First Drive Reviews

  • 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S wagon

    In this SUV-crazy era, we don't see enough bankers’ hot rods anymore, but the mad scientists at AMG have a machine to feed the few who desire one. The 603-horsepower 2018 Mercedes-Benz E63 S sedan is bonkers in the best possible way, but it has a sibling that is even stranger while being more practical. For those who need to haul the kids, the soccer balls, and all the bagels while being cosseted by quilted leather, real wood, LED mood lighting, and a built-in fragrance dispenser, may we suggest the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon? The Mercedes-AMG E 63 S is new for 2018, and we've driven...

  • 2019 BMW X4
    2019 BMW X4 M40i first drive review: the evolving SUV coupe

    Greenville, South Carolina’s Swamp Rabbit Trail shadows the Reedy River along 22 miles of a former rail line. It includes a section named for American Tour de France hero George Hincapie, who resides nearby and leads bike rides for dedicated cycling tourists. It is partially lined by...

  • 2019 McLaren Senna, Portugal Media Drive, June 2018
    2019 McLaren Senna first drive review: Ultimate street-legal performer

    In the age of YouTube, an exotic carmaker needs exciting overhead tracking video of its latest automotive thunderbolt to thrill online fans. McLaren Automotive ran into unexpected difficulty getting that shot. The McLaren Senna’s extravagant wings, spoilers, splitters, vents, and ducts so...

  • 2019 Audi Q8, Atacama Desert, Chili, media drive, June 2018
    2019 Audi Q8 first drive review: The Q flagship

    If a Hollywood studio wanted to fake a Mars landing, I’d strongly suggest sending a film crew to the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The vast, empty stretches of reddish sand peppered with loose rocks form a convincing backdrop in which to embed UFO-related props. I’m not in an...

  • 2018 Lexus LC 500h
    2018 Lexus LC 500h first drive review: A glimpse into grand touring's future

    It’s clear that the path forward in the auto industry involves electrification. No market segment will be immune from it, though some will take longer to hop on the electrification train. Toyota is the current king of hybrids, with its Prius and Camry models. The Japanese automaker’s...

  • 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (C43 sedan)
    2019 Mercedes-Benz C300 and C43 first drive review: Subtle upgrades, big safety

    A web of country roads casts a romantic net between the alpha world cities of Paris and Frankfurt. Where maps pare down to two-lane roads, the Moselle Valley unfurls vast expanses of lush green carpet, sun-spotted by a yellow haze of wildflowers, lidded by a cobalt-blue sky. Lucky steers and...

  • 2018 Porsche 911 GT3

    There’s one place where you can get great fried chicken livers on a Sunday morning in Georgia, before church is out. It’s a low-ceiling kind of place, tacked on to a gas station, the hallmark of fine low-priced dining across the south. Over the first glorious spring weekend this year, I knew the fastest way to get there, not the highway route, but a snake-backed two-lane with enough kinks to merit its own DSM classification. And I had just the thing to get there. It’s the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3, a car so blisteringly fast it set a stunning 7:12.7 lap time on the Nurburgring...

  • 2019 Volvo V60
    2019 Volvo V60 first drive review: A matter of inches

    As I sit in the 2019 Volvo V60’s supremely comfortable seats and drive through a flash flood in Tarragona, Spain outside of Barcelona, I ponder just how much three inches really matters. You see, the V60 is a wagon—the kind of car that Americans don’t like to buy—but it...

  • 2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR
    2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR first drive review: continuous improvement rings true

    I awaken at the Dorint Hotel on a cool, dewy May morning. The surface of the famed Nürburgring-Nordschleife rests just a few feet outside my window, and it, as well as the plentiful surrounding greenery, is shrouded in a pea soup fog. Mid-May shouldn’t be this cold. The temperature...

  • 2018 McLaren 720S
    2018 McLaren 720S first drive review

    It launches to 60 mph quicker and weighs less than a Ferrari 488 GTB. It slays the quarter mile faster than a Bugatti Veyron. It'll take on all comers on a road course. And it’s from an automaker that got its start in earnest in 2010. We took the 2018 McLaren 720S to California’s Ortega...

  • 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive
    2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS first drive review: fighting for attention

    Born into a prizewinning family, the 2018 Porsche 718 GTS may never be the champion of anything—not in the Porsche lineup at least. That doesn’t mean it’s not a winner. The 2018 Porsche 718 GTS adds 15 horsepower and 8 pounds-feet of torque above the Cayman S or Boxster S, cuts...

  • 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive
    2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive review: the way forward for a classic

    The scene in the rearview mirror of the 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T is remarkably clear. It’s all high-definition vineyards and crystal-clear coastline, for as long as I dare look back. Why it’s so clear: Engineers fitted thinner rear and side windows that are not only 6 pounds lighter...

  • Volkswagen California Ocean Red

    Our ideal garage is full of weird French hatchbacks, Japanese kei cars, German wagons, and Volkswagen vans. But as North Americans, we’re stuck admiring these wondrous oddities from afar. Aside from the tragic Volkswagen Routan, the U.S. hasn't seen a new VW van since the Eurovan disappeared 15 years ago. And until the all-electric I.D. Buzz arrives, that's not likely to change. It should. After three days and two nights living in one of VW's iconic camper vans (along with a short drive in a passenger-only Multivan), this is the forbidden fruit Americans should clamor for. Living the...

  • 2018 Ford Mustang GT Peformance Package Level 2
    2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Package Level 2 first drive: making it a real sports car

    The Ford Mustang was born a pony car, but it’s worked tirelessly for most of the last decade to move past its roots. To become a true sports car. The reintroduction of the Boss 302 in 2012 came close, but only in 2015 did Ford finally ditch the Mustang's solid rear axle for modern technology...

  • 2019 Bentley Continental GT, Austria 2018
    2019 Bentley Continental GT first drive review: The stuff of dreams

    The day begins in a Sequin Blue 2019 Bentley Continental GT at the exclusive Kitzbuhel Country Club in the Tyrolean region of Austria. Set against verdant rolling hills and tooling through storybook villages, it would be easy to think one is lost in a fairy tale. This car’s cabin is outfitted...

  • 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
    2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid first drive review: Porsche’s case for electrification

    An air of practicality sweeps over Porsche these days. It’s not unlike the strong winds coming off the Mediterranean Sea on the warm spring day when I find myself behind the wheel of a 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid pushing toward the French coast from hilly Provence. This warm, humid breeze...

  • 2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
    2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante video road test

    The 2018 Aston DB11 Volante just may be the grandest of today’s grand touring cars. A 2+2 convertible with a sensuous shape and 503 German horses under its clamshell bonnet, it’s a beautiful means of getting you wherever you want to go. We drove the DB11 Volante on the California coast...

  • 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63
    2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63 first drive review: flying bricks and off-road tricks

    We’re far off charted roads, somewhere in France’s L’Occitanie region, on some family estate where wine and off-roading are baronial hobbies, when I first take a peek in the rearview mirror. As I crash a 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 through trashcan-sized holes and muddy slip-n-slides...

  • 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

    No one car can do it all, but the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes pretty close. VW’s hot hatch is almost as happy snaking through twisty canyon roads as it is doing adult stuff like hauling home lumber for a weekend project from the corner big box hardware store. Slap a roof rack on top and swap out the Pirelli all-season performance rubber for winter tires and it’s hard to imagine a more versatile vehicle. Admittedly, the GTI has its limitations, but it’s very good at most everything, as I recently learned during a week of extra-routine driving. By extra-routine, I mean that...

  • 2018 Kia Stinger GT
    Living with the 2018 Kia Stinger GT: the good and the bad

    It took years for Americans to embrace Japanese performance cars and the different philosophy behind them. If the 2018 Kia Stinger GT is any indication, it won't take South Korea nearly as long to gain a foothold with American performance shoppers. That's because there's something intrinsically...

  • 2018 Volkswagen Golf R
    2018 Volkswagen Golf R first drive review: no juvenile delinquent

    Automaker family portraits are like most of ours. See that mohawk in the back? That’s the Honda Civic Type R. The blue-face scoundrel flipping the bird? Hello, Ford Focus RS. Every family has someone bound for the pokey—even short stretches, but the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R skips hard...

  • 2018 Porsche Panamera
    2018 Porsche Panamera first drive review: baser instincts

    What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve ever had to make? Drip coffee at home instead of a drive-thru latte? The middle seat in back, in coach? Okay, breathe. The base 2018 Porsche Panamera won’t trigger any gasps like those commonplace horrors. We’ve driven all kinds of...

  • 2019 Aston Martin Vantage first drive
    2019 Aston Martin Vantage first drive review: Tilting at windmills

    The giant blades on the lazy-looking wind turbines that dot southern Portugal produce the sound of a passing jet, only it never goes away. I know this because the irresistibly photogenic windmills got me out of the 2019 Aston Martin Vantage’s driver’s seat. Not much else would. The...

  • 2019 Ram 1500
    Living and working with the 2019 Ram 1500

    My mom's moving saga never ends. It's the gift that keeps on giving for a son who wants to help and has occasional access to pickup trucks. Recently, a 2019 Ram 1500 was available to me and that meant I became delivery boy once again. This time she needed an oven moved, along with a few bikes, and...

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