"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.
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.
Talk about torque. Bentley's flagship Mulsanne has 752 lb.-ft. of torque that would put a HD truck to shame. Coupled with an 8-speed transmission, the turbo V-8 can propel this hefty car as if it's a sports sedan. The all-new car revives a traditional Bentley name that evokes the marque's successes at Le Mans. It's a luxury car for those who also enjoy driving. As you'd expect, this handmade car has plenty of options so a buyer can tailor features to suit personal tastes. Bentley claims it is the only auto manufacturer in the world that makes the "brightware" out of polished stainless steel. Despite the old-world feel inside--it takes over 170 hours to craft the wood and leather interior--the car features modern gizmos for connecting electronic devices, hidden behind wood veneer doors.
Inspired by the BMW 2002, the 1-series redefines the entry-level luxury vehicle with typical BMW refinement and balanced performance.
The rear-wheel drive 128i is available as either a coupe or convertible. The 128i is powered by a 230-hp 3.0-liter dual overhead cam, inline six-cylinder engine mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifting. Standard safety features include six airbags on the coupe, four on the convertible, anti-lock brakes, adaptive brake lights, stability and traction control and run-flat tires with pressure monitoring. The 128i features the usual BMW creature comforts such as a high-definition audio system, auxiliary input jack, automatic climate control, leather wrapped steering wheel and multi-way adjustable front seats.
For 2013, hands-free Bluetooth is now standard equipment.
Hyundai's compact crossover sport utility vehicle offers quite a range of choices for reasonable amounts of money. The Tucson GL base model has a 2.0-liter 16-valve inline-4 with 165 bhp and 146 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices are a 5-speed manual or an optional 6-speed automatic that delivers 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway while the manual transmission rates 20/27 mpg. Moving up a notch to the GLS and Limited versions of the Tucson, the power goes up with a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 176 bhp and 168 lb-ft of torque. Fuel efficiency here is 22 city/32 highway, and the only transmission is the 6-speed automatic with front-wheel drive. The optional all-wheel-drive model rates 21/28 mpg. The Tucson’s handling response is quite good as independent suspension is used at all four wheels, the steering is by rack-and-pinion and there are stabilizer bars front and rear. Interior appointments are well designed and finished, and there are numerous standard features: power windows and door locks, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system, tilt steering wheel, trip computer and more. Moving up to the GLS and Tucson Limited models adds a variety of other extras to make your motoring even more comfortable.