First Drives

2019 Volkswagen Jetta first drive: steady and staid
2019 Volkswagen Jetta first drive: steady and staid

Two decades ago, ubiquitous would have been too soft a word to describe the Volkswagen Jetta’s presence on the manicured grounds of a prestigious college like Duke University. I recently found myself dodging students with backpacks on the narrow roads surrounding the stately campus in leafy...Read More»

2018 Lexus RX 350L
2018 Lexus RX 350L first drive review: playing catch up in a game it created

Sometimes two rows just isn’t enough. Strollers are getting bigger, car seats are bulkier, and nuclear families may as well need a battleship to go out to the movies for a night. Lexus gets all that. Meet the “U.S.S. 2018 Lexus RX 350L”—or at least it feels that way. With...Read More»

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive
2018 Hyundai Kona video road test

Make way for a big addition to the Hyundai crossover family: the pint-sized 2018 Hyundai Kona. This small crossover has big ideas—including some future powertrains that’ll have us buzzing soon—but it’s the basics that we’re in Hawaii to discover. The Kona sits at the...Read More»

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive
2018 Hyundai Kona first drive: small crossover hit parade

Some of us remember when dirt-cheap hatchbacks were the first stop for first-time new car buyers. Freedom was a fold-down rear seat, longboard, and sleeping bag for the only weekend vacation we could afford. The small cars only asked that we compromise our expectations for a tall ride, decent...Read More»

2019 Ram 1500
2019 Ram 1500 first drive: the luxury car of pickup trucks

The 2019 Ram 1500 has fully adapted to the way most drivers use their trucks: livability trumps utility. Sure, the latest Ram is powerful enough to lug a trailer weighing up to 12,750 pounds, but that didn’t matter to me as I took in the warm scent of leather and ran my hand across the...Read More»

2019 Kia Sorento
2019 Kia Sorento first drive: a subtly better crossover

The 2019 Kia Sorento is not a German crossover SUV. It’s far from Teutonic. But the 2019 Sorento Kia assembles in Georgia is beginning to feel less like a cut-rate Audi and more like a real one. Tweaks made to the three-row crossover’s steering and suspension for the 2019 model year...Read More»

2019 Volvo XC40
2019 Volvo XC40 first drive: a subscription worth renewing

There was molten lava under my feet, and it was relaxing. Harmonious, even, as it thumped gently to the music. It wasn’t a trippy dream, but rather bright orange felt-like carpeting and a Harman Kardon subwoofer hidden behind the dashboard supplying mellow bass tones. The unconventional...Read More»

2019 Jeep Cherokee
2019 Jeep Cherokee first drive: more conventional, more power, still rugged

Jeep didn't get it right with the Cherokee when it revived the revered name in 2014. The six-eyed styling bugged us—mainly, it looked like an insect. The base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine was gutless, and the 3.2-liter V-6 was a neutered version of the strong 3.6-liter V-6 found elsewhere...Read More»

2018 Buick Regal TourX
2018 Buick Regal TourX first drive: slightly rugged, very muddy

The 2018 Buick Regal TourX is a muddy vehicle. Not just because it is aimed at the hiking boot-wearing active-lifestyle set that marketers covet. Buick would like to see its new tall(-ish) wagon, which shares a nameplate, powertrain, and interior with the Regal Sportback hatchback, covered in dirt...Read More»

2018 Honda Accord
2018 Honda Accord first drive: equal and opposite reaction

The way engineers talk, the 2018 Honda Accord evolved from inattention. A decade ago when money for research was expensive and hard to find, Honda skated on its reputation. Call it a byproduct of conservatism, not laziness. Cars like the Civic and Accord didn’t thrive—just survived...Read More»

2018 Lexus LS 500 AWD
2018 Lexus LS 500 first drive: an ambitious remake

Cars get heart transplants all the time, but whole brands? It doesn't happen very often. When Lexus launched with its LS sedan in the 1990 model year, its success hinged on the flawless replication of the Mercedes model. That first sedan was an homage to Benz titans like the W123, and it was a...Read More»

2018 Volvo XC60 T8
2018 Volvo XC60 T8 first drive review: The accidental performance crossover

With 400 horsepower on tap, you’d think that the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Plug-In Hybrid would be the right choice for carving your way through a winding canyon road. The ingredients are mostly there: a lot of power, a balanced chassis, grippy all-wheel drive, and nicely weighted steering...Read More»

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking
2017 Fiat 500X Trekking first drive: an underrated, if overpriced, crossover

You can be forgiven for not remembering the Fiat 500X. Underneath its cheeky body, the 500X is basically the same thing as the Jeep Renegade. Both share the same engines and transmissions, and their structure is largely identical. Through the first six months of this year, 53,000 Renegades have...Read More»

2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive
2018 Subaru Crosstrek first drive: memories are made of these

You can remember your first car. I bet you don’t have to think hard. I’ll make another safe bet that the name of that car is clearer in your head than the name of your best friend from the same time. Like friends, memories, and first cars, we forget the flaws of things we love. Or, more...Read More»

2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited
2018 Hyundai Sonata first drive: Finally looking the part

Beauty is no longer merely skin deep when it comes to the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. Last year's dowdy model has given way to a more evocative, interesting design for 2018. It's a study in restraint—both fiscal and stylistic. The 2018 Sonata's basic design dates back only a few years, to 2015. That...Read More»

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport first drive: chasing the VW GTI

As the more dapper and international of the automaker's two compact cars, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT speaks many languages. It wears a crisply tailored European suit not unlike the car that's in its sights: the Volkswagen GTI It mostly succeeds in imitating, but not besting, that German stalwart...Read More»

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio first drive

Alfa Romeo may be on the comeback trail, but so far it’s been missing part of the map. Alfa relaunched here in 2015 with the fantastic 4C sports car. Next came the Giulia sports sedan. See what’s missing? If you said crossover SUV, give yourself a gold star and stop emailing them. The...Read More»

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan first drive: close to closure

We’ve paid our respects to “sport” leaving “sport utility vehicle,” but we haven’t yet found closure. We held on to the last vestiges of SUVs to the bitter end. Probably too long. We started calling them “crossovers” so we wouldn’t be reminded...Read More»

2018 Toyota Camry LE Hybrid
2018 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid first drive

Over the course of a long day last month, we drove five separate versions of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry mid-size sedan. Until recently, it had been Toyota's best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 15 years—but now it's been overtaken by the RAV4 compact crossover utility vehicle. That points...Read More»