The fun and practical A3 rolls into 2013 unchanged. This is Audi's smallest model in the U.S., but don't underestimate the appeal of this compact wagon. Some might be turned off by having to opt for a 5-door — which is probably why the next A3 sold here will be a sedan. A rev-happy and direct-injected gasoline 2.0-liter 4-cylinder delivers 200 bhp and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel-drive is standard, though you can spend a little extra for a 6-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox that comes paired to Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system. While it's nicely sized for city driving, the backseat still offers a decent amount of stretch out space and there's a useful 19 cu. ft. of cargo room. Fold the rear seats down, and that swells to an impressive 39 cu. ft.
Those who live life large and want a coupe to match would do well to consider the Mercedes CL-Class. Loaded with luxury and charisma, the CL550 sports a 4.7-liter bi-turbo direct-injection V-8 with 429 bhp and 4Matic all-wheel drive. The C63 AMG ups the ante with a 536-bhp 5.5-liter V-8, Eco stop-start technology, 7-speed multiclutch automatic transmission, sport suspension and unique styling cues. Moving up to the CL600 nets a 5.5-liter V-12 with 510 bhp. The range-topping CL65 AMG boosts 6.0-liter V-12 output to 621 bhp. A new spotlight function for the Night View Assist Plus safety feature coordinates infrared headlights and a night-vision camera to identify and warn roadside pedestrians while alerting the driver on a display screen.
Rugged and wide-ranging, that’s the Pathfinder. Built on a version of the Titan truck frame, the Pathfinder boasts a healthy V-6 plus a powerful V-8 option to help garner a muscular 7000-lb. tow rating. Three-row 7-passenger seating is standard, while luxuries such as heated leather front seats and wireless rear-seat headphones are optional. Updated last year, all 2009 Pathfinders have gained standard side and curtain airbags, bringing its features in line with the competition. Other improvements include automatic door locks and 18-in. alloy wheels standard on the LE V-6 (last year only available with the V-8). Unchanged are the Pathfinder’s unquestioned off-road ability, fair value…and the need to be considered by all family-oriented, adventure-ready buyers.
Inspired by the BMW 2002, the 1-series redefines the entry-level luxury vehicle with typical BMW refinement and balanced performance.
The rear-wheel drive 128i is available as either a coupe or convertible. The 128i is powered by a 230-hp 3.0-liter dual overhead cam, inline six-cylinder engine mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifting. Standard safety features include six airbags on the coupe, four on the convertible, anti-lock brakes, adaptive brake lights, stability and traction control and run-flat tires with pressure monitoring. The 128i features the usual BMW creature comforts such as a high-definition audio system, auxiliary input jack, automatic climate control, leather wrapped steering wheel and multi-way adjustable front seats.
Minivans remain a popular choice with families. So when Honda redesigned its Odyssey last year, it introduced improved interior functionality with things like a 3-mode second-row seat for 8-passenger models. A welcome dose of pizzazz was applied to the exterior with styling cues such as an edgy beltline that makes it easy to spot the van in mall parking lots. In terms of safety, the Odyssey received the coveted NHTSA 5-star crash test rating. It’s also pleasant to drive with carlike ride and handling. A 248-bhp 3.5-liter V-6 swiftly delivers precious cargo whether teamed with the standard 5-speed or exclusive 6-speed automatic on top Touring models. New EX features include a multi-information display with 8-in. screen, Bluetooth and USB port.