We all know the Super Duty is a rugged workaholic but, this year, Ford gussies it up for a night on the town with an available new Platinum series that will exceed even the Lariat and King Ranch for upscale content. It's available in Crew Cab only, and powered by either a 6.2- liter sohc gasoline engine or the amazingly quiet 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. The Platinum has unique exterior touches like a perforated satin-chrome mesh grille and 20-in. polished aluminum wheels. Inside are 10-way-power leather captain's chairs, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a navigation system viewed on the 8-in. screen of MyFord Touch, which is new throughout the Super Duty lineup and optimized even for users who may be wearing work gloves.
Once upon a time, there was a Corolla wagon. But it just wasn't, you know, cool. So Toyota invented the Matrix crossover. Yeah, we know it looks like a Scion. But hey, the Matrix got here first. Restyled a bit last year, the Matrix is available as a base model with the Corolla's 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, or as a sporty S version that's powered by a larger and more powerful 2.4-liter. All-wheel drive is offered on the latter. The 5-passenger cabin has standard air conditioning, 4-speaker audio and cruise control. Flip down the split-folding rear seats and there's room for nearly 50 cu. ft. of stuff. A Premium Package spiffs up your Matrix with a power moonroof, USB/iPod port, Bluetooth streaming audio and XM satellite radio.
Last year, the MKZ gained the Hybrid model with a 4-cylinder engine and electric motor combination good for a total of 191 hp and an impressive 41 city/36 highway mileage ratings or about 700 miles per tank. Boasting one of the best hybrid powertrains available, the MKZ Hybrid can touch 47 mph on electric power alone, and is a winner in urban driving. Sales of the MKZ Hybrid are running above expectations, and with Lincoln holding the price of the base Hybrid at the same $34,645 as the standard gasoline V-6 model, the gas/electric is a compelling choice. For open-road duty, the 263 bhp V-6 shows the good MKZ chassis to advantage. Luxury features are abundant; new for 2012 is AppLink for voice control of smartphones.
Cadillac's CTS comes in three forms: Sedan, Coupe and Sport Wagon. It's easy to be a fan of either or all. The exterior design is glamorous and unapologetically Detroit. Ditto inside. Even the base models are nicely finished with good detailing. There are several drivetrain combinations: Two aluminum 4-cam direct-injection V-6s, a 3.0-liter (270 bhp/223 lb.-ft. of torque) or a 3.6 (318 bhp/275 lb.-ft. of torque). Manual or automatic 6-speed transmissions. Drive can be via the rear or all four wheels. How much more variety could you want? With independent suspension front and rear, plus standard StabiliTrak stability control, the CTS has beautifully matched ride and handling characteristics. In short, this Cadillac manages to be an engaging car without being too firm.
The Audi TTS brings S-level performance to the iconic sports car in the Audi/VW AG family, and is aimed directly at the segment leading cars from BMW and Porsche.
The TTS blends the original Bauhaus styling with Audi's current modern design theme and advanced technology. The coupe's spaceframe is 69% aluminum and 31% steel (roadster = 58/42%), with most of the steel in the rear to offset the weight of the engine and better balance the car. All TTS's are powered by a 265-hp TFSI turbocharged direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic S-tronic transmission. The all-wheel drive quattro system has been customized specifically to the TTS for faster response time. Unique body treatments, 19-inch wheels and black brake calipers provide the visual differentiation from the TT and safety features include front, side and knee airbags, tire pressure monitoring, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and stability control.
For 2014, the Bose surround sound system, headlight washers, heated seats and adaptive headlights have been added to standard equipment.