First Drive

2016 Honda Civic first drive

2016 Honda Civic first drive

What do you expect from a mainstream car? If you're talking about the 2016 Honda Civic, then those expectations vary hugely, with what's considered a "must-have" proving just as broad as the age range of the car's audience. It's no small issue, and one Honda can't afford to ignore. Some drivers prioritize economy above all else; others demand space and luxury features; style is vital but potentially divisive; and even in this mass-market segment, driving feel can't be ignored.

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2016 Chevrolet Volt first drive

2016 Chevrolet Volt first drive

Not all electric cars are created equal and, as Chevrolet proved with the first-generation Volt, there's more than one way to wean drivers off gasoline. Fans of electric vehicles can debate pure-EV, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and any other combination all they like; at the end of the day I'm a pragmatist, and so for me it's the Volt's ability to boost fuel-efficiency without introducing range anxiety - and without being too pious in the process - that makes the second-gen 2016 car so appealing.

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2017 Audi A4 first drive: A8 for the everyman

2017 Audi A4 first drive: A8 for the everyman

Hardly had the lights flashed on the new 2017 Audi S4 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, when a handful of journalists were whisked off to Venice, Italy to test drive the next generation A4. Set to go on sale in Q1 of next year as a 2017 model, the new A4 is still some months out, but thanks to this early preview I got a chance to see just what’s going on with the subtle yet appreciable - not to mention critical - changes to both the exterior and interior design over the outgoing car. With 12 million A4 sold worldwide, there’s a lot riding on this ninth-generation (“B9”) model, especially as it faces down the likes of Cadillac's ATS, BMW;s 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz's C-Class.

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2016 smart ForTwo first-drive: Better, not bigger

2016 smart ForTwo first-drive: Better, not bigger

The ForTwo is unmistakably a smart car and unique in many ways, but it's still a car that isn't for everyone. You either love it - and are willing to shell out the not-inconsiderable amount of money to buy one - or you hate it. The middle ground for the ForTwo is nonexistent, as far as I can tell. That being said, for owners of the original, the ForTwo is in my opinion a worthy upgrade. A refined chassis: check. More horsepower, performance and handling: check. A newly redesigned interior offering a more luxuriously grown up look and feel: check.

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2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang First Drive – Golden Pony

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang First Drive – Golden Pony

There's always the lingering fear, when faced with a famous nameplate like Shelby, that the car it's attached to will be more about branding than performance. I needn't have worried about the 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang. Since it first broke cover at the start of the year, I've been itching to get behind the wheel of the uber-pony. Happily, neither the GT350 nor its monster GT350R sibling disappoints.

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2016 Lexus RX first drive – Best-seller goes bold

2016 Lexus RX first drive – Best-seller goes bold

There's no arguing with quite how important the RX is to Lexus. The company credits it with kickstarting the "midsize luxury crossover segment" - that's fancy SUV to you and I - back in 1998, and since then over 1.2m have been sold. You could forgive Lexus for playing it safe, then, when it comes to refreshing the best-selling model in its line-up.

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2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country first-drive – Swedish Oddball

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country first-drive – Swedish Oddball

The Swedes aren't the first people you'd associate with wacky projects, but the 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country may force us to change that perception. Latest in the company's line of 60 series variants, it takes the venerable S60 sedan and gives it an unexpected lift, promising exclusivity along with the oddball looks.

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2016 Audi TT/TTS Review

2016 Audi TT/TTS Review

The first time I saw the Audi TT, I can remember saying to myself, “wow - what a great looking car - I can't wait to grow up and buy one.” I was 21 when Audi first introduced the original TT in 1995; now, 20 years later and in it's third generation, it’s still a great looking car. Technology doesn’t stand still, however, and so the latest TT is more refined and technologically advanced both inside and out. Question is, has two decades been generous to the TT or just put it firmly into middle-age.

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2016 Honda Accord First Drive – Coupe, Sedan, and Sport

2016 Honda Accord First Drive – Coupe, Sedan, and Sport

Scale is important, and so when it came to refreshing the best-selling 2016 Accord, it's no surprise that Honda took no chances. Volume seller in the company's line-up, both the sedan and the coupe body-styles needed bringing up to speed with the latest technology like Android Auto and CarPlay, but with minimal damage to the sticker price along the way. Refinement on a budget isn't easy, so the question remains: does Honda still make the car for the everyman?

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2016 Cadillac CTS-V First Drive – 640 all-American horses

2016 Cadillac CTS-V First Drive – 640 all-American horses

There's a moment, just after you start up the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, when the seat belt gently contracts around you, almost like the 640 horsepower super-sedan is giving you a hug. It's a reassuring gesture, though a little at odds with the near-simultaneous gurgle from the engine as the exhaust valves flutter. "Sure, I'm 16.5 feet long, weigh more than four thousand pounds, and will catapult to sixty miles per hour in 3.7 seconds and then run all the way to 200 mph," the Caddy is saying, "but I don't want to kill you in the process."

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2016 Mazda CX-3 First Drive – Crossover style, Miata spirit

2016 Mazda CX-3 First Drive – Crossover style, Miata spirit

Mazda wants to make a compact crossover that isn't boringly earnest, and the 2016 CX-3 is the striking result. Taking on the Honda HR-V, Fiat's 500X, and Jeep's Renegade among the other smaller SUVs that have proliferated among city streets in recent months, the CX-3's promise is that you needn't sacrifice fun simply because an MX-5 Miata won't fit all your friends or family. Turns out, they're actually on to something, though it helps if you tick the right options.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Roadster Reborn

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Roadster Reborn

It's close to being a miracle that the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata exists. As the cars around it get bigger, more luxurious, and more insulated from the road beneath them, and as semi-autonomous technologies become more and more mainstream, a tiny, purist roadster seems all the more an outlier. Surely Mazda's accountants and its "brand strategists" will weigh in and, for this fourth-generation, dilute the MX-5 with demands for practicality? Read on, because I have good news.

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