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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: From Honda Accord to Infiniti M37, six cars get a second look

As the new model year arrives, manufacturers are making changes from tweaks to major updates in their lineups. Here are six vehicles we've driven before with new features or powerplants.

2013 Infiniti M37: There aren't many changes to the M37, which is a good thing. This car is a sedan with attitude, which seems to be how Infiniti chooses to define itself. The 330-horsepower V-6 has a seven-speed automatic that shifts crisply and also has a manual shift mode with Nissan's excellent Downshift Rev Matching. In Sport mode, there's even a nice growl to the exhaust note. If the M37 doesn't reach the refined heights of German luxury, it nevertheless offers a compelling blend of style and performance. $61,845 as tested.

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander GT: The Outlander is often overlooked by those in the market for a small SUV, and that's too bad. The new model gets a bit bigger — a full redesign comes late next year — and the GT trim line has a much nicer-looking cabin. The Outlander handles well, and its Super All Wheel Control is, well, super. We also appreciated the GT's V-6, but like all Mitsubishis, the Outlander's styling can be divisive. We wrestled with the third-row seats, which were a pain to fold and unfold by using pull straps. $33,920 as tested.

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club: To drive this fun little sports car is to love it. It handles like a go-kart, has a smooth-shifting manual transmission and is no slouch in the acceleration department despite its 167 horsepower. The manual convertible top is oh-so-easy to put up or down. Our tester was the new Club trim, which adds contrasting Gunmetal Black wheels, badging and other styling features to eye-catching red paint. The only downside to the roadster is its cabin size, which makes for a tight fit that can get tiring in everyday use. $27,500 as tested.

2013 Acura ILX Hybrid: When we first drove the ILX, Acura's new entry in the compact luxury segment, we found it underwhelming. Now comes the ILX Hybrid, which has one of the better continuously variable transmissions we've driven, a quiet, comfortable cabin and a refined regenerative braking system. On the downside, its idle start/stop system can be a bit annoying in stop-and-go traffic, and it suffers from being underpowered. We're split on whether this ILX is worth the move up from a nonpremium hybrid like the Honda Civic. $35,295 as tested.

2012 Dodge Charger SRT8: The Charger is a big, heavy rear-wheel-drive sedan that, in its SRT performance trim, seems transported backward in time to the era of cheap gas (MPG is 14 city, 23 highway even with cylinder deactivation). The 6.4-liter 470-horsepower Hemi is one of our favorite V-8 powerplants and it didn't disappoint. But the car's somewhat subdued exhaust note and its archaic 5-speed automatic were letdowns. (Non-SRT models come with an 8-speed.) Our tester came loaded with luxury options. Lyra felt a side-to-side rocking on the highway. $50,260 as tested.

2013 Accord Coupe: Take everything we like about the new Accord sedan and add a large dose of fun. This handsome car, which doesn't bill itself as a performance coupe, is nonetheless a sporty yet practical car. The short-throw manual transmission is a delight and the handling, suspension and steering are well-balanced. The interior is attractive, comfortable and has a useful backseat with easy access. The V-6 makes 278 horsepower that doesn't stint on performance. Who says grownups have to compromise? $33,140.

The Daily Drivers: From Honda Accord to Infiniti M37, six cars get a second look 12/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 14, 2012 3:30am]
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