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.
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.
The Buick Enclave combines the smooth ride and responsive handling of a car with the cargo capability and high seating position of a sport utility vehicle.
The Enclave is available in three trims: Convenience, Premium, and Leather. Each trim can be ordered in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. All trims feature a contemporary design that incorporates trademark styling cues associated with Buicks of the past. The interior features front bucket seats and can accommodate either seven or eight passengers depending on the seating configuration selected. A direct injection 3.6-liter V6 engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Enclave offers a luxurious interior with an extensive list of features and amenities, including standard Bluetooth handsfree connectivity, OnStar, satellite radio, automatic climate control and a rear-view camera system. Available equipment includes a sunroof, 10-speaker Bose premium sound system, navigation, and a rear DVD entertainment system.
Cadillac's CTS comes in three forms: Sedan, Coupe and Sport Wagon. It's easy to be a fan of either or all. The exterior design is glamorous and unapologetically Detroit. Ditto inside. Even the base models are nicely finished with good detailing. There are several drivetrain combinations: Two aluminum 4-cam direct-injection V-6s, a 3.0-liter (270 bhp/223 lb.-ft. of torque) or a 3.6 (318 bhp/275 lb.-ft. of torque). Manual or automatic 6-speed transmissions. Drive can be via the rear or all four wheels. How much more variety could you want? With independent suspension front and rear, plus standard StabiliTrak stability control, the CTS has beautifully matched ride and handling characteristics. In short, this Cadillac manages to be an engaging car without being too firm.
R&T Overview:To serious SUV enthusiasts, the general popularity of their favorite segment led to too much gentrification. SUVs got "sissified." But there's still the Xterra, a no-baloney, truck-based (the F-Alpha platform) SUV for those ready for serious off-roading. As a perfect example, the rear compartment isn't just commodious—it has optional tie-down channels, cargo hooks and the most telling of all: an Easy Clean cargo area. Options include skid plates, a tow hook and first-aid kit. There's even an available hatch tent. Nissan gives you the power for this trekking with a 261-bhp 4.0-liter V-6, 6-speed manual (with 4-wheel-drive only) or a 5-speed automatic transmission with the option of 4-wheel drive. All this in three models: X, S and PRO-4X.