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HD First Drive Review – 2015 Audi A3 1.8T Sedan

 The Audi A3 family is pretty massive for 2015 – with the new sedan just the first in the offensive that will include the A3/S3 Cabrio, A3 Sportback and Sportback Hybrid, an S3 sedan and even the Q3 mini SUV. So there is a lot riding on this compact exec’s shoulders – not least a worry that it might be overpriced and under-amazing. But that is not the case in the slightest. What we discovered after flogging Audi’s latest machine around Lake Lanier, Georgia last week is a fun, peppy car with outstanding driving characteristics, very intuitive steering, and a …

Read more HD First Drive Review – 2015 Audi A3 1.8T Sedan

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Updated With Pricing: 2015 Toyota Camry Preview

 UPDATED 9.3.14 With Pricing Prices are here for the new Camry! 2015 Toyota Camry – Pricing The Camry LE receives a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $22,970 while the SE will carry a base price of $23,840.  The XSE and XLE models will carry identical MSRP’s of $26,150 for models equipped with the four-cylinder and $31,370 for the V6 versions. Pricing for the Camry Hybrid will start at $26,790 for the LE model, $27,995 for the SE, and $29,980 for the premium XLE. The MSRP for the 2015 Camry does not include the delivery, processing, and handling (DPH) fee …

Read more Updated With Pricing: 2015 Toyota Camry Preview

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Update1 – Road Test Review – $32k 2015 Audi A3 Sedan 1.8T FWD

Updated 6.23.14 with 40 New Photos 2015 Audi A3 Sedan Review  The Audi A3 family is pretty massive for 2015 – with the new sedan just the first in the offensive that will include the A3/S3 Cabrio, A3 Sportback and Sportback Hybrid, an S3 sedan and even the Q3 mini SUV. So there is alot riding on this compact exec’s shoulders – not least the expectation that it might be overpriced and under-amazing. But that is not the case in the slightest. What we discovered after flogging Audi’s latest machine around Lake Lanier, Georgia last week is a fun, peppy …

Read more Update1 – Road Test Review – $32k 2015 Audi A3 Sedan 1.8T FWD

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Road Test Review – 2014 Ford Escape SE 1.6 EcoBoost – Scores a C+ Overall – Slow, Pricey and Uncomfortable

The Ford Escape is still an excellent crossover and a solid choice for a huge group of buyers – from the base $23,000 Escape S to the loaded Titanium AWD 2.0-liter EcoBoost, there is really something for everyone. But has time been kind to the Escape — in a segment filled with new entries like the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue? Let’s dive in with a structure of Exterior, Interior, Powertrain and Summary. EXTERIOR The style of the Escape still looks great even three years since the car’s first appearance on the market. It is a …

Read more Road Test Review – 2014 Ford Escape SE 1.6 EcoBoost – Scores a C+ Overall – Slow, Pricey and Uncomfortable

BMW ConnectedDrive Only for Geeks? Nope! Meet The Drift-O-Matic 235i and 650i Gran Coupe

Many of us have seen the old version of automated cars — the ones with robotic inputs for the gas and brake pedals, plus a strange rig to actually move the steering wheel left and right. This is a decidedly manual type of setup. Part of the big push toward electrically-operated steering is energy efficiency, of course. But the other big part is in automation of the actual control inputs. BMW looks like it has gotten pretty far up this self-driving path — to the point where it is demonstrating cars in a high-speed drift scenario! Surely a scary thrillride …

Read more BMW ConnectedDrive Only for Geeks? Nope! Meet The Drift-O-Matic 235i and 650i Gran Coupe

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BMW Debuts Solar Carport and Triples Carbon-Fiber Output at Hydro-Powered Washington Factory

The BMW i strategy is full-steam ahead — literally. Hydroelectric power in Washinton state is making it the global carbo-fiber manufacturing hub for the BMW Group, with an extra $200-million investment announced today. This will double the facility’s output and will help BMW meet strong i3 and i8 demand, as well as support the supply chain for the expected new BMW i models. i5 and i2? i4 and i1? It really could be anything. No announcements or even concepts have indicated which number BMW might be next on the i-Makeovers list — so it really is anyone’s guess. But considering …

Read more BMW Debuts Solar Carport and Triples Carbon-Fiber Output at Hydro-Powered Washington Factory

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Road Test Review w/ Pricing and Specs – 2014 Mazda3 Grand Touring

We were amazed with the all-new 2014 Mazda3 from the moment we laid eyes on it – especially the slinky and low-slung sedan variant that just arrived this Spring to Mazda dealers nationwide. After some joyful driving of the loaded 2014 Mazda3 s Grand Touring model, it is clear that the praise we shared in the “2014’s Smartest Compact” article was not sufficient. This might be the best car on the market in general, with no caveats for size or price. It is that good. I am struggling to convey how outstanding a machine it is in all regards — …

Read more Road Test Review w/ Pricing and Specs – 2014 Mazda3 Grand Touring

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Buyers Guide Info – Building my 2014 Renaultsport Clio 200 EDC Lux

If you were transplanted to another country tomorrow and needed a company car, what would you select? Nothing too garish or expensive, and something that will keep you entertained over the years of living in a new place? My choice would have a few priorities: — something that cannot be bought in America — something that fits the local roads and driving conditions well — chic, fast and low are always my goals I would be leaning toward a few cars, one of which is the new Renault Clio RS 200. Its turbocharged engine is just a few upgrades (intake, …

Read more Buyers Guide Info – Building my 2014 Renaultsport Clio 200 EDC Lux

2014 Renault Captur Helly Hansen Edition – Authentic Brand Equity First, Outdoor Fashion Statement Second

Like most Americans, my coverage of (and interest in) Renault is decidedly spotty. I flit in and out during their press briefings, reading and becoming interested in perhaps one and three that cross this desk. But to see the production Captur Helly Hansen was too much to dismiss! Why? I love Helly Hansen!  It is an awesome brand of outdoor apparel – in America wearing prices 2X the comparable North Face and 3X the Columbia sportswear it competes with in the mass market. As such, it is a bit of a sweet-tooth fashion element for fancy people tired of the …

Read more 2014 Renault Captur Helly Hansen Edition – Authentic Brand Equity First, Outdoor Fashion Statement Second

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2015 MINI Countryman Debuts Dark-Trimmed Style and LED Foglamp Rings

Okay, these updates probably could have been grouped together, considering the below is almost a complete Search/Replace for Paceman –> Countryman. But such is life. Here are the 2015 MINI Countryman details. MINI USA UNVEILS 2015 MINI COUNTRYMAN WITH WORLD PREMIERE AT NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW 16/04/14   MINI Countryman is currently the second highest selling model in the U.S. by volume, led only by the MINI Hardtop New safety and functional features enhance the premium crossover model Expanded range of paint finishes now includes Jungle Green metallic, Midnight Grey metallic, and Starlight Blue metallic Woodcliff Lake, NJ – …

Read more 2015 MINI Countryman Debuts Dark-Trimmed Style and LED Foglamp Rings

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2015 MINI Paceman Adds LED DRLs and Foglamps + Blacked-Out Styling Updates

Most subtle facelift ever? Glad to see the dark headlight style is going mainstream, with a lack of chrome also a big enhancement for the 2015 Paceman. The other largest change is the LED foglamp ring down below, which is pretty disappointing versus a full LED headlamp makeover. Even so, better some LED style than none!   MINI UNVEILS 2015 MINI PACEMAN WITH WORLD PREMIERE AT BEIJING MOTOR SHOW 22/04/14 Woodcliff Lake, NJ – April 21, 2014…As an extravagant individualist in urban traffic, the MINI Paceman is a real eye-catcher. The world’s first ever Sports Activity Coupé in the premium …

Read more 2015 MINI Paceman Adds LED DRLs and Foglamps + Blacked-Out Styling Updates

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Future Car Renderings – 2016 BMW i4 Imagined as Much-Lower, Much-Cooler Machine

Today is the third or fourth time we have tried to get on-board with the BMW i3 via the online builder and the mechanical specifications. The i3 is a fantastically-interesting, futuristic, and brilliant solution to low-emissions motoring: priced from $41,000 as the pure EV model, the premium for the Range-Extender gasoline option up front is just a few thousand extra – well worth it in my opinion. But the style!? Where is the style of the future? In the past? We hope not. But my word – this i3 makes the Prius look sexy and slinky. It is best compared …

Read more Future Car Renderings – 2016 BMW i4 Imagined as Much-Lower, Much-Cooler Machine

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2014 Nissan JUKE is Still Best New Car from $20k

Nissan JUKE is Cool New Car from $20k As a car writer, one of the most popular questions I get asked is: what car should I buy? I have a few default answers based on the price range and buyer needs discussed with that person, but is there one fall-back for people who might want an SUV, AWD, and a great value-for-money? Yes, yes there is. The Nissan Juke. From about $20,000 even for the front-drive models with a CVT, up to a max of about $28,000 as the Juke NISMO RS — the Juke really does have something for …

Read more 2014 Nissan JUKE is Still Best New Car from $20k

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MINI Paceman Adventure Concept Leverages DAKAR Winning Streak – Previews Next MINI Paceman Cabrio?

Sometimes reverse psychology is the best way to read quotes written by hardcore commincations professionals – folks like PR teams and diplomats, for example. So when MINI says… “The MINI Paceman Adventure is a true one-off and there are no plans for series production.” The jaded auto journo like me reads this as true, with a big “But…” While the off-road kit outfitted to this Paceman Adventure is surely a fantasy-level that is best fit for a concept, the basic drop-top premise seems much more plausible. This cabrio soft-roader is totally do-able once the concept embellishments like the steel pickup …

Read more MINI Paceman Adventure Concept Leverages DAKAR Winning Streak – Previews Next MINI Paceman Cabrio?

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2014 MINI Paceman Cooper S – Built-out and Recommended Options for Loaded $34k Price

2014 MINI Paceman Cooper S Options The MINI Paceman might seem a little unnecessary, but it is a unique choice that is a must-have fashion statement for some. For my personal preference of rear-drive, or rear-drive-based AWD cars, the BMW X1 would be my pick over the Paceman any day of the week. But the appeal of the Paceman is pretty real for its extra ride height over the very low-slung MINI hardtop. The style and image is what sets the BMW and MINI apart for most buyers. But both share one critical issue to be wary of: the ability …

Read more 2014 MINI Paceman Cooper S – Built-out and Recommended Options for Loaded $34k Price

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Road Test Review – $32k 2015 Audi A3 Sedan Is Surprisingly Handsome, Modern and Fun to Flog!

 The Audi A3 family is pretty massive for 2015 – with the new sedan just the first in the offensive that will include the A3/S3 Cabrio, A3 Sportback and Sportback Hybrid, an S3 sedan and even the Q3 mini SUV. So there is alot riding on this compact exec’s shoulders – not least the expectation that it might be overpriced and under-amazing. But that is not the case in the slightest. What we discovered after flogging Audi’s latest machine around Lake Lanier, Georgia last week is a fun, peppy car with outstanding driving characteristics, very intuitive steering, and a contender …

Read more Road Test Review – $32k 2015 Audi A3 Sedan Is Surprisingly Handsome, Modern and Fun to Flog!

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2014 Ford Fiesta Adds EcoBoost Turbo Triple, MyFord Touch and Tinted Lamps!

The colorful Ford Fiesta is refreshed for 2014 outside and in, enhancing what is already an amazing small-car package. Updates are subtle enough to miss outside, but really to bring the 2014 Fiesta a bit of the ST model’s coolness – without the price jump that comes with the sportiest Fiesta model. The EcoBoost 1.0-liter bumps max fuel economy from 39 MPG up to a whopping 45 MPG with the SFE package. But is it a hilarious riot to drive, as promised by its long-time best-seller status in the UK, home of TopGear and all things cars? We did not …

Read more 2014 Ford Fiesta Adds EcoBoost Turbo Triple, MyFord Touch and Tinted Lamps!

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2015 Toyota Camry Redesign Delivers Greater Chassis Strength, Wider Stance and Full LED Style

  By Special Contributor Anthony Alaniz     Look out in your driveway. Go look. We’ll wait. Did you see it? The best-selling car in the country? It’s very possible you have one, two, maybe even three Toyota Camrys lounging out there in front of your house. Since 1983, 10.2 million Camrys have been sold. It is the best-selling car in America for a reason—though the reason is still unbeknownst to us. The Camry exudes beige and boring like a badge. So, it should come as no surprise that the Camry has received an update for 2015 for the ever …

Read more 2015 Toyota Camry Redesign Delivers Greater Chassis Strength, Wider Stance and Full LED Style

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Building My 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 – Buyers Guide to Colors, Wheels and Must-Have Options

If you only read this one sentence– there are only two major CLA250 options you need to check to make your new Merc (said as: ‘Merk’) the coolest kid on the block: — Sport pack: $2,200 – New sills, front and rear bumpers, and overall styling enhancement versus the standard car — Bi-xenon + LED pack: $850 – Halogen headlights? No thanks! These also bring cool LED accents front and back.     The CLA250 is fresh off the boats this year, and looks amazing in the flesh. It really does. With a $29,900 price attached for the base models, …

Read more Building My 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 – Buyers Guide to Colors, Wheels and Must-Have Options

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2014 Dodge Dart Engines Are Eager for Tuning! SCAT Pack Concept Shows How To Open HP Taps

Update1: A pretty glaring fact error in this article, but kindly pointed out by a loyal reader. The error surrounds the Tigershark engines versus the MultiAir engines – only the smallest 1.4-liter is a turbocharged unit. The larger 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter Tigershark engines are naturally aspirated – meaning any horsepower gains will be more than just an ECU re-flash away. Even so, a cold-air intake and a less-restrictive exhaust setup are sure to liberate an extra 15 ponies each – along with this engine’s true shriek! Orig Published Dec 23, 2013 @ 13:04 The Dodge Dart GT is the sportiest …

Read more 2014 Dodge Dart Engines Are Eager for Tuning! SCAT Pack Concept Shows How To Open HP Taps

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5.2s to 60mph, 148MPG Plug-in Hybrid AWD! Audi TT Offroad Concept – A Sure Thing As Future Q2 (or Q4?)

The big three German luxury brands are infamous in charting each-others new models rigorously. When the Mercedes-Benz R-Class emerged to shocked faces across the globe, BMW was not far behind with the 5 series GT in a slight tweak on the theme. Once one of the big players has established a market, it is widely seen as almost a sure-fire new segment that all must either join or be left out of completely. The rationale is often more than a little flawed – as the R-Class seven-seater and five-seater minivan/wagon trend failed to spark much interest. But one clear segment …

Read more 5.2s to 60mph, 148MPG Plug-in Hybrid AWD! Audi TT Offroad Concept – A Sure Thing As Future Q2 (or Q4?)

2015 Chrysler 200 Aims For the Middle, But Design and Cabin Undeniably Much-Improved

By Special Contributor Anthony Alaniz   There is little doubt that the forthcoming 2015 Chrysler 200 is important. The mid-sized car segment has been virtually void of any credible Chrysler product for some time—lest we forget about Eminem and that commercial. As maligned the Chrysler 200 is, it is hard to forget the 200 first appeared on showroom floors just a few years ago as a 2010 model, replacing the worst-car-on-the-market Sebring sedan. See a pattern here? For 2015, Chrysler has finally found the fire necessary to produce something competitive, or at least inoffensive and of a quality high enough …

Read more 2015 Chrysler 200 Aims For the Middle, But Design and Cabin Undeniably Much-Improved

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AWD TDI Golf SportWagen to Join GTI, TSI and TDI — But Not Until 2015 Calendar Year With Est $36k Price

  The American-market Mark7 2015 Golf line is only about three years late, but finally looks like it is not missing some critical members this time. Scratch that: the Golf Plus and Golf Sportvan are still nowhere to be found, along with the long-promised/never-delivered e-Golf. The e-Golf is now on sale only in Europe, and has been teased in the US since at least 2008. As many VW people know very well, the GTI has always been the star pupil of the group — both due to its performance and it vastly superior build quality and materials versus the Pueblo-built …

Read more AWD TDI Golf SportWagen to Join GTI, TSI and TDI — But Not Until 2015 Calendar Year With Est $36k Price

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2015 Nissan Versa Sedan Debuts Ahead of NY Show — Priced from $12k And On Sale April 16th — Same Day As Debut!

Well, this is innovative! Very rarely can an auto show launch be synced with the availability of the actual road cars. The rare exception is when deposits are taken by executives — and even then, usually only in cases where the public floods the auto show stands with checks in hand. Even these cash buyers have to wait months to actually take delivery. And even in the deposit or cash-sale scenario, it is exceptionally rare. The Citroen DS in 1955. The Ford Mustang in Queens, New York at the World’s Fair 50 years ago exactly. A few Ferrari and Lamborghini …

Read more 2015 Nissan Versa Sedan Debuts Ahead of NY Show — Priced from $12k And On Sale April 16th — Same Day As Debut!