Tech Update: The 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport
The 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport.
About a year ago, our now-former Phoenix Bureau tested the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport, pronouncing it a worthy competitor to small crossovers like the Toyota CH-R and the Honda HR-V.  That hasn't changed, but for 2018, some other things did, and for the better:


Christmas Wish Fulfilled: The 2019 Mazda CX-9

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Mazda CX-9
The 2019 Mazda CX-9.
Regular TireKicker readers know of our fondness for the Mazda CX-9, an appreciation that was deepened in the summer of 2017 during our two-week vacation to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.


Leading With Your Rear: The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
About that headline.  It's the type of thing that, in my earliest days of committing journalism, on the staff of the Bishop Union High School Bronco Roundup (1970-73),  I would have been called by our no-nonsense Advisor, Mrs. Martinson to explain ("and it better be a really good one, Hagerty").

What I'm saying is that, with the 2019 Toyota Corolla, Japan's biggest automaker is taking the unusual approach of introducing the hatchback ahead of the rest of the lineup, which won't come along until the 2020 model year.

Calling it a "hatchback" is also an unusual move, given that most automakers avoid that term like the plague and Toyota itself, in the 70s and 80s, called them "liftbacks".


S-Class From Seoul: The 2019 Kia K900

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Kia K900
The 2019 Kia K900.
Once upon a time, not that long ago if you're of a certain age, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was considered the finest sedan in the world.  Best-engineered, best-equipped, best-built.  Then everyone got in the act---everyone largely being Lexus---and the big Benzes were built to a price point, and not an engineering standard.

These days, it's really more features and brand preference that will steer you in your decision to buy a Mercedes S Class, a BMW 7 series, an Audi A8, a Tesla Model S or a Lexus LS.  So why not break free of the caste system and save a few tens of thousands in the process?  

Yes, we're suggesting you consider taking a pass on the big five of luxury sedans and buy a Kia.


Longform Luxury: The 2019 Lexus RX450hL

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Lexus RX450hL
The 2019 Lexus RX450hL.
As strong a seller as the RX series has been for Lexus, one can't help but wonder how many sales were lost for want of a third row.  For 2019 (and 2018 before it), that lack of wayback seating has been rectified with new "L" models.

The one we drove is arguably our favorite of the RX lineup, the RX450hL hybrid.


Last Chance: The 2018 Mazda 3 Four-Door Grand Touring

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Mazda 3 Four-Door
The 2018 Mazda 3 Four-Door Grand Touring.

If you, like us, love the current-gen Mazda 3, this would be a very good time to get one.  Early next year, there will be an all-new 3, a clean sheet of paper.


One of Three: The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.
After a year of being a California-only, fuel cell-only vehicle, Honda has expanded the Clarity model lineup to include a pure electric and a plug-in hybrid. 

The fuel cell model, running on hydrogen with a range of 366 miles, is of limited use even in the state of California, since once outside the metropolitan Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento areas, hydrogen filling stations are few and far between.  The pure electric is limited by a range of just 89 miles.  This, at a time when the Tesla Model 3 can break 300, properly equipped, the Hyundai Kona EV is good for 258 and the Chevy Bolt 238.  The latest generation of the Nissan Leaf now boasts a range of 150 miles. 

The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is, then, the one of the most usefulness to the greatest number of people, since it can be bought outright (the fuel cell and pure electric are available through lease only) and boasts a combined range of 340 miles.