Fiat 500 — It's amour

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

 We could see purchasing a 2012 Fiat 500 just to be different, perhaps even envied in some circles. It has that cool factor that comes — rarely — with some new and much-anticipated or much ballyhooed vehicles such as the first New Beetle when it hit the streets more than a decade ago.
But more than that — and there has to be more than that to maintain a long-term relationship, at least long enough to pay off the loan — the Fiat 500 proved to be just downright fun to drive.

2012 Hyundai Veloster

PORTLAND, Ore. — Veloster as a word means absolutely nothing. Think of it as a vehicular Seinfeld show. But get behind the wheel and you’ll be asking yourself, “Is there anything these Koreans can’t do?” A recent get-together with Hyundai’s all-new 2012 Veloster three-door coupe shed more light on this question and the answer is a qualified “no.”

2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost

 ROCHESTER, Mich. — Not far from this bucolic community, in the midst of some 3,800 acres lays Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds, with more than 100 miles of roadways and every kind of surface you could imagine. It is here that Ford tests all manner of current and future vehicles and it is here that we were able to test the 2012 Ford Explorer with EcoBoost. A four-cylinder version at that!

2012 Ford Edge EcoBoost

ROMEO, Mich. — Can the Ford EcoBoost deliver the advertised combination of solid performance and segment-leading gas mileage in the popular mid-sized crossover Ford Edge? After some seat time in the 2012 Edge with its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine at Ford's test facility here, we say yes.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

HERNDON, Va. — Many people would think the most successful single car design in history was the Ford Model T. Ergo, many people would be wrong. The Volkswagen Beetle overtook the Model T for that honor on Feb. 17, 1972.  Volkswagen is ready to market its third-generation Beetle in the United States this fall.

2012 Jeep Wrangler

PORTLAND, Ore. — There’s a great line in the hit movie Rambo where Col. Samuel Trautman, John Rambo’s commanding officer in Vietnam, addresses a comment by Brian Dennehy, a vicious local sheriff who is convinced that he can starve out the former Green Beret. Trautman says, “I’ve seen John Rambo eat things that would make a Billy goat puke.” By comparison we’ve seen the 2012 Jeep Wrangler do things that would make a mountain goat envious.

2012 Volvo S60 R-Design

YOUNTVILLE, Cailf.  — Volvo engineering has always been front and center about safety; performance and style not so much, although Volvo has had a tad of success with both when you take a look back.

Ford Mustang 302 — The Boss is back

By Jim Meachen

With the approaching high-mileage regulations we may eventually see the end of affordable muscle cars, those rumbling V-8 ground pounders that get the blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing. 

But that’s in the future. For the time being we are very happy to say the true unadulterated muscle lives on at the Detroit Big Three.

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

DETROIT — It used to be assumed that Buick was allied with the Mercury Grand Marquis as having initiated the “Final Purchase Plan.” Well, the Grand Marquis is history, and so is the stodginess so rightly or wrongly associated with one of GM’s stellar brands. Case in point is the all-new 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist Technology.

2012 Mercedes M-Class

MISSOULA, Mt — Vehicle classification doesn’t seem to be a perfect science but under the circumstances it’s probably as good as it’s going to get. However, sometimes confusion reigns. Case in point is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV.