Why Trim Levels Matter: The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Mazda MX-6 Miata Grand Touring
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring.
A little over a year ago, we had our first week in the new-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata.  I was torn.  While the new MX-5 Miata was better than the previous one in every possible performance metric, I found it less comfortable to deal with in day-to-day driving.  There were a couple of possible factors. One was me...if I were 20 years younger or 20 pounds lighter, would I love it more?  And the other was the trim level.  We were in the Club the first time around...the model most suited for the track.


Alternative Energi: The 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Earlier this week, our Publisher and Executive Editor wrote a highly favorable review of the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi, which is a plug-in hybrid.  Plug-in hybrids have their advantages, namely greater pure electric range before switching over to the standard gasoline/electric hybrid mode, but they also have drawbacks.

For those of us who are apartment dwellers, a plug-in is less practical.  We are unlikely to have 240-volt chargers in our garage---or a garage, for that matter.  Running an extension cord from your apartment is likely to get you evicted, or at the very least, your extension cord stolen. And that's why Ford makes a non-plug-in version as well, which is what we drove.


Even Better: The 2017 Mazda 6i Grand Touring

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Mazda 6i Grand Touring
The 2017 Mazda 6i Grand Touring.
Longtime TireKicker readers know that the Mazda 6 is one of our favorite cars...to the point that it's been in the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page for many years.  Freshly updated in 2016, it's a matter of minor tweaks to the 2017, all of which make the Mazda 6 an even better car.


Fahrvergnugen: The 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI S 4-Door

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The early 1980s were a dreary time for people who love to drive.  Emissions regulations had resulted in low-horsepower engines.  Gasoline prices and overall inflation were prompting many people to buy cars they really didn't enjoy, in the name of economy.

And then came the Volkswagen GTI.


Energi From Multiple Sources: The 2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi
The 2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi.
I said it about eight years ago on this very eight-and-a-half-year-old website:  The market for alternative power (hybrids, plug-ins) is not in little boxes that get great fuel economy with a gasoline engine.  It's with larger cars that experience a big jump in mileage when you apply the tech.

Case in point: The 2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi.


Situational Intelligence: The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio

Front 3/4 view of 2017 smart fortwo cabrio
The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio.
First, before you comment to complain about typographical errors: The car company known as smart chooses to spell its name in all lower-case.  The same is true for its model names. So it is, accurately, the smart fortwo cabrio.

Ten years ago, the smart fortwo was supposed to be the next big thing in very small cars.  In some places, Europe, for example, they are everywhere, and are a valid solution to narrow streets and challenging parking.  In the United States, a handful of eastern cities and San Francisco are probably closest to those conditions.  But probably not close enough.  The smart fortwo has not taken America by storm.

Now, miraculously, some say, a second-generation smart fortwo has come to the USA.


A Reminder Of How Good It's Been: The 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription
The 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Inscription.
After several years of status quo, Volvo is getting a lot of attention thanks to its newest vehicles---especially the car that sits atop the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page, the new S90.

It and the XC90 SUV are leading the way to the next generation of Volvo products, but a week in the XC60 is a great reminder that, while they've been around a while, the current-generation Volvos are pretty wonderful vehicles.


A Quicker Kind of Quirky: The 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
The 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
I'll confess.  I have no idea who's buying the Hyundai Veloster.  What is the market for a three-door coupe of unusual proportions?   Doesn't matter.  Enough of them sold in 2016 to edge out the Corvette, not that they are in any way direct competitors.


Last Chance: The 2017 Volkswagen CC Sport

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Volkswagen CC Sport
The 2017 Volkswagen CC Sport.
The four-door coupe took the luxury car world by storm a few years ago.  Volkswagen jumped in with the CC---really just a lowered Passat with a different roof and taillights---and found that the phenomenon was not universal.  So, 2017 will be the last year for the CC.


Value Equation: The 2017 Ford Escape SE

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ford Escape SE
The 2017 Ford Escape SE.
It is mid-cycle freshening time for Ford's hot-selling small crossover, the Escape.  The new grille treatment makes the Escape look more like a Ford, and more to the point, a Ford truck, than an Asian import of indeterminate brand, which was pretty much the look through 2016.