Category: Car Reviews

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 >

By on April 27, 2020

2020 Acura MDX A-Spec

Crossovers don’t have to be totally boring.

Consider the 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec. It could just be another yawn-inducing luxo-box on wheels, but Acura has at least tried to imbue it with some sort of spirit.

Well, as much spirit as is possible with a 4,200-pound crossover.

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By on April 23, 2020

2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE

Jaguar’s I-Pace electric hatchback provides an interesting driving experience. When it has enough charge to be driven, that is.

The I-Pace I drove for a weekend last summer spent much of that time at the dealership, charging, because it failed to charge anywhere else near my home.

More on that in a minute.

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By on April 20, 2020

2019 Nissan Kicks SVAs long as individual private vehicles exist for sale, there will be a place for cheap commuter vehicles.

They don’t get much love, few aspire to buy them, but they exist to make sure that even those on a budget can get wheels that aren’t used.

Nissan’s Kicks is one such vehicle, and a pretty good one at that — as long as it sticks to its narrowly-defined mission.

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By on April 17, 2020

2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE P400e

Even Range Rovers need to go green.

Or, at the very least, offer “green” engine options to accrue cred with the right kind of well-heeled buyers.

While I believe some of the greenies with plenty of green in their bank account are sincere about their intentions to save the planet (and I definitely believe the climate is changing, and we’re at fault), other green types are simply signaling virtue. Still others think they’re doing the right thing, without considering that not all hybrids are the same.

Some hybrids aren’t even meant to maximize fuel economy – their electrified hardware strives mainly for enhanced performance.

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By on April 14, 2020

2019 Toyota RAV4 HybridWhen I first drove the newest generation of Toyota’s popular RAV4, I was lukewarm on the hybrid model. I liked the previous-gen hybrid better. At the time, I wrote that the best new RAV4, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the Adventure trim.

I stand by that statement, but I also think, upon further reflection, that I was a bit too harsh on the hybrid.

A week’s worth of time with a vehicle will do that. Sometimes week-long loans expose flaws that aren’t apparent in the stage-managed environs of a press junket, and sometimes it’s the other way around.

This is an example of the latter.

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By on April 7, 2020

2020 Chevrolet Silverado front quarter

Somebody had to ruin the party. Five years ago the Dieselgate scandal broke, and automakers everywhere slowed down the development of their own oil-burning engines for the U.S. market. Until that point, many automakers were looking at bringing “clean” diesel tech from Europe to the U.S.

Of course, compression-ignition engines have been quite common in the truck market – though generally confined to the heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton and larger models for many years. In the last couple of years, each member of the Detroit Three has revealed a smaller diesel for their half-ton pickups. This 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is powered by a Duramax 3.0-liter inline six, backed up by a 10-speed automatic.

I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen so hard for a powertrain.

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