Test Drive: New Kia Forte packs a wallop

Redesigned for 2017, the Kia Forte is a mainstream economy car, well equipped and nicely priced at less than $17,000. Throw in an additional $10,000 or so, and it’s still a Forte, but it’s a completely different package — a compact near-luxury sedan or hatchback that packs a 201-horsepower wallop. The Forte may occupy the space between the subcompact Rio and midsize Optima, but it covers a lot of ground — in terms of refinement, standard and optional equipment, and performance. Always stylish, from the moment it was introduced to the U.S. market during the 2008 model year, the Forte … Read more

Test Drive: Rogue Sport exceeds expectations

We didn’t expect much from Nissan’s newest compact crossover, the Rogue Sport. We’ve developed a fairly strong preference for midsize crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda Equinox and Nissan Murano, over compacts and subcompacts. Thus, we were pleasantly surprised by our 2017 Rogue Sport SL … though not everyone who saw it was enamored of its Nitro Lime skin. The Sport, like the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, is smaller than its namesake. It seemed to handle more crisply than the Rogue SL, yet was not appreciably less roomy. The addition of the Rogue Sport gives Nissan … Read more

Engineers put simplicity first in 2018 Chevy Colorado

2018 Chevrolet Colorado

The Chevrolet Colorado and its GMC stablemate, the Canyon, got off to a bumpy start in 2004, when they replaced the smaller S-10 and Sonoma pickup trucks. Reviewers were unimpressed, and the trucks fared poorly owner-satisfaction surveys. General Motors gave its smallest pickup trucks a two-year hiatus after the 2012 model year, about the same time Ford Motor Co. dropped its similarly sized Ranger pickup line. That left GM to compete with Honda, Nissan and Toyota in the midsize pickup segment. The revival has been more successful. Combined Canyon-Colorado sales have soared from 45,575 in 2012 to 146,174 in the … Read more

Test Drive: Chevrolet Traverse draws crowds with its appeal

Our introduction to the fully redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Traverse came during the Connecticut International Auto Show in Hartford last month. With crisp, straightforward lines and slightly larger dimensions than its predecessor, the white Traverse had loads of appeal and drew crowds under its black, white and gold bow-tie banner. Looking deeper, we learned the redesigned Traverse weighs about 400 pounds less than the 2017 model yet provides more passenger room and better fuel economy. Although its 310-horsepower engine has more muscle than the 2017 Traverse, the new version sports better fuel economy — 17 mpg city, 25 highway, compared with … Read more

Test Drive: Golf SE TSI more refined than standard economy car

Volkswagen’s compact hatchback, the Golf, is priced well above the baseline established by Hyundai, Kia, Chevrolet and others in the economy-car business. Our latest test car, a 2018 Golf SE TSI, is priced in the mid- to high $20,000s, and even the base models come in around $20,000. A base Hyundai Elantra hatchback, well equipped with standard features, starts at about $17,000. Those extra thousands for the VW don’t add much in the way of function or even form; the Golf’s look isn’t dramatically different from that of its predecessor models going back to the 1980s. But it’s not as … Read more

Test Drive: Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium is a refined SUV

When automakers finally figured out Americans wanted their sport-utility vehicles in smaller packages, we found our early objections to SUVs in general — too rough, too thirsty, too inefficient in their use of space — finally started to soften. Today, we have come to like several compact SUVs, also known as crossovers because they handle more like passenger cars. Among the best are the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Chevrolet Equinox. Joining the panoply of likable compact crossovers this year is the redesigned Volkswagen Tiguan — a model we judged too small in past incarnations. Admittedly, our test … Read more

Test Drive: Range Rover Sport SVR packs a punch

Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport SVR puts the “S” into SUV, in a big way. This burly yet luxurious sport-utility vehicle packs 575 horsepower under the hood, hits 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and has a breathtaking top speed of 176 mph. And it does so at a significantly lower price point than those of its major competitors, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($124,600) and Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 ($123,300). The most muscular of the Range Rovers checks in at $113,600. At these rarefied sticker-price levels — which can be elevated considerably when optional equipment is factored in — it may … Read more

Test Drive: Ride in comfort with the Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD

We were surprised to note the specifications for the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD were little changed from the 2014 RAV4 Limited AWD model we drove three years ago. But why would Toyota tamper with success? The roomy, reliable, versatile RAV4 is the automaker’s biggest seller, having exceeded 346,000 units sold through October in North America — a 21% increase over 2016 levels. Our top-of-the-line RAV4 carried a sticker price of $37,919, compared with $24,410 for the base LE with front-wheel drive. All RAV4s come with a 4-cylinder, 176-horsepower engine and 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission. The RAV4 is a relaxing, … Read more

Test Drive: Hyundai Ioniq has plenty of pep

It should come as no surprise that Hyundai’s new Ioniq hybrid hatchback overachieves in a big way. In its rookie year, it’s right in the game with the the longtime champ of the fuel-sipping hybrids, the Toyota Prius. Our 2017 Ioniq Hybrid Limited was a little more expensive than the Prius Prime we tested recently, at $31,460. The top-of-the-line Prius Four Touring starts at about the same price. The Ioniq has a roomier interior and more cargo room, and it beats the Prius’ commendable 54-mpg rating by a single tick. The Ioniq’s interior seemed more refined than the Prius’ and … Read more

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