Garish, or just livin' large? You make the call with the QX56. But there's no denying the space (seats up to eight) or functionality (tows up to 8500 lb.) of this massive, somewhat porcine vehicle. Power is provided by a direct-injected 5.6-liter 400-bhp V-8 mated to a 7-speed automatic, and a choice of 2wd or 4wd. But that's one of few choices you'll make, as there's just one lavishly appointed trim level, with a navigation system and 13-speaker Bose audio. We'd opt for the dual-monitor Theater Package to keep the kids entertained, which features an upgraded remote control and interface for 2013. Also, Moving Object Detection is added to the standard Around View Monitor and auto-dimming exterior mirrors are standard.
So you’ve got a large family. Does that mean that you should have to sacrifice luxury for an 8-passenger van? Infiniti doesn’t think so, and it’s betting you won’t, either—which is why it invested in an all-new QX56 just last year. Understandably, the big Q is mostly carryover for 2012, the only changes being the addition of features to the available Technology, Deluxe Touring and Theater Packages. Available in 2- or 4-wheel drive, the QX only comes in one well-equipped trim level, then lets you customize it from there with a long list of available equipment. Standard features include leather-trimmed, heated front seats; 13-speaker Bose audio system; Tri-Zone automatic temperature control; Bluetooth hands-free phone system and navigation.
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.
Recently introduced in late in 2011, Chevrolet’s subcompact Sonic picked up where the old and outdated Aveo left off—and not a model year too soon. Where the Aveo felt underpowered and dreadfully cheap even at its price point, the Sonic shines with great design inside and out. And now in 2013 the Sonic gets even better with the new RS Hatchback model. The RS comes standard with the same 138 bhp 1.4-liter turbo Ecotec, available in the LT and LTZ, but rides on a 10-mm lower suspension that’s been firmed up for better motion control. New four-wheel disc brakes live behind 5-spoke 17-in. alloy wheels, while sporty new front and rear fasciae are complemented with RS-specific fog lamps, thicker rocker moldings, a new rear spoiler and a prominent exhaust outlet. We originally anticipated Chevy to crank the boost up for the RS’ turbo inline-4, but instead of retuning the engine they swapped in shorter gear ratios for the 6-speed manual (a shorter final drive ratio in the automatic’s case) to improve acceleration. Also included in the RS’ $20,995 price of entry are heated leather front bucket seats trimmed with a suede-like microfiber, as well as a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and shifter knob, all of which feature red contrast stitching that nicely sets off the exclusive Jet Black interior. Aluminum sport pedals and RS-specific gauge cluster graphics finish the treatment alongside a longer standard-equipment list: MyLink infotainment includes SiriusXM radio/Bluetooth audio/and smart phone integration for access to streaming Pandora and Stitcher Radio. The Sonic RS may not be the hard-core Fiat Abarth fighter we wished for, but it is, without a doubt, a very attractive offering in the subcompact segment.
Chrysler puts a luxurious spin on the minivan with the Town & Country. Innovative seating and upscale features inside and out set this van apart from the competition.
The most important feature, both from a usability stand-point and competitive stand-point, is that this van features Stow'n Go seats. The second and third-row seats can be folded into the floor. No more fumbling to release and remove awkward heavy seats and then try to find a suitable place to store them. Combine this with Chryslers new seat trim that repels all but the most caustic stains, and you have a truly family-friendly vehicle. A 3.6-liter V6 sends power through a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. All trims come equipped with features such as a tilt and telescoping steering column, remote keyless entry, steering wheel mounted audio controls and a tire pressure monitor. Available features include Smartbeam headlamps, a navigation system, power sliding doors, remote start and satellite radio.