Like most of its corporate stablemates, the Town & Country was sent in 2011 to refinement school, and returned with a re-engineered suspension, richer interior and new 3.6-liter 283-bhp V-6 with 6-speed automatic. For 2012, Chrysler burnishes the Town & Country's luxury credentials by making leather seating and rear-seat DVD standard equipment on all models. Also new is Sapphire Blue interior lighting. Returning are the T&C's many virtues: one-touch fold-down Stow 'n' Go seating, standard power sliding doors, power liftgate, Uconnect Web, side-curtain airbags for all three rows and overhead ambient lighting. The SafetyTec package includes the latest features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear crosspath detection and rain-sensitive wipers.
Mercedes-Benz calls its newest entry a Sports Tourer, but whatever it’s called, the vanlike R-Class has burst fully formed into the lineup. The R-Class offers everything from an ultra-efficient turbodiesel R320 CDI to a steroid-injected R63 AMG, with the more mundane R350 and R500 filling out the line. All-wheel drive and a 7-speed automatic back all four engines. Despite the quirky form, there’s no arguing with the results, as the long wheelbase and supple chassis tuning provide a smooth ride and agile handling. The vanlike shape has utility written all over it, and the R-Class ably manages to swallow any combination of seven passengers or 85 cu. ft. of stuff. Options range from a DVD rear entertainment system and power tailgate to parking assist and air suspension with Adaptive Damping.
After a short hiatus, the 6 Series has returned. It is introduced with only the 400-bhp V-8 engine, fitted with a proper 6-speed manual or an optional quick-shifting 8-speed automatic—a sublime combination that easily outdoes its predecessor in many ways. Where the last car was a little challenging to see out of and felt large on the road (and in parking spaces), this iteration feels small and lithe, although dimensionally slightly larger. Options abound for the sports coupe, and it is easy to inflate the price of the 650i to over $100,000, putting the car in some fancy company. The convertible retains reasonably sized rear seats for two passengers, and the top can be operated up to 25 mph.
Although there aren’t many changes to the Rio for 2011, this entry-level offering continues to impress. Receiving a small makeover for 2010—integrating Kia’s new signature front grille and rear faux diffuser along with body-color bumpers—the Rio will now have a Bluetooth option available (LX, SX models) to complete the modern-day necessities list of satellite radio and USB/aux input that already come standard on all Rios. The 1.6-liter inline-4 features variable intake valve control that helps it achieve its 110 bhp as well as laudable fuel economy (28/34 manual, 27/36 auto.). To cap it all off, this B-segment car comes with Kia’s grade “A” warranty, one that backs the powertrain for 10 years/100,000 miles. Impressive.
The XK combines Jaguar's new modern design style with traditional luxury car touches like genuine wood and supple leather.
Available as a coupe or convertible, the XK packs a 385-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine. The XKR features a 510-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. A special-order only, XKR-S uses a 550-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. A six-speed automatic transmission with console mounted rotary shifter and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters channels all that power to the rear wheels. Standard equipment includes touch screen navigation, keyless entry with keyless start, a seven-inch video display, Bluetooth, front and rear park assist with rear camera, and electronic parking brake. The XKR-S adds forged wheels, aerodynamic enhancements, and race inspired seats.