R&T Overview:The Malibu is similar in size to the slightly larger Impala, but just because the two cars share the bowtie logo on their grilles doesn't mean they drive alike. The Malibu feels light on its feet, which is great for handling response, and a real trick considering the Malibu could stand to skip a few lunches. With this confident foundation, the standard stability control, traction control and 6-speed transmission programming make both the high-tech 2.4-liter four version and the roaring 3.6-liter V-6 model into “point-and-shoot” sedans. Although there is a manual-shift feature—a switch on the shift knob—the driveline works much smoother without using it. The Malibu's fastback styling intrudes slightly on rear head space, but comfort in front is top-notch.
Extensively redesigned, this is the eighth generation of Chevy's midsize sedan. The wheelbase is 4.5 in. shorter and the track over 2 in. wider, lending visual muscle to the otherwise conservative styling. Chevy claims a 20-percent chassis rigidity upgrade, as well as more room in the classy interior, despite reduced dimensions. There are three engine choices, all with direct fuel injection, led by the new 182-hp Ecotec 4-cylinder that's the heart of the eAssist Eco model. A mild gas/electric hybrid, the Eco is rated for 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, topping the Malibu charts. The Malibu delivers creamy ride quality with quiet operation, and a 259-bhp 2.0-liter turbo four is available to satisfy those with a need for speed.
One year after the new 5 was introduced, it gets the M treatment. Gone is the visceral naturally aspirated 500-bhp V-10 and in its place is a high-output version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes a Cadillac CTS-V-besting 560 bhp. The Über sports sedan remains rear-wheel drive, although the 5 Series shares its architecture with the larger 7 Series, and thus is available with allwheel drive on the xDrive 535i and 550i. The M5 (photo) is being introduced with a 7-speed twin-clutch transmission; a 6-speed manual is only available on the 535i. For improved performance and efficiency, the 3.0-liter inline-6 of the 528i has been phased out in favor of a twinturbo four that is mated to an 8-speed automatic. A hybrid 5, based on the 535i, arrives in March.
At first glance, the LR4 appears to be a misfit—in size it fits between the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, yet it weighs the same as the upscale Range Rover while seating more and costing much less. Land Rover positions the LR4 as a slightly more utilitarian version aimed at those who want the true off-road capabilities without needing the ultimate luxury afforded by Range Rover models. The other key differentiator of the LR4 is the ability to seat an additional two passengers in an albeit cramped third row of seats. Since the LR4 received a major refreshening last year, there are just a handful of minor changes for 2012. These include upgraded infotainment components and navigation system. New wheels and new paint colors are the only exterior changes.
The Honda Civic has been improved once again for 2014 to help keep it fresh and maintain it's position as the best-selling compact car in America.
Available in sedan or coupe bodies, all but the Si and Natural Gas trims are powered by a 143 horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The performance-oriented Si comes with a 205 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four bolted only to a six-speed manual, while the Natural Gas model is powered by a dedicated natural gas version of the 1.8-liter gas engine and the new CVT. A unique HF trim ekes out additional fuel economy with the help of aerodynamic add-ons, lightweight alloy wheels and low rolling-resistance tires. Standard safety features on all Civics include electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, six airbags, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring. Tech features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera with guidelines and ECO-Assist technology on all trims, automatic climate control for EX models and up, front fog lights for EX-L models and subscription free FM traffic updates with the optional navigation system. New premium features for 2014 include Honda LaneWatch blind spot camera, smart entry with push button starting and a 7-inch display audio touchscreen media center. The EX-L sedan is now standard with an 8-way power adjustable driver seat.
Following the 2013 refresh of the sedan, the coupe is refreshed for 2014 with updated exterior styling and all models receive further interior refinements and technology.