2012 Kia Rio

AUSTIN, Texas — Kia continues to make a statement at each of its new car launches; be it a mid-sized sedan or a B-segment sub-compact. Here in Texas hill country Kia put its growing equity on the line with an all-new B-segment Rio three trim level hatch and sedan equipped with a 1.6-liter Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) four-cylinder engine with the option of either a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or six-speed automatic.

2012 Kia Soul

AUSTIN, Texas — Three years ago Kia introduced an iconic little hatchback called the Soul that has now become the segment-leading compact crossover. For 2012 Soul has been refreshed and enhanced with new technologies, increased horsepower and if it’s possible, a more fun-to-drive demeanor. True to its funky ways Soul comes in three trim levels: Soul Base; Soul +; and Soul !.

Honda Civic — Still offers a bang for the buck

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Honda Civic has been one of our favorite compact cars standing head and shoulders above the competition in several areas including styling, build quality, driving dynamics and resale value. For years the Civic was in a league of its own.
Now Honda has released an all-new ninth-generation Civic and it remains an appealing brand. After initial drives of all models with the exception of the natural gas edition, and after spending time on home turf with a top-line sedan, we continue to believe the Civic a “can’t go wrong” purchase.

Ford Focus — A world car at home in North America

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Ford knocked it out of the park 12 years ago with the first Focus compact car, a car that was clearly an equal to the best that the industry had to offer at the time. But Ford allowed its advantage to slip away over the years failing to make the necessary investment to keep up with the competition.
Now we have a new Focus, a “world car” sold in virtually every market including North America, Europe and Asia that puts Ford back at the top tier of the compact segment. The 2012 Focus is stylish, well made, endowed with up-to-date technology, engaging to drive, and fuel efficient. 

2012 Toyota Camry

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In these times where cutting-edge styling seems to be in vogue, Toyota elected to play it safe with its all-new 2012 Camry; Camry has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for 12 of the past 13 years. The 2012 version is significantly improved in several areas, but will that be enough to keep it on top wrapped in plain brown paper?

Mazda5 — The essence of a 'mini' van

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Mazda5 is currently the only vehicle in the U.S. that truly lives up to the name “minivan.” The standard minivans of today are big vehicles, nothing mini about them, designed to haul large numbers of passengers and large amounts of cargo.
The thing is not everyone looking for some extra space needs the size, large price tag and diminished gas mileage that the standard-sized minivans offer. But they desire the space and utility of a minivan design. The Mazda5 has all the traits of a typical minivan including sliding rear doors, a third-row seat, rear seats that fold flat creating a large cargo area, and the driving dynamics of a car.

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350

RALEIGH, N.C. — The 2012 SLK350 — the first offering in the sports car's third iteration — has entered the marketplace and comes with a new performance-strong 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Other engines are on the way, but the new direct-injection V-6 gives the SLK a just-right performance persona.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-250

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Question: What’s the last thing you thought you’d ever see? A) a Unicorn; B) a Jewish delicatessen opening up in Tehran; C) the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series; or D) a Mercedes-Benz with a four-cylinder engine. If you answered anything but D you’re way off. Mercedes-Benz has always been associated with luxurious, performance automobiles — those that spend most of the time cruising the Autobahn at 135 mph (and slightly slower on North American freeways).

Ford Mustang GT Convertible — Get saddled up!

By Al Vinikour

Is there no end to where Ford Motor Company will go that allows so many to find the Fountain of Youth that eluded Ponce de Leon? The latest example is the 2012 Mustang Convertible.

Those of us of a “certain age” vividly recall the original debut of the 1964 Mustang at the New York World’s Fair. It begat generations of personalized sporty-type cars and Ford hasn’t let off any in developing new head-turners.

Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport Coupe — Getting into the game

By Al Vinikour

There’s a great line in the movie Patton where George C. Scott and his battle staff are being attacked by some enemy aircraft while they’re sitting in a meeting with their British counterparts. After a few minutes of this Patton said, “That’s about enough!” and proceeds to walk outside, take out his pistol and shoot at the aircraft as they made their next run.
This scenario must have occurred to Mercedes-Benz management as they have sat back for years watching sales for smaller luxury coupes going to BMW. Truth was, Mercedes didn’t have one. They do now and while late getting into the game they sure are making up for lost time.