Review: 2017.5 Mazda6 Delights With Handling, Styling and Features – By Tim Esterdahl

Admittedly, I’m not much a mid-size car guy. I like pickups and SUVs with 4×4. However, driving around in the 2017.5 Mazda6 Grand Touring edition, it didn’t take me long to understand why I keep hearing good things about this car. The 2017.5 Mazda6 is one of two cars Mazda offers with the Mazda3 being the smaller of the two. It competes with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and other mid-size cars. Mazda offers the 6 in three models: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring and all the models share a 2.5L 184 horsepower inline-four engine. This model year is also …

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2017 VW Passat 1.8T – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2017 VW Passat – 5 Things We Loved About It Volkswagen gets a lot of grief from people due to the diesel-emissions scandal and narrow views of them being only a diesel-engine focused company, but lost in this hatred is the fact they do build some pretty great non-diesel cars. For example, a week behind the wheel of the 2017 VW Passat reveals it is pretty dang good with lots of smart engineering. Here is what we loved about it. Before we get to the things we loved, we should back up and say our test model was a …

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2017 Toyota AVALON Hybrid Limited – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited is a very stylish car loaded with safety equipment and great fuel economy. It’s only blemish is simply bad timing with the ultra-hot truck and SUV market seeing customers buying other types of vehicles at a startling pace. After receiving a facelift in 2015 and now with a new 2019 model on the way, the 2017 model should represent a bargain for consumers. Here’s why. On the outside, the Avalon represents the older way of designing Toyota vehicles with a more muted front-end and blended style from front to rear. Newer Toyota styling has …

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2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock – Review By Tim Esterdahl

Rubicon Hard Rock – Tough As Nails As one of the most recognized nameplates in the off-road community, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock is just about the most purpose built vehicle you can buy. It is a rugged, off-road machine meant for those “hey watch this” moments in the outdoors. Virtually unchanged for the past several years, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon offers the same powertrain, style and off-road equipment its fans have come to enjoy and rely on. About the only thing new this year is the shocking Hypergreen exterior paint color on our $43,325 test model. That …

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2017 Hyundai SANTA FE Ultimate – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

  Overlooked by many consumers, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is the sleeper pick by many journalists as the best full-size CUV on the market. Why the disconnect between consumers and critics? No idea, it is really that good. The Hyundai Santa Fe has been around for years and in 2012 a longer-wheel base model called the Limited hit the sales rooms. As opposed to the smaller Sport model, the Limited offers a third-row – a key item for family shoppers. It also received a different grille design, optional 19 inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips and its overall shape …

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2017 Nissan ARMADA Platinum – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

In a segment long dominated by the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon, the 2017 Nissan Armada arrives to take them both head on. With a huge interior and plenty of horsepower under the hood along with a very unique style, it is bold challenger, yet does it truly measure up? Yes and it might just surprise many large SUV buyers. Fresh off a one-year hiatus, the 2017 Armada is back with new looks, improved V8 and loads of safety and security tech. It continues Nissan’s push to be more than a low-budget volume seller and instead be a major …

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2017 GMC Acadia DENALI – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

  GMC angling to be a “premium brand” these days — a long way from their trucks’ deserved reputation as rebadged Chevrolets.  GMC has definitely changed, but not everything makes sense. The 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is a perfect example of this. It is essentially a rebadged Chevrolet Traverse with upgraded features and luxury. Do these luxury features push it to another level above the Traverse? Absolutely, yet they may do more harm than good. The 2017 GMC Acadia is one of several SUV models offered by GMC these days as the brand works to find complements to its better-selling Yukon Denali and Sierra …

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2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

Is the XT5 ready for the runway, or still a work in progress?  The mid-size luxury SUV segment has exploded in recent years and the rush to bring new products to market has forced many companies to expedite development plans. Unfortunately, this means some products are released before they really deliver the wow factor consumers are looking for. Such is the case with the 2017 Cadillac XT5. It fails to stand out in a crowded market and feels like a work in progress. Before we get too far along, it is worth noting there is nothing wrong with the 2017 Cadillac …

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2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel – Review – By Tim Esterdahl

For the last several years, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the leader among mid-size, off-road SUVs. Legendary Jeep off-road equipment, luxury-like interior finishes, sharp exterior styling and powerful V8 engines have enhanced the appeal of this trusty truck significantly. With the pump-busting 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel engine now available too, the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is at a level where competitors don’t dare to go. It is pricey, yet so, so good. Styling Sets It Apart From the first day I received the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland as a press loan, I remarked at how stylish it was. This isn’t always …

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2017 Chrysler PACIFICA Touring – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

Minivans are minivans right? They are soccer mom vehicles, often shunned by the general public who lust after more stylish and powerful SUVs. What if an automaker turned “what makes a minivan, a minivan” on its head? You would get the stylish 2017 Chrysler Pacifica – a real challenge to your notion of what a minivan is. Or rather, what a minivan can be! My notions and deeply held beliefs on minivans were challenged during my week of driving my press loan of a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. This minivan definitely felt more like an SUV with the added bonus of kid …

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2014 INFINITI Q50S AWD Hybrid -- 1080p HD Road Test Videos & 50 Photos -- AAA+ Refinement and Truly Authentic Steering -- An Excellent BMW 535i Competitor 23

2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0T – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

After three non-stop hours behind the wheel of a 2016 Infiniti Q50, I’ve never been more mixed on a car. It simply delights, frustrates, pleases and annoys all at the same time. Here’s why. Throughout my week of driving the car, I had taken short trips while saving one long-distance trip for the compact car. My reasoning is simple. This trip was a mix of city, highway and dirt driving through the northern Colorado landscape of fields and rolling hills. There are hair-pin turns, long, straight roads and plenty of deep drops and quick climbs. It is ideal for seeing …

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2016 Volkswagen TIGUAN SEL 4Motion – Review By Tim Esterdahl

REVIEW: 2016 VW Tiguan AWD – Fun Drive, Boring Design In some cases cars are designed so perfectly their popularity can carry them for years and well beyond when they typically receive updates. For the 2016 VW Tiguan, this is not the case and the all-new 2018 model, set to arrive next summer, is desperately needed. The fact is there is nothing wrong with the Tiguan per se, yet there isn’t really anything that exciting either and that’s a problem. The compact crossover market these days is hot with many great models from all manufactures. Typically, these vehicles provide ample room, …

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Review – 2016 DODGE Journey CROSSROAD – By Tim Esterdahl

For years now, larger vehicles have dominated car sales with families putting a premium on space and seating over handling and fuel economy. The 2016 Dodge Journey is a perfect example of this with its third-row seating offering room for seven while sacrificing great handling and power. Yet, after driving it around for a week, it is clear why it has perennially been one of Dodge’s best-selling models. The extra space in the smaller size (easy to park and easier to drive for most) with a seating position that fits many people is quite honestly precisely what the American buying …

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2016 JEEP CHEROKEE Latitude 75th Anniversary Edition – Review By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 75th Anniversary Edition There are iconic vehicles out there and then there are Jeep vehicles. You literally can’t say the word iconic without referencing a Jeep. In fact, describing what an iconic vehicle is to someone who doesn’t know immediately brings up the example of a Jeep. And what happens when an iconic vehicle reaches a milestone like 75 years in production. Well then, you fill it with Jeep iconic badging, offer it in green, accent the exterior with bronze and orange and challenge people to find some open-air, dirt and a smile. The 75th …

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2016 BMW 750i – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 BMW 750i xDrive – Perfect or Superfluous Luxury Sedan On a warm summer afternoon, I sit with my feet up, my body reclined, a pleasing smell in the air, cool drink in hand while listening to music in the shade as a cool breeze blows. It is an ideal setting, except I’m not sitting outside. I’m actually sitting in the rear of the 2016 BMW 750i xDrive. Its long list of features, comfort and material choices make it infinitely more appealing than a lawn chair, but is it all just a bit too much? Maybe to some, but …

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2016 Altima SL Tim Esterdahl 1

Road Test Review – 2016 Nissan Altima SL – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Nissan Altima SL Offers Smooth Ride With Stylish Looks The all-new 2016 Nissan Altima is a great example of improving on what works with smart upgrades and improved style complementing a smooth riding sedan. While critics bemoan its lack of pep, after a week behind the wheel, it’s hard to understand what they are talking about. Now in its 5th generation the refreshed 2016 Nissan Altima features a host of styling improvements seen in the V-motion grille with boomerang-shaped headlights carried through the back officially called an “Energetic Flow” by Nissan. Equipped with new sheet metal as well …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Dodge DURANGO – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Dodge Durango Citadel Offers Luxury at Bargain Price One of the great things about the Dodge brand is how they can take one product and completely change it with features and styling upgrades. A great example of this is the 2016 Dodge Durango Citadel with its luxurious interior materials, plethora of features and great exterior styling touches. It almost feels like a completely different vehicle and not a Durango at all. Quite frankly, the 2016 Dodge Durango Citadel is so much different than a Durango, it really could be a wholly separate vehicle and it is so good …

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Double Drive Review! 2016 MINI Cooper S CLUBMAN – 8sp Automatic versus 6sp Stick

  For years now, the number of manual transmissions has been dropping in favor of the automatic transmissions. True car enthusiasts have bemoaned the loss of the stick while automakers pander to growing consumer demand for automatics (plus, many drivers can’t drive a manual). However, with the Mini Cooper Clubman, the manual vs. automatic debate is at the heart of the car. Is a Mini Cooper, well, a Mini Cooper without a stick? Nope. A few weeks ago, I reviewed a 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman S manual and enjoyed all of its quirkiness including the thrill of getting off the …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Jeep RENEGADE Trailhawk – By Tim Esterdahl

What looks like a box on wheels, rides like a car and can scale the side of a mountain? Why a 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk can and its off-road prowess is downright surprising. When Jeep launched the Renegade, it was a bit of a shock to many with its European-like styling, odd-looking taillights and its flat front grille punctuated by two round headlights. Frankly, it just doesn’t resemble what most in the U.S. think of when they think Jeep. While the exterior looks are subjective and non-traditional Jeep, inside it is closer to a Jeep and especially the Patriot kind …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AMAZES Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible Amazes   A week behind the wheel of in the 2016 Jaguar F-Type – a $110k, 550HP, 2-door luxury/sports car convertible – brought about a lot of emotions like joy, exhilaration and amazement. Yet, one emotion stood out among all others. Happiness. Pure, unbridled happiness and the smile it brought lasted all week. This car, nah, mood changer really hits all the right marks.   The 2016 Jaguar F-Type convertible has been out for a while now and there has been plenty written on how it handles on the track, 0-60 times and its …

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Road Test Review - 2017 KIA Sportage SX AWD - By Tim Esterdahl 31

Road Test Review – 2017 KIA Sportage SX AWD – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2017 KIA Sportage SX AWD Really Impresses Throughout the year, automotive journalists like myself get to drive a large variety of vehicles and sometimes we drive vehicles from brands we never have before. This was the case of the recently redesigned, fourth generation 2017 KIA Sportage SX AWD when it arrived for a week of testing. After spending that week behind the wheel on pavement, dirt and around town, I won’t be passing up the chance to get behind the wheel again. It is that good and could seriously challenge the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. While I may …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Volvo XC60 T6 Is Safe, Family SUV When it comes to safety few automakers go to the same level that Volvo does and the 2016 XC60 is a perfect example of this. From the built-in booster seats for children, to the host of alert systems, this SUV is perfect for safety-conscious families. The 2016 Volvo XC60 is a 5-seat, SUV with a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged/supercharged engine which produces an impressive 302 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque. This powerful engine is mated to an 8-speed transmission which is geared for a low-end pop off the line with a …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn 6-Speed – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 VW Golf GTI Improves on Technology While Keeping Superb Drive While VW may be mired in a diesel scandal, this doesn’t mean the rest of their gas vehicles should be overlooked. A great example is the critically acclaimed 2016 VW Golf equipped with a turbocharged gasoline engine and featuring updated technology features. The big news for the 2016 VW Golf is all-new technology features found in a new 6.5” touchscreen infotainment screen and part of VW Car-Net. This was a big need in prior Golf vehicles and VW stepped up to fill this gap. The new touchscreen is …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Chrysler 300 Limited – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Chrysler 300 Limited Offers Lots of Value Celebrating its 90th year of production, the 2016 Chrysler 300 Limited AWD could just be the best value ever offered in the large sedan. Our test model came in at just under $40k and it is LOADED. For the 2016 Chrysler 300 90th Anniversary Edition, there is more standard equipment than ever offered before. For example, the Limited edition comes standard with an 8.4” Uconnect system with navigation, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, plus a spectacular dual-pane sunroof and unique commemorative appointments. Chrysler says the Limited edition is the most “well-appointed …

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Road Test Review - 2016 Ford Focus Titanium - By Tim Esterdahl 4

Road Test Review – 2016 Ford FOCUS Titanium – By Tim Esterdahl

While all the attention these days is on its faster brother, the 2016 Ford Focus Hatchback Titanium isn’t so quickly overlooked. With its fun to drive size, quick acceleration and plentiful cargo room, the Focus is a great commuter or around town vehicle and probably not the best choice for long road trips. Hatchbacks hold a special place in the automotive landscape with plenty of fans and critics of its size and styling. Fans love the size, fun to drive sporty aspect of it and its versatility of holding 5 with cargo room. Yet, critics see SUVs as better options …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Mazda CX-5 – By Tim Esterdahl

A surprise hit for many automotive journalists, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 has been called out for its “impressive efficiency, responsive handling and bold style.” Add this journalist to the list of those pleasantly surprised by the CX-5. It is really, really good. One of the first things grabbing you about the CX-5 is the exterior styling and, more specifically, the nose. The look is almost a take on a Mercedes-Benz GLE which is a big compliment to the Mazda designers. Fortunately, it doesn’t stand out as a direct knock-off and the CX-5 retains its own personality with a well-designed front …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label – By Tim Esterdahl

Spirited, Luxurious Drive with Amazing Seats Review: 2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label Loaded with features, powered by a spirited and fuel efficient powertrain along with a comfortable and spacious interior, the 2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label is a growing competitor in its segment. It is clear why it is. I didn’t want to stop driving it. The all-new MKX is Lincoln’s newest push to knock the Lexus RX juggernaut from atop the midsize premium SUV segment. This is the largest segment in the luxury market and represents one-quarter of the market. In order to counter newly refreshed RX models, Lincoln …

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2016 Ram 150 HFE EcoDiesel Review 1

Road Test Review: 2016 Ram 150 HFE EcoDiesel – By Tim Esterdahl

Bare Bones And Fuel Efficient Review: 2016 Ram 150 HFE EcoDiesel A point of contention among truck fans is the rising price of full-size trucks. These prices are largely driven by the growth in so-called “Cowboy Cadillacs,” yet basic trucks still exist. Marrying the basic truck features with great fuel economy, we recently got to test a bare bones 2016 Ram 1500 HFE EcoDiesel. Ringing in just under $40k, it was surprising how different a truck feels without all the upgraded features. Our test model was a Quad Cab, 4×2 with standard equipment and only a $695 optional equipment package …

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Road Test Review – 2016 GMC Terrain Denali AWD – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 GMC Terrain Denali AWD Falls Short In Key Areas While most people think of a “Denali” as a large, luxury SUV, the name really applies to a whole range of products GMC offers. One of these is the small Terrain SUV with ample cargo room and lots of features. However, if you are looking for the Yukon or Sierra Denali experience in this smaller package, it just falls short. Officially, GMC lists the Terrain as a mid-size crossover utility and it was launched in 2010 – replacing the Pontiac Torrent when the Pontiac brand ended. It shares the …

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Road Test Review - 2016 BMW 340i xDrive - By Tim Esterdahl 9

Road Test Review – 2016 BMW 340i xDrive – By Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive – Exhilarating Driving Performance For years, BMW has boasted that it builds the “Ultimate Driving Machines” and while critics and competitors have increasing sought to counter that claim, a recent weeklong drive in a 2016 BMW 340i only confirmed that claim. If driving, real fun, spirited driving is at the top of your buying list, the 340i has to be a top choice. Delivered to me in a Melbourne Red Metallic, the iconic looking 340i certainly had all the distinctive character and desirable appearance attributes reminiscent of BMW models over the years. While I’ve watched …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Chrysler 200 Limited with Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Chrysler 200 Limited, Overlooked For No Good Reason One of the hardest jobs of any automotive journalist is writing about a vehicle when the company says it will stop producing it. Such is the case with the 2016 Chrysler 200. FCA boss Sergio Marchionne has declared they will let it run its course. For consumers, this may cast a bad mark on the vehicle since the perception is something must be wrong with it. Yet, taking a close look at the Chrysler 200, it is obvious what the problem is. The car is simply overlooked on sales lots …

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Road Test Review: 2016 MINI Cooper S CLUBMAN

REVIEW: 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman Is Unique, Sporty Drive … Once Inside Cabin In a world of mega – huge trucks, large SUVs and big sedans – there is the 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman. It is a drastic departure from other cars on the market with its unique styling, sporty powertrain and zippy turning radius. Now with more cargo room, the Mini Cooper Clubman is simply a great drive, albeit if you are OK sacrificing some entry/exit ease and long-drive comfort. Without a doubt, Mini Coopers are uniquely different – even refreshing – compared to an automotive market …

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Road Test Review – 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum with Tim Esterdahl

Review: 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum – Fully Loaded SUV Goodness As the leader of the SUV market, the all-new 2016 Ford Explorer has big shoes to fill. Fortunately, Ford filled the Explorer Platinum with an almost absurd of luxury features making sure it not only hits all the marks, but it blows customers away. Simply put, it feels like a luxury SUV and that is precisely the point. The new Explorer is an evolution of where the SUV has been heading in the past few years and for this recent iteration, Ford really went after the design. There is new …

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