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 Honda Insight is an aerodynamically styled, practical four-door, five-passenger hatchback hybrid that holds the title of being the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle to market in North America.
The Insight is powered by Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system, which is a combination of a 1.3-liter gas engine and a 13-hp electric motor, all attached to a continuously variable transmission. The engine and motor combined generate 98-hp and 123-lb.ft of torque, and provide 40-plus mpg fuel economy. The base trim offers six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry and a two-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary input. The LX trim adds floor mats, cruise control with steering wheel controls, a security system and a four-speaker CD audio system with USB interface. The EX trim adds alloy wheels, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone use, heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. A voice activated navigation system with FM traffic and a rearview camera is available on the EX trim.
Now that the Monte Carlo is dead and gone, the Impala is shouldering the load for Chevy in the midsize segment and on the track in NASCAR events. The front-drive sedan is certainly no “Car of Tomorrow”; the basic platform dates back to the ’80s, although it has been updated. It is one of the few cars to come in a 6-passenger configuration and offers a wide range of engine choices. The base engine is a 211-bhp 3.5-liter pushrod V-6. The LTZ has a 224-bhp 3.9-liter pushrod six. And the relatively hairy SS has a pushrod 5.3-liter V-8 that sends 303 bhp to the front axle. Chevy has worked hard at keeping the value end of the bargain going by adding such features as dual-zone climate control, traction control, ABS, new thorax side-impact airbags and Bluetooth connectivity.
Simple fact: Whether the Sierra Club likes it or not, it takes a large, beefy vehicle to tow a hefty trailer while simultaneously coddling up to eight occupants in long-distance comfort. Ford’s answer is the body-on-boxed-frame Expedition, or the Expedition EL with its foot-longer wheelbase, either of which can be had in rear-drive or 4wd form. Despite having the muscles and moxy for the mission, the Expedition’s independent rear suspension delivers a refined ride and commendable handling, and its standard Trailer Sway Control—part of Ford’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability/roll control system—can take the white knuckles out of towing up to 9200 pounds. The sole powertrain is an E85-capable 5.4-liter V-8 backed by a 6-speed automatic.
The Audi R8 is the company's first mid-engine super car. It is designed with extreme performance in mind and with other high end sports cars in its sights.
The R8 is available as a coupe or Spyder and is powered by one of three engines, a 430-hp 4.2-liter V-8, a 5.2-liter V-10 making 525-hp or a 550-hp version of the V-10 is available in the V10 plus coupe trim only. A full-time quattro all-wheel drive system puts that power to the ground and a choice between either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed S tronic automated sequential manual transmission give the driver full control. Standard features include satellite radio, automatic climate control, 19-inch alloy wheels, and full LED headlights. Some of the available options include a rearview camera, navigation system, carbon ceramic brakes (standard on V10 plus) and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.
For 2014, the R8 returns with refreshed styling inside and out after skipping the 2013 model year.