The 77-year-old Suburban has developed multiple personalities in its lifetime. One is a massive, luxurious station wagon, historically favored by Texans. Optional equipment includes power-operated running boards and a body that's refined with no gaps between bumper panels and sheet metal. The next personality is a butch off-roader, with a locking rear differential, big tow hooks in the front and a front skid plate. The base Suburban comes standard with a 320-bhp 5.3-liter V-8 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine has an iron-block in rear-drive models, while the 4-wheel-drive models get an aluminum version of the V-8. The heavier-duty 2500 model gets a larger 352-bhp 6.0-liter V-8, plus a more robust frame and suspension.
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage S excels in its intended natural environment of the race track, thanks to a razor-sharp seven-speed Sportshift gearbox, wider tyres and a 10bhp power boost over the standard car. Its suspension is even stiffer and lower than that on the previous N420 special edition, and it gets a quicker steering rack, too, so turn-in is instantaneous and body roll practically non-existent. The penalty for this is a harsher ride than Aston Martin owners will be accustomed to, particularly on poor UK roads. If you spend more time in Soho than Silverstone, the Vantage S may not be the ideal Aston for you.
Garish, or just livin' large? You make the call with the QX56. But there's no denying the space (seats up to eight) or functionality (tows up to 8500 lb.) of this massive, somewhat porcine vehicle. Power is provided by a direct-injected 5.6-liter 400-bhp V-8 mated to a 7-speed automatic, and a choice of 2wd or 4wd. But that's one of few choices you'll make, as there's just one lavishly appointed trim level, with a navigation system and 13-speaker Bose audio. We'd opt for the dual-monitor Theater Package to keep the kids entertained, which features an upgraded remote control and interface for 2013. Also, Moving Object Detection is added to the standard Around View Monitor and auto-dimming exterior mirrors are standard.
The Bentley Continental GT has been a huge success since its introduction in 2002, and for 2009 things continue to improve. The Speed version was added last year and has really caught on, thanks to its special look and its 600-bhp W-12 engine. All Continental models come with 6-speed automatic transmissions by ZF, with manual activation available via the gearshift lever or the steering-wheel paddles. Thanks to all-wheel drive, the Continental offers enormous grip in even the most inclement conditions. The Speed gets its own dark-tinted matrix-look grille, and at the rear there is a lower bumper valance and specific tailpipe tips. Every Continental is proud to show off its interior, as it is lovely to look at and even nicer to sit in. Comfortable grand touring is the order of the day.
Honda is preparing to launch an all-new fourth-generation CR-V for 2012. A concept vehicle previewing the design direction of the new model reveals bolder styling with a wide, three-bar grille, curving roofline and tall, angled taillights with a three-dimensional look that wrap further into the body. The CR-V continues to be based on the Civic, which is also new this year. Honda says a more fuel-efficient engine, reduced curb weight and a revamped interior are planned. In keeping with tradition, expect a 4-cylinder as the lone powerplant along with front- and awd models. The CR-V’s cabin will offer more space for passengers plus a lower cargo floor for easier access. A third-row seat is a possibility, although it would only be suitable for kids. Specifications are for 2011 model year.