Looks, handling, turbo give small Cadillac a boost
Those of us who have been around for a few decades may be forgiven for our skepticism when we hear Cadillac is creating an entry-level sport sedan. Visions of Cimarron dance in our brains.
Ah, but those who observe the car market closely know that Cadillac has been swinging for the fences of late while also having gotten its groove on in the styling department. The result for 2013 is a sweet compact sports sedan, the ATS.
First, it looks great with vertical lights front and rear. The front lenses fold over the front fender pointing up toward the cockpit, while the rear ones remind of many a Cadillac of years past. These look elegant, AND sporty, while the body is taunt and well chiseled with a lean athletic stance.
Folks who didn’t care for some of the overwrought designs and fluffery of the past should appreciate ATS’s understated good looks.
This is a true entry-level luxury sports sedan, the base 2.5L with rear-wheel drive lists at $33,095 and packs a 2.5-liter 202-horse four-cylinder rated at 22 mpg city and 33 highway. Continue reading 2013 Cadillac ATS AWD 2.0T
Fine Accord masters the fine art of blending in …
Honda’s Accord has become the generic family sedan in America, the car everyone’s neighbor owns. It’s a good value, an excellent performer, but it blends in.
So you’ll likely never notice the 2013 model, but you may want to own one.
While Toyota has added a touch of styling flair to its formerly vanilla Camry and Ford has leaped forward with its new Fusion design, Honda stays with its safe, bland look, coupled with mechanical excellence. This deep rooted philosophy at Honda caused the company to deliver a less than stellar Civic for 2012, necessitating that it immediately be remade for 2013.
Luckily Accord isn’t broken, so Honda doesn’t need to fix it. A little sheet metal creativity would be welcomed though. For 2013 the revamped Accord sedan is 3 inches shorter, taking away some of its size and bulkiness that made the last version a full-size car.
It still rides on a pleasant 109.3-inch wheelbase though, and that, coupled with its independent four-wheel suspension that now uses struts up front instead of a control-arm system, delivers a smooth, controlled ride. Traction and stability control also are standard. Continue reading 2013 Honda Accord Sedan EX MT
2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
Mitsubishi doesn’t sell a lot of vehicles in the U.S. market, but it still appeals to the boy toy racer crowd with its Lancer Evolution.
However, it probably says something about the market for a super high-horse turbocharged 4-cylinder sedan that it’s pretty much a two car segment consisting of the Evo and Subaru’s WRX, based on its Impreza sedan.
Whatever you think of these (and if you’re more than 30, you probably don’t think about them much), these cars are little road rockets. But unlike muscle cars past, present and probably future, these are nimble road warriors, a real blast to drive. These are pure adrenaline rush machines. If you could snort a car, junkies would be sniffing these up! Continue reading 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
ES350 handsome blend of luxury, elegance
You’d have to be crazy or lacking in the ability to physically feel anything to not enjoy riding in the new Lexus ES350.
This is a fine front-drive mid-size luxury sedan, with a restyled grille and lines that give it a somewhat more interesting look. At least you notice it now.
But then that may not be what an ES350 owner wants because the car’s interior is about blending in, as in sliding into a quiet comfortable living room of an interior that melts away your tensions and worries. Even though this is the Lexus entry-level luxury sedan, the silver test car’s gray perforated leather seats, glossy dark brown bird’s-eye maple trim (part of a $1,370 luxury package) and black leather look dash speak of elegance.
Setting off the wood trim is a satin pewter-look trim that puts the exclamation point on subtle style and the gloss black console trim reminds you that soon you’ll be home playing your baby grand. Continue reading 2013 Lexus ES350
Veloster Turbo rocks the entry-level market
Hyundai wasn’t happy to leave well enough alone, so it went and added a turbo to its sporty coupe/hatch, the Veloster.
Yes, you’ll still hear jokes about the name and its similarity to the famous dinos in “Jurassic Park,” but you won’t care. You’ll have a sporty car with reasonable oomph and a darned attractive entry price.
The Veloster Turbo starts at $21,950 and packs a twin-scroll turbo that takes the hatch up to 201 horses from the rather tame 138 hp the base model offers. It’s the same 1.6-liter direct-injected engine, but with the turbo it creates a lot more horses. Torque isn’t a neck strainer though.
The turbo spools up a little slower than some on pricier sports models, so there’s a bit of lag and it doesn’t punch you as you might expect. What you get is more gradual power, but power that nonetheless gives this Veloster better overall acceleration and top-end power than the base model. Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Convertible adds fun to fast, sure-footed Audi
What’s more fun than a sports coupe? Well, a convertible version of a sports coupe with a supercharged V6 and all-wheel drive, to be sure.
That’s what you get with Audi’s S5 Cabriolet Quattro, compared with its standard A5 coupe. The S5 comes as either a coupe with solid top or cabriolet, meaning it has a soft convertible top. Entry price is $50,900 for the coupe, with manual transmission and the super quick 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that will kick you in the pants to the tune of 333 horses.
The “ice silver” ($475 extra) convertible version I drove shoe horns that same engine under its hood and it’ll knock your socks off. Well, maybe just lower them a bit, but the supercharged power plant feels and sounds strong with a throaty, but not overly showy, exhaust note. No lag upon acceleration either. Continue reading 2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet
Streamlined CC Sport shows what VW can do
When Volkswagen launched its sporty CC in 2009 it went head-to-head with its own Passat, at the time a dowdy midsize sedan that was in need of a restyling.
Now, Passat is coming off a facelift last year to thin it’s body to blend more with the other mid-size sedans that sell well, Toyota’s Camry, Honda’s Accord, Ford’s Fusion and Chevrolet’s Malibu. So the CC, which VW calls a coupe, but is indeed a midsize sport sedan, stands out as a distinct step up from Passat, if performance and looks tickle your lederhosen.
CC is sleek with a swept-back rear window and trunk lid giving the car a coupe-like appearance, despite its four doors. Its profile is low and lean, so low in fact that I could stand with my arm resting on its roof and not even strain a tendon. Not many cars are this streamlined looking and the CC actually is more exciting looking in person than in even VW’s press photos. Continue reading 2013 Volkswagen CC Sport