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Bland To Best-In-Class
Although the Malibu might be one of Chevrolet's brightest and best today, it wasn't always like that. The 2003-2008 Malibu had good intentions (it sure was better than the generation before it), but the slab-sided sedan never felt quite big enough, not was the interior up to snuff. Chevy stuck with it for six years, though.
MSRP: $21,605 - $26,880
Fuel Economy: 30 mpg Hwy, 22 mpg City
The award winning Chevrolet Malibu emphasizes civilized road manners, quality construction and practicality, with clean, contemporary styling.
The 2010 Malibu has three trim levels: LS, LT, and LTZ. All models come with a 169-hp, 2.4-liter E85-compatible four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. The LS includes a four-speed automatic transmission. The LT and LTZ include a six-speed automatic transmission. Optional on the LT and LTZ is a 252-hp, 3.6-liter V6, matched with a six-speed automatic. The Malibu comes with standard safety features such as seat-mounted thorax airbags, side-curtain airbags, stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. Bluetooth is standard on the LTZ, optional on the LT. New for 2010, driver power lumbar is standard on all trims.The distinctive and classy Chevrolet Malibu carries over from 2009.
Wither the Ford Taurus. After an incredible launch in the 1980s, the Taurus became the iconic mid-size sedan for America. But, through the years Ford tended to keep the Taurus safe, never really innovating on the concept or breaking new ground. Through the years the car got stale and, frankly, a little pudgy around the midsection. It was in desperate need of fitness plan to get it back in shape; sadly Ford euthanized the brand name after the 2007 model year.All was not lost, though: Ford's new CEO brought the name back and rebadged the Five Hundred as the Taurus.
MSRP: $25,170 - $37,170
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy/18 mpg City
The 2010 Taurus is Ford's new flagship that offers full-size car interior dimensions, luxury car interior quietness, a top safety rating as well as advanced technology, to give it's owners confidence on the road.
The front-wheel or all-wheel drive Taurus is powered by a 263-hp 3.5-liter direct injection V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with the option of steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The Taurus redesign also marks the return of the SHO performance model, powered by a twin-turbo version of the 3.5-liter V6, it produces 365-hp and channels that through standard all-wheel drive and a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety features include electronic stability and traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, six airbags, ignition disable and post-crash SOS alert. There are many kinds of technology features available such as Cross Traffic Alert, Collision Warning, MyKey parental features, SYNC, capless refueling, touch-pad keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, rain-sensing wipers and intelligent keyless entry.For 2010, the Taurus has been completely restyled inside and out with an all-new sculpted and athletic exterior.
The Cadillac Catera was "the Caddy that zigs," playing off a creative add campaign that saw sporty ducks as the brand's new iconic character statement. Although the Catera had its roots in a rather exciting little European sedan, Americans never took to the small entry-level sedan. BMW still ate its lunch and many wondered if Cadillac could ever get is luxury groove back.
MSRP: $36,560 - $40,760
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg Hwy/16 mpg City
The next-generation Cadillac CTS is a small sedan that promises more horsepower, optional all-wheel-drive, an impressively finished benchmark interior and one large dose of style.
The 2009 CTS comes standard with 17-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, with 18-inch wheels available as an option. Feature highlights include a standard Bose audio system with eight speakers and both USB and auxiliary MP3-player jacks. The standard engine in North America is a four-cam, variable valve-timing 3.6-liter V6 generating 263 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. An optional direct-injection version of the 3.6-liter V6, with 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque is also available. Transmission choices include a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual, and a variable-torque full-time all-wheel-drive system can be added to either engine.For 2009, the Cadillac CTS carries over from 2008.
The Buick Rendezvous is clearly a vehicle that was created before Google. Nobody in their right mind would launch a vehicle with such a hard to spell name (although we suppose that hasn't stopped VW with its Touareg and Tiguan models). But the Rendezvous wasn't just an odd name, it shared its platform with the infamous Pontiac Aztek. The half-minivan/half-SUV centaur should have existed as a mythical beast and not as a real vehicle.
MSRP: $35,165 - $43,695
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg Hwy/17 mpg City
The Buick Enclave combines the smooth ride and responsive handling of a car with the cargo capability and high seating position of a sport utility vehicle.
The Enclave is available in two trims; CX and XL. Both feature a contemporary design that incorporates trademark styling cues associated with Buicks of the past. Both are available with a front-wheel drive (FWD) or an all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration. The interior features two front bucket seats and two different seating configurations for the second and third row seats accommodating a maximum of eight passengers. A direct injection 3.6-liter V6 engine is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Enclave offers a luxurious interior with an extensive list of features and amenities.For 2010, the CXL trim becomes the XL trim and the CX trim now features standard 19" wheels and tires.
Chrysler had a hold on the minivan market decades ago, such that few people considered there would ever be another competitor. But much like Ford with its Taurus, Chrysler seemed to rest on its laurels over the years, allowing competitors like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna to steal its buyers. Even as late as 2007, the Chrysler minivan was rather ho-hum, and the bloom came off the rose.
MSRP: $26,340 - $36,780
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg Hwy/17 mpg City
Chrysler puts a luxurious spin on the minivan with the Town & Country. Innovative seating and upscale features inside and out set this van apart from the competition.For those that don't know, the most important feature, both from a usability stand-point and competitive stand-point, is that this van features Stow'n Go seats. What that means is that all the seats can be folded into the floor. No more fumbling to release and remove awkward heavy seats and then try to find a suitable place to store them. Combine this with Chrysler's new YES Essentials seat trim that repels all but the most caustic stains, and you have a truly family-friendly vehicle. The base trim is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 175 horsepower mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The Touring model uses a more powerful 197 horsepower 3.8-liter V6, while the Limited is equipped with a 251 horsepower 4.0-liter V6. Both the Touring and Limited use a six-speed automatic. All trims come equipped with a tilting steering column, remote keyless entry and a tire pressure monitor.
Hyundai launched their mini sport utility vehicle in 2001 and, truth be told, it wasn't that great. A spartan interior, a rather underpowered engine and a lumpy design made for an interesting driving experience. While some buyers were willing to see past its flaws, the market at large considered the cute ute to be an also-ran.
MSRP: $21,695 - $30,545
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg Hwy/17 mpg City
The Santa Fe crossover is a stylish family vehicle that has the ability to transport up to seven passengers when properly equipped.
The Santa Fe is available in front- or all-wheel drive, both with three trim levels: GLS, SE, and Limited. Power for the GLS trim comes from a 185-hp 2.7-liter V6 engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission on the front-wheel drive, and a four-speed automatic with the all-wheel drive. The SE and Limited trims receive a 242-hp 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety features include six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control with traction control, active front head restraints, and tire pressure monitoring system.For 2009, the Santa Fe receives minor standard equipment and packaging changes.
The Infiniti G20 was, like many near-luxury sedans of the 1990s, made to compete against the iconic BMW 3-Series sedan. The G20 was Infinit's entry-level model but it did come standard with a good amount of interesting features. However, it always seemed a little too much like its Nissan corporate brethren and didn't make a credible competitor for the stalwarts of the business. It was never a serious competitor.
MSRP: $33,250 - $43,900
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg Hwy/18 mpg City
For 2009, Infiniti introduces a new G37 folding hardtop convertible and the Infiniti G37 sedan receives the updated 3.7L engine already in the G37 coupe. This is a significant and attractive improvement with more horsepower and a luxurious, quiet ride. New for 2009 is a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The G37 is named for its 3.7-liter V6 engine, available with between 325 and 330 horsepower depending on model. This smooth, powerful engine comes with a new seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. A rear-wheel drive car, the G37 comes in Base, Journey, and Sport 6MT trims. The styling is aggressive yet subtle with abounding curves and the G series heritage is apparent in both design and performance. Standard safety features include six airbags, traction control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Optional is an intelligent cruise control system that matches the speed of the car ahead and an upgraded audio system with Bose sound.New in 2008, the G37 coupe is a carryover for 2009. Brand new for 2009 is a G37 folding hardtop convertible. Carrying over from 2008, the G37 sedan includes the updated 3.7L V6 for 2009.
The S-Type was one of the first fruits of Ford's ownership of the Jaguar brand. Sadly, what started with great intentions never materialized to more than what many considered to be a devaluing of the established and iconic British brand. The company attempted to up the ante by increasing the power of the S-Type and releasing more performance-oriented packages for the car, but it never amounted to much. The S-Type never amounted to an also-ran in the luxury sedan game.
MSRP: $51,150 - $79,150
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg Hwy/15 mpg City
Stepping away from the traditional Jaguar design, the XF is Jaguar's new four-door sports sedan with a fresh modern look.
The XF comes in three trims: Base, Premium and XFR. The Base model is powered by a 300-hp 4.2-liter V8 engine. Premium models receive 385-hp from a new 5.0L V8. The XFR model adds a supercharger to the new 5.0L V8 to produce a whopping 500-hp. All engines send power to the rear wheels via a new 6-speed automatic transmission featuring Jaguar Sequential Shift and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Safety features for all models include dual-stage front, seat-mounted side and side-impact curtain airbags, active head restraints, and a tire pressure monitoring system.For 2010, the Base model receives standard voice-activated navigation, heated front seats, 6-disc in-dash CD changer and Sirius satellite radio. The Premium model receives standard Bi-Xenon headlights, blind spot monitor, front and rear parking aid with camera, cooled front seats, 6-disc in-dash CD changer and Sirius satellite radio. The XKR standard features now include 18-way power driver and 14-way power passenger seats, a heated steering wheel, HD radio, and adaptive cruise control.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class never really lost its way, but sure did fade into the background for a few years. The eighth generation model was created during a dark era in Mercedes's history, when the company joined at the hip with Chrysler and its legendary quality took a nosedive. The E-Class seemed to suffer from a lack of focus as well, with a tepid exterior design and feeling that the mid-to-full-size sedan wasn't as important as the company's other projects.
MSRP: $48,050 - $56,300
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg Hwy/17 mpg City
The E-Class sedans and wagons are redesigned for 2010. They are solid, safe, comfortable, luxurious, and fast. New for 2010, the E- Class Coupe is a sporty, dynamic, and distinctive coupe with a classic Mercedes design.
Rear-wheel drive E-Class sedans are available in four models, the E350 BLUETEC, E350, E550, and E63 AMG. The E350 and E550 are available with 4MATIC all-wheel drive and the E350 and E63 AMG are available as wagons. The new E-Class coupes are available with rear-wheel drive as the E350 and E550. All models include a seven-speed automatic transmission. A 3.0-liter 210-hp turbo-diesel V6 engine drives the E350 BLUETEC and a 268-hp, 3.5-liter gasoline V6 engine powers the E350. The E550 has a 382-hp, 5.5-liter V8 engine under the hood while the E63 AMG has a 507-hp, 6.3-liter V8 with AMG speedshift. The wagons in the class seat up to seven, the sedans seat five, and the coupe seats four. Multi-zone climate control is standard and all models come with a lengthy list of standard features.The E-class is redesigned for 2010 and includes the all new E-Class coupe.
It's difficult for cars to get bigger and better at the same time. Long appreciated for its nimble handling and fresh interior, the third-generation Nissan Altima went off course a bit as it grew and seemed to take on a bland character that seemed out of place. A light, disconnected steering feel and a large turning radius plagued the new Altima, although its sales numbers grew. Nissan was moving its Altima into a different place, but that transition was difficult.
MSRP: $19,900 - $29,380
Fuel Economy: 31 mpg Hwy, 23 mpg City
The front-wheel drive, five-passenger Nissan Altima combines performance and an attractive exterior as either a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan.
The Nissan Altima is powered by either a 175-hp 2.5-liter V6 or a 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 and the transmission choices include a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). The trims on the Altima include: the 2.5 Base (on the sedan only), the 2.5 S, the 3.5 SE and the 3.5 SL (on the sedan only). Safety features include: four-wheel disc brakes, anti-lock brakes on all trims except for the Sedan 2.5 Base, six airbags, front seat-belt pre-tensioners and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). The coupe's roofline is 2.6 inches lower than the sedan's and flows back into a long and nicely sculpted tail section that narrows between wide shoulders above prominent wheel arches. The suspension is tuned to provide the driver with a more nimble feel and heightened responsiveness.For 2009, the Nissan Altima Coupe and Sedan are a carryover.
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