It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 20 years since the first time we saw the Lexus LS–on a chassis dyno with a pyramid of champagne glasses placed upon its hood, no less. Since then, the LS has grown—not only in size, but in model range. In addition to the “base” LS 460, there’s an LS 460 all-wheel drive (AWD), an LS 460 L (long), an LS 460 L AWD and the LS 600h L—the luxury hybrid that comes standard in long wheelbase with awd. Naturally, the LS’s cabin is swathed in leather, wood trim and abundant convenience features like SmartAccess keyless entry and a standard moonroof. New this year on the LS 460 is the limited-production (250 units) Sport Authentic Special, with 19-in. wheels, Brembo brakes, paddle shifters, navigation and more.
The Chevrolet Tahoe is a purpose-built, full-size four-door, family-oriented SUV. A sharp, precise driving feel, Active Fuel Management engine technology, and enhanced safety features make it a popular choice among full-size SUVs.
The Chevrolet Tahoe is available in 2WD or 4WD and offers three distinct trim levels. The LS, the LT1 and the LTZ. The Tahoe seats up to nine passengers and when it is equipped with the Trailering Package, it is rated to tow up to 8500 pounds on the 2WD model and 8200 pounds on the 4WD model. All Tahoes come with a 320-hp 5.3-liter Vortec V8 E85 FlexFuel engine coupled to an efficient six-speed automatic transmission. Safety features standard on all models include dual-stage front airbags, side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with dynamic rear proportioning, Stabilitrak stability control system with rollover mitigation, tire pressure monitoring system, and OnStar.
For 2014, the Chevrolet Tahoe has some exterior paint changes and the optional Convenience package is now standard equipment on the LS trim.
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.
Last year’s relaunch of the Dodge Ram 1500 set a new standard in light-truck performance and styling. This year the Ram 1500 continues to impress with a 1500 lb. increase in GCWR (thanks to the 5.7-liter Hemi, 3.93:1 rear axle and 140.5 in. wheelbase combo). While the Ram 1500 isn’t work-shy, the truck’s charms extend beyond the practical to its downright decadent driving environment and lush on- and off-road driving manners. Among the newest offerings is an iPod connection that enables device control through the steering wheel, available 22-in. wheels with the R/T package, folding and power trailer-tow mirrors, Interactive Decel Fuel Shut Off on all engines, an integrated trailer brake controller and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Rumors suggest a hybrid Ram is on the way in 2010.
At press time, BMW hadn't yet shown the 3 Series replacement, but we've seen spy photos of it for over a year. Not surprisingly, the current generation has received little change for 2012, as all development is ongoing for the new car. The coupe, retractable hardtop convertible and sedan versions of the 328, 335 and M3 continue as they are with some package changes and the standard inclusion of Bluetooth. Gone for 2012, however, is the M3 sedan and turbodiesel engine option. A 328i Wagon remains the least expensive variant of the 3 Series. The M3 Convertible will receive a new $5000 Individual Composition Package option with four unique paint colors and interior trim choices to help make it more distinct.