As much as we enjoy the base Mustang's powerful V-6 engine, we understand how tempting it would be to tick the option box for an old-fashioned wallop of American V-8. The Mustang GT coupe is a retro-themed muscle car that, thankfully, has very little in common with its ancestors — other than massive amounts of tire-smoking power and attitude. Included in the GT is a 412-bhp 5.0-liter V-8 engine, coupled to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Selectable electronic steering offers three driving modes: Normal, Sport, and Comfort. There are tons of wheel, tire and trim choices available, so customization is never a problem when speccing your Mustang. Cynics (i.e. Camaro and Challenger owners) will deride the solid rear axle that soldiers on for another year. And there's no denying some of the cabin plastics feel a bit chintzy. But measured in terms of price-versus-performance, the Mustang GT coupe is an absolute steal.
The Audi Q5 provides the versatility of an SUV with the driving characteristics of a sport sedan, with the goal of being the sportiest in its class.
The quattro all-wheel drive Q5 is powered by one of three engines: a 220-hp 2.0T four-cylinder engine, or a 272-hp 3.0-liter supercharged six-cylinder engine, or a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6 direct injection diesel (TDI). All bolted to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Standard features includes 12-way power front seats, aluminum trim, 10-speaker DSP sound system, leather seating, LED rear lights, a trip computer, garage door opener, satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Audi Music Interface with iPod integration, and tri-zone climate control. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control, five seatbelt pretensioners and six airbags.
For 2014 the Q5 now comes standard with Bluetooth and garage door opener on all trims. Also, a new diesel engine is offered.
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.
Compared to the large 9-7X truck-based SUV it replaces, the 9-4X crossover is quite svelte. Based on the same platform as the Cadillac SRX, it’s offered with the choice of two V-6 engines and comes standard with front-wheel drive. Saab’s XWD all-wheel-drive system is optional on the base and Premium models and standard on the Aero. It splits the power 90/10 front to rear under normal driving situations but can switch to 90 percent transfer to the rear when needed. Subtle references to Saab’s aviation heritage include green illumination for the needles of the three main dials and traditional Saab “joystick” adjusters for the mesh-style air vents. The start/stop ignition button is, of course, located between the front seats, in true Saab tradition.
The Buick LaCrosse is a sophisticated mid-size sedan, seating five passengers in comfort while providing confident handling and a smooth quiet ride.
The LaCrosse is offered in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations. Available engines include a 182-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder with Buick's eAssist mild hybrid technology on front-wheel drive models and a 303-hp 3.6-liter V6 which is offered on both front- and all-wheel drive models. Engines feature direct fuel injection and are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. All LaCrosse models are equipped with aluminum wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, MP3 capability, a USB port and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Additional trim-dependent features include front fog lights, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, E-Z Key passive entry/start, a heated wood grain steering wheel and a power rear window sunshade, as well as a hard-drive based navigation system with DVD audio/video playback. Standard safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability, traction control and six airbags; other available technologies include rear side-impact airbags, rear parking assist, Xenon adaptive headlights, Head-Up Display and a Side Blind Zone Alert system.
The Buick LaCrosse carries over with minimal changes for 2013. Standard equipment, package and trim offerings have been adjusted.