2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring – Review By Ben Lewis

No big shock here, small CUV/Crossover/SUV’s are all the rage. Not only a nice, city-friendly- sized version of larger SUV’s, with their low prices, enhanced fuel efficiency, and utility, they’re knocking the stuffing out of the small car segment as well. And now Mazda is going after the affordable sports car. Which is pretty interesting. With the Miata, they pretty much own the affordable sports car segment. But the 2019 Mazda CX-3  looks like they’re going after one of their own. So, it’s a sports car? Well, it looks like one. It certainly comes from the same family of the Miata – sharp, creased lines, aggressive sporty looks, and tight dimensions with muscle. Kind of like a gymnast. One of the nicest proofs of Mazda’s “Kodo” design theory, a Japanese aesthetic that emphasizes strength through form and proportions. Like all Mazda’s we’ve seen lately, the CX-3 is moving a bit …

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2019 Nissan Kicks SR – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Before we start this review, a moment of silence for the Nissan Juke. Yes, that odd, amphibious-looking crossover that was a bunch of fun to drive, interesting to look at, and a breath of fresh air in the stuffy small crossover segment. And now to the all-new Nissan Kicks, the Juke’s replacement. While it certainly is more conventional, it does a lot of things very well, and comes in at a bargain price. That’s a different kind of a kick, to be sure…. Goodbye Froggy, Hello Smurfy While some at Nissan tried to tell us that the Juke looked like an alligator poking its eyes above the waterline, it’s cute proportions made it more frog-like than anything else. But it was controversial. The Kicks won’t polarize – it’s modern and handsome – with squared off lines, the V-shaped grille, boomerang headlights, and floating roof that’s all part of Nissan’s current …

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2018 Lexus LC500 – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

Most times, I’m an auto journalist. Testing and writing about the latest and greatest from manufacturers, and hoping to give you the info you need to know. But today, I’m a Bond villain. Well at least I feel that way. I’m in the new Lexus LC500, and it makes such a definitive statement, and takes the brand in a bold new direction. And it does make you feel evil. In a good way. For your eyes, only…. Let’s start with the looks. While James Bond started with Astons, got sidetracked with Lotus and BMW’s along the way (and the occasional Sunbeam Alpine and Ford Mustang), and now returned to the brand the really owns the franchise, it’s never been easy to be a Bond baddie. There have been a lot of black 4-door sedans with gun-toting henchman, and occasionally we’ve had some good/bad cars like a Renault R5 Turbo, an …

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2018 Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T Quattro S Tronic – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

If we’ve learned anything from Hollywood, it’s that the sequel is treacherous territory. While famous follow-ups like Godfather 2 and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, come to mind, the 2.0 movie has a bad reputation – and it boils down to where do we go from here? And if you look at the first-run Audi A5 Coupe, (some say coo-pay) you’ve got to feel for the folks at Audi. Penned by famed designer Walter de Silva, he called it “the most beautiful car I have ever built”. And you can see his point. It was stunning – and underneath, a wonderful car as well. So, uh no pressure there… Has Audi created another classic, or are we looking at Porky’s 2? Thank goodness, they got the looks right. Audi didn’t stray too far in the design of the new A5 – it’s instantly recognizable as the beautifully-penned 2-door …

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2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited Sedan – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

When people ask us what’s “in” this year, we have an answer: Premium. It seems like these things cycle through. One year, it’s performance, the next – gadgets. Safety and autonomous tech are going to be with us now for the foreseeable future. But this year – especially in smaller vehicles – carmakers are pumping up the quietness, the tech, and the high quality goods. And with so many buyers fleeing to small crossovers, this makes sense. If you can’t compete with the versatility, you compete with feel-good of an upscale drive. And next in line for the primo treatment – the all-new Subaru Impreza. So does it take one giant leap for Subie kind? First Imprezzions: Well, on the outside, there’s plenty of sizzle. The first thing you notice is that it looks more substantial – riding on a 1-inch longer wheelbase, and filling out the new sheetmetal it’s …

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2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid SEL – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

These days a lot of automakers offer a hybrid of some sort. But pretty much the undisputed king is the Prius. And Toyota earned the reputation the hard way – putting out their necks first with a little agrarian car that earned more than its share of jibes and rude noises. But Toyota’s laughing now. Interestingly, there have been precious few direct competitors to the Prius. But now we have a new fuel-sipping gunslinger in town –the all-new Hyundai Ioniq hybrid. So, does it send the Prius packing, or is it more ironic than Ioniq? Well it definitely has the Toyota in the crosshairs in the styling department – especially if you liked the previous generation’s looks. While the new Prius took a radical departure from the sensible shoe styling department, and really ramped up the futuristic looks – which you either love or hate – Hyundai went more conservative …

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2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

It’s tough being Mazda. After all, in the automotive world, you’re a small company, up against giants like Toyota, Ford, and Nissan. And even though you’re a famous sports car maker, you need to compete in the big-money segments like small crossovers to survive. But Mazda did more than just compete. With the original CX-5, Mazda made one of the best, most fun to drive small crossovers on the market. But time moves on, and Mazda has to as well. Will Mazda’s new CX-5 be another winner, or will it suffer from sophomore slump? Well, first of all, it’s not truly an all-new CX-5. But there are so many changes; it feels like a new vehicle. Let’s start with the looks. If you’re not a Mazda fan, you might not notice the changes, especially the new schnoz. Getting more in line with Mazda’s Kodo “Soul of Motion” design language, the …

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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 Mystic Yellow color of our tester – some loved it – some didn’t feel the same amount of affection for it. It will help you stand out in a crowd – not a bad thing in city traffic, but like they say…you got choices. Other than the retina-burning hue, the …

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2016 Lexus NX200t F SPORT AWD – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis

If the NX200t did one of those TV Ancestry tests, what would show up? Platform sharing today makes it difficult to figure out what is a real brand anymore. You’ve got rebadged Mercedes posing as Infiniti’s. Jeeps driving around on Fiat underpinnings. Fiats driving around on Mazda bits. Subaru’s, Scions. And more.  Oh my. Then we have intermingling within the automakers as well, and they can be very well disguised. Case in point, Lexus and Toyota. There’s a lot of sharing going on. In all honesty, though, it always felt like the downscale Toyota models were getting Lexus goodness, rather than the other way around. Still, with the crazed small crossover/SUV wars going on, if you’re not a player, you may not be in business in a couple years. So Lexus knew it needed something special in a hurry to slot below the larger RX300. Voila! Enter the NX200t. (And …

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