How do you update an already retro design? You flatten its roof, make it look more masculine and hope the design attracts more male buyers. Longer, lower and wider than the New Beetle, the new Beetle is based on an all-new chassis (related to the Golf's), fitted with either a 170-bhp 2.5-liter 5-cylinder and a 6-speed automatic or the 200-bhp direct-injected 2.0-liter turbo mated to VW's dual-clutch 6-speed automatic. Manual transmissions, says VW, will come at a later date. Also coming later (in 2012) is the super-efficient 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine, which is expected to give this 4-seat front-driver highway fuel economy of 40 mpg. The Beetle Turbo, of note, has multilink rear suspension, whereas the standard Beetle has a twist beam.
The BMW 328i delivers a special mix of sporting performance, practicality and European luxury in a compact package. It's the car that defines 'sport sedan', and the benchmark every luxury car maker from Acura to Volvo aims at when it develops an entry-level luxury sport sedan.
The 328i is available in sedan or wagon bodies, xDrive all-wheel drive system is available on the sedan and standard on the wagon. The 328i is powered by a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission (sedan only). Standard safety features include eight airbags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with adaptive brakelights, traction and stability control, active anti-whiplash head restraints, and BMW Assist eCall which includes emergency request and automatic collision notification.
For 2014, the wagon returns to the line-up, and the BMW Assist eCall system is now standard.
Introduced in the mid-1990s, Chevrolet's Tahoe presented an idea that was novel at the time: Chevy Suburban capabilities minus the Suburban's mass. The idea was obviously a good one, since the Tahoe and its GMC Yukon fraternal twin have inspired many competitors. With three V-8 engine choices, the Tahoe is a capable beast of burden. It can tow up to 8500 lb., has three rows of seats, contemporary telematics and family peacekeeping options like a rear seat DVD system. A 2-mode hybrid option continues to be available, boosting the EPA city rating to 21 mpg, but its price premium relegates it largely to green fleet sales. Essentially unchanged for 2013, the Tahoe is expected to undergo an extensive 2014 renewal.
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is the bowtie brand’s first salvo into the mini car market here in North America, where it will compete with the likes of the Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ. With all due respect, you’d be right in guessing expectations weren’t sky high when Chevrolet handed over the keys to a wide range of Spark models here in New York City as part of a nationwide media tour. After all, the best thing about many previous pint-sized Chevrolets has been their adaptability to serve as the punch line jokes. With a couple of well-timed limericks already floating around in my head, the Spark and I headed onto the mean streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Opting for the base model doesn’t mean looking like a cheapskate to the outside world. With a starting price of $12,995 (including destination charge), the entry-level Spark lacks some of the bells and whistles of its pricier stablemates – though not as many as you’d expect. Standard features include the usual suspects, such as air conditioning, power windows and locks, and 4-speaker AM/FM stereo. Chevy also equips every Spark with 10 airbags, ABS, and traction control, along with hill start assist and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Sweetening the deal are 15-inch 5-split spoke alloy wheels, a small rear spoiler, and choice of six no-cost paint options that include colors like Salsa red, Jalapeno green and Techno pink. Hidden rear door handles – cleverly located in the C-pillar – give the Spark a coupe-like profile and are similar in design to the ones used in the larger Chevy Sonic hatchback.
The Buick Encore is a compact crossover SUV that features upscale styling and amenities in an efficient package.
The Encore is available in four trim levels: Encore, Convenience, Leather and Premium, and two drive types: front- or all-wheel drive. It's powered by a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, electronic stability and traction control systems, OnStar, and ten airbags. Other standard features include: Buick QuietTuning acoustics package with active noise cancellation, 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, IntelliLink audio system with 7-inch color touch screen and an oil life monitor. The Convenience trim adds: dual-zone climate control, rearview auto-dimming mirror, rear vision camera, remote start and front fog lamps. The Leather trim adds: heated front seats, power adjustable front passenger seat, leather seating surfaces, heated steering wheel and driver seat, audio and HVAC memory system. The Premium trim adds on the tech with rain sensing wipers, Bose audio system, blind spot alert, lane departure warning and Ultrasonic front and rear parking sensors including rear vision camera.