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 MINI Convertible provides the driving enthusiast with a unique combination of fun-to-drive performance, engineering and unconventional open-top attitude for four.
The Convertible 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. Standard safety equipment includes four airbags, automatic pop-up roll hoops, 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 bi-xenon headlights, sport suspension, Dynamic Traction Control, navigation system, harman/kardon audio, parking sensors, and satellite radio. Bluetooth and HD radio are standard equipment.
Toyota's curvaceous crossover now comes in a choice of three trim levels. The LE replaces the former base model while gaining standard heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. Moving up to the midrange XLE adds leather trim, Smart Key with push-button start, a backup camera and power tailgate. Carryover 2.7-liter 4-cylinder and 3.5-liter V-6 engines team with front- or all-wheel drive. The flagship Limited V-6 has standard navigation, panoramic sunroof, JBL Synthesis sound with satellite radio, USB/iPod port and Bluetooth streaming audio. Option packages enable these features to be added to the XLE. Designed at Toyota's Calty Southern California studios, the Venza continues to deliver a smooth, carlike ride with SUV-style cargo capacity.
With more than eight million sold since 1973, the Civic needs no introduction. Yet the all-new ninth generation for 2012 does. Sedans and coupes gain more sophisticated styling, improved fuel economy and new technology. Civic DX, LX, EX and HF receive a massaged 140-bhp 4-cylinder engine that nets EPA 41 mpg on the highway for the last. Sporty Si models boast a new 201-bhp 2.4-liter four mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The Civic Natural Gas returns with expanded availability nationwide. Honda gives the Civic Hybrid a larger 1.5-liter gas engine, more powerful electric motor and lithium-ion batteries resulting in 44 mpg ratings for city and highway. A multi-information display, Eco Assist and Econ mode are standard on most Civics.
The Audi A6 continues a legacy of dynamic excellence and exceptional comfort, with impressive attention to detail inside and out. The A6 is a 4-door, 5-passenger luxury sedan, available in both front-wheel and quattro all-wheel drive. For 2014, a new 3.0 TDI quattro model debuts.
The A6 is offered as one front-wheel drive variant, the 2.0T Premium, or as three all-wheel drive quattro variants - 2.0T Premium, 3.0T Premium Plus and the new 3.0 TDI Premium Plus. 2.0T models are outfitted with a 220-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, paired with either a Multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) or an eight-speed automatic with manual mode. 3.0T models include a 310-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6, while 3.0 TDI models get a 240-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 diesel (TDI) engine. Both V6 engines feature start/stop technology, and are mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Electromechanical steering and the Audi Drive Select program augment efficiency and handling. Standard equipment on every A6 includes a power sunroof, 17-inch aluminum wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, satellite radio and an Audi Music Interface. Additional trim-dependent features include 18-inch aluminum wheels, Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lamps, passive entry/start, HD radio, and Audi Connect with internet access and smartphone integration, as well as a MMI navigation plus system featuring extended functionality, including an 8-inch LCD display, touchpad control, real-time traffic information and internal memory for digital media storage. Safety features consist of electronic stability and traction control systems, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, active anti-whiplash front head restraints and six airbags. The Audi pre-sense collision mitigation system is also standard on every A6, while the 3.0T and 3.0 TDI are further equipped with front/rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Other available technologies include Audi Side Assist blind spot monitoring, Audi Active Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go functionality, Head Up Display, LED headlights and Night Vision Assistant, including pedestrian detection.
The Audi A6 carries over with minor changes for 2014. Heated front seats are now standard on the front-wheel drive 2.0T, while a new Black Optic Package offers unique 20-inch aluminum wheels, along with a high-gloss black grille. Additionally, a new 3.0 TDI (diesel) quattro model joins the lineup.