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.
R&T Overview:In the first quarter of 2012 we expect the new 2013 Malibu (photo) will begin production, and it boasts better performance for the base 4-cylinder version. To begin with, the new car is slightly shorter, yet a few inches wider. That will likely improve the rear seat room of this trim midsize sedan. Its 4-cylinder engine will grow from 2.4-liters to 2.5, bumping horsepower from 169 to a reported 190. The current trimly styled 5-seater is an all-around capable people-mover, with balanced handling, responsive controls and light-but-accurate electrically assisted steering on the base model. The best attribute of this Malibu is its available 3.6-liter 252-bhp V-6, which launches the car like a sports sedan but returns 26 mpg on the highway. Specifications are for the 2011 model.
Last year, the MKZ gained the Hybrid model with a 4-cylinder engine and electric motor combination good for a total of 191 hp and an impressive 41 city/36 highway mileage ratings or about 700 miles per tank. Boasting one of the best hybrid powertrains available, the MKZ Hybrid can touch 47 mph on electric power alone, and is a winner in urban driving. Sales of the MKZ Hybrid are running above expectations, and with Lincoln holding the price of the base Hybrid at the same $34,645 as the standard gasoline V-6 model, the gas/electric is a compelling choice. For open-road duty, the 263 bhp V-6 shows the good MKZ chassis to advantage. Luxury features are abundant; new for 2012 is AppLink for voice control of smartphones.
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.
The BMW 5-series puts an emphasis on the driving experience. Now in its sixth generation, this mid-size luxury car remains a true sports sedan by delivering aggressive styling, precise handling and outstanding safety.
Available in rear- or xDrive all-wheel drive, the 535i features a new 300-hp 3.0-liter, turbo, inline-six engine, with the choice of an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Standard features include leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control with active micro-filtration, a 12-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, HD radio, Bluetooth, 18-inch alloy wheels, and iDrive control system with integrated owner's manual. Safety is provided by six airbags, active anti-whiplash front head restraints, electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, BMW Assist telematics, and bi-xenon adaptive headlights.
For 2013, the split fold-down rear seat and universal garage door opener are now standard equipment.