New Car Review: 2013 Scion FR-S

Front three-quarters view of Red 2013 Scion FR-S in desert setting
The 2013 Scion FR-S.
For eight years now, Scion has been plugging away (or flailing about, depending on how you look at it) trying to finally be what Toyota intended it to be...the first truly hip youth brand in cars. The formula: Keep prices low, make the styling a bit out of the box, and make sure it's got a killer audio system.

The first-generation xB (aka "The Toaster") was a mild success, but the second generation xB....not so much. The xD sedan is virtually a synonym for "meh" (would anyone really buy an xD over the new Toyota Yaris...or even the old Toyota Yaris, for that matter?).

About the only sense that Scion has a groove to find has been in the tC coupe.

Until now.

New Car Review: 2012 Acura TSX

Front three-quarters view of red 2012 Acura TSX on rooftop garage in front of skylight
The 2012 Acura TSX.
If your age begins with the numbers "3", "2" or "1", you might wonder why people whose ages begin with "4", "5" or "6" seem to think so highly of Honda. And you probably wonder just what the heck Acura is supposed to be.

It was not always thus.

As we noted in our review of the CR-V, Honda's not building bad cars, they're just not meeting the incredibly high expectations of people whose first Honda experiences were in the 80s and early 90s, when just about everything they did was a revelation in terms of engineering, efficiency and ergonomics.

So...wanna know what all the fuss was about, Milennials and late-Gen Xers?


New Car Review: 2012 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4

Front three-quarters view of red2012 Jeep Compass Latitude driving on city street
The 2012 Jeep Compass Latitude.
As that great poet, philosopher and automotive journalist Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, "Been down so G-----n long, looks like up to me."

Jim died 41 years ago, and he was never one during his four short years of stardom to sell his songs for ad campaigns, but in the case of the Jeep Compass, he just might have made an exception. For in six years on the market, the Compass has largely been reviled as cheap, crude and worst of all...not really a Jeep.

New Car Review: 2012 Buick Regal E-Assist

Front three-quarters view of silver 2012 Buick Regal E-Assist driving on city street
The 2012 Buick Regal E-Assist.
Four-cylinder Buick.

The phrase can cause some worry...especially among those of us of a certain age who might remember when such things existed before (Skylarks from model years 1980-1998).

Regular TireKicker readers know that things are much better now, from our recent run in the new, small Buick Verano. Today's Buick 4 is far from agricultural...in fact, it's smooth and quiet and gives little indication that it's not a six, apart from perhaps a little lower urgency level.

But that's the Verano. The littlest Buick. This is the Regal. Not only larger, but the one nameplate in the Buick stable meant to evoke a sporting character. And there is at least one legitimate firebreather...the GS (a full review of which is coming soon). But when you go shopping for a standard Regal, the four is what you get. And, for additional cost, you can get it with E-Assist.


News: Ford Recalls 11,500 2013 Ford Escapes; Fire Hazard; Tells Owners To Stop Driving Them

Red 2013 Ford Escape front view on hill in San Francisco

Ford wants 11,500 of its 2013 Escapes with the 1.6 liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine in the shop right now...and is telling owners not to drive the car. That's rare...recalls are usually "bring your car to the dealer at your convenience".

Three fires have been reported due to a fuel line that can split. Full story from the Detroit Free Press here.  Owners are being asked to call their Ford dealers, who will deliver a loaner car and collect the Escape to take it in for the repair (presumably on a flatbed tow truck).


New Car Review: 2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport

Black 2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport front 3/4 view parked
The 2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport.
When I first started professionally TireKicking (reviewing automobiles) 15 years ago, things were pretty predictable. Most of the major manufacturers made sure one of every model they sold wound up available at least once a year. Sometimes more often. If a model was long in the tooth and about to be replaced, it might skip a year. But by and large, you could pretty much count on yearly refreshers.

As the economy got more challenging, manufacturers got a bit more selective...sometimes only putting vehicles into the press fleet that were all-new, significantly refreshed or that had added some bit of standard or optional equipment that had not previously been available.

And then there's the Honda Ridgeline. I first drove one seven years ago...the summer it was introduced. It was also the last time I drove one. That's right...somehow, the Ridgeline has sat out six years worth of local press fleet duty...until now.