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.
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.
At press time, BMW hadn't yet shown the 3 Series replacement, but we've seen spy photos of it for over a year. Not surprisingly, the current generation has received little change for 2012, as all development is ongoing for the new car. The coupe, retractable hardtop convertible and sedan versions of the 328, 335 and M3 continue as they are with some package changes and the standard inclusion of Bluetooth. Gone for 2012, however, is the M3 sedan and turbodiesel engine option. A 328i Wagon remains the least expensive variant of the 3 Series. The M3 Convertible will receive a new $5000 Individual Composition Package option with four unique paint colors and interior trim choices to help make it more distinct.
R&T Overview:The truck-based TrailBlazer uses old-school parts such as a solid rear axle, while its contemporaries have been shifting to independent multilink suspensions. The difference is felt when you’re on a packed-gravel county road and come to a railroad crossing—here, the TrailBlazer wiggles more than its competitors over bumps. On smoother roads, the TrailBlazer runs quietly, feeling like an oversized wagon in the way it coddles its occupants. The standard engine in the TrailBlazer is a 4.2-liter inline-6 that puts 285 bhp to the rear wheels via a 4-speed automatic; all-wheel drive is optional. The hot SS model lives up to its name with a 6.0-liter V-8 that pumps out 390 bhp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. The TrailBlazer is a competent SUV in need of transmission and suspension updates.
The ILX is an all-new offering from Acura in the compact luxury sedan class. The ILX looks to provide an entry point into the Acura line-up for first-time luxury buyers.
The ILX buyer has a choice between two different powertrains, a 150-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired to a five-speed automatic with paddle shifters; or a more powerful 2.4-liter making 201-hp through a six-speed manual transmission. The ILX includes a long list of standard features such as keyless access with push-button ignition, heated exterior mirrors, aluminum wheels, speed sensing wipers, leather steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth cellular and audio connectivity, Pandora internet radio, power glass sunroof and a rearview camera. Standard safety features include electronic stability and traction control, active front head restraints, tire pressure monitoring, six airbags and anti-lock brakes with panic assist. Premium and Technology packages provide even more luxury features such as a navigation system with real-time traffic, HomeLink and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS sound system.
For 2014, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated seats and a power driver seat are standard equipment on the 2.0L trim.