Luxury automakers going greener for 2012

This year, the luxury automakers are going greener, if exhibits at the Los Angeles Auto Show are any indication.

Take the 2012 Range Rover Evoque, the smallest, lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever built.

Deemed Sport Utility of the Year by Motor Trend magazine, Evoque commands a price of $44,995 for the coupe and $43,995 for the five-door.

The two versions are equal in overall length, but the five-door has a slightly higher roofline. Each Evoque coming to the U.S. from the factory in England will have all-wheel-drive and feature a 240-horsepower turbocharged, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Evoque is also the sleekest Range Rover ever to emerge from a Land Rover assembly line, with a down-swept roofline and darkened roof pillars that merge with the glass to give the top a floating appearance.

In a similar price range, Infiniti introduced its 2013 JX35 crossover utility vehicle that maintains the Japanese maker's reputation for styling while boosting efficiency and versatility.

With a base price of $40,450, the JX is scheduled to go on sale at Infiniti retailers nationwide in spring 2012.

The seven-passenger, three-row vehicle is offered in front-drive or all-wheel-drive models. Each is equipped with a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and continuously variable transmission with sport mode.

Middle-seat design provides entry to the third row without removing the second-row child seat. The JX features Infiniti's most impressive technologies, including a new feature called Backup Collision Intervention, an extension of the optional Blind Spot Intervention system. When the transmission is in reverse, the JX will help the driver detect crossing vehicles and objects behind the JX and, if necessary, the system can automatically engage the brakes to help avoid a collision A number of option packages are also offered with the 2013 Infiniti JX.

A typically equipped Infiniti JX35 FWD model with Premium Package is priced at $45,400, with an estimated monthly lease price of $549 for 36 months.

If you prefer a domestic brand in a seven-seat luxury crossover, take a look at the Lincoln MKT at a base price of $44,300.

MKT is powered by a more fuel-efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. All-wheel-drive versions begin at $46,295. That's the same entry price as the 3.7-liter V6 with all-wheel drive as last year's model, which has been discontinued.

The twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 offers the power of a naturally aspirated V8 with V6 fuel economy and provides a class-leading 355 horsepower at 5,700 rpm while generating 350 foot-pounds of torque from 1,500 through 5,250 rpm.

MKT buyers can choose between six- and seven-passenger models with two second-row seating configurations. A standard 60/40 split folding rear bench seat features heated outboard seating positions. Power "fold and tumble" second-row bucket or captain's seats, with heating, cooling and power-assisted lumbar adjustments are available as well. A rear console-mounted, five-quart-capacity refrigerator is available in the six-passenger configuration.

Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, active park assist and Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert top the list of driver-assist technologies offered.

One of MKT's options is a standard fixed-glass Panoramic Vista Roof with power-assisted front and rear sunshades or the available Power Panoramic Vista Roof, which opens to receive the breeze. One factor that should help Lincoln battle the imports is receipt of the highest score for long-term durability among all vehicle brands in the annual J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study.

If the sky is not the limit, step on up to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG that looks appropriately sleek to accommodate its 518-horsepower, 5.5-liter, bi-turbo V8.

The new SUV accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed at 155 mph. An AMG Performance Package can speed things up by a tenth of a second and provide a top speed of 174 mph.

Fuel efficiency? What fuel efficiency?

With prices yet to be announced, the ML63 goes on sale in February. Expect window stickers to sail much, much higher than the base price of $49,865 for the ML350.

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