The Future For Scion? The 2016 Scion iM

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Scion iM
The 2016 Scion iM.
Twelve years ago, Toyota launched the Scion brand, the object being to lure younger buyers who saw Toyota as "Mom and Dad's" brand.  The Scion xA and xB not only didn't set the world on fire, they sold largely to Grandma and Grandad.

More recently, Scion has introduced cars with some genuine youth appeal, the tC, which did well for a while, but has faded, and the FR-S, a car we like so much that it (as of this writing) is in the list of TireKicker's Best Cars on the right hand side of this page. Still, it's a low-volume car and Scion could use some sheer numbers.  The new iM may be just the car to do that.


Good Things, Small Package: The 2016 Honda HR-V

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Honda HR-V
The 2016 Honda HR-V.

If you'd asked me if there was room or need for a Honda crossover smaller than the pioneering CR-V, I'd have said no.

I'd have been wrong.


Swagger With Style: The 2015 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Toyota Sienna Limited
The 2015 Toyota Sienna Limited.
At the beginning of this year, we reviewed the Toyota Sienna SE and its updated "Swagger Wagon" video.  And as we have since the 2010 re-design of the Sienna, we liked it (the Sienna more than the Buster Rhymes video). But if your tastes run more toward luxury, there's only one trim level of the Sienna that matters.

Small Change(s): The 2016 Scion FR-S

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Scion FR-S
The 2016 Scion FR-S.
What is there to say about the 2016 Scion FR-S that we didn't say about the 2014 or the 2013...or for that matter its identical cousin, the 2015 Subaru BRZ?  After all, there's no change under the hood and the styling remains the same.

Relentless Pursuit: The 2015 Lexus IS350 F-SPORT

Front 3/4 view of the 2015 Lexus IS350 F-SPORT
The 2015 Lexus IS350 F-SPORT.
For several years, our Executive Editor and Publisher wrote of the ever growing presence in the rear-view mirror of Honda and Toyota---a speck that grew each year until, in less than five years, it filled the mirror, crowding the rear bumper and ready to pass.  That presence was Hyundai/Kia.


Unicorn: The 2015 Ford Transit 150 XLT Wagon

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Ford Transit 150 XLT Wagon
The 2015 Ford Transit 150 XLT Wagon.
First, apologies for the misleading headline.  You'll see plenty of 2015 Ford Transit 150 XLT wagons on the road.  They'll be airport shuttles for rental car companies, hotels, convention centers...you know, the usual.

But how many will you see in people's driveways?


What This Country Needs Is A Good $40,000 Pickup Truck: The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD Custom

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom
The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom.
You may have noticed some feature stories of late in the mainstream media about how pickup trucks are big sellers.  And not just pickup trucks, but expensive pickup trucks. Seems you can't load them enough, can't run the sticker up high enough.  50 grand?  You're barely trying.  The top-of-the-line fullsize trucks from Ford, GM and RAM break that before you get into options.

But what of those of us who'd like a nice truck but don't have gigabucks to spend?  It appears the folks at Chevrolet have been thinking about us.

Honed: The 2015 Ford Edge

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Ford Edge
The 2015 Ford Edge.
It was Saturday. I was sick. Strep throat, the nurse practitioner had said on Tuesday (though a couple of weeks later we'd learn there was also an underlying bronchial virus).  Feeling somewhat on the mend, looking forward to a weekend of rest in the heaven that is Folsom, California.

Then I looked out the window. Smoke thick as London fog and falling from it, in our driveway, ash from the Butte Fire in nearby Amador County. Inhaling it would be a very bad idea. Navigator had things to do, so I did one of my least favorite things since we've been together...took a road-trip alone.

Option Creep: The 2015 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Jeep Patriot Latitude
The 2015 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4X4.
Looking through TireKicker's vast archives (more than 800 reviews in seven years), I find that we've said this about the Jeep Patriot three times already.  Let's make it an even four:

If you are looking for the true spiritual successor to the 1980s Jeep Cherokee (simplicity, low base price, true Jeep Trail-rated status), this is the Jeep from today to have.

Improving The Breed: 2015 Ford Mustang Convertible

Front view of 2015 Ford Mustang Convertible
The 2015 Ford Mustang Convertible.
There were a million ways the first clean-sheet redesign of the Ford Mustang in a decade could have gone wrong.  I thought I'd spotted a few where it did.  And then I drove it.


The Middle Child: 2015 Nissan Sentra

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Nissan Sentra
The 2015 Nissan Sentra.

Nestled between the small Nissan Versa and the midsize Nissan Altima is the Nissan Sentra.  Park them next to each other and stand back 20 feet and you might have trouble telling which is which.  The family resemblance is that strong.

Might The Long Road To Redemption Begin Here? The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.
There is no question that Volkswagen has a long road ahead of it in recovering from the TDI emissions cheating scandal, and that it really has only just turned onto the on-ramp.  Not only does it have to repair a global brand image, but it needs...in a hurry...to salvage whatever cred it has in the green community.  The e-Golf could help.

Holding Its Own: The 2015 Toyota Highlander

side view of 2015 Toyota Highlander
The 2015 Toyota Highlander.
The current-generation Toyota Highlander hasn't been one of TireKicker's favorites, which is putting it mildy (our Publisher and Executive Editor found several faults with the re-design in his review 15 months ago).  But three-row midsize SUV buyers appear to disagree.

Regarding Volkswagen

Volkswagen logo
Having been sidelined for a month with a combination of strep throat and a bronchial infection, I may be the last automotive journalist to weigh in on the Volkswagen TDI cheating scandal.  But better late than never.

As you most likely have read, the Environmental Protection Agency has accused Volkswagen of inserting code into their TDI Clean Diesel models that sensed when the car was in emissions test mode, and only activated its emissions control system when it was.  Volkswagen has admitted it's true.

In normal driving, the emissions controls switched themselves off, performance and fuel economy were enhanced and the cars, according to the EPA, emitted as much as 40 times the legal amount of certain pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, which have been linked to respiratory problems including, but not limited to, athsma.  11 million cars with the VW and Audi brand are affected.  Almost half a million of those are believed to have been sold in the United States since 2009.

Volkswagen's CEO has resigned.  Others will no doubt lose their jobs.  Owners of the affected cars have been promised their vehicles will be recalled and brought into compliance.  In other words, they'll be as clean as the law requires, but most likely slower and less fuel-efficient.

The cars affected are the 2009 to 2015 TDI Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3s, and the 2014 to 2015 Passat, all with the 2.0-liter TDI engine.  We here at TireKicker have reviewed the 2010 Golf TDI, the 2014 Passat TDI, the 2014 Beetle TDI, the 2015 Audi A3 TDI, the 2015 Golf Sportwagen TDI and the 2015 Golf TDI.  Apart from our driving impressions and observations regarding speed and fuel economy, which were unknowingly based on the same trickery that fooled the EPA and the world for six years, we stand by our observations about the cars in terms of styling, construction, handling and features. And we stand by our reviews of other VW/Audi product with other engines and thus not under the current cloud.

While we are disappointed that Volkswagen would stoop to cheating, we remain objective in our evaluation of their products going forward, as we do with every vehicle we review. Some with an appetite for snark may interpret this as going easy on VW.  But justice for VW should be and will be focused and far more serious than a couple of cheap shots in a review.  We'll be keeping our eyes on the road and bringing you straightforward information you can use.


Michael Hagerty
Publisher/Executive Editor, TireKicker