The Land Rover Range Rover Sport is an athletic SUV designed to bring on-road performance driving to the traditional Land Rover off-road experience. It enters its second generation in 2014, with bold, revised styling inside and out and additional standard equipment, along with a new lightweight all-aluminum monocoque platform and new powertrains.
The five-passenger Range Rover Sport is now available in four trim levels: SE, HSE, Supercharged and Autobiography. The SE and HSE are powered by a new 340-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine, while the Supercharged and Autobiography trims boast the carryover 510-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. Both powerplants feature Both powerplants feature new start/stop technology, which shuts the engine down during temporary stops to save fuel, and are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode; additionally, Supercharged and Autobiography trims get steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Full-time four-wheel drive with Land Rover's acclaimed "Terrain Response" system helps tackle a wide range of off-road conditions, while Supercharged and Autobiography trims add Adaptive Dynamics with variable suspension dampening for sportier handling and an active locking rear differential. Standard equipment on the SE includes a power liftgate, 19-inch aluminum wheels, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, passive entry/start, a new Meridian audio system and voice-activated hard drive-based navigation with internal memory storage; HSE and Supercharged trims add a panoramic sunroof, fog lights, 20-inch aluminum wheels, heated front seats and leather upholstery. Autobiography trims are further outfitted with 21-inch aluminum wheels, adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam assist, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone automatic climate control and upgraded audio with HD and satellite radio. Standard safety features on all trims include eight airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control and roll mitigation, and a rearview camera with front visual display; Autobiography trims also get a surround camera system and blind spot monitoring with closing vehicle sensing and reverse traffic detection.
Mazda has enjoyed a winner with the CX-9 midsize crossover SUV that offers slick styling, a comfortable ride and accommodations, and ample performance. Seven people can travel comfortably on moderately long trips, and there is good luggage space at the rear. Power is provided by a 4-cam 3.7-liter V-6 that pumps out 273 bhp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. The 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth, and front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is an option. With three trim levels and a long list of optional equipment, Mazda's CX-9 is a great substitute for a minivan. Although little has changed with this 7-seater for 2013, that's just fine by us.
The big BMW off-roader that drives like a sports sedan won't see any real changes for the 2012 model year. Those changes came last year when the engine options went all turbo and were mated to an 8-speed automatic rather than the six. The 6-speed remains only on the staggeringly quick X5 M. We expect a midyear update of the X5 to focus mostly on styling and technology, but little on drivetrain. However, the X5 M could get the new M5's slightly revised and more potent twin-turbo V-8. We think most owners will be quite happy toting 6 passengers with the turbodiesel X5 xDrive35d's 425 lb.-ft. of torque, although the $1700 optional third-row seating is a tad expensive and only for use by children.
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.
The Honda Ridgeline is an innovative full-size pickup truck. It features a unique design that includes the exclusive In-Bed Trunk, a locking compartment under the rear cargo bed floor that provides hidden, secure storage.
The four-door, five-passenger Ridgeline is available in four trim levels: RT, Sport, RTS and RTL. All are powered by a 250-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission; Honda's Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive system (VTM-4) and a limited-slip lockable rear differential are also standard. A trailer hitch is standard on all trim levels, rated for a maximum towing capacity of 5000 pounds. Trim-dependent equipment includes a power moonroof, aluminum wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control and satellite radio, while the RTL can also be outfitted with an optional voice-activated navigation system, including rearview camera and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink wireless connectivity. Standard safety features include Vehicle Stability Assist with integrated traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, front side-impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, active anti-whiplash front head restraints and a tire pressure monitor.
For 2013, all non-NAVI trims now have a rearview mirror with rearview camera display as standard equipment.