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First Drive: 2018 Nissan Titan

V8-powered beast is also nimble.

by on Aug.16, 2018

For 2018, Nissan offers a full range of rugged TITAN half-ton pickups, including Single Cab, King Cab and Crew Cab body configurations.

Everyone knows that the truck market is dominated by Chevrolet, Ford and Ram. It’s sort of a given.

But when all is said done Nissan also builds a very good full-size pickup truck, the Titan, which was updated for the 2018 model year. It is comfortable, maneuverable and rides well on everyday errands while offering a lot of the carrying capacity that has come to define the pickup truck over the past 100 years. It is also equipped with full complement of the latest technology.

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On the outside the Nissan Titan is certainly a handsome with bold face and grille, tall cab and rear box that’s flanked by a pair of muscular wheel wells. Nissan’s focus on improved aerodynamics incorporates a front spoiler, roof and tailgate spoilers, front tow hook hole cover, underbody covers, rear tire wind deflectors and a seal between the cab and bed. The Titan also features an Active Grille Shutter, which helps reduce drag and LED headlights and taillights also are available as are puddle lamps. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

The love child of a Hellcat and a Demon.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Smokin'! The Challenger Hellcat Redeye's Line Lock lets you spin the rear tires before launch.

In barely the time it takes to say its full name, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody will already be blasting past 60, on its way to a top speed of 203 mph.

Think of the Redeye as “the child that came out of the marriage of the Hellcat and Demon,” suggests Chris Cowland, the otherwise mild-mannered Brit who has overseen powertrain development for some of the fiercest muscle cars ever unleashed on public roadways.

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The new-for-2019 Redeye is the latest in the Dodge performance line-up, offering yet one more variant on the Challenger platform. While not the most powerful version ever – a distinction that belongs to the limited-edition, 2018 Demon – the Redeye has nothing to be ashamed about. As Cowland suggests, it is, indeed, what you’d expect from the lovechild of a Hellcat and Demon, as we found during a day’s driving through the Maine Countryside, wrapped up with lap time on the Club Motorsports track an hour outside Portland.

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New Mustang Hits – With a Bullitt

We follow the tracks of the legendary Steve McQueen chase in the 2019 Mustang Bullitt.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Two icons: the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt emerges from the fog by the Golden Gate Bridge.

(ED: We’ve corrected a few typos and added more on the Bullitt’s six-speed gearbox.)

The streets of San Francisco are eerily quiet on this early morning with the heavy fog that’s rolled in off the Pacific making it possible to imagine traveling back to another time, 50 years ago, when police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt burned rubber going after the bad guys in one of cinema’s most famous chase scenes.

It helps, of course, that we’re riding in the latest iteration of the Ford Mustang Bullitt, the limited-edition pony car meant to celebrate that iconic film and the car driven by star Steve McQueen. Like the original, our coupe is finished in Dark Highland Green, and it’s got a few other touches lifted from the original Bullitt Mustang, including the cue ball shifter knob. But Lt. Bullitt could have only dreamed about having the latest, 475 horsepower version of Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood, as well as the magnetic ride control suspension that would make those legendary hilltop jumps a wee bit less jarring.

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Temptation is there, but we’ve been asked to take things a little easy this grey morning. No jumps, no drifting, high-speed turns. After all, there’s no film crew on hand, nor the necessary permits and police escort holding back the crowds. No big deal, we’ve already pushed the limits driving through some of the back roads carving through redwood country south of Fog City.

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First Drive: 2018 Cadillac Escalade

Once an add-on to the line-up, the luxury ute is now the icon.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Once almost an afterthought in Cadillac's line-up, the Escalade is now the brand's centerpiece.

It seems the Escalade has been the heart and soul of Cadillac’s line-up of luxury vehicles forever.

No other car or sport-utility vehicle comes close, in the mind of the broad public anyway, to representing Cadillac’s nameplate in any kind of meaningful way.

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I suspect this has caused no end of consternation in General Motors headquarters over the years because the Escalade seems to have been an afterthought by GM product planners who were thinking along the lines of up-level Chevrolet Suburban with a bright Cadillac badge. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

The hills are alive with the sound of…a 715 hp V-12.

by on Aug.01, 2018

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera becomes the 3rd in what will become a 7-model line-up.

We’re not quite at the top of the world, but from our perch high up in the quaint Bavarian mountain town of Berchtesgaden, one can see nearly forever. But it’s the guttural roar echoing off the steep and rocky Alpine cliffs that has caught our attention. Faint, at first, it grows ever louder, until the sleek GT coupe pops into view, racing through the mountain pass towards our hotel. The good news is that the driver will soon be handing us the keys to the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, the car we’ve crossed an ocean to drive.

Low, wide and finished in what Aston dubs “satin xenon” paint, the Superleggera has an imposing presence. Not surprisingly, it bears a strong resemblance to the DB11 that came to market barely a year ago, as well as the more aggressive Aston Vantage that followed. Indeed, all three share their underlying platform, albeit with some notable revisions to DBS to handle its incredible power. It is, in fact, the third in what the British automaker promises will be a series of seven distinct models and, for at least the moment, replaces the familiar Vanquish nameplate – though there are hints that badge may yet return.

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The DBS Superleggera also shares the same 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 found in the DB11, albeit with some notable revisions, including significantly more boost, meant to punch it up to a spectacular 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. With its heavy emphasis on lightweight carbon fiber, the 2+2 weighs in at around 3,725 pounds. Do the math and you’re talking about a foreboding power-to-weight ratio that allows for 0 to 60 launches in a mere 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph. It also gives Aston bragging rights when compared to a Ferrari 812 Superfast, which has about 147 lb-ft less torque.

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First Drive: 2018 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD

Brand's new sports coupe drives the way it looks.

by on Jul.27, 2018

In world of sport-utilities, Infiniti is running with the "sport" only with its new Q60 sports coupe.

Boxy sport-utility vehicles seem to rule the roads, but it is still possible to find a nicely shaped sporty coupe that goes a step or several steps beyond the utilitarian such as the Infiniti Q60.

Sitting at the curb the Q60 is drop-dead gorgeous. At the same time, it’s also a lot of fun to drive, comes with a well-appointed interior and has a full-portfolio of the latest technology for safety and connectivity.

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The exterior of the two-door Infiniti Q60 is not only beautiful but it also has a distinctive sporty and luxurious character that comes out whether the car sitting still at the curb or out on the road. It looks impressive — like an expensive automobile should. (more…)

First Drive: Genesis G70

The Koreans finally deliver a real threat to Munich's vaunted sport compact.

by on Jul.16, 2018

Genesis tapped BMW's former M chief to help build some impressive dynamics into the G70.

Hard to believe but it’s been a full decade since Hyundai introduced what was then its most expensive and lavishly equipped model, the Genesis sedan going on to become the North American Car of the Year, among the many awards it collected. The four-door model also had a sort of Mini Me, the Genesis Coupe essentially being positioned as the Korean carmaker’s answer to the ever-popular BMW 3-Series.

Like so many other 3-Series wannabes, the Genesis Coupe wasn’t up to dethroning the king-of-the-sport-compact-hill, but it’s clear that Hyundai has kept that goal in mind and, a decade later, it’s come about as close to anyone to calling BMW’s bluff.

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The original Genesis siblings are gone. Indeed, the name itself has been repurposed for Hyundai’s new luxury brand. A couple months from now, the high-line division will get its third new entry since being spun off two years ago, and the 2019 Genesis G70 does a better job of justifying the Genesis brand’s existing than the two models that came before it, the midsize G80 and premium luxury G80. It also presents a surprisingly solid alternative to the 3-Series, as well as other compact European contenders like the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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First (Short) Drive: 2019 Maserati Levante GTS

Racing between the raindrops.

by on Jul.13, 2018

The new GTS is the second most powerful model in Maserati's GTS line-up.

What has been an otherwise hot and dry summer turned into a storm of almost biblical proportions as I headed up to the M1 Concourse near Pontiac, Michigan for a chance to check out the latest products from Maserati and sibling Italian brand Alfa Romeo. But almost as if on cue, the rain clouds briefly parted when I was handed the keys to the new Maserati Levante GTS for some lap time on the tight and twisty circuit.

There were plenty of skeptics when Maserati announced plans to get into the SUV game – as there were when Porsche revealed similar plans a decade earlier. But the Levante won over most of those naysayers when it made its debut two years ago, initially offering two versions powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. The GTS turns things up a notch.

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The latest version of Maserati’s first-ever sport-utility vehicle is, certainly on paper, an impressive piece of machinery, thrumming out 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque from its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 – just a slight bit less than the Levante Trofeo first unveiled at the New York Auto Show last spring. That’s enough to launch the GTS from 0 to 60 in just 4 seconds – and to take a broadside at the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, destined to be its most direct competitor.

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First Drive: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1

Brand's first sports sedan turns heads, snaps necks.

by on Jun.28, 2018

The Kia Stinger GT1 shows the automaker is looking to attract attention with its designs and products.

Cars of various kinds have come to seem kind of ordinary or even passed their prime even though still much go and fit anywhere 99% of motorists go day in and day out with a minimum fuss and great efficiency.

But they are also kind of boring, which is one of the primary reasons buyers have moved toward the compact two-box SUVs that have become so popular during the past couple of years.

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The Kia Stinger, however, is one car that doesn’t try to hide the fact it is a car and is certainly anything but humdrum. Indeed, the Stinger is quick, cleverly packaged so it doesn’t feel cramped when you are sitting in the driver’s seat and comes with all kinds amenities, including up-to-date technology and as well as convenience-oriented features. (more…)

First Look: 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Handling and control matches power and speed.

by on Jun.11, 2018

The 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 offers plenty of power and improved handling.

The competition in the sports car segment is hot, and Ford is one of the better automakers about finding ways to constantly improve its entry, the Mustang, on a regular basis.

Whether it’s a full makeover or simply an upgrade of its special edition vehicles like the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 — and the upcoming GT500 — the automaker continually ensures its legion of loyal fans are sated while drawing new fans to keep sales up over the years.

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The new GT350 has a variety improvements to keep that tradition rolling along. (more…)

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