Archive for the ‘First Drive’ Category

First Drive: 2019 BMW 3-Series

Rediscovering the art of “the ultimate driving machine.”

by on Dec.11, 2018

BMW's taking the covers off the next-gen 3-Series. The 330i is certainly a step above its predecessors.

There are advantages to being the best in breed – but there are some disadvantages, as well, as BMW is well aware. Since the very first version rolled out in May 1975, the BMW 3-Series has been the benchmark of the compact sports sedan market, delivering a mix of performance, handling and luxury that other brands have struggled to match.

Now, however, as the seventh-generation 3-Series gets ready to roll into showrooms, the Bavarian automaker faces a level of competition never seen before. Traditional rivals like Mercedes-Benz and Audi have been zeroing in on the BMW formula, as have new competitors such as Genesis, which recently won high-profile kudos like the Motor Trend Car of the Year.

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And Tesla is aiming to redefine the rules with its all-electric Model 3. BMW is even competing with itself. In an SUV-crazed world, more and more traditional 3-Series buyers have been migrating to the brand’s own X3 crossover. (more…)

Range Rover Redux – 2nd Gen Evoque Breaks Cover

New platform, more technology for smallest Range Rover.

by on Nov.23, 2018

The 2019 Range Rover Evoque made a splashy debut in Britain on Thursday night.

At first glance, you might not recognize the compact ute has gotten a nearly complete makeover, but there have been plenty of significant changes made to the 2019 Range Rover Evoque, more than 90% of what you’d find under the skin of the compact SUV being all new.

First launched in 2010 as a 2011 model, the Evoque quickly became the most popular model in Land Rover history and, even as the first-generation ute approached the end of its run it has remained quite popular. But, in an increasingly crowded market, the British sibling of Jaguar is taking no chances.

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“When Range Rover Evoque made its debut back in 2010, it transformed the world of compact SUVs and the new model is set to continue that remarkable journey,” declared design director Gerry McGovern, at a splashy British unveiling on Thursday evening. “This characterful vehicle combines refinement and fun to create that all important emotional reaction that will turn heads and make people smile.”

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First Drive: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Mainstay of brand's line-up only getting better with age.

by on Nov.20, 2018

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 will be offered in a variety of versions, including the new Hybrid.

The Toyota RAV4 has been around for more than two decades but its recent performance has been nothing short of spectacular as its sales have doubled in the past five years, which is most impressive for a vehicle in various iterations has been around for more than 20 years.

However, the competition is intense. Toyota’s market share it can rightfully claim it created in the segment is under siege from rivals from North America, Europe and Asia.

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But Toyota isn’t sitting still either. With the 2019 RAV4, it is substantially changing the character of compact utility vehicle with more power, a new exterior look and an impressive hybrid version that Toyota expects to account for significant sales volume that is quite likely to surpass that of the Prius.

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First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2.7L

Can a small engine really power a big truck?

by on Nov.19, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado features a new 2.7-liter turbo four with cylinder deactivation.

It takes a big engine to make a big truck owner happy — or so went the conventional wisdom among full-size pickup manufacturers until recently.

That strategy has been changing rapidly, in large part reflecting the arrival of some surprisingly peppy, albeit downsized, turbocharged powertrain packages, such as those from Ford’s EcoBoost family. More than half of all F-150s now go out the showroom door with a six under the hood. Now, we’re beginning to see not only competitive V-6 options, but even four-cylinder alternatives, such as the new 2.7-liter Chevrolet is unleashing with the arrival of the 2019 Silverado.

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An engine of that size, with or without a turbocharged kick, might have seemed entirely unlikely just a few years ago, but a day of driving the Silverado 2.7L through the desert badlands outside Phoenix last week proved that big things really can come in small packages. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Lexus NX 300h

New version boasts an improved powertrain and expansive interior.

by on Nov.15, 2018

The 2018 Lexus NX 300h features an updated powertrain that provides plenty of power right away without the hard shifts.

Lexus doesn’t have the long history of Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac or BMW but over the years it has succeeded in pushing innovation and change within the luxury segment, which for most of the auto industry’s history was built around expensive sedans.

However, as the prices of new vehicles have climbed and what was once considered luxury equipment winds up in more and more cars, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, brands such as Lexus are being forced to reconsider what defines luxury.

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The 2018 Lexus NX 300h certainly doesn’t look like a traditional luxury vehicle, inside or out. But it has plenty of the attributes long connected to luxury vehicles such as a quiet cabin, comfortable interior and a smooth ride powered by some of the latest and most sophisticated technology. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST Crew Cab

Laden with new tech, plenty of power and impressively quiet.

by on Nov.09, 2018

GM is counting on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST to be competitive in the full-size pickup sales battle.

The auto industry is a global industry and highly competitive. But few segments of the business are anywhere near as competitive as the pickup truck market in U.S. where Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and their respective corporate managers are engaged in intense contest for sales and bragging rights.

The contest of has gotten even more intense lately as all three manufacturers have introduced new trucks.

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I recently got to drive the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – a four-wheel-drive RST Crew Cab Silverado to be precise – and it is far cry from the old trucks that have helped make the American pickup into something of a legend and the object of enormous affection and desire. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Mazda6 Signature

Company continues its pairing of sportiness and comfort in this sedan.

by on Nov.06, 2018

Mazda is staying the midsize sedan game and its latest iteration of the Mazda6 is one of the better options.

Sedans have fallen out of favor with motorists in the United States sales tallies suggest. Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. indicate, with the exception of muscle cars, they are prepared to exit the segment, perhaps for good.

But the midsize sedan segment remains one of the largest in the business; accounting for sales of more than an estimated 1.5 million units and drawing interest from key manufacturers such Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Mazda, specifically with its Mazda6.

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Mazda has made a substantial effort to re-engineer its midsized sedan for 2018 and while its predecessor was awfully good, the 2018 Mazda6 with its retuned suspension, quieter cabin and revamped connectivity, has been made even better. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Honda Accord Hybrid

Plenty of power, polish make it a keeper.

by on Nov.02, 2018

The 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid won the North American Car of the Year for this year.

Honda has taken its share of quality lumps lately, but its also shown it makes terrific cars such as the Civic and Accord, which was named North American Car of the Year back in January.

Now Honda has rolled out the hybrid version of the Accord and it is also just as impressive in its own ways the Accord that runs only on gasoline.

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But the 2019 Accord Hybrid’s blend of gasoline and electric motors make the car even more versatile particularly in urban driving where the EV mode and extra low-end torque from the combined powertrain give the Accord an added dimension that is both practical and pleasing to drive in heavy traffic.  (more…)

First Drive: Newer, More Affordable 2019 Acura ILX

In an age of SUVs, a sedan worth checking out.

by on Oct.30, 2018

The 2019 Acura ILX A-Spec.

It was the first Japanese luxury brand but, in recent years, Acura has struggled to be more than dead last when it comes to potential buyers’ shopping lists.

That’s begun to change as Honda’s upscale brand has started rolling out some truly impressive updates to its line-up, including the 2019 Acura RDX considered one of the hot prospects for North American SUV of the Year. But the transformation doesn’t stop there, as Acura is demonstrating with the roll-out of its next-generation entry-level sedan.

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The 2019 Acura ILX not only gets a stylish remake and plenty of appealing safety, comfort and convenience technologies, it also boasts a surprising price cut, the base model coming in at just $26,895, including $995 in delivery fees. That’s a full $2,200 less than the outgoing ILX – and is actually the same price the luxury brand first asked for when the ILX was introduced in 2012. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Volvo V60

New midsize wagon offers luxury and comfort with Volvo safety.

by on Oct.16, 2018

The new Volvo V60 offers stereotypical Volvo safety with plenty of performance and luxury.

Selling station wagons to American motorists has been an uphill battle, maybe even tougher than selling ice in Alaska given the pace of climate change.

But Volvo, which throughout the years has made its share of iconic station wagons, is launching a new one, the V60, into the teeth of the onslaught of utility vehicles that has nearly wiped out the entire segment.

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The second-generation Volvo V60 is an impressive vehicle that demands attention even in face of the tsunami of new SUVs that boosted motorists of all backgrounds into the command seating positions. The V60 is handsome, nicely balanced and very well-equipped with some of the latest technology and safety features, such as a new system that can mitigate the force of a head-on collision.  (more…)

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