Test Drive: Toyota Highlander is roomy, reliable, versatile

Toyota’s Highlander, a midsize sport-utility vehicle, long has been one of the Japanese automaker’s most popular models. More than 215,000 Highlanders, which are assembled in Princeton, Ind., wound up with new homes last year. The new year started with a bang with 15,484 units sold — nearly 3,000 more than in January 2017, for a vehicle that’s almost unchanged from the previous model year. It’s no wonder the Highlander sells well. Roomy, reliable, versatile and durable, Consumer Reports magazine recently judged the Highlander the best choice in its category. Our 2017 Shoreline Blue Pearl Highlander LE test car had an … Read more

Test Drive: New Kia Forte packs a wallop

Redesigned for 2017, the Kia Forte is a mainstream economy car, well equipped and nicely priced at less than $17,000. Throw in an additional $10,000 or so, and it’s still a Forte, but it’s a completely different package — a compact near-luxury sedan or hatchback that packs a 201-horsepower wallop. The Forte may occupy the space between the subcompact Rio and midsize Optima, but it covers a lot of ground — in terms of refinement, standard and optional equipment, and performance. Always stylish, from the moment it was introduced to the U.S. market during the 2008 model year, the Forte … Read more

Test Drive: The best crossovers and sedans

Last year’s parade of test cars included some exciting new models notable mostly for their standout fuel economy. One of our test cars had a range of 758 miles — enough to drive nonstop from Bethel, Conn., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., without stopping for gasoline. Without further ado, here are the vehicles that made a big impression on us in 2017. Subcompact sedan Since the onset of the diesel debacle that began in 2015, many U.S. drivers may view Volkswagen as an underdog, but the German automaker — with a strong manufacturing presence in the United States — isn’t behaving … Read more

Test Drive: The 2018 Infiniti Q50 is an impressive luxury sedan

Unlike the popular European luxury sedans, the designers of premium Japanese models often have made handling secondary to riding comfort. Upon finding ourselves behind the wheel of a 2018 Infiniti Q50, we discovered a moderately priced midsize luxury sedan that’s full of surprises. Our Infiniti’s personality was solidly European. It rode firmly, and the run-flat, all-season, 18-inch tires exhibited admirable tenacity in sketchy weather. They were untroubled by the random ice patches and wet road surfaces around western Connecticut. The car cornered as sharply as we dared and had plenty more grip if we’d asked for it. Rather than the … Read more

Test Drive: Rogue Sport exceeds expectations

We didn’t expect much from Nissan’s newest compact crossover, the Rogue Sport. We’ve developed a fairly strong preference for midsize crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda Equinox and Nissan Murano, over compacts and subcompacts. Thus, we were pleasantly surprised by our 2017 Rogue Sport SL … though not everyone who saw it was enamored of its Nitro Lime skin. The Sport, like the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, is smaller than its namesake. It seemed to handle more crisply than the Rogue SL, yet was not appreciably less roomy. The addition of the Rogue Sport gives Nissan … Read more

Engineers put simplicity first in 2018 Chevy Colorado

2018 Chevrolet Colorado

The Chevrolet Colorado and its GMC stablemate, the Canyon, got off to a bumpy start in 2004, when they replaced the smaller S-10 and Sonoma pickup trucks. Reviewers were unimpressed, and the trucks fared poorly owner-satisfaction surveys. General Motors gave its smallest pickup trucks a two-year hiatus after the 2012 model year, about the same time Ford Motor Co. dropped its similarly sized Ranger pickup line. That left GM to compete with Honda, Nissan and Toyota in the midsize pickup segment. The revival has been more successful. Combined Canyon-Colorado sales have soared from 45,575 in 2012 to 146,174 in the … Read more

Test Drive: Drivers have refinement and security with 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4

The Mini line of small cars began life as Britain’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle — a small, fuel-efficient, inexpensive, functional sedan. It didn’t take long for enthusiasts to discover the Mini’s racing potential and it soon became iconic. Never a big seller in the United States under a number of corporate owners, it nevertheless acquired a following here. Finally, in 2001, BMW brought it back to America, this time in a form that was neither inexpensive nor functional. We test-drove a number of Minis over the years. They corner like go-karts, accelerate briskly and ride fairly comfortably. But their … Read more

Test Drive: Chevrolet Traverse draws crowds with its appeal

Our introduction to the fully redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Traverse came during the Connecticut International Auto Show in Hartford last month. With crisp, straightforward lines and slightly larger dimensions than its predecessor, the white Traverse had loads of appeal and drew crowds under its black, white and gold bow-tie banner. Looking deeper, we learned the redesigned Traverse weighs about 400 pounds less than the 2017 model yet provides more passenger room and better fuel economy. Although its 310-horsepower engine has more muscle than the 2017 Traverse, the new version sports better fuel economy — 17 mpg city, 25 highway, compared with … Read more

Test Drive: Golf SE TSI more refined than standard economy car

Volkswagen’s compact hatchback, the Golf, is priced well above the baseline established by Hyundai, Kia, Chevrolet and others in the economy-car business. Our latest test car, a 2018 Golf SE TSI, is priced in the mid- to high $20,000s, and even the base models come in around $20,000. A base Hyundai Elantra hatchback, well equipped with standard features, starts at about $17,000. Those extra thousands for the VW don’t add much in the way of function or even form; the Golf’s look isn’t dramatically different from that of its predecessor models going back to the 1980s. But it’s not as … Read more

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