The Toyota Camry is America’s best-selling sedan. So if you take this already proven platform, pile on luxury features and bestow it with buttery-smooth refinement, you’re bound to have a winner—and Lexus does with its ES 350. True, its styling is conservative—but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Leather-trimmed seating, a one-touch tilt/slide power glass moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats and a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel are all standard. In fact, the ES 350 only comes one way: loaded, with a variety of options and packages. A new limited-production ES Touring Package offers 17-in. wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, navigation, Saddle Tan leather and Brown Walnut wood trim.
From mild to wild, Mercedes offers E-Class models to suit everyone's fancy. The E350 sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon gain a new 3.5-liter 302-bhp direct-injection V-6 and 7-speed automatic. An unchanged BlueTEC diesel remains a sedan option. E550 models receive a new 402-bhp 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8. A wagon joins the sedan for the hot E63 AMG treatment including a new 518-bhp 5.5-liter V-8 and 7-speed MCT transmission. The former also features a panorama roof and rearview camera. E-Class safety, infotainment and luxury equipment varies by model. Convertibles are fitted with a 2-piece Aircap wind deflector to help reduce turbulence with the top down. Wagons have standard 7-passenger seating, a power tailgate and rear air suspension.
While Nissan's Versa sedan came in for a ground-up redo for 2012, the 5-door Hatchback version carries over from the 2011 model year with two models, S and SL. Perhaps to soothe hatchback fans, Nissan ups the ante by adding four new option packages for the S model and then making what was the Premium package now standard equipment on the SL edition. With that upgrade come such extras as the Bluetooth Hands-free phone system, the "Intelligent" key and 16-in. alloy wheels. Opt for the S version and you get the 122-bhp 1.8-liter twincam four with a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. SL models also have the 1.8 but are only fitted with the CVT transmission. Now the Vehicle Dynamic Control system is standard on both S and SL models.
The ILX is an all-new offering from Acura in the compact luxury sedan class. The ILX looks to provide an entry point into the Acura line-up for first-time luxury buyers.
The ILX buyer has a choice between two different powertrains, a 150-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired to a five-speed automatic with paddle shifters; or a more powerful 2.4-liter making 201-hp through a six-speed manual transmission. The ILX includes a long list of standard features such as keyless access with push-button ignition, heated exterior mirrors, aluminum wheels, speed sensing wipers, leather steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth cellular and audio connectivity, Pandora internet radio, power glass sunroof and a rearview camera. Standard safety features include electronic stability and traction control, active front head restraints, tire pressure monitoring, six airbags and anti-lock brakes with panic assist. Premium and Technology packages provide even more luxury features such as a navigation system with real-time traffic, HomeLink and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS sound system.
For 2014, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated seats and a power driver seat are standard equipment on the 2.0L trim.
Survival of the fastest; that’s the 911 Turbo’s storyline. As Zuffenhausen phases in the new 911, models such as the GT2 RS and various GT3s, which were based on the previous 911, are history. Only the Cabriolet, Targa, GTS and the all-wheel-drive versions of certain models carry over into 2012. Among them are the awd-only Turbo and Turbo S, which are also available as Cabrios. Because Turbos are the fastest Porsches, they’re worth a special mention. Both versions will do about 195 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds, thanks in part to their standard slick-shifting PDK gearbox. And while Turbos are pricey, nearly everything you’d want is standard. That makes them survivors. And keepers.