The Ridgeline is a pickup built the Honda way. Instead of traditional bodyon-frame construction, it employs a rigid unibody derived from the Pilot SUV. Four-wheel independent suspension delivers a smooth ride. Suitable for lightduty use, the short cargo bed features a hidden storage compartment under the floor. Motorcycles, an ATV or larger cargo will fit when the dual-action tailgate is folded down. Ridgeline's 3.5-liter V-6 teams with a 5-speed automatic transmission and full-time awd. The roomy 5-passenger cabin is big on creature comforts with the top RTL model featuring heated leather seats and a navigation system. The rear seats can be converted to tote cargo such as golf bags. A rearview camera is now standard on all Ridgelines.
The Town & Country is almost pretentious, given its close ties to the popular Dodge Grand Caravan. Sure, its upscale trimmings, elegant exterior and standard equipment, such as leather seating and rear-seat DVD player, set the Town & Country apart from its Dodge counterpart, but its not-so-velvet drivetrain (no knock on the 3.6-liter V-6) and soft handling when compared to some minivans in its class give astute buyers pause. What does set this year's model apart is its available industry-exclusive Blu-ray DVD player with HDMI input. Folks needing to haul big toys will like the standard trailer sway damping and power folding mirrors on the Limited (optional on Touring L). The ParkView rear backup camera is standard on all three models.
The all-wheel-drive TTS coupe castes aside any concerns that this car is all style and no substance. You still have the same good looks — the TT has always been uber-chic — but the performance-oriented TTS model leaves behind the base car's 211-bhp, and serves up 265-bhp thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine. Quattro all-wheel-drive and a dual-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission are standard. There is no manual gearbox offered, though the automatic is one of the best in the business. The TTS coupe offers sports car performance, while maintaining a (relatively) modest appetite for fuel — a 29-mpg highway average won't break the bank. The backseat in the TTS coupe is awfully snug, and best used for hauling kids or cargo.
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid sedan offers the ability to drive in all-electric mode, gasoline-electric Hybrid mode or gasoline only mode. Such a system offers the most flexibility while doing away with range anxiety.
A two-motor hybrid system sends power to the front wheels. This system uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 124-kilowatt electric motor/lithium-ion battery combo. The battery can be fully charge on regular 120-volt household current in approximately three hours, and one hour using a 240-volt outlet. The Accord Plug-in Hybrid features unique 17-inch forged alloy wheels, aluminum hood for weight savings, unique front bumper and aerodynamic aids. Standard equipment also includes a rearview camera, LED head and tail lights, blind spot warning, along with heated front and rear seats.
Whenever you see a Viper pass, it looks like an exotic car, even though Chrysler has built more than 25,000 of these roaring beasts. The latest Viper, now in its third generation, continues to be refined in noise intrusion and ease of use, and it gets faster and more stable as well. Structural improvements made to the frame this year along with an easier-shifting Tremec 6-speed gearbox and dual-plate clutch have bred out the truck genes that made up the original Viper (Cherokee steering and Dakota suspension arms, remember?). Still, this is not a car you hop into when you’re beat and expect to relax, mostly because the 600-bhp V-10 taunts you to raise its baritone bellowing to the level that you’re paying a dollar for every two-and-a-half miles you drive it. Well, what’s a dollar, anyway?