Category: Car Reviews

By on June 21, 2014

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV side

In the not too distant past, buying a cheap car meant getting something with crank windows, manual steering, and often with no radio. Air conditioning was a luxury feature which, when equipped, would often cut the available engine power from little to none. Even safety features such as ABS required a jump to model that was no longer cheap. Having grown up with the cheapest of the cheap, ‘80’s and early ‘90s Hyundai Excels, I have come to despise cheap cars. The question is, are today’s inexpensive cars still cheap?

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By on June 20, 2014

Four hundred cubic centimeters. That’s not a whole lot of volume. A cylinder that’s about 3 inches in diameter and 4 inches tall. It’s rather amazing what a difference that about a coffee cup’s worth of displacement will make in the character of an automobile. In my first look at the Dodge Dart, I felt that the Dart is a nice compact car, but that it was deeply compromised by a powertrain that combined the 2.0 liter four cylinder with a six speed automatic transmission. In a quest for a calibration that yields impressive EPA fuel economy numbers, Chrysler produced a car that’s a chore to drive. Now that I’ve had a chance to drive the Dart with the 2.4 liter MultiAir Tigershark engine, I’m happy to report that those 400 ccs of displacement make a night and day difference, changing “chore to drive” to “fun to drive”. Read More >

By on June 19, 2014

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Behold the 2014 Nissan… wait, haven’t we covered the redesigned Rogue already?

Indeed, Winston recently offered a solid writeup on the top-trim Rogue SL with all-wheel-drive, and his findings were largely positive. What if you are on a budget though? How enjoyable is Nissan’s mainstream compact crossover when the heated leather seating, Bose stereo and touchscreen navigation system aren’t included? Sounds like a review of the more mainstream SV trim is in order.

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By on June 18, 2014

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All the way from Santiago, Chile, reader Carlos Villalobos invited us to drive his Skoda Octavia vRS. Sadly, none of us could make the 12+ hour flight to the other end of the globe, so Carlos sent us his review instead.

Lusting after forbidden fruit isn’t a concept known only to North Americans, salivating over diesel hatchbacks and hot VAG variants. Here in South America, we also are afflicted with the same problem every other human being has: wanting what they can’t have.

Except in my case, I am lusting after a Jetta GLI.

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By on June 18, 2014

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“Cheap and cheerful.” It’s a phrase the Brit mags like to use all the time to describe poverty-priced cars that attempt to use design and color to mask their humble aspirations. Think Scion xB compared to Toyota Tercel — but nobody does the C&C music factory like the Europeans. The original Twingo set the template, but it’s had many a riff played on it since then.

Now we have a cheap-and-cheerful from a Euro manufacturer, built in Serbia, with as much design and flair as you can stand. Whether it’s the worst car for sale in America or one of the best depends entirely on how cheerful you need your cheap to be.
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By on June 17, 2014

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Even those who didn’t appreciate the first Kia Soul’s eye-catching exterior would acknowledge the Soul was a car that majored on style.
Replacing the underlying platform, updating the interior, and adding features are, to a degree, a set of secondary concerns in a car like this. The new Soul had to look every inch like the Soul, but if it didn’t look new, it may not incite the necessary reaction from the style-conscious portion of the car-buying public.
By on June 16, 2014

2014 Land Rover range rover evoque front 34

This has never happened to me before. Four different women complimented me on this vehicle. I’m guessing they were somewhere between 25 and 45 years old – it’s really difficult to tell these days. They were all fit, attractive (-ish), wore fancy sunglasses, and carried equally fancy bags which complemented their outfits. They all loved this baby Range Rover. To them, it represented an essential accessory that would complete them. That, my friends, is a marketing success.

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By on June 13, 2014

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Photography by our very own Murilee Martin!

I gave up a Camry SE for this car. There was a silver one sitting in the “Gold Choice” lane at the Denver airport, just like the one I enjoyed so much last year. All I had to go was walk over and get in. But nooooooo, dear reader — my phone told me that I was supposed to receive a “2014 ALTIMA SDN GRY” so, thinking of you, I trudged down to spot 571 and prepared for a short high-altitude date with the third-most-popular car on the market.
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By on June 12, 2014

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There has been no shortage of words written about the Honda S2000 on the internet. In fact, when a RRR request came in from Ryan in the ATL for his new-to-him 2000 AP1 S2K, my first thought was, “Why? It’s been done to death.”

Okay, that’s a total lie. My first thought was “Hell yes. When and where?
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By on June 10, 2014

A while back Chrysler loaned me a Dodge Dart Limited with the 2.0 liter Tigershark engine and six-speed automatic transmission for the purpose of writing a review. That’s how it works, they loan you the car, you write the review. A social contract, if you will. In this case, however, though I drove the car for a week and took scores of photos and copious notes, I decided not to write the review at the time. That sort of behavior comes with some risk, particularly if the next time you ask for a press car and they ask for a link to your last review. I had my reasons for putting off the review, and now that I’ve driven a Dart with the larger 2.4 liter motor, I’m glad that I waited, and I think Chrysler should be glad that I waited as well.

I’ll explain all that gladness in Part Two, my review of the 2014 Dodge Dart GT 2.4 L, but everything has a backstory. Read More >

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