By on April 24, 2019

With each iteration, Kia has been refining its shaped-like-a-toaster rig, sharpening its styling and broadening its appeal. What some dismissed as a too-weird little box at it introduction has found plenty of traction and is now in its third generation.

A dozen years removed from its debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the new Soul remains an affordable proposition for those who don’t want to resign themselves to the low seating position of a small sedan. And, yes, three pedals are still available for 2020.

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By on April 18, 2019

Yep, they still sell this thing. Betcha forgot all about it.

Or perhaps not. The “styled with a t-square” profile of the Flex has always appealed to the funkier side of the crossover/SUV customer base and, if my eight years of toiling for this publication has taught me anything, the B&B is nothing if not funky. Let’s see what this coffin-shaped crossover offers in base form.

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By on April 10, 2019

Yes, the ZR2 is far from a base truck. But based on a suggestion from the peanut gallery  (*waves at PrincipalDan*) we thought it would be a good idea to see if a “base” off-roader is a healthier bet than upgrading to the full meal deal.

In fact, calling the ZR2 a base truck – with its DSSV dampers and other gonzo off-road kit – seems like heresy to your author. Jumping a Colorado ZR2 at 40 mph over an obstacle on a trophy truck track proves just how capable the thing is.

(How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter, then.)

Chevy has, however, added another layer onto the ZR2 cake. Called the Bison, is its extra gear worth the cash? Or are gearheads better off with a “base” ZR2 and spending the money on mods of their own? Let’s see.

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By on April 3, 2019

Yeah, I know. It’s a crossover. Most of the B&B would prefer I write about some hawt hatch or a 1993 Ford Ranger but the reality is this: more consumers than ever before are signing a note on vehicles such as this Passport, making them worthy of our attention. Hey, at least this one doesn’t have a CVT.

Designed as a foil to the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, the two-row Honda Passport not only revives a name but jumps onto a very profitable bandwagon. With the same powertrain throughout the entire range, is the base model your best bet?

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By on March 27, 2019

 

Our man Corey took the wheel of Mazda’s new compact car last week, flinging the little four-door up and down Californian roads, at least during the times when he was not answering pointed questions from stern Park Rangers.

The base 3 has always had a spot in the Ace of Base trophy room, managing to combine sleek looks with a dose of non-somnambulant handling. Freshly refurbished for 2019, this new model appears to do the same, but has the base model sacrificed any content at the hands of flinty-eyed Mazda accountants?

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By on March 20, 2019

2020 Kia Telluride

Korean automakers have a history of labelling their crossovers and SUVs with names ripped from rugged-sounding towns of the American mid- and southwest. Witness the Santa Fe and Tucson. The newest entrant? Telluride. Even the little-known Borrego Pass got a nod during the five minutes in which Kia built a body-on-frame brute.

Until now, the most we’ve seen of the new Kia Telluride was that oddball New York fashion week thing, replete with a not-from-factory rear spare tire carrier and leather hood straps. Now that the build and price site’s gone live, we can see the model without all that froufrou. You know we’re most interested in the base LX model…

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By on March 13, 2019

When you start life advertising yer brand as “The People’s Car,” you’d better have a hella good value proposition. Fortunately for Volkswagen, that’s exactly what it had when the brand burst onto these shores all those years ago. Before long, driveways and parking lots were filled with affordable Bugs as customers bought into the Size Small lifestyle.

What’s is it like these days, though? This calendar year is, allegedly, the final one for the stalwart VW Beetle. Does it still offer value for money? Or is it fading away into the wings as an overpriced retro throwback that should be thrown back in favor of a Golf or Jetta? Let’s find out.

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By on March 6, 2019

Today is the last day of Chevrolet Cruze production in America. Much to the chagrin of hard-working Lordstown Assembly employees and one Associate Editor, a compact Chevy sedan will no longer roll off production lines in Ohio. The Cruze continues to be built south of the border for other markets.

We’re sending it off the only way we know how. It’s time to pour one out for the last-ever base model Cruze.

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By on February 28, 2019

Yes, yes. It’s a Corolla. I’ve cursed them in traffic, you’ve done the same, and more than a few of them are purchased by a segment of the driving public who view the car as an appliance.

The little sedan from Toyota didn’t become a success for no reason; they’re scattered around this country like litter after a ticker-tape parade, after all. Can the new-for-2020 base model pull the pursestrings of this flinty-eyed author? Or is the frugal shopper better off spending $450 and upgrading to the LE trim?

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By on February 20, 2019

This one is sure to set tongues wagging and keyboards clacking. The return of the mighty Supra nameplate is — depending to whom you speak — either an abomination the likes of which the motoring world has never seen, or a wonderful harbinger of all things fun and sporty.

For the record, your author is in the latter camp. Don’t @ me.

Three trims of the are new Supra available at launch: Base 3.0, Premium 3.0, and a Launch Edition. Is the entry-level model worth a mention? Or should one proceed directly to one of the more expensive options?

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By on February 13, 2019

Ram 1500

A couple of liberties are taken with this one, as the Ram 1500 Classic technically has a trim one step below the Express model. With pricing, rates, and residuals being what they are though – well, it’s safe to say this version of the new old Ram pickup embodies a great deal of appeal to buyers in the Ace of Base wheelhouse.

In fact, this heartily equipped pickup is cheaper than a good many milquetoast crossovers. It’s almost as if Reid Bigland himself wants you to exercise your patriotism and park a truck in your driveway.

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By on February 6, 2019

New truck season is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year. However, it must be recognized that not every gearhead feels the need to be on the bleeding edge of product development, choosing instead to hoover up deals on last year’s rigs. With the Detroit Three busy bludgeoning each other in the pickup truck game, there are bargains for the taking on their outgoing models.

Case in point? This burly Ram 2500 Tradesman, priced just $300 more than a Ranger XLT 4×4.

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By on January 30, 2019

2019 Dodge Durango SXT

America. It’s generally thought of as the country where everything is bigger and customers get a lot more for a lot less. Take the price of fuel, for example, or the portions at any all-you-can-eat buffet.

Viewed in that light, this base model Durango should have an American flag on the hood and pictures of bald eagles stitched into the seats. This is a lot of truck for less than $30,000.

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By on January 23, 2019

2019 Ford Ranger

Last summer, fans of mid-sized pickup trucks got a quick look behind the virtual curtain when the build-and-price tool for the new Ford Ranger leaked to the internet like a screen door on a submarine. Spox at the Blue Oval rapidly shouted #FakeNews, but the base price of $24,300 proved accurate.

At the time, we did an Ace of Base using the quickly-hauled-down pricing tool. Six months on, has anything changed? Are our readers still interested in a base Ranger priced $3,000 north of a base Colorado? Did NFL referees blow that call this weekend?

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By on January 16, 2019

Gearheads are never satisfied, are we? After years of carping that no affordable and fun sports cars exist, Toyota deigns to grant our wishes with the FR-S 86 coupe. Lightweight and affordable with just enough power, the lively little scamp seemed to be the magic elixir that cures a case of the common car.

And what did we do? Criticize it, naturally. And then most of us refused to buy it. I sincerely hope the new Supra doesn’t suffer the same fate because – as a statement of intent – these cars are a couple of belters.

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