2019

Ram 1500 — Pickup truck perfection

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Over the years the pickup truck has evolved from a work vehicle into mainstream family lifestyle transportation. The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 is the culmination of that trend offering a high-quality, luxury-infused people hauler while retaining a rugged no-nonsense work ethic that performs quite well at worksites across the country.

Toyota Avalon Hybrid — The frugal way to drive big

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

There's still a market for large comfortable mainstream sedans with stretch-out room for adults, a pleasant ride, quiet interior, decent gas mileage, and acceptable performance. But it's becoming harder to find these cars, which not long ago existed on every manufacturer's new-car lot. One of the best remaining sedans is the Toyota Avalon that was redesigned for the 2018 model year. It's a handsome vehicle with most of the creature comforts and safety technology available today.

2019 Ford Ranger



SAN DIEGO — Back in 2011, after years of lackluster sales, Ford bumped off its mid-sized Ranger pickup. Dodge/Ram did the same with its Dakota, and then a year later GM pulled the plug on the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Those moves effectively ceded the mid-sized truck segment to just two players: Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.

Kia Forte — Compact sedan perfection

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The all-new Kia Forte makes a big statement — the sedan is not dead yet. With the compact Forte and its good looks, pleasing driving demeanor, and more available features than some entry level luxury cars, we see hope for a sedan revival. Kia appears to be a car company that has not relegated its sedans to second-rate status in favor of crossovers.

Buick Encore — Driving small in style

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We were skeptical when Buick introduced the 2013 Encore mini-crossover. We openly wondered if such a diminutive vehicle — even in the exploding small entry-level luxury crossover segment — would go over with the Buick crowd who were accustomed to much larger offerings. Much of our skepticism was erased when we first drove the Encore, which we discovered a very appealing piece of work.

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross



PHOENIX — For years there have been rumors and innuendo of Mitsubishi’s U.S. demise. The company has been mired in one scandal after another, including its admitted overstatement of the fuel economy of at least four models, including two under the Nissan badge. That misstep cost Mitsubishi some $3 billion, further damaging a brand that has already been losing market share.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace



PHOENIX — Until now, if you wanted a luxury electric crossover utility vehicle, your choice was limited to one: Tesla Model X. However, Jaguar has started delivery of its luxury crossover EV, the I-Pace, and Audi has unveiled its e-tron SUV. Others like Porsche are close behind. The I-Pace is sleek, sharp looking five-passenger crossover that’s powered by a 90-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that powers a pair of electric motors.

2019 Mercedes E450 Wagon



GREENVILLE, S.C. — The only thing that would prevent me from buying the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic Wagon is its $65,195 price tag. Or, in the case of the press loaner E450 Mercedes recently left in my driveway, $88,535. It's simply out of my budget. I do find wagons irresistibly appealing. Furthermore, I find wagons with some serious gusto beneath their hoods even more appealing. Dear Dodge: Please bring back the Magnum SRT Wagon.

Infiniti QX50 — Competitive in popular segment

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Infiniti has done a credible job redesigning its compact QX50 crossover for the 2019 model year, returning to the popular luxury segment — after a one-year hiatus.
The new QX50 goes into the selling wars with a lot of weapons including the world’s first variable compression ratio turbocharged engine, a more spacious interior that includes a more roomy second-row, more cargo space than most of its competitors, and a lot of driver assistance technology. That's in addition to very compelling styling both inside and out.

Volkswagen Jetta — A value proposition

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

If you are seeking a small family sedan that can give you the most bang for the buck without sacrificing quality or driving enjoyment we recommend a stop at a Volkswagen dealership to test drive the all-new seventh-generation 2019 Jetta. You will find a conservatively styled, well-equipped, fuel-efficient, and thoroughly modern vehicle at a very affordable price.