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 Chevrolet Sonic combines a fuel efficient engine, seating for five and ample cargo space; it competes in the sub-compact market.
The front-wheel drive Sonic is offered in two body styles; sedan and hatchback. All models come standard with a 138-hp 1.8-liter engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. There are two available transmissions, a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. A 138-hp 1.4-liter engine is also available on the LT and LTZ trims, and standard on the RS trim. Standard safety equipment includes stability control, ABS brakes, panic brake assist, hill hold control, automatic headlamps, OnStar and ten airbags. Standard and optional features depending on the trim level include front fog lights, power windows, heated front seats, cruise control, a security system, air conditioning, XM satellite ratio, alloy wheels, and remote engine start.
For 2014, the Chevrolet Sonic is now available with some advanced technology for the segment: forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear camera, are now offered. Also, the RS trim is now offered on the sedan.
Fall through the looking glass, pass through the wardrobe, hit all the buttons in the Wonkavator, or take the Hogwarts Express one stop past the wizard school and there’s Aston Martin’s updated, five-door Rapide S sports car. It’s engineered for an alternate reality where up is left, down is sideways, rabbits wear top hats, and four-door exotic sports cars are the norm.
It’s an inverted universe where practicality is a burden, beauty always trumps convenience, and a 550-hp 5.9-liter V-12 is considered reasonable and ordinary. The car is a pain in the ass, and wonderful for it.
First seen as a concept back in 2006, the Rapide is an uncompromised sculpture. It’s a dramatic sliver of a car, with a windshield so brutally raked that it’s impossible to see some overhead traffic lights from the driver’s seat, and a fastback roof that would have even Bilbo Baggins ducking to get in through the rear doors. But when it entered production back in 2010 and promptly became sales-proof, the big complaint was that it wasn’t quick enough. In Narnia, 470 horsepower may seem like a lot, but in Car and Driver’s world, that left the regular old Rapide behind muggle-spec competitors like the bulbous Porsche Panamera Turbo S. And Aston’s claimed 5.0-second zero-to-60-mph performance? Nowadays, five seconds is enough time to conquer Middle-earth.
So Aston has rewritten the Rapide fable with the version of the company’s latest AM11 V-12 that debuted in the new Vanquish. The revised block is stuffed with a new crank and capped by new cylinder heads with variable timing on both the intake and exhaust cams and a new “big wing” intake manifold breathing in through 0.2-inch-larger throttle bodies. The re-machined combustion chambers flow better with a slightly increased compression ratio. All that thumps output up to 550 horsepower at a screaming 6750 rpm and 457 pound-feet of peak torque at 5000 rpm with, Aston asserts, significantly better torque production below 4000 rpm. There are no turbos, no superchargers, and no dark arts involved.
To deal with European pedestrian-protection standards, Aston has mounted the engine 0.8 inch lower in its bay while redesigning the front grille and hood. Throw in LED lighting and 20-inch wheels inside 245/35ZR-20 front and 295/30ZR-20 rear Bridgestone tires, and this is a car that visually punches its own Golden Ticket. That noted, what remains virtually unchanged is Aston’s glue- and rivet-bonded aluminum space-frame architecture, and the rear-mounted six-speed automatic transaxle.
The 3 Series coupe and convertible models get a mild refresh for 2011, including new head- and taillights, hood, grille, side skirts and front and rear fascias. All 335i models (sedan, coupe and convertible) receive the new N55 single-turbo inline-6, while the new 335is (in both coupe and convertible) uses a higher-output version of the N54 twin-turbo inline-6, rated at 320 bhp and 332 lb.-ft. of torque (with an overboost function for 370 lb.-ft.). The 335is will be available with the DCT gearbox ($1575), marking the dual-clutch system’s first appearance in a 3 Series other than the M3. Speaking of the M3, there’s a new M3 Competition Package for even sharper handling. Look for an all-new 3 Series sedan toward the end of 2011 as a 2012 model.
The Audi TT coupe continues to offer all-weather driving fun, thanks to its compact dimensions and Quattro all-wheel-drive, in one of the car world's most seductive shapes. But don't think the TT is all style and no substance. Top models, like the fire-breathing TT RS, give many Porsches a serious run for their money. Yet even the base TT coupe has the agility and performance of a true sports car. Granted, the 211-bhp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 might not sound intimidating, but it's more than enough to scoot the TT down the road with aplomb. The TT and TTS are available exclusively with a dual-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission. This is a great gearbox, so it's hard to bemoan the lack of a manual. That backseat is awfully tight, however, so look elsewhere if you often need room for more than one passenger.