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.
It doesn’t take a long look across the Jeep landscape to see that the brand’s midsize SUV, the Liberty, continues to receive short-shrift. Choose any powertrain you want, so long as it’s the 4-speed automatic and old 3.7-liter V-6 already ejected from other Jeep models. The midlevel Renegade model has abruptly disappeared (cue crickets), to be replaced by last year’s Limited Jet—basically an oh-so-minor appearance package of the Limited. Then there’s the chronic issue of Liberty’s hard, plasticky interior treatment. A shame, really, because the Liberty, with its heritage looks, proven off-road prowess, live rear axle and rear-wheel-drive layout has the potential to be a standout in the midsize SUV field, given some corporate TLC.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan brings the quality and reliability of the Camry together with increased fuel efficiency.
The Camry Hybrid is a front-wheel drive four-door sedan that seats five passengers. Available in two trim levels, LE and XLE, the heart of the Camry Hybrid is the Hybrid Synergy Drive, a combination electric motor/gasoline engine that produces a combined 200-hp, and efficient, electronic continuously variable transmission. The standard warranty for hybrid-related components is 8 years/100,000 miles. Stability and traction control, ten-airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and tire pressure monitor are some of the standard safety equipment. Tech features include Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, garage door opener, rear camera, navigation with touch screen, HD and satellite radio, and the new Entune mobile app and services system.
The Outback is now in its fourth-generation of what Subaru likes to call the world's first sport utility wagon.
The Outback is available with a 173-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission (or optional six-speed CVT), or a 3.6-liter six-cylinder with a five-speed automatic transmission. The CVT and automatic transmissions feature a manual mode with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Standard safety features on all Outback models include eight-airbags, vehicle stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, active front head restraints and a tire-pressure monitor. Available features include leather seating, a 440-watt nine-speaker harman/kardon audio system and dual-zone automatic climate control.
The smallest car in Subaru lineup, the Impreza has been Subaru's mainstay for many years. And thanks to its standard all-wheel drive and rally racing heritage, it's garnered a strong fan base; it's on the list of must-have import car driving experiences. Available in either 4- or 5-door body styles, it comes with a new 2.0-liter flat-4 engine that features better gas mileage and decent power thanks to variable valve timing. While overall size is the same, an extra inch of wheelbase brings interior room up by a couple of cubic feet, very desirable in the small-car category. And just because the Impreza is the bargain of the bunch doesn't mean it doesn't come with tech features. Optional features include Bluetooth and satellite navigation.