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.
If you love the tidiness and crisp handling of a Mini but don't see much use for those cramped rear quarters, then the Mini Coupe may just be the perfect vehicle for you. Available in all trims from the standard base Cooper, sporty S and fire-breathing JCW, the Coupe streamlines the greenhouse and nixes the rear seats, providing extra dedicated cargo capacity, a torsionally stiffer chassis (reinforced aft the front seats) and a sportier profile. A Mini first is the new retractable rear spoiler that deploys at 50 mph for added downforce. The roof makes a bold character statement in traditional Mini fashion, and is available in red, black or silver. For even more boldness, you can further customize it with racing stripes or even side graphics called Mini Tattoo.
When Spyker bought Saab from General Motors, it happened at the time the venerable 9-5 sedan was finally being replaced. That means the new “big” Saab is GM-based, having the same basic Epsilon II architecture as Buick’s LaCrosse. Yet the Saab 9-5 is quite different, with its “fuselage-inspired” design, Saab grille, wraparound windshield and sloping tail. Ditto with the Saab influence inside, right down the start button being in the center console. Seat and dashboard shapes are simple and reflect Saab heritage. There will be two engines, a 200-bhp inline-4 or 300-bhp V-6, both turbocharged and from GM. The four can be had with front- or all-wheel drive, whereas the V-6 is awd only. Both standard and Aero versions are available.
Introduced in the mid-1990s, Chevrolet's Tahoe presented an idea that was novel at the time: Chevy Suburban capabilities minus the Suburban's mass. The idea was obviously a good one, since the Tahoe and its GMC Yukon fraternal twin have inspired many competitors. With three V-8 engine choices, the Tahoe is a capable beast of burden. It can tow up to 8500 lb., has three rows of seats, contemporary telematics and family peacekeeping options like a rear seat DVD system. A 2-mode hybrid option continues to be available, boosting the EPA city rating to 21 mpg, but its price premium relegates it largely to green fleet sales. Essentially unchanged for 2013, the Tahoe is expected to undergo an extensive 2014 renewal.
There's a special feel in the 2014 Bentley Continental GT, from the moment you open the heavy door and get your first nose full of that leather interior. Keep in mind that, in a Bentley, we're not just talking "seating surfaces." This is leather everywhere, including the dash, the pillars, the headliner, everything. The front thrones are about what you'd expect, but the well being of the back-seat passengers is completely dependent on the generosity of those up front to scoot their seats forward.
The 2014 Bentley Continental GT has used a twelve-cylinder engine from the get-go; it's a large, 6.0-liter unit with its cylinders arranged not in a V but in a W shape. Spin the W-12 to life and it settles into a deep bass rumble. 567 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque are waiting to be unleashed by your right foot. More recently, Bentley added the (lower-cost) option of a turbocharged V-8. Although its 500 hp and 487 lb-ft are shaded by the W-12, it's amazing how similar in character the two engines are. The V-8 accelerates the Continental GT from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds; the W-12 accomplishes the same feat in 4.4 seconds.
Any version of the 2014 Bentley Continental GT or GTC is impressive underway. This is a heavy car and yet it accelerates and changes direction with alacrity. The steering is neither overboosted nor too heavy, and it is commendably precise. Also notable is the beautifully matched calibration of the throttle and brake -- neither jumpy nor grabby; both have a long travel that is nicely progressive.