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 …

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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. …

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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 …

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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. …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 2

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 …

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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 …

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2018 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The sedan is not dead. Sure, SUVs and Crossovers are the big biz these days, but there are a lot of folks who like sedans. And there are some areas where those SUV’s and Crossovers are still falling short. Take Fuel Economy When it comes to efficiency, a crossover or SUV with its bigger body, poorer aerodynamics and greater weight, is going to be challenged. Yes, they’re getting better, but they’re not there yet. Also, sedans are fighting back with technology from hybrid, to plug-in hybrid, to EV. Take for example, …

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2018 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Manual – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Classic. What makes a car a classic? Often times, it takes years, or even decades to bestow a title like that. Or an ad on Craigslist for some clapped-out conveyance you should never consider buying. Let’s ignore the latter, and concentrate on the former. And we’re here to tell you that the 2018 Audi A4 is a classic. Classical Elegance Even though the A4 was all-new last year, you might not have noticed. Audi is a founding member of the Evolution, not Revolution design club. And besides, the previous model was pretty sweet. The new model looks a little crisper, …

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2019 Subaru ASCENT Premium – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve always admired that Subaru stays true to its roots. A clever mix of marketing and engineering makes Subie owners set apart from the crowd. And in an age where so many brands seem to offer similar products, that difference is a fresh and welcome breeze. That said, Subaru doesn’t operate in a vacuum – they have to offer vehicles that buyers want. A perfect example is the 3-row crossover. Right now, that 7-passenger capability is a hot ticket, and we’ve seen everything from the new VW Tiguan to Kia Sorento stepping up to snag a bite of that apple. …

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2017 VW E-Golf SEL Premium – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

OK, we’re a little late to the EV game. We recently tested the Soul EV, and came away charmed by the unique driving experience, and the way Kia made the electric Soul feel special and unique – like driving a car of the future. Which is a great counterpoint to the VW Golf EV. While the Kia celebrates its EV-ness, the Golf plays it the other way – it completely feels like any other Golf, the only difference is that it has a different way of fueling up. For someone with EV anxiety, or who just wants to go electric …

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2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We like cars that fly in the face of convention. Nissan’s Juke, Kia’s Soul, many Minis…all a little off of center, but lovable and fun. And to this list, you have to include the Hyundai Veloster. The quirky, sporty, three-door hatch that some love and has other scratching their heads, has always be an affordable funster. And now we have an all-new 2019 Veloster, and that’s always a crap-shoot. Will it keep the unique vibe, or go more mainstream and lose the plot in the second chapter? Chapter Two Well, the looks have gone from funky to aggressive, but we …

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2018 Kia Soul EV+ Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

You may have heard the term “Range Anxiety” when it comes to Electric Vehicles. (EV to you and me). It describes the nervousness you have over not having enough range to get where you’re going. With a gas car, it’s a stop at the local sip ‘n go. But with an EV, if you can find a place to plug in, it’s still between 45 minutes to a couple hours to get a meaningful charge. But now we have a new term. EV Anxiety? This is different. For many of us enthusiasts, we look at the EV as the death …

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2019 Lexus ES350 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

The Lexus ES has always been a nice car. It was one of two models offered by Toyota’s luxury division when it launched in 1990. The LS400 was an all-new technological tour de force that took on Europe – and America’s – finest, and showed that the Japanese could compete and win on the world stage. And then there was the ES. Basically, a Camry with sporty C-pillar that was sold in other markets, Lexus put a heavy ladle of luxury on it, but compared to the LS, it was kind of lukewarm. In many ways, that has remained the …

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2019 Mazda6 Turbo – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Some say the sedan is dead, that the SUV/Crossover buried it. We say poppycock. (Actually, no one says poppycock anymore, but it keeps us out of trouble with the language nannies). Proof? Look at the aggressive tack we’re seeing right now, with an all-new sporty Toyota Camry, an all-new Honda Accord with available detuned Civic Type R motor, and all-new Nissan Altima with a world’s first Variable displacement turbo engine.  Sedans are back and they’re mad as heck. With all this new sheetmetal on sale, it’s got to be tough for a not-so-new sedan like the Mazda 6 to keep …

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2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’re suckers for a good ad campaign. And when we saw the new Kia Sorento ad, with it climbing a heinous off-road course at Hell’s Gate, Moab, Utah, we thought – “hey, we haven’t been in a Sorento in a while”. Time to make that right. Well, it’s a perfect time to test the ’19 Sorento, as it features some significant upgrades that take this likable 3-row crossover a step up in the desirability department. Devilishly Handsome. The Sorento has always been a good-looking piece, with an upscale-vibe and a rugged square-shouldered look. Its last complete redesign was in 2016.  …

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2018 Lexus LS500h – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

What does it feel like to drive $104,000 of prime quality Lexus beef on the hoof? It’s actually kind of unnerving. We’ve occasionally driven cars that cost even more, but the mission of the LS500h is daily luxury. Superb and supremely comfortable luxury, but daily nonetheless. And this one’s a hybrid. We tested the 416 horse, twin-turbo V6 LS500 sedan a while ago, and loved it. And a part of that love came from the big sedan’s ability to lift up its figurative skirt and haul like a bat out of hell when it needed to. But does a fuel-saving …

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2018 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Welcome to the jungle.    Not the Amazon – we mean the compact SUV market. But it’s almost as treacherous –  while you won’t find Piranha, you’ll find every car maker worth their salt constantly biting at each other for that big, delicious share of the hottest segment in the marketplace. Your guide today through this land of hungry hippos is the 2018 Kia Sportage. In these treacherous waters, it’s good to have experience on your side, and the Sportage is tried and trusted. In our previous test, we loved the performance, quality, features and style. But that was almost …

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2019 VW Jetta SE – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the 2018 VW Passat GT, an exciting twist on one of the carmaker’s oldest models. And now, we have the 2019 VW Jetta, its newest model. And make no mistake about it, a new Jetta is a big deal. It’s the most successful European nameplate in the US, with 3.2 million sold since 1980. And, that’s just a drop in the bucket – worldwide sales are over 17.5 million. Now we have the seventh-generation of the popular sedan, and VW has pushed the envelope to give us a bigger, better, more advanced sedan to continue to woo …

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2019 Kia Optima SX Turbo – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Time flies. The last Kia Optima Turbo we tested was a 2016 model, and here we are behind the wheel of a 2019. What’s changed? Well for the Optima, it’s been constantly refined – 2017 saw a plug-in hybrid model added, 2018 saw some upgraded connectivity, and now for 2019, a host of safety equipment is standard across the range. There’s also a freshened face and rear, and the UVO infotainment system gets an upgrade. All good, admirable things for the car that in 2016, we called the most affordable Audi you can get. Yep, that good. But in those …

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2019 Toyota AVALON Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Some say Toyota is like a Cruise Ship – once it starts moving it takes a while for it to make a turn. We say not so, in the last couple years, under the direction of new management to create a sportier, livelier, more-fun-to drive product. We’ve seen model after model, from Camry to Corolla, get some sharp new duds, make sharp new moves, and surprise a lot of people. And nothing is more surprising as the all-new 2019 Avalon. Bad Grandpa Not in the bad-not-good sense, but in the bad-is-awesome sense. Once the poster car for our seasoned citizens …

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2018 Lexus RC350 F Sport – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Bespoke. It’s a nice word, isn’t it? Very upscale, smarmily British. Made to order. Like a custom-fitted suit. And while Lexus would go broke trying to special-build an RC350 for every taker, it feels that way. Shall we try one on? The Amorous Bee The first thing you notice from the pictures of our tester is the color. Called Flare Yellow, it’s a rich metallic yellow that turns orange in certain light. It’s also a new color for 2018, and it gets lots of attention – the RC has been around since 2015, but people where asking about it like …

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

You know those commercials for Overstock.com? (no, we’re not getting a free couch for this). The ones where people are judged – sometimes unfairly – for their names. Well, the Corolla has the same problem. We say Corolla, and you probably think, small, supremely reliable, pleasant, good value. But exciting? Meh.  One small step for a Corolla and One giant step for Corolla-kind. Previously, the formerly known as Scion iM was renamed, and the stylish little hatchback became the Corolla IM. And it was a nice looking, decent performing hatch with loads of features – typical Scion. A nice start. …

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2018 Buick Regal GS – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve been really impressed by Buick lately. Both the Enclave and Encore crossover/suv’s impressed us, and the word has been getting out – Buick is selling well, and appealing to a new, younger, audience. But the Buick Regal may be the biggest surprise of all. Yes, the Regal. You probably know the name – it started way back in 1973. Along the way it has soldiered on, some models better than others. One of the high points was the Regal Grand National, with a turbo engine that caught the imagination of enthusiasts and brought back some of the luxury/performance sparkle …

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2019 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Volvo is on a roll. For a while, the Swedish brand (owned by Chinese company Geely), was more of a bit player in the premium European segment, trading on a well-earned rep of safety and Swedish sensibility – but not really setting any hearts afire. Well, all of that has changed. The big spark came from the gorgeous XC90, one of the most handsome big SUV’s, with a to-die-for interior and loads of well-engineered tech. In the always-hungry SUV market it became a huge hit, and it put the brand on the shopping list of loads of BMW, Mercedes and …

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2018 Hyundai KONA Ultimate FWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Hyundai Elantra sedan and Elantra GT hatchback, which we really liked. We even mentioned the GT Hatch might be an excellent alternative to a small crossover. And then Hyundai introduces the all-new Kona compact crossover – and makes liars out of us. Well, maybe not liars. There’s a lot to like about the Elantra GT, but after our time in the Kona, we’re ready to go Island time, full time. (Kona, Hawaii reference for those playing at home). We do it Island Style Let’s start with the looks. The Kona is one great-looking small CUV, with …

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2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

I say Miata, you say convertible. Or roadster. Drop top. You get the idea. For most people, a Miata is a 2-seater convertible with a folding fabric (or vinyl) top that lets you take in the sun, the stars, the breeze. But there’s a percentage of people that like a Miata with a hardtop. Those that live in 4 seasons, but want to drive their Mazda year-round. Or those in environments where the added security of hard roof makes you less of target. Racers need them too – look at the prices for a hardtop – sans Miata –on Craigslist …

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2018 Hyundai Elantra Limited – Road Test Review – by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Elantra GT hatchback and found it to be a fun and flexible small hatch – one that might be better for some buyers than a crossover or SUV. And while those vehicles seem to be getting the lion’s share of sales, along with small hatchbacks, there’s still a need in the marketplace for the small sedan. There’s always a sweet spot for cars like the Corolla, Civic and our tester, the Elantra sedan. They make great first cars for new drivers, great second cars for families, and comfortable and reliable transportation for older buyers, too. The …

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2018 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro S-tronic – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Welcome to world of the sequel. Just like the movies, the auto world is always challenged by the follow up to a blockbuster. And make no mistake, Audi Q5 SUV is the real deal – the company’s number one selling vehicle. So, for all of us who lust after the R8, the S5 Sportback we just tested, or even the TT Roadster, we have the immensely popular Q5 paying the bills so Audi can bring in all the other good stuff we love. Thank you, Q5. Now, what have you done for us lately? Of course, that is not to …

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2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

As we write this, it’s the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Perfect time to review a roadster, then. And on such a noteworthy day, the 124 Spider Abarth seems like the ideal car for celebrating. Brio! Translated from Italian, it means vigor, vivacity. And the Fiat serves this up, with a fun to drive personality, stunning looks, and intangibles that just feel so European…which is pretty interesting when you consider, the 124 is mostly Japanese. Underneath the swanky Italian bodywork is a Miata. But before we delve under the body, let’s linger on the handsome suit draping …

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2018 Audi S5 Sportback 3.0T quattro Tiptronic – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We can thank the SUV/Crossover craze again for this – with buyers so used to the flexibility of the big box, it has raised interest again in wagons and hatchbacks. Interesting, because a few years ago, manufacturers were saying customers didn’t want hatches and wags – but the customer is king! I want my Sportback back, Sportback back, Sportback back… Yes, this does make us hungry for ribs, but let’s go on. When Audi recently introduced their new A5 Coupe – which we tested and loved – they also introduced a 4-door hatchback model they named “Sportback”.  Even more exciting, …

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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

A friend just asked about buying a Diesel-engine car. Diesel? Really? It seems like that boat has sailed a while ago, with VW’s diesel-gate putting the powertrain on the chopping block for most passenger cars. Hybrids and EV’s are where it’s going – for their combination of low or zero emissions, hefty government subsidies (ok, those may go away) and driving fun. Yes, driving fun. And one of the most interesting of these vehicles is the new Honda Clarity. A new way to roll Well, the Honda Clarity actually gives you three ways to roll – if you’re on the …

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2018 Nissan 370Z Coupe Heritage Edition – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Once, a long time ago, affordable sports cars roamed the highways and byways of this great land. The dream of a roadster (or coupe) in the garage was well within reach, and shared by many. Wuh happened? Safety regulations, Crossovers, SUV’s, Baby Boomers with bad backs –it seems like they all conspired to do the sports car in. Many manufacturers just walked away from those who love to drive the most. But luckily, some didn’t. The herd has been thinned out, but the ones that remain are pretty darn good. The Miata comes to mind – The Subaru BR-Z/Toyota 86 …

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2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Have you noticed this great resurgence in family sedans lately? The all-new Accord and Camrys that we’ve tested are really pushing the limits of design, performance and technology – fighting back against the rising tides of crossovers and suvs. And who do we have to thank for the sedan revival?  Hyundai. A few years back, it seemed like the sedan had settled in for a nice long snooze, content to be shopped by those who wanted 4 doors and a trunk – but not interested in grabbing customers by the collar and saying “Hey check me out”. At the same …

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Comparo! 2018 Lexus RX350 vs RX350L Luxury – By Ben Lewis

Now Trending It seems that no carmakers are immune to the latest trends. And here is the latest in crossover-dome, 3rd row seats in mid-size vehicles. It’s actually not a new idea, heck you could even get 3rd row seats in small SUV’s like the RAV4 for a while. Then we had a nice long run where mid-size vehicles were sensible 5-passenger models, and if you needed to seat 7 you got a larger SUV or even a minivan. And then, all of a sudden 3 row vehicles started coming back. Models like the new VW Tiguan, Land Rover Discovery …

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2018 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Volvo has been on a roll lately, every vehicle we’ve tested has been a tasty blend of performance, luxury and uniquely Swedish design. We’re always up for a fresh serving of the carmaker’s fare. But the XC60 is more than just another entree, it’s their biggest seller, and it fights in one of the most competitive SUV/Crossover segment on the planet. So, we wondered: Is the all-new XC60 another sweet-dish or a stinky Lutefisk? Well, if you don’t know what Lutefisk is, we’ll leave it up to your googling skills. Or trust us, it’s an “acquired taste” at best. Presentation …

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2018 Kia Niro PHEV LX – ~240MPG Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Last year we tested the Kia Niro hybrid, and it came away as one of our favorite vehicles of the year. Here was a hybrid with the practicality of a small crossover, excellent fuel economy, and best of all, it was truly fun to drive. We’d gladly have one in our driveway – and it would make a perfect day-to-day partner to some rip-snorting, fuel guzzling, socially questionable weekend toy. Plugging into the latest and greatest While hybrids have been around for quite a while now and become extremely successful, getting people into full EV electric vehicles has been a …

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2018 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

First off, game over. Hybrid has beaten Diesel. At least for passenger cars. The VW debacle has pretty much snuffed the light out for diesel cars as your super-efficient way to motor around. And with the departure of our dear departed Diesel, expect to start seeing more hybrids. Hybrids ‘R Us. So, it makes sense to see what Toyota’s up to. Especially since they pretty much owned the tech for a long time, and made Prius and Hybrid a household word. And no, this isn’t a Prius test, because there’s a brand-new Camry for 2018, and after having a ball …

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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT A/T – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

One of the great things about the popularity of small SUV’s and Crossovers is that it’s also creating renewed interest in small wagons and hatchbacks too. Once you’ve experienced the practicality of RAV4 or HR-V, it’s pretty hard to go back to a small sedan. So, don’t go back to a small sedan. With the all-new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT, you get carrying capacity – plus a whole lot of other nice surprises. And even if comes down to choosing between an Elantra sedan and GT hatchback, it’s no contest – hatch wins. Euro style. It starts with the looks …

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2018 Buick Encore Premium FWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the new Buick Enclave, and found it to be an excellent blend of style, performance and luxury. What if you want all that, but something in a smaller package, perfect for running around the city as well as the open road? Well then, how about the Buick Encore?  Refreshed in 2017, the small SUV has proven to be exceptionally popular – it’s Buick best-selling model – and it shows how quickly the brand has moved from stodgy to hip and cool in a short time. Not the urban lumberjack, Jack. In the land of small SUV’s trying …

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2018 Honda Civic Type R – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Are you an extrovert? Do you like being the center of attention? Do you like answering lots of questions from people you don’t know? Then we have the car for you. The Honda Civic Type R. It’s R turn. While Type R Honda models have been the epitome of performance for the brand elsewhere, Honda and Acura have been extremely stingy bringing any to the U.S. When the new Civic bowed, a promise   that the lineup would include the first ever U.S. Civic Type R got enthusiasts all fizzy with excitement. Sparkling or flat? Not everyone likes bright and bold …

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2018 BMW M550i xDrive Sedan – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

OK, I’m going to buy a lottery ticket. A fun game we enthusiasts play – win the big Powerball, and what would you drive? An exotic? Classic muscle car? An Opel GT with a 5.0-liter V8 and fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror? The mind boggles. Allow us a recco for a daily driver – the BMW M550i xDrive.  Why? It’s beautiful – in a tasteful way. The 5-series was restyled for the 2017 model year, and the change was evolutionary – not a big surprise for BMW’s popular mid-level executive express. Having sold 7.9 million 5’ers over 6 generations, …

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2018 VW Golf Alltrack – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Everyone seems to want a crossover or SUV. You’d think this would be bad news for makers of wagons like the 2018 VW Golf Alltrack, but just the opposite is true. A lot of people like the added utility of ‘utes, but prefer a car-like experience. Or something in-between. Audi probably should get the nod for the original Allroad creating the premium upscale “tall wagon”. And you can thank the Subaru Outback for putting this type of vehicle in just about every neighborhood in the country. Especially where it snows. Let’s get rugged! VW sells it shares of SUV/Utes as …

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2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

While crossovers are the big thing, we think it’s great to see the sedan isn’t ready to roll over and die. In fact, with the all-new Camry, and coming soon, All-new Altima, carmakers are stepping up their game – each of these new sedans is on the edge of style, technology, and best of all, performance. Leading the renaissance is the 2018 Honda Accord. Super Stylish It must be tough being Audi. You come up with a gorgeous design, and next thing you know, other manufacturers seem to be dipping in the same inkwell. Take the new Audi A7 – …

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2018 Buick ENCLAVE Premium AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

If you haven’t had a Buick Enclave SUV on your shopping list in the past few years, it’s understandable. The previous model has been in production since 2007. And while it’s always been a strong seller, with so many new players coming in every year, it’s got to be hard to attract new buyers. Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick? While that’s the tagline from Buick in the 60’s, with the all-new 2018 Enclave SUV, it’s a great question to ask – this is an excellent model for today’s SUV buyer. B is for Bigger With a 2-inch longer …

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2018 Lexus LS500 RWD with LLS+A – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

$98,930. That’s the first question, isn’t it? So, if you had to ask, now you now. That’s if you know what it is. And frankly, a lot of people, didn’t. Oh, sure they knew it was a Lexus, but even in the premium rarefied air the previous LS model cruised, the new model looks so different, so more upscale and personal, they thought it was some new super-sedan from Toyota’s luxury division. Jaws Will Drop Based on the same chassis as the gorgeous LC coupe, the new LS as just as thrilling – if a bit more reserved, due to …

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2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

There’s an interesting phenomenon in auto-dom. Lag time. A manufacturer will gain a certain reputation, and when it ups its game, it seems it takes a while for the buying public to find out about it. Which can be good for buyers (snag a deal0 , but a rough ride for carmakers. Acura is a perfect example of this. What do you think of the brand? Nice stuff. Not too exciting, but solid, well made. Right? WRONG! Acura has quietly been polishing its vehicles into some really exciting numbers, and it seems like the word hasn’t gotten out. We recently …

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2018 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Seems like every manufacturer has their “Luxury Flagship SUV” these days, and Nissan is no exception. While most of these are more luxo-barge than flagship, there are a few that remain true to the real SUV credo of ruggedness, capability and anywhere anytime composure. We’d include the Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser in this select group. And now we’d also add the new Nissan Armada. It’s a whole ‘nother kind of Armada. One look and you know this is different. Where the old model was an SUV version of the previous-gen Titan, Nissan does us a solid and gives …

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2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Before the SUV, the Minivan, the Crossover, and SAV (how many ways can they slice this pie?) there was the station wagon. And there has, and always will be, those faithful to a vehicle that gives you all the car-like goodness you could want with the hauling ability of an SUV. Really, no vehicle looks cooler with a surfboard strapped to its roof. And within the “wagons ho!” crowd, there’s a special place just for Volvos. Like this Volvo V90 wagon. It stands apart from other wags as Volvo’s always have, and yet breaks new ground in a way Volvo’s …

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2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 4Motion – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

If you go by sales, VW SUVs have always been the scrawny kid on the beach getting sand kicked in his face. But, as if answering one of those mail-order bodybuilding courses, a new, big, powerful and buff VW Atlas is giving those other bullies a roundhouse to the jaw, and claiming its rightful place in the sun. Behold: the VW Atlas. Or as we named out tester, Charles Atlas. If you don’t remember Charles Atlas, you can still appreciate that the U.S. is big SUV country, and up until now VW hasn’t really courted the buyer who needs three …

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