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.
Now that Mercedes offers a trio of roadsters, the long-running SL-Class occupies the sweet spot between the smaller SLK and new flagship SLS. To make room for the latter, the top V-12-powered SL65 AMG has been discontinued. That leaves a choice of two V-8 models: the SL550 with a 382-bhp 5.5-liter and the SL63 AMG that develops 518 bhp from 6.2 liters. Both are fitted with a power-folding hardtop that retracts in a scant 16 seconds. Mercedes introduced the industry's first automatic rollbar on the SL that pops into place if sensors detect an impending rollover. Other standard features include Airscarf heating that delivers warm air via the front seat head restraints, an Active Body Control suspension system and Comand audio with navigation.
The CTS Sport Wagon is a prime example of how practical can be sexy. Thanks to Cadillac's design language and a versatile platform that translates well to wagon form, you can now afford the extra cargo space (25.4 cu.-ft., 58.0 cu.-ft. total with the rear seats folded) and even the option of all-wheel drive, without going down the lumbering, fuel-guzzling SUV route. Four trims continue to be offered with the Sport Wagon; Base, Luxury, Performance and Premium, the latter two benefitting from an updated version of the direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 introduced in 2012. Improvements include new cylinder heads, longer duration cams with revised intake ports and bigger valves, as well as lighter and stronger connecting rods. Power levels were effectively increased from 305 bhp to 318 bhp while fuel economy was maintained. The standard engine remains the 3.0-liter V-6, producing 270 bhp and 223 lb.-ft. but has no efficiency advantage over the larger engine. For the 2013 model year, subtle visual tweaks include a new front grille—with two horizontal slats instead of three—and three new metallic exterior colors. Additionally, Cadillac is equipping every CTS model (automatic transmissions only) with Adaptive Remote Start, a feature that allows you to fire up the engine with the key fob—warming or cooling the cabin depending on the ambient conditions—conveniently from anywhere within the remote's range. With standard equipment like a 7-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth, a power lift gate, and available options like a sports suspension, limited-slip differential, and Recaro performance seats, the CTS Sports Wagon is simply a vehicle without boundaries.
The Nissan Pathfinder is a mid-size SUV perfectly suited to the urban family lifestyle. It is offered in both front- and four-wheel drive configurations, providing performance and styling without sacrificing comfort.
The seven-passenger Pathfinder is available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum. All trims are powered by a 260-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a CVT transmission. The S trim is well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, cruise control and a 6-disc CD changer; SV trims add a single disc CD player with satellite radio and MP3 capability, power driver seat and Bluetooth; the SL trim is further outfitted with a power liftgate, heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, and Intelligent Key passive entry/start; Platinum trim receives 20-inch alloy wheels, Around View parking aid, and navigation system. Safety features found on every Pathfinder include electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock disc brakes, active anti-whiplash head restraints, and a tire pressure monitor with Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert system.
The M56's 420-bhp 5.6-liter V-8 makes it a wolf in, well, wolf's clothing, while the M37's 330-bhp V-6 is no slouch either, each paired with a 7-speed automatic and available in either rear- or all-wheel-drive versions. For 2013, the Sport Package is now offered on M AWD models, which includes 20-in. alloys, firmer suspension, sports seats, magnesium paddle shifters, performance brakes and a unique front fascia. The hybrid M35h continues, packing an impressive gasoline/electric 360 hp while returning EPA figures of 27 city/32 highway. Throughout the lineup, all M cars get auto-dimming side-view mirrors and an automatic trunk cincher, and Sport models are treated to a new interior color: Stone Sport. Inside, exquisite Japanese design cues are standard.