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.
The Chevrolet Sonic combines a fuel efficient engine, seating for five and ample cargo space; it competes in the sub-compact market.
The front-wheel drive Sonic is offered in two body styles; sedan and hatchback. All models come standard with a 138-hp 1.8-liter engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. There are two available transmissions, a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. A 138-hp 1.4-liter engine is also available on the LT and LTZ trims, and standard on the RS trim. Standard safety equipment includes stability control, ABS brakes, panic brake assist, hill hold control, automatic headlamps, OnStar and ten airbags. Standard and optional features depending on the trim level include front fog lights, power windows, heated front seats, cruise control, a security system, air conditioning, XM satellite ratio, alloy wheels, and remote engine start.
For 2013, the Chevrolet Sonic receives new features and standard equipment. All trims now have Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, and outside rearview mirrors with an integral spotter. LT models now come with cruise control, and a USB port. The LTZ model now comes standard with Chevrolets MyLink Touch infotainment system. Also, a new RS trim has been added to the lineup.
This is another sensibly sized SUV, one that nicely wears its Cadillac sheet metal, its grille separating it from the crowd. Same mix of style and a sense of technology inside...the center stack with the navigation screen that rises from it. Reading "cons" from a number of SRX owners, the complaint that came through most was the engines' power. Cadillac solves that for 2012 with a single powerplant, the 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 used in many of its models. Horsepower goes to 308 and torque to 265 lb.-ft. The 6-speed automatic now has an Eco feature that will adjust shift points to improve fuel economy. Also new for 2012 is a heated steering wheel, standard Bluetooth, a new finish on the 20-in. wheels and the usual color changes.
Carroll Shelby lent his name to a lowly Dodge Omni and added a turbo engine that availed muscle-car power to the financially disabled in 1985. These days, a number of hot compacts do the same thing, but none have the tall “wagonhatch” body of the Caliber SRT4. This year the Caliber’s steering knuckles were revised to limit the wrist-snapping torque steer that plagued the SRT4 last year, and a new rear anti-roll bar takes a bit more work off the front tires. In addition, the Richard Petty Driving Experience now comes with the purchase of the SRT4, which offers astounding acceleration from its aluminum 2.4-liter turbocharged four. The large hood scoop is functional and necessary, not just another automotive codpiece, and optional are Goodyear F1 exotic fair-weather tires that increase grip.
With the Mini range expanding to a new 2-seater and a 4-door all-wheel-drive family hauler, it's beginning to look more like old times again (remember the Mini Pickup Truck?). But truthfully, it's the core vehicle that carries the brand, the Cooper Hardtop, which is still one of the best front-drive cars money can buy. With its surprisingly affordable entry price, the Mini impresses with its build quality and fuel economy you'll get from the standard Cooper's 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. The fun starts, however, at the 181-bhp turbo Cooper S, and gets addictive should you choose to go the 208-bhp John Cooper Works route. The cargo-friendly Clubman and open-air Convertible can be had in all three trims too, but the posh, $52,000 Goodwood special edition (co-developed with Rolls-Royce) is reserved just for the original.