Ford's E-Series is utilitarian and ubiquitous. Depending on configuration— and there are many—it can tow up to 10,000 lb., carry up to 3920 lb., or seat up to 15 passengers, and has been the king of the full-size van market for an amazing 33 years. That reign may end soon, though, as the some of the E-Series models may bow out in favor of the new full-size Ford Transit. Until then, the E-Series continues to offer van or wagon (side window) variants, regular- and extendedlength wheelbases, two V-8s or a 6.8-liter V-10, as well as optional preparation for propane or natural gas conversion. This is not just a box on wheels as Ford offers proprietary technology such as Sync hands-free connectivity and the "Crew Chief" telematics system.
We all know the Super Duty is a rugged workaholic but, this year, Ford gussies it up for a night on the town with an available new Platinum series that will exceed even the Lariat and King Ranch for upscale content. It's available in Crew Cab only, and powered by either a 6.2- liter sohc gasoline engine or the amazingly quiet 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. The Platinum has unique exterior touches like a perforated satin-chrome mesh grille and 20-in. polished aluminum wheels. Inside are 10-way-power leather captain's chairs, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a navigation system viewed on the 8-in. screen of MyFord Touch, which is new throughout the Super Duty lineup and optimized even for users who may be wearing work gloves.
The Hyundai Veloster finally has the engine it deserves. While the exterior of this quirky 3-door divides opinion into the ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ camps, everyone agrees the base model’s 138-bhp inline-4 simply doesn’t have enough grunt. Consider the problem solved, courtesy of the 201-bhp turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder in the Veloster Turbo. You’ll pay more for that extra power but, trust us, the premium is worth it. And while we’re on subject, the Turbo can run on regular unleaded and returns a commendable 26/38-mpg during city and highway driving (when equipped with the 6-speed manual). A 6-speed EcoShift automatic with paddle shifters is also available and has nearly the same mpg ratings. Like the standard Veloster, the Turbo comes loaded with standard features such as air conditioning, Bluetooth phone system, and a stereo including CD/XM/MP3 and a connection for your iPod/iPad. Added to the Turbo are leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, plus a larger and more aggressive front grille.
The Ford Escape is a mid-size sport-utility vehicle, which incorporates the latest technology and style; setting a high standard in the SUV category.
The five-passenger Escape is available in S, SE, and Titanium trims, in either front or four-wheel drive. Engine choices start with the 168-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Also, a 173-hp 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is available. For even more power a 231-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is offered. All variations are paired with a six-speed select-shift automatic transmission. Impressive features offered on the Escape include a Panoramic Vista Roof, satellite radio, SYNC, MyFord Touch, a trailer towing package, heated leather seating, navigation system, auto park with cross traffic alert, Sony audio, MyKey, and an industry first hands-free power liftgate. Standard safety features include seven-airbags with drive knee airbag, passive anti-theft system, AdvanceTrac stability control with anti-rollover technology, four-wheel disc brakes, and tire pressure monitoring.
The 2014 Ford Escape is now standard with a rear view camera and SYNC on all trims.
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.