Audi A3: 2006-’13
April 30, 2018

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Audi A3: 2006-’13</br>April 30, 2018

The A3 proved to be an excellent introductory model for the Audi line. Not surprisingly, there was a reasonable amount of stowage space in back and the rest of the interior was clean and uncluttered. The standard 200-horsepower turbo four-cylinder was a smooth-running jewel of an engine with enough spunk to propel the A3 to 60 mph from zero in 6.5 seconds (according to Audi). The optional 250-horsepower V6 made the Audi even quicker, while the torquey TDI’s arrival turned the car into quite the fuel miser.

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Jeep Patriot: 2007-’17
March 26, 2018

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Jeep Patriot: 2007-’17</br>March 26, 2018

The Patriot and the Compass compact utility models joined the Jeep lineup for the 2007 model year, using the same platform and running gear as the equally new Dodge Caliber hatchback. A 172-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder was the sole powerplant for first-year models and was joined by a new base 158-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder for 2008. Both directed torque to the front or all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission or available continuously variable unit (CVT).

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Mazda RX-8: 2004-’11
March 5, 2018

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Mazda RX-8: 2004-’11</br>March 5, 2018

Introduced for the 2004 model year, the RX-8 was the latest in a line of Mazda?s rotary-powered vehicles that dated back to the early 1960s. The RX-8 succeeded the two-seater RX-7 sports car that was available in North America for the 1993-?95 model years. The RX-8 accommodated four passengers and provided access to the rear seats via a pair of rear-hinged ‘freestyle doors’ that could be operated only when the front doors were opened. A 1.3-liter twin-rotor engine delivered 238 horsepower for models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

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Acura RDX: 2007-’12
February 12, 2018

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Acura RDX: 2007-’12</br>February 12, 2018

Acura introduced the RDX in mid-2006 to compete with other premium all-wheel-drive compact wagons such as the BMW X3, Infiniti EX, Land Rover LR2 and the Lexus RX350. The five-passenger RDX was equipped with a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that was exclusive to this vehicle. A five-speed automatic transmission was standard.

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Toyota FJ Cruiser: 2007-’14
January 22, 2018

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Toyota FJ Cruiser: 2007-’14</br>January 22, 2018

The FJ was a true-blue crevice-crawling, boulder-bounding, body-on-frame retro-warrior that was enjoyed by off-road enthusiasts. Design touches linking the FJ to its past included circular headlights, wrap-around rear glass and signature two-tone paint. The rear access doors opened clamshell style for easier cargo loading/unloading and the flexible fender trim was damage resistant and provided door-ding protection.

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Chevrolet Cruze: 2011-’15
November 20, 2017

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Chevrolet Cruze: 2011-’15</br>November 20, 2017

The Chevrolet Cruze arrived at a time when General Motors was still getting back on its feet following the 2009 bankruptcy and subsequent government bailout. The compact sedan replaced the so-so Cobalt, minus the two-door coupe model. A 138-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine was standard, while a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder was optional. It also made 138 horsepower, but considerably more midrange torque. For 2014, a 151-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-diesel was added.

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Mini Cooper: 2007-’13
November 6, 2017

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Mini Cooper: 2007-’13</br>November 6, 2017

The original Mini Cooper delivered plenty of driving fun and its replacements have continued that tradition. The car’s low center of gravity and wide stance minimized body lean while cornering. Steering was ultra-quick and responsive. Likewise, shifting the standard-issue six-speed manual transmission was a treat (it was designed by BMW, after all). A six-speed automatic was optional.

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BMW 1 series: 2008-’13
October 9, 2017

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BMW 1 series: 2008-’13</br>October 9, 2017

Until the 1 series arrived, the smallest BMW (excluding the Z4 roadster) was the 3 series sedan. The 1 series’ base price was about $7,500 less than a comparable 3 series coupe. The 1’s compact footprint also gave it a sportier ‘feel’ even though it weighed only about 100 pounds less than a 3 coupe. Both non-turbo and turbo six-cylinder engines were sprightly performers, but the higher output 135i was the swiftest by far.

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Chrysler Town & Country: 2011-’16
September 4, 2017

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Chrysler Town & Country: 2011-’16</br>September 4, 2017

Minivans are all about functionality, first and foremost, and in that department the T & C excelled. But it also added more than a splash of luxury, which is what differentiated it from the similar, but more humble, Grand Caravan. For maximizing load volume, the second-row Stow ‘n Go feature made the second-row bench seat disappear beneath the floor, while the third-row seat could be equally well hidden.

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Mini Countryman: 2011-’16
August 7, 2017

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Mini Countryman: 2011-’16</br>August 7, 2017

The largest model in the Mini fleet joined the Clubman wagon and the smaller Mini Cooper hatchback and convertible models for the 2011 model year. The four-door Mini Cooper Countryman (its official title) was 16 inches longer than the two-door Mini Cooper and about 6.5 inches longer than the Clubman. The Countryman’s body was also significantly taller. Engine choices consisted of a 121-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder and for the S models a 181-horsepower turbocharged version.

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