Batman Goes To Yosemite: The 2017 Lexus RC-F

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Lexus RC-F
The 2017 Lexus RC-F.
On the day the 2017 Lexus RC-F was delivered to my driveway, I walked out, saw it there, all menacing in black (Lexus calls the color "Caviar") and I said to Glenn, the delivery guy "...and then one morning, I wake up and I'm Batman".

Seriously.  This IS the Batmobile.  Okay, so I'm not Batman (tragically) nor is Mrs. TireKicker Robin (thankfully).

We did have an adventure planned.  One that didn't include crimefighting.  We were off in search of beauty unknown in Gotham City.  And, as regular readers know, for us, that usually involves a lot of twisty back roads.


Battle Wagon: The 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
The 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite.
About that headline...

For all the talk about how the hottest segment of the market is in small crossovers (which is true), the tightest battle in the biz is between minivans.  Only a few thousand copies a year separate the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey.  The Pacifica being the newest design and an excellent interpretation of what a contemporary minivan should be, it's gained a slight advantage over the Sienna and Odyssey, which haven't seen a re-design since 2011.

Until now, that is.  The Sienna is still awaiting an update...but the new Odyssey is here now.  And it's more than ready for battle.


Green With Less Beige In It: The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

Front 3/4 of 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE.
There are very few things that haven't happened to me in 20 years of professionally reviewing cars (there was 11 years of doing just that on local radio and television in Arizona before we launched TireKicker globally in the fall of 2008 and expanded five years later with a move of TireKicker World Headquarters to Folsom, California while maintaining a bureau in Phoenix). 

$75,000 Jaguar bent...not bashed, but the frame bent....by an 80-something lady in a (then) 18-year-old, four-cylinder Mustang with handicapped plates backing out of a space at the supermarket and cutting the wheel too soon, then pressing harder and harder on her accelerator when her car stopped backing up (because it was pressed up against the rear quarter-panel of the Jag)?  Check. 

Flat tire in a pre-production Chevy Tahoe during a press event with no spare on board and the two-way radio out of range somewhere in the Superstition Mountains?  Check. 

Brand new Mercedes-Benz (the unloved C230 coupe) that decided, while parked in a mall parking lot, to put reverse where third gear should be and every other gear in someplace other than where the good Lord intended?  Been there, done that, got the sheepish apology from M-B who thought I must have abused their ride until they found out that someone at the factory forgot to tighten a bolt.

But never...never...has anyone stopped to compliment me on a Toyota Camry.  And with the new 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE it happened three times.


Worthy: The 2018 Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec
The 2018 Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec.
One of the great mysteries of our time:  How can my fellow automotive journalists fall all over themselves in praise of the Honda Accord and be so lukewarm about the Acura TLX, which, at its heart, is a performance variant of the Accord?


The Fixer: The 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Subaru BRZ
The 2017 Subaru BRZ.
I have long been a fan of the Subaru BRZ, nearly identical cousin to the Toyota 86.  Its driving dynamics and pure fun for the money make it one of the great cars of our time...the spiritual successor to the original 1970 Datsun 240Z. 

That affection may have been somewhat obscured in my review, a year and a half ago, of the 2016 Subaru BRZ Series.HyperBlue (yes, that was really its name), in which I praised the car and cursed the Starlink infotainment system, which was a source of constant frustration. Well, they worked the bugs out of the '17, at least in the head unit (the Starlink app is still getting brutal reviews at the app store, and we didn't even go there this time around).


Beauty With a Touch of Beast: The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth.
Back in January, I wrote about the Fiat 124 Spider Lusso, saying that, as a beauty addict, I found it in many ways more desirable than the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata on which it is based and which ain't no slouch (the Miata ranks a solid #3 on the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right-hand side of this page). 


Smooth Operator: The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate FWD

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
Family responsibilities have had Navigator (the finest traveling companion known to man) and myself on the road quite a bit this year, with 350-mile roundtrips to Mendocino County and back becoming fairly commonplace (every three to six weeks lately).  That gives us a lot of hours on roads ranging from freeways to switchbacks to evaluate what we're driving and compare it to what we drove on the same route last time.  Perhaps the most impressive so far is the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.