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Archive for the ‘First Drive’ Category

First Drive: 2018 Lexus NX 300h

New version boasts an improved powertrain and expansive interior.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.15, 2018

The 2018 Lexus NX 300h features an updated powertrain that provides plenty of power right away without the hard shifts.

Lexus doesn’t have the long history of Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac or BMW but over the years it has succeeded in pushing innovation and change within the luxury segment, which for most of the auto industry’s history was built around expensive sedans.

However, as the prices of new vehicles have climbed and what was once considered luxury equipment winds up in more and more cars, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, brands such as Lexus are being forced to reconsider what defines luxury.

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The 2018 Lexus NX 300h certainly doesn’t look like a traditional luxury vehicle, inside or out. But it has plenty of the attributes long connected to luxury vehicles such as a quiet cabin, comfortable interior and a smooth ride powered by some of the latest and most sophisticated technology. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST Crew Cab

Laden with new tech, plenty of power and impressively quiet.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.09, 2018

GM is counting on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST to be competitive in the full-size pickup sales battle.

The auto industry is a global industry and highly competitive. But few segments of the business are anywhere near as competitive as the pickup truck market in U.S. where Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and their respective corporate managers are engaged in intense contest for sales and bragging rights.

The contest of has gotten even more intense lately as all three manufacturers have introduced new trucks.

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I recently got to drive the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – a four-wheel-drive RST Crew Cab Silverado to be precise – and it is far cry from the old trucks that have helped make the American pickup into something of a legend and the object of enormous affection and desire. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Mazda6 Signature

Company continues its pairing of sportiness and comfort in this sedan.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.06, 2018

Mazda is staying the midsize sedan game and its latest iteration of the Mazda6 is one of the better options.

Sedans have fallen out of favor with motorists in the United States sales tallies suggest. Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. indicate, with the exception of muscle cars, they are prepared to exit the segment, perhaps for good.

But the midsize sedan segment remains one of the largest in the business; accounting for sales of more than an estimated 1.5 million units and drawing interest from key manufacturers such Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Mazda, specifically with its Mazda6.

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Mazda has made a substantial effort to re-engineer its midsized sedan for 2018 and while its predecessor was awfully good, the 2018 Mazda6 with its retuned suspension, quieter cabin and revamped connectivity, has been made even better. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Honda Accord Hybrid

Plenty of power, polish make it a keeper.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.02, 2018

The 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid won the North American Car of the Year for this year.

Honda has taken its share of quality lumps lately, but its also shown it makes terrific cars such as the Civic and Accord, which was named North American Car of the Year back in January.

Now Honda has rolled out the hybrid version of the Accord and it is also just as impressive in its own ways the Accord that runs only on gasoline.

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But the 2019 Accord Hybrid’s blend of gasoline and electric motors make the car even more versatile particularly in urban driving where the EV mode and extra low-end torque from the combined powertrain give the Accord an added dimension that is both practical and pleasing to drive in heavy traffic.  (more…)

First Drive: Newer, More Affordable 2019 Acura ILX

In an age of SUVs, a sedan worth checking out.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.30, 2018

The 2019 Acura ILX A-Spec.

It was the first Japanese luxury brand but, in recent years, Acura has struggled to be more than dead last when it comes to potential buyers’ shopping lists.

That’s begun to change as Honda’s upscale brand has started rolling out some truly impressive updates to its line-up, including the 2019 Acura RDX considered one of the hot prospects for North American SUV of the Year. But the transformation doesn’t stop there, as Acura is demonstrating with the roll-out of its next-generation entry-level sedan.

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The 2019 Acura ILX not only gets a stylish remake and plenty of appealing safety, comfort and convenience technologies, it also boasts a surprising price cut, the base model coming in at just $26,895, including $995 in delivery fees. That’s a full $2,200 less than the outgoing ILX – and is actually the same price the luxury brand first asked for when the ILX was introduced in 2012. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Volvo V60

New midsize wagon offers luxury and comfort with Volvo safety.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.16, 2018

The new Volvo V60 offers stereotypical Volvo safety with plenty of performance and luxury.

Selling station wagons to American motorists has been an uphill battle, maybe even tougher than selling ice in Alaska given the pace of climate change.

But Volvo, which throughout the years has made its share of iconic station wagons, is launching a new one, the V60, into the teeth of the onslaught of utility vehicles that has nearly wiped out the entire segment.

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The second-generation Volvo V60 is an impressive vehicle that demands attention even in face of the tsunami of new SUVs that boosted motorists of all backgrounds into the command seating positions. The V60 is handsome, nicely balanced and very well-equipped with some of the latest technology and safety features, such as a new system that can mitigate the force of a head-on collision.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Volvo S60

Stylish, sporty and, of course, loaded with the latest safety features.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.15, 2018

The 2019 Volvo S60 R-Design features a 400-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we began to wonder if the Swedish auto industry was headed for Valhalla. After all, the long-troubled Saab brand collapsed during the global economic downturn at the beginning of the decade, despite several rescue attempts.

And, after struggling to turn things around at Volvo, Ford decided to sell that brand off to the Chinese. What seemed like a questionable move turned into salvation as Volvo’s new owner, Zhejiang Geely, decided to pump billions of dollars into the development of an all-new product design and a radical shift in direction on the powertrain front.

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With Geely’s support, in fact, few brands have done more to transform their image than Volvo. Long known for safe but boring wagons and sedans, the Swedish automaker now offers one of the freshest and sexiest line-ups in the near and mid-luxury market, and the all-new 2019 Volvo S60 is the latest, welcome addition to the model mix. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ford Edge ST

Automaker creates its fastest SUV ever.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.09, 2018

Ford is looking to pump some excitement into its midsize SUV with an ST performance package.

Ford Motor Co. has offered, sometimes with minimal fanfare, a wide variety of very impressive performance vehicles that have turned some relatively sedate vehicles into something else for enthusiastic fans in Europe, North America and China.

Now Ford is offering the first SUV from its performance team — the 2019 Ford Edge ST, which is powered by a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that has been calibrated to produce 335 horsepower and 380 foot-pounds of torque with the help of an all-new 8-speed transmission. Ford also says it is capable of going from zero to 60 in less than six seconds making it the quickest SUV ever put on the road by Ford.

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The 2019 Edge ST is also equipped with all-wheel drive disconnect. The technology, a first for Ford, uses information received from dozens of sensors and artificial intelligence to determine within milliseconds whether all-wheel drive is needed, and then seamlessly shift between FWD and AWD without the need for driver input to save fuel. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ford Edge

New model gets an exterior update and new safety tech.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.05, 2018

The 2019 Ford Edge looks to keep the automaker at the forefront of the sport-utility segment.

The Ford Motor Co. has long been at the forefront of transforming the United States into a nation of SUV drivers, going all the way back to the introduction of the Ford Explorer in 1990.

I suspect Ford is already preparing to party like it’s the 1990s by launching a 30th Anniversary version of Explorer in 2020. But it is also steadily upgrading the rest of its growing portfolio of SUVs and crossovers with the launch of the 2019 Ford Edge, which gets an impressive list of updates to driveline, suspension and safety equipment for the new model year.

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Sandwiched as it is between the popular Ford Escape and the Explorer, the two-row Edge sells reasonably well – roughly 140,000 units last year – and Ford is betting new features will make it standout more in a crowded corner of the new vehicle market. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Nissan Altima

One very good reason why the sedan isn’t ready to die.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Sep.28, 2018

For 2019, the new Nissan Altima will be offered in a heavily equipped First Edition trim.

The sedan is dead. Long live the sedan. Or so goes what currently passes for conventional wisdom, backed by the decision to slash the number of four-door models, indeed, eliminate them entirely at Ford Motor Co.

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But I have seen the future and it is not an entirely SUV and CUV-driven world. If the complete makeover that is the 2019 Nissan Altima is any indication, there’s a clear place for sedans for the foreseeable future. And among the many new features that would seem to make the Altima a natural alternative for Snowbelt buyers who might really want a more conventional set of wheels: Altima marks the first time Nissan is offering all-wheel-drive in one of its sedans. That is, in fact, a relatively rare feature among mainstream four-doors, and not available on segment leaders Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

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