Like its Dodge Charger big brother, the Challenger was given a midcycle refresh for 2011. Out went the old 250-bhp 3.5-liter V-6, and in came the new 305- bhp 3.6-liter. New chassis architecture and suspension tuning refined the ride and handling. Dodge also released the first run of 392 Hemi SRT8 Challengers, which deliver 470 bhp as well as the fuelsaver mode that shuts the V-8 down to four cylinders at loafing speeds. For 2012, Dodge continues the SRT8's refinement with a new 2-mode active damping suspension with "auto" and "sport" modes. The SRT8 also gets an exclusive leatherwrapped heated steering wheel. Those looking for middle ground should seek out the R/T, with 5.7-liter V-8 and either 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual.
"Rowdy, raucous and oozing testosterone"— that was the Dodge Challenger of yesteryear, yet the modern interpretation of this iconic muscle car exhibits the same manners relative to its 21st century competitors as the 1970s Challenger did with its contemporaries. The Challenger is a straight-up blue-collar street brawler. If you're not shy, skip the V-6-powered SXT and new Rallye Redline (an SXT in sportier trim) and head right for the R/Ts (there are three versions this year) with their mighty 5.7-liter Hemi. Need more grit? The Challenger SRT8 392, cradling a 6.4-liter Hemi, is a 470-bhp, 12-second ET beast with a price-per-horsepower ratio that's tough to beat. Nothing new on the sheet this year except four exterior colors and the Rallye Redline.
The Dodge Durango is a full-size SUV with stable handling and impressive good looks. Inside is a quiet, roomy, and comfortable cabin. New for 2014 is an eight-speed automatic transmission included with both engine choices.
Available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive the Durango includes a 290-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 as standard and has an available 360-hp Hemi 5.7-liter V8 engine. The Hemi includes the Multiple Displacement System (MDS) for better fuel economy. The R/T trim comes standard with the Hemi engine. An 8-speed automatic transmission is matched with both the 3.6-liter and 5.7-liter engines. The Durango is offered in four models: SXT, Limited, Citadel, and R/T. The Durango seats seven passengers with its folding third-row seat. Standard safety features include electronic stability control, six airbags, and active head restraints. Available features include HID headlamps, a premium radio with Garmin navigation and DVD, a rear seat entertainment system, leather upholstery, and a trailer tow package.
For 2014, the Durango is mainly a carryover from 2013, with the addition of a new eight-speed transmission.
Mercedes revamps the C-Class sedan for 2012 and adds an attractive new coupe to the mix. Both begin with the C250 Sport featuring a new 201-bhp 1.8-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder turbo. The C350 nets a 302-bhp 3.5-liter V-6. Targeting enthusiasts, the top C63 AMG has a 451-bhp 6.2-liter V-8. Sedans also offer a C300 4Matic with a 228-bhp 3.0-liter V-6. Standard 7-speed automatics include a Speedshift multiclutch version for the C63. Redesigned interiors gain new audio with a 5.8-in. color display, Bluetooth and USB port. Coupes receive standard paddle shifters, sport bucket seats and split-folding rear seats. Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake with Hold function, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Sport Assist are among C-Class safety features.
Land Rover's flagship has been reborn, the new fourth-generation Range Rover hitting showrooms in December 2012. A completely new vehicle, it now has an aluminum unibody chassis for a huge 700-lb. weight savings. That means more performance and less fuel burn, especially with a new 8-speed ZF transmission behind the naturally aspirated or supercharged 5.0-liter V-8s. An upgraded air suspension and the reduced weight give even better handling with no degradation in ride quality. Inside there’s more room, more sumptuous wood and leather elegance, and less noise thanks to laminated front and side glass. A split, power-folding tailgate allows easy cargo and picnicking access. And yes, all the off-road prowess remains, although that might not matter much to this clientele.