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.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In is a new addition to the Prius family, expanding a lineup of gas-electric hybrid vehicles that has set the standard for environmentally-friendly transportation. This front-wheel drive, five-door liftback delivers the same impressive fuel economy and low emissions as the standard Prius model, with the added benefit of extended electric vehicle (EV) driving.
The Prius Plug-In is available in two trim levels: Prius Plug-In and Prius Plug-In Advanced. Both trim levels employ Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, a hybrid powertrain technology that unites a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine with a powerful electric drive motor to generate 134 combined horsepower. In addition, a 4.4 kWh lithium ion battery with onboard charger allows a range of up to 15 miles of true electric vehicle operation; a full charge using an external 240-volt AC outlet can take as little as 1.5 hours. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard, and three selectable drive modes provide more power without compromising fuel efficiency. Standard equipment includes 15-inch aluminum wheels, automatic climate control, heated front seats, passive entry/start, a touch-screen audio display and Bluetooth wireless connectivity/music streaming, along with HD/satellite radio, a USB port and voice-activated navigation. Toyota's new Entune multimedia system is also standard, featuring smartphone integration, text-to-speech and an assortment of data services and mobile apps. Advanced trims add LED headlights, fog lamps, eco-friendly SofTex upholstery, a power driver's seat and a garage door opener, as well as enhanced audio and navigation systems, including split-screen capability and real-time traffic information. Standard safety technologies include anti-lock brakes with brake assist, vehicle stability and traction control systems and a rear backup camera, as well as front side-impact airbags, front and rear overhead curtain airbags and a driverï¿½??s knee airbag. The Advanced trim is further outfitted with a pre-collision system, radar cruise control, head-up display and Safety Connect. Hybrid-related components are backed by an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In is all-new for 2012. It is visually differentiated from the standard Prius model by exclusive exterior elements, including unique wheels and chrome-like finish for the door handles, charge port door and front grille, as well as blue-accented headlamps and tail light clusters.
Now that Mercedes offers a trio of roadsters, the long-running SL-Class occupies the sweet spot between the smaller SLK and new flagship SLS. To make room for the latter, the top V-12-powered SL65 AMG has been discontinued. That leaves a choice of two V-8 models: the SL550 with a 382-bhp 5.5-liter and the SL63 AMG that develops 518 bhp from 6.2 liters. Both are fitted with a power-folding hardtop that retracts in a scant 16 seconds. Mercedes introduced the industry's first automatic rollbar on the SL that pops into place if sensors detect an impending rollover. Other standard features include Airscarf heating that delivers warm air via the front seat head restraints, an Active Body Control suspension system and Comand audio with navigation.
R&T Overview:The lightest-duty Silverado 1500 pickup is available with three V-8 engines, all able to run on gasoline or 85-percent ethanol. The 1500 is by no means light-duty and can be configured with rear- or 4-wheel drive, three cab sizes to hold from three to six passengers, and towing equipment to pull more than five tons. Standard for 2012 is automatic trailer sway control, as well as new grilles and bumper caps. The basic Work Truck model comes with a raucous 4.3-liter V-6, which is not the most frugal in the lineup—that would be the midlevel 5.3-liter V-8 with the special dual-mode Hybrid model that gets 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway. The V-6 manages just 15 mpg city/20 highway, but it's priced near a subcompact car.
Nissan's Z car has no major changes for 2012, although we're already happy with the package...rather packages: the 370Z, its Touring version, the drop-top Roadster and, at the performance end, the Nismo 370Z coupe. While the first three models feature 332 bhp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque from the 3.7-liter V-6, the Nismo bumps that to 350 bhp and 276 lb.-ft. and adds a list of go-fast upgrades like high-performance tires, spoilers and a close-ratio 6-speed gearbox. Normal Zs come with a 7-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual that matches revs on downshifts. All the expected options are available from a navigation system to an iPod connection to Bluetooth. What we like about the Z? Its performance properly matches its exciting exterior.