2020 Subaru Ascent by Ben Lewis

What if you love your Subaru Outback but find yourself needing more room, especially a 3rd row of seats? Or if you have a 3-row SUV and always wanted a Subaru to call your own? Easy, get yourself a Subaru Ascent. We worried that the transition to such a large vehicle might dilute the Subie goodness we’ve found in the Outback, Forester, Crosstrek – even the WRX. So, we had to ask. Is the biggest Subaru still true to the cause? Subaru Design on Display Well, it certainly looks that way. If you didn’t have a reference point, you might …

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2020 VW Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn by Ben Lewis

We often get asked, what vehicle do you recommend for an enthusiast who also needs real-world practicality? While we would love to recommend something like the BMW M235i Gran Coupe we tested, we get it – it’s not inexpensive. Ditto for the Mini Countryman JCW. But for those who especially like European driving manners, there’s always been an easy answer – VW’s delightful GTI. And with a new model around the corner, we thought we’d take a last look at the 7th gen hot hatch to see if it still holds up as a great all-rounder. ( A new 2022 …

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2020 Mazda Miata MX-5 RF Grand Touring by Ben Lewis

Great cars seem to have a few things in common. But it really boils down to this – a great car always creates a sense of occasion, every time you drive. And that’s something you can say about every Miata since the first one came ashore in 1990. Yep, 30 years. While you can argue which model is best, there’s never been a mis-step, they’ve never tried to change its mission…a Miata is not a luxury car. Or an SUV. Or heaven forbid, a minivan. It’s a sports car, pure and undiluted. Let’s celebrate the MX-5’s big 3-0! Classic Proportions …

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2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum L4 AWD by Ben Lewis

The Toyota Highlander has always been a solid choice in the mid-size SUV segment. By solid, we mean, well-built, good value, Toyota reliability. But ahem, nothing to get excited about. Well, until now. For 2020, there’s an all-new Highlander, and while it hasn’t lost any of the things that make a Highlander a stress-free choice, this one’s notably more passionate, from style, to driving, to features. You can now lust after a Highlander and not be locked up in the automotive looney bin. Big and Bold The first thing that hits you is the Highlander’s take-no-prisoners design. It looks bigger, …

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2020 Buick Encore GX Essence FWD by Ben Lewis

Have you ever been at a pizza place and seen something called “The Meat Lover’s Pizza”? Or a place that has “The Veggie Lover’s” sandwich? It’s called specialization – and why should food have all the fun. Introducing the all-new 2020 Buick Encore GX – we call it “The Tech Lover’s Buick. Stylish SUV Before we go any further, we need to point out that the Encore GX is not related to the previous Buick Encore, which is still available – small, fun, funky, and frankly one of our favorite small SUVs. But between the much larger Enclave and Envision …

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2020 Kia Niro PHEV EX Premium by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the 2020 Kia Sportage, and noted that Kia in a very Porsche-like manner, continuously tweaks and updates as it goes along, and like the Sportage, we find the same is true for Niro hybrid model. Since the Niro is one our favorite Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid and EV models, that’s all good news for us. Let’s take a look at the changes. Updated Looks On the outside, the Niro has received some updates to keep it looking fresh. Up front, there are new projector-type headlights and fogs, dual chevron-style LED daytime running lights, and a new diamond-pattern grille. …

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2020 Kia Sportage SX AWD by Ben Lewis

We only somewhat jokingly called the Sportage SUV the “Korean Cayenne” for its Porsche like looks, and sporty personality. But it seems like Kia has taken that to heart, as it is continuously refining and improving the popular vehicle and making it better in every way. And it was pretty great to start with. Fresh Face The makeover for the Sportage starts with a more aggressive front and rear fascia, including new headlights with LED indicators and LED fogs, and a new front grille, bumper, air intake and skid plate. It still looks like a Sportage, but the design feels …

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2020 Hyundai Ioniq HEV Limited by Ben Lewis

It’s interesting how popular hybrids are these days. Historically, gas is relatively cheap, and with the pandemic, lots of people are driving less. Seems like a good excuse to get something crazy like the 485-horsepower Dodge Charger Scat Pack we recently tested. But no, being frugal, and eco-friendly seem to be trends that are not going away. So, we decided to test one of our favorite hybrid vehicles, the Hyundai Ioniq. And although the Korean carmaker was later to the market with this kind of vehicle, it has quickly become a major challenge to the Toyota Prius. Let’s see why. …

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2020 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 EcoDiesel by Ben Lewis

When we used to go to movie theaters (remember that?) our favorite large bucket of popcorn unapologetically wore the “Big is More” logo. You have to admire the honesty. And if a pickup truck ever deserved to have the Big is More graphic on it, it would be the 2020 Dodge Ram 1500. Big is Beautiful This is one gorgeous truck. And being a crew cab, it cuts a large swath wherever it goes. The massive front grille must look immense in the rearview mirror of traffic as pull up – other cars would scurry to get out of your …

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2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody by Ben Lewis

Sometimes we drive a car that makes us smile with joy. Heck, we grin just looking at it. And our 2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody is such a car. And once you drive it – you’ll never be able to wipe that smile off your face. Green Giant Well the first thing to kick in the old endorphins is the new -for-2020 Widebody exterior. Originally seen on the Challenger model and offered on the 707-horsepower Charger SRT Hellcat model, the Scat Pack widebody adds integrated fender flares that add 3.5 inches in width. And the Charger was already a …

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2020 Lexus NX 300h by Ben Lewis

We always hear about “Best in Class”, “Class-Leading” or “Class Standard”, but what happens when you’re the only one in your class? And that’s what we have here, in its segment ,the Lexus NX 300h is the only regular hybrid in its class. Well, some manufacturers might take that as an opportunity to set the bar low – where else you going to go? – but not Lexus. Like all their products, they hold everything to a higher standard. But is it worth going to a hybrid, when there a lot of other interesting choices, including a non-hybrid Lexus NX?  …

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2020 Toyota Camry TRD V6 Sedan by Ben Lewis

Introducing Toyota’s hot new performance vehicle – the TRD Camry. Toyota Racing Development? The in-house racing division of the big T? And Camry? Sounds like two things that don’t go together – like jumbo shrimp. But just like that crave-worthy crustacean, it comes together quite nicely. And it just might be a performance bargain to boot. Big Bold Style When the Camry was redone in 2018, we loved the new aggressive look – muscular and wide, it looked more like a European sport sedan, and had real presence. To give it the “Competition Look” the TRD adds unique piano-black front …

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2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the MINI Clubman and remarked that there’s a lot of BMW under the skin. Well, in many ways, you could say the new BMW 2-series Gran Coupe has a fair amount of MINI under the skin – and just like the Clubby, it’s a good thing. Another way to think of the M235i Gran Coupe is the sedan version of the monster X2 M35i we tested – they share a lot of the same running gear – but going from SAV/SUV/Crossover to Sedan/Gran Coupe (stop with all the different names, please!) creates a very different beast. But …

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2020 MINI Cooper S Clubman by Ben Lewis

Is there anybody that still thinks MINI is a British company? Well, the truth is, it’s been part of BMW for a long time. In fact, many of the current BMW’s – like the X1 SUV – share MINI running gear. But that’s no reason to cry into your warm beer, as MINI is the best of both worlds. While the stylists who surround the MINI product make grand efforts to keep the bulldog-style, the fun and whimsical vibe, the knowledgeable folks at BMW continue to massage and refine the product. Ever year, there’s lots of little improvements. So, we …

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2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring by Ben Lewis

Honda is often times a technology leader, but in the case of the Hybrid SUV’s, it’s been a bit slow. But good news is here for those who love the CR-V and want all the goodness a Hybrid can bring – for 2020 we have the all-new CR-V Hybrid. And with Toyota turning up the heat in the segment with the excellent RAV4 Hybrid, it’s perfect timing. CR-V Hybrid Exterior – The Best Looking CR-V Ever! For 2020, all CR-V models get a makeover, including bolder front and rear styling and redesigned wheels. And like the Civic Coupe we recently …

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2020 Toyota Avalon XSE Hybrid by Ben Lewis

It’s interesting how different technologies develop over time. A perfect example is the Hybrid car. With the original Prius, it was a technically interesting, but pretty agrarian little vehicle. Slow and a little clunky, it got very good gas mileage, but you had to be committed to the cause. Come round 2, and Hybrids got better, with little penalty to the driving experience, excellent gas mileage – our 2019 Prius tester averaged over 50 mpg! – but the appeal of hybrids remained in the camps of eco-friendliness. But now the Hybrid has another trick up its sleeve – it’s now …

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2020 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD by Ben Lewis

Now more than ever, our vehicles have become our sanctuaries. And if you’re like us, you think, why not make my sanctuary a big, luxurious, comfy and powerful one? Allow us to introduce the perfect place to hang out – the 2020 Nissan Armada. Armada Exterior –Big, Bold, Style One thing we like about Nissan is that they don’t just do the same vehicle in different sizes. A Rogue is not a small Pathfinder, an Altima is not just a mid-size Maxima. Everything has its own vibe. And that’s especially true with the Armada. All-new in 2018, the Armada hasn’t …

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2020 Subaru WRX Series. White by Ben Lewis

Subaru does something very European. They never seem to be completely satisfied and are constantly tweaking the WRX. Of course, you have the big cycle changes, and the smaller ones, and don’t forget the Special Editions. Since 2002, when it was introduced, the WRX has evolved. But this is more than just that.  The WRX Series. White is something really special. The changes are subtle in the overall scheme of things, and yet, this thing just works. Impressively so. So is the Series. White the best WRX ever? Let’s find out.   WRX Series. White Exterior – the Plain White …

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2020 Subaru Legacy Sport Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve always liked Subaru. They’re the perfect example of a company zigging while others zagged. Steadfast in their belief in all-wheel-drive (except for the BR-Z sports car), Subies gained a foothold in areas with lots of snow or slop and became beloved for their mountain-goat-like abilities. The brand has been smart, spreading the gospel of AWD, the horizontally-opposed “Boxer” engine, and has created a name with true identity; green, caring, safe. Subaru isn’t just for the snow-belt anymore. They use the word Love a lot in their ads. All good. Of course, the other brands aren’t just going to sit …

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2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited by Ben Lewis

Well, we are always excited to hear about a new Hyundai Sonata. It seems that the automaker always tries to do something special, and their flagship sedan also seems to get some hand-me-down (we should all be so lucky!) technology from its wealthy sibling Genesis. And if you saw the Superbowl commercial, it’s bringing some amazing tech to the segment as well. So, is this the sedan to beat Camry and Accord at their own game? We’ll see! Sonata exterior – Distinctive Styling Ok, you see the word “distinctive” and you wonder – and well you should. At first glance …

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2020 Mazda CX-30 by Ben Lewis

Okay, we’re spoiled for choice these days. If you say you can’t find a vehicle to meet your needs, you’re not looking hard enough. Let’s take small cars/SUVs/crossovers. And a manufacturer like Mazda. Need a small car? There’s the Mazda 3 sedan and the Mazda 3 hatchback. We’ve tested both and loved them. Maybe want a small crossover/SUV? There’s the Mazda CX-3. Also, excellent. But you say, well, I want something a little taller than a sedan/hatch, but not quite an SUV. Okay says Mazda – here’s the all-new CX-30! And it might be the perfect blend of all the …

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2020 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium by Ben Lewis

It’s hard to remember a new Toyota vehicle that’s had this much attention around it. Yes, the new RAV4 was a big deal, and the new Camry was also important. But neither of them had car guys (and gals) drooling, dreaming, and scouring social media for info like the new Supra. And the Supra is a very important car for the brand. As Toyota has made huge efforts to make each new vehicle more exciting and better performing, they needed a halo vehicle to show what the brand is really made of. Enter one of the most popular performance cars …

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2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X 4×4 by Ben Lewis

These days, we’ve been thinking a lot about “bug out” vehicles. Maybe it’s too much bingeing on the Walking Dead, but hey when the Zombies come a-munching, what you gonna do? We say hop in your 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee and head for the hills! Grand Cherokee exterior – familiar and friendly While the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse is really not that new, neither is the Grand Cherokee. But that’s not a bad thing. Jeep says it’s the most rewarded SUV ever, and that’s believable. And the Jeep GC continues to be the same tasteful, handsome vehicle it has …

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2020 Toyota C-HR Limited By Ben Lewis

It’s interesting how time changes things. When we tested the 2018 C-HR, it was one of the first of the mini-crossovers, and it looked like the small sedan was on its way of going extinct. Well, the small sedan still isn’t what it used to be, but it’s around. And we’ve found some really good ones lately, including the Toyota Corolla and Kia Forte GT. But what’s even more interesting to us, is that the mini-crossover has now been attracting the interest of a new type of buyer – those who were thinking about luxury vehicles, but with the economy …

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2020 Fiat 500x Sport by Ben Lewis

Are you a fan of Monty Python? (OK, we may be dating ourselves here..) Well, they used to have a segment with a newsman-like person at a desk saying, “And now for something completely different.” And you know, they could have been talking about the Fiat 500x. Fiat 500x Exterior – Thinking out of The Box It starts with expressive looks. While it shares the running gear with the Jeep Renegade, it won’t be confused with that, or any other small SUV. Last year, the 500x got a facelift, with new front and rear fascia that trade in a little …

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2020 BMW M340i xDrive Sedan by Ben Lewis

In every market segment there is the dominant player. Small affordable sports car? Miata. Import pickup truck? Tacoma. And when it comes to premium sport sedan, that would be the BMW 3-series. Which is not to say there isn’t competition there, in fact a bunch of wonderful sedans from the Audi A4 to the Genesis G70 to the Volvo S60 are gunning to be the quickest gun in town. But it always seemed that the BMW 3 is the benchmark. And now they went and made it incredible – welcome to the BMW M340i. M340i Exterior – Low-key flyer The …

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2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Touring by Ben Lewis

If you love Honda, and want a full-on EV, there’s some bad news. You can’t get one. Honda has decided to discontinue the 100% Honda Clarity Electric. If you really want to be on the edge, there’s still the Hydrogen-powered model Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, but it’s a California-only model, and you’re really limited for fueling stations. But there’s good news, too. The Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid continues, and it’s one of our favorite PHEV’s as they’re known. In fact, you might love it, even if you have no interest in hybrids or EV’s at all! Honda Clarity Design – …

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2021 Kia Seltos S FWD by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Hyundai Kona, and found it to be a stylish, sporty and well-equipped runabout. So, it’s easy to think that the all-new 2021 Kia Seltos, which shares most of the powertrain is its brother from another mother, but that’s not the case – it’s a completely different vehicle with a different purpose. Poised between Kia’s funky Soul and more traditional Sportage, it’s a small, rugged adventurer ready to tackle tough conditions. Kia Seltos Exterior – Bold and Eye Catching Kia likes to say that the Seltos has the same design theme as the big, bold Telluride SUV. …

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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the VW Atlas, the brand’s newest 3-row, 7-passenger SUV, and really liked it. And not just us, it’s been a strong sales success – an affordable, stylish, fun to drive 3-row SUV is a hot ticket these days. Just take a look at the Kia Telluride. But the brand famous for the VW GTI can’t just let that large SUV sit there. They wanted to make something sportier, with a little more attitude and fun. Voila’! Welcome to the swoopier 5-seater Cross Sport. And we found it surprisingly different from its 3-row sibling. Atlas Cross Sport Design …

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2020 Hyundai Venue Road Test Review by Ben Lewis

2020 Hyundai Venue SEL Review Here’s a term you don’t here that much anymore. Basic transportation. You probably remember them, usually a small car, no frills, no thrills, just get me to work (or school) and back. Thrifty and reliable. Well, those don’t really exist anymore. Part of that is good – comprehensive safety is becoming standard equipment on just about all vehicles. And with almost everyone using a smartphone, connectivity is important. And oh yeah, might as well make it a small SUV/Crossover – versatility and practicality won’t take a back seat anymore. So that’s opened the door for …

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2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review by Ben Lewis – Green with Energy

To paraphrase a famous SNL sketch, Audi been very, very, good to us. Looking back, we spent quality time with the beautiful A5 coupe, the potent S5 Sportback, and now we’re driving the Uber-fast (not to be confused with Uber, fast) RS 5 Sportback. It’s a nice progression, as each one has built on the other, but you’re never really prepared for the jaw-dropping performance an Audi RS model can provide. Green, with Energy The first thing that hit us about our tester was its Sonoma Green Metallic paint. We loved it. Audi has a tradition of bringing some awesome …

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2020 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new 2020 Kia Forte and came away impressed. It’s the latest of the new-class of fun-to-drive sedans that are taking the fight to the small crossover/SUV market. And one of the most exciting members of that new class is the VW Jetta GLI. For a long time, the GLI has been the hot-tach GTI’s poor relation – nice, and fun, but no GTI. Well, all that changed last year with the introduction of the new Jetta, which included a new GLI. And VW did enthusiasts a solid – giving us the same running gear of the …

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2020 Kia Forte GT by Ben Lewis

Many have said that the small car is on the way out. That small crossovers like the Hyundai Kona or tall hatchbacks like the Mazda CX30 will pushing them out. And the numbers don’t lie, SUV crossovers are king. (outside of full-size pickup trucks). But the sedan isn’t ready to throw in the towel yet. In fact, struggling to stay relevant has brought some of the best 4-doors to market that we’ve seen in a long time. The new Toyota Camry is excellent and fun. The Honda Accord, too. Heck they even put a turbo motor in the Mazda 6. …

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2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD by Ben Lewis

Small SUV’s are a big thing, and they keep on getting bigger. And they’re not just aiming for small SUV and crossover buyers, they’re going after small car buyers too. The new Mazda CX30 for example, is more a tall hatch than anything else. The Hyundai Kona could fit into that mold as well. It definitely has SUV styling cues, but the size certainly wouldn’t turn off buyers coming from small cars. And as a bonus, this is one of the most fun small SUV’s to drive. Spending a week in a Kona is a much fun as…. well, a …

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2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD by Ben Lewis

If you’ve been thinking about a 3-row SUV, but you’re not sure, you’re not alone. It seems like the automakers can’t make up their minds either. A few years ago, we saw a bunch of new models feature available third row seats. And while they initially took a bite out of the minivan segment, a lot of them have gone away, or made them low-volume models. Mazda’s CX-9 is one of those. But we wouldn’t weep about limited availability of a 3rd row, because frankly, the largest Mazda SUV is a dynamite vehicle. It’s a Looker We’ve seen a nice …

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2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition by Ben Lewis

Words like “Icon” and “Legend” get thrown around a lot in the automotive marketplace. Along with terms like “inspired by” and “an homage to” also thrown in. But there are a few deserving the title of greatness, and in SUV’s, you’d have to include Toyota’s Land Cruiser. First of all, it’s been around a long time, 60+ years. And while we’ve been through many iterations of the Cruiser, despite growing larger, more powerful and more luxurious along the way, it has always maintained its ruggedness, its off-road capability, and unbreakable nature. And it’s a world-wide favorite – from the Sahara …

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2020 Mini JCW Countryman All4 by Ben Lewis

You think you know Mini, but you don’t know Mini. Yeah, we know, cute fun little cars. Quick, with – everyone says it – “go cart” handling. But how about a high performance, sports car-stomping, lightning-quick Mini? And how about making that a Countryman? Behold the JCW Countryman, an unlikely superhero you can’t help but cheer for. For those not in the know, JCW is John Cooper Works. Cooper was a famous racer and performance builder of the original Mini in the 60’s, and we love that Mini remembers those who were so influential to the brand. A Super New …

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2020 Honda Civic Si 4-door by Ben Lewis

Normally, when a carmaker does a few mid-lifecycle tweaks to keep things fresh, it’s not a big deal. Maybe the looks get a little update, the electronics get brought up to speed, and if you’re lucky, they squeeze out a couple horsepower. So, when Honda offered us a 2020 Civic Si, we were happy to see it – we love the current-gen Si – but not really expecting much. But hold the phone! Those little things add up to be a big change. Fresh Face There was some moaning and groaning about the Civics’ exuberant styling when it first came …

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2020 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth by Ben Lewis

Ok, we’re spoiled here in California. While a great part of the country is dealing with old man Winter and shoveling their way to get cars out of the driveway, we’ve had a nice touch of warmth hitting the low 70’s. A perfect time for a zippy drop top like the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. It’s a What? We forget sometimes that everyone isn’t a car enthusiast. But we had more than a few people asking us what our tester was. Well, it’s a Fiat, obviously, right? Until you notice that it does not say Fiat anywhere on the vehicle. …

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2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 EcoDiesel by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new Jeep Gladiator and came away extremely impressed. The Glad was an intriguing combination of Jeep, pickup truck, and convertible. But that’s not the only surprise coming to us from Jeep this year – there’s an all-new EcoDiesel model that’s been long awaited, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on one. Dive Right In Well that’s easy enough as our tester came in a beautiful blue Jeep calls Ocean Blue. From the front it could be any Jeep – and that’s good – we love the round headlamps, the seven-slot grille, and the …

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2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve had our share of exciting new vehicles lately. Ones that drew crowds, from the Honda Civic Type R, to the Lexus LC500. Thing is, it’s usually of interest to a certain kind of buyer. The hi-po import guys for the Civic, the luxury buyers for the LC. But with the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, we’ve had tons of interest – not just from Jeep loyalists – but folks from all different backgrounds and interests. It’s the people’s vehicle! (Sorry VW) Friendly Looks The first thing that draws them in is the Gladiator’s exterior design. From the front, it’s pure Jeep …

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2020 Lexus RC F – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

For a long time, Lexus has stood for really wonderful cars. Beautifully built, wonderfully smooth, but it’s been the rare Lexus model that could turn the heads of buyers who pony up serious dough for Mercedes’ AMG, BMW’s M Division, and Porsche. Well, there was the Lexus LFA. And it was sensational, but priced new at $400,000 and going for mid-400’s to 600’s (yes, thousands) now, it was always a halo car that was going to be out of reach of almost all of us. (We do still buy Lottery tickets and dream, though). For the rest of us, Lexus …

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2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Review by Ben Lewis

The Kia Soul has long been one of our favorite vehicles – cool style, hip vibe, strong performance, loads of tech at a reasonable price. What’s not to love? And we were equally thrilled when we recently tested the all-new 2020 X-Line, we came away very impressed. Except we kind of missed the Hamsters that Kia has killed from their ad campaign. What Kia didn’t kill was the available turbo-engined model, which has always been the enthusiast’s choice. But with the new 2.0-liter, non-turbo we tested we didn’t miss the turbo rush as much as we he had remembered. So, …

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2020 Subaru Outback Limited – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

If there’s a company that epitomizes the “You Don’t Mess with Success” mantra, it’s Subaru. You rarely get a revolutionary, all-new, blow-your-mind model from the automaker. And we’re fine with that. Everything’s so good already, they prefer to perfect what they got. Introducing the all-new 2020 Outback! You didn’t notice? Well, it does look very familiar to anyone who has loved the previous five generations of Subie’s tall wagon. The size is about the same – 1.4” longer and 0.6 wider than the previous model. The lines look a bit crisper, with a large hexagonal grille, LED fogs and front …

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2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL FWD Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new Kia Telluride, and came away mightily impressed. So, we couldn’t wait to try its sibling, the Hyundai Palisade. We were surprised in a couple ways. They’re very different, and yet both deserve your consideration. And Hyundai’s flagship SUV even has a surprising accent. (Not to be confused with the Hyundai Accent) Swedish Fish Many times we’ve pointed out that Kia design feels very European, thanks in part to putting Peter Schreyer the head of Audi design in charge. Hyundai has never felt that way, until now. Well, except for the front. Here we have a …

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2020 Toyota 86 Hakone Review by Ben Lewis

You have to give Toyota credit. After all, with home runs like the RAV4 (best-selling SUV in America) Camry (best-selling car in America 18 out of 19 years) Tacoma (best-selling mid-size pickup), they really don’t have to go out and sell sports cars. But they do. In fact, this year they’ve got not one, but two, the 86, and the all-new Supra. OK, you can argue the big T doesn’t go it alone – the 86 is a cooperative effort with Subaru that markets its near twin the BR-Z, and the Supra shares a great deal with the new BMW …

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2020 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve mentioned before that car years are kind of like dog years. Two years in people time can be a long time on the showroom. Take the Honda Accord. When it was introduced as a 2018, it was the new hotness. One of, if not the best reasonably-priced family sedan. Time flies, though, and an all-new Toyota Camry and more recently Nissan Altima are vying to steal the Accord’s steak off the grille while it’s still sizzling. So, is the Honda Accord still hot? Bring Your Oven Mitts Well, in the ficklest of all areas – exterior style – the …

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2020 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-SPEC – Review by Ben Lewis

Acura has been on the move lately. We’ve been continuously impressed with vehicles like the fun and agile ILX, the luxurious and swift RLX, and the MDX Hybrid, which was a tech tour de force. But of all the nice products, the best may be the all-new RDX. The RDX has had an interesting life. The original model was ahead of its time, coming in   2007 with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a very sporty chassis. For the second gen, the 2013 model featured a V6 engine, and was much more of a scaled down MDX. A very nice mainstream …

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2019 Lexus ES350 Ultra Luxury – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

For 2019, Lexus introduced an all-new ES350, and it’s a radical step up from the previous model. Due in part to the all-new Camry which the ES shares a chassis, it was the last sedan to get some bona fide’s in terms of performance and pizzazz. There may some though, that kind of liked the previous models focus on the luxury and away from sport. What to do for them?  Enter the ES350 Ultra Luxury. Sleek and Sexy Okay, there’s really not much difference exterior-wise between the Ultra Luxury and other ES350’s, but we don’t mind Lexus not being shouty …

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2019 Honda Civic 1.5T 2dr Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Love at first sight. Okay, not at first sight. The Honda Civic coupe has been around for a while now, but there’s something special about our tester that keeps us coming back for more. And we have an idea why. It starts with choosing the right Civic We have tested a wide range of Civics, and being enthusiasts, we’ve gravitated to the hi-po models like the Civic Type R, the Civic Si and the grins-for-the-buck Civic Sport.  The first thing we noticed, they’re all 4-doors. And in the case of the Type R (or CTR for those in the know) …

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2019 Mazda3 Hatchback – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new Mazda 3 sedan, and with its premium feel and refined road manners, called it the best Euro sedan for the money right now. Not bad for a Japanese brand, eh? Well, Mazda seems to always serve up a hatchback on the 3 as well, to give those who want more practicality with a larger cargo bay, but the vehicles are usually pretty similar. (If you wanted a high-performance Mazda 3, the MazdaSpeed 3’s were built on the hatchback, but they haven’t done that in a while.) So, we were excited to test the all-new Mazda …

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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid Review by Ben Lewis

Subaru loves to go their own way. That’s one of the things we love about them. We recently tested the WRX – a powerful sports sedan with rally-car DNA. The new Forester, a crossover with that same feel of something a little different from the mainstream. Need a 3-row SUV? You can get the Ascent, and enjoy that Subaru goodness in a larger package. It takes real engineering talent to stay true to your school (cue Beach Boys), and still meet, compete, and beat other vehicles in your segment. So, now we have the all-new Crosstrek Hybrid – the company’s …

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2019 VW Tiguan SEL Premium 4Motion Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the massive 2019 Toyota Sequoia, and we felt that it had earned the motto (ok, we read it on a popcorn box) Big is More. In its class the jumbo Toy makes the most of its size. But it’s not the only class where size matters. Take for example the 2019 VW Tiguan. The previous gen was one of our favorite small SUV’s – it felt like you were getting some GTI DNA mixed in with crossover practicality. When time came around for VW to update the Tig, it decided to aim directly for the U.S. market. …

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2019 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport Review by Ben Lewis

We used to go to a movie theater that had catchy phrases on the popcorn containers. On the largest size was the especially memorable: BIG IS MORE. Well, there’s no arguing that in popcorn. Or full-size SUV’s. Which brings us to the 2019 Toyota Sequoia. If an SUV ever deserved that motto on the side, this would be it. But there’s plenty to talk about outside of the big and tall dimensions. Big is Beautiful The 2019 Sequoia is a good-looking beast. Unlike the new RAV4 (that we loved) that’s dressed up to look rugged, the big Toy bowls you …

Read more 2019 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport Review by Ben Lewis

2019 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 60th Anniversary – Review by Ben Lewis

When we talk about performance cars, the benchmark is still 0-60. Which may be outdated, but it’s easy to get your head around and compare cars of the past with cars of today. (Spoiler Alert – cars of today are much faster today.) That said, we are talking 0-60 mph. But with the 2019, we are talking something completely different. 0 – 60 Years Yep, years. Hard to believe that the original Mini first bowed in 1959. Especially since a super-small, efficient and fun vehicle seems so now. 1959 was an interesting year – The first Barbie Doll was introduced, …

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2019 VW Arteon SEL 4Motion – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all new Nissan Altima, and came away impressed and hopeful for the fate of the 4-door sedan. Yes, the Crossover/SUV is the new King, but there still seems to be plenty of room in the royal family for a sedan. And for a lot of manufacturers – especially luxury brands – there still needs to be a halo sedan. Enter the VW Arteon. Replacing the VW CC, which was a stylish version of the Passat Sedan, the Arteon, is bigger, more stylish and more expensive. So our question – Is VW’s new flagship a dreamboat, or …

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2020 Nissan Altima SR AWD Review by Ben Lewis

Sometimes, we wonder if family sedans sit around and reminisce about the good old days. Yeah, remember when the big box office was 4-doors? Camry and Accord, we ruled. The best-selling cars, the bring-home-the-bacon for most automakers. At least until…ugh…. SUV’s. Well, lately, it seems like auto manufacturers aren’t taking things sitting down. The all-new Camry and Accord are dynamite cars, with loads of style and performance and value. And now we have an all-new Altima – the sedan that’s always been a little different from the rest of the pack – but always a delight in its own right. …

Read more 2020 Nissan Altima SR AWD Review by Ben Lewis

2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited – Review By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid, and came away hugely impressed. It’s a total rethink of the RAV4, and it’s bigger, better, more handsome. A winner. But in an interesting twist, Toyota made the Hybrid the performance model, with 219 horsepower, and in our XSE tester a performance tuned suspension. We’re wondering if we had been sucked in by the top of the line hybrid power version. So now, we’re back testing a well-equipped but non-hybrid model – the kind most people will end up buying to see if the standard model is as good. Looks Good Since we …

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2019 Lexus UX 250h Luxury – Review by Ben Lewis

There is an age-old conundrum in vehicles. At a certain price, should you buy the top of the line of a mainstream manufacturer, or go into the entry-level of a premium brand? And here is a perfect example – the Lexus UX 250h.  You’ll pay a premium in price over, say a RAV4 hybrid, but is it worth it? We think so. Why? It Looks Like a Lexus This is a second time we’ve tested the UX. We previously had the UX 200, and we really liked the lines of the vehicle. While it is the baby in the family, …

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2019 Subaru WRX Series.Gray – Review by Ben Lewis

Funny how things change. Today, if a friend tells you they’ve bought a Subaru, it’s probably a Forester, or an Outback, maybe an Ascent. And they’re all lovely vehicles. But back in 2002, when you bought a Subie, it was probably a WRX. And it was revelation – a rally proven, high-performance legend that the brand finally decided to bring over here. And it radically changed what people thought about Subaru. And it was the beginning of a long relationship between the cute little sedan or hatch and those who love to drive. Well, now we have the 2019 WRX …

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2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Kia has been on a roll. Every vehicle we’ve tested lately, from the 2020 Kia Soul X-Line to the K900 has been a gem, and now we have the all-new Kia Telluride – a full-size, 3-row, 8-passenger SUV, and it may be the best Kia yet. And that’s saying something. The Bold and the Beautiful The Telluride is the largest vehicle Kia offers, and it’s also the first Kia designed specifically for the U.S. Kia itself calls the Telly big, bold and boxy, but this is one handsome box, looking more like a cross between a Ranger Rover and a …

Read more 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 BMW X2 M35i – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Every time there’s a new small BMW, we hear the talk about the “Spiritual Successor to the BMW 2002.” This was BMW’s small 2-door that around 1970 took the quite pleasant 1600 2-door and stuffed a larger 2.0-liter 4-cylinder motor in it – classic hot-rodding, actually – and basically turned the automotive world on its ear. With the 2002, you had a totally practical, roomy and innocuous little sedan that outperformed the traditional sports cars of the day, and when the later fuel-injected 2002tii appeared, it was hunting down bigger game – including expensive European cars and powerful domestics, too. …

Read more 2019 BMW X2 M35i – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Nissan LEAF PLUS Review by Ben Lewis

Ok, first things first. We promise not to make any “Turning over a new LEAF” jokes. Which isn’t to say that’s not what the new LEAF Plus is, because the Plus trim gives the LEAF the full EV credentials it needs to compete in today’s marketplace. Which is important, because since its introduction in 2010, it has been the best-selling electric vehicle in the world. And Nissan would like to keep it that way. An all-new LEAF was introduced for the 2018 model year, and when we tested it, we came away impressed – loads of tech, fun to drive, …

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2019 VW Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition DSG Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve been talking about great European sedans lately. In fact, we came away saying the new Mazda 3 sedan might be your best entry level Euro choice – yes, it technically isn’t European, but it sure drives that way! Well VW must have heard us, because they’ve now introduced an all new Jetta GLI, (we recently drove the regular Jetta) and it’s not only a great European sedan, it’s what the GLI should always have been – a true 4-door version of the beloved GTI hatch. Big is More We used to see that motto on popcorn at the movie …

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2019 Kia K900 Luxury – Review by Ben Lewis

If you’re shopping for a super luxury sedan, you’re probably thinking about Mercedes, BMW and most certainly, Lexus. But don’t forget about Kia. No, we haven’t overdosed on the goodness of the new 2020 Kia Soul that we enjoyed so much. There’s a Kia sedan – all-new – that takes on the likes of the Lexus LS, and does it a fraction of the cost, too. Enter the 2019 Kia K900. The what? The K900. Let’s take a step back. Remember the wonderful Genesis G90 sedan we tested a little while ago? Well peek underneath the Kia’s sheet metal and …

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2019 Mazda3 AWD Sedan Review by Ben Lewis

A lot of people love European vehicles. The quality, the ride, the design, the feeling that you’re in something special – it’s all good, and it’s all there. So, we often get asked, “what’s a good entry-level European sedan?” Well, the best Euro sedan for the money right now is… the 2019 Mazda 3. Yes, the Mazda 3. We’ve just spent a week in the all-new Mazda 3 sedan (a hatchback is available, too), and it is impressive. Now we’ve always liked the 3 – a lot of enthusiasts we know who’d like a BMW or an Audi end up …

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2020 Toyota Corolla SE 6-Speed Manual Sedan – Review by Ben Lewis

If I tell you there’s a 4-door compact sedan that’s got hot styling, some real attitude, and is lots of fun to drive thanks to a 6-speed manual transmission, what would you say? Civic? Mazda 3, Elantra? How about a Toyota Corolla? Yes, the Corolla. Okay, we can’t blame you if it didn’t pop in your mind. Although there have been the occasional performance versions including the hot-hatch 1988 Corolla FX16, and the 2005 Corolla XRS sedan (8,000 rpm redline!), most of the model’s reputation has been built on solid, sensible and reliable transportation over flash. And it’s been a …

Read more 2020 Toyota Corolla SE 6-Speed Manual Sedan – Review by Ben Lewis

2020 Kia Soul X-Line – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

First, a moment of silence. Today we mourn The Hamster. Well, not a real Hamster, but the special-FX rodents that came to be identified with the Kia Soul, thanks to their great commercials. For the all-new 2020 Soul, it looks like the furry funmakers have been tossed in the proverbial dustbin. (At least they could have been buried in the backyard, no?) Shed no tears, though, because this is an all-new Kia Soul, and while it keeps the, errr…Soul of the previous model, it sports a lot of great improvements that keep it one of the most enjoyable and endearing …

Read more 2020 Kia Soul X-Line – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Mazda CX-5 Turbo Review by Ben Lewis

The CX-5 crossover is a big deal to Mazda – it’s the best-selling vehicle they have in the U.S., and having sold over 2 million units worldwide it’s a bona fide success. It’s a well-loved product, too. Having been here since 2012, it got a nice refresh when we tested the 2017 CX-5, and we felt that it was still our favorite small crossover – it’s a great drive. But time moves on, some big hitters have come our way, including the all-new 2019 RAV4, which we loved for its looks, performance, and hybrid efficiency, all in one package. Mazda …

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2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SELS S-AWC – Review By Ben Lewis

Quick!  What’s the world’s best-selling Plug-in Hybrid? If you’re like us, you probably said the Toyota Prius. I mean, they pretty much own all things hybrid, no? No. Surprise! It’s the Mitsubishi Outlander. Which was a surprise to us, too. Mitsubishi is one of the smaller players in the U.S. – until recently when Nissan bought a large share of it. (For those playing at home, Renault is a 43% owner of Nissan, while Nissan owns 34% of Mitsubishi). Those deeper pockets are sure to see investment in Mitsubishi, and a rosier future for the brand. We already felt the …

Read more 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SELS S-AWC – Review By Ben Lewis

2019 Lexus LS500 F Sport – Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve always been fans of the Lexus luxury flagship. And when it’s the sporty F SPORT model, even more so. We enjoyed the previous-gen 2017 Lexus 460 F SPORT, and were enamored with its powerful V8 engine. And then we were seduced by the new 2018 Lexus LS500, especially with the reclining rear seats with massage function – pure luxury limo. But even then, we knew the hot ticket would be the LS500 F SPORT. Losing the 460’s V8 would be tough, but gaining 30 hp and 67 lb-ft of twin-turbo V6 muscle seemed like a pretty good deal. Add …

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2019 Toyota Prius Limited – Review by Ben Lewis

It’s tough being at the top. Take the Prius for example. I mean, it pretty much invented the hybrid category. And it bore the brunt of a lot criticism early on. But it emerged. Not only unscathed, but look at how many Hybrid models are for sale now. Toyota alone offers a Camry, Corolla, Avalon, RAV4, Highlander, Prius, Prius Prime and Prius C models. All Hybrids! That’s quite a lineup, and as the pater familias (father of the family) of this clan of efficiency, Toyota has to make sure that it stays relevant and attractive. So, for 2019, The Prius …

Read more 2019 Toyota Prius Limited – Review by Ben Lewis

2019 Honda Civic Sport 2.0L 4-Door Manual – Review by Ben Lewis

Ok, we’re going out on a ledge here. But we bet this Civic may become a collectible. Yes, we get that the Civic Type R (or CTR for those in the know) will be a legend. And the current Civic Si is continuing a long line of sweet-performing Si’s. But the Civic Sport seems to go even deeper than that. More to the core of what has always made a Honda a Honda – or a Civic a Civic – for that matter. There’s a simplicity here.  A purity of purpose that typifies the man and the brand. 20-30 years …

Read more 2019 Honda Civic Sport 2.0L 4-Door Manual – Review by Ben Lewis

2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite – Review by Ben Lewis

What’s in a name? We’ll skip the Shakespearean reference, and go for the automotive one. Do they make sense? Sometimes. A 911, well that’s a model number. A Maxima – uh, is there a Minima? Now we have the all-new Honda Passport. Wait, we’ve heard that name before. Yep, there was a Honda Passport in the ‘90s. Well sorta. That Passport was a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, which wasn’t a bad vehicle, and it was a smart idea – Honda needed a compact SUV to fight it out in that red-hot segment. This was three years before the 1997 CR-V would …

Read more 2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite – Review by Ben Lewis

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2019 VW Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL – Review by Ben Lewis

Sometimes when cars go away, we don’t mourn their passing. Usually, those cars are nothing special, having outlived their usefulness, or are being replaced with something much better. But the VW Beetle has always been more than that. So, we’re truly sad to see this cheerful little vehicle go away. Who doesn’t need to smile today? Auf Wiedersehen, Baby… The appropriately named Final Edition is sending the Beetle off in a fine way. VW has a habit of making cool last models, and this one is no exception. We were lucky enough to score the Convertible version – it just …

Read more 2019 VW Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL – Review by Ben Lewis

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2019 Lexus NX300 F Sport – Review By Ben Lewis

If you have a younger sibling, you might remember this. One day, everything is fine – you’re the new baby, star of the show, everything is going well. And then boom! A new baby comes along, and the spotlight has shifted. Wuh happened? Well in the case of the Lexus NX, it was the birth of the all-new, cute and cuddly Lexus UX. Suddenly, the NX is another member of the growing Lexus SUV family. Of course, not being in the spotlight has some advantages. Where the NX used to need to be the price leader SUV of the line, …

Read more 2019 Lexus NX300 F Sport – Review By Ben Lewis

2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid – Review By Ben Lewis

Toyota has found their mojo. The new Camry is awesome. The Hybrid version, is too. The Corolla Hatch? Desirable and fun. Even the Avalon is sexy now. Yes, the Avalon. But it’s the SUVs and Crossovers that are make or break for manufacturers. And since the RAV4 pretty much invented the small car-based SUV 22 years ago, it’s been a big hit. In fact, Toyota says the RAV4 is not only the best-selling vehicle in its class, it’s the best-selling non-pickup in the country. That would make a lot of manufacturers cautious, careful and conservative. Don’t rock that money boat! …

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2019 Buick Enclave Premium FWD – Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Buick Regal TourX and concluded that it’s a sweet sport wagon – and not the big and friendly family Roadmaster wagon of day’s past. What if a big comfy wagon is what you’re looking for? As we like to say, step right this way, to the 2019 Buick Enclave. While the wagon market is rapidly shrinking, the crossover segment is going like gangbusters. And for the family with places to go, the three-row Buick is a great way to get there. Sleek 7-seater If you’re hoping for slabs of plasticized pine, you’ll be disappointed here. On …

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2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve been into Sports lately: The Elantra Sport, the HR-V Sport and soon, the Civic Sport. So, in the growing enterprise of sporty vehicles, it’s interesting that for the all-new 2019, the model formerly known as Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has been simplified to just Santa Fe. Hey, the Santa Fe has been here for 32 years, and is the burgeoning brand’s best-selling SUV. Has Hyundai found a different path? Will it have lost the fun-to-drive and stylish vibe of the previous model? The question is… Do We Know the Way to Santa Fe? Well, it’s still pointed in a …

Read more 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport 6MT 2

2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport 6MT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Recently, I was picking up a press car, and they asked me – in all sincerity – if I drive a stick. Really? Yes, it’s come to this. Manuals are getting so rare that some auto scribes don’t know how to drive one. Please don’t tell Hyundai. Because recently we drove the 2019 Elantra Sport, with 6-speed manual trans, and it was a delight. A Meaner Mugshot All ’19 Elantras get a crisp new look, with a restyled hood, front fascia, grille and headlights that look more aggressive and squintier, including LED headlights and a special grille on our Sport …

Read more 2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport 6MT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Kia Niro EV – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Cynics that we are, we are slowly becoming fans of Electric Vehicles. While we still love the sound of a good engine, there’s a lot to love about the newest wave of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models. Our favorite plug-in may be the Honda Clarity,  whose futuristic good looks and reasonable 47 miles of EV mode range won us over. More important was the Hyundai Kona Electric, with an amazing 258-mile Tesla-baiting range, and great fun-to-drive spirit. We could easily drive it every day. Maybe the Kona is a little too small? Good news, we now have the Kia …

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2019 Acura ILX A-Spec – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Remember when Acura first launched? It may seem common now, but Honda was the first Japanese brand to bring in a luxury line – setting the path for Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti. Mazda was dangerously close to bringing in the Amati line…but backed out. Still we owe props to Acura for being first, and the two first products, the Legend and the Integra were excellent, with all the Honda goodness, plus a nice layer of premium added on top. Acura kind of lost their way for a while – but as of late they’ve come back swinging. We recently …

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2019 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Tonight, the as I drive the streets of Gotham, the city is safe. I glide silently by, constantly aware, constantly on the watch. I am Batman Ok, maybe I’m not the Caped Crusader, but when I first saw my Buick Regal TourX, dressed in its Ebony Twilight Metallic, I thought “Batmobile”. Which brought up a great discussion – while we all have our favorite actor, from Adam West to Ben Affleck, there seems to be a mutual agreement – the Batmobile has always been cool. Purists, I apologize, we’re talking only TV and movies here. It’s the Buick that makes …

Read more 2019 Buick Regal TourX Essence AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Honda HR-V Sport AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve tested Honda’s HR-V a while ago and found it surprisingly sporty and fun – especially when equipped in front-wheel-drive with a 6-speed manual transmission. So, when Honda announced a new HR-V Sport model for 2019 we were excited – in Europe, there’s an HR-V Sport with a manual transmission and the 1.5-liter turbo we get here in the Civic. This ain’t Europe. Unfortunately, we’re not getting that Sport. No turbo motor. And for 2019, the manual transmission is gone, too. Farewell… That said, our HR-V Sport gets some goodies unique to the model that should make it more fun …

Read more 2019 Honda HR-V Sport AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Toyota Tacoma Limited – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

In these trying times of scandals, political tensions, and my sports teams not doing much, it’s hard to keep the faith. But there’s one place that’s earned your trust for decades, and continues to do so. The Toyota Tacoma – an honest truck. Tough yet Approachable Along with the Toyota 4Runner, The Tacoma is an old friend. It’s been with us since 1995, and that’s building on a heritage of incredibly durable Toyota pickups that started here in the U.S. in 1969. And here in California, where the weather is kind, you still see plenty of 70’s and 80’s trucks …

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2019 Hyundai Kona Electric – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We just spent another week in Kona, and although we’re not tan, we can’t wait to go back. This is our second visit – after our first trip, we came back singing praises for its Island Style, the strong performance, and loads of equipment for the buck. And in many ways the Kona EV is even better. Slicker and Sleeker We loved the regular Kona’s style, and it had a tough, aggressive vibe to it. For the EV, Hyundai has decided to go a little more futuristic, a little more upscale. It starts with the grille. Well, it’s a grille …

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2019 Toyota 86 GT 2

2019 Toyota 86 GT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Someone said a bad thing. They said driving is on the way out. That people would rather Uber or Lyft than own a car of their own. That sports cars will be the first to go. Someone has not been in a Toyota 86. The Toyota 86 could be the ambassador for all things that car lovers love. And a little bit of time behind the wheel could convert a lot of skeptics too. Let the propaganda begin! Sports Car Ancestry.com The 86 is beautifully-designed. Time flies in auto-dom. When the 2013 FR-S appeared, it was a sensation – a …

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2019 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Volvo has had a renaissance for a few years now. From its hearty agrarian roots, to its German-baiting performance years, to now – a Premium Luxury division with impeccable style, the brand is extraordinarily capable of reinventing itself, while still keeping a Volvo a Volvo. And nowhere is that more notable than the Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD we recently tested. Meet Thor’s Hammer While its design is closely related to the Volvo XC60 we tested, the larger proportions of the XC90 really give visual heft, and conveys a premium quality. Our tester was all that, starting with a bold front end, …

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2019 Lexus UX200 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Hello. Small crossovers and suv’s are all the rage now. Oh, we’ve said that? Well, without further ado, let us introduce the latest of the small luxury crossovers, the 2019 Lexus UX. Small in size, but big in goodies, the UX competes in the segment where we find the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. But we found it’s a very different vehicle than the Europeans, and it’s quite tempting. It’s all about the UX. While Lexus says UX stands for Urban Crossover, in this case, we think it means the tech term User Experience (known as UX) – the process …

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2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring – Review By Ben Lewis

No big shock here, small CUV/Crossover/SUV’s are all the rage. Not only a nice, city-friendly- sized version of larger SUV’s, with their low prices, enhanced fuel efficiency, and utility, they’re knocking the stuffing out of the small car segment as well. And now Mazda is going after the affordable sports car. Which is pretty interesting. With the Miata, they pretty much own the affordable sports car segment. But the 2019 Mazda CX-3 looks like they’re going after one of their own. So, it’s a sports car? Well, it looks like one. It certainly comes from the same family of the …

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2019 Nissan LEAF SL – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Ok, let’s start with Good News, Bad News. The Good News – for 2019 there’s a new LEAF PLUS model with more power, enhanced tech and improved range. The Bad News – There wasn’t one in the fleet to test, so we go the current 40 KWH battery model. Actually, it’s not that bad, in fact after spending a week with our LEAF, we’re not sure most buyers will need that new PLUS model. A new LEAF Introduced as a 2018 model, the all-new builds on the goodness that made the previous – and continues to be – the world’s …

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2019 Nissan Kicks SR – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Before we start this review, a moment of silence for the Nissan Juke. Yes, that odd, amphibious-looking crossover that was a bunch of fun to drive, interesting to look at, and a breath of fresh air in the stuffy small crossover segment. And now to the all-new Nissan Kicks, the Juke’s replacement. While it certainly is more conventional, it does a lot of things very well, and comes in at a bargain price. That’s a different kind of a kick, to be sure…. Goodbye Froggy, Hello Smurfy While some at Nissan tried to tell us that the Juke looked like …

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2019 Subaru Forester Limited – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Subaru owners are faithful. To the vehicles, to the brand, to the ethos. It keeps owners in the fold, and attracts new buyers in big numbers. Like the Prius, Tesla, Jeep and others, people like a brand or model that stands for something. So, you don’t go messing with success. Familiar lines Now that we have an all-new, 5th –generation Forester for 2019, it’s not a big shocker that this model is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Which is okay, since there wasn’t anything wrong with the previous model. You might have trouble picking the new one out, so here’s some …

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2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Sport AWD – Review By Ben Lewis

Have you ever been at a get-together, and it’s ok, but kinda snoozy? You know just about everyone; the talk is the same stuff it always is. Then someone new shows up that’s fun, different and interesting, and all of a sudden, you’re glad you were there. Meet the Alfa Romeo Giulia – the life of the party. You may know Alfa Romeo. The last time the brand sold a vehicle here was in 1995. But this is a famous brand with an amazing heritage. Alfa was the first car to win the World Automobile Championship in 1925, and followed …

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2019 Hyundai Accent SE – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

The honest car. In a world of SUVs and Crossovers dominating the landscape, there’s still a need for an entry-level sedan. Whether you’re just looking for “transportation” a good first car, or even something to dutifully wait for you at the train station, a small well-built sedan can fit the bill. And way back in the day, before the wide array of cars and trucks it now offers – plus brands including Kia and Genesis, Hyundai made their bones on simple, durable sedans. So, it’s no surprise that if you’re looking for an inexpensive place to park your backside, the …

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2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

What’s in a name? Well, if you’re Mitsubishi, that’s a good question. Until recently, the company has kind of languished in the market place, with fewer dealers and a small line-up of vehicles. All of that changed recently with the purchase of Mitsu by Nissan. Deep pockets, advanced engineering, and massive resources mean good things ahead for the brand. There are a couple names that do stand out, Evo – the high-performance rally-bred four-door sedan that’s a legendary giant-killer in performance circles. No longer in production. And then there’s Eclipse, an equally legendary front wheel and all-wheel drive sport coupe …

Read more 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2019 Kia Forte S – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

It pays to have a good-looking sibling in the family. Especially an automotive family. Let’s say you’re drawn to your friendly neighborhood Kia dealer to see the hot ‘n sexy Stinger sedan. And it’s more than a looker – the 6-cylinder rear wheel drive Stinger we tested was a great performance sedan, with the credentials, capabilities and feel-good pricing to keep the European brands looking over their shoulders. So, when it came time to redesign the company’s small sedan, the Forte, Kia was clever enough to make it’s reasonably-priced, fuel-sipping, value player look like its handsome big brother. So, we …

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2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

It’s amazing what legendary heritage can do for your ride. We had some rain this last week – actual, pouring rain in SoCal! – that created floods, mudslides, and nasty driving conditions. But we weren’t worried in the least. We were driving a 2019 Jeep Cherokee. Yes, there are probably lots of capable foul-weather,crappy-condition vehicles, but when the going gets tough, it’s reassuring to be behind the brand that’s always meant “I’ll get you there”. And when you advertise that you’re “The Most Capable SUV” in your segment, you should have the goods to back it up. A Grander Cherokee …

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2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T AWD Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

It’s amazing how time flies in the auto industry. Especially in the compact SUV segment. We tested the all-new 2017 CR-V less than a year ago, but it’s got loads of competitors nibbling at its heels, from an all-new Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Toyota RAV4 plus a heavily-revised Jeep Cherokee. And don’t forget the Nissan Rogue Sport, Hyundai Kona and other ilk, that are a little smaller, but still in the hunt. How you holdin’ up? Being such a competitive segment, most manufacturers seem willing to be more expressive in their styling – you don’t want to be …

Read more 2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T AWD Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis