First Drives

  • 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

    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 for a good 10 minutes at AMG-appropriate speeds, I see something trapped in a spiderweb of belts and handles. Behind me, my co-driver has each limb hooked on a headrest or braced against a panel. He tries to stabilize himself as we careen—at our AMG driving instructor’s request—over...

  • 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
    Doing grown-up things with the do-it-all 2018 VW 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...

  • 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

    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 assorted detritus. She had more, but the Ram's 5-foot, 7-inch bed had only so much room, I had time for one trip, and I have only so much patience for the interminable moving process. After spending a week in the 2019 Ram Laramie Crew Cab, moving my mom's junk, and putting almost 500 miles on it, I...

  • 2019 Jaguar I-Pace first drive
    2019 Jaguar I-Pace electric crossover (brief) first drive review: 4:34 to the future

    In the four minutes and 34 seconds that I get behind the wheel of the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace, I could listen to “Moby Dick” (Zeppelin, not Melville), make a bag of popcorn, or charge the electric Jag for about 20 miles. Ideally, I’d like to do all three. But I get four minutes and 34...

  • 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty
    Living and working with the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty

    Dear truck makers, Enough already! Your trucks are big. I get it. Can we stop with the bigger is better mentality? City boy I spent last week with a 2017 Ford F-250, a mega truck not exactly suited to the urban confines I call home. Ford updated its Heavy Duty pickups for the 2017 model year...

  • 2018 BMW M5, BMW Test Fest, February 2018
    2018 BMW M5 video road (and track) test

    Feel. It's what makes us fall in love. It's what drives our passions. And it's what made auto enthusiasts revere BMW's M cars for years. But even as it got faster around a racetrack, the BMW M5 lost some of its magical feel in its last two generations. The M5 is redesigned once again for 2018, and...

  • 2019 Bentley Bentayga V8
    2019 Bentley Bentayga V8 first drive review: 8 is enough

    Burnt coffee, unlined trousers, post-Achtung Baby U2. Life is rife with mild disappointments. With four fewer cylinders under its hood than its W-12 cousin, does the V-8 Bentley Bentayga deliver another? Math with us here for a moment. A W-12 Bentayga with 600 horsepower lashes out at 60-mph runs...

  • 2018 BMW X2
    2018 BMW X2 first drive review: At least it’s a BMW

    I’m barreling down the longest straight at The Thermal Club’s South Palm Circuit at over 100 mph, and I’m thinking this isn’t right. The 2018 BMW X2 isn’t made for a racetrack—it’s especially not exciting after driving several laps in the new M5—but I...

  • 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio First Drive

    “Best RACE Experience With Shifter in Manual.” That message flashes across the instrument cluster after I twist the drive mode selector past Dynamic and into Race in the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. I dutifully oblige, slotting the electronic shift lever left from Drive and into manual mode as I roll out of the long Formula One-spec pit lane at the Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas. At the staging area near pit out, I come to a stop, waiting on the signaler to clear me. I double check my seating position in the mostly manual, carbon fiber-backed Sparco seats...

  • 2018 Buick Regal GS
    2018 Buick Regal GS first drive review: six appeal

    The 2018 Buick Regal GS wears lots of letters and words on its flanks and in its cabin. Two you won’t find? “Gran Sport.” That moniker’s a relic of an era when rear-drive Buicks prowled the roads, leaded fuel their Muscle Milk. Today’s Buicks lean heavily on recently...

  • 2018 Audi RS 5
    7 things you should know about the 2018 Audi RS 5

    I’m frustrated. The Arizona desert roads Audi picked for me to drive its track-bred coupe on were picturesque and open, but I found nary a sharp corner to attack. So, I’ve called in a favor and borrowed a Nardo Gray 2018 Audi RS 5 for some extra drive time. Now I'm in search of twisty...

  • 2007 Audi S6 Avant
    Es-stating the obvious: 2007 Audi S6 Avant is the dream wagon we never got

    There are only two ways a third-generation Audi S6 Avant makes it to the U.S. It’s either a blackmarket car that was imported here and federalized at a completely absurd cost that isn’t worth it to make it street legal, or, it was custom-built. This 2007 S6 Avant is the latter...

  • 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
    Living with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: the good and the bad

    Jeep crows about its Wrangler being the standard for off-road driving. As my colleague Andrew Ganz found in Arizona, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is a dynamite car in the dirt. While the 2018 Wrangler, a JL to all the fans, certainly will be a fixture on trails and in mud bogs, it's also the vehicle that...

  • 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
    2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a snow warrior, too

    It was a bright, sunny February afternoon in Chicago when I picked up the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Still, with temperatures in the 30s, the conditions weren't ideal for such a performance beast. No matter really. I wouldn't be taking this 707-horsepower SUV to a track anyway. I'd just be...

  • 2019 Audi A7, January, 2018 media drive, Cape Town, South Africa

    Cape Town, South Africa - The South African landscape is unusually parched. Late January is midsummer here, and the country is in the throes of a drought that threatens the water supply. Day Zero is April 16, about a month before the rainy season that could stave off this water crisis. It's an impending problem for a beautiful country still transforming from the oppression of Apartheid to a more equal society. I can't help but feel guilty behind the wheel of the 2019 Audi A7, a luxury car that represents a transformation of its own. It started when Audi set out to turn the A6 sedan into a...

  • 2018 Lincoln Navigator
    9 things you need to know about the 2018 Lincoln Navigator

    The Lincoln Navigator was once the gold standard for luxury SUVs, but it faded into history as time—not to mention limited investment from parent company Ford in its luxury brand—marched on. For 2018, the Navigator has been reinvented with the lofty goal of once again becoming the...

  • 2018 Jaguar E-Pace
    2018 Jaguar E-Pace first drive review: small crossover with big ideas

    The afternoon sun in Corsica melts into the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace’s sumptuous lines. The E-Pace needs a lot of light. After all, it’s instantly familiar. Its shapes raid Jaguar’s closet and wrap them around a compact crossover—none of this is a bad idea. The running gear has a...

  • 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA
    2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA first drive review: a lighter, tighter WRX STI

    Subaru’s STI division has a recipe for more fun. Add liberal amounts of better handling, a dash more power, then bring the heat. In the case of the $50,000 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA, the recipe is fully baked. After spending a day with this special edition model—limited to only 500...

  • 2019 Infiniti QX50, first drive
    2019 Infiniti QX50 first drive review: variable compression, constantly good

    The Infiniti brand is difficult to pin down. Its struggle to introduce a cohesive brand identity and driving character and hide Nissan underpinnings overshadows impressive interior materials and exterior aesthetics. Few premium brands have had to prove their credentials so often. With the 2019...

  • 2018 Subaru BRZ tS
    2018 Subaru BRZ tS first drive review: less sideways, more stick

    The Subaru BRZ has been focused on handling and fun since its introduction in 2011. Dynamic drivability comes naturally in a lightweight sports car, after all. For 2018, the STI-tuned Subaru BRZ tS sharpens its handling further—nearly to the point of leaving bare the car’s power...

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