In a bid to compete with the incoming crop of miniaturized crossover vehicles, such as the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, Buick is set to introduce the Encore in early 2013. With roughly the same interior volume of a Chevrolet Sonic 5-door, the Encore will also share its turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec engine, outputting 140 bhp with 148 lb.-ft. of torque. This should return some respectable fuel economy figures, thought we're slightly concerned about its acceleration potential. Manufacturer specs have the Encore carrying an additional 415 lb. over the Sonic LTZ for the front drive model, and around 535 lb. more with all-wheel drive. BMW's slightly heavier X1, by comparison, will come with no less than 240 bhp (and 260 lb.-ft.) and as much as 300 bhp (with 300 lb.-ft.). Regardless, the Encore promises an environment of luxury within a tiny package. It'll come with features such as remote ignition, dual climate control, Bose premium audio, as well as Buick's first application of active noise cancelling technology—dubbed QuietTuning. As safety is always a concern, especially with smaller vehicle segments, the Encore is available with a number of electronic aids (forward collision alert, lane departure warning), as well as 10 standard airbags to shield occupants when things head south. Only time can tell if this new ilk of automobile will find success in the U.S. market, though the Encore should have a leg up on price over the competition.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek offers all-weather capability with distinctive styling that sets it apart from other vehicles in this class.
The XV Crosstrek is a four-door hatchback with seating for five. All XV's feature Subaru's Symmetrical full time All-Wheel Drive system and a raised suspension that provides an impressive 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Power comes from a 148-hp 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder 'boxer' engine. The XV Crosstrek is equipped with a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT transmission with six manually selectable programmed ratios and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Safety features such as four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, traction-control, stability-control with a full array of airbags including a drivers knee airbag are standard.
Treated to a major aesthetic and powertrain revamp last year, the ever-stylish 5-passenger Edge crossover is now available with a turbocharged direct-injected EcoBoost I-4 promising lighter weight, better fuel economy and even more torque output than that of its companion 3.5-liter V-6. Ford maximizes EcoBoost fuel efficiency with such aerodynamic enhancements as specific rocker panel moldings and active shutters that reduce airflow through the grille as road speed increases. Responsive handling has always been an Edge strong point, especially so in the Sport model with its uprated suspension and fat 22-in. rolling stock. The Sport is also differentiated by a 305-bhp 3.7-liter V-6, blacked-out trim and paddle shifters.
R&T Overview:While the Mazda6 is unchanged for 2012, it remains a popular seller among the sporting-sedan crowd. The 6 offers six variations on the theme, ranging from the I Sport to the S Grand Touring and two drivetrain choices: the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and the 3.7-liter V-6 that pumps out a delightful 272 bhp. In any form, the Mazda6 is an enthusiast's prize with very sports carlike handling, fine ride character and plenty of space for the family and the luggage. Fuel efficiency is competitive with other sedans in this class. With traction control, stability control and anti-lock braking, the Mazda6 offers a full package at a reasonable price. We only wish Mazda still sold the wagon.
Spoiler alert! If a 2012 all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera or a Cabriolet, Targa or GTS, is on your shopping list, here’s something you should know: All of those models, which are unchanged from 2011, are based on the previous-generation 911 and not on the recently unveiled all-new Carrera. Although they’re unchanged from 2011, they’re must-haves because they’re the only 911s of their kind. For all-wheel-drive only, it’s a simple Carrera 4 coupe, available in normal and S versions. For open-air touring choose the Cabrio or Targa, with either awd or rwd. Need better performance? Opt for one of the 408-bhp GTS variants (coupe or Cabrio, awd or rwd), which top out at $120,100 in Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet trim.