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.
Unlike most car models, the Kia Forte comes in several distinct flavors. The brand’s centerpiece is the Forte sedan, offered in LX, EX and SX trim. It’s a comfortable and agreeable ride with a solid standard features package across the board. The SX trim, with its performance-tuned suspension, 17-in. wheels, bigger front brakes and 173-bhp engine is the sportiest of the lot. But if sport is what you’re after, move directly to the 2-door Forte Koup SX—not an aggressive ride, but one that will certainly put a grin on your face in the turns. Buyers who are more in a family-about-town way should give the Forte 5-Door serious consideration. The hatchback opens to provide 19.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, compounded when the second-row seats are folded. All Forte variants enjoy a robust list of standard features.
If you wanted to take your ultra-expensive Rolls-Royce or Bentley off-road, you couldn’t do so without getting stuck. Now Land Rover has come to your rescue—for a mere $170,000 you can commission to have a Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition hand-crafted exclusively for you along with just 49 other people in the U.S. It will include two iPads as part of the rear-seat infotainment system as well as super-yacht-inspired teak flooring for the rear luggage space. It is powered by the same 510-bhp supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine found in Jaguar’s performance models. Aside from this limited-edition model, there are a few minor exterior trim changes and revision of option packages, some of which offer the most popular options at a discounted price.
The Cadillac Escalade ESV is largest of the Escalade luxury family, stretched an additional 21-in. in length for a truly cavernous cabin. Not just for passengers, when need you the hauling capacity, the ESV is good for 137.4 cu.-ft. of it with all rows folded—plenty of room for transporting cases of Dom Perignon. This interior space is decked from door to door in leather and wood trim, with standard equipment like heated and cooled seats, touchscreen navigation, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, keyless entry/ignition and power everything. One item exclusive to the ESV however is a second 8-in. flip-down screen when you opt for the rear-seat DVD entertainment. This way, the back cabin passengers don't need to strain their eyes to enjoy movies on the go. Hauling all this luxury around, and an entourage of 7, is a powerful, left-lane friendly, 402-bhp 6.2-liter V-8, equipped with Active Fuel Management to help stretch your fuel load whenever possible. Available with rear or all-wheel drive, a locking rear differential comes standard when light off-road duty calls for it, with new revised grade braking performance for 2013. Opt for the Escalade ESV Platinum model and Cadillac's proven Magnetic Ride Control suspension technology is included as are ultra bright LED headlights, rear DVD entertainment, Platinum exclusive interior treatments and last but not least, huge fender-filling 22-in. chrome alloy wheels. Though its shear size could be counted as a safety measure, all Escalades come with roll-over prevention/mitigation through Cadillac's StabiliTrak, and comprehensive airbag protection throughout the cabin.
The Honda Civic has been improved once again for 2014 to help keep it fresh and maintain it's position as the best-selling compact car in America.
Available in sedan or coupe bodies, all but the Si and Natural Gas trims are powered by a 143 horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The performance-oriented Si comes with a 205 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four bolted only to a six-speed manual, while the Natural Gas model is powered by a dedicated natural gas version of the 1.8-liter gas engine and the new CVT. A unique HF trim ekes out additional fuel economy with the help of aerodynamic add-ons, lightweight alloy wheels and low rolling-resistance tires. Standard safety features on all Civics include electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, six airbags, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring. Tech features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera with guidelines and ECO-Assist technology on all trims, automatic climate control for EX models and up, front fog lights for EX-L models and subscription free FM traffic updates with the optional navigation system. New premium features for 2014 include Honda LaneWatch blind spot camera, smart entry with push button starting and a 7-inch display audio touchscreen media center. The EX-L sedan is now standard with an 8-way power adjustable driver seat.
Following the 2013 refresh of the sedan, the coupe is refreshed for 2014 with updated exterior styling and all models receive further interior refinements and technology.