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 Hyundai Santa Fe is a stylish crossover vehicle. Families will appreciate the utility, safety, and refinement of this vehicle.
The Santa Fe is available in two configurations; a five-passenger, short wheelbase Sport, and a six- or seven-passenger long-wheelbase. Each can be ordered with front- or all-wheel drive, the Santa Fe Sport is powered by a 190-hp 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, or a 264-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder. The larger Santa Fe uses a 290-hp 3.3-liter V6. A six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC sends power to the wheels. Standard safety features include seven airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Available features include Blue Link telematics, 19-inch alloy wheels, power heated and ventilated leather seats, heated steering wheel, navigation system, and a panoramic sunroof.
The Suzuki SX4 is a small five-door crossover or four-door sedan. Sporty and versatile the SX4 has attractive looks and great value.
The crossover/sportback is available in Base, Premium, and Tech Valu Pkg trims in front-wheel or Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (I-AWD). The sedan is available with front-wheel drive and comes in LE, LE Popular, and Sport SE trims. The SX4 is powered by a 150-hp 2.0-liter all-aluminum four-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional. Standard features include front, rear, side-impact and side-curtain airbags. Electronic Stability and traction control programs are standard equipment. Sport SE and Tech Valu models include a navigation system. Also available is Bluetooth, automatic climate control, sport pedals, and heated outside mirrors. Sedan models come with 17-inch alloy wheels and upgraded shocks.
Normally packaging is a postal word, but it also applies to the car business. It is the process - some might call it an art form - of fitting people, seats, cargo space and all the other necessary items in a given automobile shape.
Done badly, it means you get in a car of a given size, look around and try to remember how to spell claustrophobia. Done right, you sit down in a like-size car and wonder how they hollowed out so much space. The new Elantra GT is one of those cars.
Little Cars, Big Space
There are several small cars that get big marks for their packaging, Subaru's Impreza, Toyota's Matrix and the Mazda3 among them. Now Hyundai offers the GT, which slots in with the best of these.
Based on the Elantra sedan that was named 2012 North American Car of the Year, the GT was shaped in Europe, where 4-door hatchbacks are more appreciated. What we get as the Elantra GT is known in Europe as the i30. There's no mistaking the GT's shape as another interpretation of Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture philosophy and it works nicely...once you're aft of the grille, which appears undecided what it should look like.
This automotive segment has gotten to be so popular, that the automaker's design departments seem to be putting some of their best in charge of laying out and finishing off their interior designs. In the GT's case, the center stack controls are nicely separated by function and require little eye time away from the road to operate. Seats are comfy and the outward vision works despite a wide rear pillar. As with virtually all these small hatches, the necessary buttons and levers needed to convert them from small sedans to small carryalls work easily.
Included as standard equipment are the likes of Bluetooth phone with voice recognition, iPod support, a driver knee airbag, Blue Link (Hyundai's version of OnStar), steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, plus, get this, a cooled glove box and heated front seats. Standard.
Power and Economy
Hyundai fits the Elantra GT with its 1.8-liter four with 148 bhp and 131 lb-ft of torque. At 82.2 bhp-per-liter that puts the Elantra at the head of its class (if not there on torque), and then offers a 6-speed transmission, manual or automatic. The GT is also the lightest of its immediate contemporaries, so it comes away with EPA numbers of 27 mpg city/39 mpg highway for the manual and 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway, slotting it right in with the SkyActiv Mazda3 in terms of fuel mileage.
High points on the fuel economy, though with the GT tagline the 5-door does feel a bit underpowered when you're having a good time on a worthy road. We get the distinct impression there is a turbo version in the offing.
Hyundai does firm up the suspension from the sedan, upping rear spring rates and using Sachs shocks. That's with the standard 16-in. alloy wheel and P205/55HR16 tires, but if you opt for the 17-in. wheel and tires there's a still sportier calibration.
Munich, Germany—The Audi Q5 has been very popular in the U.S. since its introduction 2009. Now, for its model-year 2013 mid-lifecycle refresh, the Q5 receives a few minor exterior and interior changes. Far more important, the 2013 Audi Q5 has new optional engines and is available as a hybrid for the first time.
On the outside, the 2013 Q5 sports a new chamfered Audi single-frame grille and a flatter roofline. The hood and wrap-around tailgate are now made of aluminum to save weight. Optional xenon headlights incorporate LED daytime running lights that give this crossover SUV a distinctive look. Inside the cabin, there are three new interior colors and three new leather/fabric upholstery types available.
The standard Audi Q5 comes equipped with a turbocharged and direct-injected 211-bhp 2.0-liter inline-4, the same engine also found in the A4 model line. It is mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The Q5 can also be ordered with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 272 bhp. Audi says this 4500-lb. V-6-powered Q5 hits 100 km/h (62 mph) in a fleet 5.9 seconds.
For the fuel-conscious folks, the 2013 Audi Q5 will now be available as a hybrid. It’s equipped with the 211-bhp 2.0 TFSI inline-4 coupled to a 40-KW (54 hp) electric motor drawing power from lithium-ion batteries located at the rear. Joined together by a clutch, the engine and electric motor deliver power to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. The Q5 Hybrid can travel 1.9 miles in pure electric mode. During normal driving conditions, the Q5 Hybrid is expected to average an impressive 34 mpg.
For the car enthusiast, the 2013 Q5 has improved electric-assist steering. What’s more, the Audi drive select feature allows the driver to choose between Comfort and Sport modes, the latter offering sharper steering and throttle response.
Perhaps the most welcomed upgrade—for your family—in the new Q5 is Audi Connect, a system that uses Google Maps for a richer navigation experience. On top of connecting to the Internet for more available travel services accessible via Audi’s MMI infotainment interface, the Q5 can also act as a WiFi hotspot for up to eight mobile devices—which should help keep the kids entertained on long road trips. The 2013 Audi Q5 arrives at U.S. dealers this fall, but no pricing has been announced. If you need a stylish crossover SUV filled with all the latest technology, the 2013 Audi Q5 should be on your shopping list.