The iconic Volkswagen GTI was arguably the first "hot hatch" when VW made a small hatchback fun to drive, now in its sixth generation, the GTI still lives up to the original's sporting intentions.
The GTI is available as a four-door, with a 210-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, (DSG), which allows the driver to shift sequentially, without doing the clutch work, via paddles on the steering wheel or the shift lever itself. An extensive list of standard equipment is included, features such as well-bolstered cloth sport seats with plaid inserts, halogen fog lamps, alloy pedals, SIRIUS satellite radio, 18-inch performance tires on alloy wheels, sport suspension, six airbags, tire pressure monitoring, an 8-speaker touch-screen audio system, Bluetooth and a multi-function leather steering wheel.
For 2014, the GTI overall is unchanged. The Wolfsburg Edition and Drivers Edition are the only two trims available.
Subtle design changes bring the XF, Jaguar’s least costly model and now entering its fourth year on the market, more in line with the look of the XJ sedan. The XF is the quintessential Jaguar sports sedan for those who enjoy driving. The 510-bhp supercharged XFR performance model gets a more assertive styling treatment to further differentiate it from the regular XF, which is no slouch. New seats, instrument panel, upgraded navigation and an optional 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system complement the exterior changes. For added peace of mind, all 2012 Jaguars now include Jaguar Platinum coverage, which includes complimentary scheduled maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles, the same as the length of the warranty.
No car can be all things to all people, but as urban conveyances go, Lexus' interesting CT 200h comes pretty close. Its wagon layout speaks to your practical side, while its elegant silhouette appeals to your sense of style. Add the luxury amenities you'd expect from a Lexus, plus a sport-tuned suspension and an efficient hybrid powertrain, and you've got a package that's pretty hard to beat. Plus, in addition to the EV, Eco and Normal driving modes you'll find in Toyota hybrids, the CT 200h offers a Sport mode that quickens throttle and steering response. Essentially a carryover for 2013, the CT 200h offers standard SmartAccess keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, 6-speaker audio and Bluetooth interface. A variety of packages is available.
After a brief absence from the market, an entirely new Durango returned to Dodge dealerships in 2011. Sharing much with the highly praised Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango is built on a stiff unibody platform, in rwd or awd form, with 4-wheel independent suspension and seating for seven. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 290 bhp, with a 360-bhp 5.7-liter V-8 on the option list. Both engines are teamed with 5-speed automatics, although expect an upgrade there in the very near future. The latest electronic safety features are available, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection. An R/T performance edition is available, but the Citadel model in particular does a nice job of marrying rugged capability with comfort.
For 2013, a new lower priced Touring version of the XK grand tourer, coupe or convertible, is available. Starting at $79,000 for the coupe, it offers the same performance as before with a sticker price that’s $4500 less. A new Portfolio Pack for the XK and XKR gives you special features and finishes such as chrome mirror caps and grille, more exterior color options, a leather headliner from the XKR-S and more. New 20-in. alloy wheels are now standard, up from last year’s 19s. A Dynamic Pack on the XKR coupe and convertible is now available, bringing XKR-S suspension tuning to the XKR. All XKs have a variation of Jaguar’s 5.0-liter V-8 (385 bhp in the XK, 550 bhp in the XKR-S) mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.