The late Carroll Shelby told us once that the biggest thing he would change about the auto industry would be to convert all cars to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), simply because there's much more of it than oil. The latest heavy-duty version of GMC's Sierra is equipped to use CNG or gasoline with a 6.0-liter V-8, and since these trucks get regular workouts by fleets, they have easy access to CNG fuel stations. New last year, the sturdiest Sierras are available with GM's highly refined 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8, with a range of 680 miles and it's rated for B20 biodiesel. With proper towing equipment, the 3500 HD model can tow 18,000 lb. with a rear frame hitch or 23,100 lb. with a fifth-wheel setup. Tenfour, good buddy.
Less is more with the Mini Roadster, at least for anyone who prioritizes top-down driving fun over passenger capacity. Like its Coupe sibling, the Mini Roadster is a 2-seater thanks to its elimination of a rear seat—although the 8.5 cu ft. of cargo capacity is more than you’ll find in the standard Mini Cooper. The Roadster’s lowered stance and sleek roofline look great from most angles, even more so with the top stowed away. The top itself is manually operated and features a glass rear window. A reinforced windshield and twin stainless-steel rollover bars are present for extra chassis rigidity and safety. There are three levels of performance for the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine: the 121-bhp base Cooper, the 181-bhp Cooper S, and the 208-bhp John Cooper Works. The last is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission, while the other models also can be ordered with a 6-speed automatic.
Hyundai has redone the Accent lineup of subcompacts for 2012 and the results are quite good. The all-new Gamma engine boasts gasoline direct injection (GDI) that produces improved fuel economy, more power and less emissions. Output of the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is 138 bhp and 123 lb.-ft. of torque, putting it at the head of the pack. Another plus for the Accent is new styling that makes the small sedan and hatchback models look "fluidic," says Hyundai. It is a sharp-looking car and it does offer excellent fuel efficiency, as well as a roomier interior package, larger cargo area in the hatchback, 4-wheel disc brakes, traction control and more. The powertrain warranty is also excellent.
The BMW 5-series puts an emphasis on the driving experience. Now starting its sixth generation, this mid-size luxury car remains a true sports sedan by delivering aggressive styling, precise handling and outstanding safety.
Available in rear- or xDrive all-wheel drive, the 550i features a 445-hp 4.4-liter, twin-turbo, V8 engine, with the choice of an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Standard features include leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control with active micro-filtration, a 16-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, HD radio, Bluetooth, 18-inch alloy wheels, voice-activated hard-drive based navigation system, and iDrive control system with integrated owner's manual. Safety is provided by six airbags, active anti-whiplash front head restraints, electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, BMW Assist telematics, and bi-xenon adaptive headlights. An optional Park Assistant system will steer the car into a parallel parking space.
For 2014, there are subtle styling changes inside and out, the 4.4-liter gains 45-hp as well as auto stop/start, and LED headlights are now an option.
In the Mercedes quartet of luxury SUVs, the GL-Class takes the checkered flag in terms of seating capacity, cargo volume and towing. With three standard rows of seats, there's room for seven. Fold the second and third rows flat to reveal 83.3 cu. ft. of space for oversize gear. The GL has carryover powertrains ranging from a 210-bhp 3.0-liter BlueTEC diesel V-6, to 335-bhp 4.6- and 382-bhp 5.5-liter V-8s. All mate with a 7-speed automatic transmission, 4Matic awd and feature 7500 lb. towing capacity. Changes for 2012 include LED daytime running lights and updated interior trim. The GL's standard Command system includes a 7-in. screen, 6-disc DVD/CD player and Bluetooth. Navigation and 610-watt, 12-speaker Harman-Kardon audio are optional.