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.
The Dodge Journey is a midsize crossover based on a car-like structure. It's capable and versatile enough to compete with large truck based sport utility vehicles.
The Dodge Journey is offered in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configuration. The trim lineup includes SE, SXT, Limited, and R/T. Available engine choices are either a 173-hp 2.4-liter engine with a four-speed automatic transmission, or a 283-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Key features on all trim levels include dual zone air-conditioning, power heated mirrors, proximity keyless entry, cruise control, USB and auxiliary input jacks, and steering wheel audio controls. Standard safety features include seven-airbags including a driver's knee airbag, traction control, stability control, brake assist, and trailer sway damping.
Lexus has given the 8-passenger LX 570 an exterior makeover, bringing the styling of this large and luxurious SUV into line with new models like the recently revised GS sedan. The brand's spindle grille has been added to the front fascia, while LED daytime running lights add a touch of class to the revised headlights. An optional Luxury Package includes features like a cool box for beverages, a heated steering wheel, mahogany wood trim, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats. If you need lots of room, and routinely tow boats or traverse rugged terrain, the body-on-frame LX570 is more than capable. But for many buyers, this SUV could be too much truck for routine urban commutes and trips to the grocery store. A 5.7-liter V-8 delivers 383 bhp and 403 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. That's enough to get this nearly 3-ton truck from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Standard four-wheel-drive, a smooth 6-speed automatic, and active height control ensure forward progress is refined and relaxed. Expect to pay a price at the pump, however, since fuel economy is poor.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan brings the quality and reliability of the Camry together with increased fuel efficiency.
The Camry Hybrid is a front-wheel drive four-door sedan that seats five passengers. Available in two trim levels, LE and XLE, the heart of the Camry Hybrid is the Hybrid Synergy Drive, a combination electric motor/gasoline engine that produces a combined 200-hp, and efficient, electronic continuously variable transmission. The standard warranty for hybrid-related components is 8 years/100,000 miles. Stability and traction control, ten-airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and tire pressure monitor are some of the standard safety equipment. Tech features include Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, garage door opener, rear camera, navigation with touch screen, HD and satellite radio, and the new Entune mobile app and services system.
For 2013, the Camry Hybrid LE is outfitted with a standard 6.1-inch touch screen audio system with Bluetooth wireless streaming.
R&T Overview:Where some might put a toe in, Kia simply jumps. The Korean company’s midsize sport-utility represents a full-bore effort, with the most powerful V-8 in it class, as well as 7-passenger seating, excellent towing capacity and reasonable (for the class) fuel economy. With a robust body-on-frame design, the Borrego sports a 276-bhp V-6 or an impressive 337-bhp V-8, the last driving Kia’s first 6-speed automatic. Available as EX or upscale LX versions with rear- or all-wheel drive, the Borrego offers dual-zone climate control with optional rear air conditioning, power-adjustable pedals, heated seats front and rear, plus the usual leather and power assists. Safety equipment includes dual-stage front and side-impact airbags, curtain-type head airbags and a driver’s knee airbag. All in all, an impressive effort.