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!
Even though the traditional pony-car formula is based on a 2-door coupe with rear drive and a V-8 engine, Chevy has grasped the future idea that modern V-6 engines can be lighter and more powerful. So, the result is a 323-bhp 3.6-liter V-6 engine as the base Camaro's powerplant. That's huge power, and feels so, especially with the standard 6-speed manual. The V-8 ZL1 performance model is available with an unbelievably powerful 580-bhp version of the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. This is the top-line, most powerful Camaro ever, with a 6-speed manual standard, and a 6-speed automatic that saves fuel optional. The SS model is between the standard Camaro and the wild ZL1. All 2012 models have the dark taillight lenses of the 2011 RS.
Buick's large, comfortable, luxury crossover made popular by a once well-respected golfer, receives a makeover (not to mention a new spokesperson) for 2013. The exterior adds new fenders and body color front and rear fasciae, the latter of which house newly integrated dual exhaust tips. LED daytime running lights, shaped like an inverted Nike 'Swoosh', line redesigned headlamps while a prominent new front grille underscores a newish hood design. Buick's signature porthole details have been tastefully repositioned and toned down as well. The collaborative effect of this achieves a more refined overall appearance that's somewhat slimming. Inside, Buick implements a new instrument panel and door trim, replete with blue ambient lighting and real stitching, in lieu of the cost-cutting molded simulant. An industry first is the Enclave's new center airbag—deploying out of the driver seat's right bolster—that mitigates any collision forces between the driver and front passenger in a far-side impact. Rounding out the 2013 updates is the Enclave's revised suspension damping and new front rebound springs, aimed to improve ride quality that wasn't exactly harsh to begin with. With an attractive entry price that can undercut the competition by a large margin, the Enclave is one luxury crossover worth looking at.
The Audi RS 5 is the even higher performance variant of the S5. Flared fenders, a unique front fascia, and a sporty stance give the RS 5 a muscular presence.
The RS 5's claim to fame is its normally aspirated 450 horsepower V8. A seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission sends the power to the ground via Audi's legendary quattro all-wheel drive system. Eight piston front calipers, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, and quattro sport rear differential enhance this cars sporting character. The exterior features aluminum-look mirrors, front and rear fascia accents, 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, dual oval exhaust tips and a power rear spoiler that automatically deploys at speed (coupe). The interior features power adjustable sport seats with the RS 5 logo embossed into the fixed headrests, carbon-fibre trim and a flat-bottom sport steering wheel. Available features include a navigation system, ceramic brake rotors, reverse camera and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The RS 5 carries-over with minimal changes for 2014.