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 Ford Escape is a mid-size sport-utility vehicle, which now incorporates the latest technology and style; setting a new standard in the SUV category. Completely redesigned for 2013 the Escape features an athletic looking exterior, with a much improved interior.
The five-passenger Escape is available in S, SE, SEL, 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 237-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.
What you're looking at is the most potent Cadillac sold today, available in Coupe, Sedan and Sport Wagon forms. Lurking under your right foot is a supercharged 556-bhp V-8, with a whoppin' 551 lb.-ft. of torque. Some of you would opt for the Tremec 6-speed manual, others for the 6-speed automatic; both are good. The high-quality interior of the CTS-V is luxurious, with well-arranged controls. The independent suspension, tuned at the Nürburgring in Germany, features Magnetic Ride Control damping, which Cadillac had even before Ferrari adapted it for its road cars. These rumbly Vs routinely hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Enough said.
Although new to our shores, the compact i has served the Japanese very well. And while they can get the i in either gas or electric configurations, only the EV will be available here. To pass safety regulations, the 4-seater was widened, which has the benefit of increased interior room. Fold down the split rear seats and you have about 50 cu. ft. of cargo volume. A full charge of the 16kWh lithium-ion battery takes about seven hours using the optional level 2 charge port. The standard 110-volt, level 1 charger will take over 22 hours. The ES and SE trim level cars can be outfitted with a level 3 quick charger. The Premium Package on the SE comes with a navigation system, a rear camera, steering wheel audio controls and the aforementioned quick-charge port. Range is a respectable 62 miles when fully charged.
The MINI Countryman is the largest vehicle in the MINI line-up and looks to offer compact crossover flexibility and space in a unique MINI way.
The front-wheel drive four door Countryman is available in three different trims: the Cooper with a 121-hp 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine, the Cooper S with a direct-injection, 181-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, or the John Cooper Works with a 208-hp version of the Cooper S turbo engine. All trims are mated to either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission. For added all-weather control and road-handling, the Cooper S can also be equipped with the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system, while the JCW is standard with ALL4. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, electronic traction and stability control and anti-lock brakes. A wide variety of interior trim materials and colors are available, as well as features such as xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof, sport suspension, Dynamic Traction Control, navigation system, harman/kardon audio, parking sensors, and satellite radio. Bluetooth and HD radio are standard equipment.
For 2014, heated mirrors and washer jets are now standard on all trims, and several new packages have been introduced including John Cooper Works interior and exterior packages for the Cooper and Cooper S models.