Category: Car Reviews

By on June 25, 2020

The Nissan Altima was once in the mix with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in the mid-size sedan conversation.

That’s no longer the case, and hasn’t been for some time.

Nissan is working hard to get back in that mix, and while the 2020 Altima takes the right strides forward, there’s still more work to be done.

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By on June 24, 2020

The study of user experience, often shortened to UX (since everything needs to fit in a neat 140-character limit), looks at how humans interact with a particular system. Often applied to computers, cell phones, and the like, UX looks at usability, ergonomics, and human feelings as they pertain to whatever system is being studied.

Lexus has a different definition for UX. The brand’s UX is this 2020 Lexus UX 250h, an “Urban Crossover.” While budget constraints have affected city infrastructure maintenance nationwide, leaving many roads a pockmarked hellscape, I’m not completely certain I buy the crossover story. So I grabbed the keyfob, prepared to thrash this pretender in the old TTAC tradition.

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By on June 17, 2020

2020 Toyota Avalon LimitedAs I wrote in April, the Toyota Avalon has taken great strides in moving from being a snoozer to a touring sedan with a bit of spice up its sleeve.

That was in reference to the hybrid. Try the gas-engine Avalon for a truly transformed experience.

Much of the overall hybrid experience remains true in models carrying the gas-only powertrain – the Avalon is sportier and rides more stiffly, though it remains more of a highway cruiser than a true sports sedan – yet the trade-off of a bit more power for a bit less fuel economy livens the car up even more.

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By on June 12, 2020

2019 Cadillac XT4

Cadillac is a brand beleaguered. Part of the reason is its misadventures in Crossover Land.

In a world where Acura, Lexus, and others are serving up premium crossovers at premium prices, and building competitive vehicles while so doing, Cadillac has served up something that’s more like a glorified Chevy.

That, obviously, is a problem.

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By on June 11, 2020

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara EcoDiesel

When people complain about Jeep Wranglers, it’s often to remark on how the on-road dynamics suffer in the name of off-road capability.

Jeep has come a long way in that regard, with the current Wrangler better balancing its off-road mission against the need for on-road comfort and competence. But one complaint remains: the common observation that, with either gas engine, the Wrangler could stand to gain some low-end grunt.

Enter the EcoDiesel.

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By on June 5, 2020

The days of the stately, sedate, and silent luxury provided by the Lexus LS are over.

As it’s done with virtually every vehicle in its lineup, Lexus has made an F Sport trim available. Whether this is done to combat the stereotype of Lexus as staid or to give well-heeled buyers a chance to have their cake and eat it too, or both, I don’t know. I do know that whatever spring the F Sport puts in the LS’s step, it’s still more of a luxury cruiser than an all-out flagship sports sedan. And that’s not a bad thing.

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By on May 27, 2020

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S

Ever since Jaguar launched the XE a few years ago, I’ve held high hopes for it. As much as I, like most auto journalists, dig the BMW 3 Series, I’ve always pined for more compact luxury sport sedan competition.

Mercedes has the C-Class, sure, and Lexus’ IS has often been a solid challenger, especially in certain trims. But the more the merrier, I say, and this particular Jag had a chance at contention.

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By on May 26, 2020

2020 Lincoln Aviator front quarter

We were never a family that splurged on high-end brands. Store-brand staples were generally good enough for most household needs. Our TVs and stereo equipment were Sony only because my dad sold electronics at a big retailer in the Eighties. We straddled the fine line between frugality and cheapness. We just weren’t those kinds of people.

If there was a luxury brand of car, it was certain that we wouldn’t have it. Chevy or Olds, not Cadillac. Ford, not Lincoln – at least until I was out of the house. Dad, when choosing yet another car to ferry him on his sales calls around the Great Lakes, finally splurged on a late ‘90s front-drive Continental. As I recall, it was fine, but it didn’t wow me with the luxury I’d expect from the Lincoln nameplate.

Today, however, Lincoln is staging a comeback. First, the brand restored ACTUAL NAMES to its vehicles, rather than tacking MK-whatever on everything. Now, this genuinely elegant 2020 Lincoln Aviator makes a legitimate claim to the luxury SUV throne.

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By on May 22, 2020

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

The Hyundai Palisade/Kia Telluride pairing share many common components. Where the two large crossovers most obviously diverge is stylistically.

The Kia is boxy and bold, looking trail-ready, even though it’s not an off-roader (nor will it ever see much off-roading beyond a grass parking area at the soccer complex). Hyundai’s counterpart, however, softens the edges as bit, rounding things off. And while both have interiors that belie their pricing, Hyundai’s is more modern minimalist than what’s on offer in the Kia.

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By on May 19, 2020

2019 Subaru Forester Touring

Subaru has a dual reputation. Car people know it as the company that gives us WRX and STi (and a good chunk of the BRZ/Toyota FT 86 partnership), while the rest of the world thinks of the brand as one that puts out a lot of wagon-esque crossovers that appeal to granola types, academics, and families that prioritize safety but aren’t in a Volvo tax bracket.

The Forester Touring definitely fits in to that latter stereotype. And that’s not a pejorative – it’s okay to embrace what one does best.

For the Forester, that means serving as a solid if not spectacular commuting wagon that’s road-trip ready.

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By on May 15, 2020

2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
Does the world need wicked-fast luxury SUVs with hefty pricetags?

Probably not.

Does Land Rover sell at least one? Yes, yes it does.

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By on May 8, 2020

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring exists to fill a niche in the Civic lineup.

If the Civic Hatchback Sport presents as the value “sporty” choice – a sleeper version of the cranked-up Si and pumped-to-the-max Type R, complete with available manual – the Sport Touring aspires to be a more luxurious version of that car while retaining characteristics that make it an enthusiast’s choice. The #savethemanuals crowd will be happy – you can get it with a stick.

It also is the nicest Civic hatch you can get with three pedals, and arguably the nicest Civic you can get in hatchback form, period – and very possibly Honda’s nod to Si intenders who bemoan that car’s lack of an available hatchback body style.

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By on May 7, 2020

In addition to being a gearhead, I’m a sports fan.

The long-time play-by-play man for my favorite baseball team called it quits a year or two ago, presumably deciding the golf course was more appealing than the broadcast booth as he approached his eighth decade of life.

This gentleman, long ago given the nickname of Hawk, had a whole bunch of catchphrases in his verbal toolbox. One of them was “right size, wrong shape” – meant to describe a foul ball that traveled home run-worthy distance but landed on the wrong side of the foul pole.

And this particular Hawkism came to mind when I tested the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer last year. It does a lot right – but the price made me blanch.

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By on April 30, 2020

2019 BMW 330i xDrive

A lot of us pack on pounds as we age. I should know – it happened to me as I voyaged through my 30s.

We all know it’s been happening across the car world, too. Just about every model has grown in size and packed on pounds over the past two decades.

Problem is, that turns some vehicles that were once known as svelte sports sedans into bloated versions of themselves. The good news is that some of these vehicles can still do a lot of what they once did – but the swell is unfortunately noticeable.

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By on April 28, 2020

Steph Willems/TTAC

Yes, one day this could all be yours. When the last leases signed for this now defunct model run their course, the base Chevy Cruze could be the depreciation special that finds its way into your driveway.

I’ll still be paying mine off.

Of course, you can’t criticize anything you read here today too harshly, as, regardless of what you think of the purchase decision, I spent my own damn money on this unexciting, domestic, high-MPG compact sedan. Yes, a person who types car-related words foolishly spent his meager income on a sensible new vehicle that suits his day-to-day needs, rather than a Peugeot or Porsche project car. I guess it’s now up to General Motors to retain me — again — as a customer.

And that nearly didn’t happen back in May of 2018, until Hyundai gave me plenty of reason to reconsider. Read More >

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