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Every Body Needs A Seat Belt

A Newspaper-Delivered Consumer Automotive Publication




The Best Source for Cultural and Consumer automotive News

Fall 2011

2012 Buyer’s Guide! All The Best New Cars, Trucks & Motorcycles For 2012

Also Inside: Urban Wheel Awards Named North American International Auto Show Official Multicultural Event

> Scion iQ > Toyota Camry > Volvo XC60 R-Design > Urban Wheel Awards Companies of The Year

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Balanced with world-class style, best-in-class rear legroom and 32 MPG highway for up to 600 miles of range.1 Now, when the kids finish having their fun, you’ll just be getting started.


The Chevrolet Equinox. Chevy Runs Deep.

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Finally, A Well-Balanced Family Vehicle


Chevrolet Equinox from the moment it rolled into dealer showrooms. Available in LS, LT and LTZ trim, and with an available all-wheel drive, the Equinox complements its handsome styling and unexpected features with excellent fuel efficiency. onsumers have responded enthusiastically to the new

Both the standard Ecotec 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder and the optional 3.0-liter V6 engines feature fuel-saving direct injection and variable valvetiming technology. The 2.4, rated at 182 horsepower, gets an EPA est. 32 MPG on the highway and 22 MPG in the city. All-wheel drive models have an EPA est. of 20-MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. With an EPA est. of 25 MPG highway and 17 MPG city, the 264-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 is also available with FlexFuel capability1—meaning the Equinox will operate on gasoline, E85 bioethanol, or a combination of both. Comprised of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent bioethanol, E85 is a domestically produced, renewable fuel that produces fewer greenhouse gases in the combustion process. But what really completes this vehicle is Chevy’s thoughtful attention to detail. Bold design cues and stylish materials are complemented with cleverly designed storage spaces, to help make Equinox the ideal family vehicle. You’ll find an oversized glove box, a closed storage bin in the

instrument panel above the center stack, and a closed storage compartment under the center armrest large enough for a laptop computer. Additionally, the “floating” center stack houses many ergonomic convenience controls, while contemporary, ice blue ambient lighting elevates the atmosphere to feel more upscale. Also pampering occupants is Bluetoothcapability2 for select phones and available features like automatic climate control, rear-view camera, powered, heated seats and a hard-drive-based navigation3 complete the suite of creature comforts. Equinox offers the most rear-seat legroom in its class and the rear seat travels nearly eight inches forward and back. That’s up to 39.9 inches of legroom for back-seat passengers. While standard safety features include electronic stability control, OnStar4 standard for 6 months and 6 airbags5. It’s appropriately-powered for any situation, parks easily, is a breeze to get in and out of. With Equinox, Chevrolet has found a successful balance for the family vehicle.

1. E85 capability not available in CA, CT, MA, MD, ME, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT and WA. E85 is a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Go to to see if there is a E85 station near you. 2. Go to to find out which phones are compatible with the vehicle. 3. Available in 2LT and LTZ models only. Navigation map only covers the 48 contiguous United States and portions of Canada. 4. Call 1-888-4ONSTAR (1-888-466-7827) or visit for details and system limitations. 5. Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.





The Best Source for Cultural and Consumer automotive News Volume 2 | Issue 3 | fall 2011 Publisher: Randi Payton

On the Cover: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Editor-in-Chief: Lyndon Conrad Bell.

features: 07 motorcycle buyer’s guide

Here are the latest and greatest two-wheelers for 2012; whether your thing is scooters, touring bikes, sport bikes or you just want a camouflaged sidecar rig for tooling around in the woods. Whatever it is, you’ll find what you’re looking for, right here.

09 truck buyer’s guide

These days, we’re all hauling a lot more than— well, you know; and frankly, a lot more of it too. To cope, the truck market has expanded exponentially to reflect our changing situations. Yes, there are still a few SUVs out there, but there are lots of new

Editorial Director: Joyce Gates Art Director: Fran Sherman Editors-at-Large: Mary M. Chapman, Christopher Jackson, Valerie Menard Senior Editors: Brian Armstead, Warren Brown Multimedia Manager: Rich Baron Web Development: Thuan Ngo decisive media Headquarters: 8201 Corporate Drive, Suite 500 Landover, MD 20785 T. 301.850.2858 • F. 301.390.1825 President & CEO: Randi Payton Vice President: Karen Payton Production/Distribution: Joyce Gates Business Manager: Damon Redmond Sales Director: Karen Payton DECISIVE MEDIA DETROIT: Leonard Corbin


car buyer’s guide Charting the changes as we always do, we’ve spotted a few new trends and welcomed back new iterations of old friends. This new car season is one of the hottest yet, with new performance models, alternativefuel models, and one or two that are both.

departments: 17 20

17: Long Term Review 2011 VW Jetta TDI 20: Long Term Review 2011 Volvo S60 R-Design

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: Jane Godshall multimedia marketing: Rich Baron Event Director: Marjorie Staten Decisive Auto magazine © 2011 is published four times annually as a newspaper-delivered publication and digital e-magazine by Decisive Multi-Media LLC Your complete resource for research and opinion on consumer products and services Visit us at www.Decisive; eMail us at

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CADILLAC CTS-V COUPE. Never has a philosophy been delivered so emphatically. Every line, stunning. Every detail, purposeful. Right down to the dramatic mesh grille that gives air an express lane to the supercharged 556 HP power plant. Each new standard leads to another. See how it all connects at

©2011 General Motors. All rights reserved. Cadillac® CTS®

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Bringing A New Level of Class to the Class


Chevrolet’s commitment to building refined, fuel-efficient vehicles using new, smalldisplacement, four-cylinder engines, the Chevrolet Cruze offers a new Ecotec 1.4 L I-4 turbo with variable valve timing, resulting in an EPA-estimated 42 MPG on the highway with its Eco model. ffirming

The Chevrolet Cruze also comes equipped with many outstanding features and details that challenge preconceived notions about what a compact car can look, feel and drive like in North America. Cruze sports a distinguished design that begins with the bold, two-tier grille signature to Chevrolet vehicles around the globe. An arching roofline connects a steeply raked windshield and fast-sloping rear pillars to give the car sporty, coupe-like proportions. Daring design cues and fine details continue throughout the interior, where Chevrolet’s hallmark twin-cockpit motif is matched with high-quality materials and exceptional assembly tolerances. Grained, soft touch components and low-gloss trim panels establish a sense of quality. The instrument panel is an excellent example of how Chevy continues to eschew traditional segment expectations. It features richly detailed instruments backlit with lightemitting diode (LED) technology, to provide a crisp, ice blue illumination of all interior controls. A standard driver information center

keeps the driver informed with a wealth of pertinent data while on the road. Enhanced with an exhaust-powered turbocharger, the Chevy’s new Ecotec 1.4 L turbo performs like a larger engine when needed, yet retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions. It is standard on Eco, LT and LTZ models, with power ratings at 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque. Equipped with the Ecotec 1.4 L turbo, Cruze offers up to 500 highway miles on a single tank, based on EPA-est. 42 MPG highway. Cruze also offers exceptional standard safety features —delivering on Chevrolet’s commitment to helping protect passengers before, during and, thanks to OnStar, after a crash. OnStar comes standard for 6 months, and includes Automatic Crash Response, by which OnStar links drivers to existing emergency service providers. Details and system limitations are available at With striking good looks, outstanding fuelefficiency, and progressive safety features, Chevrolet Cruze is raising the bar for the American compact car.

With more cargo room, connectivity and 42 MPG 1 highway to get you closer to everything you love.


The Chevrolet Cruze Eco. Chevy Runs Deep.

2 0 1 2 buyer’s guide

Written by Christopher L. Jackson and Arv Voss (Motorcycles)

20 M

odel year


brings about a host of changes in the wheeled personal

transportation category.


are a broad variety of new motorcycles,

trucks and cars to consider with the arrival of the new model year.

Here in the magazine, for the first time ever, we’ve combined all three buyer’s guides into one issue, making this a comprehensive look at what’s new and hot for 2012. Still, there’s even more to be found on our Website, so peruse these pages and then go to the site for even more information, full reviews and videos of the new rides for the 2012 model year. Happy Motoring!

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ired of tooling around in your gas guzzling four-wheeled vehicle?

Consider switching Here’s our picks “cream-of-the-crop” from scooters to sport bikes to luxury tourers for 2012. freedom, enjoyment and fuel-efficient world of two-wheeled travel.

Ever since BMW Motorrad presented the concept study Concept 6 in autumn 2009, its inline six-cylinder engine caught the imagination of many motorcycle fans. For over seven decades now, this configuration has represented fascinating engine technology in BMW’s automobiles more than with any other brand. With the new K 1600 GT and K 1600 GTL, BMW motorcycles are now available with an inline six-cylinder power unit. The two touring motorcycles have a supreme, impressive and equally distinctive appearance, creating a desire to travel at first sight. 160 horsepower, along with 129 pound feet of torque generates excellent propulsion in all riding scenarios.

2012 HarleyDavidson Switchback The Dyna Switchback is a custom touring motorcycle with detachable hard saddlebags and a quick-detach windshield, making it possible to convert the Switchback into a custom street cruiser in just seconds. Chassis, suspension and tires are engineered to provide light, confident handling. The Switchback is the lightest custom touring motorcycle in its displacement category, with a classic proportion and clean, straightforward lines. The bend of the mini-ape handlebar and pullback riser combine with full-length rider footboards and a two-up touring seat to offer riders all-day comfort.

2012 motorcycle buyer’s guide

2012 BMW K 1600 GT

to the of the


2012 Honda Goldwing

Piaggio Typhoon 125

Honda has taken what many perceive to be the world’s best touring motorcycle and made it even better. The bodywork is new and attractive, complementing a superb engine and chassis package. New enhancements have been made to the audio system and available navigation system, as well as the comfort level. There’s also added functionality such as integrated iPod connectivity and the ability to import trips to the navi system from a home computer. The Goldwing is offered in four performance packages.

The Typhoon 125 is tough, easy to ride and available at an affordable price most competitors can’t beat. The Piaggio Typhoon is designed in Italy and fully automatic with a new 125cc fuel-efficient engine that yields up to 90 mpg. Bound over city streets and country roads comfortably with new fatter tires, a stronger tubular steel frame, and a lower 30-inch seat height, at speeds up to 60 mph. Choose from Yellow or Black.

fall 2011 | | 7

2012 motorcycle buyer’s guide

2012 Suzuki GSX 1250FA Boldly styled and impressively powerful, the GSX1250FA is prepared to provide excitement whether you’re touring, commuting, or simply out having some fun. Designed with sportbike-DNA, it is a versatile, do-everything machine with a powerful 1255cc Suzuki fuel-injected powerplant delivering a broad spread of power and torque from way low in the rev range for unrivaled performance on open highways and tight canyon roads. Comfortable ergonomics and a full-fairing provide comfort for long distance riding, and a full range of Genuine Suzuki accessories customize the GSX1250FA for a wide variety of riding applications, including long-distance touring.

2012 Ural Gobi Desert Camo Gear Up Sidecar Rig If you want to stand out in a crowd or disappear into the woods or the desert, the Ural Gear-Up sidecar rig might just be the ticket for you. Like its stablemate, the Ural Patrol, the Gear-Up features on-demand sidecar drive. The Gear-Up’s origins trace back to its military past, and it’s as tough as a Russian AK-47. Despite its military heritage, the Gear-Up is equally at home in more peaceful settings such as hunting or fishing trips. Or, one can simply enjoy the great outdoors by blazing trails through mud, sand and snow. The Gear-Up is available in a Forest Green Camouflage theme or in the Gobi Desert Camo paint treatment. The latter is $150 more, and is the most popular model.

20 2012 Victory Zach Ness Vegas 8-Ball

Zach Ness works his custom bike building creative skills and fresh ideas into an understated, mechanically stock, Vegas 8-Ball. The bike incorporates subtle black paint and black accents along with Suede Titanium metallic paint with custom Ness graphics; a Matte-Titanium metallic finished frame and swing arm; Custom Ness handlebar crossbar, custom billet wheels, custom mirrors, Holeshot billet handgrips, foot pegs, engine covers, oil line cover; chrome exhaust and custom stitched leather seat. There’s also a numbered plate on the engine with Zach’s logo and a replication of his signature. The Zach Ness Vegas 8-Ball fills the bill as a retro bad-boy cruiser

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere

The Yamaha Super Tenere is built for adventure, and powered by an all-new, compact 1199cc parallel twin motor with a unique 270-degree crank delivering satisfying torque and traction. The engine mass is kept low to facilitate ease of handling and the narrow, two-cylinder engine is slim and compact for clearance when carving tight lines over twisty mountain roads.

For more of the best of 2012’s new bikes including pricing and specifications, see the Decisive Auto 2012 Motorcycle Guide at

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hings have been relatively quiet in the truck market, leaving the impression it is actually shrinking.


isn’t true, of course.

Trucks are still out there and improving every year. Many of Ford, Chevrolet and Ram are coming off recent redesigns and feature only incremental updates, while a range of new compact crossovers has just hit. the biggest players from

2012 Ford Escape:

Cadillac’s luxury crossover gets a boost in the form of a larger standard V6 engine for 2012. Rolling with GM’s new direct-injection 3.6 liter V6, the SRX now puts out an estimated 300 horsepower, representing a significant jump over the current 265. New equipment includes heated steering wheels and standard Bluetooth connectivity.

An all-new Escape is expected to debut in 2012, and it can’t come soon enough since Ford’s surprisingly rugged compact SUV hasn’t received a significant update since 2007. Expect a radical shift in design to resemble the new Focus and Fiesta, the better to compete in the suddenly very crowded compact crossover market, with many details possibly borrowed from the Vertrek concept that debuted at the 2011 North American International Auto Show.

2012 Honda CR-V:

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8:

Has it really already been five years since the CR-V’s last update? That’s right, the last new CR-V was in 2006, and so clockwork-like Honda is making not-so-coy rumblings about an all-new CR-V compact crossover coming for 2012. It’s too soon for any details, but given the CR-V’s bar-setting status in this market, and the looks of this CR-V concept that’s been floating around, it’s safe to expect a few evolutionary leaps forward.

The freshly redesigned Grand Cherokee goes uptown and down to the racetrack with the reintroduction of the SRT8 model. The formula is the same as before; a lowered, Brembo-braked and aerodynamically-slicked sport-ute with a monster V8 that’s ready to go chase the Porsche Cayenne and Land Rover Range Rover Sport. The new hotness is loaded with a 465-horsepower 6.4 liter HEMI V8 and Jeep reports a 4.8-second 0-60 run.

2012 truck buyer’s guide

Cadillac SRX:


Mercedes-Benz M-Class:

Mercedes has a major revision in store for the M-Class. Like many of the brand’s updates, the exterior restyling is subtle but under the skin, the new M-Class gains upgrades borrowed from both the E-Class and S-Class sedans, as well as retaining the genteel go-anywhere ability that it’s always had. Night View, a Blind Spot assist, a new six-mode adaptive transmission, and air suspension are all a part of the new M-Class. As before, a choice of gasoline or BlueTEC diesel is offered.

2012 Nissan NV:

Nissan’s new cargo van went on sale in mid-2011, and aims to compete with the Mercedes Sprinter thanks to its cargo-friendly layout and work-ready construction. A choice of V6 or V8 power is offered, and the NV is available with a choice of roof-height configurations. It’s all about hauling, with extra wide-opening doors, a folding front passenger seat and contractor-ready pre-wiring. The NV’s a commercial vehicle, so it won’t be available from all Nissan dealers. Pricing starts at $24,590 and Nissan offers a no-cost graphics package for companies leasing an NV.

fall 2011 | | 9

2012 motorcycle buyer’s guide

Ram 1500 Tradesman and Express:

Ram Cargo Van:

Chrysler’s Ram brand (the trucks have been separated from the Dodge line) showed off a pickup for the working class and entry-level buyers. The low-priced Tradesman and Express models are basic pickups equipped with V8 power for the same price as many V6 trucks. Intended to appeal to buyers looking for a no-frills truck, and customizers hoping for a blank slate, these trucks start under $25,000. Ram has also introduced a test fleet of plug-in hybrid electric Rams that may, over time, lead to a production version.

Not to be outdone by the workvans from Ford and Nissan, Ram has modified one of Chrysler’s minivans for full-time cargo duty. A choice of blanked-out or glass windows and a completely flat aluminum load floor with available tie-downs make the Cargo Van a more versatile compact hauler. The Ram Cargo Van has a 283-horse, 3.6-liter V6 engine. It can haul up to 1800 pounds of cargo and can tow up to 3600 pounds, making it perfect for small-business owners.

Range Rover Evoque:

2012 Saab 9-4X:

Land Rover’s sexy Evoque SUV combines show-car looks and Land Rover capability into a show-stopping package. It’s the smallest, lightest Range Rover in the lineup...and it looks an awful lot like a crossover vehicle. Say it ain’t so! Has perennially rugged Land Rover gone soft on us? The Evoque’s 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive with Terrain Response suggest not.

After debuting at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2010, the Saab 9-4X has taken a back seat to the Swedish manufacturer’s financial issues. The new crossover, based loosely on the Cadillac SRX, is still a go however. The marque’s signature blackout front pillars are combined with blue-tinted headlamp covers for a unique look. Saab’s XWD all-wheel drive and a V6 engine are standard. Pricing is expected to start below $35,000.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

2012 Volvo XC60:

20 The compact crossover Tiguan gets a significant update for 2012. Exterior revisions bring the styling in line with Volkswagen’s current look, adding daytime running lights, additional chrome and a horizontal grille. Powertrain tweaks have improved fuel economy and interior appointments as well.

Volvo’s luxury city-bred crossover gets updates to its R-Design model. A new 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six puts out 325 horsepower. Coupled with standard all-wheel drive, the XC60 R-Design is a genuine performance vehicle. Volvo has set pricing at $43,150.

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is poised to bring us a bevy revised best sellers, with a new

their efficiency.

Toyota Camry, way. Toyota’s Yaris and Scion

Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Civic on the iQ are offering fuel-efficient alternatives without

Buick Verano:

BMW’s grand touring car gets more exotic looks and a 400-horsepower twinturbo 4.4-liter V8 connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The available xDrive all-wheel drive system is a first for the 6-Series. High-tech options like adaptive LED headlights, a head-up display, all-around cameras, and BMW’s iDrive help make the new 6 as much of a gadget showboat as the 7-Series.

Badge-engineering isn’t what it was thirty years ago, and the Verano, loosely based on the Chevy Cruze, is a handsome distillation of what makes the larger Lacrosse and Regal truly Buicks. A 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine is standard, as are Buick’s Quiet Tuning and OnStar.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu:

Chevrolet Sonic:

This may be the most extroverted Chevy sedan ever, taking styling cues from the Corvette and Camaro with its revamped family face. The new Malibu suggests a four-door muscle car in its sportiest form, and the dual-cockpit interior looks like an attractive place to be for a road trip. A new infotainment system called Chevrolet MyLink provides online entertainment, while a new direct-injection 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission gives Malibu exceptional fuel economy for the class.

This all-new subcompact injects a measure of spirit into the breed with an oversized family grille and quad headlamps leading into a stubby, upright design. Four- and five-door models are offered. The standard 1.8-liter four is bigger than that of the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta, and the turbocharged 1.4-liter offers entertaining performance. There’s a choice of five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. Equipment includes stability control, Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats.

2012 car buyer’s guide

BMW 6 Series:

battery packs augmenting

12 Ford Mustang Boss 302:

Ford Focus Electric:

The all-electric version of the Focus hits the streets in 2012 with a fully electric motor, a single-speed transmission, and a top speed of about 84mph. Ford promises a three- to four-hour recharging time using 240-volt power, though Ford is still being cagey as to the range other than to say it’ll be “enough…to cover the majority of daily driving habits of Americans.” The electric Focus also takes advantage of MyFord Touch to offer smartphone apps and to aid in finding affordable plug-in sources.

The Boss 302 is a comprehensive upgrade to the Mustang, with power bumped to 440 horses, a six-speed manual transmission, retuned exhaust, stiffer suspension and power steering, lightweight wheels and of course Brembo brakes. A limited-slip differential and Recaro racing seats are also available. The Boss 302 is set apart visually by a choice of black or white roof and a matching side stripe, additional aerodynamic aids and a unique grille.

fall 2011 | | 11

Standard on 2012 Chrysler 300S models, and available on 2012 Chrysler 300 Limited, 300 and 300C Luxury Series models. BEATSAUDIO and BEATS BY DR. DRE are trademarks of Beats Electronics, LLC in the U.S. and other countries, and are used by Chrysler Group LLC with permission. All rights reserved. Chrysler is a registered trademark of Chrysler Group LLC.



C H RYS L E R .CO M / 3 0 0

2012 car buyer’s guide

Honda Civic:

Hyundai Veloster:

The Civic plays it safe stylistically, with minor tweaks to keep it current with the Accord and other family members. The broad lineup is the same, with coupe, sedan, hybrid, natural-gas and high-efficiency models returning. Honda’s added a bit of interior space and refined the four-cylinder engines for improved efficiency. A multi-information display and navigation system are available to make the Civic a premium compact. Pricing is comparable with the outgoing model, starting at about $16,000.

The new sporty coupe from Hyundai is actually a three-door, with a third door designed to ease access to the rear seats. This lightweight vehicle will return up to 40 mpg fuel economy on the freeway in spite of its relative size, thanks to a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injection engine that’s available with a sporty sixspeed manual transmission. A dual-clutch automatic is also offered. Hyundai has announced prices will start at $17,300.

Hyundai Accent:

2013 Infiniti IPL G convertible:

Hyundai wants to revamp the image of its littlest car, and the all-new 2012 model promises a much higher profile. It also promises much better economy—40 mpg on the freeway, to be exact. Four-and five-door models will be offered. The Accent shares its all-new 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder with the Veloster. Its new design is wrapped around a larger interior, stability control and surprisingly high-class amenities similar to those of the fantastic Elantra. Pricing starts at $12,445.

“IPL” stands for “Infiniti Performance Line,” and the G convertible is the second addition to the lineup for Infiniti’s new upgraded-sport division. Aerodynamic upgrades and a special interior set the IPL G Convertible apart. Under the skin, Infiniti has planned a range of engine and suspension upgrades as well.

Lexus CT 200h F Sport

2013 Lexus GS 350:

Lexus’ sporty hybrid gets a bit of performance cred with the introduction of the F Sport package. In addition to styling tweaks like a mesh grille and larger spoiler, the CT 200h F Sport features unique seventeen-inch wheels and sportier suspension tuning. Toyota’s new Vehicle Proximity Notification System, which plays a sound when the CT 200h is traveling on full-electric power to help warn pedestrians that a car’s coming, is shared with the newest Prius line.

The all-new GS 350 aims to take Lexus in a new stylistic direction when it arrives as a 2013 model. Power is provided by a 3.5-liter V6 cranking out 306 horses, and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. A hybrid version is planned as well.

20 14 | decisive auto |

Mercedes C-Class Coupe:

Mercedes SLK:

Sheet metal is very similar to that of the C-Class, but the standard panoramic sunroof and seven-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission set it apart. Mercedes has also let AMG have its way with the new coupe, resulting in a limited-edition C63 AMG Black Series that cranks out 510 horsepower. Like the last Black Series coupe, there’s a heavy motorsports influence; this is not your father’s Mercedes coupe—unless your father is Willy T. Ribbs.

Mercedes CLS:

MINI Coupe:

The new CLS-Class looks very similar to the previous model, but it’s a bit longer and wider and is now available with all-wheel drive. New 4.6- and 5.5-liter direct-injection twin-turbo V8 engines are on the menu—as are Mercedes’ standard host of driver aids. CLS-Class prices start at $71,300 and head north from there.

The MINI Coupe’s notchback silhouette is new for a MINI, though the contrasting-colored roof with available stripes and go-kart handling should be familiar to proponents of the brand. The MINI Coupe goes on sale this fall with a choice of three four-cylinder engines (including a turbocharged 208-horsepower John Cooper Works edition) and a starting price of $22,000.

2012 car buyer’s guide

Mercedes’ compact hardtop roadster continues with a 302-horsepower directinjection 3.5-liter V6 and a broad, narrow grin influenced by the SLS AMG. The SLK55 AMG returns for 2012 with 415 horsepower, a fuel-saving cylinder-shutoff system and a hybrid-style stop-start mode. Cool options include a panoramic polycarbonate roof with variable tint.


Nissan Versa:

Nissan’s subcompact Versa gets a larger trunk, improved rear-seat room and a 150-pound weight savings compared to before. Nissan’s added new available options, including Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system and satellite radio to go with the styling, which is more muscular and matches that of Nissan’s bigger sedans.

Scion iQ:

The ten-foot long iQ seats four, offers 37-mpg fuel economy and a host of safety features. Everything’s compact in the iQ, from the 1.3-liter engine and CVT to the space-optimized MacPherson strut suspension. However, there is also a hugesounding 200-watt Pioneer sound system with a subwoofer, a 5.8-inch touch screen, iTunes tagging, Bluetooth connectivity, and a navigation system. Pricing for the iQ starts at $15,265.

fall 2011 | | 15

2012 car buyer’s guide

Subaru Impreza:

Toyota Yaris:

The new Subaru Impreza has a fluid, more substantial design, dramatic improvements in fuel economy and interior space, and a more luxurious interior. A new, smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 148 horsepower and returns 36 mpg on the freeway—while offering Subaru’s trademark all-wheel drive. A longer wheelbase improves freeway ride and cargo space, while electronic power steering improves fuel efficiency. Pricing starts at $17,495.

The Yaris hatchback debuts first, exhibiting a longer wheelbase and lowered stance contributing to a sportier look and improved cargo space. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder under the hood features variable valve timing and 106 horsepower. Safety’s improved with side and rollover airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag. Three- and five-door models will be offered with a base MSRP of $14,115.

Toyota Prius v:

Toyota Camry:

The “v” stands for versatility, and it is as spacious as a Ford Escape Hybrid and large enough for a family vacation plus luggage. Subtle design tweaks help to set the “big” Prius apart from the basic model, while a more comfortable interior and available polycarbonate full-length sunroof are in keeping with the current crossover style. It’s a compelling answer to a question Toyota’s hoping a decent number of customers were asking.

Toyota’s careful update of the Camry provides a conservative styling tweak and improved efficiency, thanks to a dramatic lightening program and engine revisions. The new Camry is almost 200 pounds lighter, and the base 2.5-liter fourcylinder now makes 178 horsepower and returns 35-mpg fuel economy. Tweaks to the suspension of the sporty SE model and a new paddle-shifted transmission improve that version’s performance potential. Toyota’s new Entune system is on hand to compete with multimedia add-ons like Ford’s SYNC as well.

20 Volkswagen Beetle:

Volkswagen Golf R:

The new silhouette is inspired by the classic Bug, but otherwise rethought. Longer, lower and wider, the updated Beetle sticks to familiar territory with the available TDI and turbo models, but it’s otherwise a bit of a revolution. The roofline is dramatically lowered and bears a strong resemblance to the original 1949 Beetle, while the interior is more conventional than before. Standard horsepower is up to 170, and a panoramic sunroof is on the menu.

The new Golf R is a 256-horsepower, ultra-performance Golf with all-wheel drive and a standard six-speed manual transmission. The Golf R is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine, and comes in two- or four-door versions. The brakes and suspension have been seriously upgraded, and Volkswagen claims a sub-six-second 0-60 run.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI There’s Always Something to Smile About

“Listen honey, it hums!” exhorted the infinitely enthusiastic Mrs. L.I.R. Bell, as we glided along the freeway in our long term 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. I focused on the sound of the Jetta’s engine for a moment and immediately realized she was absolutely right. While there is a mild trace of muted diesel clatter when the Jetta is piloted around town, at speed on the highway the engine hums merrily along, as if this is what it really wants to be doing all along. The rest of the car enjoys the highway too. Solidly planted at speed, its autobahn heritage shines through nicely on long, highspeed road trips. Its seats are comfortable for hours on end, and thanks to the hard-disc based nav/infotainment system its entertainment sources are abundant. Plus, the Jetta sips fuel like a cultured sophisticate, rather than guzzles it like a drunken boor. While we have yet to achieve the 42 miles per gallon the EPA got in its tests of the VW, we do routinely average in the mid to high thirties—which is still good for a range well in excess of 400 miles, on a 14.5 gallon tank of fuel. Not bad for a four-door sedan easily capable of 130 miles per hour, with more than enough room for four passengers and a huge trunk. Another of the Jetta’s amenities gave us cause for a smile the other day. Needing to retrieve something from the Volkswagen, and finding the serenely gracious Mrs. Me napping peacefully, I didn’t want to disturb her to get the Jetta’s key from her purse. (Here, I need to add, I’m old school. I believe a man does not go into a woman’s purse—ever, under any circumstances—period.) So rather than wake her, I took her purse out to the car with me, knowing the keyless entry system would do its thing once the bag got close to the car with the key in it. And of course, when I came back into the house, she was awake and standing there

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Written by Lyndon Conrad Bell

12 with a quizzical expression on her always-pleasant face. ”Honey, why do you have my purse?” she asked. “I needed something out of the Jetta, and you were asleep.” I responded—as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Shaking her head at her southern-bred husband’s incredibly chivalrous (and, in this case, incredibly ingenious) ways, she took her bag and walked away laughing. So yes, our Jetta is a source of never ending smiles here in the Bell household. The car does everything asked of it—and more. It looks great, and we haven’t had one bit of trouble out of it. Whether on the highway at speed, or simply parked out in front of our house, our long term 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is a continual source of joy.

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Buick Regal GS gives you 6 months of Turn-by-Turn Navigation from OnStar* and a 270-horsepower ECOTEC engine that accelerates from 0-60 in under 7 seconds. Can speed-reading courses for OnStar Advisors be far behind? Discover more at

*Visit for coverage map, details and system limitations. ©2011 General Motors. All rights reserved. Buick ® Buick emblem® ECOTEC® OnStar ® Regal®


2011 Volvo S60 T5 What Is That?

Written by karen Payton

On our recent drive from DC to Miami, our long-term test Volvo turned heads everywhere we went. In fact, “What is that?” was the single most asked question of us while we were driving the Volvo S60 T5 around the country this summer. Which, in my view, begs the question—why is it so few people recognize this vehicle, and are so surprised once they’re told it’s a Volvo? Even after seeing the distinctive Volvo badging on the car, they still ask, “Is this really a Volvo?” Of course, the vibrant copper metallic paint our S60 wears so proudly on its curvaceously sexy body is partly responsible for all the attention. And it all began on the Internet. At Volvo’s website, we specified the configuration of our S60’s options and priced the car out. Volvo makes it really easy—you can do it in four steps. Simply pick your color, wheels, upholstery and options. The site gives you a summary and a price quote and then it’s off to a dealer in your area. While Volvo has always been hailed for its safety and family friendliness, it hasn’t really been synonymous with style and pizzazz. With this S60, Volvo has managed to accomplish all of the above. And, it drives just as well as it looks. Our S60 has really quick pick up, which makes it great for easing in and out of traffic and attacking onramps. Urban dwellers will also appreciate its tight turning radius when whipping U-turns in traffic. The iPod/MP3 accessory is a lifesaver on long drives, enabling the personalization of entertainment. And, while our Volvo is super sexy and oh so chic, its safety features are quite remarkable too. The S60’s Pedestrian Protection System is revolutionary and will save thousands of lives outside the vehicle. For those inside the car, the S60’s side air bags, impact protection system, energy absorbing frontal structure, head restraints, and whiplash protection inspire a lot of confidence. All in all, we’re loving our Volvo experience. With that said, according the KP rating system, our 2011 Volvo S60 T5 rates, in the following categories:

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Swagger: From grandparents to teens, we were stopped and asked what we were driving, again and again, from DC to Miami. The car has mass appeal. Safety: It’s a Volvo, OK? Comfort: Even the back seat accommodates just about any sized male comfortably. Pricing: Yes, it’d be nice if it were more affordable, but hey, it’s worth the price.

decisive aa auto fall 2011 final lo res single pages  

Urban Wheel Awards Named North American International Auto Show official Multicultural Event All The Best New Cars, Trucks & Motorcycles...

decisive aa auto fall 2011 final lo res single pages  

Urban Wheel Awards Named North American International Auto Show official Multicultural Event All The Best New Cars, Trucks & Motorcycles...