Breaking Stereotypes…Vehicles That Surprise!

It’s not too often that you find yourself saying: “All This for That Price Tag?” See which vehicles did…

Subaru says BRZ stands for Boxer engine, Rear-wheel drive and Zenith.  And that translates to fun-to-drive with superior handling.  The BRZ has all the hallmarks of a sports car from the trunk spoiler to the sport-tuned suspension.  And purists will love that it comes standard with a manual transmission.  The 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine puts out 205 hp and 156 lb-foot of torque.  Quick, yes, but Subaru didn’t design the BRZ to be the fastest thing on the track; the intention is to deliver both compelling cornering and compelling value.  Our test model with the optional Performance Package including the Brembo® performance braking system, Sachs® performance dampers and 17 x 7.5-inch multi-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels with black finish was still remarkably shy of $30k

Younger drivers looking for an affordable way to own a BMW, and those who can’t live without their Ultimate Driving Machine® experience but are looking to scale down, will both find their answer in the BMW X1. BMW’s smallest and most affordable utility vehicle offers a surprisingly spacious feeling inside its cabin and cargo areas and comes standard with a lot of things that others don’t.  We drove the xDrive28i (all-wheel-drive) model powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and delivering 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.  Our AWD model also came with hill descent control—impressive!  With nice, smooth acceleration, a cabin that is hands-down the most elegant in its segment, and flying high in the safety ratings, compact luxury crossover shoppers must check out the X1 starting at $35,100.

Infiniti’s Q50 Red Sport 400 may be just the balance of luxury and sport that sedan-shoppers are looking for.  Its 400 hp V6 engine with 350 lb-ft of torque drives power through the rear wheels to make this Q50 model a standout in acceleration tests.  Wider rear tires and red brake calipers will remind everyone it’s a sports model, while the drive is pleasant and intuitive enough to keep its place in the luxury line-up.  It starts at $51,000.  Our test model added a Sensory Package including a Bose audio system and an upgraded climate control system; a Proactive Package also added adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and Direct Adaptive Steering.  These packages plus several other add-ons made it a little over $60k—still competitive against the M or AMG series European rivals that the Q50 is most often compared to.

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