NOVEMBER 2011 www.consumerreports.org
Volkswagen Passat summer 2012 The redesigned Passat is larger than the previous version. The interior looks solid, with a soft-touch dash and switches, buttons and knobs that it shares with the well-executed Touareg. A 170-hp five-cylinder is the base engine, which is also found in the )etta. The higher-end engine is a 280-hp V6. A 140-hp 2.0-liter diesel that Volkswagen says will get 43 mpg on the highway will be available. Allwheel drive will be optional. BOTTOM LINE. If Volkswagen’s new emphasis on value pricing doesn’t cut corners, then the new Passat might be a solid competitor. But it has lost some of the sharpness of its predecessors.
Chevrolet Malibu early 2012 The Chevrolet Malibu’s redesign shares underpinnings with the Buick Regal, an agile and well-finished car that did quite well in our road tests. The new Malibu is a bit wider than before, but its wheelbase is about 4.5 inches shorter. The primary engine is a 190-hp four-cylinder, but a mild hybrid system called eAssist, Chevrolet claims, yields 26 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway. BOTTOM LINE. The Malibu will come up against some stiff competition in this segment from midsized stalwarts such as the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry. But if the Malibu retains the Buick Regal’s ride, handling, and interior quality, it should become a strong competitor. Notably, the new Malibu won’t be offered w ith a V6 engine.
Audi A6 summer 2012 TheA6 redesign features lighter aluminum body panels and a direct-injection 310-hp 3.0-literV6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission to help improve fuel economy. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 211 hp paired with a CVT. The front wheels have been moved farther forward, allowing for more cabin room, and the MMI driver-interaction system is said to be a bit easier to operate. Available gadgets include a color heads-up display, a night-vision display, and LED headlights. BOTTOM LINE. It’s significant that Audi and BMW are bringing four-cylinder engines to their elite sedans.
This is a magazine redesign I purposed for Consumer Reports.