First Drive

2017 Kia Cadenza First Drive: Big car, small market

2017 Kia Cadenza First Drive: Big car, small market

Lurking just below the surface of flashy ad campaigns and country club one-upmanship at the valet station there exists a world of comfortable, handsomely-styled automobiles that deliver 90 percent of the features found in traditional luxury cars almost completely under the radar. The 2017 Kia Cadenza is one such premium sleeper, joining the ranks of the Buick LaCrosse, the Toyota Avalon, and the Nissan Maxima as de facto upscale vehicles that ply the full-size sedan waters with silent dignity.

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2017 Genesis G90 First Drive: Rattling the cage of established luxury players

2017 Genesis G90 First Drive: Rattling the cage of established luxury players

Automakers ignore the aspirations of global giant Hyundai at their own peril. Cresting a 10-year renaissance that has seen the Korean automaker carve up its Japanese and American rivals in everything from the entry-level compact segment to the hot-selling SUV market, the enormous and unblinking eye of Hyundai's product planning team has now turned its full attention to the world of luxury. Successful, and lengthy flirtation with the viability of the Genesis nameplate under the auspices of its current hierarchy has lead to the Genesis G90 full-size sedan exploding onto the scene for 2017 as the herald of an all-new, and entirely separate premium brand.

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2017 Infiniti QX30 First-Drive

2017 Infiniti QX30 First-Drive

The 2017 Infiniti QX30 is Japanese designed, built in post-Brexit Britain, with German parts and engineering, and packaged for crossover-loving America: if that doesn't earn it the title of a "global car", I'm not sure what would. Taking over the reins of guiding new-to-brand buyers into the Infiniti family from the now-deceased G-series sedan, the QX30 arrives with high ambitions indeed, proudly setting its sights on the small, luxury crossovers from BMW and Audi.

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2017 Jaguar F-PACE First Drive – Clever Kitty

2017 Jaguar F-PACE First Drive – Clever Kitty

Jaguar may be new to the SUV segment, but there are no allowances for tardiness: the 2017 F-PACE has to land a knock-out punch to heavyweight rivals and prove the famed British marque is about more than just coupes and heritage. Falling somewhere in-between competitors like the BMW X3 and X5, and Audi Q3 and Q5, in size, the F-PACE doesn't take the easy route of raiding Land Rover's parts bin but instead forges its own path on both the highway and in the rough stuff.

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2018 Volvo V90 Preview – Roll out the welcome wagon

2018 Volvo V90 Preview – Roll out the welcome wagon

Volvo's attack on the midsize luxury segment and the German cars which dominate it, the 2017 S90, arrives this year, but the seasoned Swedophile knows more interesting sheet metal is still to come. Due to arrive on US shores in 2017 is the Volvo V90, a wagon that aims to give American buyers traditionally averse in recent years to that particular body style something to sway them.

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider First Drive

2017 Fiat 124 Spider First Drive

In recent years modern automotive enthusiasts have become a spoiled lot. It’s hard to blame them though – we live in an era of unprecedented access to hair-raising performance, one in which 600 horsepower hardly raises an eyebrow and the prospect of a sub-four second dash to sixty miles per hour almost seems quaint. But amongst this output arms race, a contingent of sports car fans still yearn for a wholly different approach to driving bliss.

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2017 Volvo S90 first-drive – Sweden declares war

2017 Volvo S90 first-drive – Sweden declares war

Volvo may be too laid back to call out its German rivals, but make no mistake, the 2017 S90 is a serious gauntlet thrown down in the midsize luxury segment. Determined to prove the XC90 was no fluke, and instead the first step in an aggressive full-range refresh, the 2017 Volvo S90 takes much of its SUV cousin's charm and condenses it into a form-factor better suited to take on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series.

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2017 Ford Escape First Drive – Turbocharging Evolution

2017 Ford Escape First Drive – Turbocharging Evolution

When the Ford Escape first hit the scene in 2001 it was an instant success, helping to launch a compact SUV segment that was still in its infancy. Flash forward a decade and a half later and the pond is increasingly crowded with an ichthyologist's nightmare of competing crossovers and sport-utility vehicles, each trying to snatch family buyers out of each other's jaws in a feeding frenzy that would terrify even the staunchest piranha.

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2017 Honda Ridgeline first drive – Not your typical truck

2017 Honda Ridgeline first drive – Not your typical truck

In trucks, as in all things, you can take the easy way or the hard way, and the 2017 Ridgeline suggests Honda has some masochists in its ranks. In a market filled with beefy, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin competitors, the second-generation Ridgeline takes a more measured, considered approach. That works for Civic and Accord, but are Tacoma and Colorado drivers really ready to embrace the thinking person's pickup?

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Taking the 600hp 2017 Bentley Bentayga to the track

Taking the 600hp 2017 Bentley Bentayga to the track

The racetrack is not the natural place for an SUV, but then the Bentley Bentayga is not your typical truck. For a start it's luxurious in an Black Amex-melting way - it starts just shy of $230,000 but only the most ascetic of buyers resists the Bentley options list, and they've no reason to be in the showroom in the first place.

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze First Drive

2016 Chevrolet Cruze First Drive

Automakers of the world underestimate the engineering acumen of General Motors at their own peril. After decades of less-than-stellar entry-level sedans wearing the Chevy badge, GM got serious about the compact segment in 2011 when it brought the Chevrolet Cruze to dealerships across America. Finally, here was an affordable Bowtie-wearing commuter that didn't just look good, but offered a driving experience on par with the Japanese rivals that had dominated small car sales for so many years.

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2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet and S63 AMG Cabriolet First Drive

2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet and S63 AMG Cabriolet First Drive

Low-speed cruising down the Promenade des Anglais in the Mercedes-Benz S550 Cabriolet we’re a spectacle, as well we should be — top-down, sun ricocheting off 14-spoke 20-inch AMG wheels, two figures lounging back in white Nappa leather Designo seats with pillow-top headrests. I’d look at us, too.

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