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.
It’s easy to get carried away by the monster turbo SS model, available only as a 2-door now, which finally reached tuner-market credibility with the refinement displayed by its 2.0-liter 260-bhp inline-4. The more popular base, LS, and LT coupes and sedans sell best in the Heartland, but are rare on the influential coasts. The Heartland must appreciate the comfortable seats and high-quality interior materials, and not put too much emphasis on responsive steering or good suspension damping control. Although most Cobalt buyers opt for the efficiency-oriented 4-speed automatic transmission, the standard 5-speed manuals (a Saab-based unit on the SS) are as slick-shifting as any of the competition’s.
The late Carroll Shelby told us once that the biggest thing he would change about the auto industry would be to convert all cars to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), simply because there's much more of it than oil. The latest heavy-duty version of GMC's Sierra is equipped to use CNG or gasoline with a 6.0-liter V-8, and since these trucks get regular workouts by fleets, they have easy access to CNG fuel stations. New last year, the sturdiest Sierras are available with GM's highly refined 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8, with a range of 680 miles and it's rated for B20 biodiesel. With proper towing equipment, the 3500 HD model can tow 18,000 lb. with a rear frame hitch or 23,100 lb. with a fifth-wheel setup. Tenfour, good buddy.
Chrysler puts a luxurious spin on the minivan with the Town & Country. Innovative seating and upscale features inside and out set this van apart from the competition.
The most important feature, both from a usability stand-point and competitive stand-point, is that this van features Stow'n Go seats. The second and third-row seats can be folded into the floor. No more fumbling to release and remove awkward heavy seats and then try to find a suitable place to store them. Combine this with Chryslers new seat trim that repels all but the most caustic stains, and you have a truly family-friendly vehicle. A 3.6-liter V6 sends power through a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. All trims come equipped with features such as a tilt and telescoping steering column, remote keyless entry, steering wheel mounted audio controls and a tire pressure monitor. Available features include Smartbeam headlamps, a navigation system, power sliding doors, remote start and satellite radio.
Lotus’ lightweight wonders continue to represent Colin Chapman’s philosophy for 2010. The Elise will carry over from 2009, although Lotus will offer a new cost-saving Performance Package that includes every performance option on the menu, except the limited-slip differential, for $3665 (a 48-percent discount). An installed harness bar is also included. Its fixed-roof twin, the Exige S 240, will receive a facelift that includes newly improved drag-reducing aerodynamics, larger front air intakes for the radiator and twin oil coolers, plus a functional rear-wing based on the Exige GT3 road car concept’s. The aero changes help to improve the Exige’s already decent fuel economy.