First Drive

First Drive articles

2020 Corvette convertible



INDIANAPOLIS — I was getting out of the car at my hair stylists’ place when she walked out and screamed, “You have got to be kidding me!”  She thought I was driving a Ferrari.  I said, “What?  It’s the new Corvette!”  She took a long walk around, looked at me and said, “Yeah, I can see that.”  And, that’s the beauty of the 2020 Corvette Convertible. Its exotic looks derive from the engine’s change of latitude from the nose to behind the seats — a move to enhance handling and acceleration, but also freed designers to change the car’s proportions. 

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63



INDIANAPOLIS — Back in 1991, one of the fastest vehicles you could buy was the GMC Typhoon – a high-performance version of the Jimmy, stoked with a 280 horsepower turbocharged V6 engine and electronic all-wheel-drive that could run 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.  It kept pace with contemporary Corvettes and spoiled passengers with a leather-lined luxury interior.  Flash forward thirty years and we have the Typhoon’s spiritual successor, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.

2021 Volvo XC90 T8-E



PHOENIX — For years, I’ve made long weekend pilgrimages to visit family, explore National Parks, and go on golf junkets, mostly because I love to drive and partly because it’s cheap. Recently, it seemed a certain virus might annul my trip to southern Utah, but restrictions eased just in time for our Bryce Canyon-Zion hiking excursion. We were in luck.

2021 Chevy Trailblazer



PHOENIX — For the 2021 model year, Chevrolet has resurrected yet another name from the past, this time the Trailblazer. But rather than the truck-based utility vehicle that was available from 2001 through 2009, the new Trailblazer is a very different vehicle that’s much smaller and slots between the larger Chevy Equinox and smaller Trax. The only thing it shares with the old Trailblazer is the name. Also know, this is not a derivative model of the mid-sized Chevrolet Blazer that’s larger and was an all-new model for 2019.

2020 Cadillac CT4



INDIANAPOLIS — I once had a rousing debate with a respected General Motors PR rep about why Cadillac could never seem to compete with the Germans.  There have been exceptions:  The original ’76 Seville, ’92 STS, and any number of V-Series among them, but as a whole, Cadillac never quite got there.  And worse, it seemed Cadillac was ashamed of its heritage as it tried to become an American BMW.  Well, there are no more excuses.  The CT4 has finally beat the Germans without selling its soul.

2020 Mercedes C 300 Cabriolet



PHOENIX — Research, customer feedback and more important and relative is sales that suggest convertibles have fallen out of favor with the car buying public and currently account for less than one percent of new car sales. By today’s standards of vehicle popularity, Thelma & Louise in the 1991 movie of the same name would more likely find an SUV with a massive panoramic sunroof their object of desire than the Thunderbird they famously took their fatal leap into the Grand Canyon. Likewise, for James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder and Steve McQueen’s Jaguar XKSS ragtops.

2020 Ford F-350



PHOENIX — Ford was a bit late to the party following major refreshes for Ram, Chevrolet and GMC super duty pickup trucks but now for 2020 its America’s truck leader Ford’s turn with a heavily refreshed lineup of Super Duty’s of their own.
Ford Super Duty trucks include the F-250, F-350 and F-450. Six trim levels are offered for 2020 including the XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited.

2020 Mini Cooper EV



MIAMI — All-electric power trains may be the future in the automotive world, but the new electric version of the 2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric is already behind the times, which, as we shall see, is unfortunate. With an estimated 110-mile duration on a full charge, the Mini Cooper SE Electric is burdened with a notably short driving range, especially considering several other all-electric competitors are offering twice that and more with recent models.

2020 BMW X1



MIAMI — As you may surmise from the numerical designation, the X1 is the smallest of BMW’s fleet of  SUVs, but don’t sell it short. This is a roomy vehicle that delivers both a fun driving experience while remaining true to the functional aspects of the SUV segment, or SAV for Sports Activity Vehicle in BMW parlance.

2020 Toyota Highlander



PHOENIX — The ubiquitous Toyota Highlander is the best-selling three-row crossover utility vehicle in the very crowded mid-sized segment. Facing stiff competition from superb all-new or redesigned competitors like the excellent Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, a new generation 2020 Ford Explorer, and others, Toyota has introduced its completely redesigned fourth-generation Highlander for 2020.