Kia has taken the once so-so Rio subcompact and turned it into a contender in this increasingly crowded marketplace. Right off, you notice the more sporty, sophisticated exterior styling, thanks to new sculpted contours and a posture that makes a 1.6-liter car look fun. Inside, the Rio delivers high marks for its class. The design not only ensures you won’t be bored behind the wheel, the newly extended wheelbase offers expanded passenger room. Fuel economy gets a boost with the 1.6-liter Gasoline Direct Injection engine when equipped with Idle Stop and Go system, which shuts off the engine when the car is at rest. There are three trim models: LX, EX and SX. Unfortunately, for driving aficionados, the 6-speed manual is only available in the LX, while EX and SX get the mandatory 6-speed automatic. Choose the Rio 5-Door hatchback…really.
The 5 Series GT receives little change aside from a shuffled option package and a body kit. The somewhat odd 5 GT fits in the BMW lineup just above a 5 and below a 7. It's closer to a 7 as denoted by their shared wheelbases. Drivetrain options consist of the powerful turbo engines mated to an 8-speed automatic with all-wheel drive optional for both. As a road-hugging alternative to an SUV, the GT is a logical choice. It impressed us at the test track by sprinting to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. It seems its odd styling is all that holds it back. A new M Sport Package is available and may rejuvenate its look. It adds a sport-tuned exhaust, raises the speed limiter and installs an aero kit for just about $4200.
One year after the new 5 was introduced, it gets the M treatment. Gone is the visceral naturally aspirated 500-bhp V-10 and in its place is a high-output version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes a Cadillac CTS-V-besting 560 bhp. The Über sports sedan remains rear-wheel drive, although the 5 Series shares its architecture with the larger 7 Series, and thus is available with allwheel drive on the xDrive 535i and 550i. The M5 (photo) is being introduced with a 7-speed twin-clutch transmission; a 6-speed manual is only available on the 535i. For improved performance and efficiency, the 3.0-liter inline-6 of the 528i has been phased out in favor of a twinturbo four that is mated to an 8-speed automatic. A hybrid 5, based on the 535i, arrives in March.
Volvo continues to enhance the performance of its delightful midsize XC60. The flagship R-Design boosts its turbocharged inline-6 to 325 bhp (up 25) and 354 lb.-ft. (up 29). Thus, it now tops the midrange T6 AWD turbo that returns with 300 bhp. Then there's the naturally aspirated XC60 3.2 with 240 bhp and front- or awd. Volvo's new trim level strategy offers a choice of Premier, Premier Plus and Platinum grades. A new Dynamic Package for the T6 AWD includes Four-C active suspension, speed-sensing steering and xenon headlights. The XC60 was the first Volvo to offer City Safety. Additional advanced safety features come with the Technology Package such as Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist.
The Infiniti FX37 is a stylish 'Supernatural Cheetah' designed sport utility vehicle with a strong emphasis on 'sport'.
The FX37 is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations. A 325-hp 3.7-liter V6 sends power through a new electronically controlled seven-speed automatic transmission that features a manual shift mode and downshift rev-matching. The FX37 features such luxuries as power heated leather front seats, moonroof, alloy wheels, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The 300-watt, audio system uses eleven speakers and digital audio conversion to provide an excellent listening experience. It's also a safe vehicle with standard anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and airbags that include curtain airbags for both rows of seats.
For 2013, a larger 3.7-liter V6 engine replaces the 3.5-liter V6, which accounts for the name change from FX35 to FX37.