2022 Subaru Ascent Onyx Review by Ben Lewis

You’ve read our rave reviews of the Subaru Outback. And our equally positive test of the Subaru Forester. You get all fizzy over the Subie driving experience. Heck, you even love their commercials with the dogs. (We love those too). Except you need more room. Like 3 rows of seats room. What to do? Well, you could drive some other brand and be the person in the SUV with the long face, or you can go for Subaru Ascent with three rows of Subaru goodness. But is a 3-row Sube still a Sube? Let’s find out. Big, but definitely Subaru …

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2022 Honda Civic Si 4DR Review by Ben Lewis

The 2022 model year saw a brand new Honda Civic, and we’ve enjoyed every one we’ve tested, especially the turbo models, including the Honda Civic Touring Sedan, and the Civic Sport Touring Hatchback. But Honda kept us waiting with a slightly delayed introduction of the Civic Si, the Civic aimed straight at the heart of the enthusiast. So, was it worth the wait? Let’s find out! Bold Design We’ve already talked about how much we love the new Civics’ looks. It’s grown up, with a much cleaner overall appearance and less gimmicky aerodynamic baubles that were a little too shouty …

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2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Review by Ben Lewis

When we first tested the Hyundai Venue, we commented on how the small affordable SUV, with models like the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V had come of age. Wow, with the rise in prices everywhere, the bulging gas bills, etc.…we feel like we should have been on the psychic network. So, it felt like a good time to look again at one of the best small vehicles for the buck, the Hyundai Venue crossover/SUV. Style to Make You Smile The Venue first strikes you with its size. 5 inches shorter than the Kona crossover, it looks perfect for duking it …

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2022 Volvo S90 B6 AWD R-Design review by Ben Lewis

Volvo used to be famous for sedans (and wagons). But if you ask today’s buyer, it’s probably all about the SUV XC models like the XC40, XC60 and XC90. They also have some gorgeous wagons if you are interested. And while they don’t always get the prime-time headlines, Volvo makes some very appealing sedans. Case in point, our 2022 S90 sedan. In fact, it may just be one our favorite Volvo’s! Big, Bold, Beautiful The first thing that grabs you is the sheer size of the Swedish sedan. It’s as long as many 3-row SUV’s and its sharp lines really …

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2022 Kia Sorento PHEV SX-Prestige AWD review by Ben Lewis

Like we’ve noted before, the Kia Sorento has one big problem – it lives in the shadow of its big brother the Telluride. Ok, the Telly does deserve the acclaim it’s a great 3-row SUV that looks, goes and performs just how you’d want a big SUV to. But the Sorento has a lot going for it, too. In fact, while it’s smaller, it still serves up 3 rows of seats, and we’d argue it’s a more advanced vehicle, first being offered in a Hybrid model, and now with a new for ’22 PHEV plug-in hybrid variant. And with the …

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2021 Land Rover Defender 90 First Edition Review by Ben Lewis

So, we road test a lot of different vehicles. And some of them are very expensive, status-y models, and it’s no surprise that you get an interesting range of responses. Often times with the pricey ones, you get pushback, the anti-snobbism. So, it’s interesting when you have a vehicle that’s a luxury brand, loaded with status, yet everyone seems to love it. Case in point – our 2021 Land Rover Defender 90. It’s a charmer. Lovable Looks Well, the first thing that bowls people over is the Defender’s design. Our 2-door 90 model looks like a giant Tonka Toy – …

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2022 Lexus NX 350 F SPORT Handling AWD review by Ben Lewis

We’re always happy to test a new Lexus – but a little like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes they are just lovely, refined vehicles that you’d be happy for your grandparents to toddle around town in. But lately, Toyota’s luxury division has been messing with us – throwing some Jalapeno poppers into our box of creamy nougats. The IS 350 and IS 500 are both jaw-droppers – thrilling to drive, stunning to look at, proof that Lexus is ready to take on the world’s best and give them a good stomping. …

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2022 Toyota Corolla Cross review by Ben Lewis

This may come as no surprise to you, but the best-selling nameplate in history is Corolla. Yep, Toyota has been making them for over 50 years, and selling them like crazy the whole time. So, with the ever-continuing growth of small SUVs, it seems only natural that the carmaker would combine an SUV with the Corolla name. Welcome to the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross! Stylish but mainstream Two things strike you about the Corolla Cross. First of all, while it is stylish, there is nothing that screams Toyota or Corolla about it. We guess Corolla buyers aren’t the kind to …

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2022 BMW M240i xDrive review by Ben Lewis

There are a lot of BMW models out there. A lot. But if we had to pick just one as a fave, we’d be leaning towards the 2-series coupe. Why? Well, call us old school, but the 2 reminds us most of the brand’s roots, from the early 1600-2002, to the 1-series, to the previous 2-series. Close coupled, personal with loads of performance and personality – and at the lower end of the price spectrum for the brand. So, when we heard there was an all-new 2-series, we were thrilled to get the opportunity to test one. Does it stay …

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2021Honda Accord 2.0T Sport review by Ben Lewis

You know, we’re always happy when we’re testing a Honda Accord. It’s like having a good friend come to visit. Yes, there’s plenty of time to talk about what’s new and exciting, but there’s also a lot of good feelings from the length of time you’ve known each other. And it’s not just us – the Accord is the best-selling car of the last 50 years. So, what’s been going on with our trusted friend? Let’s find out! Fresh Face The current Accord was already quite handsome, but we really like the upgrades they’ve made to keep Honda’s flagship sedan …

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2022 Mazda CX-9 Carbon Edition Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Toyota Sienna minivan, and found the “Swagger Wagon” to still be in effect, a great vehicle. But for many, the word minivan has too many negative connotations. And that’s why we’ve seen a huge upsurge of three-row SUV’s, from the large and princely Kia Telluride and Hyundai Pallisade, to smaller models, where that 3rd row is pretty much for occasional use. And one of our favorites of the occasional 3rd row SUVs is the Mazda CX-9. It may give you bumped knees in row #3, but it gives you back so much more! Let’s take a …

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2022 Toyota Sienna XLE review by Ben Lewis

Minivans always seem to be a topic of discussion. We know many a SUV driver who wouldn’t be caught dead in one. And we know many minivan drivers who wouldn’t own anything else. Part of this is a hangover from the early days of the little van, being a very functional box, but really be devoid of any style. Toyota’s Sienna has always been a fine product, and in the previous generation, the “Swagger Wagon” add campaign gave some needed cache to the vehicle. Introduced last year, an all-new Sienna takes a major step in style, performance, and technology – …

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2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Subaru Outback Wilderness and loved the added capability and looks that the manufacturer gave its popular SUV/Wagon – doing what many owners have been doing for a while but giving it the factory goodness to raise it all to a new level. So, it only makes sense that Subie did the same idea to the popular Forester – so is it equally successful, even more successful, or maybe a marketing flop? Let’s take a look! The Wild Blue   The Forester Wilderness makes a strong first impression, thanks to our tester’s available exclusive Geyser Blue paint. …

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2022 Acura TLX Type S Review by Ben Lewis

We loved the all-new Acura TLX A-Spec we tested recently. Acura has been on a roll lately, and the TLX is now bigger, badder, and is the whole package when it comes to style, performance and technology. But like the Kia K5 – also a sweetheart of a sport sedan – the manufacturer waited to introduce a more powerful, more driver focused version. In this case, the TLX Type S – bringing the performance Type S moniker back after many years of hibernation. So, with Honda’s luxury division building a TLX to thrill like never before, we were excited to …

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2022 Honda Civic Sport Touring Hatchback Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new 2022 Honda Civic sedan and loved it. Classy and upgraded inside out with great performance. What’s not to love? So, Honda tells us they now have a new hatchback model, with more utility and – hold on to your hats – an available manual transmission! Time for another road test. Haven’t We Met Before? The hatchback is a near-twin to the sedan – no problem there, we like the sedan’s grown-up look. Like the sedan, the front end has a very Accord-like look, with a prominent forward grille, featuring LED headlights with a cool signature …

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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited review by Ben Lewis

We were really excited to test the new Hyundai Santa Cruz. While and SUV-type vehicle with a truck bed isn’t a new idea, – the original Subaru Brat, the Subaru Baja and even the Honda Ridgeline – fit the bill, It seems like a great time for this kind of vehicle. So, let’s take a cruise in the Santa Cruz! What Today’s Truck is Wearing Well, let’s start with saying we love the looks. Built off the Tucson SUV platform, there are a lot of similarities – no problem there, that’s borrowing from one of Hyundai’s best designs. Up front …

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2022 Subaru BRZ Limited review by Ben Lewis

For enthusiasts on a budget, one of the most awaited new sports cars is the 2022 Subaru BRZ, and it’s twin the 2022 Toyota GR86.  It’s easy to see why, the original BRZ and then-named Toyota FR-S, came out in 2013 and were aimed directly at drivers with a front-engine, rear drive powertrain, a low-slung Subaru boxer powerplant, an equally low-slung design, a superb driving experience and a very reasonable price. Think of it as a Miata competitor with a permanent metal roof, a hatchback with two tiny rear seats, and you get the picture. But the little coupe punches …

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×4 review by Ben Lewis

Big is back! Especially in the SUV marketplace. If you’ve tried to buy a Kia Telluride or Hyundai Palisade, you’ll know that capable 3-row models are hot, hot, hot. And into the fray comes the new Grand Cherokee L, made all the grander by being larger, more luxurious, and offering that highly desired 3rd row for the first time. So how grand is the new Grand Cherokee? Let’s take a look. Bigger but Familiar A quick look, and you know instantly this is a Grand Cherokee. Jeep says the proportions of the L were inspired by the original Wagoneer – …

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2022 Kia Niro EV Review by Ben Lewis

We’re all pretty familiar with makers like Tesla and RIVIAN, showcases of what EV vehicles can do. And while they are great vehicles, they are expensive. If you want to own the hearts and minds of regular folks, you’ll need something more affordable. Enter the Kia Niro EV. The Niro has been one Kia’s most popular crossovers for a while now, and being offered in Hybrid and plug-in Hybrid versions, it’s a showcase for advanced power tech. But is the full-on EV model the one to make you give up your need for gasoline? Let’s take a look. Modern and …

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2021 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested and loved the all-new Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance, with a massively powerful and sonorous 5.0-liter V8. It was a fantastic sport sedan. But maybe you like the svelte lines of a coupe. And don’t really need all that power, but still want something quick and sporty – and with all that luxury and goodness of Toyota’s premium division? Well have we got a car for you! The Lexus RC 350 F SPORT. Let’s take a look. Sporty, Smooth and Sophisticated The RC has been with us for several years now, yet it still turns head …

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2022 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD review by Ben Lewis

Well, we’re spending the holidays in Kona. No, not the balmy town on the Big Island of Hawaii (we wish) but something nearly as fun – the heavily revised 2022 Hyundai Kona. It’s long been one of our favorite small SUV’s – especially if you pony up for the turbocharged model. So, does it remain a vacation from other sleepy small SUVs? Let’s take a look. Go For the Bold The exterior has gotten a major freshening, and while we were frankly pretty happy with previous design, we’ve got no complaints with the new duds. Up front, a larger split …

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2022 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F SPORT and were frankly wowed by the enhancements to the looks and performance, taking a really good car and making it great. And it reinforced all the talk from Lexus and Toyota being serious about performance was the real deal. How real? Well Lexus has slapped the gorgeous naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 from the luscious LC IS 500 in the IS sedan, creating a new trim – F SPORT Performance – which is above F SPORT but below F models. Ok, a little confusing, but it sounds like a marriage made in …

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2022 Acura RDX A-SPEC ADVANCE Review by Ben Lewis

2 years ago, we reviewed the then all-new RDX and were mightily impressed with both the SUV, but also direction the brand had been going. This was before the massive upgrade we saw on the TLX, and the introduction of the soon-coming, Integra 4-door. But if you thought Acura would catch a breather, you’re wrong. We’ve just tested the 2022 model, and there are significant upgrades all around. Re-test one of our favorites? You bet! Bolder = Better The RDX was one of the first to get a hunk of love from the brand’s new design language, taking what was …

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2022 MINI Cooper Hardtop 2 Door Review by Ben Lewis

Porsche used to have an ad campaign that said, “There is no substitute”. But when you look at a lot of the company’s latest SUV’s and the like, well…there are plenty of substitutes. No, we think if you want something really unique – and somewhat affordable – you look at the MINI. We were especially excited to drive the base model, 3-door hatchback. For 2022, the MINIs have gotten a new look and some added features to keep things fresh, and we like the idea of getting into the brand’s most affordable model. Let’s Motor! (Ok, that’s their ad campaign). …

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited Review by Ben Lewis

The compact SUV segment remains on fire, even if dealers are scrambling to find inventory to sell, and some are packing ridiculous markups on the sticker. And Outside of a few full-size pickup trucks, the number one selling vehicle is the RAV4. So, we know Toyota knows what it’s doing, and it’s also probably in the crosshairs of every other carmaker. We recently tested the new Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 and they all are excellent, and none of them are standing still, with everything from small changes to all-new vehicles being touted in front of buyers to …

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2022 Buick Envision Avenir FWD review by Ben Lewis

So, when someone asks us about what’s hot in compact-size SUVs, they’re probably expecting us to mention Audi or BMW. Maybe Acura. Or Kia, they’re on a roll…It’s fun to see the looks on their face when we say Buick. Maybe you have that same look on your face? Well, you shouldn’t, because there’s an all-new Buick Envision, and it is one gorgeous SUV, inside and out. Let’s take a look. Bold and Buick This is simply one of the most handsome compact SUVs out there. Up front there’s a mesh grille unique to our top-of-the-line Avenir trim, that surrounds …

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2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Edition Review by Ben Lewis

The Outback is a huge success for Subaru, and extremely well-loved among the Subie faithful. And those faithful come in all types too, from those who want something just a little more confident in snow and slick weather to serious off-roaders and outlanders willing to travel the edges of the earth, paved or unpaved. For those go out-there and get-em types, it’s quite common to see an Outback riding around on a raised suspension with blacked out wheels, protective cladding, and racks capable carrying some serious gear. So, Subaru thought, why let the aftermarket have all the fun? Let’s build …

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2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited HTRAC review by Ben Lewis

Here we are testing the all-new 2002 Hyundai Tucson, the vehicle that is the maker’s best-selling model globally, so it must be the standard bearer for the direction the company is going. And in the US, the compact SUV segment is huge as well. So, no pressure then, for the new model! But we have been consistently impressed with all the new Hyundais we’ve driven, from the full-size Pallisade SUV to the Elantra and Sonata sedans. Is the new Tucson ready to take on world? Let’s find out. Stunning Looks Well, if you’re going to make a good first impression, …

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2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Kia Stinger GT2 V6 and came away massively impressed. Mildly refreshed and featuring a 368-horsepower twin turbo V6 that loves to sing at high rpms, it was a thrill ride. But we also knew that the more affordable 4-cylinder turbo model was getting even bigger changes – how does going from a 255-hp 2.0-liter to a 300 hp, 2.5-liter sound? Sounds like a reason for a road test! Wow-house Design For those Stinger lovers on a budget, the first thing you should know is that the 4-cylinder GT-Line is almost impossible to tell from the much …

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2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX review by Ben Lewis

If we say large Kia SUV, what do you say? You’d probably say “Telluride”.  And we can’t blame you, the rugged 3-row SUV has been a huge hit, and right now, many are commanding impressive amounts above sticker on the showroom floor. But there’s another 3-row Kia that should be on your radar as well – the all-new 2021 Kia Sorento. Does the Telly’s little brother live up to the family image? Let’s look. Bold Style This is the 4th generation Sorento, and like the Telluride and Carnival minivan, it is modern, crisp, and sporty. Designed by Kia’s California design …

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2022 Honda Civic Touring Sedan review by Ben Lewis

You’ve got to admire Honda. With the all-new 2022 model, the carmaker is calling it “The Best Civic Ever!” With this being the 11th generation, there are a lot of previous models, and previous owners who might be skeptical. But hey, we’ve got an open mind – let’s see if it’s as good as they say. All Grown Up The first thing that hits you is the maturity of the design. No not, modern maturity, just a clean grown-up look. While we loved the previous model, we can understand why some felt it was a little to boy-racer over the …

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2021 Toyota Prius Prime Review by Ben Lewis

Do you remember the original Prius? It first came ashore in the US in 2000, and it was really the first Hybrid that was mass marketed. It was a slightly odd-looking agrarian sedan, but the technology was fascinating. Nowadays, you can get a hybrid on pretty much anything – heck, Toyota alone offers you a hybrid choice on 5 model lines. And almost every other maker offers a hybrid powertrain – all the way up to Porsche. Still, you must pay props to one of the originals, and along the way, Toyota has continually developed both the Prius and the …

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2022 VW Taos SEL FWD review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new VW ID.4 EV SUV and came away impressed. VW is on a roll. So, we were equally excited to test the all-new Taos, their smallest SUV that slots below the Tiguan. And since the automaker no longer is going to sell a Golf TSI hatchback, the Taos is your go-to for affordable and capable VW-ness. Let’s see if VW has another hit, or a sophomore slump. Family Resemblance Well, the exterior is clearly VW. And in the case of Taos, it’s a big player – it is almost as large as its big brother Tiguan, …

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2021 BMW 330e Sedan Review by Ben Lewis

2021 BMW 330e Sedan review by Ben Lewis We recently tested the Audi Q5 PHEV Plug-in hybrid, and found it gave near the performance of the pricier SQ5, with a price and efficiency closer to the base Q5 – especially when the federal and state tax breaks were added in. So, we were equally excited to driver the BMW 330e – the 3-series sport sedan with plug-in hybrid powertrain. While the previous gen had a similar version, the 2021 features the all-new 3-series that came out a couple years ago. Was this another plug-in we could love more than a …

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2021 VW ID.4 PRO S review by Ben Lewis

We really admire VW. After the Dieselgate trauma, the brand was really on the ropes, especially here in the U.S. We wouldn’t have been surprised if the German brand would have pulled out of the US market. But they didn’t. Instead, the fixed what was wrong with the Diesels, and started building exciting new models, like the all-new GTI and the Jetta GLI. VW also threw itself into being one of the leaders in EV tech. The first offering we saw was the E-Golf that we really enjoyed, but like many other carmakers, it was taking an existing vehicle and …

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2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve been looking forward to the review of the Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo for some time. As part of the Mazda 3 chassis family, we’ve enjoyed the Mazda 3 Sedan and Mazda 3 hatchback immensely. And when Mazda started squeezing the 250-horsepower 2.5-liter, turbo 4-cylinder in these models (as well as the CX-5), we have hoped for a thrill machine like the old MazdaSpeed 3. Close, but no cigar. While the turbo motor does make these mounts quite quick, it seems that Mazda was leaning much more towards sophistication. Nice cars. But they didn’t get your blood up. Well, we …

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2022 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD V6 Review by Ben Lewis

It’s hard to believe that the Kia Stinger debuted 4 years ago as a 2018 model. There was so much talk about it – here was an up and coming brand, breaking free of the inexpensive–but-rugged reputation, and getting ready to soar. And they brought out a rear-wheel-drive performance sedan to take on the likes of BMW and Mercedes! So, we really looked forward to getting back into a 2022 Stinger. Was it as good as we originally thought? How has it aged? And should you be stopping by the Kia dealer on your way to the Audi or BMW …

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2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Lexus GX460, and found its luxury, combined with impressive off-road equipment made it one of the most capable off-road luxury SUVs. Like the Lexus, the Toyota 4Runner finds itself in a specialist segment of the SUV market. Most buyers want car-like comforts, safety equipment and thoughtful utility. But actual go-for-it, extreme all-terrain capability is low on the list of people who will challenging the mall or Home Depot. A smaller group, though, still lives for what an SUV can do, where it can take you, and how it will get you back. For that crowd, Toyota …

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2021 Lexus GX 460 Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new Mitsubishi Outlander, a great vehicle, and we noted that it’s probably a tough sell in the SUV segment to offer something that is not bristling with the latest and greatest. The Lexus GX has been with us for a long time. So the question we asked – is the big Lexus ready for the mountains, or ready to be put out to pasture? Let’s look. Big and Bold The GX 460 is no shrinking wallflower, that’s for sure. The brand is well known for the large hourglass grille shape, and it in a vehicle of …

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2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC Review by Ben Lewis

Who doesn’t love a good comeback story? The movies are full of them – our star gets knocked down, struggles, and makes an epic comeback. Well Mitsubishi is sort of like that. For a while with vehicles like the rugged Montero SUV, the high-performance 3000 GT and Eclipse and (heavenly halo, please) Evo rally-car for the street, it was a niche player with a big following. Sort of like Subaru is now, when you think of it. Then our hero got knocked to the ground. The models in the lineup were tame, and lack of funds meant that many of …

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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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