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First Drive: 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Traversing the land of fire and ice.

by on Jan.30, 2015

The 2015 Land Rover Discovery clambers out of a frigid Icelandic river crossing.

Legend has it that the ancient Vikings attempted to mislead potential invaders by naming an inhospitable spit of Arctic turf Greenland. Discovering its frozen wastes, the logic seemingly went, they’d steer clear of the even more dismally named Iceland. Visitors to the capital city of Reykjavik unfailingly find the humor in this tale – until the polar winds descend, as they did earlier this month, howling in windswept gusts approaching 100 miles an hour.

But it was precisely the sort of weather we had come looking for as we clambered into the new 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport, steering our way along the frozen coast and then heading into the interior of a volcanic island used as the backdrop for some of the most desolate winter scenes from the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.

The Last Word!

The Disco Sport, as it is commonly called, is the latest in a series of new products to emerge from the British maker’s design and engineering studios in recent years. With the top-line Range Rover family essentially complete, Land Rover is working on the second leg of its three-segment stool, the Sport being the first of several Discovery models to come.

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Ford Aims to Edge Out the Competition with All-New 2015 Edge CUV

Crossover will target Europe for 1st time.

by on Jun.24, 2014

The new 2015 Ford Edge adopts the same C/D platform as the maker's Fusion sedan.

Ford hopes to maintain its Edge when it launches an all-new version of its midsize crossover later this year, the 2015 Ford Edge marking the nameplate’s debut in the European market.

The new crossover-utility vehicle, originally introduced for the 2007 model-year, the Edge quickly gained traction in the booming U.S. CUV market, and it has been a major factor in Ford’s rapid growth in China. Now, the maker hopes to repeat that success in Europe as it launches an all-new version of the Edge that it boasts is more refined, more powerful and more fuel efficient.

We're Your Edge!

The new Edge also serves as the latest example of retiring CEO Alan Mulally’s One Ford strategy, the 2015 crossover migrating to a new platform that it shares with a variety of other key Ford products including the midsize Fusion sedan, the 4-door European Mondeo and S-Max people-mover, as well as the latest version of the Lincoln MKZ.

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First Drive: 2014 Toyota Highlander

In the hunt.

by on Dec.20, 2013

The 2014 Toyota Highlander offers three different powertrains, including a hybrid option.

The Highlander doesn’t get the kind of attention lavished on the Toyota Prius or the Camry, which continues to anchor the Japanese automaker’s line-up as the best-selling passenger cars in the U.S.

However, the Toyota Highlander represents one of the Japanese giant’s more successful forays into the truck side of the business where, despite the enormous popularity of its brand, it has encountered some disappointments over the years, notably with the tepid response to the Tundra, its full size pickup truck.

Product News!

The Highlander came into the U.S. market in 2001 as Toyota was accelerating its ambitious plans to overtake General Motors as the world’s largest automaker.  It was Toyota’s entry into the fast growing-midsized utility markets and was one of the first SUVs constructed around a unibody, rather than truck-like body-on-frame, platform.  And it caught on, in part, because of the company’s reputation for building durable and reliable vehicles.

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First Drive: 2014 Jeep Cherokee

A new face for the Trail-Rated brand.

by on Sep.17, 2013

The new 2014 Jeep Cherokee attempts to maintain the classic Jeep off-roadability while gaining better mileage and on-road manners.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare once asked. When it comes to cars, quite a bit, especially when it’s one of a handful of truly groundbreaking products. Like the Jeep Cherokee.  The folks at Chrysler had to ask themselves some serious questions before simply slapping that once-formidable badge back on the replacement for the largely unloved Liberty SUV.

The original Cherokee, known internally as the XJ, effectively invented the modern sport-utility vehicle, transforming it from a military and commercial vehicle with a modest following among rugged outdoorsmen into a truly mainstream alternative. Of course, success begets imitation and soon, SUVs were everywhere.  The market quickly moved on and by 2001, Chrysler pulled the plug on what was, by then, a dated and forgotten model.

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The Liberty never quite found its groove.  It was neither fish nor fowl, not quite the rugged off-roader nor the smooth on-roader that the market has largely migrated to. So, Jeep hit the “Reset” button and set out to do it again, wisely deciding to abandon the Liberty name and bring back Cherokee. But is it a fit? That’s what we set out to discover when he headed into the hills north of Los Angeles for a good day’s driving in the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

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First Drive: 2014 Toyota 4Runner

Subtle tweaks to the familiar formula.

by on Aug.01, 2013

The 2014 Toyota 4Runner retains its classic body-on-frame design.

Few companies have done a better job of shaking up the established order than Toyota over the last few decades. But when it comes to the new 2014 4Runner, the Japanese maker has chosen to let the world change around it, instead.

The midsize sport-utility vehicle has always been one of the maker’s more important products – even more than its sales numbers might suggest — because it helped convince a lot of Americans that Toyota knew how to build something other than small cars.

Since its introduction in 1984, the Toyota 4Runner has developed an impressive following. But the maker faced a significant question when setting out to develop the 2014 update: whether to stay with the conventional, truck-like design of generations past or adopt an all-new, car-like platform much as key competitors such as the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer have lately done.

Reviews You Can Trust!

The decision was to maintain the 4Runner’s body-on-frame construction, which makes it’s a holdout in the midsize segment where it will now be the only remaining “truck-truck.”  That said, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner has been updated with a mid-cycle refresh gives the vehicle a fresh face up front that makes it look more rugged. There are also new rear and front bumpers as well as new projector headlights that accent the 2014 model’s grille.

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First Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel

Diesel power to the people.

by on Feb.25, 2013

Jeep makes some unexpectedly significant updatest to the Grand Cherokee for 2014.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee landed among the three finalists for North American Truck of the Year. And though the SUV didn’t win the coveted trophy it clearly clicked with potential buyers, helping drive a dramatic increase in sales

So, as the 2014 model-year approaches, it might seem like there’d be little reason to pay much attention when Jeep announced it is updating the Grand Cherokee once again. Three years in, that’s normally the time manufacturers come up with minimal cosmetic and technical changes that the average buyers would barely even notice.

Be in the Know!

Not in this case.  While true, Jeep hasn’t gone back to square one, there are some surprisingly significant changes – from the basic electric architecture to the powertrain options, as well as exterior design details — coming for the 2014 model-year that justify a closer look by reviewers and a serious re-think by potential buyers.

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First Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester

More than just another cute-ute.

by on Jan.25, 2013

The 2014 Subaru Forester delivers both on-road and off-, according to TDB's reviewer.

Subaru, long a favorite of drivers facing snow drifts and steep mountains, is beginning to catch on with motorists in other parts of the country and after driving the new 2014 Subaru Forester it’s easy to understand why.

The first crossover in the maker’s line-up, the Forester is back in all-new form for 2014, and the new model is versatile, nimble and quite capable. It delivers the kind of comfortable, stable ride on both pavement and dirt of gravel roads which other crossovers find hard to match.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Carmakers like to claim their CUVs combine the attributes of a passenger car — with a nicely-tuned suspension and better mileage – with the off-road capabilities of a sport utility vehicle but few come as close as the 2014 Subaru Forester.  Subaru’s engineers have actually delivered a CUV that does handle like a compact sedan out on the highway while showing itself quite adept at moving off the pavement without losing its bearings or having the automotive equivalent of a hissy fit.

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First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

No one-trick pony.

by on Sep.14, 2012

Hyundai remakes the Santa Fe crossover with its Fluidic Sculpture design language.

Hyundai has been on a roll of late. But like an eager new homeowner it is still looking to knock down some walls to enlarge a space that it believes holds additional promise — which is precisely where the new 2013 Santa Fe comes into the picture.

Small crossovers are hot in today’s fast-changing market and Hyundai executives believe they aren’t getting a fair share of what is one of the fastest-growing segments. Hence, the 2013 Santa Fe has been groomed and tailored to make it more appealing to buyers looking for a blend of practical utility and new technology while also delivering on some of the old school automotive fundamentals such as power and good handling.

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The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe line-up is not a one-trick pony – and that means the updated line-up could be a bit confusing. There are actually two versions of the crossover-utility vehicles for 2013. The five-door Santa Fe Sport is the direct replacement for the outgoing model while the Santa Fe name — full stop — now goes onto a 3-row, 7-passenger offering that replaces the largely ignored Hyundai Veracruz.

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First Look: 2013 Range Rover

Lighter, more fuel-efficient, still ready to go anywhere.

by on Aug.15, 2012

The 2013 Range Rover will drop as much as 976 lbs in some markets.

It has long set the benchmark for the classic, full-sized SUV but it’s been a decade since Land Rover last rolled out a new version of its flagship ute and the market has changed dramatically since then.  The wait is finally over.

The British maker is officially lifting the covers on the all-new 2013 Range Rover – and while the look might be familiar it’s not just a facelift. The new sport-ute has been re-engineered from the ground up, with the 2013 Range Rover adopting an all-aluminum body and platform.  That, the maker claims, will translate into a lighter, more nimble – and more fuel-efficient – vehicle than the outgoing SUV.

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Yet despite shedding a stunning 926 pounds of mass, Land Rover insists the new flagship will maintain its go-anywhere versatility while also delivering more of the comfort, convenience and safety features the typical owner is demanding for day-to-day use.

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Porsche Bringing New Cayenne GTS to Beijing

Higher power, lower chassis = better performance.

by on Apr.13, 2012

The Porsche Cayenne GTS getting ready to roll into Beijing later this month.

Automakers will get one more shot to trot out their latest and greatest products as the Beijing Motor Show prepares to get underway before the car show circuit takes its summer hiatus.  And Porsche is preparing for China by giving us a sneak peek at the maker’s updated 2013 Cayenne GTS.

Don’t be surprised if it seems familiar.  The GTS has a lot in common, at least visually, with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, including the front fascia and hood.  But under that hood you’ll find a naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V-8 that makes 420 horsepower, 20 more than the current Cayenne S model.

The Last Word!

To further improve the fun factor, Porsche is lowering the GTS ride height by 20 mm – or nearly an inch – while also adopting a lower final drive ratio.

The Cayenne GTS isn’t an entire clone of the Turbo.  Exterior modifications include blacked-out window frames and quad exhaust tips, as well as wider fenders, lower sills and a double-wing roof spoiler.

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