stand out, however, thanks to its larger (21 inch) alloy wheels and other sporty touches inside and out. All Q7s come with all-wheel-drive, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and surprisingly car-like ride and handling characteristics. This is the same platform that serves as the basis for the Porsche Cayenne, after all.
R&T Overview:The 638-bhp ZR1 model's highly refined Performance Traction Management system is now available on the bargain hot-rod Z06 7.0-liter model for 2012, along with more supportive seats and a thicker, more race-car-like steering wheel. Yum. The wild ZR1 continues its lightweight carbon-fiber body parts, with a slick rear spoiler and massive carbon-ceramic disc brakes, plus a window on the hood that allows gawkers to see the exquisitely machined supercharger. A new Centennial model (photo) has been added, commemorating 100 years of Chevrolet with a Darth Vader black-on-black paint scheme. The more firmly sprung Grand Sport models are weekend autocross warriors, with stiffer damping and engine oiling systems designed for high-cornering forces.
The baby Bimmer is destined to be replaced in 2013 with an evolution of the current model. We were surprised to see the 1 Series M introduced late in 2011 as a 2011 model, with no 2012 model to speak of. The incredibly spry 1 Series M with 335 bhp has come and gone too quickly. We're left with the last naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6 in the 128i; the engine will be replaced by a new 2-liter turbo four in the next generation. Updated last year with an optional 7-speed dual-clutch DCT transmission and single-turbo 3-liter I-6 N55 engine, the top-of-the-line 135i is still plenty of fun on the back roads. The 1 remains available as a coupe or convertible with a power-retractable cloth top, and there is hope the next generation will bring a 5-door to the U.S.
The Cadillac Escalade ESV is a longer version of the Escalade. The ESV is a large, luxurious SUV that delivers performance and style. Classy and powerful, it looks great for a night on the town or can haul everything needed for a weekend getaway.
The ESV features a long wheelbase and an increase in total length, greatly enhancing third-row seat legroom and rear cargo space. Available as a 4x2 or 4x4, the Escalade ESV is powered by a 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management and E85 compatibility, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Getting into the third row is easier with the ESV; its longer rear door provides a larger opening. Standard equipment includes a power liftgate, stability control, remote start, Bluetooth compatibility, a rear-view camera and side curtain airbags. Some options are Magnetic Ride Control and 22-inch chrome wheels. The Platinum Edition takes style and innovation to a whole new level with standard equipment such as LED headlights, power running boards, and a rear seat entertainment system with two monitors.
The 2014 Cadillac Escalade ESV carries over from 2013, with some changes to the exterior color availability.