Mazda has championed the rotary engine for many years and continues to produce the Renesis twin-rotor Wankel for the RX-8 4-door sports car. Seem confusing? Not really, as Mazda brought out the RX-8 in 2003 and it has proven to be a fun-to-drive sports car that will carry four adults in a pinch. When pared with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the rotary develops 232 bhp, while output drops to 212 bhp when mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission. Ride and handling are smooth and slick, interior comfort is quite high and if you want to have the ultimate RX-8, order the R3 edition with stiffer suspension, Bilstein shock absorbers, a rear spoiler and more.
The Odyssey remains a top pick in the minivan market thanks to its pleasant driving manners, versatility and array of models. Design cues like a "lightning bolt" side character line and tapered roof add distinction. All but the base LX feature seating for eight plus a 3-mode second row that offers the ability to attach up to three child seats. The split third-row seat disappears into the floor for flexibility in transporting cargo. A 248-bhp V-6 engine delivers satisfying performance plus up to 28 mpg on the highway for the Touring Elite with its exclusive 6-speed automatic transmission. This model also features a rear entertainment system with an ultra-wide 16.2-in. screen and 12-speaker sound system to help preserve family harmony.
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 fun to drive compact German hatchback returned to the North American market in 2010 to replace the Rabbit, a name that was revived in North America back in 2006 for the then new MkV hatchback version of the Jetta.
The MkVI Golf is available as a four-door body-style and can be powered by either a 170-hp 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder gas engine, or a 140-hp 2.0-liter TDI clean-diesel engine. Buyers that go with the gas engine receive the six-speed Tiptronic automatic; while TDI buyers select from either a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed DSG auto with Tiptronic. Standard safety features on all models include, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, tire pressure monitoring and six airbags. TDI models are extra equipped with features such as sport suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels/tires, leather steering wheel and shift knob, touch-screen 6-disc audio system with SIRIUS and floor mats.
The Volkswagen Eos is a unique all-season convertible with an integrated power panoramic sunroof that sets it apart from all other retractable hardtop convertibles on the market.
The 2014 Eos is powered by a 200-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed DSG automatic transmission. There are three available trims: Komfort, Sport, and Executive. Standard features include heated front seats, electronic dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped multifunctional steering wheel, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth Handsfree wireless connectivity. Safety features include active seat-integrated rollover bars, daytime running lights, electronic stability program, hill hold control, a tire pressure monitoring system, and front and side airbags. Steering linked Bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are standard on all but the Komfort trim.
For 2014, the Lux trim has been removed from the line-up and touchscreen navigation is now standard on all trims.