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 Mazda6 is a mid-sized sedan with a very striking appearance. It can be equipped with unexpected luxury and technology features not typically found in its class.
The Mazda6 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. The only engine choice is a 2.5-liter 184-hp, direct injection, SKYACTIV four-cylinder engine. Sport and Touring trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed automatic is optional. On the Grand Touring trim the six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. Available features, depending on trim level, include 19-inch wheels, HD radio, a eleven-speaker Bose audio system, blind spot monitoring system, an intelligent key system, a power moonroof, LED taillights, power heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and the convenience of Bluetooth. Standard safety features include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, electronic stability and traction control, and tire pressure monitoring.
For 2014, the Mazda6 has been completely redesigned with extensive use of SkyActiv technology, which focuses on improving fuel-efficiency.
Chevy’s quickest and most technologically advanced Camaro ever is the ZL1 coupe. The hardware that was first seen in Cadillac’s CTS-V, and to an extent the Corvette ZR1, is what permits the ZL1 to make such claims. It’s supercharged LSA V-8 engine makes an incredible 580 bhp and 556 lb.-ft. of torque and it rides on an electro-magnetic suspension (Magnetic Ride Control) that can alter the damper settings in milliseconds. The technology known as Performance Traction Management (PTM)—that utilizes MRC, traction/stability control and steering angle to make even professional drivers faster in the dry or wet—trickled down from the ZR1 and is found in the ZL1. A dial is used to adjust the system to the amount of traction that’s available to the tires, and then you just essentially steer and floor the throttle as you exit the turn—Tada you’re Mario Andretti! The sum of these parts is what allows the ZL1 to harness all this power and even more so maintain its road civility. This is the main reason the ZL1 makes a better daily driver than Ford’s super pony, the Shelby GT500. All 2013 ZL1 models will be available in a new Blue Ray Metallic exterior color, get a new frameless rearview mirror, and come with a 7-in color touchscreen (Chevy’s MyLink) for Bluetooth audio and smart phone integration (navigation is optional).
If you want flashy, scratch the Acura RL off your list. But if your priorities are understated elegance, good power and a balanced chassis, the RL is more than capable of filling the bill. The recipient of several improvements in recent years, the 2012 is essentially a carryover, save for some new paint choices. But with innovations like standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive and a powerful 3.7-liter V-6, who cares? Plus, the RL is loaded with standard features like a power moonroof, 10-speaker surround sound audio system, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink wireless interface, and GPS-linked solarsensing climate control. Satellite-linked navigation, Active Front Lighting, a Collision Mitigation Braking System and Adaptive Cruise Control are available.
Handy-sized and an enthusiastic daily driver, Lincoln’s MKX is also affordable and chic, despite being everyday wear. It offers comfortable second-row seating for five, plus an excellent collection of standard features such as remote starting, heated and cooled seats, and extensive electronic aids. Thoroughly freshened last year, the MKX needs little for 2012, but Lincoln managed to squeeze a 14-channel amplifier into the optional THX sound system. Available with either front- or all-wheel drive, the MKX has a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6 that whirs up 305 eager horsepower while also providing best-in-class gasoline fuel economy, so it’s one of the sportiest Lincolns as well. Top safety ratings round out this all-star’s résumé.