R&T Overview:Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the new VW Passat is a bona fide competitor for the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It’s super roomy inside, especially in back, and there’s a choice of three engines: a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder with 177 bhp, a 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder with 140 bhp and VW’s 3.6-liter VR6 with 280. Don’t be fooled by the diesel’s low bhp; this oil-burner has lots of torque, and although it does not make this new Passat exceptionally quick, it’s very efficient, able to squeeze 43 miles out of a gallon of diesel fuel when mated to the 6-speed manual transmission. If you value luxury over efficiency, get the 3.6 SEL Premium, which has leather, keyless entry, navigation, power seats and interior chrome accents.
BMW’s Z4 Coupe and Roadster march into 2008 looking much the same as last year, while we await all-new versions expected in 2009. The three Z4 models use the company’s N52 magnesium/aluminum 3.0-liter inline-6. In the Roadster 3.0i, even with variable intake lift and double-VANOS variable valve timing, the engine produces only 215 bhp. The powerplant in the Coupe 3.0si and Roadster 3.0si has a much more worthy 255 bhp. But the Z4 has never screamed “sports car” in a straight line, nor through corners; its handling can best be described as fun, but lacking the precise feedback of, say, a Mazda MX-5 Miata or Honda S2000. The interior, though, has terrific materials and a solid feel. Audiophiles will appreciate the standard auxiliary input and available HD radio.
The Chevrolet Equinox is a competitively priced mid-sized SUV that offers exceptional versatility, distinctive design and a high-level of practicality.
The Equinox is available in four trim levels, LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ, and can be had in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The standard drivetrain is a 182-hp 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission. A 301-hp 3.6-liter direct injection V6 is optional on the LT and LTZ trims. Both engines have E85 FlexFuel capability. Standard safety features include: four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability system, six airbags, tire pressure monitor, OnStar, security system and daytime running lights. Available high-tech features include remote vehicle starter, forward collision alert and lane departure warning, navigation system, rearview camera and a power liftgate.
For 2014, the Equinox receives minimal changes; the LTZ trim is now standard with 18" chrome-clad aluminum wheels.
Audi has revamped its full-size A6 for 2012, which could mean bad news for their competitors. The exterior styling has evolved to join the rest of Audi's familial R8-inspired DNA with the new hybrid aluminum/steel body construction reducing overall weight by 78 lb. versus the previous car. The base A6 now gets the fuel-sipping turbo 4-cylinder mated to a CVT, while the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 sees a bump of 10 bhp and 15 lb.-ft. of torque. Soon to follow the A6 arrival is the S6, this time powered by a 420-bhp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 and dual-clutch 7-speed S tronic gearbox, supplanting the previous 435-bhp V-10. Although peak power dips slightly for this über sedan, expect torque and fuel economy to improve, which customers will appreciate.
The XC60 is a premium crossover from Volvo. Comfortable and practical, the XC60 may be the safest vehicle Volvo has ever built. It includes many safety features, and paired with its good looks and dynamic styling makes it immediately recognizable as a Volvo.
The front-wheel drive XC60 is powered by either a 240-hp 3.2-liter inline-six-cylinder, or 230-hp 3.2-liter PZEV engine. The "Instant Traction" all-wheel drive XC60 is offered with the same engine choices as the front-wheel drive, but can also be ordered with a 300-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, or even a 325-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, depending on the trim level. All engine variations are matched with a Geartronic six-speed automatic transmission. One impressive standard safety feature is "City Safety" which reacts at low speed to help prevent or reduce rear-end collisions by allowing the XC60 to automatically self-brake to a complete stop without driver input. Other standard features include electronic stability with roll control, trailer stability assist, six airbags, and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Depending on the trim level other standard features include leather seating, keyless drive, a panoramic roof, active bi-xenon headlamps, and park assist.
The 2014 Volvo XC60 has a revised exterior and interior. The Volvo Sensus system has a larger display, and the gauge cluster is now configurable.