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.
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.
Honda brings the midsize Crosstour into sharper focus for 2013 with more aggressive SUV-inspired front and rear styling, lower side cladding and new 18- in. wheels. Powertrain choices include an upgraded 3.5-liter V-6 with an estimated 300 bhp teamed with a new 6-speed automatic transmission and choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Introduced last year, the base 192-bhp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder returns with a 5-speed automatic and front-drive only. A new Lane Watch blind-spot display uses a camera on the passenger mirror for an enhanced view. New options include Lane Departure and Forward Collision Warning driver alert technology. The cabin receives enhanced trim, an information display screen, keyless start and paddle shifters for V-6 models.
An abbreviated model year of virtual carryover 2012 Taurus will end with the arrival of a freshened, re-powered 2013 model in the spring. Underhood, front-drive versions of the 2013 will offer a turbocharged EcoBoost 2.0-liter I-4 as an alternative to the 3.5-liter V-6 that is updated with twin independent variable-cam timing (Ti-VCT) for notably improved power and fuel efficiency. Although it will look substantially unchanged at a glance, the 2013 Taurus lineup- including the potent twin-turbo awd SHO-will also bring numerous exterior and interior revisions, improved steering and brake feel, electronic torque-vectoring control, and additions-like a heated steering wheel-to its already huge slate of convenience and safety technology.
The Versa Note fills the 5-door hatchback slot in Nissan's line-up and brings sharp styling and unique technologies to the sub-compact class.
The Versa Note is front-wheel drive and is powered by a 109-hp 1.6-liter four cylinder engine mated to either a five-speed manual or Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Safety comes from six standard airbags, front seat-belt pretensioners, engine immobilizer, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability and traction control. A rear view camera is available, as is a surround view monitor system, part of an SL Tech package that includes a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth streaming audio and NissanConnect which provides Google functionality as well as real-time fuel, flight and weather information.
The Versa Note is all-new for 2014 and replaces the Versa hatchback last seen in 2012.