Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the new VW Passat is a bona fide competitor for the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It’s super roomy inside, especially in back, and there’s a choice of three engines: a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder with 177 bhp, a 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder with 140 bhp and VW’s 3.6-liter VR6 with 280. Don’t be fooled by the diesel’s low bhp; this oil-burner has lots of torque, and although it does not make this new Passat exceptionally quick, it’s very efficient, able to squeeze 43 miles out of a gallon of diesel fuel when mated to the 6-speed manual transmission. If you value luxury over efficiency, get the 3.6 SEL Premium, which has leather, keyless entry, navigation, power seats and interior chrome accents.
R&T Overview:Mercedes-Benz fired a salvo into the compact luxury crossover segment when it introduced the GLK350 three years ago. With competitive pricing, typically robust Mercedes build-quality and GL-Class-inspired styling, it found plenty of takers. The unchanged lineup for 2012 offers a 268-bhp V-6 paired with a 7-speed automatic and rear- or 4Matic awd. Equipped with the latter, the GLK is in its element on wet or snowy roads, but is not happy climbing boulders. The cabin offers comfortable seating for five along with luxury cues like Burl Walnut trim, dual-zone climate control and a central controller for the dash-mounted infotainment display. Ample options include an AMG styling package, Comand with navigation, full-leather seating and a panorama roof.
From its inception, the BMW X5 has defined an expanding group of big, powerful SUVs that shine for their on-pavement agility and responsive acceleration, with an emphasis on safety, comfort and luxury appointments. It features BMW's xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system, and offers optional third-row seating that increases capacity to seven passengers. The X5 enters its third generation in 2014, setting higher standards with enhanced power and driving dynamics, cutting edge safety technologies, and the availability of rear-wheel drive.
The X5 is now presented in four configurations: the new rear-wheel drive sDrive35i model, and the all-wheel drive xDrive35i, xDrive35d and xDrive50i models. Both the sDrive35i and xDrive35i variants get BMW's venerated single-turbo 300-hp 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, while the xDrive50i boasts a 445-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8; the xDrive35d is powered by a new 255-hp 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder clean diesel engine. All engines now provide an auto stop/start feature and ECO PRO driver-selectable mode, and are mated to BMW's latest eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode; an eight-speed Sport automatic with paddle shifters is available. Standard equipment on all X5 models includes: a Panorama glass moonroof, power tailgate, 18-inch aluminum wheels, power-folding auto-dimming exterior mirrors, Adaptive Xenon headlamps, LED front fog lamps, heated front seats, SensaTec upholstery, a new 40-20-40 split-folding rear seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD radio and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for phone and audio streaming, as well as a revised voice-activated hard drive-based navigation system with Advanced Real Time Traffic information, 20 gigabytes of dedicated internal media storage and a 10.2-inch high-resolution screen. The xDrive50i is further outfitted with 19-inch aluminum wheels, multi-contour front seats, leather upholstery and a rearview camera system with Top View. Also new for 2014, BMW ConnectedDrive is incorporated on all models, providing access to a range of mobility and web-based services for office, travel and infotainment applications. For BMW drivers seeking to add additional elements of individuality, new Luxury Line, xLine and M Sport exterior packages are proffered, as well as Ivory White and Mocha Interior Design Packages. Safety features on every X5 include anti-lock disc brakes, Dynamic Stability Control with integrated traction control and rollover sensor, and front and rear park distance control, along with front side-impact airbags and overhead curtain airbags for all rows; new standard safety enhancements for 2014 include BMW Assist eCall, providing an Emergency Request (SOS button) and Automatic Collision Notification. Additional technologies such as Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection, Active Cruise Control with Stop& Go, Automatic High Beams and Head-up Display are optional, while a new Driver Assistance Plus package - comprised of Active Blind Spot Detection, Surround View, Speed Limit Info and Active Driving Assistant (includes Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning and City Collision Mitigation) - is also offered.
The BMW X5 is completely redesigned for 2014, with a distinctive new exterior design language that still retains signature BMW features, along with a revised interior environment that is even more exclusive and luxurious. The xDrive50i engine gets a 45 horsepower increase, while the xDrive35d is outfitted with a new, more efficient diesel engine; the steering system on all models is now electric power-assist. Additionally, a new sDrive35i model is added to the lineup, marking the first time rear-wheel drive has been offered on the X5.
The Toyota Land Cruiser remains at the top of the class when it comes to luxury and off-road capability. It provides legendary durability and reliability thanks to Toyota's impressive level of quality control.
The four door Land Cruiser can seat up to eight passengers in three rows of seating. A 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the four-wheel drive system. Driving at low speeds on rough or steep terrain, the Crawl Control system automatically controls the vehicle's engine and brakes which allows the driver to focus on steering. The Land Cruiser boasts ten airbags and standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, brake assist, active traction control, tire-pressure monitoring system, vehicle stability control, and active front headrests for whiplash protection.
After a short hiatus, the 6 Series has returned. It is introduced with only the 400-bhp V-8 engine, fitted with a proper 6-speed manual or an optional quick-shifting 8-speed automatic—a sublime combination that easily outdoes its predecessor in many ways. Where the last car was a little challenging to see out of and felt large on the road (and in parking spaces), this iteration feels small and lithe, although dimensionally slightly larger. Options abound for the sports coupe, and it is easy to inflate the price of the 650i to over $100,000, putting the car in some fancy company. The convertible retains reasonably sized rear seats for two passengers, and the top can be operated up to 25 mph.