Big Change To A Small Package: The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited.
They tell us love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru, and who are we to argue?  But ruggedness, reliability, safety, value and an attitude that change for change's sake isn't such a good thing also are a big part of the Subaru DNA.  So when a Subaru model is all-new, that's big news.

We loved the last-gen Crosstrek, which was new for 2013.  We love the 2018 even more.


The Littlest Rogue: The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SV FWD

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport
The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport.
There was a time, not too long ago, that the Rogue was the small Nissan crossover SUV.  Mission creep set in, as it inevitably does, and the Rogue grew larger and more expensive.  As SUV-heavy as the Nissan lineup is (Juke, Rogue, Pathfinder, Murano, Armada), the gap in size between the Rogue and the next-smallest, the Juke, is more like two gaps.  And, truth be told, despite its fun-to-drive factor, the Juke's somewhat cartoonish appearance turns off some potential buyers.

Nissan's solution is another, smaller Rogue, the Rogue Sport.


Making A Difference: American Trucks' Positive Payload Program

Banner for American Trucks Positive Payload Program

One of our happiest and proudest associations here at TireKicker is with the fine folks at American Muscle and Extreme Terrain.  They have been loyal advertisers since 2012.  They have another division, American Trucks, that is doing something worth writing about (buying ad space at TireKicker doesn't guarantee editorial coverage). 

It's called the Positive Payload Program.  If you volunteer for or work with a charity that uses Ford F-150s, Chevy Silverados, GMC Sierras or Dodge Rams in its service to the community, you can apply for a $2,000 donation to that charity.

They'll be selecting two winners twice a year, and American Trucks says it plans to do this indefinitely.  Among the winners announced this month (January 2018) are the DelMarVa Council of the Boy Scouts of America.  Full details and a link to apply for the donation are here.


Almost Perfect: The 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic
The 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic.
Want to see a great example of the rapid progression in cars these days?  Check out the Phoenix Bureau's review of the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI quattro Tiptronic.  Compare the pictures in that review to the pictures in this one.  You may not think Audi's mid-size SUV has changed much in four years, but the pictures tell the story.  There's been a remarkable evolution of the design.

Now look at the technicals.  The '14 was a three-liter diesel V6 making 240 horsepower and delivering an EPA fuel economy estimate of 24 city/31 highway.  Our '18?  A two-liter turbocharged gasoline four with 252 horsepower and getting very close to what four years ago were remarkable diesel numbers for this size class...23 city/27 highway.


Looks Matter: The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD Premier 2.0T

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier 2.0T
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier 2.0T.
In human beings, beauty is only skin deep.  In cars, that's true to some extent as well, but good looks can help move a lot more units off the dealer lots.  Which could mean the 2018 Chevy Equinox will be seen on a lot more streets and in a lot more driveways.

The last-gen Equinox was, to put it charitably, a bit homely.  Not only that, but a new one looked like it was ten years old in terms of the styling trends it reflected. There's a reason for that.  It was first sold in June of 2009. 


Trucking Royalty: The 2017 Ford F-150 4x4 SuperCrew King Ranch

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ford F-150 4X4 SuperCrew King Ranch
The 2017 Ford F-150 4X4 SuperCrew King Ranch.
Ford hit a home run when it whipped up the deal at the turn of the millennium with the folks at King Ranch.  The number one truck in America got a model named after the largest ranch in Texas.  Back in 2000, when manufacturers were truly beginning to grasp that size mattered when it came to pickup trucks, and that nothing succeeded like excess, introducing a King Ranch edition was a stroke of genius.

Fast-forward nearly two decades and the only thing that has changed is that the taste of the American pickup-buying public has grown more voracious.  The King Ranch is now in the middle of the F-150 lineup (if you remove the off-road Raptor and the work-truck XL), with the XLT and Lariat below and the Platinum and Limited above.


Checking All The Boxes: The 2017 Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid
The 2017 Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid.
In my past life as a radio disc jockey (a long time ago), I often wondered why certain records weren't bigger hits.  Singles or albums that seemed to have everything going for them that just didn't crack the top ten (or in some cases, the top 100). 

Same with cars.  And a great example is the 2017 Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid.


New Flavor To A Favorite Dish: The 2018 Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport
The 2018 Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport.
A year and a quarter ago, we professed our deep admiration for the 2017 Genesis G80 5.0.   Something to the effect of  "a Lexus LS competitor for GS money." Not much there we'd change, but the world is changing and five liters worth of V8 under the hood is the old way of doing things, so for its sophomore year, the G80 is offering a 3.3-liter V6 twin-turbo model known as the 3.3T Sport.