Car Reviews

Car reviews, Candid and unbiased auto reviews by industry experts

TTAC Rewind: 2015 Cadillac XTS Vsport

Hey, Editor Tim here -- we're trying something new. Keep an eye out each Sunday morning for a review from the past, chosen more or less arbitrarily, for you to peruse over your morning coffee.

Read more
2022 Jeep Wagoneer Review – Rolling Confusion

The consensus, at least among us shrimp-sucking keyboard warriors who get paid to review cars, is that the Jeep Wagoneer is a bit of a flop, mostly due to an oddly-proportioned exterior design.

Sure, the overfed journo writes between bites of shellfish, the Wagoneer has a nice interior, an excellent stereo, and an unobjectionable, if unremarkable powertrain. But its looks frighten small dogs.

Read more
2022 Honda Civic Si HPT Review – New Duds, Same Spirit

One could be forgiven for worrying that when Honda updated the Civic, it would muck things up. Make a good thing worse. Especially when it comes to the enthusiast-oriented Si trim.

The eleventh-generation car debuted last year as a 2022, and the Si version followed soon after. As most of you no doubt know, the Si is the hopped-up performance version of the Civic, though it’s not the highest-performance trim. That would be the Type R, which is currently on hiatus for the moment – the 2023 Honda Civic Type R will bow soon.

Read more
2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Review – Back in the Mix

Nissan finally updated the Frontier mid-size pickup for 2022, thus finally bringing an aging truck current.

But staying up to date isn’t always enough. Did the Frontier suddenly become a much stronger competitor?

Read more
2022 Toyota Highlander XSE V6 AWD Review – Not Flashy, Not Fussy

Extremes are easy to write about.

Just as sportswriters would prefer to cover either contending teams or basement dwellers instead of those that win about as much as they lose, most auto writers find it easier to describe sexy sports cars or to lampoon rolling failures.

This is why writers who are itching to show you how well they can use a thesaurus are almost as happy to see a Mitsubishi Mirage arrive at their home as they would be a Ferrari. Almost.

Read more
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Review - Filling Niches And Climbing Over Them
2021 Ford Bronco Black Diamond Review – Cheap(ish) Wheelin’

Those who’ve studied the build and price site for the Ford Bronco will note that the company labels the upper trim Badlands and Wildtrak versions as the ones you should select if you plan to go wheelin’ often. That’s before even thinking about adding the Sasquatch package.

The "Save the Manuals" crew will also note that the Badlands trim is the only way to get a loaded Bronco with a clutch pedal.

Read more
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4XE Unlimited Sahara Review – Save Fuel, Keep the Wrangle Experience

The idea of a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler intrigues me. Wranglers that run exclusively on dead-dino juice have never been terribly fuel efficient. That’s true of recent efforts, too, despite overall improvements in automotive technology/design/engineering that have helped even the thirstiest of gas guzzlers become, well, less thirsty.

So it makes sense that a Wrangler that can run at least part of the time on electrons would pique my interest. Even if the alternative powertrain underhood changes little else about the Wrangler experience.

Read more
2021 Land Rover Defender 90 First Edition Review – Expensive Capability

The last time I reviewed a Land Rover Defender, I commented on how I enjoyed its driving experience despite some very British electrical failings such as the radio going AWOL for half an hour.

I expected similar from the two-door version, and to my pleasant surprise, I got the good parts without any real gremlins or bugs.

Read more
2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review - Driving Distilled


They’re coming for our cars. It may not be tomorrow, but indicators point toward a future where personal transportation options may be severely restricted. Gleaming alloy air-cars two lanes wide may be our transportation solution going forward.


From my stringback-gloved hands, I proclaim. While I’ll take the train should my commute dictate, I still find both solace and pleasure in engaging with a genuine driver’s car. A car that doesn’t need a “SPORT MODE” button conspicuously glaring next to the CVT drive selector knob. In the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata, the start button IS the sport mode.

Read more
2022 Chevrolet Silverado LT Review: Finally, They Got It Right

Over my years in the auto industry, one thing has been made abundantly clear: Truck buyers are loyal. Sure, the occasional fluctuation will occur, but for the most part, Ford buyers will buy another Ford when the time comes, and the same with Chevy, GMC, Ram, and Toyota.


Why, then, do the truck makers keep redesigning? Beyond incorporating new technologies for improved performance, safety, and efficiency, there’s always a risk of alienating their base customers when reaching for conquest sales. Chevrolet did that a few years ago with the Silverado, revealing a truck with an interior that was not nearly as nice as the rest of the industry. The good ship Bowtie has been righted with the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, thankfully, as even on this LT trim the passenger accommodations have been vastly improved.


Read more
2022 Volkswagen Passat Review - An Early Preview of The Heritage Collection


Most automakers have some stuff in their past of which they’re rightfully proud. Certain landmark models are fondly recalled long after they’ve been relegated. Pristine examples of those beauties will often be rolled out and dusted off either during launches of new, tangentially-related models or during serious lulls in the product cycle where everything on lots is dull. Sometimes, these heritage cars will even be loaned to us journalists for a brief time.


Volkswagen has done this in the past - I’ve seen my colleagues joyously cruising in stunning Beetles and Microbuses. What’s remarkable is this 2022 Volkswagen Passat is nominally a new car, but it doesn’t appear on the Build-And-Price tool at vw.com. It seems to be a curious case where a brand new car has been prematurely shuffled off to the heritage fleet.

Read more
2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport Review- How to Review a Good Car That You Kind of Hate

I want to be perfectly honest with you guys — this is The Truth About Cars, after all — I didn’t like driving the 2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport. It’s not that the Lexus is a bad car, it’s that it’s not the right fit for me … and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

Read more
2023 Mazda CX-50 Review – Playing Dress-Up

Americans have got a fever, and the only prescription is more crossovers. Virtually every automaker trying to do business in this country has some sort of lifted wagon – if not a handful. Large ones, small ones, performance ones, economy ones. No convertible crossovers anymore, thank goodness. They’re shoehorning a crossover into nearly every possible market segment.

Here, we have the 2023 Mazda CX-50, with a name very much like their popular CX-5. And it’s very close in size to said CX-5. Of the six distinct non-electric vehicles offered by Mazda, four are crossovers – but why did they bring us something so very clearly similar to something they’ve been selling well for many years without replacing it?

Oh, and don’t give Mazda any ideas about a Miata crossover, please.

Read more
2021 BMW M4 Competition Review - Heart Trumps Looks

Almost every automotive journalist and enthusiast I know hates the new BMW grille – the one that took the twin-kidney look and made it as bucktooth as a beaver.

Read more
2022 Lexus NX 350 AWD Review - Getting with the Times

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Lexus’ NX compact crossover. I’ve found it to be fairly sporty – in general, and not just by staid Lexus standards – and overall more engaging to drive than the larger (and highly popular) RX, but also a bit cramped inside. Not to mention that the NX, like most Toyota and Lexus products, just seemed a step behind when it came to infotainment.

Lexus addressed two of those criticisms with the current model and did so quite nicely.

Read more
2021 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Convertible Reader Rental Review – California, Not Quite Dreamin'

John Muir once wrote, “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark,” and when you’re pushing 60, as I am, “the dark” isn’t just an abstract concept anymore – it’s quite real.

Read more
2022 Kia Forte GT Review – Words Matter

I’ll grant that I’m not a university-trained linguist, but I will forever cringe when I encounter egregious misapplications of the English language. Examples include the otherwise-excellent Alanis Morissette applying the term “ironic” to simple coincidence, and the ever-present misuse of “literally” by my kids when describing a figurative.

In the realm with which I’m more familiar, we can consider the heinous mislabeling of sundry sedans and crossovers as “coupes” due to their sloping rooflines. Another is the haphazard use of the “GT” badge, a violation that most automakers have made over the decades. GT, of course, originally implied Grand Touring – and has been since claimed by various racing series to denote race cars that have been based upon street cars.

I’m not certain which definition was in mind when the 2022 Kia Forte GT was in development.

Read more
2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport HPD Review - Slightly More "Truck" Than Before

One of the things this author has always appreciated about the Honda Ridgeline is its car-like qualities. More than once, the phrase “Accord on stilts” has escaped my lips when talking about the Ridgeline with fellow auto scribes, and I meant it as a compliment.

Imagine my dismay to find that the refreshed 2021 Honda Ridgeline felt jussssst a bit more “trucky” than before.

Read more
Quick Spin: 2022 Ford Lightning

Over the past two months, I’ve had two chances to take a Ford Lightning for a quick spin — once around the scenic village of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (which you probably know as the home of the famed Road America racetrack) — and once around the block in a part of Chicago dotted with strip malls.

Read more
2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe Review – The Ultimate Something Machine

Is it possible to be both overwhelmed and underwhelmed? Does the whelming up and down cancel itself out, leaving one with just the right amount of whelm? Or is there some sort of exponential curve, resulting in either a surplus or deficit of whelmification?

The red squiggly lines provided by the good people behind Microsoft Word tell me that I’m stretching the bounds of both language and reason here – but reason may not have been in the room when the folks in Munich plotted this 2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe. Heck, we can quibble on the language there, too, when considering the traditional definition of a coupe. But looking at the specs and the window sticker can lead one to conclusions that are occasionally not delivered upon slipping behind the wheel, thus leading to my conundrum.

Read more
Rental Review: The 2020 Audi A5 Sportback, a Bit Damp

It’s a new week, and I’m back with another German car Rental Review for your enjoyment! Today’s rental is one of two American market entrants into the premium compact five-door liftback segment, and not a car one expects to find in an Enterprise lot. Presenting a 2020 Audi A5 Sportback, two years and 50,000 rental miles later.

Read more
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks Review - One for the City

A big part of the marketing push behind the Ford Bronco Sport since its launch has been centered around the vehicle’s outdoors/off-road capabilities.

What’s not being said is how one needs to buy the top-dog Badlands trim to really unlock those capabilities.

Read more
Rental Review: The 2021 BMW 530i XDrive, Interference at No Cost to You

As a fan of the midsize luxury sedan class, it’s sad to see how many manufacturers have given up on the segment. The German trio still has their stalwarts, but Japan gave up in 2020 (RIP Lexus GS), the only American still in the ring is the Cadillac CT5, and its outlier status is accompanied by newcomer Genesis with the G80.

It’s a dying class, which is why your author was especially pleased to spend the Memorial Day weekend with a longstanding headliner of the German luxury sedan genre: A 2021 BMW 5-Series.

Read more
2022 Nissan LEAF Review – Horse Firmly In Front Of Cart, But Path Not Yet Determined

While I’m nobody’s idea of an environmentalist, I do my best to make an effort here and there to reduce my impact on the world at large. I recycle what I can. I try to choose products that are reusable where possible. I try to leave my thermostat reasonably cool during the winter and encourage my kids to follow President Carter’s advice to put on a damned sweater.

I live, however, almost exactly two hundred miles from Detroit – the font from which all of my media loan vehicles spew forth. Until quite recently, I was thus unable to sample electric cars such as this 2022 Nissan Leaf, since the advertised range wasn’t quite enough to get such a car to me. As such, the following shall be both an assessment of Nissan’s EV and of the state of charging infrastructure in non-coastal areas.

Read more
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Review - Style Over Utility

Those of us with memories longer than a goldfish can think back all the way back to last year and remember the hype surrounding the Hyundai Santa Cruz. A hype train that quickly derailed when Ford’s Maverick launched just a few months later and proved itself better at doing “truck things” than the Santa Cruz.

Thing is, as great as the Maverick is, the Santa Cruz is still a pretty cool little trucklet – if you understand its limits.

Read more
2022 Nissan Kicks Review – Stays In Its Lane

Lawyers are the fun police, aren’t they? Always getting in the way of you doing something interesting and/or stupid, right? Every week when I get a new vehicle to test, it’s prefaced by a few pages of legalese to be electronically signed, with a number of restrictions and prohibitions on what you can and cannot do with the vehicle.

Upon scheduling the delivery of this 2022 Nissan Kicks, I spoke with a Nissan representative, thinking I might be able to weasel my way past one of those lawyerly lines keeping my teenage daughter, turning 16 the day the Kicks arrived, from driving the smallest Nissan. No dice, I’m afraid, so I had to put myself (figuratively, of course) into her shoes, imagining what the Kicks might be like for a new driver.

Read more
2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 Review - Jeep In Excess

No one needs a V8 in a Jeep Wrangler. But sometimes brands do things just because they can. Which is the case with this particular Jeep – there’s a freakin’ Hemi underhood, for no other reason than Jeep can do it.

Well – there’s one other reason. The company can rake in some serious cash.

Read more
2023 Nissan Z First Drive - Old Dog, New Tricks

Meet the new Nissan Z. Same as the old Z.

Well, sort of.

Nissan has worked hard to hype the new Z – yet it’s an open secret that the new car shares some of its bones with the previous-generation car.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Read more
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning First Drive - Ready for Duty

The words ‘all-new’ and ‘seismic shift’ are too frequently hurled around by those who peck their way around a keyboard between visits to shrimp-laden buffet tables. Still, when the country’s best-selling vehicle – the image of which is so closely tied to America that it might as well have a baseball hat and an apple pie in its glovebox – is fitted with an entirely new method of powering its way down the freeway and around job sites, even the j-j-jaded TTAC team will sit up and take interest.

Compared to other efforts in the electric pickup truck space, such as ridiculously angular examples loudly and annoyingly defended by fanbois jihads groups of rabid admirers, the Ford F-150 Lightning actually exists in vast numbers and is actively being cranked out of a factory near Detroit. There’s no shortage of vaporware in the EV truck segment, with numerous Barnum-like companies making grandiose promises amounting to naught, taking the hopes and cash of others down along with them.

With the F-150 Lightning, Ford is definitely *not* peddling vaporware. It’s here, it’s real, and we drove several examples last week in – where else? – Texas.

Read more
2023 Kia Sportage First Drive - Looking for Attention

I’ll admit it – I sometimes forget Kia’s Sportage exists.

That’s not because the current-generation Sportage is a bad vehicle. No, it’s because it competes in a crowded class and certain stalwarts and newcomers have commanded the market’s attention in recent years.

Enter the 2023 Kia Sportage. Thanks to a major redesign, this five-seat crossover is ready to ram its way back into the spotlight, for better or for worse.

Read more
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe First Drive - What's Green Worth to You?

Everybody’s going electric these days, it seems. Or at least, electrified. The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is Jeep’s latest entry in the electrified-vehicle space (sorry for that bit of marketing speak, I must need more coffee), following, of course, the Wrangler 4xe.

Getting electrified might be good for the ‘ole CAFE standards – but is it worth the price premium? Will electrification change a vehicle’s character – and if so, for the better or for worse?

To find out, I headed deep to the heart of Texas last month.

Read more
2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review – Window Shopping On Company Time

I’m well aware that I’m remarkably privileged to do what I do here at TTAC. I’m a car enthusiast, getting paid to go play with cars. Friends often will ask what I’m driving this week, rather than the usual small talk about the weather. A touch of envy seeps into the conversation when I reveal that I’m driving a high-end luxury car or some powerful sportscar.

When it comes down to it, however, I’m using whatever car arrives in my driveway that week as my primary driver: First, to properly evaluate it for you, dear reader, and secondly, to keep miles off the cars in my driveway. But I’ll always need my own cars, as I need to get to my office for the day job and I don’t always have media loaners upon which I can rely. One of my own cars, however, will be reappropriated soon as my eldest turns sixteen in about a week – and my other car – a vintage Miata – isn’t particularly suitable for year-round driving.

So, this is where my privilege comes in – I’ve been using this second career as an extended test drive to find my next daily driver. While those high-end luxury cars would be a lovely addition to the fleet, quite frankly they don’t pay me enough here. So, I’m looking toward more reasonably-priced ways to get where I’m going – and something that provides cheap thrills like this 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI might very well be the ideal choice.

Read more
2022 Hyundai Elantra N First Drive - Aiming for the Sweet Spot

The “hot compact” segment has its players, and they all seem to have a defined role.

This is especially true when we’re talking about compacts with more than two doors, especially if they offer a three-pedal option and are priced under $40K.

The Subaru WRX is the all-wheel-drive one. The Honda Civic Si is the bargain one. The Volkswagen GTI is the balanced hatchback one. The Hyundai Veloster N is the quirky three-door one. The Volkswagen Jetta GLI is the refined one.

Read more
2022 Volkswagen GTI Review - Generation Revelation?

In some cases where a product is offered in a series, each successive generation is improved and is greater than the last. In other cases, the maker hits upon relative perfection early and later generations can never quite live up to the legend. In the arts, for example, while Indiana Jones fans can argue the merits of Raiders of the Lost Ark versus The Last Crusade¸ you won’t find any sane person suggesting that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is anything but a dank shadow of the past glories. Similarly, my fanatic daughter tells me that the third book (Prisoner of Azkaban) in the Harry Potter series is the best, and all other editions pale.

We are now looking at the eighth generation of hot hatches from Wolfsburg with this, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI. Is it the greatest GTI ever, or has Indy jumped into a lead-lined refrigerator with this latest redesign?

Read more
2022 Ford Bronco Outer Banks Review - Mall Crawler or Blank Slate?

The popular image of Henry Ford must be rolling over in its gilded grave at the proliferation of option packages and customization choices available these days. Of course, I’m talking about his ode to speeding up mass production – “Any color, so long as it is black” being the supposed mantra to make the Model T line move more efficiently.

While most automakers don’t let you run quite as wild with the options list as one might have in the Sixties, some cars do offer a dazzling array of options packages and standalone features allowing you to “customize” your vehicle to your anticipated needs. The 2022 Ford Bronco seen here is one of the most prolific in that regard, offering (by my count) eight different trim levels taking the offroader from mild to Wild(trak) and beyond.

This two-door Outer Banks trim sits somewhere in the middle of the lineup – it offers more luxury and convenience features than the base trims while wearing a set of road-focused, somewhat low profile all-terrain tires and 18” wheels compared to the sixteen and seventeen inchers found on the more hardcore models. Could the Outer Banks be the Goldilocks package?

Read more
2023 Mazda CX-50 First Drive - Treading New Ground

There’s an argument to be made Mazda is the little car company that could. Representing a sliver of the American market compared to its larger competitors, the Hiroshima-made vehicles are typically infused with the type of driving fun that’s seemingly been surgically removed from the vehicles with which it competes.

Actually, the term ‘Hiroshima-made’ is no longer totally correct. With the introduction of the 2023 CX-50 crossover you see on these digital pages, Mazda now has a manufacturing footprint in this country to the annual tune of 150,000 vehicles. It’s only fitting they’d deploy this new capability for the type of rig most Americans prefer: An all-wheel-drive crossover with an off-road attitude.

Read more
2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 First Drive — The EV Revolution Might Not Suck

Ostensibly, I was at a private racetrack north of Atlanta to test out some new compact sedan hotness — the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N. But when an opportunity to do a mini-test of the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq5 EV presented itself, I jumped. Figuratively speaking.

Read more
2022 Kia Carnival SX/SX Prestige Review - Road Warrior

The 2022 Kia Carnival is, despite what you’ve heard, a minivan. Kia may try to tell you it isn’t, but don’t let them gaslight you – the Carnival is very much a minivan.

And a damn good one, at that.

Read more
2022 Genesis GV70 Review - Redefining the Luxury Standard

We love categorization, don’t we? We must always define exactly who or what something or someone is before we can be satisfied. Whether by gender, race, political persuasion, religion, society has always done great things when we reduce to base characteristics and put everyone into their neat little boxes.

Um, anyway.

Cars are like this too. We have definitions for compact, subcompact, full-size, and midsize cars – but the definitions are always in flux. Crossovers and SUVs are their own Linnaean nightmare – and don’t get me started on how to define luxury. It used to be 10 steers worth of leather and enough road isolation to allow for delicate medical procedures in the backseat, but times have changed. The 2022 Genesis GV70 is a different look at tall car luxury.

Read more
2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Review: Greatness Adjacent

The deck was stacked against the CT4-V Blackwing long before it rolled into my driveway. My seat time in Cadillac’s latest compact sports sedan came after not only a stint in the unfortunately-styled-but-otherwise-very-good G80 BMW M3 but also the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, the latter of which is arguably the greatest sports sedan that’s ever been produced. Yes, the CT5 occupies a different space (and price point) in the market, but these two cars are so similarly styled, it’s easy to mistake one for the other at a glance.

Read more
2021 Polaris Slingshot R Limited Edition Review - Three-Wheeled Weirdness

You’ve probably seen them, especially if you live in a big city. Three-wheeled vehicles that straddle the line between car and motorcycle that often travel in packs, driven mostly by men in their 30s and 40s.

Adult toys of the non-sexual variety.

Can-Am Spyders. Morgan 3 Wheelers. And Polaris Slingshots. I was loaned one of the latter last year.

Read more
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Premium Review - Pony Unleashed

Ford loves to dig from the well of history when it comes to naming various versions of its Mustang performance coupe. We all know that.

Perhaps, though, that inadvertently puts pressure on each edition to live up to expectations set by past models sharing a moniker. Expectations that may have been set decades ago.

Fortunately for us enthusiasts, Ford has generally made sure any Mustang that gets slapped with a special nickname has lived up to the name. That’s true of the most-recent Shelby models, the recent-vintage Bullitt, and now, the Mach 1.

Read more
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Review - That Rare Moment When Everything Clicks

Back in 2016, I had plenty of nice things to say about Cadillac’s flagship performance model of the day, the third-generation CTS-V. But while Cadillac’s naming conventions have become much more convoluted over the past six years, on paper the CT5-V Blackwing seems like more of the same: A big, boosted V8 still remains under the hood, and it’s still underpinned by an updated version of GM’s Alpha platform. The interior still isn’t on par with its German rivals, and because it’s still rear-wheel drive, it’s still a few ticks behind its all-wheel-drive competition in the sprint to 60 MPH.

Yet despite these objective facts, the CT5-V Blackwing proves to be a stone-cold revelation. Yes, the re-introduction of the six-speed manual transmission plays a significant role in that, but there’s much more going on here than just the availability of a third pedal. Not only has Cadillac addressed virtually all of the shortcomings that held the CTS-V back from venturing into instant-classic territory, they’ve refined and improved the formula in so many subtle ways that the CT5-V Blackwing feels like a totally different car.

Read more
2021 Chevrolet Spark LT Rental Review - Not Sparking My Interest

I took a few days off in December for a vacation, flying out to New Mexico just in the nick of time to avoid the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID. I’d need a rental car to get from the airport in El Paso, Texas, to Las Cruces – and to tool around town a bit, maybe.

Being on an automotive journalist’s salary and knowing I’d likely never have more than one passenger at a time, I decided to go the least-expensive route and get a compact – “compact” by the rental-car company’s definition, but subcompact per the EPA.

“Nissan Versa” or similar, the Web site said. Not great, but something I could live with for a few days. I didn’t need a lot of space or comfort.

Read more
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands Review - The Little SUV That Can

Ford’s full-size Bronco has been hogging the spotlight all year long, but the smaller Ford Bronco Sport, which actually rides on the Escape platform, is doing all it can to get some attention.

Exhibit A: The off-road chops of the Badlands trim – which is meant to spend time in the dirt. This little ‘ute is pretty dang good on pavement, but it also did things that shocked and surprised me when I took it to the Badlands Off-Park in Attica, Indiana. The name is just a coincidence.

Read more
2022 Volkswagen Golf R Review: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Let me start this by saying that I considered the previous Golf R to be the all-around best enthusiast vehicle available in its price range during its time on sale. That’s particularly high praise coming from someone whose performance tastes generally gravitate toward V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive coupes, but I think Volkswagen had achieved something remarkable with the Mk7. It was a car that had the dynamic chops to hang with some very serious hardware out in the canyons but didn’t need to shout about it from an aesthetic standpoint, and it also sacrificed very little in terms of daily drivability and practicality to get there.

Beyond the fundamentals, the Mk7 Golf R had other important elements sorted out too – solid interior materials in a well laid out and comfortable cabin, a class-leading infotainment system with a nice-sounding stereo – that sort of thing. Automakers can get away with phoning in some of that stuff when it comes to their top-tier performance cars because enthusiasts tend to have different priorities than mainstream buyers do, but Volkswagen didn’t half-ass it. This is all to say that the Mk7 Golf R set the bar pretty high.

Read more
2021 Nissan Sentra SR Review - Good Car Spoiled

Continuously-variable automatic transmissions (CVTs) are often criticized – and that criticism is often well deserved. Some CVTs, however, operate seamlessly and smoothly, and Nissan makes more than a few of those.

Unfortunately, the CVT in the 2021 Nissan Sentra SR I tested earlier this year does the opposite. Its unrelenting whine and drone spoil an otherwise surprisingly good time.

Read more
2021 GMC Yukon AT4 Review - Odd, Yet Familiar

The GMC Yukon formula is familiar. Big and comfortable with a powerful engine getting things motivated. It’s a winning formula, too – the Yukon is quite popular, as you know.

Underneath, the formula remains the same. Stylistically, though, chances were taken. And that roll of the dice doesn’t pay off quite as well.

GMC had the sense not to mess with the powertrain, but the attempt to keep the styling current is a bit of a messy miss in this application.

Read more
2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered Review: A Hot Hatch for the PTA President?

There’s a meme floating around, as memes do, with little localized variants. The one I see here in my little slice of Ohio reads something like: “Treat yourself like Interstate 70. Never stop working on yourself, no matter how much it inconveniences others.” Like most humor, there’s a bit of truth there – it always seems as of I-70 west of Columbus stretching at least to Indianapolis is in a constant state of either construction or in need of construction.

It was here on the pockmarked slab west of town I found myself driving on a brisk Sunday morn in the 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered, hoping to experience the floaty-but-controlled ride I knew from my old 740 wagon and other spawn of Gothenburg. Not here. That Polestar Engineered badge adds a serious dash of sporting intent to the midsized crossover – a car already quick from three, count ‘em three, power adders to the ubiquitous two-liter four.

Really, this crossover has the feel of a buttoned-down hot hatch. How does it work, as the Brits like to say, on the school run?

Read more
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ and 580 4MATIC First Drives - Tesla Beaters
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC is the three-pointed star’s first real attempt at an all-electric flagship in its 100-plus year history, and its importance to the brand cannot be overstated. Simply put, Tesla is already beating Mercedes-Benz, and the upstart, 500-mile range Lucid Air isn’t going to pull any punches, either. The EQS must come out swinging, then, and it absolutely cannot fail to deliver on the promise of that “S”.I recently had a chance to take an extended test drive in both the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ and 580 4MATIC models at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, and the experience was – let’s say “not what I expected”.
Read more
2022 BMW M240i XDrive First Drive: Moving The Needle

BMW has become a bit of a wild card. From confusing naming conventions to controversial styling decisions, the Bavarian automaker has become no stranger to various forms of ridicule lately, particularly from the enthusiast set. With a rich performance history on and off of the track, the company has amassed a fervent fanbase that’s somehow both stuck in the past and impatient for the future.

They cite classics like the E30 M3 and E39 M5 with rose-tinted nostalgia and wonder why BMW can’t capture lightning in a bottle again – while also adding the performance, technology, safety, and comfort that they’ve come to expect, of course. And never mind the fact that the BMW Group reported record-breaking sales numbers in the first quarter of this year while largely ignoring the peanut gallery.

Read more
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee First Drive - Keeping the Flame

Jeep has one of the tougher challenges in the business, especially when it comes to its longest-running nameplates, such as Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

That challenge is this – how to keep models that are based on an old-school formula, one that heavily involves off-road chops and, in this case, an optional V8 engine, modern.

Jeep has been up to the task so far with the Wrangler, even introducing a hybrid to the line. Now it’s the Grand Cherokee’s turn.

Read more
2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI - Still Jekyll and Hyde, and That's Good

The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI may be changed, but its character remains the same.

Just like with the heavily updated Golf GTI, that’s cause for a sigh of relief.

Perhaps even more so, since the Jetta GLI doesn’t get the same high-falutin’ interior treatment. Thank God for keeping it old school.

Read more
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI First Drive - Don't Fix What Ain't Broken

If you’re a Volkswagen Golf GTI fan, you were probably worried that Volkswagen would screw it up as they refreshed it for 2022.

Here’s the good news – the company (mostly) didn’t do that. Especially when it comes to the most important part of GTI ownership – on-road driving performance.

Read more
2022 Volkswagen Golf R First Drive - Track-Focused Toy For The Grown-Up

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R remains a potent backroad weapon – almost too potent.

I came to this conclusion while driving part of North Carolina’s famed Rattler highway. The Golf R, one of the hottest of hot hatches, was making me feel a bit like a superhero thanks to stout brakes, the ability to shorten straightaways, and firm and accurate steering that allowed me to place the wheels exactly where I wanted/needed them to be.

And all this while I was driving relatively conservatively because I was on a public road. Imagine this car unleashed on a track.

Read more
Reader Review: A Volkswagen GTI Vs GLI Love Story

For car freaks – and they don’t get any freakier than the B&B – a car is more than just a transportation appliance. We end up involved with our cars. We care for them. We worry about them. Some of us even name them.

My last car, a ‘15 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro, was Mitzi – petite, German, cute, fun … and not very easy to live with. If Mitzi had been a human female, she’d have been a blast in the sack and high-maintenance and kind of clueless the rest of the time. A great mistress and a lousy partner, if you will. The “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation had been coming for a while, and when used car prices went bonkers, it felt like the right time to kiss Mitzi on the forehead and say goodbye.

That’s how I ended up on a car-search journey that took several months and ended with one of the best hard decisions a car freak can be faced with: Choosing between a VW GTI or Jetta GLI. Which one won my heart? Read on.

Read more
Reader Review: 2019 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T SE FWD

Country Squire for the Modern Era

Coming off my second consecutive Buick Enclave lease, I decided it was time to add a smidgen of efficiency to the primary goal simply being roomy enough for the family. This is a car for my wife and her driving is skewed heavily toward city driving in congested traffic situations. I have three children who are all involved in year-round sporting activities and these days the miles are piling up fast.

The family hauler is used quite extensively, racking up about 20k miles per year. So, 15 mpg and 250 miles per fill-up just weren’t cutting it anymore. Interior space for my family of five, which includes giant offspring, is of course job one. My 14-year-old son is 6’2″ and my 11-year-old daughter is already 5’6″. They aren’t going to be shoehorned into the jump seats that some popular three-row vehicles pass off as being fit for human occupants … especially on multi-hour trips for travel sports, vacations, etc.

Read more
2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S Coupe Review - Delightfully Odd

I’ve long struggled to understand the existence of four-door hatchbacks that are called “coupes” (to me, a coupe has two, not four, doors), have sloping rooflines, and are typically sold by import luxury brands.

I struggle a lot less when one is hopped up on the vehicular version of steroids.

Read more
2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat Review - Want Trumps Need

“You don’t need it, but you’ll want it.”

It’s a common refrain when discussing bonkers performance vehicles, particularly ones that are based on family haulers. I’ve said a version of that a time or two in reviews I’ve written here and elsewhere. But some cliches are cliches because they’re true.

On the other hand, sometimes just because you want something cool, it’s not the practical choice.

Enter the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat.

Read more
  • John H Last week after 83 days, dealership said mine needs new engine now. They found metal in oil. Potential 8 to 9 month wait.
  • Dukeisduke An aunt and uncle of mine traded their '70 T-Bird (Beakbird) for a brand-new dark metallic green '75 LTD two-door, fully loaded. My uncle hated seat belts, so the first time I saw the car (it was so new that the '75 models had just landed at the dealerships) he proudly showed me how he'd pulled the front seat belts all the way out of their retractors, and cut the webbing with a razor blade(!).Just a year later, they traded it in for a new '76 Cadillac Coupe de Ville (they had owned a couple of Imperials in the '60s), and I imagine the Cadillac dealer took a chunk out to the trade-in, to get the front seat belts replaced.
  • CaddyDaddy Lease fodder that in 6 years will be on the 3rd owner in a poverty bound aspirational individual's backyard in a sub par neighborhood sinking into the dirt. The lending bank will not even want to repossess and take possession of this boat anchor of a toxic waste dump. This proves that EVs are not even close to being ready for prime time (let's not even talk about electrical infrastructure). EVs only exist in wildly expensive virtue signaling status-mobiles. FAIL! I know this is a Hybrid, but it's a Merc., so it will quickly die after the warranty. Show me a practical EV for the masses and I'll listen. At this time, Hybrids are about the way to go for most needing basic transportation.
  • Jeanbaptiste The bubble free dash on the R32!
  • Kcflyer i miss the garden variety of these and the chevy and buick twins. Good cars, comfy, solid v6 powertrains with good power and efficiency. Too bad they quite making them