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Posts Tagged ‘auto review’

First Drive: 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith

Leather-clad luxury missile.

by on Mar.29, 2016

Forward into the past, the Rolls-Royce Wraith harkening back to the grand GTs of yore.

“How much is too much?” That’s a question that frequently arises when the conversation turns to uber luxury cars.

“I would never pay $300,000 for an automobile,” some will say, which might rule out a car like the 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith. Actually, at $372,545 as tested, it’s not inexpensive by any measure, but after spending some time behind the wheel, we’re convinced it’s worth it.

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The 2016 Wraith embodies the best of the British motorcar tradition and continues to build cars where possible using “olde world” assembly methods like hand stitching, hand assembly and hand finishing of myriad leather and wood components.

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First Drive: 2016 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Coupe

A Bavarian snowmobile

by on Mar.04, 2016

Definitely not the Autobahn.

When you live in Maryland, USA in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. you get four true seasons each year.  Note to Mother Nature:  You can have winter back.  This year’s treacherous winter was epitomized by “Snowmageddon” a Nor’easter fired storm that dropped 36 inches of snow in my immediate area, and paralyzed the Eastern Seaboard from the Carolinas to New England.

The Last Word!

Obviously overwhelmed, it took local authorities three days to begin digging out the roads in my small community.  Luckily, after my trusty snowblower cleared the driveway, my test 2016 BMW 640i Gran Coupe was at the ready.  I know, I know, BMW’s are not normally known for snow and ice prowess, but this Bimmer was outfitted with xDrive, BMW’s high-tech All-Wheel Drive system.

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First Drive: 2016 Honda Civic Coupe

by on Feb.22, 2016

The 2016 Honda Civic is the latest in a line of coupes dating to the first Civic 2-door in 1993.

A few generations back, the Honda Civic Coupe was the car of choice for the tuner crowd. And for good reason, the Civic Coupe was attractive, affordable and easy to modify.

The last two generations didn’t quite click, however, and for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was a seeming drought at the Honda design studios, the last couple of Civic Coupes clearly falling into the boring category.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Now comes an all-new version and if the decidedly unscientific study we conducted during a couple days of driving offer any indication, the 2016 Honda Civic Coupe clearly serves up the eye candy. But how does it do on the road? And is the Coupe Honda needs to win back those hot young buyers it’s struggled to win back in recent years?

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First Drive: 2016 Toyota Prius

New look, new suspension - great mileage and moderate improvements to ride.

by on Nov.23, 2015

The top-line Toyota Prius Four Touring model starts at $30,000 plus delivery fees.

In an era when so many cars have a tendency to look alike, the Toyota Prius has been an unabashed, if somewhat geeky, standout. Of course, it’s what’s below the skin that really makes the difference. The Prius was the world’s first hybrid-electric vehicle when it made its debut in Japan in 1997 and, ever since, it has overwhelmingly dominated that segment worldwide.

But times have changed, and the third-generation Toyota Prius has been losing a lot of sales momentum this year. There are several reasons why, perhaps most notably the sharp slide in fuel prices that has reduced demand for all “green” vehicles. But there are other factors, among other things that geeky design and the less than thrilling ride offered by the old Prius.

Reviews You Can Trust!

And those are issues Toyota has set out to address with the fourth-generation hybrid. The 2016 Toyota Prius gets a complete, top-to-bottom makeover: new skin, a new platform, a new independent rear suspension — and an updated Hybrid Synergy Drive system that delivers as much as 10% better mileage.

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First Drive: 2016 Infiniti QX50

An SUV by any other name.

by on Sep.28, 2015

The new QX50 with designer Alfonso Albaisa during the crossover's debut earlier this year.

At times, the auto industry has at least one thing in common with baseball: you can’t tell the players apart without a scorecard. That’s especially true with Infiniti, the Japanese automaker sowing plenty of confusion when it decided to rename familiar products like the old G and JX lines.

It’s hard to tell whether that’s the reason why sales of the Infiniti EX stumbled to a virtual halt after it was renamed the QX50 for 2014. Perhaps it was simply the result of a once-popular product growing old in hotly competitive segment. Whatever the reason, the luxury arm of Nissan Motor Co. is hoping to kick-start the crossover’s momentum with a modest, but much-needed refresh for the 2016 model-year.

Product, Product, Product!

The basic shape will immediately be familiar. Like the bigger Infiniti FX, the EX was one of the first crossover-utility vehicles to stop trying to pretend it was a classic SUV, instead putting an emphasis on styling, features and on-road manners. That part hasn’t changed. During a trip to San Diego to try out the 2016 Infiniti Qx50, off-road capabilities didn’t even merit a footnote.

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First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In

Hyundai plugs in with updated HEV and all-new PHEV sedan.

by on May.26, 2015

Hyundai's second-generation Sonata Hybrid.

Initially slow to embrace alternative powertrain technology, Hyundai is determined to catch up with green rivals like Toyota and Honda. It was the first to market with a retail hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and it is about to update its original Sonata Hybrid for 2016 – while also adding its first plug-in hybrid model.

The timing likely isn’t the best. With gasoline prices running about a dollar lower than a year ago, and likely to say depressed for a while, demand for battery-based vehicles has taken a dive. But based on a day’s drive of the two new Korean models, green-minded buyers looking for alternatives would be well advised to check out the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.

Stay Plugged In!

The plug-based model, in particular, offers the longest range of any midsize PHEV on the U.S. market and its gas-electric driveline provides one of the smoothest, most transparent rides of any plug-in we’ve so far tested.

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First Drive: 2014 Mazda3

Not your old econo-box.

by on Sep.20, 2013

The new 2014 Mazda3 is the latest model to pick up on the Kodo design language.

The Mazda3 has been around for a while now and familiarity has no doubt bred an array of preconceptions about the car.

With the launch of 2014 Mazda3 with SkyActiv technology, however, Mazda3 is going to force a lot of buyers to drop their pre-conceived notions about compact cars. The new Mazda3 is definitely not your aunt’s econobox.

Instead it’s sleek and nimble, as well as comfortable, efficient and versatile. In fact, the exterior design of the new Mazda3 — which carries on the distinctively sculpted Kodo design language the automaker has highlighted with recent concept vehicles — makes it one of the most stylish vehicles in a crowded segment.

Reviews You Can Trust!

That’s no faint praise when you consider the alternatives include the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and the new Toyota Corolla.

But while some of those competitors are content with a single body style, the new Mazda3 will be offered in both four–door sedan and five-door hatchback form.

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Stylish yes, But is 2013 Ford Escape as Useful as Old One?

Sleek new cute ute is a major departure from the old box.

by on Dec.26, 2012

Ford says the 2013 Ford Escape is as useful as the original, but now in a sleek and stylish package.

For me, a new Ford Escape is personal. Our 2002 model was simply the best car we’ve ever owned.

With its optional V-6, it was powerful, it was as maneuverable as a go-kart and it had an interior that simply could not possibly have fit inside what looked like a smallish sport utility on the outside. Tough grey plastic cladding on the bottom gave that original Escape a rough and read, youthful look and it brushed off road debris without trouble.

Sleek and Modern!

There’s a good reason buyers have made it the best-selling small SUV on the market. It may have been a box, but it just worked.

But now Ford has built a new Escape, with swoopier styling, new powertrain options and a modern interior. The question is whether this new Escape can live up to or improve on one of the most useful vehicles of its size ever made.

Let’s take a look.
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First Drive: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport

Big crossover conquers the only jungle that really matters.

by on Nov.30, 2012

The Ford Explorer Sport is the perfect vehicle for conquering the concrete jungle.

The Ford Explorer Sport is the perfect vehicle for conquering the concrete jungle.

It’s a jungle out there and you need a vehicle that can handle it. Pitted trails, obstacles to avoid, narrow spots to fit through.

Yep, the parking lot can be a real test for any vehicle … Oh, you thought this was about the REAL jungle? As in vines, mud holes and “roads” that are more like deer trails? Ha, while SUVs may purport to go there, virtually everyone knows that the only time the large majority of these beasts ever leave the road is to enter the parking lot at the mall.

So it is with that in mind that we put Ford’s new Explorer Sport to the test. In fact, we subjected Ford’s biggest crossover – sorry, Ford may want you to view this as a sport utility vehicle, but it’s based on the same platform as a Ford Taurus – to the most grueling test possible: Black Friday shopping.

Back from the Jungle!

The test actually began with what became a reconnaissance mission on Thanksgiving Eve Wednesday night – go ahead, call us geeks – to Carson’s where we were able to scout locations for bounty which would become critical Thursday night/Friday morning.

As is typical these days, Black Friday actually begins Thursday night as families are wrapping up their Thanksgiving Day celebrations. So having a sure-footed CUV with a commanding driving position becomes important in the battle to avoid other motorists in their tryptophan-induced stupors.

There were presents to buy, deals to be had and mobs of people to be crushed by. Our Black Friday escapade was on.

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First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S

Toyota CEO says he wants more passion and this new sports car delivers.

by on Nov.08, 2012

The Scion FR-S fills a noticeable void in the market - the affordable rear-wheel drive sports car with somewhat useful interior space..

In recent years, if you wanted a true sports car, your only choices were to accept a car based a front-wheel drive econobox or cash in your 401(k) to buy a real sports car putting its power to the rear wheels.

No more. Subaru and Toyota – a seemingly unlikely pair to create this car – got together to develop what is essentially the Holy Grail of fun cars – the affordable sports car.

Covering the Auto Industry with Passion!

Think about it. Subaru, known for its variety of sensible all-wheel drive cars with just one performance-oriented model, the WRX, wants to build a car that is completely out of its element, a RWD sports car. Knowing it couldn’t justify the investment without a partner, the small Japanese automaker approached giant Toyota, known recently more for its fuel-sipping hybrids, but with a somewhat forgotten history of performance machines.

Together, they created a masterpiece, a car to be celebrated by everyone who enjoys driving, but wasn’t born with a trust fund in his mouth.

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