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.
I really enjoy off-roading. It’s my bag. But what I don’t like is compromise. I want a vehicle that is able to confidently explore the beauty of the Rockies, as well as navigate through town. I don’t want clumsiness at 75 mph or tipsy handling around the mountain curves. I want to be assured that the design reviews, layout checks, and durability test cycles have worked out the weak points and, what the heck, a warranty would be nice to have too. Is that too much to ask for? Not for the growing list of vehicles that can provide it all – for a price, of course.
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 all-new Cadillac XT6 has much in common with its GM platform-mates, though it lays on a thick dose of high-end materials and premium features for those who want the interior capacity but not the excessive-for-most hauling capability of the body-on-frame Escalade. This large crossover segment also happens to house some of the best from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi which, at the end of the day, feel like more cohesive designs and better worth the high price tag.
The all-new 2020 Range Rover Evoque tightens up the design of the out-going model with sharper design features and larger surfaces for a distinctly modern design. It’s much more than skin-deep though, as the new chassis, powertrain, and off-road capability reveal a level of poise that is very much Range Rover-esque.
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.