When it comes to Mustangs, they don’t get any wilder than the Shelby GT500. Available in coupe or convertible format, either model comes with a spine-compressing 650-bhp supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission. Top speed is 202 mph and the sprint from 0-60 mph should only take 3.7 seconds. Considering its awesome performance, you might expect the GT500 to be an absolute beast away from the racetrack. Surprisingly, it’s easy to drive – though be warned, the rear tires can spin in 3rd gear. If you’re going racing, the optional Track Package adds an external engine oil cooler, along with coolers for the differential and transmission. Another choice is the Performance Package, which includes sportier springs, thicker anti-roll bars, a Torsen limited-slip diff and cockpit-adjustable Bilstein dampers.
Rugged and wide-ranging, that’s the Pathfinder. Built on a version of the Titan truck frame, the Pathfinder boasts a healthy V-6 plus a powerful V-8 option to help garner a muscular 7000-lb. tow rating. Three-row 7-passenger seating is standard, while luxuries such as heated leather front seats and wireless rear-seat headphones are optional. Updated last year, all 2009 Pathfinders have gained standard side and curtain airbags, bringing its features in line with the competition. Other improvements include automatic door locks and 18-in. alloy wheels standard on the LE V-6 (last year only available with the V-8). Unchanged are the Pathfinder’s unquestioned off-road ability, fair value…and the need to be considered by all family-oriented, adventure-ready buyers.
The Enclave helped Buick get its groove back when it made its debut with its chiseled form and intelligently appointed interior. Although there is new competition from the Lincoln MKT, the Enclave will hold its own. The practicality of 8-passenger seating, decent fuel efficiency from a modern direct-injected V-6 and Buick luxury makes this large crossover popular. The Chevrolet Traverse shares the Enclave’s platform and can be purchased for less, but you’d miss out on the quiet interior of the Buick. Yes, the Enclave is a crossover, but really it serves the function of a luxurious minivan. Yet nobody in the family will be embarrassed to be seen driving or riding in an Enclave—which has helped Buick win back many buyers.
The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is the least expensive German wagon in the North American market and it helps to bridge the gap between the Golf and the Tiguan in VW's lineup.
The Jetta SportWagen offers two different engines, a 2.5-liter gas five-cylinder generating 170 horsepower, and a 140-hp 2.0L TDI clean-diesel four-cylinder for those looking for maximum fuel economy. Buyers that go with either gas engine can choose between a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed Tiptronic automatic; while TDI buyers select from either a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed DSG auto with Tiptronic. All Jetta SportWagen's are standard with safety features such as six air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability program, tire pressure monitoring, brake assist, seatbelt pretensioners, traction control and head restraints at all seating positions.
For 2014, a rear view camera has been added as standard equipment to the TDI, and LED license plate lights have been added to all trims.
While the Mitsubishi Eclipse hasn't been making many splashes of late, 2012 marks its final year of production. To send it off with a bang, Mitsubishi is releasing the SE, with an updated color scheme on an otherwise unchanged car. The midsize coupe will come with dark argent-finished wheels, Kalapana Black mirror housings that match the roof and argent graphics from the 2008 model year Eclipse. Otherwise, GS, GS Sport and SE models come with an inline-4, while the GT is equipped with a silky-smooth V-6. For all but the base GS, a booming 650-watt, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo system will keep all onboard entertained. The Eclipse Spyder mirrors the hardtop trim levels, without the base GS, but adds a power convertible soft-top.