First Drives

  • 2017 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X off-road

    Term limits don't apply to the new car industry. If they did, the 2017 Nissan Frontier you see here wouldn't be a dead-ringer for the 2005 Nissan Frontier that hit dealer lots during George W. Bush's first term. A lot has changed since 2005. But not the Frontier. Sure, it's up for a redesign, but the current Frontier persists, and, frankly, it's a testament to the design and engineering work Nissan did a decade and a half ago. At $37,000, the 2017 Frontier Pro-4X we tested recently represents the cream of the Nissan mid-size pickup crop. That's big coin, but it's still well under what you'd...

  • 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS
    2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS: Living with a street and track star

    Life gets in the way, even when you're behind the wheel of a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS. Instead of zipping around scenic Lake Tahoe or pushing things to the limit on a South African racetrack, as we've been fortunate to do before, I just spent a week behind the 911 GTS' wheel through rain and...

  • 2017 Audi RS 7
    2017 Audi RS 7 Performance first drive review: living with a $137K hatchback

    Audi Sport's slogan is "Born on the track. Built for the road." While most of us would love to test the limits of any Audi Sport model on a racetrack, we'd also be happy to merely have the opportunity to slide behind the wheel of any RS model for a week, especially if it's a $137,000 RS 7...

  • 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo
    2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo first drive review: Practically perfect in (almost) every way

    Neither jaw-droppingly gorgeous nor particularly utilitarian, the 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is nonetheless highly endearing. It’s the latest in a line of cars from Porsche that seem to do little wrong either on paper or in reality. It's practically perfect, but not all that...

  • 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
    2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid first drive review: the 918 Spyder distilled

    The 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is an intensely busy machine. There’s nothing raw or visceral, two words nearly synonymous with Porsche, about this four-door hypercar, and yet it feels every bit the flagship it is intended to be. After on- and off-track drives around Victoria...

  • 2018 Audi TT RS
    2018 Audi TT RS first drive review: overcoming imbalance

    If you were going to design a sports car, you wouldn’t start with the layout of the Audi TT. You wouldn’t choose a front-wheel-drive architecture. You wouldn’t turn the engine sideways, and you damn sure wouldn’t locate it ahead of the front axle. Instead, you’d start...

  • 2018 Audi RS 3

    Audi’s turbocharged 5-cylinder cars have a short but distinguished history. The Audi Quattro burst onto the scene in the early 1980s and won multiple driver's and manufacturer's titles in rally racing. In 1987, an Audi 5-cylinder was the first car to run up Pike’s Peak in less than 11 minutes back when it was still a gravel trail. And an Audi 90 finished third in the IMSA GTO championship in 1989. For the 2018 model year, a 5-cylinder Audi is the most affordable way you can buy a high-performance Audi Sport model. The 2018 Audi RS 3 is a 400-horsepower inline-5-cylinder hooligan...

  • 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road
    2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road trail review: archaic in all the right ways

    The Toyota 4Runner refuses to evolve, and that’s why we love it. It has stayed true to its rugged roots for more than three decades, outliving long-forgotten 4x4s like the Mitsubishi Montero, Nissan Xterra, Chevrolet Blazer, and Isuzu Rodeo. Today’s 4Runner, the fifth generation of the...

  • 2018 Dodge Durango SRT first drive
    2018 Dodge Durango SRT first drive review: Challenger's attitude

    A Dodge Durango might be one of the last vehicles you'd want to drive on an angry lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's in-field road course. It's a 3-row crossover SUV, designed for school runs rather than running down the front straight. And yet, I'm doing just that, thundering (the wrong way)...

  • 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon First Drive
    2018 Dodge Demon first drive review: Hellcat for real sinners

    Americans love excess, noise, and bombast, and the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is as excessive, noisy, and bombastic as a car can get. But the ultimate Challenger is also a stunning piece of engineering, capable of nearly effortless straight-line performance unlike any car to ever carry a...

  • 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive
    2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive review: big looks, incremental improvements

    The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is very, very fast. The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is even faster. So naturally, rather than calling it a job very well done, Dodge is introducing a middle child, blending the looks of the Demon with the standard Hellcat's powertrain and attaching much larger...

  • 2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 4Matic+
    2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class first drive review: relaxation chamber

    R-E-L-A-X. Frankie said we should all do it. Aaron Rodgers famously said it when the Green Bay Packers started 1-2 in 2014 before coming within three minutes of a trip to the Super Bowl. And now, Mercedes-Benz, not content to build what it considers the best car in the world, wants S-Class...

  • Driving a Trabant in Budapest

    With Lenin, Marx, and Engels literally looking down on us, my fiancée Mindy, a Hungarian taxi driver—whose name I never did catch—and I pushed a dung-brown 1982 Trabant with a dead battery down a hill. After a few feet, it sputtered to life, coughing out a constant stream of blue smoke, a telltale sign that its engine actually had oil in it. After all, every example of East Germany's proudest communist-era car burned oil from its two-stroke, 2-cylinder engine. It was the most authentically Eastern Bloc moment I'm likely to ever have. Now worth about as much as a month's...

  • Subaru WRX STI RHD Goodwood Festival of Speed
    Tackling Goodwood Hill in a right-hand-drive Subaru WRX STI

    Automotive public relations is a funny profession. As a young writer, my editor told me ahead of my first media program to never say anything that could be construed as a request for something, even in passing, because PR people take it seriously. I apparently forgot that lesson, and ended up...

  • Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle
    Riding silently in the US Army's Chevy Colorado ZH2 hydrogen fuel cell truck

    When you're slinking behind enemy lines, the last thing you want is to be detected. For the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), the next step in military vehicle technology marks its location with only a hint of water dripping out of its tailpipe. The...

  • 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio on the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
    Climbing to the top in a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

    It's 9,000 feet from Denver to the summit of Mt. Evans, the highest point accessible by a paved road in North America. That's 9,000 vertical feet. It's a heck of a climb, especially considering it only takes about an hour and a half to do by car. We set off in a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio...

  • Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty drive with John Deere, Jessica Walker, courtesy of Chevrolet
    2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD first drive review: playing with John Deere equipment in the adult sandbox

    When I was just a wee lad, I spent countless hours in the sandbox playing with my Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks. The scale discrepancy didn't bother me because the Tonka trucks worked great for grading the sand into roads and freeway off-ramps for my Hot Wheels. I eventually lost countless Hot Wheels...

  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Cabriolet
    2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet first drive review: a true E at last

    The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet has a strange and winding 25-year history. It all started with W124-generation cars in the early 1990s, the first Mercedes models to bear the E-Class name. In the late 1990s, the E begat the CLK-Class Cabriolet for two generations, both of which were based on the...

  • 2018 Audi RS 5

    Like all animals, humans are subject to various temptations. A salad is healthier than a burger and fries, but the whiff you get within a block of an old-fashioned burger joint is irresistible. Similarly, you shouldn’t buy another project car, but when will you find another like it? Temptation momentarily struck on a back road in Andorra as I debated passing a truck. In a garden-variety family car, I’d have waited patiently. I’d have taken advantage of the semi’s leisurely pace to adjust the A/C, or change the radio station. In the 2018 Audi RS 5, I flicked the left...

  • 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
    2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio first drive review: the SUV we've been waiting for

    The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio needed style, personality, and drivability to help the fledgling brand not only survive, but thrive. The only question we had: Could all those things be too much? Let's ignore that the Stelvio has the body of a crossover SUV—it's not one. It's the same skeleton as...

  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe
    2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe first drive review: a grand touring value

    When you have an obscene amount of money, you should be driving a grand tourer. I recommend the Aston Martin DB11 or a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso. But what if you're not a sultan, an oligarch, or a tech innovator and still want what a GT can provide? You buy the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe. Priced from...

  • 2017 Honda Civic Type R
    2017 Honda Civic Type R first drive review: Track attacker

    It’s a spectacular summer day in Montreal, and not just because it’s 80 degrees. It’s Formula One week, and the remote buzz is audible even downtown as F1 drivers crackle off practice laps at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. They turn one of the most peaceful places in one of North...

  • 2018 Audi S5 Sportback
    2018 Audi A5/S5 Sportback first drive review: A niche worth exploring

    Those wacky Germans have found a way to explore every automotive niche known to man--and invent a few of their own. The BMW and Mercedes-Benz product lineups have grown to include every manner of coupe, convertible, sedan, crossover, coupe-like crossover, hatchback sedan, and veloco-transport, plus...

  • 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
    2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio track day: exhilaration and disappointment

    Italian cars are known for two things: driving passion and a finicky nature. So when I finagled my way into a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio for a track day event, I was hoping that I would experience the former and avoid the latter. Instead I got a healthy dose of both. On Memorial Day, I was...

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