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2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]

  • 2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]
  • Proof cars of the '90s were awesome with Supra, Stealth, RX-7, Corvette, 968, 300ZX comparo
  • Subaru WRX STI vs. Audi S3 in compact AWD dustup
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 1:49PM

Ticked Off Swede

If the 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R could speak, this is probably what it would say: "I'm ticked off. I'm tired of all of the automotive publications and web sites gushing over the latest M car from BMW, AMG car from Mercedes-Benz, or S car from Audi. Yes, those Euro rides are good machines, but I need some respect. Who else can give you 325 horsepower, 354 pound-feet of torque, all-wheel drive, and a top safety pick rating in insurance industry testing? Who? Only Volvo baby, and it's high time people recognize!"

Well big Swede, I hear you! After seven days of test driving the S60 T6 AWD R, I am sold. This car blends the perfect mix of performance and civility in a highly styled package that breaks new ground for Volvo. Always known for safety, the S60 strikes an edgy chord for the car company that rarely took styling risks. But this is not your dad's 240! It's swoopy, properly adorned with the right trim pieces and is utterly drivable. All sightlines front and rear are virtually unobstructed. So when you drive the S60 T6 AWD R fast -- and you'll want to do it often -- you can do it safely.

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2013 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 1:39PM

A civilized midsize family sedan with an all-wheel drive difference


For buyers seeking a competent, comfortable and conservatively styled midsized family sedan, there's certainly no shortage of choice out there, with the Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord all springing immediately to mind (although technically speaking the Accord qualifies as a full-size car these days). But if you add a simple (and for some folks essential) qualifier - all-wheel drive - the list instantly becomes really rather short. There's the Infiniti G25x, but with a base price of over $40,000 it's really in entry-level luxury territory rather than the family sedan segment, while all-wheel drive versions of the Acura TL and Lexus GS are even pricier. There's also the Ford Fusion in AWD trim, which is priced right but these days sports a not-so-conservative Aston Martin style grille (you'll either love it, or...). Which leaves only the Subaru Legacy.


"But wait," I can hear you saying, "Subarus are quirky, not conservative." Well, that was then, and this is now. For better or worse, while Subarus continue to be mechanically unique due to their horizontally-opposed engines and standard symmetrical all-wheel drive, their outward appearances and overall character have grown increasingly mainstream, perhaps none more so than the flagship Legacy sedan.

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2013 Scion tC Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 1:33PM

A sporty yet practical coupe with street-savvy good looks

It's amazing the perspective a couple of years can provide: When I first drove the Scion tC, which was introduced for the 2011 model year, I was favourably impressed by its combination of streetwise coupe style and almost hatchback-like practicality. But I still had a hard time truly liking the car, because as the most sports-oriented entry in Scion's youth-oriented lineup the front-wheel drive tC seemed like a bit of an impostor - an impression that was reinforced when motorsports teams built rear-wheel drive versions of the car for drift racing, gaining the tC international exposure by making it into something it wasn't.

Flash forward to the 2013 model year and Scion now has a genuine rear-wheel drive sports coupe in its lineup in the form of the FR-S, which is a phenomenal little machine and is already making its name in drift racing circles without major modifications to its fundamental layout. This leaves the tC free to stake out its real territory as a sporty yet useful coupe with street-savvy good looks and far more practicality than its FR-S sibling. And with the fully-caffeinated FR-S available on the menu the tC becomes much more likeable because sometimes, after all, a decaf is what you really want.

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2013 Ram 1500 Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 1:27PM

Technological tour de force

Easily the quietest pickup truck we've ever driven, the 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 is a technological tour de force, representing an outstanding achievement in improvement over an already fine product. As you may be aware, the Dodge name has been dropped from Chrysler group's pickups, so now Ram is a standalone brand. And, as the first all-new model to fly the Ram flag, this new 1500 series pickup bodes extremely well for the fledgling enterprise.

The Ram product team say they were after four key areas of improvement: design, technology, features, and fuel economy. During our day with the new truck, we can certainly confirm they nailed the first three. To quantify the last one, we'll have to spend a bit more time with the product. But until then, the EPA estimates the metric equivalent of 13.8 L/100km city/9.4 L/100km highway (Chrysler's Canadian division is claiming a Transport Canada-based rating of 7.8 L/100km on the highway, useful to know for comparative purposes). Which, for a vehicle the size of this new Ram, is quite remarkable. There is also a high fuel efficiency (HFE) version of the truck equipped with a stop-start function, in addition to other fuel saving measures. That version of the Ram 1500 returns a claimed 13.0-L/100km city and 9.4 on the highway.

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2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 1:07PM

A dynamic, sporty SUV with an unexpected difference

When Porsche first introduced the Cayenne for the 2004 model year, the five-passenger midsize SUV was a bit of an unexpected departure for the marque, which until then had built sports coupes and convertibles exclusively. Nine years later the Cayenne has been joined by the four-door Panamera sports sedan and has grown to become an accepted member of the Porsche family, but as the latest Cayenne model proves, it still has the ability to deliver the unexpected.

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything unusual about the newest flavour of Cayenne - it has the same familiar bodywork, and the same familiar interior. The only hint that this Cayenne represents another radical departure for Porsche is the unmistakable chrome script on the front fenders: "diesel".

For those of us who grew up when the air-cooled 911 ruled the Porsche roost and the water-cooled 944 seemed a bit of an interloper, the concept of a diesel Porsche may seem a bit of an abomination. But here's the thing: it's the perfect powerplant for the Cayenne. And nothing says "Porsche" like perfection.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 12:42PM

Better in every way

When Mercedes-Benz launched the then new GLK in 2009, the auto industry was still in a bad way. Sales were down in every segment, and some questioned the sanity of Mercedes for launching a premium, small, SUV.

But hindsight is always 20/20 with unforeseen escalating fuel prices driving luxury buyers to more efficient vehicles like the GLK and its numerous competitors, most notably the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Both are solid vehicles, but both need to be very afraid of the 2013 GLK350, which is better in every way than its predecessor.

Let's start with styling. Where the 2009 GLK looked like a mini G Wagen (which Mercedes says is the bloodline vehicle for the GLK), the 2013 model still has the G's rugged appeal, but also features the swoopy look that now adorns many Mercedes models, including the SL550 sports car. The front of the GLK features new headlights with LED daytime running lights, a new bumper and grille. Redesigned roof rails and sculpted door panels enhance the side profile. At the rear, LED taillights are now standard, and chrome plated tailpipe trim adds design flair. New 20-inch wheels are also standard, while 20-inch AMG wheels are standalone options.

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2013 Mazda2 Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 12:14PM

A pleasure to drive at any pace

Perspective is everything when comparing cars, value for dollar and performance.

During a week of driving the Mazda2, this author's involvement with volunteer organizations led to several rides in older cars like the Toyota Echo, early Honda Fit and pint sized Kia Rio. The older wheels featured seats with the comfort of a park bench, levels of road noise that require powerful aftermarket stereos, shouted conversations, and the ride comfort of a dump truck. Crank windows and no air conditioning were also standard features. Yes, not that long ago.

The Mazda2 appears to be costly, but the standard five-speed manual, 15-inch alloy wheels, power locks and windows, keyless entry, nice cloth seats, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (one of the FEW new features that is worth looking at as it works and is not expensive to implement). Dynamic Stability Control is another up and comer that is standard on the Mazda2, and it's so functional that it may become mandatory. These bits increase the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price to $15,590 including destination fees, but since most manufacturers include these features as standard anyway it behooves one to compare apples to apples, and competitor's cars match the price of the Mazda2. Utility is another matter, and this is where the 2 started to look quite appealing.

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2013 Mazda CX-5 GT Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 11:57AM

A winning combination of performance and fuel economy

There was a time when being hitched to Ford probably didn't seem like the best thing for Mazda. Certainly the larger automaker had a lot of platforms and powertrains to choose from when Mazda wanted to expand into a new segment, but some of those platforms and powertrains weren't exactly state of the art. How times have changed. Now Ford is a tech leader and Mazda is enjoying the fruits of its good associations, while delivering up some unique technologies all on its own.

The latest darling of the Hiroshima-Dearborn partnership is the CX-5, a compact crossover that replaces the old Escape-based Tribute. I was on the Tribute launch a dozen years ago and it was an impressive SUV back then, but it hadn't changed enough over the years to keep up with its many rivals, so once brisk sales eventually slid off the chart until the little SUV was discontinued last year. Now that the CX-5 has arrived, the Tribute is quickly becoming a distant memory.

The CX-5 is a very good compact crossover. In fact, it's one of the nicest I've tried. I normally have a fairly full garage of test vehicles, but despite a 300-plus horsepower sports coupe and a $70k luxury ute at my disposal, not to mention an ultra-frugal pint-sized city car that could have saved me a lot on gas, I kept hopping into the little Mazda to run errands. Even for the longer runs it was my vehicle of choice. It's just so comfortable, so easy to drive and so practical.

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2013 Lincoln MKT Road Test Review

Posted Jan 19th 2013 11:40AM

Breaking the crossover mould

There are crossovers that appear like traditional sport utility vehicles and there are crossovers that look more like tall wagons, and then there are some that can't be pigeonholed quite so easily. Lincoln's MKT fits into this latter category. It looks like no SUV ever created before and simultaneously can't be thrown into the tall wagon camp, yet it's obviously a crossover. So how does it fit in? Or does it even need to fit in?

Sometimes a vehicle comes along that's totally unique in the marketplace and for a number of reasons, whether it be styling, functionality, or some other appealing attribute, or most likely a combination of all of the above, it becomes an instant hit. A good example of this would be the Ford Flex, a large 7-passenger crossover that seems to strike a positive chord with most people who see it and makes a much more indelible impression on those who drive it, and therefore sales have naturally flourished. The Lincoln MKT is based on the Flex, so you'd think that adding Lincoln's premium design cues along with upscale luxury accouterments would make it an instant hit too, but, for one, the formula for success in one market doesn't necessarily work in another, and for two, neither car follows exactly the same formula.

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