First Drives

  • 2019 BMW X7

    Somewhere on the interstate between Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina, it finally clicks, like the incessant drops of rain on the glass. We’re not getting any decent weather on this first drive of the 2019 BMW X7. No useful turns, either. The descent into Low Country evaporates all hope of an interesting kink or two in the road. It’s flat and marshy and, thank goodness, it’s the celestial home of shrimp and grits, perfect food for both the brain and the soul. When the last bits of yellow disappear from the bowl, we zero in on the big idea behind BMW’s biggest...

  • 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 first drive
    First drive review: The 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 has zero chill

    In the shadow of an active volcano, a pop-up city rises up and shouts in unison. The noise bounces off the tarmac and visibly shakes the delicious vapors that rise from nearby food trucks. The young women in long ponytails and short blue satin shorts who cheerlead from a low stage have to be...

  • 2019 Audi Q8 vs. 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
    Luxury SUV rumble in the Rockies: 2019 Audi Q8 vs. 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450

    Ask me if I consider luxury crossovers to be vital to the human experience, and I’d say probably not. Ask me again on icy roads, in the middle of a blizzard, on an interstate in the middle of Colorado, while being massaged in my seat? Different answer. Luxury SUVs have a time and place and...

  • 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster
    First drive review: The 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i revives the roadster

    Coachella is a town, not a thing. For the 356 days a year when Boy Pablo and Childish Gambino aren’t in residence, it’s a prosaic farm community, where highlighter-pink and yellow signs hawk Medjool dates, shaken fresh from the trees that tower over checkerboards of agri-business green...

  • 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
    First drive review: 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon conquers nearly anything

    If it can’t climb up the hill, it’ll just pull itself over the hill. That’s life for the 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon. For 2019, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon loses some weight, gains some useful technology, refines its edges, but loses zero capability. I flew out to Las Vegas to put the...

  • 2019 McLaren 720S Spider
    First drive review: 2019 McLaren 720S Spider balances sun, performance, comfort

    Among the hottest toys of the 1970s were the Kenner Super Sonic Power (SSP) race cars, which employed a central spinning wheel that propelled them over jumps, down the stairs, and into furniture legs in houses everywhere. The utter ubiquity of these toy cars led to innovations, such as a spark...

  • 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible

    “Digital detox.” That’s what Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff promises in the 2020 Continental GT Convertible, and the opportunity sounds appealing. We are so inescapably immersed in the digital, the synthetic, and the artificial that a retreat to reality and authenticity sounds irresistible. The primary feature of the car’s detoxifying capabilities is the central, three-sided Bentley Rotating Display. When the car is off, it presents a plain woodgrain veneer in center of the GT Convertible’s dashboard. Switch the car on, and the driver is obligated to take...

  • 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider
    First drive review: 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider sounds serious, delivers on the track

    Arizona Motorsports Park sits beside Luke Air Force Base outside Phoenix, so visiting drivers are treated to a non-stop free display of air power courtesy of F-16s and F-35s. The base is home to the F-35 demonstration team, whose preparations for the 2019 air show season provided overhead...

  • 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
    Review update: 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro yearns to get lost, and found

    Twenty minutes from my front door is nowhere. And that’s somewhere I want to be. That’s true for many of us who live in Denver. It’s probably true for the 30 people who will move to Denver today, the 30 people who will move here tomorrow, and the next day, too. The greatest lie...

  • 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
    First drive review: The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is Swedish perfection on wheels

    The sun bathes Lulea, Sweden with light for less than eight hours during the middle of the winter. It rises over the Gulf of Bothnia and its small, frigid islands and sets behind the charming and colorful town scattered with red, yellow and white buildings. As pretty as this small city near the...

  • 2019 Maserati Levante GTS
    First drive review: 2019 Maserati Levante GTS completes a beast

    Italian cars are known for four things: beauty, speed, noise, and a special feel. Fail on any of these and the car feels authentic like ravioli from a can. Maserati’s Levante is the Italian automaker’s first crossover SUV. It’s beautiful, but base models weren’t fast...

  • 2019 Acura NSX
    First drive review: The 2019 Acura NSX grips better, and gives more

    North Georgia roads bustle in the spring but crowds thin when browned leaves and cool north winds arrive. It’s just warm enough to keep the windows down and the tires warm. In other words, it’s perfect NSX weather. The 2019 Acura NSX doesn’t veer far off the course Acura plotted...

  • 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550

    The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen doesn’t look much different than the boxy SUVs from each of the 40 years preceding it. Typically, if a vehicle is indistinguishable from its predecessors, that’s a bad thing. The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is anything but typical. I went to San Diego, California to spend some time with both the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63 to see what’s different, and in this case, if change is good. Here are 8 things you need to know about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63. This is some black magic The G550 drives like the old G-Class, but better. The...

  • 2019 Audi Q8, Park City to Telluride
    2019 Audi Q8 review update: Luxury crossover lode runner

    Lights flicker underneath champagne-dry powder that dusts the old marquee at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah. The Egyptian’s been here since the 1920s. Back then, Park City was a glorified, dusty camp attached to a silver lode; a long ride but a world apart from Salt Lake City, which...

  • 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain, January 2019
    2020 Porsche 911 S and 4S first drive review: Unflappable by design

    Valencia, Spain may hug the Mediterranean coast, but this morning it’s a chillier than normal 45 degrees and the massive tires on the 2020 Porsche 911 have gone stiff in the crisp air. That’s no good when the next thing they’ll do is scrabble for grip during track laps that could...

  • 2019 Porsche Cayenne
    4 ways the 2019 Porsche Cayenne moves upmarket

    It looked like heresy when Porsche released its first SUV in 2002, but it turned out to be a brilliant move. The Cayenne quickly took the mantle as the brand’s best-seller, and it became an adage that the Cayenne enabled Porsche to keep building sports cars. The move also turned out to be...

  • 2018 Tesla Model 3
    2018 Tesla Model 3 first drive review: This is the future, today

    It’s not a hypercar, supercar, or even a sports car, and yet it’s one of the most hyped vehicles of the last decade. The Tesla Model 3 needs no introduction. The linchpin in Tesla’s Master Plan, the Model 3 is supposed to be an affordable, high-volume electric car. It’s not...

  • 2019 Lamborghini Urus, Palm Springs media drive, December, 2018
    2019 Lamborghini Urus first drive review: All-around superstar

    Corsa Speed builds quickly in the 2019 Lamborghini Urus on the North Course of The Thermal Club outside of Palm Springs, California. I look down between turns 9 and 1, and the digital speedometer reads 126 mph and climbing. It feels like 80. Still, I feel I need more power. That’s what...

  • 2019 Ford Ranger

    The bar for mid-size pickup truck excellence is not high. It takes only a few minutes behind the wheel of the 2019 Ford Ranger to realize that, for the way most drivers use their trucks, it’s the best choice. Its 2.3-liter turbo-4 spools up its 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque with more vigor than V-6s in its rivals. Its 10-speed automatic transmission defies the odds to feel less confused despite more gears than the 8-speed automatics in the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Crisp, accurate steering and the gentle reminder of active safety tech not available in most competitors...

  • 2019 BMW 3-Series (330i M Sport)
    2019 BMW 3-Series first drive review: Benchmark or bookmark?

    The BMW 3-Series has made bank for decades off its undeniable clout. With its mastery of nimble steering feel and brilliant balanced handling, it’s oozed something from its pores that seeps into brains of enthusiasts like sugar, or mercury. When we talk about “sport sedans”...

  • 2019 Porsche Macan
    2019 Porsche Macan first drive review: Honed and toned

    The corners are blind. An oncoming car, bus, or bicyclist could await on the other side. Please don’t be a bus. The lane is narrow. The SUV I’m in takes up almost all of it. There is barely any shoulder, and sometimes a guardrail sits right on the lane line and threatens to add an...

  • 2020 Volkswagen Passat prototype first drive - December 2018
    2020 Volkswagen Passat prototype first drive review: Playing it safe

    When the last mid-size sedan buyer exits the showroom in favor of a crossover SUV, Volkswagen will be there to turn out the lights. That’s the overriding thought about the 2020 VW Passat I drove in lightly camouflaged guise at the automaker’s proving grounds south of Phoenix. The...

  • 2019 Audi e-tron first drive  -  Abu Dhabi UAE, December 2018
    2019 Audi e-tron quattro first drive review: A new normal for electric luxury

    The Audi e-tron SUV that goes on sale next spring in the U.S. isn’t just Audi’s first fully electric vehicle. It’s the luxury brand’s way of showing how an increasingly inevitable part of the future can fit right in and be a part of four-ring identity. In our first drive...

  • 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison
    2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison first drive: Heavy hitting in the off-roading sand box

    Ford launched the F-150 SVT Raptor almost a decade ago to thunderous applause. The reasons were fairly apparent. Big truck. Giant wheels. Pro-level suspension. Power. Most people just reveled in the way the overtly in-your-face Raptor tickled the funny bone of our collective truck-loving id; the...

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