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 Chevrolet Sonic combines a fuel efficient engine, seating for five and ample cargo space; it competes in the sub-compact market.
The front-wheel drive Sonic is offered in two body styles; sedan and hatchback. All models come standard with a 138-hp 1.8-liter engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. There are two available transmissions, a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. A 138-hp 1.4-liter engine is also available on the LT and LTZ trims, and standard on the RS trim. Standard safety equipment includes stability control, ABS brakes, panic brake assist, hill hold control, automatic headlamps, OnStar and ten airbags. Standard and optional features depending on the trim level include front fog lights, power windows, heated front seats, cruise control, a security system, air conditioning, XM satellite ratio, alloy wheels, and remote engine start.
For 2013, the Chevrolet Sonic receives new features and standard equipment. All trims now have Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, and outside rearview mirrors with an integral spotter. LT models now come with cruise control, and a USB port. The LTZ model now comes standard with Chevrolets MyLink Touch infotainment system. Also, a new RS trim has been added to the lineup.
GM’s Acadia hits the family sweet spot with 7- or 8-passenger seating, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive layout, and towing capacity of 5200 lb. The second-row Smart Slide system makes it easy to crawl in or out, and you don’t have to travel far down the option list to find a kid-friendly rear-seat entertainment system. Families who avoided the worst of the Great Recession’s carnage may want to examine the upscale Denali, which includes perforated leather seats with matching door trim, heated and cooled driver and passenger seats, a head-up display and Dual SkyScrape sunroof. GMC keeps things simple with a single powertrain configuration, a 288-bhp VVT V-6 with 6-speed automatic. For 2012, there are new colors and some formerly optional equipment is now standard.
Even though the traditional pony-car formula is based on a 2-door coupe with rear drive and a V-8 engine, Chevy has grasped the future idea that modern V-6 engines can be lighter and more powerful. So, the result is a 323-bhp 3.6-liter V-6 engine as the base Camaro's powerplant. That's huge power, and feels so, especially with the standard 6-speed manual. The V-8 ZL1 performance model is available with an unbelievably powerful 580-bhp version of the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. This is the top-line, most powerful Camaro ever, with a 6-speed manual standard, and a 6-speed automatic that saves fuel optional. The SS model is between the standard Camaro and the wild ZL1. All 2012 models have the dark taillight lenses of the 2011 RS.
The Ford Escape is a mid-size sport-utility vehicle, which incorporates the latest technology and style; setting a high standard in the SUV category.
The five-passenger Escape is available in S, SE, and Titanium trims, in either front or four-wheel drive. Engine choices start with the 168-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Also, a 173-hp 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is available. For even more power a 231-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is offered. All variations are paired with a six-speed select-shift automatic transmission. Impressive features offered on the Escape include a Panoramic Vista Roof, satellite radio, SYNC, MyFord Touch, a trailer towing package, heated leather seating, navigation system, auto park with cross traffic alert, Sony audio, MyKey, and an industry first hands-free power liftgate. Standard safety features include seven-airbags with drive knee airbag, passive anti-theft system, AdvanceTrac stability control with anti-rollover technology, four-wheel disc brakes, and tire pressure monitoring.
The 2014 Ford Escape is now standard with a rear view camera and SYNC on all trims.