Category Archives: Car Reviews

2012 Nissan Murano SV AWD

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.Nissan Murano exterior

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

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2013 Acura ILX Premium

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.2013 Acura ILX

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

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

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.2013 Nissan Altima

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

2012 MINI JCW Cooper Coupe

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.2012 John Cooper Works MINI Cooper Coupe

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

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Cute and powerful, but overpriced and a rough rider

A co-worker put it perfectly after seeing my black and white Fiat 500 Abarth, it’s the Beanie Baby of cars – Cute with a capital C.Fiat's new Abarth

I like small cars, appreciate their efficiency, their fun factor and generally their lower cost. The Fiat 500 is cute, almost to a fault. At its base Pop trim level it’s a fun sub-compact that starts at an extremely attractive $15,500.

The Abarth (Fiat tells us that’s pronounced AH-bar) is its racy version. Think of its 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged engine as a Mini-Hemi, seeing as how Fiat and Chrysler are now linked up. Continue reading 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Sporty, useful, practical, some hatchbacks have it all

Hatchbacks are fantastic and Hyundai’s latest entry the Elantra GT proves the point.2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Sporty, useful, practical and bordering on fun to drive a hatchback often gives you more for your money than any other car design on the market. Think of crossovers as hatchbacks on steroids and you get the picture for useful and practical, but without the sporty. Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

2012 Hyundai Azera

Azera is aces in luxury, quiet, comfort

 If you are among the folks who thought Hyundai would never make it in the U.S. car market, well, get over it.

I’ve driven quite a few Hyundai models of late and the new Azera is the finest yet. This is a large front-drive sedan to challenge Toyota’s Avalon and entry-level sedans from Lexus, Infiniti, Acura and the like.

Granted the Azera looks much like a Lexus and, similar to that make, it tends more toward luxury than sport. The emphasis here is on smooth, starting with its gentle curving roofline and profile to the car’s stylish soothing leather interior. Continue reading 2012 Hyundai Azera