R&T Overview:It’s no secret that the 444-bhp 2012 Boss 302 has garnered rave reviews, even if its limited production means price negotiation will be virtually nonexistent. And though otherwise mostly a carryover for 2012, we think Ford’s Mustang has never been better. Its base 305-bhp Ti-VCT V-6 is good for up to 31 mpg highway, while the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V-8 generates 412 bhp and up to 26 mpg highway. Handling and braking are now fully on par with power output, and interior refinement is worlds ahead of Mustangs of yore—and the pony car competition. New options for 2012 include selectable steering effort, made possible by electric power-assist steering (EPAS). And the supercharged 550-bhp Shelby GT500 is back with optional Recaro bucket seats.
Aston Martin says changes to the 2011 DB9 are the most significant since the car was first introduced in 2003. Fortunately, the iconic British car company hasn’t altered many things, as there was little wrong with the most successful Aston of all time. The 2+2 car continues to be powered by the 470 bhp V-12 coupled to a 6-speed manual or Touchtronic auto transmission. Styling changes are subtle but include a new front bumper with reshaped lower intake, and recontoured side sills. The Adaptive Damping System (ADS) is similar to that already found on the DBS and Rapide. A button on the center console allows the driver to switch damping modes for the desired ride/handling balance. ADS means that the DB9 Sport Package is no longer available, since it’s not needed.
The Ford Fusion Plug-In Hybrid is the top of the Fusion family ladder for buyers looking for a midsize sedan that maximizes fuel economy.
The Fusion Plug-In Hybrid uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in combination with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. To link the gas engine and electric motor together, an electronic continuously variable transmission, also known as an eCVT, is used to optimally match the power and gearing. Safety features include anti-lock brakes with panic brake assist, AdvanceTrac electronic stability and traction control, LED taillights, security system, eight-airbags, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Phantom is Rolls-Royce's flagship ultra-luxury sedan, available with standard or extended wheelbases. Its powerful upright stance, dynamic profile and classic styling cues such as a long hood, wide C-pillars and discrete windows, are unmistakably Rolls-Royce. Together with the use of the finest leather and wood veneers, the fusion of high technology and hand-craftsmanship gives the interior a unique and luxurious feel, and a serene, comfortable ride offers an unparalleled passenger experience.
The five-passenger, rear-wheel drive Phantom is powered by a 6.75-liter direct-injected V-12 engine mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission, producing 453 horsepower and 531 pounds-feet of torque. This ultra-luxury sedan features reverse-opening rear doors, adaptive air suspension with automatic four-corner leveling, a 15-speaker 420 watt sound system with an updated satellite navigation system, and a handcrafted interior with flawless leather trim and a choice of wood veneers. Optional equipment includes rear climate controls, dual-monitor rear entertainment system, and vast array of paint colors and interior trim materials. The option of individual rear power bucket seats may be specified, adding a centre console which can be used to house an optional drinks cabinet or coolbox. A unique option is a full-length "starlight" headliner, which incorporates hundreds of tiny fibre optics to give the impression of a star-filled night sky. While the Phantom has an extensive options list, the Bespoke program allows customers to create a car that is completely personal to them by specifying features that are not usually available. The interior of the Phantom Extended Wheelbase offers significant additional space and, for passenger privacy, a partition wall between the front and rear seats is available.
The Ford Flex is a full-size family vehicle that features three-rows of seating, bold styling and is highly functional. The Flex competes directly in the popular crossover segment.
The front-wheel or all-wheel drive Flex is powered by a 285-hp 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine. Available on the all-wheel drive Limited only is the 355-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift. Available features include a Multi-Panel Vista Roof, interior refrigerator, and capless fueling. Standard safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability and roll control, six airbags, and a tire pressure monitor.
After a 2013 refresh, the Flex rolls into 2014 unchanged.