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2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

Mazda CX-3 sticking with a good thing …2019 Mazda CX-3

Not much seems to have changed with Mazda’s stylish small crossover, the CX-3, since I last tested it a couple years ago.

I mean it gained two horsepower (big whoop), but really nothing much needed to change. I’d still like more horsepower, but at least there’s a Sport mode toggle on the console to boost power when you need it. Continue reading 2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

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2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWDMazda CX-3 flickable fun, but practical too

Small hatchbacks have always been fun to drive and practical too. So why shouldn’t a small crossover with a hatch be much the same?

Well, more and more tiny crossovers are being made and mostly they are pretty entertaining to drive. This week’s bright metallic blue (dynamic blue mica) Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD fits that bill.

Steering is light and lively with quick handling and downright perky acceleration when you toggle the Sport mode on the console. That pumps up the revs so the 146-horse 2.0-liter I4 has maximum torque, which also is 146. The Mazda zips away from stoplights with relative enthusiasm, but you’ll need to toggle back to the normal setting or it holds the engine’s revs way too long and eventually will suck down gas mileage.Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

But hey, toggling the Sport mode is almost as much fun as shifting a manual transmission – almost.

Add to that the practicality of all-wheel-drive to help steady the little crossover in winter slop, plus excellent fuel economy and you’ve got an attractive and cute ute, er crossover to take the place of any small sedan or hatchback.

The CX-3 is Mazda’s smallest crossover, just down a notch in size and wheelbase, from the CX-5. Both handle well. Continue reading 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

2016 Lexus RX350 F Sport

Snazzy Lexus RX350 leaves me wanting more …lexus rx350

The Lexus RX350 has set the tone for mid-size luxury SUVs, now mostly crossovers, for about 20 years and with the 2016 model being totally restyled inside and out, I was expecting more of the same.

That is, I expected to be wowed by the segment leader’s new duds, spangles and spurs. Its sleek lines, low roofline and distinctive wide monster grille give a look that sets it apart in this station-wagony-ute segment. I liked it and colleagues commented on its spiffy looks.

But, at $56 grand and change, I expected more from the metallic black (Obsidian) test model, an F Sport model, which means you get real leather seats, AWD, paddle shifters, variable suspension settings and big ol’ 20-inch wheels.

lexus rx350 b lexus rx350 c All RX350s come with the same silky 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing and are linked to an 8-speed automatic. Only the hybrid models, RX450h, feature a different power plant. That’s a V6 combined with hybrid electric power to create 308 horses and boost fuel mileage from a moderate 19 mpg city and 26 highway in the test model to 28 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Continue reading 2016 Lexus RX350 F Sport