4.17.2017

The (Almost) 80 Grand Grand Cherokee: The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.
Apart from the Fiat end of things, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has turned into the toy shop for folks who like their cars speedy.  The new Alfas certainly fill that bill, Chrysler will sell you a 363-horsepower full-size sedan in the 300C, Dodge is giving us 485-horsepower hot rods like the Challenger R/T Scat Pack (to say nothing of the 707-horsepower Hellcat and the coming 808-horsepower Demon),

And Jeep is not left out of the high horsepower fun, either.

4.12.2017

Better Late Than Never: The 2017 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Jeep Compass Limited
The 2017 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4.
Nearly five years ago, our Publisher and Executive Editor wrote about the Jeep Compass, noting that it would be leaving the Jeep lineup after 2014.  It was true at the time, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles changed plans, deciding it would be less than good business to not have an entrant in the rapidly-growing small SUV segment.  So, despite its shortcomings, the first-generation but heavily facelifted Compass soldiered on while a replacement was designed and engineered.

Now it's here---and it is exactly what the Compass should have been all along.

4.11.2017

South Korean Sport: The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport.
About a year ago, I had a major revelation while driving the all-new 2016 Hyundai Elantra Limited.  Namely, that Hyundai had built a tight little sedan that could gobble up one of my favorite stretches of twisty road (CA 128 between Rutherford and Winters) without breaking a sweat, with its automatic transmission set in "Sport" mode.

Now, Hyundai sweetens the deal with the Elantra Sport.

4.08.2017

Two Liters, Lower Price Tag: The 2017 Lexus GS200t

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Lexus GS200t
The 2017 Lexus GS200t.
Lexus is by no means a bargain-basement brand.  But for the second time in just under two years, I find myself reviewing a Lexus GS with a lower price tag.  Then, it was a $2,195 price reduction on the GS350 F-SPORT from 2014 to 2015.  This time, changes come with the price adjustment, because this is an entirely new GS variant.

4.07.2017

Sign Here: The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD
The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD.
We've made no secret of our love for the Mazda CX-9.  During the holidays, we had and told you about the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring, and last July, spent a week at the wheel of the top-of-the-line Mazda CX-9 Signature.  Now, since that was a '16 model, it's back to the top we go.

4.06.2017

The Last Best Sports Sedan? The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T GLI

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T GLI
The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T GLI.
It is, these days, a crossover world.  The not-quite-a-station-wagon-not-quite-an-SUV has become the vehicle of choice for most Americans.  And it has done so to the extent that some people who watch and predict trends say the traditional three-box four-door sedan is on the verge of extinction.

If so, and if you are among those who like a good German sports sedan, the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T GLI is probably the one to rush out and buy.

4.05.2017

Prius Fighter? The 2017 Kia Niro FE

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Kia Niro
The 2017 Kia Niro.
Traditionally, fuel economy has not been enough to make a car competitive with the Toyota Prius.  The sales charts are littered with failures that got close to the Toyota hybrid's vaunted fuel economy, but didn't sell ---because they didn't look like a hybrid.  People who bought the Prius over much of its 20-year history have wanted other people to know they were driving a fuel-saving hybrid just by looking at it.

Well, in its current generation, Toyota appears to have taken the "different" way too far.  The radically re-styled Prius is selling in fractions of the numbers of its ancestors.

So is the time right for a car that delivers the mileage but looks like a conventional car?

4.04.2017

A Sporty Coupe By Any Other Name: The 2017 Toyota 86

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota 86
The 2017 Toyota 86.
For five years, you have seen a car that looks like the one above carrying a badge identifying it as a Scion FR-S, or perhaps a Subaru BRZ.   The shuttering of Scion as Toyota's youth brand resulted in a product shuffle, with the FR-S becoming the Toyota 86 (which was its name globally) for 2017.

4.01.2017

The Humble Giant: Terry Page 1950-2017

Page One Automotive founder Terry Page
Terry Page.
The automotive world lost a visionary, a major player and a truly nice guy last weekend.  Terry Page, the founder of Page One Automotive, a Bay Area-based company that, in addition to providing event services, is one of only a handful that manages and maintains manufacturer vehicle press fleets and handles the logistics of getting them from one automotive journalist to another so you can read about them, passed away of cancer at the far too young age of 66.

Terry revolutionized the way guys like me get the cars you read about.  Time was, each manufacturer maintained their own fleets and hired several someones ( often individual people) to manage it for them.  Terry was handling it for Ford in Northern California more than 30 years ago when he realized there was a better way for everyone involved.  I said Page One was one of a handful...it was also the pioneer. Roughly half of the thousand or so cars reviewed in the eight and a half years of TireKicker's existence thus far have come to us through Page One.

Terry was also a major and early supporter of Western Automotive Journalists, the Northern California professional association of automotive journalists, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  When I relocated TireKicker World Headquarters to Northern California in the fall of 2013, I joined WAJ and three weeks later, found myself sharing a table with Terry at the annual holiday party.  We've bumped into each other at events since, and chatted a bit.  Many people knew him far better than I did, but every single one of us has the same bottom line:  Unfailingly kind, smart, gracious and open.

If you've never heard of Terry, that's because, to Terry, it was never about him.  The photo you see above is the one on the internet...from Page One's own website, in the smallest resolution (250x250) possible.  And I'll bet that's exactly what Terry wanted.  It was about the work, the product, the people he served and the people he employed, not him.

I have the good fortune of working fairly closely with his people in both the Bay Area and Phoenix, and to say they're devastated by the news of Terry's passing would be putting it mildly.  There are too few like him in any business.  I'm thankful I was able to meet him, and get to know him a little.  I wish I'd known him better.