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Car Reviews

  • Review: Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is convenient crossover, capable crawler

    Review: Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is convenient crossover, capable crawler

    I had a friend who drove a soft-top Jeep Wrangler TJ all across the country all through our itinerant 20s. Loud, unruly, inefficient and mindlessly fun, it was a perfect symbol for the wayward post-college years. A decade or three removed, I thought of that Wrangler while driving the Jeep Renegade,...

  • Rolls-Royce Dawn delivers everything in $400,000 convertible

    Rolls-Royce Dawn delivers everything in $400,000 convertible

    The Rolls-Royce Dawn has four wheels, two doors, orange seats and a steering wheel. So why does it cost more than most houses? At a starting price of $340,000 that effortlessly rises to the $400,000 that our pre-production test model cost, drivers — and passengers — of the handmade Dawn are paying...

  • Elio, the 84-mpg three-wheeler, makes Chicagoland pit stop

    Elio, the 84-mpg three-wheeler, makes Chicagoland pit stop

    The Elio three-wheeler is getting a taste of the hype elicited by the Tesla Model 3. People have been waiting nearly two years to get a glimpse of the three-wheeled two-seater with a gas engine that gets an estimated 84 mpg on the highway. And at a pre-production price of about $6,800, you can...

  • 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid is most fuel-efficient AWD compact crossover

    2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid is most fuel-efficient AWD compact crossover

    There are two trends that show no signs of slowing: Gas prices will continue to rise and Americans will continue to buy crossovers. Toyota is hoping that Americans will start to buy hybrids again. The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is a first for the trailblazing compact crossover launched in 1996. Toyota's...

  • Infiniti's largest species is a luxury beast

    Infiniti's largest species is a luxury beast

    Some objects are larger than they appear: Pro basketball players, locomotives, the Grand Canyon. Add the Infiniti QX80 to the larger than life list. So large it didn't fit in a 2.5-car garage; so large my 9-year-old said to paint it green and put a gun on top; so large the passengers needed grunts,...

  • Volvo XC90 plug-in SUV foretells smarter, cleaner automotive future

    Volvo XC90 plug-in SUV foretells smarter, cleaner automotive future

    Most new-car debuts are a whole lot of hype wrapped around four wheels and some steel. The 2016 Volvo XC90 is not one of those. The redesigned three-row SUV with a plug signifies a comeback for Volvo and a future of cleaner, smarter, safer cars. The turbo and supercharged twin engine has a battery...

  • Porsche goes turbo with new 911 Carerra

    Porsche goes turbo with new 911 Carerra

    Porsche has been making 911s since 1963. So a new one is no big deal. And outwardly the 2017 is just last year's model with a new paint job. But inwardly this is a dramatically different machine. The 911 has gone turbo. For this 911 Carrera 4S, the German car company has replaced the traditional...

  • 2016 BMW X1 feels more like a crossover, less like a compromise

    2016 BMW X1 feels more like a crossover, less like a compromise

    "Is that the new BMW X5?" asked my neighbor. When I tell him it is actually the X1, two sizes smaller, he looks perplexed. "It has grown up!" Exactly. It has grown up — casting a wider shadow from a body that's noticeably more sophisticated. It's pretty nice inside too. But is it a real BMW — a...

  • 2016 Audi TT is a cute coupe with more style than power

    2016 Audi TT is a cute coupe with more style than power

    The third-generation Audi TT is ... cute. It's a coupe that doesn't have the performance chops to compete with the thoroughbreds of the class, but has enough style to stand out from the herd. The TT coupe has four seats, unlike the two-seat Roadster, but those rear seats are best used for a four-legged...

  • 2017 Hyundai Elantra packs more tech than the compact competition

    2017 Hyundai Elantra packs more tech than the compact competition

    The Hyundai Elantra compact has been known for doing more with less on the dollar. The outgoing model won North American Car of the Year in 2012, arguably the industry's most independent and esteemed new-car honor, for being more luxurious, more fuel efficient and more versatile and roomier than...

  • 2016 Volkswagen Passat fails to stand out in shrinking midsize sedan segment

    2016 Volkswagen Passat fails to stand out in shrinking midsize sedan segment

    Volkswagen has a problem. It doesn't begin or end with the refreshed Passat, but the middling midsize provides a convenient case study. First, to address the dirty elephant in the room, there is no diesel for the 2016 model due to the ongoing unresolved 7-month-old scandal where VW used a software...

  • 2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid charges ahead of competition

    2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid charges ahead of competition

    You like trees. You like cars. With the Chevrolet Volt, those preferences don't have to be at odds. The second generation of General Motors' plug-in hybrid improves on range, efficiency, tech and styling. Despite being 3 inches longer, it doesn't look much different than the previous model except...

  • 2016 Jaguar XF luxury sedan delivers sporty elegance

    2016 Jaguar XF luxury sedan delivers sporty elegance

    Jaguar is evolving. Its future was uncertain as recently as 2008, when Ford dumped it and Land Rover at the onset of the global recession. The classic British brand has been rejuvenated under Tata Motors, India's largest automaker. For model year 2017, Jaguar is expanding its three-car lineup to...

  • Ford losing Focus on competition: Hatchback due for a redesign

    Ford losing Focus on competition: Hatchback due for a redesign

    If the Ford Focus compact could talk, it would be the Jan Brady of the Ford bunch, complaining about all the attention and preference given to its big sister: crossover, crossover, crossover. Though the Focus compact is one of the best-selling nameplates in the world behind the Toyota Corolla,...

  • 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country is AWD antidote to the crossover craze

    2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country is AWD antidote to the crossover craze

    Back in the day, Volvo built wagons shaped like a brick but powered by turbo. It seems appropriate that the automaker fortifies its heritage with a jacked up turbo wagon that seems sculpted for the wind as much for the road. Channeling the larger XC70, the midsize V60 Cross Country wagon flaunts...

  • 2016 Honda Civic shapes up with leaner, longer, sportier ride

    2016 Honda Civic shapes up with leaner, longer, sportier ride

    If you don't know what car your roommate owns, chances are it is a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The two best-selling compact sedans in the U.S. are reliable, fuel-efficient values that don't stand out much from the large-but-shrinking compact segment. But Honda wants its redesigned 2016 Civic...

  • 2016 Nissan Maxima straddles sedan side of sport, sophistication

    2016 Nissan Maxima straddles sedan side of sport, sophistication

    The redesigned Nissan Maxima is like a new shoe. It looks sharp but feels better, and the more you wear it, the better it feels. The Maxima is footwear that is both athletic and sophisticated, functional and stylish. You can schlep the kids in it, take it out for anniversary date night on the town,...

  • Honda lurches ahead with pesky 9-speed transmission

    Honda lurches ahead with pesky 9-speed transmission

    Nine-speed transmissions are here to stay. They're being touted as a fuel-efficient selling point in vehicles such as the 2016 Honda Pilot, in top-of-the-line Touring and Elite trim levels. But these transmissions are also something that might take some getting used to. One aspect of these "teething"...

  • Mitsubishi fades to near-black with 2016 Outlander GT 3-row crossover

    Mitsubishi fades to near-black with 2016 Outlander GT 3-row crossover

    As Mitsubishi retreats from U.S. shores, cresting at 2 percent market share in 2002 before dipping to less than one-half of 1 percent since 2009, it has cast the redesigned Outlander crossover to hook budget-minded buyers looking for good warranties and better fuel economy. But those traits don't...

  • 2016 Toyota Prius improves on style, handling and fuel economy

    2016 Toyota Prius improves on style, handling and fuel economy

    The Toyota Prius is easy to mock. It's shaped like a clog, has an eye-crossing split window hatch, is as fun to drive as a hot dog cart and it is the vehicle of choice for Chicago cabbies, who are unequivocally the worst drivers on the road. The main reason the Prius gets mocked, however, is because...

  • Kia's premium trim not worth premium price in $36,000 Optima

    Kia's premium trim not worth premium price in $36,000 Optima

    Kia has come a long way in the U.S. since its budget car days of the mid-'90s. The South Korean automaker is now known for value-loaded vehicles that offer exceptional warranties and enough style to never feel budget-focused. The Optima midsize sedan epitomizes these traits. The redesigned 2016...

  • Lexus hybrid sedan fails to deliver on luxury promise

    Lexus hybrid sedan fails to deliver on luxury promise

    Some words just sound right. To say "smile" turns up the corners of the lips into the very thing it defines; to say "love" is to open up, then embrace that which was once parted. The perfect word transcends the object it defines into something more. "Lexus" is one of those words. The subtle flow...

  • 2016 Ram Rebel yells for off-road adventure

    2016 Ram Rebel yells for off-road adventure

    The 2016 Ram Rebel is a big-wheeled backwoods pickup that combines Ram's heritage of building Army command vehicles with luxury pickups that double as an office. Rebel's styling channels the heavy-duty, off-roading Ram Power Wagon and the '70s-era Lil' Red Truck without the twin exhaust stacks....

  • 2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport cuts distinctive line in crossover class

    2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport cuts distinctive line in crossover class

    The Lexus RX did to premium midsize crossovers what the Toyota Camry did to mainstream midsize sedans. In defining the segment, the RX inevitably succumbed to the compromises of having widespread appeal. The inside was exceptionally quiet, but the handling was numb; the inside was roomy, but the...

  • 2016 Volvo S60 Inscription is driven by safety

    2016 Volvo S60 Inscription is driven by safety

    Traffic-safety advocates have long regarded Volvo as the gold standard of driver and passenger safety in automobiles. The reason can be found in the company's guiding mantra: "Cars are driven by people." That being the case, the corporate thinking goes, it is best to make people as safe as possible...

  • 2015 Maserati Ghibli S Q4 pushes Italian prestige at a price

    The Maserati Ghibli is a midsize sports sedan with a Ferrari engine, a Chrysler infotainment system and Maserati trident badging everywhere. The Ghibli ("gib-lee") represents the growing pains of the 21st century global hodgepodge automaker. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, led by fellow Italian Sergio...

  • Martin, Aston Martin: DB9 GT driver is not shaken, not stirred

    The Aston Martin DB9 GT — like the international man of mystery who gave the English car company its fame — is a smooth operator. Silky and sleek, neither shaken nor stirred, James Bond’s favorite car has the power to make any driver want to slip on a tuxedo and strap on a Walther PPK. Outfitted...

  • Ford strikes platinum with 2016 Explorer SUV

    The best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson's "Thriller," has been certified platinum 29 times. The platinum credit card by American Express has no spending limits and qualifiers can get more cash simply by asking. In popular culture, platinum is better than gold, more exclusive, more luxurious,...

  • 2016 Scion iM compact hatch suits youthful, maturing brand

    Scion may be going through a midmake crisis. Launched in 2002, Toyota's quirky, youthful brand cut its product line in half this year by eliminating the iQ microcar, the iconic xB toaster and the xD subcompact hatch. Remaining was the tC coupe and the FR-S sports coupe, a joint venture product...

  • BMW i8 plug-in hybrid falls short as a high-end performance car

    They called it a Batmobile. A transformer. A midlife crisis. Whatever you call it, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe with scissor doors was the most talked about car in the neighborhood. Kids pointed, adults scoffed and people took pictures of this futuristic-looking supercar out of central...

  • 2016 Jaguar F-Type R is a civilized brute of a sports car

    Jaguar has a complicated presence in the U.S., where its stately sedans never quite measured up to the German luxury brands due to reliability problems. Its recent past has further clouded Jaguar's place in the American market. The British heritage brand was once controlled by Ford then sold in...

  • 2015 BMW i3 plug-in car is an odd duck

    Odd. Odd is a word that depends on context for meaning. Odd choice? Questionable. Oddball? Outsider. Odd car? BMW i3. BMW made an odd choice with its oddball electric car. Nearly everyone who had anything to say about the odd-duck compact called it odd. Some used odd as in ugly dumb when comparing...

  • 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S stuns on the inside and out

    The most stunning car on auto show floors from the past season has been unleashed on the road this summer. The all-new 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S sports coupe's low slung design blends feminine and masculine elements, with gorgeous rounded curves and sleek sculpted lines. The balance continues behind...

  • 2016 Honda HR-V grows into Fit crossover

    Based on the success of its CR-V compact crossover, Honda has added a smaller companion to the lineup for 2016 called the HR-V. The subcompact crossover that's 10 inches shorter than the CR-V is part of a new breed of automobile that includes the Chevy Trax, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, Subaru Crosstrek...

  • 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata, less in every way but thrills

    The bestselling two-seater in history is back. Mazda, betting that the economy has recovered and Americans are ready to buy cars just for the fun of it, has unveiled its new Miata. The popular drop top joins a growing list of small sports cars, signaling a post-crash resurgence of interest in vehicles...

  • 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 drives the flagship into super luxe stardom

    It's pronounced "MY-bock," but everyone who saw it called it incredible. The 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 is a stately land yacht with features such as six-way massaging seats and an optional Champagne cooler with silver-plated Champagne flutes, and it's powered by a 6.0-liter V-12 biturbo engine...

  • 2016 Fiat 500X grows into subcompact crossover space

    The new 2016 Fiat 500X has a perfectly reasonable name for a vehicle that sadly, however, has to bear the curse of a variety of silly model names — Pop, Easy, Lounge and Trekking. When someone asks, "What's that in your driveway?" and you answer "my Pop," it's like having to explain to someone...

  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI earns all the best-of-year love

    The 2015 Volkswagen Golf has had a banner year. It was Motor Trend's car of the year. It was the North American Car of the Year. It was at or near the top of every 10 best auto list of 2015. Over 40 years, it has become one of the few cars beloved by both enthusiasts and the more rational, sensible...

  • 2015 Nissan Murano a sparkle of style in midsize crossover monotony

    The Murano has always distinguished itself from more mainstream, boxy crossovers by leaning upmarket with sleeker styling and a classier interior. It came with an upwardly leaning price tag too. This is true for the redesigned third generation Murano, Nissan's midsize crossover that fits between...

  • 2015 Chevy SS shifts into modern muscle sedan

    I have a friend — we'll call him Bill because that's his name — who loves the full-size American sedan and laments the modern automotive diet of downsizing. An admitted throwback, he prefers bench seats, body roll, large trunks and the slip-'n'-slide rawness of rear-wheel drive. The Chevy SS was...

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