2020 MINI Cooper S Clubman by Ben Lewis

Is there anybody that still thinks MINI is a British company? Well, the truth is, it’s been part of BMW for a long time. In fact, many of the current BMW’s – like the X1 SUV – share MINI running gear. But that’s no reason to cry into your warm beer, as MINI is the best of both worlds. While the stylists who surround the MINI product make grand efforts to keep the bulldog-style, the fun and whimsical vibe, the knowledgeable folks at BMW continue to massage and refine the product. Ever year, there’s lots of little improvements. So, we …

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2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring by Ben Lewis

Honda is often times a technology leader, but in the case of the Hybrid SUV’s, it’s been a bit slow. But good news is here for those who love the CR-V and want all the goodness a Hybrid can bring – for 2020 we have the all-new CR-V Hybrid. And with Toyota turning up the heat in the segment with the excellent RAV4 Hybrid, it’s perfect timing. CR-V Hybrid Exterior – The Best Looking CR-V Ever! For 2020, all CR-V models get a makeover, including bolder front and rear styling and redesigned wheels. And like the Civic Coupe we recently …

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2020 Mazda CX-30 by Ben Lewis

Okay, we’re spoiled for choice these days. If you say you can’t find a vehicle to meet your needs, you’re not looking hard enough. Let’s take small cars/SUVs/crossovers. And a manufacturer like Mazda. Need a small car? There’s the Mazda 3 sedan and the Mazda 3 hatchback. We’ve tested both and loved them. Maybe want a small crossover/SUV? There’s the Mazda CX-3. Also, excellent. But you say, well, I want something a little taller than a sedan/hatch, but not quite an SUV. Okay says Mazda – here’s the all-new CX-30! And it might be the perfect blend of all the …

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2020 Toyota C-HR Limited By Ben Lewis

It’s interesting how time changes things. When we tested the 2018 C-HR, it was one of the first of the mini-crossovers, and it looked like the small sedan was on its way of going extinct. Well, the small sedan still isn’t what it used to be, but it’s around. And we’ve found some really good ones lately, including the Toyota Corolla and Kia Forte GT. But what’s even more interesting to us, is that the mini-crossover has now been attracting the interest of a new type of buyer – those who were thinking about luxury vehicles, but with the economy …

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2020 Fiat 500x Sport by Ben Lewis

Are you a fan of Monty Python? (OK, we may be dating ourselves here..) Well, they used to have a segment with a newsman-like person at a desk saying, “And now for something completely different.” And you know, they could have been talking about the Fiat 500x. Fiat 500x Exterior – Thinking out of The Box It starts with expressive looks. While it shares the running gear with the Jeep Renegade, it won’t be confused with that, or any other small SUV. Last year, the 500x got a facelift, with new front and rear fascia that trade in a little …

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2019 Honda Clarity Plug-In Touring by Ben Lewis

If you love Honda, and want a full-on EV, there’s some bad news. You can’t get one. Honda has decided to discontinue the 100% Honda Clarity Electric. If you really want to be on the edge, there’s still the Hydrogen-powered model Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, but it’s a California-only model, and you’re really limited for fueling stations. But there’s good news, too. The Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid continues, and it’s one of our favorite PHEV’s as they’re known. In fact, you might love it, even if you have no interest in hybrids or EV’s at all! Honda Clarity Design – …

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2021 Kia Seltos S FWD by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Hyundai Kona, and found it to be a stylish, sporty and well-equipped runabout. So, it’s easy to think that the all-new 2021 Kia Seltos, which shares most of the powertrain is its brother from another mother, but that’s not the case – it’s a completely different vehicle with a different purpose. Poised between Kia’s funky Soul and more traditional Sportage, it’s a small, rugged adventurer ready to tackle tough conditions. Kia Seltos Exterior – Bold and Eye Catching Kia likes to say that the Seltos has the same design theme as the big, bold Telluride SUV. …

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2020 Hyundai Venue Road Test Review by Ben Lewis

2020 Hyundai Venue SEL Review Here’s a term you don’t here that much anymore. Basic transportation. You probably remember them, usually a small car, no frills, no thrills, just get me to work (or school) and back. Thrifty and reliable. Well, those don’t really exist anymore. Part of that is good – comprehensive safety is becoming standard equipment on just about all vehicles. And with almost everyone using a smartphone, connectivity is important. And oh yeah, might as well make it a small SUV/Crossover – versatility and practicality won’t take a back seat anymore. So that’s opened the door for …

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2020 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new 2020 Kia Forte and came away impressed. It’s the latest of the new-class of fun-to-drive sedans that are taking the fight to the small crossover/SUV market. And one of the most exciting members of that new class is the VW Jetta GLI. For a long time, the GLI has been the hot-tach GTI’s poor relation – nice, and fun, but no GTI. Well, all that changed last year with the introduction of the new Jetta, which included a new GLI. And VW did enthusiasts a solid – giving us the same running gear of the …

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2020 Kia Forte GT by Ben Lewis

Many have said that the small car is on the way out. That small crossovers like the Hyundai Kona or tall hatchbacks like the Mazda CX30 will pushing them out. And the numbers don’t lie, SUV crossovers are king. (outside of full-size pickup trucks). But the sedan isn’t ready to throw in the towel yet. In fact, struggling to stay relevant has brought some of the best 4-doors to market that we’ve seen in a long time. The new Toyota Camry is excellent and fun. The Honda Accord, too. Heck they even put a turbo motor in the Mazda 6. …

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2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD by Ben Lewis

Small SUV’s are a big thing, and they keep on getting bigger. And they’re not just aiming for small SUV and crossover buyers, they’re going after small car buyers too. The new Mazda CX30 for example, is more a tall hatch than anything else. The Hyundai Kona could fit into that mold as well. It definitely has SUV styling cues, but the size certainly wouldn’t turn off buyers coming from small cars. And as a bonus, this is one of the most fun small SUV’s to drive. Spending a week in a Kona is a much fun as…. well, a …

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2020 Hyundai Venue SE – Entry Level Quick-Take

The 2020 Hyundai Venue is a delightful, affordable, entry-level crossover. This review is for the most basic SE model which is priced $17,250 with basic floor and cargo mats, and wheel locks adding $305, and a $1,095 delivery, for a total of $18,650 before trades, discounts and negotiations. As of this writing, there is a $500 offer; and you might qualify for others. All in for under $20,000 is almost hard to accomplish today, especially in the popular crossover segment. The 2020 Venue drives better than the price would imply. The base transmission is a 6-speed manual, and that is …

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Hyundai Showcases Refreshed Ioniq With 170 Miles Of Driving Range, Updated Exterior Styling

Hyundai‘s Ioniq lineup has made quite a splash since it debuted a few years ago. Designed to be a potent Toyota Prius competitor, the Ioniq had plenty of potential, and even mirrored the Prius’s extensive green lineup with a Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and even a pure EV variant all ready to battle against their bitter Japanese rival. But with the battle still swinging in Toyota’s favor, Hyundai has instead chosen to use the opportunity to update the Ioniq for 2021 to help give it a new lease on life, as well as give it several new tricks to help it …

Read more Hyundai Showcases Refreshed Ioniq With 170 Miles Of Driving Range, Updated Exterior Styling

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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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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Insider: From One Generation of Drivers to the Next

You remember your younger days, where you were just so excited to start driving. You’d be walking around, perhaps driving around with your parents, and calculating how many years and days you had left until it would finally be you behind the wheel. The idea of it just seemed to cool and appealing, and it definitely wasn’t all it lived up to be. When you think about driving, you think about road trips with friends, fast cars, smooth drives, and just an easy driving life. But the harsh reality of it is, you spend most of your time running to …

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First Look Video – GAC Motor GE3 EV – By Carl Malek – [Video]

When we last started our two part video series on GAC Motor, we began by focusing on the contents of their mysterious press kit, the shady way you have to give your ID to get one, and the lousy value that you ultimately get for giving your personal information. For part two of our series, we leave the gimmicky press kit at home, and instead conclude our coverage of the 2019 North American International Auto Show by taking a look at one of their models to see if GAC Motor has the necessary hardware to back up their bold plans …

Read more First Look Video – GAC Motor GE3 EV – By Carl Malek – [Video]

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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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Road Test Review – 2018 Toyota Prius C – By Carl Malek

The green car segment has seen its fair share of twists and turns over the past several years. While Tesla currently has the spotlight when it comes to pure EV offerings, Toyota and its Prii range in particular are considered by many to be the benchmark offerings in the hybrid vehicle segment. The Japanese auto giant doubled down on hybrids in the mid 1990’s with the original Prius, much to the astonishment and the occasional snicker of a few of its domestic competitors. That initial gambit has transformed into a lucrative business, with the Prii lineup redefining green car culture …

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Road Test Review – 2018 Kia Rio EX – By Carl Malek

In a world where pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers have become the dominant players in the quest for supremacy, it is easy to forget that the sub-compact segment is still a vital battlefield for automakers. lWhile the subcompact range has undergone some shrinkage recently, there are still a diverse cast of entries vying for buyer attention. One of these is the 2018 Kia Rio, which aims to bring some youthful vibes and sensible frugality into Kia’s rapidly changing lineup of cars. But can the Rio take advantage of the impending departure of the benchmark Ford Fiesta, and steal some extra …

Read more Road Test Review – 2018 Kia Rio EX – By Carl Malek

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 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium R-Code Design – Video Road Test Review w/ Mega Gallery!

  Don’t get too bogged down in what type of vehicle C-HR is before you start to love it.  SUV Compact?  City Style Hatchback? It is a racy five-door hatchback with off-road-ish looks and playful road handling. Exclusively front-drive and sliding in right above the Corolla in fun-to-drive and standout style. Pricing matches that four-door but there are many differences under the skin. This C-HR for example runs a slightly tighter wheelbase and overall length.  And a slightly wider stance with its bubble hardtop accentuating the racy roofline and concept-like body shapes on both ends. But really, all the style …

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Road Test Review – 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus – By Carl Malek

Ever wondered how you could make a Toyota Prius even more fuel efficient and environmentally conscious, while also cramming even more convenience features and technology into its distinctive wrapper at the same time? This conundrum reminds us of some of the great engineering challenges that America has faced over the years. While brilliant minds, technological advances, and the occasional rocket scientist or two played a hand in solving these fore-mentioned problems, Toyota had a delicate balancing act to achieve when it came time to build its latest Prii offering. The end result is the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime, but does …

Read more Road Test Review – 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus – By Carl Malek

2018 Kia Rio EX 5-door – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve often said it’s more interesting to see how a manufacturer makes their inexpensive cars vs. the big-ticket items. We recently tested the Genesis G80 Sport, one of the most lux of the Kia/Hyundai/Genesis family, and came away mightily impressed. How about the other end of the spectrum, Kia Rio? Can the littlest Kia win us over? Welcome to the Rodney Dangerfield section of the auto market. It’s hard to get any respect. The little Rio is the cheapest car K-H-G sells in the U.S., and while the brand has made huge strides, especially in the last 10 years, it’s …

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Road Test Review – 2017 Kia Soul Turbo – By Carl Malek

In a world where CUVs are slowly becoming the dominant species in the automotive world, one particular entry has always stood out for offering a unique yet successful approach to this often rehashed segment of the market, the Kia Soul. The Soul arrived when boxy was in, and it competed with mainly with its equally square counterparts the Nissan Cube, and the Scion xB. Both the Cube and the xB have entered automotive retirement, but the Soul has managed to soldier on, and transform itself into a solid competitor for a new wave of CUV entries. But can a dash …

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2018 Hyundai KONA – Arrives February to Clamoring US Shoppers

The Kona is a pretty big deal for Hyundai.  It will be expected to shift more than 100,000 units a year, we estimate, to be considered a success for the brand’s SUV mission. In a perfect world, this machine might even kiss 200,000 units in 2019!?   Can you imagine? Hilarious. Or is it? When you think of the future as seen in movies, Kona’s design will fit right in.  It is a post-apocalyptic surivor — navigating the ruins of cities with enough ground clearance not to scrape.  Or to have those pesky gravel cuts in the paint — thanks to …

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2017 Toyota Yaris iA – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

While it’s great to test the latest hi-tech, hi-buck vehicles, we really enjoy when a manufacturer makes an inexpensive car something special. Especially when it’s not only good, but also a surprisingly good drive.  And this is one of those vehicles. Yaris, I am your father… OK, the Yaris has a confused parentage going on here. Until last year, the iA was a Scion. And when Toyota got rid of that brand, it adopted the little sedan. Hence the funny iA name – clearly a remnant from Scion. But of course, that’s only half the story, because the iA is actually …

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Road Test Review – 2017 Toyota Yaris iA – By Carl Malek

The legacy of Scion continues to permeate throughout Toyota showrooms. While the logos, marketing material, and the fancy displays have long since been deposited in the dark corners of history, several of its models continue to linger in Toyota showrooms. One of these is the budget friendly iA sedan. Designed and engineered with help from Mazda, the iA was Scion’s last ditch effort at attracting young first time buyers before the rug was pulled from under it. Will the addition of a Toyota badge and a new name allow the Yaris iA to still fulfill its mission in life? Or …

Read more Road Test Review – 2017 Toyota Yaris iA – By Carl Malek

Electric or Hybrid, Which Is Indeed The Superior Green Option?

Remember back when gasoline (and to a lesser extent) diesel engines, were once the sole choices for U.S. drivers looking to buy an automobile for their driveway? We sure do, and we also remember back when the idea of electric let alone hybrid offerings were mere science experiments that existed in the world of concept cars. Fast forward a few decades, and this established order has been toppled by a strong pool of hybrid vehicles, as well as the emergence of a new wave of all electric offerings. But which choice is better for consumers? And which choice will stand …

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2017 Fiat 500C 1.4L Auto – Road Test Review

Is “hilarious” a helpful car description?  What about uproarious laughter at redline on the video review? Not really.  You migtht think the guy is laughing at the the car when he is actually laughing along with it. Either way, a serious case of the giggles comes standard on the Fiat 500C. The $17k 500 Cabrio is actually the cheapest way into a softtop in the USA for 2017 and 2018.  But with hard metal roof pillars, some might say this isn’t an all-the-way cabriolet. It might not be a full ragtop but it is delightfully sunny in the little Fiat …

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Autocross Class of 2017! Which Pocket Rocket Is Quickest?

Imagine the best kart track ever – inside the amazing Road America racetrack itself.  Then swap the karts for real cars.  And race them against the stopwatch in rapid-fire rotations of drivers! It was an squeely good time with the class of 2017’s new and special pocket rockets.   A big variety in power, drivetrain layout and body style: everything from the Abarth 500C to MX-5 RF and 370Z Heritage Edition.  Hyundai’s new Elantra Sport joined the fun, as did a ragtop Miata, 124 Abarth, Toyota 86 and VW Golf R.     They were all a laugh riot around …

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2018 Toyota C-HR – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

There’s a lot of talk lately that the small car is on its last legs. And you-know-who is to blame…the crossover. It started quite a while ago with SUVs swaying the public, with their rugged looks, great versatility, and comfy, tall seating position. Then came the small SUV wave, and it’s become a Tsunami – the Nissan Rogue is currently the best selling non-pickup vehicle (full-size pickups are still big business) in the country, with a passel of CR-V’s, RAV4’s, and CX-5’s and more not far behind. Still, the smallest of the small cars felt safe until recently, when the …

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Road Test Review – 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Limited – By Carl Malek

Once considered rolling science experiments 15 to 20 years ago, electric vehicles are seeing a resurgence in both relevance and importance to a new generation of car buyers. When I was growing up in Metro Detroit, it was in a GM household, and the infamous EV-1 was the symbol of GM’s brief but compelling trip into the world of mass market vehicle electrification. Tremendous progress has been made since then (case in point the Chevrolet Bolt), and electric vehicles are slowly making the transition from curiosity, to mass market reality. But does this mean that electric vehicles are at long …

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2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited – Road Test Review – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

For 2017 Hyundai introduces their 6th generation Elantra, and it’s destined to be a big hit.  Gone is last year’s brash, in-your-face design that separated it styling-wise from the more bland competitors in this compact car segment. Now we have an emphasis on a more elegant shape, and sophisticated style, and that sophistication is evident throughout the cabin and in the entire feel of this new model. Boomerang-shaped LED running lights fame a deeper, wider gill, with chrome horizontal slats that give the front end a more bold and obvious presence.  The cut lines on the sides of the Elantra …

Read more 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited – Road Test Review – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

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2017 Honda Fit – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’re often asked for buying recommendations, and certain models are our go-to cars. We know they’re good, fun, reliable, and the odds of getting a bad one are slim. (We hate angry emails.) And for many years, the city car of choice has been the Honda Fit. These days, so many buyers are clamoring for mini-crossovers, we forget that for a lot of folks, a small hatch is equally capable to do the job. So, is today’s Fit still a good fit for buyers? Well, it’s certainly a good looking little guy. Okay, we should probably caveat that. The bright …

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Best of NYIAS – 2017 Toyota FT-4X Concept

Welcome to Toyota getting hip with the kids! Since Scion was politely folded into the Big T proper, there are many products in the pipeline that still embody that wacky Scion spirit. The FT-4X is one of those, and looks set for arrival to showrooms within about a year at the most.  This machine is a heavily redesigned and off-road-optimized version of the sexy new C-HR subcompact crossover.  The FT-4X is far more than just a tall-roof variant.  (Although that is its core nature). From a tread perspective, the FT-4X rides far higher, with grippier rubber and longer-travel suspension.  Likely-standard …

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2018 VW Golfs Debut USA Facelift For Six-Strong Model Line

The new Golf is bringing the global model upgrades to the USA at last!  In fact, the lead time/delay between the Euro debut and the USA arrival is actually much shorter than before.  [It took almost three years for the Golf 7 to arrive in USA.] The six-strong 2018 Golf lineup arrives stateside around September of 2017 as 2018 models.  The e-Golf is on a slightly different timetable but also adds these revisions. The freshening includes standard LED DRLs, full LED tail lights new wheels and upgraded cabin infotainment.  The Golf R brings a fresh 7-speed DSG versus the current …

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3.2s 2017 Renault ZOE e-SPORT Concept Is Geneva Highlight

RenaultSport has found itself at the apex between F1 and Formula E in 2017.  They also produce one of the biggest range of EVs available.  No one is better prepared to take track-fast electrics to the street. The new Zoe e-Sport promises just that.  With a widebody style like the iconic Renault rally rockets, and a matte blue paintwork that happily recalls past Clio V6s. 460HP is the power allowed for this hatch smaller than a Ford Fiesta.  With almost a third of the total vehicle weight as batteries, this ZOE e-Sport might even have some midengine dynamics to add …

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2017 Hyundai IONIQ Electric – First Drive Review w/ Video

The sleeper hit of the Hyundai Ioniq launch? The full EV! This will be the rarest of the three Ioniq models as it will be sold in California only for the first year.  [First arrivals around April/May in stores, by the way, and Ioniq EV can be special-ordered nationwide at that time too.] It was not just the incredible normalcy about the EV drive Ioniq that makes it surprising.  Really it’s the thoroughness of the engineering and exceptional value this car represents. Hold your horses, though!  Let’s discuss what this car offers, how it looks, drives and feels.  Click play below …

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2017 Honda CIVIC Sport 6MT Hatchback – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Civic loyalists, your car is back! If you’ve wanted a performance Civic hatch, it’s been a long wait.  The last one was in 2003! In Si form, that Civic five-door was a neat little car.  We especially liked the rally-style shifter mounted high on the center console, the sport bucket seats, and the large (for Honda) 2.0-liter with i-VTEC. And while not a nose-bleed revver like the smaller Civics, it was still fun to drive hard. But that was 14 years ago! And while we’ve had plenty of enjoyable Civics to drive, they’ve only been offered in Coupe and Sedan …

Read more 2017 Honda CIVIC Sport 6MT Hatchback – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2017 KIA SOUL! Turbo DCT – HD Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

The Kia Soul has been one of the most successful small ‘utes in history.  Those engaging Hamster commercials did a great job of renting some space in our minds. When the Soul was redesigned, we saw the hamsters hit the gym, slim down, and start dressing like Daniel Craig in the Bond films. But what happens when the carmaker introduces the turbo, double-clutch 2017 Kia Soul! (pronounced “exclamation”)? Hamsters on steroids! And we have to give Kia credit for putting the loveable Soul on the juice, because they could probably sell every one they make already. It’s a great little …

Read more 2017 KIA SOUL! Turbo DCT – HD Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

CES 2017 – Top 10 Big Reveals + Showfloor Gallery

Many semi-cool reveals at CES this year.  And thankfully, they are not all wearing the same shade of Apple-knockoff white plastic for bodywork! Oh wait, all the cars are the same silver this year?  Delightful. This biggest headlines were undoubtedly for the Faraday Future FF91, a Tesla Model X rival that actually seems super smart and innovative.  If not exactly sexy, the design is certainly unique and practical.  This FF91 flagship is production-bound with a direct-to-consumer sales model that also takes great inspiration from Tesla. The Toyota Concept I is silly fun, while the Chrysler Portal is slightly more serious.  The …

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2017 BMW i Inside Future Sculpture Previews HoloActive Gesture Controls

Has BMW i just gone off the deep end entirely?  The iPerformance range in the 3 series (330e) and X5 40e is smooth and creamy — literally — on the road.  Yet the plugin hybrid electrics do drive like normal, high-speed BMWs. But my word.  Getting past the clutter of the “BMW i” language and descriptors, not to mention their designs and prices, mean these new innovations are definitely still in their infancy. Case in point? The below press release, which is virtually unintelligible.  It is so up its own a** that you have a hard time knowing the CARS …

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2016 Toyota Yaris LE – Road Test Review – By Carl Malek

With the recent influx of economy minded products from both rivals as well as the dearly departed Scion brand, it is easy to assume at first glance that the humble Toyota Yaris gets lost in the shuffle. But does this tiny hatchback still have what it takes to stand out in this crowded segment? Or does it come up just a bit short?     The exterior styling of our 2016 Barcelona Red LE grade test car (2017 models have minimal changes) certainly made our car stand out in a crowd, and also helped it have a sporty flair. This …

Read more 2016 Toyota Yaris LE – Road Test Review – By Carl Malek

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2017 VW Beetle DUNE Cabriolet – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Is the Beetle Dune ragtop just what the doctor ordered? Back in September, we tested a VW Beetle Dune, and decided it could be the answer to VW’s Diesel-inspired tummy troubles. While the folks at VW may (still) be reaching for a Super Gulp-size Pepto, we found a much better choice for quick relief. The 2017 VW Beetle DUNE Cabrio. The recipe for the convertible is pretty similar to the Dune hardtop. Based as an homage to the Baja Bugs of yore, all Dune models get a notable bump in the macho department, with a slightly taller ride height (half …

Read more 2017 VW Beetle DUNE Cabriolet – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

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2016 Nissan NV200 Cargo SV – Road Test Review

The compact cargo van market is becoming a big deal for carmakers and small-biz owners alike. Sales growth in the segment is near the top of the charts. Why? Many reasons.  And yes, it helps that compact cargo vans did not exist until the last few years.  Nissan arguably kicked off the trend that now includes the Ford Transit Connect Cargo, RAM ProMaster City and even the Chevy City Express … ( itself an NV200 clone) Why are these vans so hot right now?   And how does the revised-in-2015 NV200 rank versus the best out there? Let’s find out… HD …

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2016 VW Golf TSI SE – HD Road Test Review + Video

Where does the Golf fit in VW’s great comeback? The Golf has long been the most intellectual, well-travelled and worldly compact hatch.  Despite pricing from the low 20s, the Golf is clearly a classy machine.  A car for those who recoil at the idea of driving just another Corolla or Focus. VW as a ‘cognoscenti special’ in the Golf was badly bruised by the dieselgate scandal.  That much is clear. But there is no TDI badge on the back of this car.  The TSI emblem in back confirms this is a high-tech gasoline turbo engine. Revisions for 2016 now bring …

Read more 2016 VW Golf TSI SE – HD Road Test Review + Video

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2016 Volkswagen ID Concept

This is it! A near-production EV platform that VW will take global in three dozen flavors. Promising tech and ambition for a company still neck-deep in trouble. Some elements of the ID are more production-ready than others.  Details like the shrouded mirror-cams and roof sensor pods are actually farther out than the core architecture. The ID EV runs a flatpack battery and spaceframe chassis, a la tesla, but with a price that is hopefully a bit more Model 3 than Model S. The cabin is now enormously roomy for a Golf-length car.  Slightly formless elements of the design are aero-dynamic …

Read more 2016 Volkswagen ID Concept

3-Second VW? OCT Tuning Liberates 450HP from GOLF 7 R

The new Golf R is so fast and hilarious in Race mode that we noted many times how strong its engine felt in the first-drive video below. If it “felt like 400HP” with just its stock 300 ponies, imagine how it must feel with a full 150 extra??!     450HP and 405-pound-feet of torque are confirmed from the dyno-honed outputs secured by German tuning boss OCT. 2016 OCT Tuning GOLF R   A MUSCLED BEAST powered by O.CT TUNING – THE GOLF VII R Photos: O.CT Oberscheider Tuning GmbH Since 1994 O.CT Tuning operates as its own department within …

Read more 3-Second VW? OCT Tuning Liberates 450HP from GOLF 7 R

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2017 Toyota PRIUS – Road Test Review – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

  When Toyota brought the first Prius to the US back in 2000, you knew it was a hybrid by driving it, and even just looking at it.  It was an awkward looking thing that seemed to scream cheap sub-compact.  Inside, it wasn’t much better, with cheap looking and feeling materials, and it didn’t offer many amenities.  It was a purpose-built machine incorporating as many weight saving ideas built into it so that it could deliver outstanding gas mileage.  If that meant Spartan interiors and few features, so be it.  If it meant that the car wasn’t fun to drive, …

Read more 2017 Toyota PRIUS – Road Test Review – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

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HD First Drive – 2017 Hyundai ELANTRA ECO

    Just the HD drive video and 40 pics of this plucky little sedan. One pic for every highway MPG this advanced-tech compact can achieve?  Yes indeed.  32-mpg city and 40-mpg highway are the audited, confirmed EPA numbers on this most-efficient Elantra ever. No full review today. Our time in the car was too brief to really make many lasting impressions.  Do recall loving that seven-speed DCT and 128-pony, 1.4-liter turbo engine.  Less the stinky brakes/clutches after a fast drive and those embarrassingly tiny alloy wheels.  At least they painted up the mini alloys a discrete anthracite grey to …

Read more HD First Drive – 2017 Hyundai ELANTRA ECO

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2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

The Toyota Prius hasn’t really been on the radar of auto enthusiasts. Oh sure, it’s been technically interesting – and with hybrid powertrains showing up in many supercars these days, you have to give a tip of the hat to Toyota for spearheading the effort. Of course, if you’re a diesel fan, you might not feel so warm and tingly. Where the Europeans have long felt that diesel was the way to get performance with miserly fuel economy, Americans bought into Hybrids in a big way. So big, in fact, that it forced many of the Europeans to develop both …

Read more 2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

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Road Test Review – 2016 Honda CIVIC 1.5T Sedan – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

It seems like Honda has been making Civics forever.  It could be because that from the very first one, the Civic has been an outstanding small compact car with a reputation for value, reliability, and excellent gas mileage among other virtues.  It was loved by journalists and buyers, alike. However, the last generation Civic (2011 through 2015) was received with tepid enthusiasm from the press, and from customers.  That led to a very unusual second-year update, but even that didn’t do much to help keep the Civic near the top of the competition that got fiercer every year. For 2016, …

Read more Road Test Review – 2016 Honda CIVIC 1.5T Sedan – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

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2017 Mazda3 Refresh – First Look By Anthony Fongaro

    Mazda has had an extremely successful compact car in their lineup with the Mazda3. It has won awards ranging from Car and Driver’s prestigious 10Best list to winning comparison tests for its ride quality, comfort, and interior. Since the current-generation Mazda3 has been out for three years, it is time for it to once again raise the standards in the compact class. Looking at the exterior, the 2017 Mazda3 receives minor changes to the vehicle’s KODO – Soul of Motion design. These include a bolder grille, available LED headlights and tail lights, and a redesigned bumper for the …

Read more 2017 Mazda3 Refresh – First Look By Anthony Fongaro

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Road Test Review – 2016 Mazda 3 i Grand Touring Sedan (6MT) – By Carl Malek

With the recent surge in CUV sales, it is easy to forget that the compact car segment is still one of the hottest segments in the automotive market. From the Ford Focus to the venerable Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra, the segment has a wide range of talent to choose from. Bucking the trend is the 2016 Mazda3 which has always offered buyers a spirited driving experience in a sensibly priced package. But has its stellar road manners blunted the 3’s ability to rise above established compact car benchmarks? Looking at its exterior styling, it appears that the 3 is …

Read more Road Test Review – 2016 Mazda 3 i Grand Touring Sedan (6MT) – By Carl Malek

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Best Ride-Share Cars – By Anthony Fongaro – Featuring 2016 Toyota PRIUS

  By now, you’ve inevitably heard how easy it is to make a little extra cash driving for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. All you have to do is sign up, sign in and get paid to drive people around whenever you want. You probably even know a couple people who moonlight as drivers using their own vehicles. And if you’re like a lot of cash-strapped Americans, maybe you’ve considered signing up yourself. But not all cars make for great ride-sharing vehicles. Usually, the car has to be a 4-door and 2001 or newer unless stated otherwise in major …

Read more Best Ride-Share Cars – By Anthony Fongaro – Featuring 2016 Toyota PRIUS

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Road Test Review – 2017 Hyundai ELANTRA Limited – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman Last month, in March of 2016, I tested the 2017 Kia Sportage.  This month, in April of 2016, I’m driving the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. I’m beginning to think that Korea uses a different calendar than we do in the US.  No matter, the point is that this new Elantra is ahead of its time, and is a wonderful remake of an already excellent automobile. Way back in 2004, I bought an Elantra for daughter #2 as she graduated from college and needed her first new car.  It was a small, compact car …

Read more Road Test Review – 2017 Hyundai ELANTRA Limited – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

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 …

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

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Drive Review – 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman S – By Ben Lewis

  Pardon us while we get all Existentialist on you. But is Mini as a measure of size, or a state of mind?  That’s what’s got us scratching our heads with the latest Clubman S. This is actually the second generation of the Clubber, the first was a longer wheelbase version of the existing model, with a small suicide door on the passenger side to help passengers pile in and enjoy the extra room. It actually made a lot of sense, it gave a bit better ride, and introduced Mini drivers to the joys (accessibility) and horrors (visibility) of split …

Read more Drive Review – 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman S – By Ben Lewis

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Drive Review – 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

    The Mitsubishi Lancer is 10 years old, and unfortunately, it’s showing its age.  It is by far the oldest compact sedan in its class, which includes the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic, and Chevy Cruze, among others. And except for the all-wheel drive feature, and a modest price, the other models have passed this Lancer by in terms of interior quality, refinement, gas mileage, and styling. The base engine in the front-wheel-drive ES model is a 148-horsepower 2.0 inline 4, with either a 5-speed manual or optional CVT automatic transmission.  The gas mileage …

Read more Drive Review – 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer 2.4 SEL AWC – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

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BMW Unveils Updated 2017 i3 with Giant New 33kWh Battery – By Carl Malek

  When BMW first unveiled the i3, it brought several innovations to the electric vehicle segment, while also allowing the company to launch its green minded i brand. However, with the current trend towards bigger batteries, the tiny i3 found itself slowly falling behind rivals when it came to driving range. BMW has rectified this flaw with the unveiling of the updated 2017 i3. Known formally as the 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) the second chapter of the i3 doesn’t focus so much on its long moniker, but rather on giving buyers more driving range than before. This is made …

Read more BMW Unveils Updated 2017 i3 with Giant New 33kWh Battery – By Carl Malek

BEIJING 2016 – Analysis: State of the Chinese Car Industry + Top 12 Global-Brand Debuts

The Beijing Motor Show is the flagship event for the absolutely gigantic Chinese car market, and as such is a great barometer of how the industry there is evolving.  For many years, the narrative has been twin threads: — huge potential and rapid advancement from bicycles 25 years ago — shameless flouting of IP via copies of well-known brands and cars, right down to the smallest details. All executed in horrible fashion.  Door shutline gaps that could swallow a hand, paint mismatches, cabin gawps, weird detailing and — last but not least — some laughable names to English-speaking ears. Enter, …

Read more BEIJING 2016 – Analysis: State of the Chinese Car Industry + Top 12 Global-Brand Debuts

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 …

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

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2017 Smart BRABUS Twins Revealed – 20% Power Bump, Quicker Steering and Sport Exhaust

The new Smart twins are actually quite promising in their first major redesign since the brand was started in the late 1990s. The microcars have been as popular as polio in the US market in their ten years on the market, so the US arrival of the on-sale-now generations to America was never a top priority.  That still stands: there is no official timeframe for them to jump the pond.  A November arrival in 2016 seems plausible. We hope the ForFour will join the unloved ForTwo in the back corner of Mercedes-Benz service loaner folder. Only for clients they hate …

Read more 2017 Smart BRABUS Twins Revealed – 20% Power Bump, Quicker Steering and Sport Exhaust

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Kiawah 2016 Highlights – 1959 Berkeley SE492 – Micromini FWD English Roadster?!

It is difficult to describe how small this car is. The 1959 Berkeley Sports Twosome SE492 is about the size of a normal carnival bumper-car.  And perhaps only slightly larger than most PowerWheels children’s toys. Its 70-inch wheelbase meets extremely low and narrow overall dimensions — and is literally dwarfed by some of the bigger classic cars parked nearby. The concept of a lightweight and cheap English roadster was taken to new millimeter-small dimensions during the 1956-1960 production run of the Berkeley automotive venture. The engine of this SE492 is an air-cooled triple making just 30 horsepower. A four-speed automatic send …

Read more Kiawah 2016 Highlights – 1959 Berkeley SE492 – Micromini FWD English Roadster?!

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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 …

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

Which Car Wins? 2016 Fiat 500 Abarth vs. 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally – By Ben Lewis

    One thing we hear all the time is, “What can I get that’s fun, affordable and most especially, I won’t see coming the other way all day long.” That’s not an easy task – there’s always a lot that’s new and exciting prowling the concrete jungle. But fear not, we have a couple really interesting choices for you. Welcome to the Compact Car Wild Kingdom. Let’s start with the Mad Mouse. Well, we think it sort of looks like a mouse, with its round shape, big eyes, and front grill that sort of looks like a moustache, The …

Read more Which Car Wins? 2016 Fiat 500 Abarth vs. 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally – By Ben Lewis

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 …

Read more Road Test Review: 2016 MINI Cooper S CLUBMAN

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2016 Renault CLIO by WALDOW Performance – Smurfberry Blue Track Special

Any time the words “Smurf” and “Blue” make it into an official press release, it is usually good for a belly laugh.  We were seriously loving the color and black alloys, contrast-red rollbars and the slammed KW stance of this Clio already.  But then they go and mention the Smurfs. And we’re back to feeling silly! That laughing, delightful character is a big part of any Clio’s appeal.  This one just happens to be a battle-Smurf!  Deadly serious, regardless of its skin tone! 2016 Renault Clio by WALDOW Performance   WALDOW Performance reveals the Renault Clio 4 – The Real …

Read more 2016 Renault CLIO by WALDOW Performance – Smurfberry Blue Track Special

GTI for an Eye! 2016 Volkswagen GTI Avenges MkV GTI Sins

GTI Battle: 2008 VW GTI DSG vs. 2016 VW GTI Autobahn with Performance Package & DSG Just how much of a difference can two generations make? I love hot hatchbacks. Being able to have a practical performance-oriented vehicle is immensely appealing. For nine years, I drove a Mk5 2008 Volkswagen GTI whose sole option was the DSG automated-manual gearbox (Yes, it wasn’t a manual and no I don’t care). It was a fantastic car, but the time finally came when I wanted to upgrade. What to get? Something sporty like a Nissan 370Z? Some American muscle in the form of a Ford Mustang …

Read more GTI for an Eye! 2016 Volkswagen GTI Avenges MkV GTI Sins

2017 PRIUS PRIME – Live Photos and Tech Preview – CF Tail, 84mph eVmax

Some really cool new tech and solutions all around the upcoming 2017 Toyota Prius Prime. Quick points on this advanced PHEV flagship: First dual motor/generator unit for the EV system promises much quicker acceleration.  The Prius PHEV was the quickest in the group before, so this is great news! Redesigned nose and tail, with NSX-style new face up front, and carbon-fiber/LED tail that is all-new versus the new 2017 Prius and the 2017 Mirai FCEV. New cabin with giant central touchscreen, a la Tesla, and a full-length central battery placement. Four seats and almost 50/50 weight distribution with low center …

Read more 2017 PRIUS PRIME – Live Photos and Tech Preview – CF Tail, 84mph eVmax

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Road Test Review – 2016 Scion iM by Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

Road Test Review – 2016 Scion iM By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman In 2003, Toyota created the Scion brand to appeal to younger buyers with small fuel efficient vehicles that were entry level, but without making the buyer feel like they were entry level. Also, Toyota was never known to push the styling envelope, so Scion was supposed to be the new brand that would put more hip styling on display without upsetting Toyota’s core customers. As it turns out, young buyers prefer the Toyota brand over the Scion brand.  Over the years, Scion had built some interesting vehicles, but they …

Read more Road Test Review – 2016 Scion iM by Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

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2017 Subaru IMPREZA SPORT and 5-Door – Live NY Debut

Some serious WRX coolness in the new Impreza Sport sedan and 5-Door! Here is the official release plus 20 live photos from New York. 2017 Subaru Impreza SPORT   SUBARU INTRODUCES ALL-NEW, U.S.-BUILT 2017 IMPREZA 23/03/16   Sedan and 5-Door Styles New Subaru Global Platform Significantly Enhances Safety, Ride Comfort and Agility Award-Winning EyeSight®, Plus New Driver Assist Technologies SUBARU STARLINK™ Safety and Security Features and AppsNew Subaru Design Language Debuts 2.0-liter Boxer Engine with Direct Injection and Higher PerformanceFirst Impreza to be Built in U.S. New Sport Version with 18-inch Wheels, Sport Suspension and Active Torque Vectoring NEW YORK –  …

Read more 2017 Subaru IMPREZA SPORT and 5-Door – Live NY Debut

#NYIAS: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF – Retractable Fastback Is New GT86 Rival

RF does not stand for Really Fast.  But it could stand for Really Fun! In reality, it is the new badge for the MX-5 hardtop. This power retractable targa panel slides behind the new B-pillar uprights in back and atop the trunk. Scratch that: the entire roof actually folds under the rising uprights behind each seat.  These buttresses lift up and let the hardtop fold away.  This keeps a wind deflector in back with the top down, but does not appear to let the rear glass or roof move individually: only as a unit. It is not exactly as clean …

Read more #NYIAS: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF – Retractable Fastback Is New GT86 Rival

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2017 Toyota 86 – First Look At Revamped FR-S + Corolla iM and Yaris iA

The Scion FR-S will live on, of course, in the Toyota range with a new name and style for 2017. Dubbed just the 86 — versus GT86 in Euorpe and elsewhere — the car has aggressive new LEDs for the nose and tail.  All-new lighting is complemented by a fresh nose appearance, without the lower amber blinker bulbs. Looks like these we’re relocated up into the main light units.  Slick new taillamps are sexy too, but the tail does lacks the fresh bumper treatment of the nose.  But integrated LED rear turn signals are a nice upgrade along with the …

Read more 2017 Toyota 86 – First Look At Revamped FR-S + Corolla iM and Yaris iA

First Drive Review – 2015 Mitsubishi MIRAGE ES

When cheap doesn’t equal cheerful. Light and nimble city cars – what they lack in power they joyously make up for with quirky styling, low price tags, and interior accommodations. Enter Mitsubishi. Previously, the smallest car in Mitsubishi’s lineup was the mid-size Lancer, but in 2014 they rolled out a small car priced around $13,000. On paper, the 2015 Mirage seemed like it could it be a decent city car. Then you take a look at it and the mirage vanishes (pun intended). Without even giving away any stats about the Mirage, you look at it and straight away shake …

Read more First Drive Review – 2015 Mitsubishi MIRAGE ES

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1985 Volvo 480ES – ‘Project Galaxy’ Showcar Turns 30 + Lessons In Retrospect

Trust and affection go hand in hand. When you love a brand, you are willing to follow it to the ends of the Earth if need be. The BMW X5 proved this conclusively — with initial haters eventually loving the SUV’s Bimmer-ness, and its sales success worldwide still quite striking. Volvo proved its brand flexibility in a similar way with the XC90 — a game-changer of an SUV that saved the marque from a possible SAAB-like fate during the industry shakeout of ~2009. In fact, Volvo has long been remarkably flexible in moving beyond its core family sedan and wagon …

Read more 1985 Volvo 480ES – ‘Project Galaxy’ Showcar Turns 30 + Lessons In Retrospect

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2017 Volvo V40 and V40 Cross Country Facelift Revealed

We’re huge cheerleaders of Volvo’s long-deserved reboot. The new XC90 and S90/V90 point strongly toward the 2020 goals of the firm for its entire range.  And they are off to a racing start!  Sales of the XC90 are through the roof — recording some of the only volume gains the firm has achieved in at least the last decade. The entire line will be fully switched from its current platforms over to the new all-hybrid architectures in the future, but some models will obviously benefit from this before others. The V40 is new enough that it is falling to the …

Read more 2017 Volvo V40 and V40 Cross Country Facelift Revealed

2016 SEAT Leon CUPRA 290 – GTI-Beating Coupe, Hatch and Wagon Gain New Sport Exhaust and Power Bump

A new sport exhaust for the five-door and SC Cupras for 2016 opens up a shouty new bellow on throttle — and ramps up max power by about 10 ponies. The wagon appears to miss out on the new sport exhaust — but is bumped up to 290 all the same.  Vmax?  156MPH!  0-60?  5.7-seconds on its best day, and 6.2-ish like clockwork on other days.  Both are a half-second beyond what the fastest GTI can deliver. As before on the Cupra 280, this wagon/coupe/hatch family is the quickest front-drive production car to ever lap the Nurburgring.  Standard LED lighting all …

Read more 2016 SEAT Leon CUPRA 290 – GTI-Beating Coupe, Hatch and Wagon Gain New Sport Exhaust and Power Bump

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2016 MINI JCW Hardtop – USA First Look – Sweet New LEDs, Wider Stance Mark Out New $31k Bulldog

Updated 2.15.16 with first USA photos from Daytona Cool to see and hear the new MINI sports flagship at Daytona the other week.  It might have lagged the BMW M-livery M5 and M3s off the line for the IMSA Hot Lap Experience shown in the below video…. but it definitely looked like it was enjoying every second on that high-speed racetrack! The new look is most recognizable thanks to the new full-moon LED DRLs, LED fogs and smart bi-xenon projector beam main lamps in front. We even hate the tail less than before: in JCW guise, the too-large rear lamps shrink into …

Read more 2016 MINI JCW Hardtop – USA First Look – Sweet New LEDs, Wider Stance Mark Out New $31k Bulldog

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Road Test Review – 2016 Acura ILX Tech Plus – Hawkeye Drives!

  2016 Acura ILX Tech Plus Review By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman Acura describes the ILX as a “Gateway” product that allows a customer to enter the world of Acura at a lower price point, in the hopes that more expensive move-up models will be in their future.  Perhaps that will prove true, but there is a lot of competition in the “Near Luxury” segment, loosely defined by sticker prices in the low to mid $30,000 range, and cars like the Buick Verano, or Audi A3 might be better choices, among others. The 2016 ILX is a mid-cycle updated vehicle, with …

Read more Road Test Review – 2016 Acura ILX Tech Plus – Hawkeye Drives!

2016 nanoFlowcell QUANTiNO – AWD EV Aims Squarely at BMW i3 via Revolutionary Battery Tech

NanoFlowcell is the stunning startup trying to make energy from ordinary salt water. A revolutionary new battery chemistry is at the heart of the firm’s products to date.  Cars like the super-exotic Quant F — a four-seater with gorgeous gullwing doors opening the entire bodyside. Looking like a stretched Porsche 918 Spyder, the main quant prototype is still a stunner. But what about production feasibility?  FOr that, the plan has evolved into this slick electric hatchback.  A premium model aimed right at the BMW i3, the QUANTiNO majors on realistic goals.  Four electric motors — one at each corner — …

Read more 2016 nanoFlowcell QUANTiNO – AWD EV Aims Squarely at BMW i3 via Revolutionary Battery Tech

Concept Debrief – 2004 Kia KCV III – Glass-Roof CC Showed Newfound Design/Execution Skills

In a few short years at the turn of the millennium, Kia’s concepts went from reskinned and rebadged Lotus Elan’s to purely bespoke creations, designed with near-Italian flair.  And constructed with credible, world-class production values! This KCV III was an important mark in the sand for Kia’s evolution from niche budget brand to mainstream heavy-hitter. Today, the giant headlights are alarmingly out of style, but there is goodness shining through even there. Check out the bright white LED DRLs in the bottom of those giant lamps! And the full-frame grille set vertically into the bumper?  Finished in non-chrome grey, no …

Read more Concept Debrief – 2004 Kia KCV III – Glass-Roof CC Showed Newfound Design/Execution Skills

231HP, ~6.3s 2016 MINI JCW Convertible – Legacy Looks, Speed Shortage = Wandering Eyes

Do you remember the will-they/won’t-they drama around the first JCW Convertible?  People wondered if such a hotted-up MINI could handle being roofless.  Would its front-drive chassis just fall apart around corners? That was certainly not the case for the eventual ragtop JCW — but the buzz and enthusiast excitement is relatively interesting.  Why?  It is not present whatsoever for this general of MINI Cooper S JCW. The extreme continuity of the looks for this third-gen new MINI generation are doing the new-gen Coopers no favors.  Despite being an all-new chassis with all-new engines and virtually zero carryover from the second-gen MINIs…. …

Read more 231HP, ~6.3s 2016 MINI JCW Convertible – Legacy Looks, Speed Shortage = Wandering Eyes

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2017 MINI Clubman ALL4 Is New AWD, LWB Cooper S

MINI’s new Clubman is the most desirable model in the revamped lineup.  Why?  Not just because it is HUGE versus the others, but now for its added capability with its All4 AWD system. The core platform is shared with the MINI Cooper 4-Door, but dramatically wider and longer. How much wider and longer than the 4-Door Hardtop?  About a half foot stretch to the sides, and nearly a fool foot of extra length.  Most of that bounty heads right to the back seats and cargo areas — making the new Clubman All4 a serious rival to the Countryman. But lower …

Read more 2017 MINI Clubman ALL4 Is New AWD, LWB Cooper S

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Concept Flashback – 1999 SEAT Formula Roadster

The 1999 SEAT Formula helped transition the brand into a new-millenium design mood. This was actually a really exciting time for the brand: the Leon Cupra was starting the earn buyers from previous GTI and Focus devotees as a five-door sportscar, while the Toledo and Ibiza were quite popular as well. This Formula concept was a mid-engined chassis layout with an alloy spaceframe chassis and bodywork, ensuring with the aim of delivering Boxster-like thrills on the road, but at prices below the Audi TT. The design themes shown on this car its main production impact, however, for the SEAT brand.   …

Read more Concept Flashback – 1999 SEAT Formula Roadster

Chevrolet Unveils 2017 Bolt EV at CES

Barra Delivers! 2017 Chevrolet BOLT EV – $30k Price and 200+ Mile Range Should Worry i3, Leaf and Prius PHEV

Disbelief?  Awe?  Wonder? Trying to find the right description to pick my jaw up off my desk. The new Chevy Bolt EV is almost surreal at its CES reveal this week.  Just a year ago, the Bolt concept wowed Detroit with its big range promises, practical shape and interesting cabin tech.  Few people — this author included — ever expected a production car to be so close on the horizon. But here it is, folks!  The massive promises from General Motors about their future electric product plans were not just hot air! The 2017 Bolt EV promises a 200-mile-plus battery range …

Read more Barra Delivers! 2017 Chevrolet BOLT EV – $30k Price and 200+ Mile Range Should Worry i3, Leaf and Prius PHEV

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2017 Chevrolet CRUZE HATCH Reveals Unique 5-Door Design, Massive Trunk Ahead of Fall Arrival

Here is a nice surprise reveal from Chevy: the upcoming Cruze Hatch. This new bodystyle builds on the massive improvements of the 2016 Cruze sedan with unique styling for the nose and tail, a giant cargo area of 18.5-cubic-feet with the seats up, and wagon-like utility with them folded down.  How big with the seats down? Nearly 50 cubes!  That is SUV-big. It is great to see Chevy offering this variant in the home US market.  Favorite details?  The bumper designs front and rear — with their swirl of painted surface forming claw-like accents to the black lower bumpers. The …

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OP_ED: Meet the $25B Microbus – 2016 Volkswagen Budd-E – EV Van Concept Begs Sympathy for Poor, Mistreated VW

Here is the seventh Volkswagen concept trying to re-invent the microbus. The difference?  This microvan may actually be produced for limited sale in EV-heavy markets like the US west coast, Atlanta and Washington DC. Really? Not for profits, but as a knee-jerk reaction to being caught lying/cheating.  So yes, the Budd-E might make it to US showrooms in some decontented form. Perhaps as soon as 2019 for the 2020 model year.  But don’t bet on it. Typically, Volkswagen has claimed a reborn van was a non-starter because it was impossible to make its bluff original face with a front-engine layout.  (They …

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Design Analysis – 2014 SEAT Ibiza CUPSTER

The 2014 GTI Wörthersee event brought out a few exciting concept reveals: including this very playful Ibiza. If any car’s namesake location points to its mission, it would be this concept!  Why?  Ibiza (say: eeee-beee-thhaaa) is the Cancun of Europe. Sunny party people flock to this semi-trashy island resort to escape the grey, rainy winters across Europe.  They dance to all the latest club bangers, contract some STDs (worth it!), then march home — back to the real world. Would this CUPSTER make sense in just resort mode, or in real life? It does not really matter: the car is …

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Concept Flashback – 2011 Volkswagen Up! Azzurra Sailing Team was Playful Blue Sky Thinking

A harborside revival of many beach cars, the Up! Azzurra Sailing Team concept for the 2011 show circuit was the most whimsical part of a five-pack of custom Up! variants. The vehicle features exquisite wood and brass detailing for its doorlets and seatbacks, and a totally bespoke solid sill and rear window. The entire roof is just blue sky. And while this type of cabrio is questionable from all perspectives, it is exceptionally well-executed as a showpiece for the standard Up! Even with that million-dollar four-seat cabin, the nose, bumpers and even mini steel wheels are all exactly what Euro …

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Concept Debrief – 2011 Volkswagen NILS – Govt-Funded EV Commuter Now Seems Like Unfathomably Bad Joke

It is very, very challenging to read (and write) about VW’s eco mobility ideas in light of the company’s current emissions scandals. The “diesel issue” — as it is known in German — really puts all the last ten years of innovative, visionary concept cars in the shameful, punishment corner of the automotive universe. What about the “C02 issue”?  Oh, that has resolved itself.  Not a pattern of lies and systemic fraud.  Hooray! Super, super trustworthy company, obviously. Beyond that obligatory caveat… This NILS concept shows how seriously the VAG once took its mission to mass-produce zero-emissions automobiles. VW was actually …

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2016 Chevrolet Trax Midnight Edition is Coolest $500 Style Upgrade … Ever?

Nobody will preach the virtues of a black pack like ThisGuy! A properly de-chromed and blacked-out look can make even the most awful Jetta SportWagen a little bit stylish… so clearly the potential to improve already-modern and stylish rides? HUGE! And the more popular a car is on the roads, the more appealing it is for some buyers to stand up and stand out from the crowd.  DIY black packs work wonders in photoshop — and real life — on GM models in particular.  We’ve shared many with you here… an ATS black pack coupe dream, CT6 Black Tie limo …

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2016 MINI 4-Door CARBON EDITION Features New JCW Pro Tuning, Dual-Mode Exhaust!

Excellent new special MINI for the USA in 2016: the very fresh and flash Carbon Edition of the hardtop 4-door. The upgrades and special tweaks versus the Cooper S basis are visible and very audible!  A new JCW Pro Tuning Kit package bundles in special programming for the intake and a remote-operated sport exhaust. This valve-operated setup will make the Carbon a real screamer! Along with its GTI-large cabin and pace, the MINI 4-Door Carbon is definitely a viable WRX competitor — from 1000-yards!   2016 MINI 4-Door CARBON EDITION   Introducing the MINI Carbon Edition: The fastest, loudest, and …

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2017 Jannarelly Design JD1 is All-New, Rear-Engine Exotic from Talent Behind LYKAN HyperSport and Zarooq Sandracer

WHat happens when two of the most skilled talents in bespoke supercars come together?  Fusing design vision, carbon-fiber production and a bit of marketing magic? The JD1 from Jannarelly Design! This is a fantastic bit of absolutely breaking news: Anthony Jannarelly is a clear favorite of ours since obsessing over his crisp, layered aesthetic as seen on the W Motors Lykan and Fenyr, plus the recently-revealed Zarooq SandRacer. This new venture pairs Jannarelly with Frederic Juillot, lead at Equation Composite, to make their own supercar vision a reality. A look behind the curtain of the two Frenchmen’s lives shows that their …

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2016 RINSPEED Etos Concept – Self-Driving, Drone-Launching Technical Tour de Force

The RINSPEED concept for 2016 is out, with highly advanced digital-car tech of the future taking a front seat for nearly every technical element of the machine. And if there were a back seat in the Etos, the two occupants could both chill back there while the self-driving tech takes over, sinks the steering wheel into the dashboard, and performs fully autonomous self-driving. A basis on the BMW i8 platform means that style, to some extent, has taken a back seat to tech this year.  This means the BMW kidney grilles are replaced up front by ultralight plastics and 3D-effect …

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Concept Flashback – 1995 BMW Z21 Just 4/2

Here is a very fun roadster concept from BMW Technik in 1995: the Just 4/2.  Also known as the Z21 internally, the rear-engine design was intended as a lightweight sports roadster in the mold of the Lotus/Caterham Seven — but designed to be safe and road-legal worldwide. The UK’s very forgiving road safety rules are all that allow their thriving mini track car industry — so BMW hoped to take the sheer joy of an open-cockpit, open-wheeled plaything to a global audience. Interesting details abound: the removable door panels keep their upper frame element in place for side crash protection …

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Road Test Review – 2015 Lexus NX300h – Future-Proof Cruiser

By now you have definitely done a double-take on seeing the 2015 Lexus NX on the road. At first, another of the RX cavalry. Then new creases, new LED graphics and a sleek and low roofline make clear this is no RX. With the lean and chic nose look off the RC and IS, the NX is a deeply stylish crossover in all three of its trimlines: NS200t, NX F Sport and the NX300h tested here.  Both the base turbo four and this uplevel Hybrid model share their appearances, with only the F Sport getting the aggressive front chin spoiler, …

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2016 Citroen E-MEHARI Is Production-Bound EV Beach Car

Think of the original 1950-1980s MEHARI Citroen like a French Volkswagen Thing. Mostly open bodywork in corrugated panels increase the monocoque strength dramatically, allowing both cars to haul much more than their car-shaped siblings. Some of the first continental pickup trucks, if you will. The 2016 model shares some of the silly and playful beach spirit of the original MEHARI, but with more focus on stressfree driving than do-it-all utility. The E-MEHARI is not a concept, and is headed for sale in France in Spring 2016. It is a full EV with (we believe) front-drive for its advanced lithium metal …

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