1.29.2015

The Surprise Inside The 2015 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Honda Civic EX-L
The 2015 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan.

Just days ago, I gave a positive review of the 2015 Honda Civic Si sedan, praising its 205 horsepower V-TECH engine and six-speed manual transmission. Seven months ago today, I wrote a review of the 148-horsepower 2014 Honda Civic EX-L sedan with a continuously variable transmission and said that, playing with my own money, I'd buy a new Corolla instead.

As I've said before, though, an awful lot of how you feel about a car has to do with where and under what conditions you drive it.  Last summer's '14 Civic EX-L was driven in and around town, to and from work...a 70/30 mix of urban freeways and city streets.  The '15 racked up a bunch of highway miles.  And showed a completely different side of its character.


1.27.2015

Gimme Five: The 2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring

Front view of 2015 Mazda 3 5-Door Grand Touring
The 2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.
The Mazda 3 four-door sedan has held a firm place on the TireKicker's Best Cars list in the right column of this page ever since this generation of Mazda's compact was introduced.  That changes today.  The one to have...is the five-door.


1.26.2015

Happy Trail: The 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium
The 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium.
Toyota's 4Runner is one of the few real truck-based SUVs left in its size and price class.  Most of the others, the Nissan Pathfinder among them, have become car-based crossovers.  In the face of this, Toyota has done something I find very admirable. It has embraced its inner and outer truck, and introduced a model that reminds us of the 4Runner's original mission from when it was introduced 30 years ago.


1.25.2015

CRaVe? No. Admire, Yes: The 2015 Honda CR-V Touring

Front view of 2015 Honda CR-V Touring
The 2015 Honda CR-V Touring.
Been a while since our last-go round in a Honda CR-V.  Nearly three years, in fact.  The basics haven't changed much...what was once called a "cute-ute" is now a pioneer in the hottest segment in all cardom, the small crossover/SUV.

The CR-V is still powered by a 2.4-liter, 185 horsepower four-cylinder engine (now with i-VTEC).  The transmission has changed from a five-speed automatic to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and because of that change, the EPA mileage figures have improved.  What was 22 mpg city is now 26 and what was 30 highway is now 33.

But the big news for 2015 is a new top-of-the-line trim level.


The 2015 Mazda 5, Reconsidered

2015 Mazda 5 front 3/4 view
2015 Mazda 5.
Three and a half years ago, I wrote a glowing review of the Mazda 5 minivan. As with most Mazdas, I wondered why it didn't sell as well as vehicles from Toyota, Nissan and Honda.  I now know the answer.