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First Drive: 2016 Infiniti QX50

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One of the main reasons you wouldn’t have purchased an Infiniti QX50 (Formerly the EX35), was that the rear-seat legroom bordered on cruel and unusual punishment. Fix that issue and you might just wind up with something enjoyable for those of us who actually like driving their cars and crossovers.  Infiniti did just that with the refreshed 2016 QX50, so we trekked down to San Diego to see how it stacks up.

Under the hood sits a 325-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and it can send power out to the rear wheels or through an all-wheel-drive system, depending on which model you opt for. The performance is solid, the styling is lightly updated, and there is now room to sit in that second row.

Add in the value proposition for those shopping in the compact luxury crossover segment, and the QX50 might have just bought itself a few more useful years until it needs a full redesign.

[Disclaimer: Infiniti put us on a train and put us up in a San Diego hotel so we could sample the all-new QX50. I “sampled” some beers in the hotel later that night…]

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Miata: A quick drive

Right now, Mazda is touring the nation with their new Miata, letting the faithful from far and wide experience the fourth coming of everyones favorite roadster. I was lucky enough to get to tackle Austin Driveway (a local track with a few fun turns) in a 2016 MX-5 in Grand Touring trim and with the 6 speed manual. Here are my quick thoughts on the car, the experience, and whether it’s the savior of all things driving. … Continue Reading

First Drive: Rezvani Beast
Coachbuilding is back?

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You don’t hear about coachbuilt cars anymore. Back in the day, you used to pick a chassis or platform, and then you’d bring it to the company you’d want building the body for it. It still happens, but it’s quite rare and often quite expensive.

Ferris Rezvani wants to alter that a little bit. His latest creation is called the Beast and at $140-$150,000 it’s still expensive. Considering what you’re getting, however, maybe it’s a bit of a deal. It’s certainly a return to the day good ole days of coachbuilding passed…

… Continue Reading

First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Tucson

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We have to face the music… crossovers are not only here to stay, but they’re growing in numbers. The good news is that they’re also getting better every time a new one comes to market. Need more proof? Take a look at the all-new 2016 Hyundai Tucson.

We trekked to Minnesota to sample the latest from Hyundai, and we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. This crossover comes packing a new 1.6-liter turbo four cylinder engine, heated and ventilated front seats, a power rear liftgate, and all of the tech bits you’ve come to expect from a modern car.

Additionally, Hyundai teamed up with Magna to develop the all-wheel-drive system that’s available on the Tucson. This is the same company that makes the AWD unit for Porsche and its Cayenne. Don’t expect Porsche-levels of performance of course, but know you’re getting a system designed to do its job well.

It’s getting harder to choose a definitive winner in this segment, as every automaker offers one up and it’s usually quite good. You have to dig into the nitty-gritty of features, driving dynamics, and styling to find the one that appeals to you.

If you’re shopping for a crossover, you almost can’t make a wrong choice. Well, you could’ve picked a wagon, but those, sadly, are getting harder to find…

[Disclaimer: Hyundai flew me to Minnesota to sample the new Tucson. They put me up in a hotel room right on the U. of Minnesota Campus. I tried to use that campus gym (because it’s massive and lovely), but was asked if I had a student attending… do I look that old already? Dammit… don’t answer that.]

First Drive: 2016 Honda HR-V

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Believe it or not, the sub-compact crossover is pretty much a new class of vehicle here in the States. The luxury or premium versions hit the market first, and now the standard machines are ready to flood the streets… and flood the streets they will.

Which will be crowned king? Well, with our first taste of this segment being the 2016 Honda HR-V, we might have just met his majesty.

We love wagons, but we live in a crossover world… and this will surely be one of the best ones out there.

[Disclaimer: Honda wanted us to check out the new HR-V so they flew us to Miami. I tried a hand-rolled cigar after dinner, and yep… I still don’t love cigars. Also, they had a selfie contest during the trip and I won. You can think less of me now if you’d like.] 

First Drive: 2016 Acura ILX

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The entry-level luxury market is a hot spot right now in the industry. Strong competition amongst the offerings typically breeds great options for the consumer. You have plenty of ways to get in with an upscale automaker, so deciding on the best course of action is a good problem.

Acura has an updated answer to the problem with its 2016 ILX. This is the second go-around for the car, which launched a few years ago and was viewed as not more more than a slightly more fancy Honda Civic.

Acura knew it needed to bring more to the table, so let’s dive in and see if that’s the case here…

[Disclaimer: Acura flew me to Napa and let me toss the ILX around on the backroads around wine country. I’m still waiting on the day that we switch to beer and cicerones over wine and sommeliers.]

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

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Volkswagen is pretty much cooking up a Golf for everyone on the planet. You have the standard Golf, the diesel TDI, and an all-electric eGolf. Enthusiasts around the globe love the GTI. There’s also a wagon version coming soon called the Golf SportWagen.

This, however, is the one for… us. This is the Volkswagen Golf R, and it’s a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive hot hatch designed to make you a happier person. For just under $40k, you can pilot a nearly 300-horsepower five-door that also happens to have one of the (if not THE) best interior in its class.

Oh and Hans Stuck helped make sure the handling doesn’t suck.

Win-win? You best believe it…

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited me down to San Diego and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I took a train down to the location so I could drive a Golf R back and spend even more time with the car. Nice ride down… better ride back.]

First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano


Designers are an optimistic bunch. They are asked to create a vision that is then whittled down, distilled, and changed. What starts as a concept, moves to a drawing, then clay, and finally scale models before it is adjusted to fit the needs of marketing, engineering, and those sitting at the top of the automakers food chain. Occasionally, a designer gets to see his or her work stay a bit more true to an original concept, but that’s rare these days.

Today is a rare day, because this is the 2015 Nissan Murano and it is a mixture of everything Senior Designer Ken Lee envisioned when he set out to craft the brands latest flagship crossover. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate…

… Continue Reading

Dodge Charger Hellcat: Insanity Contained… Barely

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707 horsepower.

We’re not talking about some ultra-exotic hypercar made by hand in some shop in a country you’ve never been visited. This is a four-door, five-passenger sedan from Dodge.

This is the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat, and it might be the most insane vehicle on the planet simply for the fact that it exists at all. The folks at Dodge have created one giant middle finger to the world with this car, and they can raise a second middle finger when you pair the car with its Challenger sibling.

It’s wild, loud, powerful, aggressive, and it’s offering near super car acceleration for premium to luxury sedan pricing. The Hellcat also happens to be a car you could live with everyday… which just adds to the craziness.

[Disclaimer: Dodge flew me to Washington, D.C. and put me up in a hotel that had a clear view of the White House. This was a blatant attempt to instill extra patriotism into my bones. This wasn’t necessary as the Hellcat forces MURICA down your throat hole, and then transforms you into a red, white, and blue bald eagle that can only communicate by squawking out God Bless America.]

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen eGolf

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There’s officially a Volkswagen Golf for everyone. The standard Golf is a go-to choice in the compact hatchback market. Enthusiasts love the GTI, and diesel-drinking enthusiasts can’t wait for the GTD to get here (seriously… hurry your asses up on that one VW).

Now Volkswagen has a Golf for the ultra-green set. It’s the 2015 eGolf, and it’s the automaker’s first shot at a fully electric machine here in the United States.

What makes it special beyond its propulsion system? Nothing… and that’s why people will like it.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen flew me to Virginia and put me up in a hotel so that I could sample their 2015 lineup. I focused on the eGolf because it was the most time I’ve been allowed to spend with the electron-drinking VW.]


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