2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We’ve had our share of exciting new vehicles lately. Ones that drew crowds, from the Honda Civic Type R, to the Lexus LC500. Thing is, it’s usually of interest to a certain kind of buyer. The hi-po import guys for the Civic, the luxury buyers for the LC. But with the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, we’ve had tons of interest – not just from Jeep loyalists – but folks from all different backgrounds and interests. It’s the people’s vehicle! (Sorry VW) Friendly Looks The first thing that draws them in is the Gladiator’s exterior design. From the front, it’s pure Jeep …

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2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Review by Ben Lewis

The Kia Soul has long been one of our favorite vehicles – cool style, hip vibe, strong performance, loads of tech at a reasonable price. What’s not to love? And we were equally thrilled when we recently tested the all-new 2020 X-Line, we came away very impressed. Except we kind of missed the Hamsters that Kia has killed from their ad campaign. What Kia didn’t kill was the available turbo-engined model, which has always been the enthusiast’s choice. But with the new 2.0-liter, non-turbo we tested we didn’t miss the turbo rush as much as we he had remembered. So, …

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2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL FWD Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new Kia Telluride, and came away mightily impressed. So, we couldn’t wait to try its sibling, the Hyundai Palisade. We were surprised in a couple ways. They’re very different, and yet both deserve your consideration. And Hyundai’s flagship SUV even has a surprising accent. (Not to be confused with the Hyundai Accent) Swedish Fish Many times we’ve pointed out that Kia design feels very European, thanks in part to putting Peter Schreyer the head of Audi design in charge. Hyundai has never felt that way, until now. Well, except for the front. Here we have a …

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2020 Toyota 86 Hakone Review by Ben Lewis

You have to give Toyota credit. After all, with home runs like the RAV4 (best-selling SUV in America) Camry (best-selling car in America 18 out of 19 years) Tacoma (best-selling mid-size pickup), they really don’t have to go out and sell sports cars. But they do. In fact, this year they’ve got not one, but two, the 86, and the all-new Supra. OK, you can argue the big T doesn’t go it alone – the 86 is a cooperative effort with Subaru that markets its near twin the BR-Z, and the Supra shares a great deal with the new BMW …

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2020 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve mentioned before that car years are kind of like dog years. Two years in people time can be a long time on the showroom. Take the Honda Accord. When it was introduced as a 2018, it was the new hotness. One of, if not the best reasonably-priced family sedan. Time flies, though, and an all-new Toyota Camry and more recently Nissan Altima are vying to steal the Accord’s steak off the grille while it’s still sizzling. So, is the Honda Accord still hot? Bring Your Oven Mitts Well, in the ficklest of all areas – exterior style – the …

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2020 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-SPEC – Review by Ben Lewis

Acura has been on the move lately. We’ve been continuously impressed with vehicles like the fun and agile ILX, the luxurious and swift RLX, and the MDX Hybrid, which was a tech tour de force. But of all the nice products, the best may be the all-new RDX. The RDX has had an interesting life. The original model was ahead of its time, coming in   2007 with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a very sporty chassis. For the second gen, the 2013 model featured a V6 engine, and was much more of a scaled down MDX. A very nice mainstream …

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2019 Lexus ES350 Ultra Luxury – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

For 2019, Lexus introduced an all-new ES350, and it’s a radical step up from the previous model. Due in part to the all-new Camry which the ES shares a chassis, it was the last sedan to get some bona fide’s in terms of performance and pizzazz. There may some though, that kind of liked the previous models focus on the luxury and away from sport. What to do for them?  Enter the ES350 Ultra Luxury. Sleek and Sexy Okay, there’s really not much difference exterior-wise between the Ultra Luxury and other ES350’s, but we don’t mind Lexus not being shouty …

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2019 Honda Civic 1.5T 2dr Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Love at first sight. Okay, not at first sight. The Honda Civic coupe has been around for a while now, but there’s something special about our tester that keeps us coming back for more. And we have an idea why. It starts with choosing the right Civic We have tested a wide range of Civics, and being enthusiasts, we’ve gravitated to the hi-po models like the Civic Type R, the Civic Si and the grins-for-the-buck Civic Sport.  The first thing we noticed, they’re all 4-doors. And in the case of the Type R (or CTR for those in the know) …

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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid Review by Ben Lewis

Subaru loves to go their own way. That’s one of the things we love about them. We recently tested the WRX – a powerful sports sedan with rally-car DNA. The new Forester, a crossover with that same feel of something a little different from the mainstream. Need a 3-row SUV? You can get the Ascent, and enjoy that Subaru goodness in a larger package. It takes real engineering talent to stay true to your school (cue Beach Boys), and still meet, compete, and beat other vehicles in your segment. So, now we have the all-new Crosstrek Hybrid – the company’s …

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2019 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport Review by Ben Lewis

We used to go to a movie theater that had catchy phrases on the popcorn containers. On the largest size was the especially memorable: BIG IS MORE. Well, there’s no arguing that in popcorn. Or full-size SUV’s. Which brings us to the 2019 Toyota Sequoia. If an SUV ever deserved that motto on the side, this would be it. But there’s plenty to talk about outside of the big and tall dimensions. Big is Beautiful The 2019 Sequoia is a good-looking beast. Unlike the new RAV4 (that we loved) that’s dressed up to look rugged, the big Toy bowls you …

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2020 Nissan Altima SR AWD Review by Ben Lewis

Sometimes, we wonder if family sedans sit around and reminisce about the good old days. Yeah, remember when the big box office was 4-doors? Camry and Accord, we ruled. The best-selling cars, the bring-home-the-bacon for most automakers. At least until…ugh…. SUV’s. Well, lately, it seems like auto manufacturers aren’t taking things sitting down. The all-new Camry and Accord are dynamite cars, with loads of style and performance and value. And now we have an all-new Altima – the sedan that’s always been a little different from the rest of the pack – but always a delight in its own right. …

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2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited – Review By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid, and came away hugely impressed. It’s a total rethink of the RAV4, and it’s bigger, better, more handsome. A winner. But in an interesting twist, Toyota made the Hybrid the performance model, with 219 horsepower, and in our XSE tester a performance tuned suspension. We’re wondering if we had been sucked in by the top of the line hybrid power version. So now, we’re back testing a well-equipped but non-hybrid model – the kind most people will end up buying to see if the standard model is as good. Looks Good Since we …

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2019 BMW X2 M35i – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Every time there’s a new small BMW, we hear the talk about the “Spiritual Successor to the BMW 2002.” This was BMW’s small 2-door that around 1970 took the quite pleasant 1600 2-door and stuffed a larger 2.0-liter 4-cylinder motor in it – classic hot-rodding, actually – and basically turned the automotive world on its ear. With the 2002, you had a totally practical, roomy and innocuous little sedan that outperformed the traditional sports cars of the day, and when the later fuel-injected 2002tii appeared, it was hunting down bigger game – including expensive European cars and powerful domestics, too. …

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2019 Nissan LEAF PLUS Review by Ben Lewis

Ok, first things first. We promise not to make any “Turning over a new LEAF” jokes. Which isn’t to say that’s not what the new LEAF Plus is, because the Plus trim gives the LEAF the full EV credentials it needs to compete in today’s marketplace. Which is important, because since its introduction in 2010, it has been the best-selling electric vehicle in the world. And Nissan would like to keep it that way. An all-new LEAF was introduced for the 2018 model year, and when we tested it, we came away impressed – loads of tech, fun to drive, …

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2019 Kia K900 Luxury – Review by Ben Lewis

If you’re shopping for a super luxury sedan, you’re probably thinking about Mercedes, BMW and most certainly, Lexus. But don’t forget about Kia. No, we haven’t overdosed on the goodness of the new 2020 Kia Soul that we enjoyed so much. There’s a Kia sedan – all-new – that takes on the likes of the Lexus LS, and does it a fraction of the cost, too. Enter the 2019 Kia K900. The what? The K900. Let’s take a step back. Remember the wonderful Genesis G90 sedan we tested a little while ago? Well peek underneath the Kia’s sheet metal and …

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2020 Kia Soul X-Line – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

First, a moment of silence. Today we mourn The Hamster. Well, not a real Hamster, but the special-FX rodents that came to be identified with the Kia Soul, thanks to their great commercials. For the all-new 2020 Soul, it looks like the furry funmakers have been tossed in the proverbial dustbin. (At least they could have been buried in the backyard, no?) Shed no tears, though, because this is an all-new Kia Soul, and while it keeps the, errr…Soul of the previous model, it sports a lot of great improvements that keep it one of the most enjoyable and endearing …

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2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SELS S-AWC – Review By Ben Lewis

Quick!  What’s the world’s best-selling Plug-in Hybrid? If you’re like us, you probably said the Toyota Prius. I mean, they pretty much own all things hybrid, no? No. Surprise! It’s the Mitsubishi Outlander. Which was a surprise to us, too. Mitsubishi is one of the smaller players in the U.S. – until recently when Nissan bought a large share of it. (For those playing at home, Renault is a 43% owner of Nissan, while Nissan owns 34% of Mitsubishi). Those deeper pockets are sure to see investment in Mitsubishi, and a rosier future for the brand. We already felt the …

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2019 Lexus LS500 F Sport – Review by Ben Lewis

We’ve always been fans of the Lexus luxury flagship. And when it’s the sporty F SPORT model, even more so. We enjoyed the previous-gen 2017 Lexus 460 F SPORT, and were enamored with its powerful V8 engine. And then we were seduced by the new 2018 Lexus LS500, especially with the reclining rear seats with massage function – pure luxury limo. But even then, we knew the hot ticket would be the LS500 F SPORT. Losing the 460’s V8 would be tough, but gaining 30 hp and 67 lb-ft of twin-turbo V6 muscle seemed like a pretty good deal. Add …

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2019 Honda Civic Sport 2.0L 4-Door Manual – Review by Ben Lewis

Ok, we’re going out on a ledge here. But we bet this Civic may become a collectible. Yes, we get that the Civic Type R (or CTR for those in the know) will be a legend. And the current Civic Si is continuing a long line of sweet-performing Si’s. But the Civic Sport seems to go even deeper than that. More to the core of what has always made a Honda a Honda – or a Civic a Civic – for that matter. There’s a simplicity here.  A purity of purpose that typifies the man and the brand. 20-30 years …

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2019 Honda Passport AWD Elite – Review by Ben Lewis

What’s in a name? We’ll skip the Shakespearean reference, and go for the automotive one. Do they make sense? Sometimes. A 911, well that’s a model number. A Maxima – uh, is there a Minima? Now we have the all-new Honda Passport. Wait, we’ve heard that name before. Yep, there was a Honda Passport in the ‘90s. Well sorta. That Passport was a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, which wasn’t a bad vehicle, and it was a smart idea – Honda needed a compact SUV to fight it out in that red-hot segment. This was three years before the 1997 CR-V would …

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2019 VW Beetle Convertible 2.0T Final Edition SEL – Review by Ben Lewis

Sometimes when cars go away, we don’t mourn their passing. Usually, those cars are nothing special, having outlived their usefulness, or are being replaced with something much better. But the VW Beetle has always been more than that. So, we’re truly sad to see this cheerful little vehicle go away. Who doesn’t need to smile today? Auf Wiedersehen, Baby… The appropriately named Final Edition is sending the Beetle off in a fine way. VW has a habit of making cool last models, and this one is no exception. We were lucky enough to score the Convertible version – it just …

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2019 Buick Enclave Premium FWD – Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the Buick Regal TourX and concluded that it’s a sweet sport wagon – and not the big and friendly family Roadmaster wagon of day’s past. What if a big comfy wagon is what you’re looking for? As we like to say, step right this way, to the 2019 Buick Enclave. While the wagon market is rapidly shrinking, the crossover segment is going like gangbusters. And for the family with places to go, the three-row Buick is a great way to get there. Sleek 7-seater If you’re hoping for slabs of plasticized pine, you’ll be disappointed here. On …

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2019 Kia Niro EV – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Cynics that we are, we are slowly becoming fans of Electric Vehicles. While we still love the sound of a good engine, there’s a lot to love about the newest wave of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models. Our favorite plug-in may be the Honda Clarity,  whose futuristic good looks and reasonable 47 miles of EV mode range won us over. More important was the Hyundai Kona Electric, with an amazing 258-mile Tesla-baiting range, and great fun-to-drive spirit. We could easily drive it every day. Maybe the Kona is a little too small? Good news, we now have the Kia …

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2019 Acura ILX A-Spec – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Remember when Acura first launched? It may seem common now, but Honda was the first Japanese brand to bring in a luxury line – setting the path for Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti. Mazda was dangerously close to bringing in the Amati line…but backed out. Still we owe props to Acura for being first, and the two first products, the Legend and the Integra were excellent, with all the Honda goodness, plus a nice layer of premium added on top. Acura kind of lost their way for a while – but as of late they’ve come back swinging. We recently …

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2019 Toyota 86 GT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Someone said a bad thing. They said driving is on the way out. That people would rather Uber or Lyft than own a car of their own. That sports cars will be the first to go. Someone has not been in a Toyota 86. The Toyota 86 could be the ambassador for all things that car lovers love. And a little bit of time behind the wheel could convert a lot of skeptics too. Let the propaganda begin! Sports Car Ancestry.com The 86 is beautifully-designed. Time flies in auto-dom. When the 2013 FR-S appeared, it was a sensation – a …

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2019 Nissan LEAF SL – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Ok, let’s start with Good News, Bad News. The Good News – for 2019 there’s a new LEAF PLUS model with more power, enhanced tech and improved range. The Bad News – There wasn’t one in the fleet to test, so we go the current 40 KWH battery model. Actually, it’s not that bad, in fact after spending a week with our LEAF, we’re not sure most buyers will need that new PLUS model. A new LEAF Introduced as a 2018 model, the all-new builds on the goodness that made the previous – and continues to be – the world’s …

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

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

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2018 Lexus LS500h – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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2018 VW Tiguan S 2.0T FWD 7 Seater – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We recently tested the new Mini Countryman, and determined that while it’s the largest Mini yet, it still is Mini, in brand and spirit. So, now we have the all-new 2018 VW Tiguan, a big step forward in size over the previous model. Big enough to squeeze in a 3rd row of seats. But it leaves us wondering: Has the Tiguan gotten too big for its britches? One look and you know the new Tiguan is shopping at the big and tall SUV store. 10.6 inches longer, and riding on a wheelbase 7.3 longer, it’s not only a much larger …

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2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

We like cars that shake things up. That take what you thought you knew, and lead you in a whole new direction. One of the biggest surprises this year is Toyota’s venerable family sedan. From the sharp creased lines, to the sharply-creased performance, it’s got a lot of people asking the same question. That’s a Camry? Yep. But first, some housekeeping. The rumor of the family sedan being dead is a bit overstated. Yes, crossovers are big business, but there are a lot of buyers out there who are just as happy with a solid, sensible, four-door sedan. And they …

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2017 VW Golf R w/ DCC & Nav – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Most car makers have “halo” cars.  You know, special products (usually at nosebleed prices) to show off the best of what they can do, and to make you feel better about the garden-variety products that most of us end up buying. Think Nissan GT-R, Corvette Z06, Acura NSX. VW has a halo vehicle, too. And while the family parts bin of Audi goodness could probably have given them some ridiculous $80,000 über Passat or something, they did something very cool. They made a VW Golf their showpiece. So, is the VW Golf R a hatch that super-enthusiasts can really get …

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2017 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4×4 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

A long time ago, the SUV was a truck. In fact, many of our SUV-owning friends used to call them trucks. It was a badge of pride. Tough, no-nonsense. Go anywhere. The anti-Minivan in every sense of the word. But we got seduced. Today, nearly everyone wants car-like comfort, luxuries, swank styling. Rugged capability? Who cares. Well, if you’ve seen the weather lately, or watch the hot TV shows, you know, it might not be such a bad idea to have a little go-anywhere in your garage. Which leads us to today’s question: What vehicle do you want when the …

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2017 Lexus LS460 F Sport – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

If you know anything about Lexus, you already know the LS460. This is the whole enchilada, the übersedan (not to be confused with Uber-sedan), the division’s luxury flagship, providing all aboard uncompromised wafting comfort. Oh wait, this is the F-Sport version. Whaaaa? Yes F-Sport. In the Lexicon of Lexii, you have your regular models, your AMG-baiting F division RC-F and GS-F, and in between, F-Sport. Kind of like BMW’s M-sport. Sporty, but not designed to remove fillings at the first speed bump. And we’ve tested various F Sport trims, including everything from the IS350 F Sport, which we loved dearly, …

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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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2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Honda’s redesigned Civic is a big hit. And they’ve been clever, rolling out the vehicles over a period of time. Sedans, then hatchbacks, (long missing from the Civic lineup), then Civic Coupe.  Then a turbo, (a first for a Civic in the U.S) and then an aggressive-looking Civic Sport model. And each model has been a tasty treat, but we’ve always known there might be something better in the wings. Well now we have the new Civic Si – long-time top of the line for the Civics sold here in the states. The new Si is tantalizing different from models …

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2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid – Road Test Review – by Ben Lewis

Hybrids are everywhere. And with the rare exception, while they offer improved fuel efficiency, they rarely offer the enthusiast excitement. Now an Acura hybrid? Well that might be something. After all, the new NSX supercar qualifies as a hybrid. Then again, so does the Accord Hybrid, from Acura’s sibling Honda. So the question is, is the MDX Hybrid a sleeper supercar, or just a snooze? Well the looks don’t give anything away. This is the same large 3-row SUV we’ve known for some time. Acura has been honing the design for 2017, with a new “Diamond Pentagon” grille, “Jewel Eye” …

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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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2017 Kia NIRO Touring Hybrid – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

As auto journalists, we’re constantly asked about what’s new, what we like, what we’re driving. So, it’s surprising that the vehicle we’re talking a bunch about lately is the exciting Kia Niro hybrid. Kia? Hybrid? Exciting? Yes, Yes, and really… Yes. And we’re just as surprised as you. We were expecting a decent little vehicle – probably more of a penalty box – in the pursuit of all elusive high mpg numbers, at the expense of everything else. But it ain’t so. The Niro is a stylish, well-equipped, little hatch/crossover that happens to be great fun to drive. And fun …

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2017 Toyota Corolla iM – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Would a Scion by any other name smell as sweet? In case you missed the press release, Toyota folded up the hip- and hip-hop Scion brand recently, and moved everything over to the Toyota brand. Scion-ara!  In 2003, it was a bold experiment, Scion creating a brand that spoke to youth, attracting new buyers to the Toyota family. And it worked for a while. The problem was, not only the young wanted a less-expensive, but hip Toyota. Case in point; the super-funky xB box was a big hit with the kids, but also found a surprising home with seniors – …

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2017 Nissan ROGUE ONE Star Wars Edition – Review By Ben Lewis

  We had mixed feelings about testing the 2017 Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition Rogue. Nissan has made some notable improvements on its popular crossover, and we were looking forward to testing it. Then they announced the Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition model. Since they both had the name “Rogue” it kind of smacked of opportunism. Cue rolling of eyes. So, the question becomes, is The Force with the new Rogue, or just the farce? Well, since we don’t want to spoil the ending, let’s start with what’s new for Rogue. Already a crisp design, we have a …

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2017 BMW 740e xDrive – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

I have driven the car of the future, today. OK, we hear stories like this all the time. And usually, the “Car of the Future” is some cobbled-together prototype that has little likelihood of actually making it to market. Or worse, it points to the time when folks like you and I aren’t needed. Just robots, pal. And if you think an autonomous EV is the wave of the future, I’m going to disagree. While there are plenty of folks who would rather let the machine drive, there are also plenty who still enjoy time behind the wheel. And for …

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2017 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate RWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

The hunt for the elusive Luxury buyer is on with the all-new Genesis division. We recently tested the G80 sedan, and came away mightily impressed – a dynamic, stylish, beautifully-equipped competitor to the BMW 5 series. But for the price of a lowly turbo 4-cylinder Bavarian, the G80 had 5.0-liters of rip snorting V8 muscle. While Genesis is on safari for luxury brand competitors, it doesn’t stop at the G80, because with the larger G90, the brand is taking on the big game – Lexus LS, BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-Class. So, does it come home with a trophy, or …

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2017 VW Jetta GLI 2.0T 6MT – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Crave the delectable deliciousness of a German Sport Sedan, but don’t have the coin for an Audi, BMW or Benz? We’ve got a solution for you. The Jetta GLI sedan. Yes, a Jetta. With all the heavy-duty incentive, low-low financing, come-on-down-to-your friendly V-Dub dealer ads for garden variety Jettas, you might have forgotten VW’s love letter to the Sport Sedan. And it’s a tough world for sedans these days. With the heat for crossovers and the newfound interest in hatchbacks, the pickings for the discerning sedan driver on a budget are few. In the spectrum of things, there’s the hard-edged …

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2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Is the new Sentra NISMO heir to the SE-R throne? That depends on who you ask. And really, ask the right person. Why? Well there’s a lot of snobbery, and it seems to come from people who haven’t taken the trouble to even drive the car. And they’re missing out. From the enthusiast camp, the issue seems to be the expectations based on the NISMO name – that you should expect BMW M Division, Mercedes AMG level commitment to performance. While we think that’s true in the GT-R NISMO and 370Z NISMO, when it comes to models like the Sentra …

Read more 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

2017 Genesis G80 5

2017 Genesis G80 5.0 Ultimate – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Heads up: you need to be on the lookout for 5-0. In this case, it’s not Steve McGarrett and his task force careening around on Oahu. It’s a luxury sedan from Hyundai’s newly-minted Genesis division, and in this case, it’s looking to take on the existing marks including the highly-prized BMW 5-series. And you know what? We might opt for the G. It’s that good. First, some housekeeping. The name Genesis has been around for a bit. In 2009, we had the first Hyundai Genesis sedan, and then it was freshened up for 2015. For 2017, though, the Hyundai has been …

Read more 2017 Genesis G80 5.0 Ultimate – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

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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

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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

2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata Track Day 17

Drive Review – 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata – by Ben Lewis

There are people out there not enamored by the all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. And you can include me. Well, sort of. Let me explain. First of all, a disclosure. A well-worn 1990 Miata lives in the Ben Lewis garage. I’ve had it over 15 years. And yes, it’s red. So I’m a fan. And when the Second Gen (NB to you and me) bowed in 1999, I liked it. But I was amazed that even though it only lost an inch of legroom, I didn’t fit comfortably. And really, I’m not that tall. I was personally happier when the …

Read more Drive Review – 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata – by Ben Lewis

2016 Lexus GS-F 1

Drive Review – 2016 Lexus GS-F – By Ben Lewis in Los Angeles

  Not Godzilla. More like T-Rex. To paraphrase Sally Field, “Lexus likes us. They really, really like us!” At least enough to let us spend some more time in the GS F. But we have some different perspective here, as this time, your humble scribe spent a week partaking in the GS here in sunny LA-LA land. And it ends up netting some mixed results. First, a quick rehash of the technical pleasantries. Like BMW’s M division, with models ranging between M235i’s and M2,3,4, and 5, there are F-Sport cars, and then there are F-Sport cars. F-sport is Lexus’ catch-all …

Read more Drive Review – 2016 Lexus GS-F – By Ben Lewis in Los Angeles

Drive Review – 2016 Honda CIVIC COUPE – By Ben Lewis

    Is the new Civic a great little coupe, or the end of the automobile as we know it? A bit over-dramatic? Maybe not. We’ll get there. But first…   Honda recently introduced and all-new Civic Sedan that marked the 10th generation of feel-good affordable Honda sedans. And over the years, the Civic has had its ups and downs, but it’s always been pretty good and sometimes brilliant. The new one gets a very, very, very good rating from us. And like before, there’s a Coupe version on offer as well. In this case, we prefer the Coupe. To …

Read more Drive Review – 2016 Honda CIVIC COUPE – By Ben Lewis

2016 MINI Clubman 15

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

2015 Lexus RC350 F Sport Ultra White 44

Drive Review – 2016 Lexus RC200t F-Sport – By Ben Lewis

  Lexus’ new 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder continues to be a surprise to us. Like most premium manufacturers, the boosted four is the gateway drug to European-style performance while using less gas and polluting fewer carbons than traditional larger engines. In Toyota’s luxury division, we’ve had a mixed bag of results with this engine. We found it friendly and well suited to the NX Crossover, but lacked oomph and charisma in the IS200. Which then surprised us with how well it worked in the larger GS200 sedan, giving plenty of performance and a very luxurious demeanor. So the count is …

Read more Drive Review – 2016 Lexus RC200t F-Sport – By Ben Lewis