Minimalism Has Its Upside: The 2018 Kia Rio LX 5-Door

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Kia Rio LX 5-Door
The 2018 Kia Rio LX 5-Door.
It's been a while since we said it (for that matter, since we've been given the opportunity, with all the fully-loaded top-of-the-line vehicles that have landed in our driveway), but the real test of a car's goodness is to drive the base model.  With no panoramic sunroof or thousand-watt audio system to distract you, you can focus in on what the manufacturer got right and wrong, decide if the car is something you'd enjoy owning for the length of a loan and then make decisions about higher trim levels or option packages.

The Kia Rio 5-Door came to us in LX (base) version a few days ago, with only two options...an automatic transmission and carpeted floor mats. 

And we love it.


More MPG, Less Money: The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL S-AWC

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander.
Value for the dollar.  That's what the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander is all about.  As we've noted in previous reviews, when judged against the competition for features and freshness, the Outlander is fighting a losing battle.  This is a vehicle introduced five years ago that, because of Mitsubishi's financial straits at the time, was far from cutting edge then. 

But there are people in 2018 for whom a brand-new 2013 vehicle with a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty at a significant discount would be exactly the right thing...and the Outlander fills that role like no other.


The Next Step: The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid Limited

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid
The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid.
Last year, the big news from Hyundai was the introduction of its Prius-fighter Ioniq Hybrid.  Now, for 2018, there's a plug-in version---and we like it better than the original.


Vehicular Fitness: The 2018 Honda Fit Sport

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Fit Sport
The 2018 Honda Fit Sport.
When you want to offer a "sport" version of a car, but can't offer a more powerful engine, it's time for paint, trim pieces, black wheels and a six-speed manual.

That, in a nutshell, is the formula for the 2018 Honda Fit Sport.


More Motivation: The 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT
The 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT.
It was a few days into the week that I had the all-new 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT.  Mrs. TireKicker and I were walking back to the car in a parking lot, and about 50 paces away, I saw the entire car from the side for the first time.

"Damn", I said, "that is just gorgeous."   And Mrs. TireKicker agreed.

It is the second time in three months that Lexus has grabbed both of us by our sense of aesthetics.  Regular readers will recall our Thanksgiving week trip to Los Angeles in the 2018 Lexus LC 500h hybrid coupe...which we still want, $101,385 price tag be damned.   That review was entitled "Motivation", since I'd need (using my dad's formula of never buying a car that costs more than half your annual salary) to make $202,770 a year (minimum) to buy one.


A Step In The Right Direction: The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
Let's give credit where credit's due.  Toyota has done a great job with its mid-cycle refresh of the Highlander.  What had been a heavy, unflattering nose has been smoothed out, the interior is a nicer place to do the business of driving, and...in the case of the Hybrid, fuel economy has improved and the base price has been lowered.