The Honda Odyssey is considered by many to be the gold standard in minivans. It's refined design with creative storage solutions, and spirited driving dynamics make it stand-out year after year.
The Odyssey is available in five trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite. All trims use a 248-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine that features Honda's variable cylinder management system (VCM), which allows the V6 engine to switch among three, four, and six cylinders to increase fuel efficiency. The interior features a third-row Magic Seat that folds into the floor. Maximum seating capacity for the Odyssey is eight passengers. Safety features such as side-impact and curtain airbags, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are standard on all models. Luxury features such as leather trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, navigation and entertainment system are all available.
The 2013 Odyssey is now standard with an 8" i-MID screen, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, USB Audio Interface, 2-GB CD Library, and rearview camera.
The Buick Encore is a compact crossover SUV that features upscale styling and amenities in an efficient package.
The Encore is available in four trim levels: Encore, Convenience, Leather and Premium, and two drive types: front or all-wheel drive. It's powered by a 138-hp 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, electronic stability and traction control systems, OnStar, and ten airbags. Other standard features include: Buick QuietTuning acoustics package with active noise cancellation, 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, IntelliLink audio system with 7-inch color touch screen and an oil life monitor. The Convenience trim adds: dual-zone climate control, rearview auto-dimming mirror, blind spot sensor, remote start and front fog lamps. The Leather trim adds: heated front seats and steering wheel, power adjustable front passenger seat, leather seating surfaces and driver seat memory system including the exterior mirrors. The Premium trim adds on the tech with rain sensing wipers, Bose audio system, lane departure warning and Ultrasonic front and rear parking sensors including rear vision camera.
The Volkswagen Jetta is the least expensive German sedan in the North American market. Now in its sixth generation, the Jetta looks to provide something for everyone with a wide range of trims and powertrains.
The Jetta sedan offers four different engines, a 115-hp 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder, a 1.8-liter turbocharged gas four-cylinder generating 170 horsepower, a 140-hp 2.0L TDI clean-diesel four-cylinder for those looking for maximum fuel economy, and a 210-hp 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder in the GLI. Buyers that go with either gas engine can choose between a five-speed (six-speed in wagon) manual transmission or six-speed Tiptronic automatic; while TDI and GLI buyers select from either a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed DSG auto with Tiptronic. All Jetta's are standard with safety features such as six air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability program, tire pressure monitoring, brake assist, seatbelt pretensioners, traction control and head restraints at all seating positions. To set the GLI apart, it includes sport bumpers and side skirts, tinted taillights, red brake calipers and 17-inch alloy wheels. The GLI Autobahn trim adds features such as 18-inch wheels, a power sunroof, heated seats and a Fender premium sound system.
For 2014, the big news is that the 2.5L five-cylinder engine has been replaced by a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek offers all-weather capability with distinctive styling that sets it apart from other vehicles in this class.
The XV Crosstrek is a four-door hatchback with seating for five. All XV's feature Subaru's Symmetrical full time All-Wheel Drive system and a raised suspension that provides an impressive 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Power comes from a 148-hp 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder 'boxer' engine. The XV Crosstrek is equipped with a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT transmission with six manually selectable programmed ratios and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Safety features such as four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, traction-control, stability-control with a full array of airbags including a drivers knee airbag are standard.
Sailing along in the mid-size sedan segment is the Azera, a handsome 4-door sedan with ample room for adults front and rear, "fluidic styling" as Hyundai likes to call it, and lots of welcome features. The roomy interior boasts such features as standard leather seating surfaces, power seats in the front, and heated seats front and rear. Other features you might not expect are an auto-dimming mirror, power rear sunshade and manual rear side-window shades. Beneath the hood lies a Hyundai's Lambda II 3.3-liter V-6 engine with high-pressure direct injection that aids in bringing the horsepower up to 293 at 6400 rpm, while torque is rated at 255 lb-ft at 5200. The Azera's transmission is a 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual control for those who wish to be in command. The Azera slots in nicely between the Sonata and the Genesis, with a 112-inch wheelbase and overall length of 193.3 in. Making this sedan into a smooth cruiser is the MacPherson-strut front suspension and the multi-link rear setup, which also provide good handling. It's also worth noting that such items as a standard navigation system, three months of XM Satellite Radio, digital HD radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a place to plug in your iPod are included. And, as with all Hyundai vehicles, there is that 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty.