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.
A new-generation CR-V made its debut last year ushering in a sleeker look, increased power and fuel economy plus an array of new features. Styling is bold and sophisticated with improved aerodynamics and more chrome accents. The 2.4-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine puts out 185 bhp while achieving a 31-mpg highway estimate with front-wheel drive. Optional Real-Time awd is electronically controlled for faster activation. Hill Start Assist, stability control and electric-assist power steering are standard. The redesigned interior gained a multi-information display, easy fold-down split rear seat and lower cargo floor height. High-tech upgrades include Pandora Internet radio, SMS text messaging, Bluetooth and optional DVD rear entertainment system.
Although Chevy's hugely successful redesign of the Malibu debuted roughly four years ago, an all-new Malibu is already going into production in early 2012 as a 2013 model. The new Malibu is being touted as the brand's "first global mid-size vehicle," which Chevy has plans to sell on six continents. The exterior is noticeably sleeker, with a wider stance and a Camaro-inspired rear fascia. Chevy designers would probably like to take all the credit, but the sleeker profile was also influenced by engineers who logged hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel. From underbody panels to active shutters in the grille, the new car has numerous aerodynamic aids that improve its drag coefficient by more than .06 over the previous Malibu, bringing it to within .01 of the Volt. Better aerodynamics often result in better fuel economy, but Chevy didn't stop there. A brand-new, more-fuel-efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder replaces the Malibu's previous roster of powerplants. Power and torque ratings will likely fall somewhere between the old engines', with early estimates from Chevy of 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The changes continue in the cabin, which is more spacious and looks more attractive, with better lighting, better materials, and a more cohesive design. Since its rebirth as a 2008 model, we have awarded the Malibu two All-Stars and have consistently praised its chassis, brakes, and steering as among the best in its class. With our only criticism being addressed by the new powertrain, we expect the new Malibu to improve on its predecessor in every way.
The Land Rover Range Rover Sport is an athletic SUV designed to bring on-road performance driving to the traditional Land Rover off-road experience. It enters its second generation in 2014, with bold, revised styling inside and out and additional standard equipment, along with a new lightweight all-aluminum monocoque platform and new powertrains.
The five-passenger Range Rover Sport is now available in four trim levels: SE, HSE, Supercharged and Autobiography. The SE and HSE are powered by a new 340-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine, while the Supercharged and Autobiography trims boast the carryover 510-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. Both powerplants feature Both powerplants feature new start/stop technology, which shuts the engine down during temporary stops to save fuel, and are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode; additionally, Supercharged and Autobiography trims get steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Full-time four-wheel drive with Land Rover's acclaimed "Terrain Response" system helps tackle a wide range of off-road conditions, while Supercharged and Autobiography trims add Adaptive Dynamics with variable suspension dampening for sportier handling and an active locking rear differential. Standard equipment on the SE includes a power liftgate, 19-inch aluminum wheels, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, passive entry/start, a new Meridian audio system and voice-activated hard drive-based navigation with internal memory storage; HSE and Supercharged trims add a panoramic sunroof, fog lights, 20-inch aluminum wheels, heated front seats and leather upholstery. Autobiography trims are further outfitted with 21-inch aluminum wheels, adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam assist, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone automatic climate control and upgraded audio with HD and satellite radio. Standard safety features on all trims include eight airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control and roll mitigation, and a rearview camera with front visual display; Autobiography trims also get a surround camera system and blind spot monitoring with closing vehicle sensing and reverse traffic detection.
The Hyundai Genesis has proven to be a launching pad for new technologies. For 2012 there is a 5.0-liter V-8 boasting 429 bhp, 8-speed automatic transmissions, and enhanced chassis tuning, plus the 3.8-liter V-6 enjoys a 15-percent boost in horsepower to 333 bhp. That seems like a lot, but the Genesis is a premier seller for the company and it continues to make strides in the luxury sedan field. Along with the mechanical improvements, there is also a fresh look to the front-end styling, redesigned rear fascia and taillights. And at the top of the Genesis family tree is the new 5.0 R-Spec model with significantly sportier chassis tuning.