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First Drive: 2017 Acura NSX

2017 Acura NSX.

The 2017 Acura NSX will disappoint a lot of people on the internet.

People will complain the NSX should be normally aspirated, complain the car is too heavy, too complicated, complain that Japan’s supercar should not be built in Ohio. People will (check the comments on other sites, they already are) complain the new NSX is not the old NSX. Acura knows this and does Acura does not care because the new NSX is not about the past. After all, the “N” in NSX stands for “New”.

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Review: 2016 Volkswagen Golf R

2016 vw golf r front side

About a year ago I drove a VW GTI. Based on everything I have read about it, I should have been in love. But there I was, on the twisty Merritt Parkway, in the middle of the night, feeling rather indifferent. I wanted to love it, but just kind of liked it. It’s was a great little hatch, but until this day I don’t know what I did not like about it. I guess this is what modern dating must be like; high expectations based on a biased written description and an eventual disappointment during the real-life encounter.

But now I have a date with the Golf R, a GTI on steroids, if you will, with more power and all-wheel-drive. The question is how much better, or different, can vehicle be with some extra power, a little chassis tuning, and two more driven wheels really be?

Quite a lot, actually…

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Putting the 2016 Nissan Titan XD to work

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I’d driven the truck when it first launched. The 2016 Nissan Titan XD was just fine and dandy on the smooth roads around Scottsdale, Arizona. It handled itself surprisingly well on the short off-road portion of the driving event, and brushed off the shorter towing portion with ease.

I wanted to find out a bit more about this new in-betweener truck. It’s packing a dash more heat than half-ton shoppers typically get yet doesn’t go full bore three-quarter ton. What’s it like to live with the truck and put it to work? So I did that… and used it to tow something for a long distance.

Oh I slept in it too, but that part wasn’t fun.

[Disclaimer: Nissan lent me a Titan XD at home for a week, and then again a few weeks later left one parked at SFO for me to borrow for our LeMons party. I said LEMONS party… with an S. Wait, that still doesn’t sound right.]

2016 Camaro 2.0 Liter Turbo: The Death Valley Review


Loosed across the desert floor as a stone loosed from the hand of God himself, skipping across the surface of the otherworldly terrain though we were bright yellow flat-edged stone. The Camaro quietly ZRINGs underneath my right foot as we gently accelerate toward the next gear. We may as well be on a paved Martian road for as desolate the horizon, not another living soul in sight. For the better part of an hour, things remain as such. The world seems stagnant and immobile, stopped, frozen, yet we move rapidly through it. Making haste so as to not be stuck out here in this stuck world. The scenery is beautiful, yes, but I’d rather not become part of it. Clutch-in, select 5th, clutch-out, hammer down.

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First Drive: 2017 Kia Sportage SX 2.0T

It’s been over twenty years since the first release of the Kia Sportage. Since the mid 90’s, automotive market segments have become quite skewed. Gone are the days of the family wagon and the cross country trips to Wally World. Without question, crossovers are the hot ticket of desire with the majority of manufacturers due to the demands of consumers, and profits being high on their priority lists. Because of this you cannot fault anybody for making crossovers because they simply cannot sell enough of them.

Kia invited me to test the newest version of the Sportage in my lovely Southern California hometown of San Diego, to see how it stacks up in this highly competitive and saturated market.

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Volkswagen Golf GTE: Your Electrified GTI

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Ready to sample some currently forbidden fruit? Today it arrives in the form of the Volkswagen Golf GTE. No, that’s not a typo. This is a GTI… plug-in hybrid, and it’s been available in Europe since 2014.

Pay attention to this car though, fans of the VW brand, as this could be the path to a non-diesel salvation for the brand.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen tossed us the keys to the Golf GTE for a few days, and included a full tank of gas in the car. We barely dipped into that fuel tank. Seriously, why aren’t they selling this here yet?]

First Ride: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

The ZL1 features a supercharged LT4 6.2L V-8 Small Block engine, with intake and exhaust systems tailored for Camaro. It is rated at an estimated 640 horsepower (477 kW) and 640 lb-ft of torque (868 Nm), backed by a standard six-speed manual transmission or all-new, available paddle-shift 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed automatic has 7.39 overall ratio for smaller steps between gears. It enables the LT4 engine to remain at optimal rpm levels during acceleration, particularly when exiting corners, for quicker laps and lightning-quick responses on both up- and down-shifts.

Last week Chevrolet invited us to the middle of the desert about an hour outside of Las Vegas to drive the new Camaro Convertible and try out the new four-cylinder turbo Camaro as well. The day we arrived, Chevrolet invited us to dinner. However, we were told to leave our cameras behind. That always means something interesting, but what could it be? We were shuttled to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch and at the front of the room was a clearly Camaro-shaped car under sheet. There was some speculation among those in attendance about what it would be. Is it a new Z28? A new ZL1? A Berlinetta perhaps? Something altogether new? After a brief discussion reminding us that Chevrolet’s performance division exists, the sheet was pulled back and the new ZL1 was unveiled. Within minutes, Chevy executives had us whipping around the track strapped into the passenger’s seat of pre-production swirly painted test mules with helmets and HANS. It’s a serious car, and it has the beans to back up its business. The supercharged rocketship of the Camaro lineup is back, and this time it can actually turn corners, too.

For a video of our on-track action, and more photos of the car, click the jump.

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Acura RLX Sport Hybrid: A Surprise Sleeper?

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There aren’t many sleepers produced right from the factory anymore. Everyone knows when you’re packing a solid amount of horsepower these days. We managed to find one though, and it’s arrived in the form of the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid.

It looks like a mild-mannered premium sedan on the outside. Under the skin, however, it’s packing a combined power output of 377 horsepower. Additionally, it’s making use of three electric motors to help send torque to exactly where it’s needed. It’s the first production use of an all-electric Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive-System, otherwise known as SH-AWD.

That’s damn near supercar tech… in a car that’s going under the radar for all the wrong reasons. Say hello to a true sleeper.

[Disclaimer: Acura tossed us the keys to the RLX Sport Hybrid and included a tank of gas. We proceeded to drive the car in a fairly un-hybrid like manner yet still saw nearly 30 miles per gallon being returned.]

The COBB Tuning Ecoboost Mustang: Future Proof

When I was a little boy growing up in Minnesota, my dad bought a cherry red 67 Fastback with white go fast stripes. I never got to ride in it much. It didn’t run often, but god damn it was pretty. And in my mind it was the most amazing machine on the face of the Earth. From the time it first showed up, to the day it left us after we moved to Texas, I was in love with that car.

Ever since it left, however, I have had trouble falling in love with any of the new mustangs that followed. The SN95 was ugly and half hearted. The S197 was better, but still felt lost about what it wanted to really be. When the latest generation finally arrived it stirred something inside me. It was more European, more daring, and more suited to a modern world. And when you introduce the Ecoboost version of the car to the lovely folks at COBB Tuning, it becomes something you can absolutely get excited about driving. … Continue Reading

Review: 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i

2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i front side

There was a time in my life when I considered myself a Bimmer guy, a Propeller-head, as some of them are called. I owned seven BMWs in total, new and used, from a base E36 318iS, to a wagon, to an M5, all in succession. Nowadays I still get excited whenever I get to drive a new BMW because, while the company has moved in a very different direction over the last decade, some of the old BMW magic remains in all of its cars.

When the new X1 arrived at my doorstep I knew nothing about it. I assumed it’s just a smaller X3, which is just a taller 3-series wagon. While once BMW made the same sausage in three different lengths, they now make the same hamburger in three different sizes. No biggie, people love buying CUVs, so BMW is giving them what they want. But, this BMW is unlike the others, and it become evident the moment I opened the hood.

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