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.
Bling city, here we come. Even those not enamored of big luxo SUVs have to give Cadillac credit for what it has created in this landmark machine. Such presence, normally mounted up on tall 22-in. chrome wheels. This is not your climb-every-mountain SUV, aimed more at Nordstrom than Mount Whitney, but it is one rugged body-on-frame design, the Hybrid fitted with a 6.0-liter 332-bhp V-8 matched to a 2-mode hybrid system that returns 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway in 2- or 4-wheel-drive form. That's a 33-percent bump over the non-hybrid Escalade with 403-bhp 6.2-liter V-8. Not bad for a 5900-lb. machine that will transport seven adults in quiet luxury, in heated or cooled leather seats, watching a DVD out back, drinks heated or cooled...hey, bling be me.
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.
The Chrysler 200 series represents the brand's "bell-curve" competitor in the crowded midsize sedan segment. It sits squarely at the top of the curve, and like the proverbial porridge spread, is neither too hot nor too cold, but just rightâ€¦ for the money. The simplified lineup for 2013 consists of the 200 LX, 200 Touring, 200 Limited, and the 200 Convertible in Touring, Limited and S configurations. The 200 is a safe play for cost-conscious families who appreciate modest styling and gets-you-there performance. Yet it's the Limited's 3.6-liter V-6 (especially when combined with the new S Appearance Package) that gives the 200 firm claim to the midsize segment's middle ground. Abundant safety features come standard on the 200.
The Mazda CX-5 crossover offers seating for five people. With adaptive cargo space and a comprehensive set of standard safety features, the CX-5 is a safe, practical, sport inspired vehicle to Zoom-Zoom around in.
It is available in three trims, Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. The Sport trim is powered by a 2.0-litre 155-hp, direct injection, SKYACTIV four-cylinder engine while the Touring and Grand Touring trims have a slightly larger 2.5-liter 184-hp four-cylinder. The FWD Sport comes standard with a six-speed manual, while all other trims have a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety features include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist and hill launch assist, electronic stability and traction control, and tire pressure monitoring. Available features, depending on trim level, include 19-inch wheels, HD radio, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, rear camera, 5.8-inch color touchscreen, blind spot monitoring system, a power moonroof, fog lights, 40-20-40 split rear seats, power heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and the convenience of Bluetooth.
For it's sophomore year, the CX-5 gets a second engine to choose from with the new 2.5-liter SKYACTIV variation. A new feature is added to the Tech package called Smart City Brake Support and the 5.8" full-color touch-screen display adds audio menu voice-command, E911 automatic emergency notification, Pandora internet Radio Compatibility and SMS text message audio delivery and reply.