With a bushel full of crossover vehicles on the market, the buyer has a wide range of choices. The Mazda CX-9 should be at the top of the list as it is reasonably priced, good looking, carries seven people and can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. There are three models in the lineup: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The only engine is Mazda's 3.7-liter dohc V-6 with variable valve timing. It pumps out a healthy 273 bhp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, which enables towing loads of 3500 lb. Interior fitments are well done and features include climate control, Bluetooth phone capability and Sirius satellite radio. All in all, the CX-9 offers the utility of a minivan but without the stigma.
There's a name for cars like the Mazdaspeed3: pocket-rocket. This refers to a compact-size car that provides more driving excitement than you can imagine. The 4-cylinder MZR 2.3-liter engine pumps out 263 bhp and 280-lb.-ft. of torque thanks to a responsive turbocharger. It's largely a carryover model for 2013 but has some changes, including 18-in. gunmetal alloy wheels, black outside mirrors, rear roof spoiler and rear lower valance. Inside for 2013, there is a Technology Package including a 5.8-in. full-color touchscreen nav system, HD radio, Pandora audio application, SMS text message audio delivery and voice reply. The Mazdaspeed3 is a 5-door with its large opening rear hatch that makes it easy to take your adventure gear with you. But the real adventure is in the driving!
The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is all-new for 2013. It combines the refinement and sophistication of the Avalon with the efficiency of a hybrid. The newest member of the Toyota family will make a welcomed addition to the full-size sedan line-up.
The front-wheel drive Avalon Hybrid is available in three trim levels: Premium, Touring and Limited. All are powered by a 2.5-liter engine, mated to an electronic CVT transmission that contains two electric motors that help produce 200hp of overall system output. All trims feature regenerative brakes, heated exterior mirrors, automatic headlamps, heated leather seats, wood-grain style interior trim, automatic climate control, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth wireless audio streaming and phone connectivity, cruise control, Smart Key, and a leather wrapped steering wheel. Safety features include anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, vehicle stability and traction control systems, front and rear side-impact airbags, overhead curtain airbags for front and rear occupants, driver and passenger-side knee airbags and active anti-whiplash front head restraints. Entune, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alerts, Safety Connect, rain-sensing wipers, three-zone automatic climate control, dynamic radar cruise control, eBin, pre-collision system and a rear camera parking aid are available high-tech features.
The Toyota Avalon Hybrid was introduced for 2013.
The 300C is the luxury version of the Chrysler 300. Bold styling with strong lines give the 300C a sense of power and refinement.
The 300C uses a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The engine intelligently shuts-down select cylinders while cruising under low-load conditions, which conserves gas. Standard safety features include four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control and curtain airbags. The interior is well appointed with a navigation system, satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating and memory drivers seat. Available features include adaptive bi-xenon headlights, blind spot detection and adaptive speed control.
The 300C S V8 trims have been dropped for 2013. The V8 is still available as an option.
While the Impreza is great for economy-minded drivers, Subaru's WRX and STI provide an easy upgrade path to enthusiasts seeking performance nirvana. The WRX and STI may be similar in specification—they come in either 4- or 5-door body styles and feature manual transmissions and all-wheel-drive drivetrains, turbocharged flat-4 engines and sport-tuned suspension—but they are fairly different in intent. The WRX is for enthusiasts, and 265 bhp and a 5-speed manual is just what it takes to keep them happy. The STI is for the hardcore types, the ones who demand more power to the tune of 305 bhp. You also get a 6-speed manual, adjustable center differential, an even stiffer suspension setup, and a bigger and stickier tire package.