2022 Kia Carnival EX review by Ben Lewis

Kia’s been giving us a lot of great vehicles lately, from the 3-row Telluride SUV, to the brilliant K5 sedan, to fun and chuckable Forte GT. Rhe vehicles have great looks, high equipment levels and real value. So, when it came time to replace the aging Sedona minivan, Kia created the all-new Carnival to take on the big players, including the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. Does Kia’s charmed lineup carry on in the minivan segment? Let’s take a look! The Real Swagger Wagon Remember that Toyota ad campaign a while back – calling their Sienna the “swagger wagon”? Well, …

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2021 Toyota Avalon TRD Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve always liked the Toyota Avalon. Toyota’s flagship full-size sedan has always exceptionally, comfy, roomy, well-turned out. Ok, kind of a Grampa car. What it really hasn’t been is exciting to drive. Toyota has been on a tear lately, though to make their vehicles a lot more fun, and after we tested the Camry TRD, (Toyota Racing Development is their in-house racing arm) we were so impressed, we hoping the company would do the same magic with the Avalon TRD. One Bad Grampa Ok, we have never had an Avalon that got this kind of attention before! The massive front …

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2021 Lexus NX300h Black Line Special Edition Review by Ben Lewis

So, this is always a tough thing to do – a review of an existing model when an all-new model has been previewed. Well, that’s the problem here – an all new 2022 Lexus NX is waiting in the wings, so the question is should you wait, or plump for the 2021 NX? Let’s take a drive in the current model and find out! Blue Thunder The NX hasn’t changed much visually since it got a refresh in 2018, but that’s okay, it was a stunner then, and it is still a bold, strong presence. Up front, you get key …

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2021 Subaru Forester Limited Review by Ben Lewis

Subaru’s are like old friends. Even when you haven’t seen them in a while, you feel immediately at home and comfortable. Good to be around. The Forester is certainly like that – we’ve recently been in a host of Outbacks, Crosstreks and WRXs, all great cars. But we miss our old buddy. Now friendship is one thing, but in the hyperventilating, ever-changing world of SUV’s you gotta keep up, too. So, is the Forester as good as we remember? A Familiar Face It’s no secret that the Outback and the Forester fight in the same arena for not-quite traditional SUV …

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2022 Acura MDX A-Spec review by Ben Lewis

If there’s one brand that’s working hard to reboot itself right now, it’s Acura. Honda’s luxury brand, it’s been cranking out impressive new products for the last year or so, starting with the excellent RDX and even more impressive TLX sedan. Of course, the big money currently is in the 3-row SUV segment, so when we got the new MDX to test we were excited. Let’s see if Acura keeps those fires burning! Bold New Style Like the RDX and TLX, the MDX is sharp, aggressive, and eye-catching. It looks bigger and more powerful, sitting on a wheelbase that’s 2.8-inches …

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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy Review by Ben Lewis

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a familiar name on the SUV landscape – it’s been around awhile, and has always stood for great value, room and style. But that landscape hasn’t sat still. With new players including bigger sibling the Hyundai Palisade and super popular Kia Telluride, can the Santa Fe Keep up with the big boys? Fresh New Look Hyundai has been on a roll lately, and it’s become a bit of style breakout. The Santa Fe has gotten a nice makeover that makes heads turn. Like almost every new model, a large grille is the way to go, …

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2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Review by Ben Lewis

When you think about it, the Toyota Corolla is like a McDonald’s Hamburger. In car-land the Corolla is the best-selling nameplate ever, with over 46 million sold. (For those playing at home, Mickey D’s has sold over 300 Billion burgers.) And with that popularity comes a familiarity, a confidence – Toyota and McDonald’s know what they’re doing. And in both, you can tell that while they may constantly tweak and improve, they stick with a recipe they know that works. So, while other competitors come and go, sometimes being spicier and flashier, there’s a comfort in familiar brands. You know …

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2021 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country Review by Ben Lewis

Long before the SUV craze, those who needed extra room and capability found their way into the station wagon. With extra load-carrying, up to three rows of seats, they were the workhorses of larger families. And of course, no discussion of wagons can go without mentioning Volvo. Since the 122 Amazon to the iconic 245 wagon, the Swedish carmakers lived on a blend of function, extreme durability, and anti-establishment chic. Later models became much more stylish, much quicker, but owning a Volvo wagon still puts you a tasteful distance from the mainstream. We like that. And we also like that …

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2021 Mercedes AMG GLE 53 Coupe Review by Ben Lewis

So, here’s a challenge to many manufacturers – with SUV’s being so popular, how do you keep things fresh? One trend we’ve seen are the “coupe-like” SUV’s, which trade off some of the utility (and headroom) for a racy profile. It’s especially popular with the Europeans, with everything from VW’s Atlas Cross Sport to BMW’s X4 and X6. Mercedes won’t be left out either, so we’re now enjoying GLE Coupe. But with a coupe, you’re driven by passion, so we were especially excited to get our grabby little hands on an AMG GLE 53 Coupe. Big vehicle, larger-than-life performance. This …

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2021 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review by Ben Lewis

There have always been a percentage of people out there who love the MINI Cooper’s bulldog looks, cheeky attitude and British persona (although BMW has owned them since 2003)  but just found the diminutive hatch a little too small. And MINI has been busy bringing in a variety of models, including the Clubman – longer and wider – and the Countryman – taller and wider. We’ve always liked the Countryman, it adds just enough usability to function like a small SUV, but still has that MINI charm. MINI points out that it’s the first model with an exterior length of …

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2021 BMW 540i xDrive Review by Ben Lewis

SUVs, SUVs, everywhere. With SUV/SAV/Crossovers pretty much the standard for family transport, it’s easy to forget that the Europeans like Audi, BMW and Mercedes made their name here with sedans. Some were 2-doors, some 4-doors, even wagons! But for a long time, the epitome of luxury was the 4-door premium sedan. And at the head of that class for enthusiasts has always been the BMW 5-series. Mercedes were ultra-luxury, but a little staid. Audi technically advanced but a bit spartan. The Bimmer though, that was a driver’s car. So now we have the 2021 540i, the 7th generation 5-er, with …

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2021 KIA Sorento Hybrid EX Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the 2021 Kia Telluride, and noted how for the past years, the Korean manufacturer has been on a roll, creating many exciting, desirable and affordable vehicles. Now we have an all-new, 3-row Sorento, which competes in one of the hottest SUV segments. Can Kia hit another one out of the park? Let’s see. Good Looking! Well if first impressions are the most important, the 2021 Sorento is off to a great start. The front end is recognizably Kia with the familiar “Tiger Nose” grill, although now the shape is more subtle, as it is framed by LED …

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2021 VW Arteon 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line Review by Ben Lewis

It’s got to be tough to be a brand like Audi. First of all, you’ve got Mercedes and BMW always gunning for you. And then, brands like Lexus. And the excellent Acura TLX we tested – another upstart. And then, you have to worry about your sibling…in this case the recently refreshed 2021 VW Arteon. Does VW’s handsome luxury flagship have what it takes to lure buyers out of those fancy, shiny dealerships? Let’s see. Simply Gorgeous You don’t see a lot of Arteons – frankly the brand is busy selling lots of SUV’s and churning up interest in their …

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2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD A-Spec Review by Ben Lewis

Here’s a term: Brand-lag – when a manufacturer is making big strides, but it takes a while for the word to get out. A perfect example, we recently tested the Kia K5, loved it recommended it to friends, and were surprised to hear “Hyundai and Kia? Oh, I wouldn’t get near one of those.” Where you been the last few years? Their new stuff is great. Acura is sort of in the same boat.  In the last few years though, Acura has really stepped up their game – we enjoyed the little ILX sedan, the sporty new RDX, and the …

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2020 Audi Q7 55 TFSI Review by Ben Lewis

When we used to go to movie theaters (and we can’t wait to go back!) they had a selection of sizes on the popcorn, and we liked the largest one – mostly because they unapologetically put the motto “Big is More” right on the tub. Yes, a tub. And the same is true of SUV’s – big is more. And if you need three rows of Audi SUV goodness, you can stop right here at the beautiful Q7. With some major improvements for the new Q7, it’s more than before. Let’s take a look. Big and Beautiful This is a …

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2021 Lexus UX 200 F SPORT Review by Ben Lewis

In marketing terms, UX is the shorthand for “User Experience”. So, it seems a natural question, does Lexus’ smallest Crossover/SUV give you the user experience luxury buyers expect? Let’s take a look. Familiar Sporty Style Look at the UX and you can see the family resemblance with the larger NX and RX crossovers. That’s a good thing – Lexus has really crafted its own style now, and these vehicles are modern and sporty with sharp angles and aggressive lines. Like our recent review of the Lexus ES250 AWD, the front end has that massive spindle grille, but like the ES, …

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2021 Lexus ES250 AWD Review by Ben Lewis

We still remember when Lexus launched in the US in 1990. It was a bold move – the Toyota company creating an upstart to take on the biggest luxury names in the market, including Mercedes and Cadillac. And its success is legendary, where it seems like Honda’s Acura, and Nissan’s Infiniti have never been able to quite get that cache. Why the history lesson? Well, there were two models when Lexus debuted, the LS400 and ES250. And now the ES250 name is back! So, if you’ve been waiting, your wishes have been fulfilled. Even more interesting, the ES250 is unique …

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2020 Kia Cadenza Technology Review by Ben Lewis

With the huge popularity of SUVs/Crossovers/SAVs, we sometimes forget just how good a traditional luxury sedan can be. And one of the nicest – and smartest values – is the Kia Cadenza. Let’s take a look at the Kia we call “The Big Easy”. (Hey, it’s Mardis Gras…) Fresh Face For 2020, Kia’s handsome full-size gets an update to keep things fresh. While the “Tiger Nose” grille shape is still there, the grille has a new deeper waterfall design, the reshaped hood enjoys power creases, while there are also standard LED headlights, redesigned LED daytime running lights and new integrated …

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