New Car Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS AWD 3.6L

Silver 2013 Cadillac ATS
The 2013 Cadillac ATS.

Journalism (automotive and otherwise) is not a great profession if you expect to be told the truth. Oh, sure, it's your job to find and report the truth, but being told it...that's another thing altogether.

Not that the un-truths come in bald-faced lies. Not always. There's a spectrum. For example:

With the Cimarron, Cadillac told us it "behaves like a civilized car should" and "beats the imports at their own game". A bald-faced lie, as those who parted with $12,131 in 1981 dollars for a tarted-up Chevy Cavalier learned the hard way.

A decade and a half later, they told us once we experienced the Catera's European luxury and performance, we wouldn't want to let go. That wasn't true, either, but really wasn't a bald-faced lie. The Catera was European (an Opel with Cadillac badges stuck on it), and the rest can be excused as opinion.

Then came the original CTS. By this point, advertising had matured to the point where it dispensed with hyperbole and just showed us quick cuts of a CTS driving quickly while Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll" played for 30 seconds. And then a font that said "Cadillac. Breakthrough."  The implication was that Cadillac had finally found the formula that would let them stand toe-to-toe with BMW.

Not true. But that one we can chalk up to optimism and wishful thinking.

Don't get me wrong. The CTS was then a good car and has gotten better every year since its introduction. But the driving dynamics just weren't there...as good as they have become.

That's why, as I walked to the Cadillac ATS for the first time, key fob in hand, I was prepared to be mildly disappointed. This was the car that, no excuses, was to be Cadillac's answer to the BMW 3-Series. And there was just no way...it was bound to fall short somehow. Most likely in the steering.


New Car Review: 2013 Buick LaCrosse

Red 2013 Buick LaCrosse on rooftop garage against downtown buildings
The 2013 Buick LaCrosse.

Almost three years ago, we reviewed the then-new Buick LaCrosse and came up with the conclusion that while their advertising was targeting Lexus, the car itself was close in a lot of ways but only won when price got factored in. That Lacrosse was the CXL model and it ended up costing $31,000 and change...which put it nearly 10 grand below a comparably equipped Lexus ES350.

Well, Buick has dumped the direct hit on Lexus from their advertising, and now has five trim levels...LaCrosse (base, which starts at $31,660), Leather ($33,870), Premium I ($35,285), Premium II (also $35,285) and Touring ($39,240). As you'd expect, Touring is loaded...to the point that the only two options on our test car were rear-seat mounted thorax air bags ($350) and the Crystal Red paint ($325). With $875 destination charge, the bottom line shows $40,790.


New Car Review: 2013 Ford Mustang V6 Coupe

Extreme closeup of black 2013 Mustang V6 Coupe
The 2013 Mustang V6 Coupe.

Way back when....a few months shy of 49 years ago, the Ford Mustang was the originator of a segment called "Pony Cars". Never mind that the other cars in the segment were named after a fish (Barracuda) and, well...nothing that actually existed (Camaro). The Mustang was the standard, with a formula that allowed owners to option the three body styles that eventually were available in the first model year (coupe, fastback and convertible) from, as Ford literature put it, "mild to wild".

In fact, in year one (model year 1965), there were six-cylinder engines making as little as 105 horsepower and V8s delivering 271, allowing for some room between the Pony Car and Muscle Cars like the Pontiac GTO, which in 1965 offered a choice of 335 or 360 horsepower (from the Tri-Power engine, which had three 2-barrel carburetors).

Throughout its life, even as Shelby GT 350s, GT 500s, Mach 1s, Boss 302s, Boss 351s and Boss 429s were brought into the Mustang corral, there was always the "mild" option.

It's not so anymore. For while it looks like a small number in the shadow of the 2013 Mustang GT's 420 horsepower, the 2013 Boss 302's 444 horsepower and the 2013 GT 500's 650 horsepower, the most basic, humble Mustang you can now buy packs 305 horsepower.


New Car Review: 2013 Audi A4 2.0T quattro tiptronic

Silver 2013 Audi A4 2.0T quattro on rooftop garage at night with buildings in background
The 2013 Audi A4 2.0T quattro.

As we've noted here at TireKicker before, the worst part of a successful car is keeping the ball rolling...doing the freshening needed to keep the car relevant without losing the thread and screwing it all up. Last time around, two and a half years ago, I worried that Audi was letting the magic of the A4 slip away.  If they were, they fixed it in a hurry.

The 2013 Audi A4 2.0T quattro is simply tremendous. A car that pulls of the trick of feeling utterly contemporary and timeless at the same time. The timeless thing is important because Audi's had the A4 pretty close to perfect for a long time. To wander too far from what has made an A4 an A4 for the past decade or so would be courting disaster.

New Car Review: 2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Premium

Black 2013 Cadillac XTS on curve above city at dusk
The 2013 Cadillac XTS.
Cadillac made its name with big cars. Coupes and Sedan DeVilles...but to read the majority of motoring press this year, you'd think the only thing they had to talk about was the new, small ATS.

Don't get me wrong, the ATS is a remarkable car (we've just driven it and a review is coming very soon), but there are two stories to be told...and the XTS is the other.


New Car Review: 2013 Nissan Z Roadster

Blue 2013 Nissan Z Roadster sideways in parking lot
The 2013 Nissan Z Roadster.

As a journalist (automotive and otherwise), I work hard to bury my biases, to keep my personal tastes from getting in the way of or into the story. By and large, I think I succeed.

But I have one bias that's best just confessed. I'm a pushover for convertibles.

I think it goes back to my Uncle Ron, who had a succession of them ('55, '59 and '63 Thunderbirds...the '63 was a Sports Roadster...and a '69 Cougar XR-7). From as young as I can remember until age 13 (when he passed away), one of the biggest treats on earth was a ride in one of Uncle Ron's convertibles. The wind in the hair, the warmth of the sun (through SPF 50 sunscreen these days) and all the other sensory delights make open-air motoring a special thing.

That's not to say every car that has a top that goes down wins me over. There have been some wretched convertibles. And even otherwise good ones battle the structural rigidity loss that comes from cutting off the roof. But the good ones are very good. And the Nissan Z Roadster is definitely one of those.

It needs to be, because it was intended to be driven in a spirited way. Small, light, 332 horsepower...this isn't for slow cruises down Main Street on Saturday night. Nissan's engineers have done a great job making sure the structure is solid and confidence-inspiring.

New Car Review: 2013 Lexus GS450h

White 2013 Lexus GS450h front three-quarters view at dusk with trees and hills
The 2013 Lexus GS450h.

Regular TireKicker readers know we consider the 2013 Lexus GS a big step forward...especially in F-Sport trim. So, how does it do with most sporting intentions swapped for eco-friendliness?

Well, we've always been a fan of big hybrids. For the technology to really work, it needed to move upmarket from small people-movers, and Lexus gets big points for diving in and applying it to everthing up to and including its flagship LS model.

But...tech costs money. Most hybrids are significantly more expensive than the conventionally-powered versions of the same model, and that's certainly the case for the GS450h, which is $12,050 pricier than the GS350 (there is no non-hybrid 450 this year).