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Video Review: 2015 Audi A3

August 12th, 2015 No comments

Because the A4 has Grown Up

Automakers, especially the luxury marques, are downsizing in a big way. Their once compact “entry”-level sedans have all grown up. And now they are introducing a new breed of “compacts” to fill the voids. As we’ve discussed before, this sort of activity can sometimes dilute a brand’s pedigree. Nevertheless, these compacts have proven themselves to be lucrative assets time and again. Enter the A3, Audi’s response to the A4 ballooning in all directions. This latest generation loses the hatchback (unless you wait for the plug-in hybrid variant of course) body in favor of America’s more traditional preference: the sedan. Compare the A3 to the A4 of ten years ago and you’ll find a car that fills the vacancy within a mere 100 lbs and with similar size and equipment. Even the engines are familiar; the base engine being a 1.8T and the upgraded 2.0T standing in for the old A4’s V6 with matching horsepower and more torque. Watch and tell us if you agree. Read more…

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Video Review: 2015 Audi S5

June 5th, 2015 No comments

The Audi S5 has been a success since debuting way back in 2007, and Audi has done nothing but polish the edges each year since, so it’s no surprise that any contender in the large Sports Coupe segment will have to dethrone the S5 first. Considering the design is holding up so well even eight years on, we’re not sure anybody can beat the slinky two-door on looks. Read more…

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Video Review: 2015 Kia Sedona SX Limited

May 16th, 2015 No comments

Minivans do not garner much favor around the Automotive Trends garage. We will agree that they serve a very practical purpose shuttling around that which is most important to us: our families. But the fact of the matter is the minivan was the first vehicle to supplant and displace our dearly beloved station wagons. And that is a sin to which there is just no atonement for. Read more…

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Video Review: 2015 Volkswagen GTI S Performance Pack

April 12th, 2015 No comments

The GTI has been rewarding drivers with a hard-to-beat combination of performance and practicality since day one and we are thrilled to report that the new seventh-generation polishes the package to near perfection. The turbo four now makes 258 lb-ft of torque starting at just 1,500 rpm so the car provides a smooth and refined punch away from every stop. Add in the Performance Pack hardware like a trick electronically controlled differential and larger brakes and the GTI is a very willing dance partner when the back road traffic disappears. The interior has been bumped up a level to shame anything else in the sub-$30k class and you can still order your hot hatch with a true clutch pedal six-speed manual. Volkswagen truly has the GTI formula figured out. We’re hoping they never change it.

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2015 NAIAS: 2016 Cadillac CTS-V

January 13th, 2015 No comments

 

It’s been several weeks since Cadillac released official photos of the CTS-V, and we’ve had high expectations for the latest member of the V-series family since we drove the 2014 CTS Vsport. That car was so comprehensively good that we wondered just what Cadillac had up it sleeve (or shall we say under its hood?) for the full fledged performance version of its rear wheel drive performance sedan. While the Vsport churns out 420 hp from its twin turbo V6, the CTS-V blasts its way into the passing lane with 640 horsepower and 630 lb.-ft. of torque produced by its 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Cadillac was quick to point out that the CTS-V has more power and torque than the Mercedes-Benz 5.5-liter biturbo V8 and the BMW M-series 4.4-liter TwinPower V-8. Cadillac no longer offers a manual transmission on the CTS-V since Cadillac hopes to pick up the row-your-own gear types with the smaller ATS-V. Stomp on the gas pedal and let the transmission shift through all eight speeds and you will eventually arrive at 200 mph. For the more daily occurrence 0-60 is achieved in a scant 3.7 seconds. Anyone who thinks that Cadillac only builds cars for folks who drive 55 mph in the left lane with the blinker on had better rethink their stereotypes.

Video Review: 2014 Mazda3 s Grand Touring Hatchback

January 11th, 2015 No comments

You might be getting tired of reading about the Mazda3’s greatness on these pages, but we’ll never tire of proclaiming it so long as Mazda keeps pushing it to the head of the class. This week’s example is the fully loaded hatchback version with the gutsy 2.5-liter I4. With sweet steering feel, handling that chews up any corner and responsive brakes there really isn’t much left for us to ask Mazda for. That’s especially true now because for 2015 Mazda has listened to the vocal enthusiasts among us who want to do their own shifting with the more powerful 2.5-liter and made the stick the standard transmission with both engines. Better rest up because it sounds like you might be hearing some more about our favorite small car once we get our hands on one of those.

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Video Review: 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum

January 11th, 2015 No comments

Toyota wants to move the latest Highlander onto more buyers’ radar and they’re doing that by toughening up the style to attract more men and refining the family friendly features to keep it’s female fan base from straying to the competition. We like what they’ve done inside with smart designs like the massive center console, useful full-width dash shelf and teen-friendly second row captain’s chairs. Toyota has given us less to get excited about under the skin with carryover engine and a 6-speed automatic that doesn’t push any envelopes. Do we recommend the total package or suggest a pass? Our latest video review has that answer.

Video Review: 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Sport Wagon

January 11th, 2015 No comments

We’re a weird bunch. For many reasons probably, but primarily because the AT staff is part of that slim subgroup of auto enthusiasts who believe the only way to improve on a BMW 3-Series is to extend the roofline and add a liftgate. In other words, we would spec our 3 as a Sport Wagon. So you can imagine how happy we were to have a week with the latest Sport Wagon after first fearing that BMW may stop importing the cargo-friendly version when the latest generation debuted. Yes, we would like the option of a 6-speed manual and rear wheel drive in place of the all-weather capable xDrive setup that BMW wrongly assumes everyone wants, but there’s still plenty to love here as you’ll see in our latest video review.

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Video Review: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line

December 18th, 2014 No comments

 

Back in the 1960’s, the Beetle was a car at the bottom of the automotive food chain.  If one wanted a cheap and reliable car the Beetle was an obvious choice.  Problem was, the Beetle offered very few comfort and convenience features.  VW replaced the Beetle with the highly successful Golf (known for a time as the Rabbit in the States).  When the New Beetle hit the roads in the late 1990’s it was fully modern in features and retro in style.  Problem was, it wasn’t the most manly of cars.  VW decided to replace the New Beetle with a more macho car, one that had finally grown up.  Indeed, this car is far more civilized and comfortable than any of its forbearers.  The question remains, has it improved enough in the last decade and a half to remain relevant? Read more…

Video Review: 2014 Hyundai Equus

December 18th, 2014 No comments

 

It is hard to believe that it has been 30 model years since Hyundai introduced the lowly Excel to the United States.  Priced at $4995 it pretty much was undercut in price (and quality) by only the Yugo GV.  The Excel has long left the market and Hyundai has slowly and surely been moving the top end of its brand upmarket.  Rather than introduce a separate marque to sell premium cars Hyundai has simply added the range topping Equus.  The ‘base’ Equus we piloted starts at $61,250.  For that type of money one could purchase a whole fleet of Excels if one were skilled enough to find any unlikely survivors.  And yet at just over sixty grand the Equus undercuts similarly spec’ed flagships like the 7-Series and A8.  This pricing strategy mirrors that of Lexus in its inaugural 1989 model year.  Has Hyundai truly refined its skills to offer a legitimate luxury cruiser capable of threatening the established BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus offerings?  Will the well-to-do be willing to shop for their Equus in the same showroom as those who are negotiating for low monthly payments on an Elantra?  Watch as we ponder these questions in the video above. Read more…

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