Mercedes revamps the C-Class sedan for 2012 and adds an attractive new coupe to the mix. Both begin with the C250 Sport featuring a new 201-bhp 1.8-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder turbo. The C350 nets a 302-bhp 3.5-liter V-6. Targeting enthusiasts, the top C63 AMG has a 451-bhp 6.2-liter V-8. Sedans also offer a C300 4Matic with a 228-bhp 3.0-liter V-6. Standard 7-speed automatics include a Speedshift multiclutch version for the C63. Redesigned interiors gain new audio with a 5.8-in. color display, Bluetooth and USB port. Coupes receive standard paddle shifters, sport bucket seats and split-folding rear seats. Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake with Hold function, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Sport Assist are among C-Class safety features.
With the Liberty temporarily retired from the lineup, the Patriot shoulders the squared-off, value-priced duties for Jeep. The Patriot is a bit more urban-oriented than was the Liberty, but that brings benefits, such as a 30-mpg highway rating for 2013. The base 2.0-liter and 5-speed manual is the way to go for maximum mileage, while the optional 2.4-liter delivers more grunt. The CVT2 transaxle is available with either engine. Like its Compass stablemate, the Patriot is available in Sport, Latitude and Limited models. A worthwhile option is the Freedom Drive II 4x4 system, which includes Hill Descent Control, full-size spare, CVT2 off-road mode, and upgraded sealing for those times when you need to break out of the city and ford a stream or two.
The Ford Flex is a full-size family vehicle that features three-rows of seating, bold styling and is highly functional. The Flex competes directly in the popular crossover segment.
The front-wheel or all-wheel drive Flex is powered by a 285-hp 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine. Available on the all-wheel drive Limited only is the 355-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift. Available features include a Multi-Panel Vista Roof, interior refrigerator, and capless fueling. Standard safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability and roll control, six airbags, and a tire pressure monitor.
After a 2013 refresh, the Flex rolls into 2014 unchanged.
The Passat is the largest passenger car in the Volkswagen line-up. It has all the refinements and technology expected of a sophisticated German vehicle, but is now built in the USA specifically for the North American driver.
The Passat is offered as a front-wheel drive four-door sedan with four engine choices; a 170-hp, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder, a 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder, a 140-hp, 2.0-liter TDI diesel four-cylinder, and a 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6. Numerous transmissions are available, a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic with the 2.5L, a six-speed auto with the 1.8T, a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG with the TDI, and a six-speed DSG is standard with the VR6. Standard safety features include six airbags, four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, engine immobilizer and an intelligent crash response system that unlocks all doors, shuts off fuel and electrical supply and turns on the hazard lights. Standard creature comfort features include front and rear center armrests, trip computer, keyless entry, automatic headlights with coming home function, cruise control and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
For 2014, the big news is that a new 1.8T four-cylinder engine will be gradually replacing the 2.5-liter. Also, a rearview camera has been added as standard to SE and up trims.
Fresh off a complete redesign in 2012, the 2013 Honda Civic offers a few more refinements to help it maintain its popularity in the compact class.
Available in sedan or coupe bodies, all but the Si and GX trims are powered by a 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional five-speed automatic. The performance-oriented Si comes with a 201 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four bolted only to a six-speed manual, while the GX is powered by a dedicated natural gas version of the 1.8-liter gas engine, and a five-speed automatic. 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 guidlines and ECO-Assist technology on all trims for 2013, 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.
The 2013 Civic is refreshed with refined interior and exterior styling, as well as safety, feature, comfort and chassis improvements.