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Posts Tagged ‘car review’

First Drive: 2018 Toyota Camry

Toyota aims for a younger buyer with the 2018 Camry, but what will the faithful think?

by on Jun.21, 2017

Coming at you: Toyota has more gas and hybrid variants to choose from with the 2018 Camry.

Here’s a question for you: how many redesigned sedans have been launched over the last two or three years, and what are they? It’s something Jack Hollis, Toyota Division general manager, asked last week as journalists gathered for the first drive of the completely redesigned Toyota Camry.

“Nothing really stands out,” he said during the event in Oregon. “If you’re a sedan buyer, what are you getting excited about? The new truck, the new crossover the new SUV.”

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It’s a concern for Hollis and his employer as Toyota gets ready to launch the fully redesigned midsized sedan later this year. The Camry has been the number one-selling passenger car in the U.S for 19 of the past 20 years, while more than 18 million have been sold worldwide since its launch in 1982. Yet Toyota hasn’t been exempt from the sudden shift in buyer preference, as 63 percent of U.S. car buyers opt for trucks, SUVs, and crossovers rather than passenger cars.

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Snowbound: Dodge Challenger GT Weathers the Storm

Testing out the new 2017 AWD muscle coupe.

by on Jan.31, 2017

Dashing through the snow...a 2017 Dodge Challenger GT takes a run.

There’s nothing unusual about lining up a Dodge Challenger at the start of a quarter-mile drag strip; the muscle coupe was born to race. Nothing unusual, that is, unless there’s a half-foot of snow on the ground.

But that’s where we found ourselves recently, getting ready to put pedal to metal to see how the 2017 Challenger would handle. Of course, we had one thing working in our favor: this was the new, all-wheel-drive edition of the Dodge muscle car, the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT.

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Dodge has already put its AWD system in the Challenger’s sibling, the Charger, so we had a sense of what to expect, but the 2017 Challenger GT proved itself with aplomb during a couple days up in the snow and ice of Maine and New Hampshire, with plenty of time on public roads, as well as on a track normally closed for the season.

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First Drive: 2017 Genesis G90

Big car, big ambitions.

by on Aug.16, 2016

The 2017 Genesis G90 will take on such lofty competitors as the BMW 7- and Mercedes S-Class.

Say the name, “Hyundai,” and most folks are likely to think of a small econocar like the original Excel, or perhaps something a little larger and more modern, such as the Sonata. And that’s the problem the Korean carmaker has been struggling with as it has tried pushing into the luxury market with offerings like the Genesis and Equus sedans.

No wonder, then, that Hyundai decided to reverse course last year, announcing plans to launch a separate luxury brand that could more directly be positioned against established high-line competitors like BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

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The all-new Genesis brand made its debut earlier this year with the launch of the G80, a modestly updated version of the Hyundai Genesis sedan targeted against the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class. But now, the Koreans are set to put a halo around the new marque with the roll-out of the big Genesis G90. And we jumped at the chance to take the premium luxury sedan for several hundred miles of driving through the gorgeous mountains outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

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First Look: Mercedes-AMG GT R

Green Hell from Stuttgart.

by on Jun.27, 2016

A bright green bat out of hell, the GT R.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz rolled out the GT sports car a couple years back, we’ve been expecting a few variants, the typical modus operandi for the Schwabian automaker. Now, it seems, we’ll soon be getting a flood of them, including the recently introduced GT S, a “base” model due next year and, shortly after that, the Mercedes-AMG GT R that made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England over the weekend.

Able to launch from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.5 seconds – about 0.2 seconds faster than the 2016 GT S model – you might be tempted to call it a bat out of hell. So, appropriately enough, Mercedes is introducing the new GT R with a new paint scheme called Green Hell Magno.

Performance News!

Beyond that blinding hue, you’ll be able to distinguish the new Mercedes-AMG GT R from other versions of the two-seater thanks to new, widebody trim that adds about two inches in width to the more mundane versions of the GT.

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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: 2017 Cadillac CT6

Shooting to become the “standard of the world”…again.

by on Jan.26, 2016

The 2017 Cadillac CT6 will run from around $60,000 to $88,000 for a loaded Platinum edition.

We’ve seen some intriguing entries from Cadillac in recent years, such as the third-generation CTS and the smaller ATS line. But it’s been a seeming lifetime since the Detroit luxury brand could lay honest claim to being the “standard of the world.”

Now that it’s moved its headquarters to New York and laid down plans to roll out a procession of new models, might General Motors’ flagship brand finally be back on the right road? If any new model gives us an indication of where Cadillac is heading, it’s got to be the new CT6 sedan.

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Yes, the name is confusing, as it signals plans to tweak the brand’s alphanumeric model designations — again. But don’t get hung up on the name. The 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the maker’s first new offering we’ve seen in years that serves up an unabashed challenge to dominant import luxury marques like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. (more…)

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.

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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 Honda Civic Sedan

Pushing beyond mainstream.

by on Oct.19, 2015

Longer, lower, roomier. Honda's 2016 Civic.

Honda delivered one of the year’s biggest surprises when it pulled the wraps off an all-new version of the compact Civic at the New York Auto Show last April. The Honda Civic has been a perennial best-seller, but it was nonetheless a major surprise to see the Japanese maker unveil an all-new version barely four years after the current model made its debut.

If anything, Honda seems intent on proving that Civic’s ongoing success is more than a fluke. The outgoing, gen-nine model took some initial heat for its lackluster styling and less than inspiring on-road dynamics, forcing the maker to rush an “emergency refresh to market barely a year later to maintain Civic’s momentum.

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The NY debut revealed a striking design loaded with new features meant to push the 2016 Honda Civic up against the boundaries of what might normally be considered “mainstream.” But to find out how it actually felt behind the wheel, we set off for Los Angele a few weeks ago to get a first drive of the new sedan.

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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 Range Rover Sport Td6

No-compromise diesel is fuel-efficient, quick and powerful.

by on Sep.02, 2015

In the U.S. both the 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport now offer a Td6 diesel option.

The rock and gravel path seems to vanish as we approach the edge of the cliff. But we’re determined not to give up. So, tapping a few buttons on the center console , we press on – and over, the big SUV maintaining complete control all the way down.

A moment later, we come to an equally daunting challenge. The only way to continue is to climb up and over a slick wall of granite. It’s the sort of obstacle that might leave other vehicles stranded. But not the 2016 Range Rover Sport Td6. We point the noise, tap another button on the steering wheel and lift our feet off the pedals. Requiring only a little guidance on the steering wheel, the Range Rover begins its climb as confidently as a mountain goat.

Trailblazing!

The British SUV has long had a reputation as one of the most competent trailblazers you could find. The 2016 model takes things to an entirely new level. And with the addition of the first diesel powertrain bound for the U.S., the 2016 Range Rover Sport Td6 adds to the formula unexpectedly compelling fuel economy.

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