From mild to wild, Mercedes offers E-Class models to suit everyone's fancy. The E350 sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon gain a new 3.5-liter 302-bhp direct-injection V-6 and 7-speed automatic. An unchanged BlueTEC diesel remains a sedan option. E550 models receive a new 402-bhp 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8. A wagon joins the sedan for the hot E63 AMG treatment including a new 518-bhp 5.5-liter V-8 and 7-speed MCT transmission. The former also features a panorama roof and rearview camera. E-Class safety, infotainment and luxury equipment varies by model. Convertibles are fitted with a 2-piece Aircap wind deflector to help reduce turbulence with the top down. Wagons have standard 7-passenger seating, a power tailgate and rear air suspension.
The raging bull from Sant’Agata Bolognese charges into 2011 with an all-new Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera. Based on the already impressive Gallardo 560-4 (which remains unchanged), the Supperleggera ups its performance with a bump in horsepower to 570, and loses about 154 lb. thanks to extensive use of carbon-fiber components. The lighter Gallardo retains the 6-speed, single-clutch paddle-shift e-gear transmission. For purists, a traditional gearbox is still available as a no-cost option. Maximizing the Superleggera’s 398 lb.-ft. of torque is viscous all-wheel drive that can apportion the power for optimal traction. A limited-slip differential at the rear also helps the car accelerate out of corners quickly.
2As the Touareg was heavily revised for 2011 (larger, lighter, more refined), not much changes with VW’s SUV this year. The new Touareg Sport with Navigation model has an 8-in. color touchscreen and a 60-gig hard drive. The VR6 and TDI models get a touchscreen radio with an in-dash 6-CD player. As before, the base engine is a 3.6-liter V-6, plus a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 (that gets 28 mpg on the highway!) and a hybrid powertrain that blends excellent performance with great economy. The hybrid system mates a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor fed by nickel-metal hybrid batteries. This pricey ($61,110) Touareg Hybrid can travel at speeds of up to 30 mph on electricity alone before the gasoline engine automatically kicks in.
It doesn’t take a long look across the Jeep landscape to see that the brand’s midsize SUV, the Liberty, continues to receive short-shrift. Choose any powertrain you want, so long as it’s the 4-speed automatic and old 3.7-liter V-6 already ejected from other Jeep models. The midlevel Renegade model has abruptly disappeared (cue crickets), to be replaced by last year’s Limited Jet—basically an oh-so-minor appearance package of the Limited. Then there’s the chronic issue of Liberty’s hard, plasticky interior treatment. A shame, really, because the Liberty, with its heritage looks, proven off-road prowess, live rear axle and rear-wheel-drive layout has the potential to be a standout in the midsize SUV field, given some corporate TLC.
Taller, wider and longer the Toyota 4Runner is a sport utility vehicle that combines true off-road competence with everyday driving comfort, refinement and safety. Refreshed and updated inside and out for 2014 the mid-size 4Runner is a distinctive choice in the SUV market.
The SR5 and Limited trims are available in rear- or four-wheel drive. A Trail Edition with rear locking differential, crawl control, rock rails and moonroof is only available in four-wheel drive. Each trim has a five-speed automatic transmission and a 270-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine. An optional third-row seat expands passenger capacity to seven. Stability control, traction control, 12 airbags and roll-over sensors are standard. The 4Runner now includes Toyotas' Entune Audio Plus infotainment system and a rearview camera as standard equipment. Premium audio with navigation, SmartKey keyless entry with pushbutton start, front and rear sonar system, and a power moonroof are all available features.