3. Mazda 3 SkyActiv-G 2.0
The Mazda 3 is not a bad car. When I drove it, I drove a Mazda 3 five-door hatchback with a 2.0L I4 engine with Skyactiv technology. Mazda says that Skyactiv technology increases fuel economy and engine output. The 2.0L I4 engine with Skyactiv technology produces 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The end results is an average driving experience. The was not much excitement when I pressed the accelerator pedal. The Mazda 3 skyactiv has a 0-60 mph time of 8.9 seconds, which is not that quick. The did not feel that quick. There is adequate room for the driver and passenger. It is a compact hatchback, so there is a little bit of leg room and good head room. The Mazda 3 is also available with a 2.5L I4 engine that produces 167 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. For those who want more power, there is a Mazda SPEED3, which has a turbocharged 2.3L I4 engine that produces 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, but it is only available was a manual transmission. The Mazda 3 SkyActiv-G 2.0 is a decent car. But go with the 2.5L engine if you want a Mazda 3.
2. Chrysler 200 Limited with V6
The Chrysler 200 is the successor to the Chrysler Sebring as Chrysler's entry in the mid-size car segment. The 200 comes with two different engines. It is available with either a 2.4L I4 engine that produces 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque and a 3.6L V6 engine that produces 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Mid-size cars have more room and tend to be more luxurious than compact car. Compact cars are weigh less and get away with I4 engines that produce 165 hp or more. Mid-size cars need more power since they weigh more. There is a significant difference in acceleration between the 2.4L 200 and the 3.6L 200. The 2.4L 200 has a 0-60 mph time of 9.3 seconds. The 3.6L 200 has a 0-60 mph time of 6.2 seconds. I drove the 200 Limited that was very luxurious and roomy. I had leather seats, navigation, and a rear-view camera. The car was very comfortable to sit in and it was drove smoothly along the roads. With the V6 engine, the 200 has great acceleration for a midsize car. Without the V6 engine, the 200 would be a comfortable car with a dull driving experience. The Chrysler 200 is a good car, but not as big of a pleasant surprise as the Dodge Dart.
The Lancer ES was one of two Lancers. The other Lancer was the Lancer GT. The Lancer ES comes with 152 hp 2.0L I4 engine and can come with either a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic transmission. I drove the CVT version and I wished the Lancer ES came with paddle shiftesrs that were available on the Lancer GT. Paddle shifters add some excitement and driver interaction for cars with automatic transmissions. The Lancer ES has some zip to it and it was fun to drive on the roads and highway. The Lancer has a sporty styling, but I found the rear spoiler to be obstructive when I glanced at the rear-view mirror. I felt cramped in the Lancer. There is not much head room for the driver. The Lancer ES is a good car, but that is what I expect from a very popular car.
Next time for my 2012 reflections, I look at the cars that put a smile on my face when I was behind the wheel.
Photos wer taken by a digital camera or by a camera phone.
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