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.
The Infiniti FX37 is a stylish 'Supernatural Cheetah' designed sport utility vehicle with a strong emphasis on 'sport'.
The FX37 is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations. A 325-hp 3.7-liter V6 sends power through a new electronically controlled seven-speed automatic transmission that features a manual shift mode and downshift rev-matching. The FX37 features such luxuries as power heated leather front seats, moonroof, alloy wheels, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The 300-watt, audio system uses eleven speakers and digital audio conversion to provide an excellent listening experience. It's also a safe vehicle with standard anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and airbags that include curtain airbags for both rows of seats.
For 2013, a larger 3.7-liter V6 engine replaces the 3.5-liter V6, which accounts for the name change from FX35 to FX37.
The Chrysler 200 series represents the brand's "bell-curve" competitor in the crowded midsize sedan segment. It sits squarely at the top of the curve, and like the proverbial porridge spread, is neither too hot nor too cold, but just rightâ€¦ for the money. The simplified lineup for 2013 consists of the 200 LX, 200 Touring, 200 Limited, and the 200 Convertible in Touring, Limited and S configurations. The 200 is a safe play for cost-conscious families who appreciate modest styling and gets-you-there performance. Yet it's the Limited's 3.6-liter V-6 (especially when combined with the new S Appearance Package) that gives the 200 firm claim to the midsize segment's middle ground. Abundant safety features come standard on the 200.
The Passat is the largest passenger car in the Volkswagen line-up. It has all the refinements and technology expected of a sophisticated German vehicle, but is now built in the USA specifically for the North American driver.
The Passat is offered as a front-wheel drive four-door sedan with four engine choices; a 170-hp, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder, a 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder, a 140-hp, 2.0-liter TDI diesel four-cylinder, and a 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6. Numerous transmissions are available, a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic with the 2.5L, a six-speed auto with the 1.8T, a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG with the TDI, and a six-speed DSG is standard with the VR6. Standard safety features include six airbags, four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, engine immobilizer and an intelligent crash response system that unlocks all doors, shuts off fuel and electrical supply and turns on the hazard lights. Standard creature comfort features include front and rear center armrests, trip computer, keyless entry, automatic headlights with coming home function, cruise control and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
For 2014, the big news is that a new 1.8T four-cylinder engine will be gradually replacing the 2.5-liter. Also, a rearview camera has been added as standard to SE and up trims.
The big BMW off-roader that drives like a sports sedan won't see any real changes for the 2012 model year. Those changes came last year when the engine options went all turbo and were mated to an 8-speed automatic rather than the six. The 6-speed remains only on the staggeringly quick X5 M. We expect a midyear update of the X5 to focus mostly on styling and technology, but little on drivetrain. However, the X5 M could get the new M5's slightly revised and more potent twin-turbo V-8. We think most owners will be quite happy toting 6 passengers with the turbodiesel X5 xDrive35d's 425 lb.-ft. of torque, although the $1700 optional third-row seating is a tad expensive and only for use by children.