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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

“Framing John DeLorean” Misses Mark, Still Must-See Movie

Saga of fallen former GM executive makes for compelling viewing.

by on Jun.19, 2019

"Framing John DeLorean" chronicles the rise and fall of the former GM executives.

“Framing John DeLorean,” the new movie about the fallen auto executive, has an awkward title and cinema purists are likely to be put off by its mix of talking heads, bits from news film and videos and scenes re-acted by actors.

It almost seems that the producers of the film couldn’t find enough archival footage to do a documentary but had nowhere near enough money to hire actors and find the locations necessary to serve as back drop for DeLorean’s biography.

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But the film, with Alec Baldwin serving at the narrator and commentator, manages to succeed in telling the dramatic story of rise and fall a Detroit-born auto executive, who left his name on what has become an iconic vehicle with a unique place in American popular culture. (more…)

First Drive: 2020 Ford Explorer

New model is roomier, more rugged than predecessor.

by on Jun.18, 2019

The 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum edition is bigger, roomier and more powerful than its predecessor.

Since starting life as something of an experiment by Ford Motor Co’s product planners more three decades ago, the Explorer has become one of the company’s major sources of revenue.

The Explorer might not have a following as large as the F-150 but the fan base is large enough and diverse enough to extend the line to satisfy an even broader range of customers with the sixth-generation Explorer that is beginning to reach dealers across the U.S. now.

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The 2020 Explorer is larger, roomier, more power powerful and equipped with more technology than its predecessors. It’s also engineered to be more rugged and both the hybrid and XLT – the expected volume leader – versions of the 2020 Explorer that I drove easily mastered the short off-road course, which included steep downhill and uphill grades as well as a sweeping curve with a steep bank that I doubt very much previous generations of the Explorer could have handled. (more…)

First Drive: 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport

New Disco relies on old Rover toughness and modern technology.

by on Jun.11, 2019

The 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport features the brand's renown capability while mixing it a slew of new technology.

The new 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport has been revised to make it more versatile and technologically advanced.

The new Discovery Sport strikes a balance between a bold evolution of the original design and the familiarity that comes with its capability. Design cues, including the clamshell hood, rising beltline and tapered roof remain, but the new model is a bold exterior evolution.

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Modernity and refinement are reflected in the new front and rear bumpers, grille design and LED lights, making the Discovery Sport a compelling, sophisticated and sporty addition to the Discovery family. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Golf 1.4T S

Small, but mighty and continuing to evolve.

by on Jun.07, 2019

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf continues the little car's big legacy of being small, but mighty.

In automotive years, the Volkswagen Golf seems to have been around forever.

But its survived because, while the Golf is a compact, it also offers solid performance and an impressive array of technology for less than $25,000, which makes it a relative bargain when sport-utility vehicles routinely roll into showrooms with price tags in excess of $50,000 and current generation of road-worthy pickup trucks can exceed $60,000.

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The Golf rides on a 103.8 inch wheelbase, stands a shade over 58 inches tall and weighs a bit less than 3,000 pounds when it is equipped with an automatic transmission as the model I tested was. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Toyota Sequoia

Big ute gets refined ride, slew of safety technology.

by on May.30, 2019

The 2019 Toyota Sequoia features a more refined ride than its predecessors on the traditional frame.

The Toyota Sequoia has been around for a while now, but the automaker continues to change the vehicle enough to keep it interesting for both loyal fans of the buyers and new buyers, looking for a big vehicle capable of hauling people and their stuff.

The Sequoia is built with an old-school body-on-frame construction. In years past, body-and-frame sport utility vehicles had a tendency to roll and pitch in a way that could leave even experienced sailors a bit sea sick.

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But there is none of that with 2019 Sequoia, which has been nicely tamed with a series of engineering tweaks that give the big SUV a stable, comfortable foundation for towing, driving off the pavement and everyday motoring on the vehicle’s 122-inch wheelbase. (more…)

Lexus Lifts the Covers on Updates RX Line in Bid to Retain CUV Dominance

More aggressive styling, more features – but there also are plenty of new competitors.

by on May.30, 2019

Lexus VP Lisa Materazzo shows off the 2020 RX 350 F Sport during a CA event Wednesday.

For countless American family buyers, the Lexus RX has served as the luxurious alternative to a minivan. Almost from the moment it was introduced, 22 years ago, it has dominated the high-line midsize crossover market, and that’s a position Lexus is determined to retain as what was once a small niche has become one of the U.S. luxury market’s largest segments.

Four years after launching the fourth-generation RX, Lexus is giving the CUV a significant enough “refresh” to stage a roll-out event for journalists in both the U.S. and China on Wednesday night. What they got to see was a vehicle with more distinctive styling, more high-tech features and more advanced safety gear as a standard feature – but with the 2020 Lexus RX facing significantly more competition than ever before, the question is whether it can maintain its traditional momentum.

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Part of the challenge is that Lexus has, since it first launched in 1989, been a Baby Boomer brand, and the RX line is one of the examples of that, said Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst with RebeccaDrives. “The RX,” she added. “is no longer aspirational” for the subsequent generations “just starting their families.”

(more…)

First Drive: 2019 Audi e-tron

Audi plugs in with its first long-range battery-electric vehicle.

by on May.23, 2019

Audi's first electric vehicle, the 2019 e-tron, is almost indistinguishable from a regular sport-utility.

It may be the middle of May but it feels a lot more like the dead of winter as we race up the narrow, winding road to California’s Lake Tahoe ski resort. As we approach the 7,000-foot mark the winds swirl the freshly falling snow across the landscape.

Considering we’ve already traveled almost 80 miles, this would be a recipe for trouble were we driving a first-generation battery-electric vehicle. But that, the harsh weather, as well as the steep climb to Lake Tahoe, don’t begin to phase the new 2019 Audi e-tron we’re driving for the first time.

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While Audi has toyed with a variety of clean-car technologies, including natural gas, hybrids and plug-ins, during the past decade, the e-tron is its first pure battery-electric vehicle – though it won’t be the last, the automaker confirming a total of four models, including the e-tron Sportback and striking e-tron GT that was one of the stars of the 2018 Los Angeles International Auto Show. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate

Plenty of room, technology make this ute tough competition.

by on May.16, 2019

With room for five adults, the new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe gives the automaker a viable competitor agains the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has lots of things going for it including a huge “likeability” factor.

After all, there is a lot to like about the vehicle. It’s handsome on the outside, spacious and comfortable on the inside, delivers and smooth and efficient ride and has ample power in segment where horsepower seems to have become a major consideration for manufacturers if not for consumers.

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Hyundai, in my estimation, has actually solved one of the riddles of the contemporary car business by figuring out the placement of the center stack screen that carries information for the navigation system and entertainment system with a horizontal screen mounted just above the dashboard. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Power, handling, performance, new Shelby GT350 has it all.

by on May.14, 2019

Ford's new Mustang Shelby GT350 lives up to the hype with stellar track performance and impressive fo

By this late in May, it should be getting warm in Detroit, but despite the 50-degree chill and a depressingly leaden sky, at least the rain has held off as I strap on a HANS Device and helmet and head out to pit row at Pontiac’s M1 Concourse, where a 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is waiting for me.

On the way, I pass a vintage version of the car, one of just a handful of original 1965 models that survive. It might look dated, but when it made its debut back in 1965 it transformed Ford’s little pony car into a wicked contender. With its tiny tires and live rear axle, it was a handful to drive but nonetheless raised the muscle car bar to new heights.

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Today, the GT350 takes a back seat to the Shelby GT500, an all-new version of the 700-plus-horsepower monster set to roll out later this year. But for those who don’t need to go to the ultimate extremes – or who simply don’t have quite a large enough bank account, the latest update of the GT350 that rolled out in 2016 has plenty to offer. (more…)

Behind the Scenes: How Toyota and BMW Teamed up to Develop New Z4, Supra

You can't cost-cut your way to a world-class sports car.

by on May.13, 2019

Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the 2020 Toyota GR Supra flashes a thumbs-up during the sports car's first media drive.

(This story has been corrected to reflect the proper spelling of Supra Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada.)

The call came as a surprise. The chief engineer overseeing Toyota’s joint venture with Subaru that resulted in the 86 sports car, Tetsuya Tada was attending a media event in Barcelona when he was asked to jump on a flight for Munich seven years ago this month.

“Don’t tell anybody,” his boss said, and didn’t give Tada himself much to go on, beyond advising him there would be a car waiting at the airport. Once he arrived, the Toyota veteran learned he was being driven over to BMW headquarters, putting into motion one of the most unusual alliances in the history of either manufacturer.

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Almost seven years to the day after that first meeting, Tada is sharing a dinner in suburban Washington, D.C. and, for the first time, revealing the back story of what eventually became the 2020 Toyota GR Supra – as well as the new BMW Z4.

(more…)