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.
The 2014 Aston Martin DB9 carries its sleek, elegant form and powerful performance into the new model year with few changes--but that's fine by us.
Despite its nearly nine-year age, last year's updates and the DB9's distillation of the Aston Martin ethos and look gives it a timelessness. Not long ago the Virage attempted to take over the DB9's spot, but was out of production within two years. That says less about the failure of the Virage than it does the success of the DB9.
Its gorgeous exterior form aside, the interior's tightly fitted leather and clean wood or carbon fiber trim feel current, too. An LCD touchscreen sits front and center, and the crystal-tipped key/fob is a unique feature that rises above the gimmick. The details are simple and restrained, the total effect one of sophistication.
For both the coupe and DB9 Volante convertible, under the hood there's a 6.0-liter V-12 engine loosing 510 horses and 457 pound-feet of torque. Last year's 40-horsepower jump woke the DB9 back up, and it continues to exude the purest of grand tourer experiences: fast, comfortable, and quiet--thought it will bark with provocation. A six-speed paddle-shifted ZF automatic transmission clicks quick shifts, but lacks the crisp, throttle-blipping precision of a modern dual clutch. You wouldn't expect the DB9 to be fuel efficient, and it's not: the EPA estimates 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway for 15 mpg combined.
Despite its grand tourer nature, the DB9 is quick, launching to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and capable of a top speed of 186 mph.
The careful balance required for grand touring ride and handling like the DB9's requires a solid platform to build from, and the all-aluminum, bonded and riveted chassis and body provide it. Despite the aluminum focus, the DB9 isn't especially light: a typical example weighs about 3,800 pounds. In the context of some competitors, however, it's not nearly as heavy as it could be.
It makes sense, then, that while the DB9 lacks the immediacy of some smaller, nimbler cars (the Porsche 911 comes to mind) it's still athletic. The adaptive suspension provides much of the magic in this regard, whether absorbing poor roads in Normal, chasing up a canyon in Sport, or truly pushing the limits in Track, each mode lets the underlying chassis span a wide range of conditions and experiences.
The XK combines Jaguar's new modern design style with traditional luxury car touches like genuine wood and supple leather.
Available as a coupe or convertible, the XK packs a 385-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine. The XKR features a 510-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The XKR-S uses a 550-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. A six-speed automatic transmission with console mounted rotary shifter and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters channels all that power to the rear wheels. Standard equipment includes touch screen navigation, keyless entry with keyless start, a seven-inch video display, Bluetooth, front and rear park assist with rear camera, and electronic parking brake. The XKR-S adds forged wheels, aerodynamic enhancements, and race inspired seats.
The XK carries over with minimal changes for 2014.
The Armada has the power and size to accommodate whatever owner's ask of Nissan's flagship SUV.
The Armada seats up to eight people and is available in either rear- or four-wheel drive. Class leading towing capability comes from a 317-hp 5.6-liter V8 mated to a five-speed automatic. An E85 Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) version is available. Standard safety features include electronic stability control, active head restraints, side curtain and front side airbags, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist. The Armada is available in SV, SL, and Platinum trims. The SL and Platinum Editions feature upgraded wheels and exterior trim, as well as Intelligent Key and leather seat trim. The SL and Platinum Editions also include an upgraded Bose stereo while the Platinum Edition includes heated seats, moonroof, dual-screen rear entertainment system, and a navigation system.