Sometimes we find ourselves in a quandary: We get a new model year of a car we've driven but there aren't enough differences to justify a full review. So here are brief looks at some recent cars with incremental changes.
Honda Crosstour: The biggest change from the 2010 model we reviewed is what Honda dropped — the "Accord" name. Otherwise the 2012 Crosstour has undergone minor nips and tucks. The front grille is more subdued and less stout. But the rounded, too-big back end remains. New standard features are available in the EX, including the auto on/off headlights, a rearview camera, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and USB audio interface. Original review: tinyurl.com/ timescrosstour
Suzuki Kizashi (CVT): This is our first time in the Kizashi without a manual. Like other CVTs we've driven, the "performance tuned" Continuously Variable Transmission is loud and leaves you wanting more power, but it does come with improved mpg to 23 city, 30 highway for the FWD trim. The handling, on the other hand, is spirited with sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels. With 14 trim levels, there are configurations and pricing for every taste. The Kizashi deserves more notice. Original review: tinyurl.com/timeskizashi
Kia Rio sedan: Much like its five-door sibling, the Rio is a worthy contender in the subcompact arena. The 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is mated with a 5-speed automatic, and adds plenty of pep for your daily commute. Our SX tester was equipped with the premium package, which includes the navigation system, sunroof, push-start button, leather seat trim and front heated seats to bring the price to an attractive $20,545. If you're not a hatchback fan, this is worth a look. Original review: t inyurl.com/timesrio
Fiat 500 Pop: The top-of-the-line Fiat 500C Lounge with a six-speed automatic transmission left us underwhelmed with its acceleration, especially in highway driving. The five-speed manual transmission in the base Pop, however, was more competent on the road. Shifting was light and lively. Our tester was one of Fiat's unconventional colors: Verde Chiaro (a light sage green) with ivory brown interior. Either way, the little cars are attention-getters. Our tester was $16,700 with a wheel option and delivery fee. Original review: tinyurl.com/timesfiat
Acura TSX Wagon: Acura tweaked more life into the 2012 TSX wagon and we noticed. Torque is up, and there is stronger throttle response that results in better acceleration. The body got some aerodynamic adjustments. It's wider by 3 inches for a more stable and agile ride. Inside, the seating positions have been lowered for increased headroom. The cabin is also quieter because of acoustic glass windshield and thicker glass. And, most important for a wagon, the cargo space is up by 5.7 cubic feet. Original review: tinyurl.com/timestsxwagon
Chevrolet Corvette Coupe: This Inferno Orange car was certainly a stunner. The coupe's roof is removable, but you'll need help to lift it away. The gray five-spoke aluminum wheels added to its menacing look, but with an automatic transmission, we found acceleration wanting. As a friend of Peter's said: "430 horsepower isn't what it used to be." Sadly, in an era of horsepower wars, it's true. The 'Vette is a performance bargain, but we'd like to try the manual version, not to mention the Z06 and ZR1. We agree with those who fault its tired interior. Grand Sport Convertible review: tinyurl.com/timescorvette