The Ford Focus range has expanded to include two new models this year: the sport-oriented ST version and an electric-powered model. The Focus 5-door hatchback continues to offer an excellent mix of agile handling, cargo room, and strong fuel economy. Under the hood is a 160-bhp 2.0-liter inline-4 coupled to a standard 5-speed manual, with a 6-speed PowerShift automatic or range-topping 6-speed PowerShift with SelectShift manual controls optional. The ST is all about carving corners, while the Titanium trim level loads the Focus 5-door with luxury touches like leather seating, a 10-speaker Sony audio system, SYNC with MyFord Touch, push-button start, and dual zone automatic climate controls. For a sinister touch, the SE Black Pack appearance package includes a piano black grille, 17-inch machined alloy wheels and, as you might have guessed, a black paintjob to match.
The Ford Focus Electric is taking the fight to eco-themed rivals like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. If you want to impress the neighbors, tell them the EPA's equivalency formula pegs the Focus Electric at 110/99-mpg in city and highway driving. Of course, this fun fact is tempered by the Focus Electric's estimated total driving range of 76 miles — that's better than the Mitsubishi i and about even with the Nissan Leaf. The Focus Electric accepts charge at 6.6 kW versus 3.3 kW in the Leaf. According to Ford's estimate, that means a full recharge via a 220-volt outlet is accomplished in 4 hours, or half the time you'd need for the Leaf. Performance is peppy, especially at city speeds, and top speed is set at 84 mph. A display on the dashboard fills with butterflies if you're gentle about applying the gas pedal. MyFord mobile apps allow you to locate charging stations, or pre-heat and pre-cool the car while it's plugged into the grid (thereby saving battery life once you're on the road).
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 2014, the Chevrolet Sonic is now available with some advanced technology for the segment: forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear camera, are now offered. Also, the RS trim is now offered on the sedan.
Record high oil prices? A slowdown in the U.S. economy? Well, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, the rich are different from you and me. And to accommodate their growing numbers and massive amounts of disposable income, legendary motorcar manufacturer Rolls-Royce adds a new vehicle to its 2009 model lineup, the Phantom Coupe (photo). Essentially a hardtop version of last year’s all-new convertible Phantom Drophead Coupe, the new Rolls features a unique “picnic boot,” with the rear section of the trunk folding down in—ahem, dare we say it—station wagon fashion, allowing for up to 330 lb. of “spectator seating” for two well-heeled guests, and improved luggage accessibility for your man servant. The trunk has been designed to hold four sets of golf clubs.
An all-new third-generation Mercedes M-Class arrives for 2012. Slightly larger than its predecessor, the ML350 receives sleeker styling inside and out, new technologies plus advanced safety features. Powertrain choices include a new 302-bhp 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6 plus a 240-bhp 3.0-liter BlueTEC diesel, both fitted with 7-speed automatic transmissions, paddle shifters and 4Matic awd. Agility Control Suspension is standard while an optional Active Curve System helps reduce body lean in corners. Roomier cabins gain a hooded twin-gauge instrument cluster, 7-in. display screen and optional heated and cooled cupholders. An 830-watt Harman-Kardon audio system, 80-gig hard-drive navigation and a rear-seat iPad docking station are available.