Archive for the ‘Test Drives’ Category

First Drive: 2013 Lexus GS

December 15th, 2011 No comments

Lexus Caters Less to the Realtors and More to the Racers

     Over the course of the last decade Lexus seems to have become the official conveyance of realtors across the country. Realtors seeking an isolated, quiet, plush yet inoffensive cocoon to shuttle prospective clients to and fro have adopted the Lexus lineup as their transport of choice. Until recently the company seemed content with the reputation they’ve earned as a builder of reliable but staid luxury vehicles. But now executives are convinced that to grow the brand and attract some interest from Audi, Mercedes and BMW drivers they’ll have to add some sport to their currently soft sedans and after a day spent throwing the new 2013 GS lineup around the infield road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we can confidently report that they’ve done just that. Read more…

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First Drive: 2012 Honda CR-V

November 16th, 2011 No comments

The “Perfect Size” Crossover Wants Its Sales Crown Back

     Of all the vehicles in need of a redesign Honda’s CR-V isn’t one of them. The current generation of the entry-level crossover went on sale as a 2007 model and won the sales crown for its class every year through 2010, averaging about 200,000 sales per year. The streak would most likely be in place this year had Mother Nature not put on a shocking show of force first with the earthquake in Japan and then devastating floods in Thailand. Honda says it has lost more than 200,000 units of production for the U.S., including significant shortages of the ever-popular CR-V, which spelled an end to the little crossover’s sales reign. But despite the vehicle’s continued popularity anyone who knows Honda knows they plan five year lifecycles for their vehicles, which means we should see an all-new CR-V for 2012. And despite the aforementioned significant supplier and R&D interruptions, come December 15th, we will. After a day spent with the Honda team learning everything there is to know about the new CR-V one thing is clear: they want their sales crown back. Read more…

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First Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry

August 23rd, 2011 No comments

Giving Camry Fans More of What They Want     

     We can’t understate the importance of the new seventh generation Camry. Since debuting in 1983 Toyota has sold 15 million around the world and moved enough in this country to claim the car sales crown for 13 of the last 14 years. So when it comes time to redesign the goose that lays the golden eggs you can bet Toyota does their homework. What they always discover is that Camry fans want more of the same, only better. They want roomier, quieter, safer, smarter and more efficient and that’s exactly what Toyota has given them with the 2012 Camry. Read more…

2012 Acura TL

August 7th, 2011 No comments

      The good news about the new Acura TL is that it’s a nicer version of the Honda Accord. The bad news? It’s a nicer version of the Honda Accord. That’s the contradiction of the TL, which has been refreshed — and made a lot prettier — for the 2012 model year. It takes a fantastic, fun, ultra-reliable Accord and spiffs it up for the luxury market, packing it full of cool gadgets and adding sound-deadening materials to make it quiet on the highway. Read more…

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First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius v

June 22nd, 2011 No comments

2012 Toyota Prius v

Meet the Newest Member of the Prius Family

      I met the newest member of the Prius family today. And I did so a mere five miles from where I welcomed a little bundle of joy to my family 15 months ago in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Fitting, then, that this should be the family-oriented relative of the Green Movement’s poster child. Fortunately for me, the v was all cleaned up and ready to drive without a dirty diaper in sight. Read more…

2011 Acura RDX

May 11th, 2011 No comments

      When the Acura RDX was introduced in 2006, it was designed to be one of the sportiest luxury crossovers on the market — a smaller, more affordable version of the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5. Today, though, the market is flooded with crossovers that claim to be sporty, many of which are exceptionally good cars. Even brands like Mazda and Hyundai are becoming better competition for entry-level luxury brands like Acura. Read more…

2011 Dodge Grand Caravan

May 11th, 2011 No comments

      Let’s get one thing out of the way. If you want the best minivan for sale today, you want a Honda Odyssey. But what if you’re looking for the best value? That’s where things get complicated, and Dodge has made the decision more difficult with an improved Grand Caravan for 2011. Read more…

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

May 11th, 2011 No comments

      People all over the world get to buy juicy, delicious cars that we Americans aren’t allowed to sample. Sometimes that’s because other countries’ regulations will allow cars that don’t meet America’s standards for safety and eco-cleanliness. But more often than not it’s because an automotive overlord smartly decides that Americans probably wouldn’t buy many of them. Read more…

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2011 Honda Odyssey

January 22nd, 2011 No comments

2011 Honda Odyssey

     If you want to understand the Honda Odyssey, you need to look at the ’96 Chicago Bulls.
     Why the sports reference? Because that’s the year Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman played on the same team, making the ’96 Bulls one of the most dominant teams in the history of sports. They won 72 out of 82 games and made the NBA championship look easy. No other team has dominated like the ’96 Bulls, and no other minivan has dominated like the Odyssey. Read more…

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2011 Lexus CT200h

December 9th, 2010 No comments

Finally, A Hybrid That Handles

     Like John Cleese in a Monty Python production, when it comes to the Lexus CT200h we feel like announcing “and now for something completely different”. That’s because this new entry-level Lexus offers the same hybrid benefits that we’ve seen in one form or another for the past decade, but doesn’t sacrifice driving pleasure on the altar of ultimate frugality. And no, we’re not counting the poor-excuse-for-a-hybrid Honda CR-Z and its piddling mid-30s fuel economy rating. Yes, we too were skeptical when phrases like “fun to drive hybrid” and “a hybrid with attitude” were being dropped by sales executives at the vehicle’s press introduction. But after a day spent driving around Palm Beach, Florida, we found ourselves uttering similar summaries of Lexus’s fifth hybrid. And we didn’t see that coming. Read more…