MARCH 2012
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Test-drive reviews by NITISH S. RELE,

The Cadillac SRX has been streamlined for 2012. The GM luxury brand’s premium crossover now is offered in just one power train. To make room for the all-new 3.6-liter V-6 engine, the barely 2-year-old 3.0- (265 hp) and 2.8-liter (300 hp) V-6 engines are out.

The revised engine pumps out 308 horsepower @ 6800 rpm and 265 pounds-feet of torque @ 2400 rpm. Direct injection and continuously variable valve timing ensure fuel savings and efficiency. So does the carried-over 6-speed auto transmission, which also can be shifted manually, when the eco feature is in use. Best of all, this fresh SRX power train doesn’t require premium gas.

Seating five in comfort and style as is the Cadillac tradition, the SRX is available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive and in four trims: base, luxury, performance and premium. Of course, price can be a factor with the base FWD offered at $36,360 and peaking up to $49,960 for the AWD premium. We expect majority of the buyers to settle for the FWD luxury version, which comes in at $40,890.

The purposeful cabin displays a handsome and clever instrument package such as navigation and audio systems popping out from the center of the panel. Wood and leather share space on the tilt/telescopic steering wheel, doors and shifter knob to give the ride a rich ambiance. Space abounds with a huge storage compartment in under-floor cargo area and bins scattered throughout the cabin.

Safety is ensured by dual front and side airbags, side curtain for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction controls, anti-rollover sensors, front safety belt pretensioners and load limiters, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

One would be remiss to believe that this 4,224-pound SUV is sluggish off the mark. But as soon you put the pedal to the metal, acceleration is swift and smooth. No doubt, the SRX is a superb blend of performance and sophistication.

Tires: P235/65R18
Suspension: 4-wheel independent
Steering: rack-and-pinion hydraulic
Wheelbase: 110.5 inches
Length: 190.3 inches
Fuel capacity: 21 gallons
City: 17 mpg
Highway: 24 mpg
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It may not be on a potential shopper’s radar like the popular BMW 3 Series but this luxury sports car from Infiniti deserves attention. Oodles of it. Carrying over from last year with minor changes, the G37 is equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine blasting off 328 horsepower @ 7000 rpm and 269 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. Available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the vibrant midsize sedan is mated to a 7-speed auto gearbox or a close-ratio 6-speed manual for motoring enthusiasts.

Credit for the superbly accurate steering goes to a power-assist, rack-and-pinion system. Behind the wheels hide large rotors: four-piston 14 inches at front and two-piston 13.8 inches at rear to inspire confidence in the driver.

If anyone tells you that the Infiniti cabin isn’t on par with its German and Japanese rivals, point out the gorgeous-appearing Shodo aluminum trim on the instrument panels, center console and door panels along with the elegant electroluminescent gauges for coolant, tachometer, speedometer and fuel readings. Also standard on the boldly styled sedan is a dual-zone auto climate control, familiar Infiniti analog clock, power tilt/telescopic steering column and power moon roof.

Starting at $36,400 for the base Journey trim with $38,000 for the mid-level and $41,000 for the Sport manual, the G37 boasts 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway figures. Our best on the 6-speed stick was an average of 21.6 mpg in both driving modes.

The G37 displays aggressive handling, excellent cornering prowess and a firm steering feel. It is one of the smartest choices for a prospective sports sedan buyer. And a head-turner ride to boot.

Tires: P225/50R18 front; 245/45R18 rear
Suspension: independent double-wishbone front; multilink rear
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 187.9 inches
Weight: 3,709 pounds
Fuel capacity: 20 gallons
Web site:


If you are looking to buy the Chevrolet Malibu, you are in for a huge dilemma: Should you purchase this year’s midsize sedan or wait till the 2013 model with a major redesign and new power train rolls into showrooms shortly? We haven't test-driven the revamped Malibu but we can attest to the solid and sure-footed handling and balance of the 2012 model.

The front-wheel-drive car is equipped with a 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine offering 169 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 160 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. Or you could opt for the more robust 3.6-liter V-6 engine pumping out 252 hp @ 6300 rpm and 251 pounds-feet of torque @ 3200 rpm. Both are mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission and a confidence-driven MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension. However, the 4-cylinder engine uses a variable electric power assist for gas savings; the V-6 employs a hydraulic-assisted steering.

Comfortably seating five, the Malibu touts passenger capacity of 97.7 cubic feet. We liked the simple yet graceful look of the familiar Chevy dual-cockpit, especially the noticeable blue backlit gauges and wood grain accents on dashboard and doors. Storage is abundant as bins and cubbies are scattered throughout the well-crafted cabin.

Offered in six trim levels, the sedan starts at $22,110 with the mid-level priced right at $26,300 and reaching up to $30,200 for the high-end model. Fuel mileage is laudable with the 2.4-liter earning 22 mpg city/33 highway; the bigger engine ekes 17 mpg city/26 mpg (we averaged 23.4 mpg). Best of all, the sedan uses regular gas for its 16.4-gallon tank.

If you consider performance, substantial cargo/passenger room, price and, of course, fuel savings, this Malibu is an all-rounder car. But we are sure the all-new 2013 model will be one up on its predecessor.

Tires: P225/50R18
Wheelbase: 112.3 inches
Length: 191.8 inches
Web site:

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