- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009


The 2009 Mazda CX-7 is a highly styled crossover sport utility vehicle. The five-passenger vehicle embodies a blend of sports car verve and SUV practicality.

Exterior elements include prominent front fenders, A-pillars rooted at the body’s leading edge, a sharply raked windshield and Mazda’s signature five-pointed grille.

Highlights of the CX-7 include turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine producing 244 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque; six-speed Sport A/T automatic transmission with manual mode; independent rear multilink suspension with stabilizer bar; 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires; and power windows with one-touch open/close on front windows, power locks and keyless entry with retractable key.

New or enhanced for 2009 include an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink and finishing improvements on the Grand Touring model, side turn signals integrated into the exterior mirror housings, dual heated front seats with power driver seat now available on Sport model; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; and dual illuminated vanity mirrors.

Inside, the CX-7 is sporty with a high degree of craftsmanship. To draw drivers inside, there’s a three-dial instrument cluster, a console supporting the shifter within close reach, three-spoke steering wheel and firmly contoured front bucket seats.

Base model estimated mpg: 17 city/23 highway

Estimated starting price: $23,900


The 2009 Mazda6 is an all-new four-door sedan offered in two basic series: the Mazda6 i, powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and the Mazda6 s, which is powered by a 3.7-liter V-6. The lineup also includes a comprehensive choice of equipment levels, interior colors and distinct interior trims.

Compared to the original Mazda6, the new edition rides on a 4.5-inch-longer wheelbase (109.8 inches) with wider front and rear track. Overall length is greater by 6.1 inches and width rises by 2.3 inches. Trunk volume has been increased by nearly 10 percent.

The new powertrains rise to the task of moving the new Mazda6 with authority. The Mazda6 i’s new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has 170-horsepower while the 3.7-liter V-6 in the new Mazda6 s produces a rousing 272 horsepower. Along with output gains ranging from 9 percent to 28 percent, fuel economy also rises.

Additional highlights on the 2009 Mazda6 include a new six-speed manual gear box as standard in the Mazda6 i; the Touring and Grand Touring models feature advanced keyless entry that automatically unlocks the doors upon approach and enables push-button starting. Also available are blind-spot monitoring system, rain-sensing wipers and Bluetooth audio and phone.

Estimated mpg: 20 city/29 highway

Starting price: $18,550


Mercedes-Benz is launching two new CLK Grand Edition models for the 2009 model year.

The Grand Edition CLK350 coupe comes in palladium silver paint complemented by a tobacco brown leather interior with beige stitching and aluminum trim. The Grand Edition version of the soft-top CLK350 cabriolet is finished in diamond white, the tobacco brown leather with beige stitching and dark brown ash wood trim. Both cars come with sport body styling and 18-inch AMG wheels. For 2009, all CLK models come with a standard-equipment six-disc CD changer and heated front seats.

In addition to the limited-production Grand Edition models, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK Class includes four fun-to-drive coupe and cabriolet models - the CLK550 coupe and cabriolet (powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 engine delivering 382 horsepower and 391 foot-pounds of torque) and the CLK350 coupe and cabriolet (with a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine).

The CLK550 features standard sport suspension and 18-inch five-twin-spoke AMG wheels. Available on the CLK350, the Sport package features 17-inch AMG five-spoke wheels for 2009, plus shorter springs for a slightly lower ride height and sport shocks for crisper handling as well as perforated brake discs and brake calipers that feature Mercedes-Benz branding.

Base model estimated mpg: 17 city/25 highway

Estimated starting price: $48,495


The E-Class line of full-size sedans and wagons features one of the broadest and most versatile range of models in the auto industry.

From the thrifty, super-clean E320 BlueTEC diesel to the high-performance E63 AMG, the E-Class offers the perfect car for an equally diverse range of consumer needs.

While E-Class luxury sedans and wagons can be identified by new seven-spoke 17-inch wheels for the 2009 model year, the E350 and E550 sport sedans now come with the popular AMG Sport Package as standard equipment.

The AMG package includes new five-spoke 18-inch AMG wheels, deeper front and rear aprons with dual exhaust pipes, lowered sport suspension and blue-tinted glass. Inside, the sport models reveal white gauges and an AMG steering wheel that’s complete with manual shift paddles.

The E320 BlueTEC features a purpose-built 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine with 210 horsepower and an astonishing 400 foot-pounds of torque, and the E350 uses the latest four-valve-per-cylinder V-6 engine that produces 268 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque.

Turning to the V-8 side of the E-Class family, the E550 model is powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 delivering 382 horsepower and 391 foot-pounds of torque, while the high-performance E63 AMG is fitted with a 6.3-liter V-8 that makes 507 horsepower and 465 foot-pounds of torque.

Base model estimated mpg: 23 city/32 highway

Estimated starting price: $55,075


The innovative R-Class sport utility vehicle boasts a timely new model for 2009. Joining the R350 gasoline-powered SUV, the fuel-sipping R320 BlueTEC diesel features a new AdBlue exhaust treatment system that helps the diesel meet the most stringent 50-state emissions limits.

The R320 BlueTEC is changing consumers’ perceptions about diesel engines - it has good performance, low exhaust emissions and delivers 20 percent to 30 percent better fuel economy. The V-8-like pulling power makes the R320 BlueTEC ideal for towing when equipped with a newly optional 3,500-pound Class II trailer hitch.

The R-Class cockpit features a four-spoke multifunction steering wheel with brushed aluminum accents on the lower spokes. The instrument cluster is designed with large chronometer gauges, and the console houses climate control and a new-for-2009 “Comand” system featuring a large 6.5-inch display screen with a standard in-dash, six-disc CD/DVD changer and a Bluetooth interface that allows a phone still in a pocket or purse to be operated through the car’s audio system.

With a sharp focus on design, comfort, space and performance, the R-Class is designed as a spacious, roomy vehicle with space for up to seven adults. Its standard sunroof or an optional panorama sunroof further contributes to its openness.

Base model estimated mpg: 18 city/24 highway

Estimated starting price: $48,525


The Mercury Mariner hybrid for 2009 brings an array of new features and technologies to strengthen its claim as America’s most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly sport utility vehicle.

For 2009, the hybrid model will use the new 2.5-liter I-4 designed to run on the Atkinson combustion cycle. A new engine processor enables nearly imperceptible transitions between gas and electric vehicle mode. The hybrid models also feature a new powertrain-damping system to reduce vibrations and feedback to the driver and other vehicle occupants. The hybrid’s braking system also has been refined for a more seamless transition from electric regenerative braking system to traditional braking operation.

The 2009 Mariner scores in both comfort and sustainability with the addition of new comfort-designed seats. The seats include soy-based foam that substitutes for petroleum-based products to conserve limited resources and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The 2009 Mariner hybrid features a standard 110V AC power outlet.

Base model estimated mpg: 34 city/31 highway

Estimated starting price: $29,750


The Mercury Mountaineer delivers impressive driving dynamics and refined interior choices, along with premium convenience and class-leading safety. It escapes the mainstream with many package choices that allow consumers to express their individuality and satisfy their personal needs.

Mountaineer offers the Sync - an industry-exclusive, voice-activated and hands-free in-car communications and entertainment system. The system integrates mobile phones and media players into the vehicle using Bluetooth technology and USB connectivity.

Mountaineer is available with either two-wheel or all-wheel drive. Design points on the Mountaineer capture its refined yet rugged sensibility. The signature Mercury waterfall grille is highlighted within the front-end design and accentuated with satin aluminum finish on the center of the front bumper. Clear taillamp lenses and a satin aluminum highlight on the rear bumper serve to integrate design from front to back.

A 4.0-liter V-6 with a five-speed automatic powers the Mountaineer. Premier models are available with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This V-8 features variable cam timing and creates a robust 292 horsepower and 300 foot-pounds of torque.

Base model estimated mpg: 14 city/20 highway

Estimated starting price: $27,225


The new Mercury Sable offers customers a sophisticated new look inside and out, a significantly quieter cabin, a more luxurious ride and a more powerful 3.5-liter V-6 engine.

Sable’s modern, distinctive look builds on the clean, modern design themes featured on the Mercury Milan and Mariner. Sable’s clean, integrated front-end design centers on Mercury’s signature satin aluminum waterfall grille, flanked by detailed jeweled projector beam headlamps that sweep up over the front fenders.

A core attribute of Mercury design is a modern, airy interior, complementing the clean exterior. With Sable, this design direction comes to life in two-tone interior trim with unique accents.

Standard cloth seats sport a modern graphic design while the Premier Series offers supple two-tone leather seats detailed with contrast stitching and featuring a new, more modern, perforated pattern.

Sable features an award-winning 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a sharp, six-speed transmission. The Duratec 35 engine produces 263 horsepower and 245 foot-pounds of torque. The available all-wheel-drive system features an electronically controlled center coupling that can distribute exact amounts of torque from front to rear, up to 100 percent to either axle.

Base model estimated mpg: 17 city/24 highway

Estimated starting price: $24,425


Stretching the wheelbase 9.5 inches in comparison to the Mini hardtop does nothing to diminish the go-kart-like driving characteristics of the 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman and Mini Cooper S Clubman.

The Mini Cooper Clubman has a 172-horsepower turbocharged engine and a 118-horsepower, naturally aspirated four-cylinder power plant.

The extra wheelbase is translated into additional leg room for rear passengers and the revised body work provides a bit more shoulder room for them as well. The most dramatic transformation comes in terms of luggage space: the Clubman offers 61 percent more space with the rear seats up or 37 percent more with both seats folded.

The Clubman’s split rear barn doors offer the most striking visual differentiator from the hardtop. It provides wide-open access to the luggage area.

Active safety is enhanced by the standard anti-lock brakes and dynamic stability control, standard on both Clubman models.

Additionally, new for 2009 and offered for the first time on a MINI is dynamic traction control, which is a sportier mode of dynamic stability control, optional on both models starting production in December 2009.

Base model estimated mpg: 28 city/37 highway

Estimated starting price: $20,200


The driving pleasure and individual style that are Mini’s signatures have been tapped to create the next-generation Mini convertible. With its evolutionary design and increased functionality, specially tuned suspension, powerful, efficient engines and enhanced safety technology, the latest version of the four-seat convertible raises the bar.

The 2009 Mini convertible’s durable soft top with integrated sliding roof function reliably protects driver and passengers from the elements when it is up. Allowing for spontaneous open-air motoring, the soft top lowers automatically in 15 seconds, even when the car is going as fast as 20 mph. The unique “Openometer” next to the tachometer challenges the driver to log as many top-down miles as possible by recording the hours spent open-air motoring.

The new Mini convertible offers versatility with its easy-load function, folding rear-seat backrests and generously sized loading between the luggage and passenger compartments, which increases the car’s cargo space to 23.10 cubic feet.

The Mini Cooper convertible comes equipped with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine featuring fully variable valve management for maximum output of 118 horsepower.

The performance-oriented Mini Cooper S convertible is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a Twin-Scroll turbocharger and direct gasoline injection delivering 172 horsepower.

Base model estimated mpg: 25 city/37 highway

Estimated starting price: $24,550


Mitsubishi’s revised 2009 Eclipse features restyled front and rear bumpers, with the GT now sporting a new large rear spoiler.

The Eclipse GT announces its presence a bit more strongly for 2009, thanks to a new dual-exhaust system that yields a more powerful sound while also boosting horsepower to 265 (up from 263). Already equipped with a full array of proven safety technology, the Eclipse GT gains active stability control as standard equipment.

Newly styled single-color front- and rear-bumper fascias lend a more defined appearance to the Eclipse GS, while the new two-tone bumper fascias for the GT model further emphasizes its road-hungry stance.

The Rockford-Fosgate 650-watt audio system that is part of the optional Sun & Sound Package available for the GS and GT models is among the most powerful factory-installed mobile audio systems in the market today. It features a six-disc, in-dash CD changer that can play MP3 CDs, and also includes Sirius Satellite Radio with a six-month prepaid subscription.

Eclipse GS is powered by a 162-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With a 265-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine, the Eclipse GT plays in a serious league of performance cars.

Base model estimated mpg: 20 city/28 highway

Estimated starting price: $20,099


The Mitsubishi Outlander offers a compelling blend of fun-to-drive dynamics, standout design and five- or seven-passenger versatility.

There are several major refinements for 2009: Three-row seating is now available on the four-cylinder Special Edition models; it remains standard on the V-6 XLS models. The available hard-disc drive navigation system with digital music server now includes a new rear-view camera (XLS models), and disc capacity is increased to 40 GB, up from 30 GB. The XLS shares the interior upgrades that debuted in the SE models, including sport fabric seats with leather bolsters. The LS V-6 models are discontinued.

The comprehensive convenience package is now standard on the ES four-wheel-drive model. The luxury package available for XLS models gains rain-sensing windshield wipers with new flat-type aero blades, plus automatic on/off headlamp control. Outlander XLS is distinguished for 2009 by new chrome-plated door handles, a chrome accent for the grille and chrome-accented side sill garnish.

Outlander ES and SE are powered by a smooth, fuel-efficient 2.4-liter 168-horsepower aluminum four-cylinder engine teamed with a Sportronic CVT transmission.

The XLS is powered by a 3.0-liter 220-horsepower aluminum V-6 engine teamed to a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission with magnesium steering wheel paddle shifters.

Base model estimated mpg: 20 city/25 highway

Estimated starting price: $20,000

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