5.26.2017

30 Minutes With: The 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392
The 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392.
Publisher's note:  Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days.  Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series are cars that we spent half an hour behind the wheel of during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in Monterey, California.

Day one of Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade.  Once there, you swap cars with another journalist for the drive back, and then swap cars again once back at the Quail. Apart from an hour's lunch, this is your day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Each run is about half an hour, and driving 10 to 12 cars back-to-back-to-back gives you interesting points of reference about the next one.

My ninth car of the day was one of the most fearsome...the 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392.

5.25.2017

What A Bit Of Restraint Can Do: The 2017 Toyota Highlander SE

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Highlander SE
The 2017 Toyota Highlander SE.
It has been a little more than a year since our last review of a Toyota Highlander.  That one was a loaded Limited Platinum that nudged the as-tested price perilously close to the $50,000 mark.  For a vehicle that TireKicker has always been somewhat lukewarm about since its last redesign---and don't get us started on the dubious value proposition of the Highlander Hybrid---that was a bit much.

Some good news: Toyota has freshened the look of the 2017 Highlander.  The chrome strip behind the Toyota badge on the grille has been banished, and a body-color strip at what would be the bumper line has been moved up and thinned out.  That breaks up what had been a bottom-heavy and, to our eyes, awkward-looking grille.  It's a definite improvement.

5.24.2017

30 Minutes With: The 2017 Toyota Mirai

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Mirai
The 2017 Toyota Mirai.
Publisher's note:  Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days.  Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series are cars that we spent half an hour behind the wheel of during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in Monterey, California.

Day one of Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade.  Once there, you swap cars with another journalist for the drive back, and then swap cars again once back at the Quail. Apart from an hour's lunch, this is your day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Each run is about half an hour, and driving 10 to 12 cars back-to-back-to-back gives you interesting points of reference about the next one.

My eighth car of the day made up for some small amount of the hydrocarbons I'd been spewing in the first seven...the 2017 Toyota Mirai.

5.23.2017

Boyhood Dream Come True: The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor.
When I was a kid in the 1960s, the coolest thing on God's green earth to me was a late 40s-early 50s Dodge Power Wagon.  It was the ultimate expression of a pickup truck.  Go anywhere, do anything.  And growing up in the Eastern High Sierra from 1965 on, there were actually a few of them doing just that for this young man to admire.

Dodge has tried to recapture that magic on occasion (but not very hard) by applying the Power Wagon name to its trucks.  But the folks at Ford, they get it...and when it comes to a modern-day Power Wagon, they've got it.