King of the Hill: The 2017 Lexus LX570

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Lexus LX570
The 2017 Lexus LX570.
The Dow Jones cracked 19,000 just before Thanksgiving.  Gasoline---at least here in Phoenix---is $1.90 or so a gallon. Those are ideal conditions for the people who are the intended buyers of the Lexus LX570.


Solid Contender: The 2017 Kia Forte EX

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Kia Forte EX
The 2017 Kia Forte EX.
We've been charting the rise of the Kia Forte among subcompact sedans for seven years now.  The 2010 model was the moment you could pinpoint when any doubt about Kia being serious went away. It put the Koreans within striking distance of the then-and-now leaders from the Japanese, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

With the 2014 model, the Forte closed the gap.  And the new 2017, a mid-cycle refresh,  cements the Forte's position as a solid contender in a competitive segment.


The Unassailable Choice: The 2017 Lexus ES350

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Lexus ES350
The 2017 Lexus ES350
There are very few cars that one can buy and not take some criticism from one person or another. The Lexus ES350 is one of that very small group.


Hello, Handsome: The 2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance
The 2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance.
All it needed was a shave.

For years, the Acura MDX has been wearing an awkward chrome mustache across the top of its grille...the last vestige of an ill-conceived beak that it sprouted for the 2010 model year.  Well, that's gone for 2017...the grille (actually a new stretched pentagon design) now nicely opened up, with a rather large....okay, gargantuan...Acura emblem in the middle.  The headlights, hood and fenders have gotten tweaks to accomodate the grille change. And it's all a major improvement.


What's In A Name? The 2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Premium

Front view of 2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Premium
The 2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Premium.
About three years ago, Infiniti, under a leader who had just arrived from Audi and would within months depart for Cadillac, changed its naming convention.  The vehicles were largely unchanged, but none had the same name.  What had been for many years the G37 series of sedans became the Q50.

It is hard to tell whether the name change had any effect on sales, good or bad, as Infiniti, contrary to the original plan 25 years ago to match Lexus step for step, has always been just big enough not to be considered a truly niche player.  The Infiniti Q50 is Infiniti's best-seller, but it is the 109th best-selling vehicle in the U.S. so far this year, with a shade under 35,000 sold.  Infiniti might, but probably won't, sell 40,000 G50s by December 31st.


A Work In Progress: The 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium
The 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 3.3T Premium.
Two and a half years ago, I wrote about the Genesis G90's predecessor, the 2015 Hyundai Eqqus, saying that it wasn't quite there yet ("there" being a no-excuses luxury sedan that Lexus' flagship LS 460 should fear), but that it was, in a vacuum, a remarkable achievement and that I might well be writing about how the 2019 model had well and truly arrived.

We may need to adjust that to 2021.


New Kid In The Boonies: The 2017 Nissan Titan 5.6-Liter Endurance V8 PRO-4X 4WD CC

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Nissan Titan 5.6-Liter Endurance V8 PRO-4X 4WD CC
The 2017 Nissan Titan 5.6-Liter Endurance V8 PRO-4X 4WD CC
About two months ago, we discussed Nissan's large-pickup truck strategy with its new gasoline-powered Titan pickup line.  Nissan turned the playbook inside out, leading with its diesel-powered heavy duty models last year, and is now bringing the standard-duty and off-road/sport models to market for 2017.


Car of the Future, Today: The 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD
The 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD.
Apart from electrification and autonomy (both of which are more real and more imminent than a lot of us think), this is what the folks in the know say the future of cars is:  Small crossover SUVs.

That may be the fact, and if it is, they should all be as good and as satisfying as the 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring.


Edging Toward Greatness? The 2016 Lincoln MKX AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Lincoln MKX
The 2016 Lincoln MKX.
There was a time, mainly in the 1960s and 70s, when a Lincoln in the driveway was a status symbol for people of means in their forties and fifties.  But that was many years, indeed decades, ago.  Now, the middle-aged drivers with money and the desire to own a luxury car simply are too young to remember those days.  Luxury cars to them are from Germany and have names like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi or---increasingly among younger drivers---from Japan (Lexus and to a lesser extent Infiniti).

The 2016 Lincoln MKX is the first vehicle to come from the latest in many rounds of what we are promised will be a new Lincoln Motor Company, one that doesn't scream "tarted-up Ford", one that will build cars that can be considered in the same breath as those imports listed above by people with the means to buy cars priced at $50,000 and above.


Economize Accordingly: The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring.
The Honda Accord is what the late David E. Davis, Junior, the man who more than any other, made me want to write about cars, would have called "A G--damn paragon of virtue".  Few cars can equal it in terms of value, fuel economy and overall excellence.

But what if the EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon in the highway provided by the four-cylinder Honda Accord is just not enough?


Cash On The (Very Big) Hood: The Built-In Discounts of the 2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali

Front 3/4 view of 2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
The 2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali.
Things change over 23 years.  And things don't.

What I mean by that is that 23 years ago, I bought the equivalent of the car you see above.  It was known as the GMC Suburban back then.  My first wife was pregnant with our second child.  She didn't like to fly, so this family of four was going to take vacations on the road, and a week or two of that with a toddler and an infant meant a lot of supplies, including a dual stroller, a Pak-n-Play and the like.

She wanted it in red.

I bought the SLE  four-wheel drive model.  It had every option you could get, which pretty much meant cloth seats instead of vinyl, an AM/FM/cassette stereo with six speakers and rear air conditioning.  It had the most powerful gasoline engine available, a 190-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 (though everyone still called it the Chevy 350 then), It got 12 miles per gallon in the city and 16 on the highway no matter how you drove it.

The sticker price was $31,000 and change and I got it for $26,900.


I Did Not Want What I Haven't Got...Until Now: The 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription
The 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription.
By anyone's standards, I am a blessed man.  A beautiful, loving wife,  a gifted son and daughter, two beautiful, bright and charming stepdaughters. My re-marriage this summer has given me some wonderful new relatives, who, after only three years of acquaintance, feel like they've been with me forever.

My day job is at a leader in the field I've wanted to be in since age eight and they seem to find my contributions valuable.  I'm healthy (apart from needing to drop a few pounds).  Every "great lost song" that I spent decades trying to identify and find back in the days of out-of-print vinyl is now in my pocket, along with some brilliant new music (thanks, Spotify!).

I wake up every day in Northern California.  That, alone, would qualify.

And I'm past the point of wanting stuff.  There's a 23-year-old CRT television in our family room.  If it keeps working the rest of my life, I'm fine with it.  My cell provider offered me an iPad for some low figure this spring.  Don't want one.  I have my smart phone and the laptop upon which these words are being written (which I bought this spring on a dirt-cheap employee discount only because my previous laptop...a factory-refurbished nine-year-old model that I'd had for seven years....finally gave up the ghost.

In the words of Sinead O'Connor (whom I have never quoted), I do not want what I haven't got.

Or didn't until I drove the 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription.