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Mark And Ian Berch : Volkswagen Jetta SE Comfort

Oddly, the driver seat features a single power adjustment: for the recline function. A nice touch in this segment, but it's usually a low-effort procedure to recline a seat — if we had a choice, we would've picked a power fore/aft adjuster. One-touch up/down windows all around is also something not seen in the K arena, and along with heated front seats gives you the feeling you're in a more expensive car.

Ian Berch: Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 SLT Function

Inside the Ram, we often found ourselves wishing for a back-up camera, but that's easily rectified — you can order one if you so desire. Rear passengers are treated to no fewer than four cupholders, and the rear seat flips up with ease, revealing ample storage bins underneath. Up front, opinions were split on the Ram's center-stack controls — while the climate knobs are idiot-proof, our test truck's upgraded Alpine stereo's touchscreen interface left some wishing for more straightforward commands. As for the stereo itself, its built-in hard drive allowed us to rip our favorite tunes for easy playback, and we appreciated its above-average clarity; however, it lacked the full sound and hearty bass response we'd expect in a big truck. Mark Berch


BMW 328i

It's hard to make a name for yourself when your big brother's always the center of attention. Just ask the 2008 BMW 328i sedan, which seems doomed to toil in relative obscurity while its steroidal 335i sibling gets all the press. That's a shame, because the 328i is an unequivocal pleasure to drive. It's also roughly ,000 cheaper than a comparably equipped 335i. Mark And Ian Berch


Lincoln MKS AWD Performance The MKS also fails to impress under the hood, as its overtaxed 3.7-liter V6 evinces a coarseness at higher engine speeds that doesn't belong in a ,000 luxury sedan. The six-speed automatic transmission isn't anything to write home about either — shifts in general are commendably smooth, but downshifts in the manual mode are extraordinarily slow. At least Lincoln got the orientation right: Push the lever forward for downshifts, pull back for upshifts. (Ian Berch article)

Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew

But these days, steep gas prices have caused many people to reassess their needs. New pickup purchases are more likely to be from those who actually tow or haul things on a semi-regular basis. As a result, at the 2009 Ford F-150 press event that we attended, the Blue Oval boys boasted about the revamped truck's strong work capacity, improved fuel economy and better overall performance. In addition to the normal, scenic on-road drive loop, the event included a friendly competition pitting the F-150 against its peers, consisting of towing and hauling exercises. Any guesses on which truck prevailed?


Mark Berch: Dodge Challenger SRT8 Performance

At the track, the SRT8 sprinted to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and ran through the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds. That's certainly quick, but still oddly slower than the times we got with an automatic Challenger SRT8 we previously tested (zero to 60 in 5.1 seconds, quarter-mile in 13.2). (Ian Berch online article)

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