For those looking to recapture the spirit of a 1960s ponycar but prefer to leave the old-school mannerisms behind, consider the Dodge Challenger. Regarding style, the 2011 Challenger is on the same page as its predecessor, particularly when dressed with the SE Rallye or R/T Classic package. Inside, the Challenger offers the quality you’d expect from a modern-day interpretation of the original, plus more spacious accommodations for rear seat passengers and luggage than its contemporaries. The V-6 model can’t maximize the Challenger’s ambitions, but add the 5.7-liter Hemi and many sins are forgiven. Better yet, tap the mighty 6.1-liter Hemi SRT8 and you’ve got a road ripper that combines top ride quality (for a true musclecar), legacy styling and sheer brawn.
With its coupe-like roof, sleek windshield and short rear deck, the 4-seat CC remains one of the best-looking cars on the market, offering what VW calls "expressive head-turning design for the cost of a traditional sedan." Seems like a fair assessment to us. And for 2012, the CC gets an interior makeover, highlighted by new sustainable-wood trim and an elegant dash clock centrally mounted over the stereo. Buyers have six CC models to choose from, ranging from the $28,515 Sport to the $40,090 VR6 4Motion Executive. The Sport has a 200-bhp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder and a 6-speed manual transmission, whereas the Executive is fitted with the 280-bhp 3.6-liter VR6 and a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. Front-drive and all-wheel-drive models are available.
Lexus increased the IS family with the addition of the two-door, convertible hard-top version called the IS 250C.
With its two doors and three-panel retractable hard-top roof up, the IS 250C has a very coupe-like appearance. With the push of a button, the aluminum roof panels retract to provide open-air motoring for up to four passengers. The IS 250C shares the same powertrain as the IS sedan - a 2.5 liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic. Safety features include driver and front-passenger knee airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control. HID headlamps, Intuitive Park Assist, heated seats, Mark Levinson surround sound and navigation system are just some of the features available on the IS 250C.
The Lexus IS 250C is a carryover for 2013.
It’s three for one with Suzuki’s entry-level but amply equipped SX4. Instead of a single boring little sedan, the SX4 offerings are the SX4 Sport/Sport sedans with content reaching up to leather and a standard navigation system; the SX4 Crossover AWD with its raised ride height; and the new-last-year SX4 SportBack “hot hatch” with a lowered ride height and an appetite for asphalt. The Sport/Sedan models have a traditional sedan profile with separate trunk while the Crossover AWD and SportBack share a 5-door hatchback body with an abbreviated cargo hold. All SX4s enjoy an ample 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and 6-speed manual or CVT automatic; the Sedan/Sport and the SportBack are front-wheel-drive only. All are well received and easy on the wallet.
The big news for this classically sensuous Grand Tourer is the addition of the XKR-S, which is Jaguar’s most powerful road car ever. The engine is based on the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 in the XKR but revised mapping delivers 550 bhp and a massive 502 lb.-ft. of torque, giving it a 0–60-mph time of 4.2 seconds. All XK models utilize Active Dynamic technology, which continuously adjusts ride and handling characteristics. Both the XKR and the XKR-S also have Jaguar’s Active Differential Control to help provide grip. The suspension in the XKR-S is further upgraded beyond that found in the XKR. All XK models get some minor exterior and interior changes while the XKR gets other design cues to differentiate it from the “base” XK.