Lexus CT 200h

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | comments

Lexus CT 200h 2013

Lexus CT 200h Prices :

MSRP: $31,850 - $31,850
Invoice: $30,228 - $30,228

The 2013 Lexus CT 200h ranks 8 out of 10 Upscale Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 16 published reviews and test drives of the Lexus CT 200h, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Although reviewers complain about 2013 Lexus CT 200h’s underpowered engine and lackluster interior, its fuel economy and reliability ratings are two of the best in the class.

Together, the 2013 Lexus CT 200h’s four-cylinder engine and electric motor make just 134 horsepower. According to reviewers, this meager horsepower rating translates to poor acceleration, but it’s important to remember that as a hybrid, the CT 200h prioritizes fuel efficiency. It achieves an EPA-estimated 43/40 mpg city/highway, which is very good for the class. The CT 200h is only available with a continuously variable transmission. This hybrid also has four selectable driving modes, and test drivers say that the Sport mode delivers the best performance because steering is firmer. Still, they’re disappointed with CT 200h’s handling in Sport mode, and say it isn’t as responsive as they’d like. "Our overall impression is of a car that's only a bit more nimble than the hybrid norm and not nearly as sporty as Lexus would like you to believe," says Consumer Guide.

The 2013 CT 200h hatchback seats five, and like most small cars, the rear seats are cramped for adults. Cargo space is good for a hybrid hatchback. Test drivers find the CT 200h’s interior quality and confusing features disappointing. Some say the materials Lexus uses aren’t as opulent as the ones used in the CT 200h’s rivals. Additionally, critics find the CT 200h’s controls and navigation system frustrating to use.

Audi A4 Wagon

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Audi A4 Wagon 2012

Audi A4 Wagon Prices :

MSRP: $36,400 - $36,400
Invoice: $33,852 - $33,852

The 2012 Audi A4 Wagon ranks 3 out of 6 Luxury Wagons. This ranking is based on our analysis of 27 published reviews and test drives of the Audi A4 Wagon, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Reviewers like the 2012 Audi A4 wagon for its upscale interior and balanced performance.

The 2012 Audi A4 Avant (which is Audi-speak for wagon) doesn’t excel in any one area, but according to most reviewers, it’s a well-rounded package that most luxury wagon shoppers should take a look at. Though it’s not the sportiest wagon in the class, reviewers say that it does offer a pleasing balance of power and fuel economy as well as  a sporty yet comfortable ride. The A4 Avant also earns points for offering features like all-wheel drive and leather upholstery standard; most competitors charge extra for those features.

Like most Audi models, reviewers say the 2012 A4 Avant features a well-built cabin with top-notch materials.  However, they complain that some of the electronics are confusing, the backseat is cramped for adults and that the cargo space isn’t as large as what some competitors offer. If you’re looking for a luxury wagon and want something that does lots of things well, but can deal with it not being a standout in any one area, the A4 Avant deserves a look.

Audi A4

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Audi A4 2013

Audi A4 Prices :

MSRP: $32,500 - $49,000
Invoice: $30,227 - $45,570

The 2013 Audi A4 ranks 6 out of 21 Upscale Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 36 published reviews and test drives of the Audi A4, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

A veritable Swiss Army knife among upscale cars, reviewers agree that the 2013 Audi A4 offers a mix of performance, fuel economy and luxury that’s difficult to match.

The base 2013 Audi A4 comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s paired with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while all-wheel drive is available. Although the A4 is less powerful than a number of cars in the class, reviewers remain impressed by its refined drivetrain, balanced handling and great fuel economy. At an EPA-estimated 24/31 mpg city/highway, the base A4 gets better fuel economy than a number of upscale midsize cars. If you’re looking for more power, the 2013 Audi S4 builds on the A4’s performance attributes with standard all-wheel drive and a more powerful supercharged V6 engine. On balance, reviewers agree that while the S4 has outstanding performance capabilities, it’s not as quick or nimble as rivals like the BMW M3.

Audi has a reputation for designing some of the finest interiors on the market, and in general, reviewers agree that the 2013 A4 upholds that image. One reviewer mentions that some plastic trim wasn’t quite up to snuff, but most agree that the cabin is well thought out with high-quality materials. Most reviewers think that the standard leather seats are comfortable up front, though some mention a shortage of legroom in the back seat. New features for 2013 include a revised MMI infotainment system and a navigation system that can provide wireless Internet access. However, a vocal minority of critics say that the revised infotainment system could be more user-friendly.

Chevrolet Camaro

Monday, November 26, 2012 | comments

Chevrolet Camaro 2013

Chevrolet Camaro Prices :

MSRP: $23,345 - $59,545
Invoice: $22,411 - $57,163

The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ranks 8 out of 11 Affordable Sports Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 32 published reviews and test drives of the Chevrolet Camaro, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro offers great performance and attractive muscle-car looks, but reviewers are let down by the Camaro’s unrefined interior and poor visibility.

With engines that range from a 323-horsepower V6 to a 580-horsepower supercharged V8, reviewers agree that the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro has more than enough power, no matter which model you choose. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional across the model line. The V6-powered Camaro gets up to 19/30 mpg city/highway, which is about average for the class. Reviewers are generally impressed with the Camaro’s handling abilities, saying that it corners well for a car of its size. Some critics note that the Ford Mustang offers better all-around performance, but others maintain that the Camaro’s powerful engine choices and capable handling make it worthy of your consideration.

Like most sports cars, the Camaro has a small back seat and trunk, but some reviewers also note that the front seats don’t have much headroom, and that outward visibility is poor from the driver’s seat. If you’re shopping for a Camaro, you may want to consider adding optional features like parking sensors or a rearview camera to help alleviate this issue. Like the Mustang, some critics also say that the Camaro’s interior materials could use some improvement. Still, the Camaro offers standard Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, which is still optional in many rival sports cars.

Porsche 911 Carrera

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Porsche 911 Carrera 2012

Porsche 911 Carrera Prices :

MSRP: $82,100 - $108,000
Invoice: $73,710 - $97,020

The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera ranks 1 out of 5 Super Luxury Sports Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 10 published reviews and test drives of the Porsche 911 Carrera, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Thanks to its refinement, luxury and performance, the redesigned 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera is better than ever.

Since its introduction in 1963, the Porsche 911 has been winning the hearts of performance enthusiasts the world over. For 2012, Porsche revamped its formula, unveiling a new 911 Carrera that offers better performance and fuel economy, as well as a high-quality interior that takes design cues from the Porsche Panamera.

Overall, reviewers agree that the changes have taken the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera to a new level. “In quantifiable terms, it's leaps and bounds better than any previous 911,” writes Automobile Magazine. “It sounds even better, it rides even better, it feels even better, it's even more comfortable, better equipped, and it's far better looking.”

Some test drivers say, however, that the redesigned 911 Carrera has become so refined and easy to drive, that it’s lost some of the character that made the 2011 model unique among super luxury sports cars. That’s not really a bad thing, though, since the new 911 Carrera is more capable than the model it replaces in every way.

Available as a coupe or convertible, the redesigned Porsche 911 Carrera stays true to its performance heritage. It’s a little pricier than last year’s model, but new standard features such as navigation help balance the scales. So if you want an iconic sports car that combines thrilling performance with everyday usability, the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera deserves to be on your shopping list.

Chrysler 200

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Chrysler 200 2013

Chrysler 200 Prices :

MSRP: $18,995 - $32,595
Invoice: $18,770 - $31,127

The 2013 Chrysler 200 ranks 15 out of 19 Affordable Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 12 published reviews and test drives of the Chrysler 200, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Reviewers think an upgraded suspension and steering make the Chrysler 200 one of the most nimble cars in the class, but low fuel economy estimates keep it from ranking higher.

The 2013 Chrysler 200 sedan has a four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic (a six-speed automatic is available), or a V6 and six-speed automatic. The convertible offers the same engines, but the base four-cylinder model comes standard with the six-speed automatic. The base four-cylinder 200 sedan with the four-speed automatic gets 21/29 mpg city/highway, which is one of the lowest ratings in the class. Reviewers think the four-cylinder engine has adequate power, but they prefer the V6 for the strong acceleration it provides. Chrysler upgraded the 200’s steering and suspension for 2013, and auto critics are impressed. They say that the 200 is fun to drive on a windy road, and one test driver even says the handling is among the best in the class.

The cabin gets high marks from reviewers for its upscale materials and good build quality. Critics think the 200 sedan’s back seat is short on legroom, and they note that its trunk is on the small side for a midsize sedan. Although the 200 convertible has a smaller trunk than the 200 sedan, it is big for a convertible. Reviewers say that even with the top down, it can hold a few bags, which is rare for a hardtop convertible. Test drivers think the 200’s tech features are intuitive, with one saying the available navigation system is very easy to use. An auxiliary audio jack and heated fold-away mirrors are standard on the base model. The 200 can be equipped with features like navigation, a USB port, satellite radio, Bluetooth, remote engine start, Boston Acoustics speakers and Chrysler’s Uconnect voice-controlled touch-screen infotainment system.

Audi A3

Saturday, November 24, 2012 | comments

Audi A3 2013

Audi A3 Prices :

MSRP: $27,270 - $30,850
Invoice: $25,361 - $28,691

The 2013 Audi A3 ranks 3 out of 10 Upscale Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 109 published reviews and test drives of the Audi A3, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Though the 2013 Audi A3 has cramped rear seats, reviewers still think its ample cargo space and fuel-efficient diesel engine make it one of the more versatile models in its class.

The 2013 Audi A3 can come with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine or a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. Test drivers find that models with the standard gasoline engine are the most enjoyable to drive, but they’re also impressed with the diesel’s fuel economy ratings of 30/42 mpg city/highway, which is significantly higher than the base model’s 21/30 mpg. Both engines have a standard six-speed manual transmission, though a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is optional. Test drivers are satisfied with both transmissions, and report that they shift gears smoothly. They say that overall, the A3’s performance is characterized by sharp handling and comfortable ride quality.

While auto critics say they’re impressed with the Audi A3’s conservative, attractive cabin and quality materials, they note that its optional navigation system is confusing. The A3 also lacks features that are standard on many rivals, such as Bluetooth. A USB port is not available at all. Test drivers add that the five-seat Audi A3’s passenger accommodations may not satisfy all shoppers. The rear seats are cramped for adults, though that is a common complaint among upscale small cars. The front-row seats, however, offer plenty of room, and the A3 has a lot of cargo space for the class.

Fiat 500

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Fiat 500

Fiat 500 Prices

MSRP: $15,500 - $23,500
Invoice: $14,990 - $22,495

The 2012 Fiat 500 ranks 9 out of 43 Affordable Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 58 published reviews and test drives of the Fiat 500, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Many test drivers think the 2012 Fiat 500 is one of the most attractive small cars on the road, but when it comes to performance and functionality, they say there are much better choices.

The automotive press loves the Fiat 500 for its petite exterior and colorful, retro cabin. But when styling is placed on the backburner, there is a lot test drivers dislike about this small car’s powertrain, cabin space and some interior features. The Fiat 500’s engine has one of the lowest horsepower ratings in the class. Many reviewers say it’s powerful enough for the 500 to scoot around town, but taking the underpowered hatchback on the highway is a different story. Traveling at highway speeds, the 2012 Fiat 500 is easily overwhelmed by potholes and cross winds. The Fiat 500 Abarth, which is the performance model, is much faster, but reviewers say you may still find that it doesn’t thrive on the interstate, no matter how fast it goes. Inside, test drivers say the 2012 Fiat 500 has a very cramped second row, little cargo space, its fair share of cheap plastics and confusing voice-activated controls.

The 2012 Fiat 500 does have some perks, though. One is affordability. The 500 costs thousands less than the base Mini Hardtop, which is the 500’s main competitor. The Fiat 500’s cargo area won’t fit more than a few grocery bags, but the available space is commendable for the car’s small size.

Little engine power, a small cabin and modest cargo space can be deal breakers for shoppers looking for a small hatchback, but those who need a small car for driving to work or enough cargo space for a quick run to the grocery store should be satisfied.

Toyota Prius

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Toyota Prius 2012

Toyota Prius Prices

MSRP: $23,015 - $39,525
Invoice: $21,864 - $37,945

The 2012 Toyota Prius ranks 1 out of 19 Affordable Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 31 published reviews and test drives of the Toyota Prius, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

The 2012 Toyota Prius isn’t the fastest or best-handling car, but auto journalists say its excellent fuel economy ratings will appeal to green car shoppers.

Reviewers say that if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient car, the 2012 Toyota Prius should be high on your list. Its fuel economy ratings are some of the best in the industry, excluding all-electric cars. For 2012, Toyota introduced the all-new Prius Plug-in. Like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, the Prius Plug-in lets owners charge the battery by plugging it into a standard wall outlet. Reviewers like that the Prius Plug-in’s battery can be recharged in three hours or less, depending on the wall outlet’s voltage.

The 2012 Prius is well-liked by test drivers for its quiet cabin, spacious trunk, high-tech electronics and comfortable ride. The Prius gets knocked for its soft suspension, squishy brakes, numb steering and lackluster acceleration. The automotive press says that if fuel economy is your top priority, the Prius is a top contender and worth a test drive. However, if you’re looking for something engaging to drive, this isn’t the car for you. They say its hybrid powertrain is extremely boring when you’re behind the wheel.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

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Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford Fusion Hybrid Prices

MSRP: $28,775 - $28,775
Invoice: $26,437 - $26,437

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid ranks 1 out of 19 Affordable Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 36 published reviews and test drives of the Ford Fusion Hybrid, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid’s impressive performance, high-tech interior and good fuel economy make it a reviewer favorite.

Reviewers say that if you’re in the market for a midsize hybrid that performs like a gas-only car, you should look no further than the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Many auto writers say it’s not only their favorite Ford Fusion model, but some even say it’s the best hybrid on the market. Automobile Magazine says, “Overall I'd say this is the best mid-size hybrid you can buy."

The Fusion Hybrid is the 2012 U.S. News Best Hybrid Car for the Money. It won this award for its low long-term ownership costs and high praise from auto reviewers. Not only does the Ford Fusion Hybrid have good fuel economy, but it gives drivers an engaging experience behind the wheel. These qualities make it a good value in its segment. The Fusion Hybrid also won the 2012 U.S. News Best Hybrid Car for Families award for its roomy interior and family-friendly tech features.

Automotive reviewers think its only downsides are its small trunk and high base price. A few test drivers also noted some cheap interior materials. But if you’re shopping for a hybrid sedan, the Ford Fusion Hybrid should definitely be on your list.

Dodge Avenger

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Dodge Avenger 2012

Dodge Avenger Prices

MSRP: $18,995 - $25,995
Invoice: $18,740 - $24,800

The 2012 Dodge Avenger ranks 19 out of 19 Affordable Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 51 published reviews and test drives of the Dodge Avenger, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

With some of the worst four-cylinder fuel economy ratings in the class, test drivers think the 2012 Dodge Avenger can’t compete with other midsize cars.

With so many great midsize cars that stand out for their modern styling, fuel-efficient engines and roomy interiors, it’s hard to get to the front of the pack. With its cramped back seat, small trunk, underpowered base engine and weak brakes, the 2012 Dodge Avenger stands out, but not in a good way. Additionally, the Avenger lacks standard tech features such as Bluetooth and iPod integration.

The 2012 Avenger does get high marks from test drivers for its optional V6 engine, which they say is powerful, smooth and quiet. Auto writers also like the Avenger’s use of high-quality interior materials, which they say help boost the perceived quality of the interior.

Overall, reviewers think the Dodge Avenger still has a long way to go to be on par with most affordable midsize cars. Since its price is in line with other midsize cars that reviewers think are much better, they suggest shopping the competition, where you’ll get more for your money.
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