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Ben Lewis

Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round -- whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.

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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