First Drive

BMW Concept 8 Series exclusive first drive: Borrowing a priceless prototype

BMW Concept 8 Series exclusive first drive: Borrowing a priceless prototype

I’ve seen countless concept or prototype cars at auto shows and press junkets over the years. Rarely does anyone ever get to drive them, because concept cars are, well, only concepts. One of kind and invariably hand-built, they’re obscenely expensive, too. Their primary purpose in life is to showcase new styling and new technology. Think of them as eye candy aimed to grab attention, from everyone and especially away from the competition.

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2018 Hyundai Kona First Drive: Better late than never for all-new SUV

2018 Hyundai Kona First Drive: Better late than never for all-new SUV

Is it ok to be late to the party if you make a stylish entrance? That would appear to be the question asked by the new 2018 Hyundai Kona, the Korean automaker's first 'cute ute,' a subcompact crossover aimed at the growing slice of buyers trading in sedans for the all-wheel drive hatchbacks on stilts that are taking over the industry. The Kona's appearance in showrooms might lag chronologically behind options like the Jeep Renegade, the Mazda CX-3, and the Honda HR-V - we're unlikely to see it go on sale in the United States until the first quarter of 2018 - but Hyundai has pegged its hopes on pairing strong value with appealing design in its bid for the affections of space-seeking shoppers.

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2018 Honda Accord Prototype First Drive: All-new 2.0 Turbo packs a surprise

2018 Honda Accord Prototype First Drive: All-new 2.0 Turbo packs a surprise

That’s right folks, Honda’s turbocharging the all-new model year 2018 with a new 2.0-liter direct injection turbo-four. In a recent event held at Honda’s R&D facility in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, I got a taste not only of the new engine but also the similarly-fresh 10-speed automatic transmission the automaker has been working on. The fun didn’t stop there: wrapped up inside a Civic test mule was the Accord’s other engine option, a 1.5-liter turbo-four CVT, waiting for me to take it on a couple of laps at the proving grounds.

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2018 Audi A5 / S5 Sportback First Drive: Luxury SUV alternative for a wagon-less world

2018 Audi A5 / S5 Sportback First Drive: Luxury SUV alternative for a wagon-less world

What a cruel joke the American automotive market continues to play on the once-proud station wagon. At a time when new car buyers seem determined to turn their backs on traditional sedans in favor of SUVs and crossovers of all shapes and sizes, manufacturers are equally resolute in their desire to leave the just-as-practical wagon in the lurch. Audi, a company which produces beautiful long-roofs that are sold everywhere but here, has been forced to play the game, too. In doing so, however, it's tapped into a level of style that has produced some of the most appealing luxury options for the cargo-friendly set: the Audi A7 / S7 twins, and their new, more affordable siblings, the 2018 Audi A5 and S5 Sportback.

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2018 Volvo XC60 First Drive: The best Swedish all-rounder since ABBA

2018 Volvo XC60 First Drive: The best Swedish all-rounder since ABBA

Volvo's reinvention has been a bright star in the auto industry, and with the 2018 XC60 SUV it's set to bring that thoroughly Swedish thinking into the mainstream. First of the new 60 Series models, it's a vital car for Volvo to get right. The old XC60 was Volvo's best-seller after all, not to mention the most popular premium SUV in Europe, even in its final year of production.

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The 2017 Aston Martin DB11 is unlike any other Gran Tourismo

The 2017 Aston Martin DB11 is unlike any other Gran Tourismo

It’s rare that a car stuns me into silence, but then again there are few cars quite like the new Aston Martin DB11. The storied British automaker has decided it’s due a reinvention, and this is the coupe it’s chosen to spearhead that process. It’s a Gran Turismo in both the classic sense of an elegant long-distance tourer, but also according to the modern definition of a car that possesses both organ-melting performance and superlative comfort, with no compromise along the way. Or, for shorthand, a car that wows.

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2018 Subaru WRX and WRX STI First Drive: One-two turbocharged punch for street and track

2018 Subaru WRX and WRX STI First Drive: One-two turbocharged punch for street and track

You don't have much time to acknowledge the bear sitting upright on the side of the highway when you're behind the wheel of the 2018 Subaru WRX. There's something about being hammer-down on the zigzag roads that wrap around the river leading into the town of Kaslo, British Columbia - almost like someone had stretched out an enormous tangled slinky and then abandoned it in frustration - that does wonders to focus the mind on the task at hand. At these speeds, you do you, and the bear does whatever it is 600 lbs of black-furred muscle does when it encounters 3,300 lbs of screaming bright blue metal that vanishes around the next bend in a burst of gravel and off-throttle turbo-whump.

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2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec First Drive: Millennial-minded

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec First Drive: Millennial-minded

Acura is three decades old, and with the 2018 TLX it's looking for like-minded Millennials. Latest in the automaker's line-up to bear the redesigned corporate grille, the new TLX also debuts an A-Spec version that builds on that nose-job with a sharper, more aggressive body kit. Acura's target is clear: it wants to be the sports sedan of choice for youthful drivers wanting bang-for-their-buck that the Germans just don't deliver.

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2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 First Drive: Right-size off-roader offers high-tech romp

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 First Drive: Right-size off-roader offers high-tech romp

The sun has long since set on the stretch of Colorado 141 that I'm driving, eyes bleary, windshield smeared with grease and cheese from the pizza sitting on that dashboard that I scored in Grand Junction just before the entire city rolled up its streets and shut down for the night. I've been awake since four a.m., a victim of weather and mechanical gremlins forcing me out of the skies not once, but twice today, and sending me down this lonely road far later than planned. 'Detroit Rock City' is playing on the radio as I push Chevy's latest pickup as quickly as I dare through the mountain passes, frantically racing sleep and exhaustion to the warm bed waiting for me while lightning frames the peaks that tower above with shocks of light, when I see it: walking down the opposite shoulder, looking right at me. Is that a damn bear? Yeah, that's a damn bear.

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2017 Ford GT First Drive: When brute-force and beauty collide

2017 Ford GT First Drive: When brute-force and beauty collide

There are few moments in life so memorable that they burn deep into every single fiber of your body. For me, one such moment came the first time my index finger pushed up against the 2017 Ford GT’s ignition start button. Two years after the GT’s shock unveil at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, the build-up of anticipation until I was behind the wheel and seated inches in front of the mid-mounted 647 horsepower, 550 lb-ft of torque twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine could’ve gone one of two ways. As the hardly-tamed beast roared to life, would the GT live up to its supercar promise?

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2017 Nissan Rogue Sport First Drive: Smaller, but not lesser SUV

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport First Drive: Smaller, but not lesser SUV

What's in a name? If that name happens to be 'Rogue,' well, you're looking at the substantial brand equity of the best-selling SUV in America, and a vehicle that's managed to move more units than even the mighty Ford F-150 pickup through the first quarter of 2017. It makes perfect sense, then, for Nissan to swap out the 'Qashqai' name that's used to identify its latest compact crossover everywhere else in the world and go all-in on the 'Rogue Sport' badge for the American market.

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2017 Volkswagen e-Golf First Drive: VW’s EV puts Golf first, electric after

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf First Drive: VW’s EV puts Golf first, electric after

More range, more power, and more like a regular, gasoline Golf than ever, the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf is an EV you could forget runs on electricity. VW's sole electric car in the US - which it currently only offers in ten states - it's the vanguard of the automaker's big electrification push due in 2020, when a production version of the I.D. concept will hit the streets. That promises can't-miss-it design, range to rival the Bolt EV, and a whole new platform underneath. For now, though, the e-Golf is more about coaxing VW loyalists into something more surreptitiously green.

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