Smaller hybrid easy on gas, hard to get out of its own way
The new Toyota Prius C is what most folks think of when they imagine a hybrid car.
They think of an extremely small car that gets great gas mileage, but has a hard time getting out of its own way. But unlike many hybrids, the original Prius’s smaller cousin also comes with a smaller, more entry-level price, the base C One starting at $18,950 and the tested C Two starting at $19,900. That’s about $4,000 less than many hybrids, including the Prius II that is about 19 inches longer too.
The C looks more like a Honda Fit, which is to say it’s sort of pointy-nosed cute with a lot of glass and bathed in a bright red paint job, the test car looked fun and spritely. Certainly its handling is light and accurate enough to be rated spritely, but its power, its acceleration skews toward methodical. And that’s after Prius C dropped about 500 lbs. from that of the original hybrid. Continue reading 2012 Toyota Prius C Two
Spiffy sportster rekindles Toyota’s sport coupe tradition
Finally, a new sports coupe from Toyota, albeit offered through its entry-level youngster brand, Scion.
I’ve missed the Toyota Celica for years now, and I’m not alone, so with the 2013 Scion FR-S, Toyota again has a low-cost sports coupe that looks great and will provide much entertainment for those of us who prefer cars to look sporty and handle likewise. Plus this is a near identical cousin (if that were possible) to Subaru’s new BRZ. They both even have three letters as their name.
Toyota and Subaru worked together on this sports coupe, with really only the sheet metal reflecting their differing visions of what a cool coupe should look like. Both look pretty sexy and I can assure you even some Audi owners were gawking at the Scion, trying to guess its heritage. Continue reading 2013 Scion FR-S
Full-size luxury has a new name – Equus – and plenty of ponies
Hyundai’s full-size Equus is a fine luxury car with one major drawback, the Hyundai name.
Unlike Honda and its Acura line or Toyota’s Lexus or Nissan’s Infiniti, Hyundai has chosen to simply offer its luxury liner as an extension of its standard line. Thus the Hyundai Equus Signature edition that I tested proudly wears its parent company’s name along with a $59,650 price tag. Continue reading 2012 Hyundai Equus Signature
Luxurious crossover, quiet comfortable family mover
A lot of time has passed since I last tested Nissan’s fine Murano crossover, yet it remains a solid, quiet, comfortable family mover.
While many folks buy this in front-drive form, Nissan says, I had the next to top level SL model with AWD. That means it goes for nearly $41 grand, which seems high, until you consider many other crossovers with luxury leanings.
The tested dark metallic blue Murano started at $38,000 and ended up $40,855 with mainly a navigation system upgrade adding to the price. If price is a concern, start shopping at the S level, which begins at $29,960 for front-drive and $31,560 for AWD. There are four trim levels, the top, LE, going for $40,560 with AWD. Continue reading 2012 Nissan Murano SV AWD
A handsome winner that slots below TSX
Acura created one of the finest entry-level sport sedans with its TSX a few years back, but now introduces another winner to slot in just under the TSX.
For 2013 Acura rolls out the ever so slightly smaller ILX to fill the entry slot as TSX has crept up to a $31,010 base price. The new ILX wedges in at a more approachable $25,900, yet is only about 6 inches shorter overall and rides on just a 1.4-inch shorter wheelbase. In reality, this is the size that cars like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Mazda 626 used to occupy before the Japanese car makers grew them to fit U.S. mid-market appetites. Continue reading 2013 Acura ILX Premium
Refined family sedan with superb CVT deserves its due
As in the political world where the frontrunners get all the hype and some worthy candidates get brushed to the sidelines or back pages, Nissan’s Altima doesn’t always get its due.
That may be about to change. The 2013 Altima has been revamped to be slightly wider and infinitely quieter and more comfortable. Its styling is even tweaked to give it more arrow-like front lights and a smoother overall shape. This is a fine family sedan that should send shivers down the spines of Honda and Toyota engineers. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
Two-seater delivers attitude, power, performance – at a high cost
Perfect timing! I had just driven the raciest version of Fiat’s tiny 500, the Abarth, when an even racier MINI Cooper Coupe, the John Cooper Works, or JCW, edition slotted into the test garage.
The Coupe is MINI’s new model, with no back seat and a lowered roofline that gives it a distinctive profile, and some might say, a more buglike appearance. Bathed in Midnight black paint with a red racing stripe – reversed on the red roof with a black racing stripe – the JCW was hot. Women loved it! Even my car-neutral wife commented on its great looks, and THAT’s rare!
Continue reading 2012 MINI JCW Cooper Coupe