Category: Car Reviews

By on May 27, 2016

2016 BMW M2 Front 3/4, © 2016 Bradley Iger/The Truth About Cars

For decades BMW worked tirelessly to cultivate a reputation for building performance machines that could hit above their weight classes. Although the 2002 is a well-regarded classic, and the homologation special M1 is a bonafide supercar of its era, it wasn’t until the debut of the E30 M3 in 1986 that BMW’s high-performance road cars really started to find favor with the general public.

In recent years, BMW has sought to recapture some of that E30 magic with cars like the M235i and the 1M before it. While both of those models have their virtues, they fall short of the mark largely by way of an unidentifiable, intangible element. After a stint behind the wheel of the M2, I discovered that “fun” is that elusive character trait, because this car has it in spades.

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By on May 25, 2016

2016 Kia Sedona Exterior Front, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Let’s face it: Nobody wants to drive what their parents drove, even if it’s the right vehicle for the task at hand. Minivan shoppers balked at their parent’s station wagon, and CUV shoppers seem to believe that minivans are the gateway to mom-jeans and velcro sneakers.

My sister-in-law is the perfect example of a conflicted minivan shopper. With four kids, she needs a minivan. However, because she grew up sitting in the back of a string of Chevrolet Astro vans, she has a special hatred reserved for minivans. It probably doesn’t help that her parents recently traded in an Oldsmobile Silhouette for a Chrysler Town & Country.

Technically, a family of six will fit in your average three-row crossover, but even the biggest CUVs have a cramped back seat and limited cargo compared to the average minivan.

Seeing an opportunity to differentiate itself, Kia decided to put a different twist on the Sedona when it was redesigned for 2015. The latest Sedona gives up some traditional minivan practicality in an attempt to appeal to crossover shoppers on the fence.

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By on May 24, 2016

2016 Mini Clubman Side in Winter, Image: © 2016 Miranda Lightstone/The Truth About Cars

Ah, Mini — over the years (and many, many rather useless, unnecessary models and trim levels) you seem to have lost your oh-so-cool retro, fun-to-drive ways.

It started going downhill with the Cooper Countryman, to be honest. Big, bloated, and decidedly un-Mini-like. I didn’t hate it, but I also wasn’t in love, which was a first for a Mini product and me (just ask my friends and family). The only real redemption for the Countryman was its All4 all-wheel-drive system.

Then the pointless Paceman surfaced, followed by the Coupe and equally redundant Roadster cabriolet. Really, Mini, what were you thinking?

Of all the iterations of the Cooper hatch, the best was always the quirky Clubman. Just that extra bit larger with all the charm and wit you hoped to find in a Cooper, the Clubman offered a little je ne sais quoi that set it apart — but not too much.

For eight agonizing years we waited and waited for the German bigwigs to grace us with a new Clubman, a revamped version of the Cooper deviant we loved the most. Finally, it arrived — and it’s every bit as good as it was, if not better. If it’s possible to fall in love at first sight for a second time, then I think that happened to me with the 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman.

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By on May 23, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-9, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

When Mazda initially launched the CX-9, it aimed the crossover firmly at American buyers — 80 percent of CX-9 production came to the U.S., and exactly 0 percent stayed in Japan. It was an American under the sheetmetal, too, built on an older platform shared with Ford.

For 2016, Mazda completely redesigned its large, three-row crossover with an eye on improving dynamics, efficiency and giving the brand a near-luxury alternative. Yep, Mazda believes its new Signature trim — featuring such adornments as heads-up display, Nappa leather, and real wood trim — is an alternative to the Acura MDX.

Mazda hasn’t gone completely upscale, however. Most of the CX-9 lineup aims squarely at the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, and Chevrolet Traverse.

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By on May 19, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Lapiz blue

$26,415.

$36,470.

$43,395.

The jumps in price from the four-door Volkswagen Golf GTI to the Volkswagen Golf R to the Audi S3, three closely related cars, are not insignificant. Yet in spite of the dollar differences, or perhaps because of the dollar differences, the trio inevitably undergoes the value proposition comparison, as if “value” is the reason 460 buyers per month spend around $40,000 on a Volkswagen hatchback.

I’ve now been privileged to spend a week with each car. Sadly, a Lapiz Blue 2016 Volkswagen Golf R just left my driveway to make room for, as fate would have it, a 2016 Toyota Prius.

And I have no trouble making the case for the Golf R as the fast VeeDub to own. Read More >

By on May 18, 2016

2016 Infiniti QX50 AWD Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

From krill-hungry Lincolns to Predator-style Lexus grilles, the automotive market is littered with luxury crossovers like rocks covering the landscape of my home province of Newfoundland. With few exceptions, they’re all ponderous boxes offering the driving dynamics of tapioca pudding. Adding a sport package to these machines simply upgrades them to slightly warmer tapioca pudding.

The 2016 Infiniti QX50, though, surprised me … and I like surprises — for example, buying a new type of beer and finding it to my liking, or having a tool work better than expected. These are all experiences that give me pure joy. Heck, I even bought my first house largely based on the fact its floorplan wasn’t what I expected.

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By on May 16, 2016

2016 Ford Edge Front 3/4 View, Image: © 2016 Kevin Mio/The Truth About Cars

The Ford Edge has always grabbed my attention due to its styling.

From a distance, the look — especially that of the second-generation Edge — is certainly pleasing to the eye. The front grille, fog light assembly, stylish wheels and a nice silhouette give the midsize crossover an Edge — pardon the pun. And the 2016 model can be configured in a number of ways to suit consumers’ needs, with a choice of powertrains and a nice choice of optional equipment.

But, as they say, the devil is in the details, and that’s where the Edge starts to lose its sharpness. The main issue is one we’ve seen here before: quality of the fit of the exterior panels of the Edge. However, I have another major gripe about the Blue Oval’s lifestyle-mobile, and it sits under its misaligned hood.

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By on May 13, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Low Angle Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars

When a concept car is introduced at a major auto show, it provides a glimpse into the future of an automaker’s next model. Some concepts are really cool. Some are not. Most never make it into production. A few do. The Baja Bug-inspired VW New Beetle Dune Concept was unveiled at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was an off-road-ready New Beetle powered by a 2.3-liter VR5 that sent its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

More than a decade later, a similar, but water-downed, Beetle Dune Concept was shown at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. That car was raised two inches, had a 210 horsepower engine, a cool ski rack, but was front wheel drive. That concept car finally made it into production this year with relatively minor changes — but should it have?

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By on May 12, 2016

2016 Honda HR-V Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

It’s no secret that Honda strives to offer a “Goldilocks-just-right” option in just about every segment  — not too big, not too small; not too cheap, not too expensive; not too flashy, not too bland, and with a dollop of practicality on top. This formula has led to a lineup of sales successes with few exceptions. Oddly enough, Honda’s new-to-America HR-V is one of those exceptions.

Based on numbers from GoodCarBadCar, the Jeep Renegade is outselling the HR-V at a clip of 1.4:1 so far this year. Even Buick shifted more Encores — just — than Honda sold HR-Vs.

What gives? Have subcompact CUV shoppers forsaken Honda? Is the Renegade that good? Or is there some other explanation?

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By on May 6, 2016

2015 Ford Fiesta SFE Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Earlier this year, I was planning on showcasing on TTAC my 2008 Saturn Astra as a testbed of Millennial ingenuity.

Us Millennials want the latest technology in our rides, but we don’t necessarily have the funds to buy brand-new cars. We’re a debt-laden demographic, thanks to a combination of rising education and living costs, but we want all that fancy connectivity. I figured I could probably get away with adding all the technology I wanted to a car that’s eight years old, thus saving on the outlay demanded by a new vehicle purchase and the corresponding increase in my insurance premium.

Then the Fiesta happened.

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