Alfa Romeo returned to the United States a few years ago with parent Fiat Chrysler's hyperbolic goal of challenging the German brands. First, the Italian brand rolled out the 4C sports car and now comes the Giulia sedan as well as its performance Quadrifoglio variant, which we drove. We can't say whether it will make an impact on the premium performance market, but the Quadrifoglio left one on us....
Honda Civic (sedan and coupe): The popular compact shed its dated and bland design in 2016 as Honda slowly rolled out the entire feature-laden Civic family — a sedan, coupe and hatchback. We especially liked the introduction of a 4-cylinder turbo. Waiting in the wings are performance Si and higher-performance Type R models. We can't wait to test those. tampabay.com/news/business/autos/the-daily-drivers-2016-honda-civic-touring/2264115 ...
We've always loved the practicality of Honda's Ridgeline pickup — Lyra owned one — even if we didn't love the geometry of its design. For 2017, Honda reintroduces the truck after a two-year absence and this second-generation Ridgeline corrects all of its predecessor's aesthetic flaws while making a compelling case for itself as the SUV alternative.
Appearance: The unit-body Ridgeline now looks more like a traditional crew-cab pickup, which isn't a bad thing. Still, we'll concede the point to those who say Honda has overcompensated for its predecessor's body creases and odd angles by producing a pedestrian pickup. This new Ridgeline — especially in the front — resembles Honda's Pilot SUV. The grille is dominated by a chrome top bar that sweeps back over the headlights, and the hood carries the same ridges as the Pilot. Our Ridgeline, the top-of-line RTL-E, came with five-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels and a power moonroof....
The Audi TTS occupies an awkward spot among our favorite sports cars — somewhere between the Porsche Cayman S, Jaguar F-Type and even the less-powerful Audi TT.
It's a matter of preferences and choice: manual transmission and mid engine handling of a Porsche, manual and sleek look of a Jag, or less power but high fun factor of a base TT.
The redesigned TTS for 2016 — there should not be significant chances in the '17 — has more chiseled front with angular headlights and grille. But when comparing to competitions, the TT/TTS has somewhat generic lines....
Acceleration: 0-60 in 5.1 seconds
Best of both worlds: Engaging and sporty ride, with the benefit of passenger and cargo room.
Black Design Package: Against the white paint, the gloss black looks sharp and menacing.
Do we really need another luxury SUV? We do if it's a Jaguar, which is the latest premium automaker to jump into this highly competitive — and lucrative — segment. Having already wowed us with their F-Type sports car and XE compact sedan, we were eager to drive the F-Pace. It didn't disappoint. ...
When is a crossover not a hatchback? When is an Infiniti not a Mercedes? Welcome to the conundrum that is the brand-new Infiniti QX30. Parent company, Nissan, calls it a "premium active crossover" for a "new breed of driver." Obviously, that driver is one who wouldn't deign to be seen behind the wheel of a hatchback. And what of Mercedes? The QX30 has the same DNA as the GLA — the result of a joint venture between Mercedes and Nissan. Our QX30 was the Sport. Other models include base, Luxury and Premium....
We've driven the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT a few times since its current generation rolled out in 2011 and have always enjoyed Chrysler's "ultimate performance" luxury SUV for its sheer HEMI audacity.
Appearance: As you might expect from the SRT division, it's aggressive, with a wide stance that signals this is not your ordinary SUV. The Jeep's signature seven-slot grille gets a black screen insert, which is now flanked by more slender bi-xenon headlamps that also feature black backgrounds. Standard five-spoke wheels are sharp 20-inchers; ours were Black Chrome. The raised hood has two functional exhausters sculpted into it to help feed air to the big HEMI lurking underneath....
With Lyra on vacation, I recently had the all-new CX-9, Mazda's three-row crossover, all to myself for a rainy week that went by all too fast. Mazda may not have invented the crossover, but it has done something close to reinventing it with the CX-9.
Appearance: Mazda completely redesigned the CX-9 for its second generation, giving the seven-seater a sleek look that is more like a car than SUV, which is appropriate since it shares its platform with the Mazda6 midsize sedan. The low stance, wide wheelbase and long hood give it a sport wagon appearance while incorporating Mazda's KODO, or "soul of motion," aesthetic. (That's design-speak, I think, for making cars appear to be moving even while standing still. Or simpler yet: not boring.) Especially in the crossover's upper trims, like the signature model I drove, Mazda makes judicious use of chrome trim to highlight the tasteful curves of the CX-9, whose boldest design feature is the large grille that — especially in profile — protrudes from the long hood. It's a look some may find ungainly, but I found distinctive. My CX-9 came in Mazda's new signature hue — Machine Gray, which is a $300 upgrade — and was set off by 20-inch alloy wheels....
Appearance: The Santa Fe Sport is a handsome SUV that doesn't take any design detours — call it buttoned-down style. The refresh gives it a new three-louvered grille with a large Hyundai badge and wraparound headlights. We especially like the bold character lines that flare at the top of the quarter panels and extend over the wraparound taillights. Our Sport came in Hyundai's new Nightfall Blue and was set off by 19-inch wheels whose smoky finish would probably look better with a lighter paint color. So here's our quandary: As much as we like the looks of the Santa Fe Sport, it leaves us with the impression that Hyundai's recent redesigns are tending toward the generic (hello, Sonata, Elantra). You could be forgiven, for example, if in a crowded parking lot, you mistook the Santa Fe Sport for another brand....
Let's try to imagine the thinking that led to the development of the new Lexus GS F sedan. You can almost hear some rebellious executive: "Hey, a lot of consumers still think we're a stodgy luxury brand — let's show them. We'll produce a V-8-powered thrill ride and we won't even use a turbocharger."
Appearance: The GS F is based on the existing GS 350 sedan and is four-door sibling to the RC F coupe. It doesn't wear the huge spindle grille as well as the sleek coupe, which may put off some buyers, but then this car is not for everyone. Why else would it come in a color called Molten Pearl, a shimmering orange bound to attract attention. The other clues that this is no ordinary sedan can be seen in bodywork that includes large front-fender vents, carbon-fiber trunk-lid spoiler and 19-inch forged aluminum (with matching orange brake calipers) and quad exhaust tips....
Now that the second weekend of the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is here, it’s worth mentioning the artist who seemed to eclipse last weekend's opening three days: Prince.
From its stages and tents to even skywriters overhead, the Purple One’s death weighed heavily on those at the festival as well as its eclectic mix of artists....
Here’s the latest example of the perils of celebrities becoming the face of global brands. Scarlett Johansson is taking heat for her new ad campaign for SodaStream, an Israeli drinkmaker that recently signed her to be its first “global brand ambassador.”
According to the AP, SodaStream has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists for maintaining a large factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank....
Hyundai recently chose the Tampa Bay area as one of the sites to introduce its new Veloster, and we had the opportunity to take a few of the models for an extended drive across the region. The Veloster is a sporty compact aimed at younger drivers. But as we found, the stylish hatchback is also a fun ride no matter what your age.
Appearance: The Veloster is immediately recognizable as a Hyundai, with the automaker's "fluidic sculpture" design philosophy. It looks like it's in motion even when standing still. The front has Hyundai's signature hexagonal blacked-out grille, flanked by LED wraparound headlights for an aggressive look. There are a lot of style elements that set the Veloster apart: a beveled hood with subtle dual scoops, dual-centered chrome-tipped exhaust and available 18-inch wheels with painted inserts to match or complement the body color. There also are some bright color choices and available body graphics. But the most distinctive design element is a hidden forward-hinged third door on the passenger side for rear-seat access....
There's no question that Volkswagen is thinking big. The German automaker says it wants to sell 800,000 cars in the United States by 2018. To that end, it has opened a large plant in Tennessee. That brings us to the midsize Passat, of which someone asked Lyra: "They still make that?" Yes, and VW is churning out the sedans in Chattanooga.
Appearance: VW has completely redesigned the Passat for 2012, bumping up the size, but not the starting price. In terms of style, the Passat doesn't stray far from Midsize Sedan 101 — it's handsome yet somewhat bland, much like one of its main competitors, the Honda Accord. There are a few chiseled lines in the hood and body, and chrome trim, to add some visual interest. The front design is an improvement — VW dropped the accent underneath the horizontal grille. We liked the upswept headlamps and wraparound fog lights. Lyra thought the taillights were a little small for a car of this size....
We don't know how many times we've said of a luxury or performance car: It's nice, but we wouldn't pay what they're asking for it — even if we had the money. It's easy to get jaded when you drive a lot of cars. That brings us to the Mercedes-Benz CLS63. We won't be saying that about this car.
Appearance: The CLS63 has been redesigned for 2012, with the result being a more chiseled look. It's still a coupe masquerading as a sedan, however, with curvy lines and a sharply sloped roof that make it easy for the eye to overlook its four doors. The creased hood culminates in a large but minimalist grille dominated by Mercedes' three-point star badge. The upswept headlamps are LED, as are the running lights. Sharp. The car rides on 19-inch, five-spoke forged-alloy wheels that really set off the Diamond White paint. There is a subtle carbon-fiber spoiler on the trunk....