Personal Best: Beating The EPA Estimates In A 2015 Toyota Prius

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Toyota Prius
The 2015 Toyota Prius. 
All my previous encounters with the Toyota Prius (and there must have been more than a dozen in the seven years TireKicker has been in existence, plus another dozen in the years I was reviewing cars elsewhere) have been in what is presumed to be its natural habitat, city streets and freeways. And on its intended mission, it has excelled.  When some customers were complaining that they couldn't reach the EPA combined fuel economy estimate of 50 miles per gallon three years ago, I was getting 50.2.

Having never used it as one, I never thought of it as a highway car.

More Mini, But Not Maxi: The 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 door
The 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door.
Four wheels and fun is a tough combination to beat.  What happens when you add four doors to that equation?  That's been a difficult issue for Mini, which added larger models (Clubman, Countryman) that haven't exactly burned up the sales charts and have even (or maybe especially) the faithful deriding them as big and ugly.  So for 2015, Mini tries a smaller big...stretching the Mini from two-doors to four without trying to make it a wagon, crossover or whatever.

Math Problem: The 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum

2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum front 3/4 view
2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum.
The saying goes that it takes money to make money.  In some cases, it also takes money to save money.  And perhaps the best illustration of that is the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum.


What I Drove On My Spring Vacation: The 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

Front 3/4 view of the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring
The 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.
Regular TireKicker readers know we love roadtrips.  Anytime I can get behind the wheel with Navigator sitting to my right is a good time. The grandaddy of them all (so far) was last summer's eight-day, 1,800 mile camping trip through Nevada and Utah. Our just-concluded Spring Break trip is a close second...five days and 1,100 miles.  We had the one-size-larger Kia Sorento for the summer trip, which was only two people, but included a tent, firewood and food and supplies for the entire eight days.

This time, it was four people, three of them female (Navigator and her two daughters). We'd be sleeping on the sofa and in sleeping bags at a friend's apartment in Santa Monica, so we could skip the tent and the firewood, but there's still five days of clothing for four people, sleeping bags, pillows, an air mattress and road food for a 20-year-old and a 15-year-old, which is a lot more boxes and bags of profoundly unhealthy things than you can imagine...plus whatever would be picked up along the way and brought back to Folsom.

Not-Quite-Identical Cousin: The 2015 Lexus ES350

Side view of 2015 Lexus ES350
The 2015 Lexus ES350.
More than half a century ago, there was a weekly TV sitcom called "The Patty Duke Show".  Patty Duke, then in her teens, played identical cousins, one American and one British.  As the theme song went, "they laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike".  Casting was a breeze, since both roles were played by the same actress.

Which, hot on the heels of our review of the 2015 Toyota Avalon Limited, brings us to its not-quite identical cousin, the 2015 Lexus ES350.