By on September 3, 2019

2019 Mazda Mazda3 front quarter

With Labor Day in the rearview, the grim prospect of winter now rears its ugly head. For many of you, it’s no big deal. It might rain. You’ll have to put on a light jacket before leaving the house. For others, Mother Nature awaits with several gigatons of snow and ice.

Suddenly, that two-wheel drive vehicle that served your needs just fine throughout the summer is no longer king of the road. Sufficient, sure, but not ideal. Bringing all wheels online would improve your car’s winter prowess and boost driver confidence (possibly by too much of a degree), yet few passenger car makers think of adding it to models lacking boxy, cargo-happy bodies.

If AWD is something you covet, would its presence sway you away from a crossover and into a normal car? (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2019

Subaru has been on something of a tear lately, cashing in on the crossover craze and ringing up ledgers full of sales. In fact, as of July this year, the company can boast of 92 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. That month was also the second best in Subaru history, just 435 units off its best month ever, recorded in December of last year.

For 2020, the Exploding Galaxy has paid attention to its Legacy sedan, imbuing it with fresh styling and all manner of safety features. Despite these advances, this big car still bears a base price of just $22,745. And, yes, all-wheel drive is standard.

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

In The Current Year, new car lots are filled with family-friendly adventure vehicles. They’ve got lots of seats, lots of cladding, and some sort of system to drive all four wheels (even if it’s a lousy system like on the CR-V). But our Rare Ride comes from a time when family 4×4 options were much fewer in number. 1989 was a very different time for the adventuresome family buyer.

Enter Quigley, and the Chevrolet Beauville.

(Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

This variant of the Golf family inhabits a grey area in which it’s not quite a crossover but is also not quite a station wagon. VW will still happily sell you one of those, sans this model’s taller suspenders and black over-the-wheel trim. The Alltrack is kinda like a SportWagen that’s clomping around in dad’s big boots.

As always, we’re suckers for a good wagon. Let’s see what it has to offer in base S trim.

(Read More…)

By on April 29, 2019

Mercedes-AMG, the German luxury marque’s performance sub-brand, might eliminate all rear-drive vehicles from its lineup, AMG CEO Tobias Moers suggested during a recent interview.

The company’s boss claims buyers, who already favored putting their AMG’s additional power to all four wheels, are increasingly leaving rear-drive driving behind. The customer, of course, is always right, and in 2019 non-conformists are less likely than ever to get what they want.  (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

2018 Mazda 6 Signature front quarter

It seems the idea of a sport-utility sedan just doesn’t resonate, despite automakers’ best efforts. Oh well, at least there’s still the prospect of greater traction and somewhat improved fuel economy coming to Mazda’s slinky 6 sedan.

During this week’s New York reveal of the much-delayed CX-5 diesel, the automaker mentioned that the 2.2-liter oil burner would also find a home in the company’s midsize sedan. More interestingly, Mazda confirmed that all-wheel drive will become available.

Want to take a guess on which feature Mazda fans actually want? (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

It’s strange how, after an automaker goes to the trouble of building a car aimed at the perpetually cranky enthusiast crowd, you can sometimes forget the vehicle exists. That’s the case with the Kia Stinger. Introduced in 2017, the liftback sedan — offered in turbo four-cylinder and V6 guise, rear- or all-wheel drive — still eludes some minds when thinking of modern sport sedans.

Well, Kia doesn’t want you to forget. To sucker-punch consumers back into coherence, the Korean brand brought a new, limited edition variant of the Stinger to the New York Auto Show, and the changes are more than paint deep. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

 

2020 Toyota Highlander

While you were sleeping, Toyota rolled out the fourth generation of its three-row Highlander crossover. It is an all-wheel drive box powered by a V6 engine, packed with gadgets, and offering an optional hybrid powertrain. Given the tastes of car buyers in this segment, none of these things are surprising.

What is surprising is that this nameplate has been around for 20 model years. Perhaps it’s because your author has never been in the market for a rig like the Highlander, or that the model’s ubiquity has caused the thing to fade into the background like proverbial wallflowers. Whatever the case, Highlander is nearly old enough to order its own drinks, and it’s put on a new set of clothes for the occasion.

(Read More…)

By on April 10, 2019

It is arguable that the original Subaru Outback was one of the vehicles that blazed trails for the whole “rugged wagon” movement that eventually morphed into the crossovers we see flooding driveways across America. Those of you with long memories will recall that “Outback” was originally a trim on Legacy wagons, before making the jump to being a standalone model.

Fast-forward to the 2020 model year and we find Subaru in an enviable position: taking advantage of market trends and posting a gob-smacking 88 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. Next week, the company will drop a new Outback at the New York Auto Show.

(Read More…)

By on March 25, 2019

More voices are piping up, alerting minivan-loving North Americans to a future offering from Fiat Chrysler. With the segment shrinking in the face of overwhelming competition from spacious, pleasant-riding crossovers, the possibility of an all-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica is big news, and one Canadian union official claims it’s on the way.

In the minivan market, it looks like Toyota’s Sienna won’t stand alone as the only AWD offering for long. (Read More…)

By on March 25, 2019

Earlier this year, Mazda showed off its all-new 3 sedan in Los Angeles. The new compact’s intent is to impress a revised, upscale image on the brand. While the 3 delivered in quality, overall refinement, and driving enjoyment, it managed only middling marks with regard to power.

Now, Mazda has upped its game with a more stylish hatchback variant and the additional capability of an all-wheel drive system. But do style and substance mesh in the more expensive hatchback? We went back to California to find out.

(Read More…)

By on February 12, 2019

Subaru Ascent

Subaru landed on these shores with a raft of cars and totally-not-trucks (thanks, Chicken Tax) that were certainly capable when shown a rough road but were, in a word, quirky. Since then, the Pleiades brand has filtered out some of its weirdness in an attempt to capture more customers but – as we will learn – still marches to the beat of its own drummer … or at least to the beat of a flat-four.

What’s changed since our first drive of the Ascent eight and a half months ago? Anything? Did the big Subie acquit itself well during the Polar Vortex? Does our Associate Editor wear army boots?

(Read More…)

By on January 2, 2019

Despite what some other websites will tell you, it is indeed possible to waltz into a BMW dealership and drive away with a new 3-Series wagon for the 2019 model year … so long as you don’t mind it being the outgoing bodystyle.

Hey, last year’s fashions are sometimes the best deal, right?

(Read More…)

By on December 20, 2018

2019 Mazda CX-5

If a gearhead is asked for car shopping advice, there’s a pretty good chance one of their recommendations will be a Mazda. The little Hiroshima Highway Hawks generally land on the sporty side of the segments in which they compete, whether one is talking about compact cars or SUVs.

For ages, the CX-5 has been a stylish entrant in the compact crossover class and is Mazda’s best-selling vehicle in America. It is a car notable for not being imbued with “Handling by Novocain (TM)” like so many of its competitors. For 2019, the CX-5 gains an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four, meaning the CX-5 finally has a mouth to match its trousers.

And, oh yeah, the guy in charge captained one of the most prolific racing teams in the 24 Hours of Lemons.

(Read More…)

By on December 10, 2018

Jack Hollis, Toyota North America’s general manager, was quite forthcoming during a roundtable discussion at the L.A. Auto Show. After unveiling the brand’s upcoming all-wheel drive Toyota Prius and hybrid Corolla sedan, he speculated on what else might be coming down the product pipe.

We already know that Toyota wants to TRD-ify as many models as possible (the Camry and Avalon aren’t an end point, apparently), but AWD and hybrid power serve the purposes of practicality, not style. There’s more reason to desire a vehicle that sips gas or blasts through snowbanks with aplomb.

That’s why an AWD, hybrid Corolla isn’t off the table. Upon hearing this, this writer’s mind drifted to the new-for-2019 Corolla Hatch and a small crossover that, strangely, isn’t offered with AWD. What would a would-be C-HR buyer be giving up if Toyota went ahead and electrified the rear axle of the Corolla Hatch? (Read More…)

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