R&T Overview:As Chevy's biggest sedan, the Impala holds six folks if you get the optional bench front seat, although these days it feels a bit tight to have an adult passenger seated at your right elbow instead of a cushy armrest. However, there's a space in American culture for a car that can take mom, pop, two kids, granny and gramps to breakfast Sunday morning. The Impala uses the most advanced overhead-cam 3.6-liter V-6 engine shared by other GM cars, and it can run on E85 ethanol fuel if you live in the Corn Belt. It also comes standard with a 6-speed automatic, as well as standard anti-lock brakes, stability control and a suspension that is not too squishy. Competitors may be larger and quieter, but Impala makes for a clandestine drive.
The Audi Q5 Hybrid offers buyers an alternative to regular luxury SUV's. Its gas/electric hybrid system provides reduced emissions and increased mileage, without compromising on any useful SUV versatility.
The Q5 is powered by a 211-hp 2.0T four-cylinder engine, linked to an electric motor. The transmission is an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system provides surefootedness in all conditions. Standard features include heated 12-way power front seats, aluminum trim, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, MMI navigation plus, leather seating, LED rear lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer, satellite radio, tri-zone climate control, advanced proximity key, Bluetooth, panorama sunroof, bi-xenon headlights with LED DRL's, and a memory driver seat. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control, five seatbelt pretensioners and six airbags.
With Aston Martin’s rich racing heritage, especially at Le Mans, it’s only appropriate that it should sell a road-going version of the racing DBR9—and that describes the DBS. Although the DBS has the same V-12 engine as the DB9, it manages to pump out 40 more horsepower that, coupled with its slightly lower weight, delivers more scintillating performance. Several carbon fiber body panels help keep the weight down while ceramic brake rotors shave off a few more pounds and help bring the car to a stop more rapidly. Designed from the start as a convertible, the DBS has a stiff chassis structure even when the Volante’s top is down. The Coupe has only two seats but the Volante is a 2+2, so kids or small adults can also enjoy the ride.
After decades of building various spin-offs for Chrysler, the company returned the favor three years ago by giving Mitsubishi a badge-engineered version of the Dodge Dakota. The Raider lineup shrinks for 2009 with the elimination of 4wd models. The LS 2wd soldiers on with a choice of extended and double cabs. A 210-bhp 3.7-liter V-6 is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox on the former and a 4-speed automatic on the latter. Air conditioning, rear-access doors, variable wipers and a sound system with a CD player and auxiliary input are standard on the extended cab. The double cab adds power windows, door locks and mirrors; keyless entry, cruise control and 16-in. alloy wheels. An optional value package includes side steps, mudguards, a bed liner, cargo rail protectors, a scuff plate and a bright exhaust finisher.
Aside from a 60th anniversary trim option, the ZR1 is standing pat for 2013, and why not. It continues to rule as the fastest production car ever created by General Motors—205 mph flat out—and is arguably the fastest made in America, the Shelby GT500 Mustang notwithstanding. With its supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V-8 huffing up 638 bhp and 604 lb.-ft. of torque, it delivers performance that upstages a number of European rockets with fancy names and even fancier price tags. The optional PDE performance package, plus Performance Traction Management, improves handling response and grip, according to General Motors, and helped shave over six seconds off the ZR1's sizzling lap times on the fabled Nordschleife section of Germany's NÃ¼rburgring racetrack.