1.31.2016

Another Step: The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0t

Side view of 2016 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0t
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0t.
Certain things in the car business are like clockwork.  It was a year ago this week that I wrote about the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0t, calling it "the car you'd have never bet they could build".


Addition Through Subtraction: The 2016 Lexus IS 200t

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Lexus IS 2006
The 2016 Lexus IS 200t.
Ours is a numbers-oriented society.  And the bigger the number, usually, the better.  It is certainly that way with car model numbers, with the number generally corresponding in some way to the size of the engine under the hood.

So why did Lexus make the IS 250 the IS 200t and how is that actually an improvement?


1.30.2016

2017 Jaguar XE and the Art of Performance Tour

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Yes, the gray-haired fellow in the sweater dispatching enemy spies through his deft work behind the wheel of the 2017 Jaguar XE is yours truly, Mike Hagerty, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TireKicker. So how did that happen?


1.23.2016

Six the Easy Way: The 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring with Automatic Transmission

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring
The 2016 Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring.
A year ago this week, I wrote a rave review of the 2016 Mazda 3 S Five Door Grand Touring.

It had a six-speed manual and I am one of the estimated seven percent of American drivers who know how to drive a stick.  Don't be impressed.  It used to be much, much higher.  But over the decades since I learned, the number of people who learned has dropped like a rock.  That affects sales, of course, and as of now, only 3.9% of cars sold in this country are sold with a manual transmission. Meaning most people buying a Mazda 3 S Five-Door Grand Touring will be buying it with an automatic.

The question is, is it as good?


The Most European American Sports Sedan?: The 2016 Buick Regal GS AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Buick Regal GS
The 2016 Buick Regal GS.
Some say if it weren't for China and it being a hot market for Buicks, the brand wouldn't have survived the bankruptcy reorganization that saw Pontiac and Hummer walk the plank.  If that's true, then thank goodness for China, because it allows us to have the most European American sports sedan I can think of, the 2016 Buick Regal GS.


Performance Up, Price Down: The 2016 Nissan Maxima SL


Front 3/4 view of 2016 Nissan Maxima
The 2016 Nissan Maxima.

We are having a sudden burst of cars at TireKicker that we have not driven in some time.  For our Publisher and Executive Editor, it had been seven years between drives in the Honda Pilot.  Now comes the Nissan Maxima, and it's been nearly as long---five years since Michael reviewed the 2011 model.

In the intervening five years, the Maxima has gone through some major changes.


1.17.2016

The Curve Flattens: The 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited

2016 Kia Optima SX Limited front 3/4 view
The 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited.
Here's the trouble with rapid advancement: When you start to level off a bit (as you absolutely will), people will think you're losing it.  Take the 2016 Kia Optima.  Redesigned this year, some say they can't tell the difference between it and the last generation.  Others say they can and that the car has lost its edge.


Sheep In Wolf's Clothing: The 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD

Front 7/8 view of 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus
The 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD.
The Dodge Journey is one of those vehicles that is unloved by automotive journalists but has found a niche because it is practical and affordable---a seven-seat compromise between a minivan and a crossover SUV for a base price of $20,995.  So what to make of the Journey Crossroad Plus AWD?


Same (Good) Car, New Low Price: The 2016 Toyota Corolla S

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Toyota Corolla S
The 2016 Toyota Corolla S.
A year and a half ago, our Publisher and Executive Editor wrote a review calling the then-new 2014 Toyota Corolla S "the first desirable Corolla in a generation".

Everything Michael said then stands now.  But there is a bonus.


1.16.2016

Escape Velocity: The 2016 Ford Escape Titanium AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Ford Escape Titanium
The 2016 Ford Escape Titanium
The small crossover SUV market is crowded and includes two of our favorites, the Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5. Of the two, we've always thought the Mazda was the fun-mobile...a factor of Mazda's attention to the details of handling and dynamics, since both cars have relatively the same power (184 for the Mazda, 185 for the Honda).

And then we drove the 2016 Ford Escape Titanium with the optional 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine.


What's New?: The 2016 Honda Fit EX-L with Navigation

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Honda Fit
The 2016 Honda Fit.
What's new with the 2016 Honda Fit? Apart from a $265 price increase, nothing.

And that's a good thing.



Full Lux Truck: The 2015 Ford F-150 4X4 Supercrew Platinum

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Ford F-150
The 2015 Ford F-150.
Year in, year out, there is one constant in the automotive business, and that is that the best-selling car is a truck.  Specifically, the Ford F-150.  They replaced the family sedan long ago, and now, people with the means to buy luxury cars are putting the money down on Ford pickups instead.


1.04.2016

Why Mess With Success?: The 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited 4X4 Double Cab

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited front view
The 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited.
How good, how dominant in its category, was the last-generation Toyota Tacoma?  The answer is that it sold, largely unchanged, in good numbers for a decade.  Now it's time for a new one and while there are several significant changes, Toyota is smart enough not to alter the basic recipe,.


1.03.2016

Changes: The 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite

2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite
The 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.
With nearly 300 different nameplates on the market, there's no way to drive them all in 52 weeks unless you're a major outlet with a large staff (Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track, Automobile). TireKicker aspires to that, but we're not there yet.  With two writers, one in Arizona and myself in Northern California, we manage to drive and review a shade over 100 vehicles each year.

If we're not in a certain car one year, we'll probably see it the next.  Worst case, the year after that.  So how is it possible that our last review of the Honda Pilot was seven years ago this week?   So much has changed since that review....most of all, the Honda Pilot itself.


1.02.2016

Latter-Day Legend: The 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
The 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid.
About two and a half years ago, I was pretty much the lone voice in the automotive journalism wilderness praising the Acura RLX. Despite its quantum leap improvement over its predecessor, the RL, my fellow tirekickers were largely unimpressed.  And so, tragically, were buyers.

I say "tragically" because I stand behind my review from 2014, and am prepared to go even further after my week in the 2016 RLX Sport Hybrid.


1.01.2016

The Sporting Camry: The 2016 Toyota Camry XSE

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Toyota Camry
The 2016 Toyota Camry XSE.
Eighteen years ago, James Schefter wrote a book called "All Corvettes Are Red".  For its eight-generation existence, the prevailing wisdom is that all Toyota Camrys are beige.  Neither is true, and the Camry XSE is Toyota's way of proving that.


Hitting The Sweet Spot: The 2016 Honda CR-V Touring

2016 Honda CR-V Touring front 3/4 view
The 2016 Honda CR-V Touring.
Eleven months after our last week in a Honda CR-V Touring, we get another...and though there's not much new between the 2015 and 2016 models, our appreciation deepens.