The Year In Rear View

The new Porsche Cayenne Diesel SUV has trimmed down some 400 pounds — and with the high efficiency 3 liter 240 horsepower diesel engine delivers amazing performance and comfort for $94,000.

In a year when small car sales have sky-rocketed the plucky Mazda 2 stands out for great looks, incredible interior comfort, combined fuel economy of 32 mile per gallon, and good value well equipped for $17,000.

The new Lexus GS350 F-Sport 4 door sedan has targeted category leading BMW 5 Series. Though the 21st century Gothic exterior styling is a bit much, the 3.5 liter direct injection 306 horsepower V6 and meticulous driving dynamics put this Lexus within BMW striking distance for about $60,000.

The emergence of Kia as a world player was born out in a recent drive of the new Kia Sportage small SUV. Long on comfort, with top safety ratings, an efficient but thrifty 4 cylinder engine, and enough premium options to take it from a base price of about $20,00 up to $35,000.