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 Cruze is Chevrolet's newest entrant in the highly contested compact sedan segment. It is based on a global platform that has been refined for America with an emphasis on fuel economy.
The Cruze features two new small-displacement four-cylinder engines; a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo, or a 138-hp naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter. Depending on trim, a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. Available safety features include ten airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control and anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer. The Cruze can be equipped with features such as heated leather power seating, sunroof, remote start, satellite radio, navigation system and automatic climate control.
The XK combines Jaguar's new modern design style with traditional luxury car touches like genuine wood and supple leather.
Available as a coupe or convertible, the XK packs a 385-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine. The XKR features a 510-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. A special-order only, XKR-S uses a 550-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. A six-speed automatic transmission with console mounted rotary shifter and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters channels all that power to the rear wheels. Standard equipment includes touch screen navigation, keyless entry with keyless start, a seven-inch video display, Bluetooth, front and rear park assist with rear camera, and electronic parking brake. The XKR-S adds forged wheels, aerodynamic enhancements, and race inspired seats.
Introduced in 2001, the Avalanche blurs the border between pickup trucks and SUVs. It shares the Chevy Suburban's frame, substituting a short pickup bed for the Suburban's third-row seats and enclosed cargo bay. The key feature is its Midgate, which opens the rear of the cabin to expand cargo bed capacity. A sturdy folding cover shelters the cargo bed, and the hollow bed walls provide small object storage. Rear- or 4-wheel drive, the Avalanche is propelled by a flex-fuel 320-bhp 5.3-liter V-8 with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. A capable workhorse, the Avalanche can tow up to 8100 lb. If Avalanche versatility appeals to you, now is the time to buy. The 2013 model year will be its last.
When compared to its rivals, in terms of exterior panache and interior finish, the Kia Sedona sits at the back of the current minivan class. But when viewed in the context of feature-to-value ratio and Kia’s outstanding warranty, the Sedona makes its case as the go-to transport for active families on a budget. The 271-bhp V-6 and Sportmatic 6-speed automatic is sufficient for urban commutes or cross-country getaways. Standard safety features—an important consideration for this class consumer—abound, and include six airbags, ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Electronic Stability Control. The Sedona isn’t fancy inside, but the three-row seating and fold-flat rear seat deliver the necessary passenger space and cargo hauling quotients.