First Drive

First Drive articles

2018 Buick Regal TourX

INDIANAPOLIS — One of my favorite cars is the green 1970 Buick Estate wagon, woodgrain and all, that co-starred in the movie, The Way Way Back.  It’s a classic America family car so familiar to Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers.  But, in a world of crossovers, wagons have taken a third-row seat to SUVs of all types.  The Subaru Outback, built in Lafayette, Ind., is now the nation’s best-selling wagon.  Somewhere between the Outback and The Way Way Back is a new-generation Buick wagon — The 2018 Regal TourX.

2018 BMW 530e

INDIANAPOLIS — BMWs conjure many images for many types of people — a luxurious four-door sedan with a power plug probably isn’t one of them. But, it is a reality with the 530e, a mid-size BMW with power and posh to spare…and fuel efficiency never before experienced. If it wasn’t for the “eDrive” logos on the C-pillars, and an extra door on the driver side front fender, you may never know there’s anything special about the 530e. 

2018 Mercedes AMG GT R

PHOENIX — AMG, the high-performance speed shop for Mercedes, has been hammering out a steady stream of unrestrained, tire-shredding, asphalt-ripping street machines for more than 30 years. The GT R is its latest sports car. If you’re familiar with Germany’s Nurburgring (nickname Green Hell), it’s worth knowing that the GT R got around the track in a record 7 minutes and 10 seconds, which Mercedes claims is a record for rear-wheel-drive cars.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

MALIBU, Calif. — With 9 million sales worldwide and 2 million in the U.S. alone, the compact crossover utility vehicle is “the largest SUV segment in the world,” says Scott Tallon, director of Jeep Brand. Up against segment leader Nissan Rogue and big sellers like Honda CRV, RAV4 and Ford Escape, the Jeep Cherokee makes up just 9.5 to 10 percent market share in the segment.

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet

PHOENIX — The A5 is an attractive version of Audi’s A4 sedan and is available as a coupe, four-door Sportback, and a Cabriolet, tested here. The A5 Cabriolet is available in a choice of two trim levels: base ($49,600) and the performance-oriented S5 version ($62,300). Both trim levels are luxury drop tops with an attractive exterior and a formal interior. Both are well tailored with superb build quality, top rate materials — leathers, wood veneers and brushed aluminum or stainless steel trim — comprehensively engineered with impeccable attention to detail.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

INDIANAPOLIS — If it’s January, it’s time for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  Arriving at the glitzy affair requires a comfortable car for the long drive, agile quick performance to get you there safely, and elegant style to set valets back on their heels.  It’s guaranteed to be snowy, so having all-wheel-drive is a big plus.  I couldn’t have picked a better traveling companion than the 2018 Audi A5 Sportback.

2018 Mini Countryman plug-in

MIAMI — The Mini Cooper is not yet at the stage where it needs to be upgraded to the “MAXI” Cooper, but it seems to be moving in that direction. Launched in 1959 as a trend-setting, two-door sub-compact that was 120.25 inches long — not much more than the wheelbase for many large vehicles — and weighed in at just over 1,300 pounds, the Mini now is available as a four-door wagon that is four feet longer and weighs in at twice the original hardtop’s heft.

2018 Buick Enclave

INDIANAPOLIS — Buick can be described as BE and AE, or before and after Enclave.  Before Enclave, Buick built large fluffy sedans for large fluffy people.  After Enclave, Buicks found homes in the exclusive driveways of younger style-conscious professionals.  Beyond that, though, Buick virtually invented the concept of a luxurious three-row crossover that’s become a staple of every luxury automaker.  After a decade, the Enclave goes in for a makeover.

2018 Mercedes AMG C63

PHOENIX — 503 horsepower, 516 lb-ft of torque, AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT seven-speed transmission. The car is flanked by 19-inch front/20-inch rear AMG forged cross-spoke wheels. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and is brought to a smooth but certain stop with large 15.8-inch cross-drilled and vented ceramic brakes with specially painted brake calipers. All this goodness came wrapped in a gorgeous brilliant blue drop top Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 S. This car is the bomb.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

PHOENIX — At over 9,000 feet, Stelvio Pass is the highest and most dramatic paved pass in the Eastern European Alps. While not the most beautiful, it is a stunning road to view, and the wall of 48 hairpin switchback turns running up the north face renders it iconic for car enthusiasts around the world.
Befitting the name, the all-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio has terrific handling, agility, steering and power to lend both credibility and worthy kudos sufficient to naming it after Italy’s most famous mountain pass.