Audi has given the A5 coupe a freshening, to bring it in line with the rest of the range. The narrower headlights and taillights work well on this handsome coupe. Your choice of powertrain is easy, since a TFSI 2.0-liter inline-4 is the only engine available. To be honest, the 211 bhp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque on offer is underwhelming for a car costing this much. Rivals from BMW, Infiniti and Cadillac have significantly more powerful base engines. At least the A5 is fuel efficient, thanks partly to the choice of 6-speed manual or silky 8-speed automatic transmission. You could always step up to the S5 coupe or convertible if you want the A5, but desire loads more power and performance. Quattro all-wheel-drive is standard on the A5; making this a good choice if you live in snowy climes. Like the exterior, the cabin has been nicely updated. Chrome and high-gloss finishes help brighten up the business-like environs.
The Mitsubishi Lancer offers an enticing range of compact cars from practical economy to sensible all-wheel-drive sedan to sporty liftback to rally rocket. The Lancer sports a tidy, sleekish shape with a bold and distinctive shark mouth. Its interior is clean, seating is comfortable, instrumentation is blessedly simple.
Good engines give it good value, with its base model bringing 26/34 miles per gallon City/Highway, according to the EPA. Seven airbags, including one for the driver's knee, help make it safe, in addition to anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and the mandated tire pressure monitor. Lancer was last redesigned for the 2008 model year.
The 2012 Lancer SE is a new model. It uses Mitsubishi's all-wheel drive system called AWC (all-wheel control), with the proven 2.4-liter engine making 168 horsepower. Ready for the Snow Belt, the Lancer SE comes with heated seats and mirrors.
The base Lancer DE is not bare bones, with its power doors and windows, keyless entry and auto halogen headlamps, but it lacks air conditioning, folding rear seat, and cruise control. Lancer DE uses the good 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that features Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system (MIVEC) with double overhead cams and 16 valves.
Driving gets more civilized with the Lancer ES with air conditioning and better seats, front and rear. For 2012, Lancer ES gets new interior fabric and instrument panel trim. The Lancer ES Sportback is a smooth-looking 5-door. We found the Lancer ES offers decent steering response and tracks well through corners, with no excessive body lean.
R&T Overview:Looking for a hybrid yet you’re not ready to settle down with a family-style 4-door? The Honda CR-Z preserves your spirit of independence. All new last year, this sporty 2-seater’s design is influenced by the cult-favorite ’80s era CRX. A 1.5- liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine teams with a 10-kW electric motor for a combined output of 122 hp while returning up to 39 mpg on the highway with a continuously variable transmission. Or, stick with the 6-speed manual gearbox and have more fun albeit with slightly lower mpg. A 3-mode drive system with Sport/Normal/Econ settings is standard along with 3-D style gauges and 160-watt audio system. The EX adds HID headlights, foglights, alloy pedals, 360-watt audio, Bluetooth plus optional navigation.
A free society doesn’t need cars to come in a baffling number of trim levels and options, no more than it needs a similarly large selection of breakfast cereals. Fortunately, in a moment of clarity, Volkswagen chose to offer its Passat in only sedan and wagon styles, a sole trim level (Komfort), a single option package and one notable change for 2010: VW’s 6-speed twin-clutch DSG in place of the previous 6-speed Tiptronic automatic. Otherwise, the Passat retains its semi-luxurious Euro-sedan (and wagon) driving experience. Such an experience stems from ample standard equipment, plus its 200-bhp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, supple suspension, electric-assist power steering, electronic differential and VW’s stability control.
When it comes to the driver’s car of large, luxury sedans, look no further than BMW’s 7 Series. For 2011, there are more models than ever. Besides the twin-turbo V-8-powered 750i, 750Li, 750i xDrive, 750Li xDrive and range-topping twin-turbo V-12 760Li, BMW has added base 740i and 740Li models, which utilize a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 with 315 bhp mated to a 6-speed automatic (pricing starts at $71,025). The ActiveHybrid 7, which pairs a twin-turbo V-8 with a 3-phase synchronous electric motor, garners an EPA-rated 17/26 mpg but carries a $103,175 price tag. Saving the best for last, the new Alpina B7 offers factory covered-under-warranty tuning to deliver more power (500 bhp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque from a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8) and better handling.