The Kia Soul pulls at my emotions, going back and forth between being impressed by the design and creativity though disappointed in many areas where I wish Kia had gone a step or two further with the concept and level of refinement. These areas include drivetrain, packaging and interior material quality. That being said, I have developed a soft spot for this character of a car. Its unique cuboid shape, never-ending acceleration, advanced tech, and ability to comfortably perform commuting and carpool duties outweigh the downsides… mostly.
This RAV4 TRD Off-Road model has rally-car charisma in the way that it feels light on its feet while soaking up the noise from the dirt road underneath. Its skills are unique among the TRD line-up and they also extend their benefits into many everyday driving situations such as traversing highways that have seen better days, navigating side streets littered with potholes, or navigating through tight parking lots. The TRD Off-Road has plenty of value-added performance (as its steep price tag indicates) and has been transformed from a best-selling RAV4 into a truly unique and adventurous vehicle.
Acura continues to hit a home run with the MDX, and this A-Spec trim adds a touch of sport without losing the everyday performance that’s won it a slew of awards for being a Best Buy1, among the safest vehicles 2, and among the most American-made vehicles3. Even with all of that goodness, the newer competitions’ designs highlight a few areas in need of improvement, however, the MDX is unlikely to leave one disappointed.
The 2020 GMC Acadia receives minor updates as it enters the second half of its life cycle and with the new year, comes the AT4 trim level. This off-road themed trim is mechanical the same as the other Acadia trims, however, all benefit from a much-improved improved transmission that affords better fuel economy and a casual rapid acceleration.
First off, the 2019 Toyota Yaris is a legitimate car. It may seem silly to state, but the decades of rental econoboxes have really tainted the small car image. The small Toyota hatchback can easily handle the daily demands of American life, from navigating tight parking, providing entertainment during the endless rush hour traffic, and even hauling a week’s worth of groceries or a trip to Home Depot. But is there enough charm in its minimalistic approach to put aside preconceived notions and ask the question of why not?
Known simply as the GTI, the small hatchback has earned an unyielding following. After spending time with the GTI, the power and refinement somehow made up for the quality shortcomings and I looked forward to every drive – even if it was during a brief snowstorm.
When it came time to redesign the Tiguan, VW’s image of the North American-market guided the design and specifications. It went from being one of the shortest five-seaters in the segment to be one of the longest – even allowing for an optional third row. The Tiguan seems to have traded in its enthusiasm for curves to become a natural highway cruiser.
There are so many fields where the Audi Q8 illustrates its luxury car status, including its near -$90k price tag. In this market, the car has to perform not just as expected, but become a place that continuously impresses. The Q8 is a car about the details and minimizes any appearance of cost-savings.
The all-new 2019 Honda Passport lands in the sweet spot between the smaller CR-V and larger Pilot. This particular space is becoming more relevant as consumer shift towards crossovers is unlikely to slow down. By utilizing much of the design and engineering of the Pilot, the Passport becomes more of a question of “Why not?” for the Honda exec’s. But does the Passport feel simply like an adaptation of the Pilot or did the development team create a uniquely themed product that can stand on its own?