First Drive

First Drive articles

2020 Mercedes CLA



PHOENIX — Mercedes first introduced the CLA for 2014 as the brand’s entry-level vehicle, with a starting price of $30,825. It was targeted at younger buyers, thinking they would rather drive the three-pointed star rather than a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord for a similar price. Get them into the Mercedes family and eventually they’ll upgrade to a C, E or S-Class down the road as their career meets with promotional success.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD



PHOENIX — The Avalon, Toyota’s flagship full-sized sedan, was all-new for 2019. Now in its fifth generation, it was first introduced in 1994 as a 1995 model. Toyota made no secret that the Avalon was aimed those who were members of AARP, collected Social Security checks and had their health care handled by Medicare.

2020 Hyundai Sonata



PHOENIX — It’s a fact that nearly 75 percent of all new vehicles sold in America today are SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks. And while that craze continues, it’s also a fact that people are still buying sedans. The all-new-from-the-ground-up 2020 Hyundai Sonata is proof positive that the Korean automaker is committed to serving those buyers.

2020 Jeep Compass



PHOENIX — All new for the 2017 model year, the second-generation Jeep Compass is decidedly more upmarket than the vehicle it replaces. Slotted between the subcompact Jeep Renegade and compact Jeep Cherokee, the Compass – with looks that mimic the larger Jeep Grand Cherokee – is, in our opinion, the better looker.

2020 BMW X6



INDIANAPOLIS — It took me a long time to warm up to the idea of a “crossover coupe.”  I mean, what’s the point?  It’s big and heavy, but can’t haul as much as a proper crossover.  It’s sporty like a fastback sedan, but doesn’t handle as well as a car.  Other than looking good, the breed didn’t seem to do anything particularly well.  Some of that may still be true, but after many miles, I’ve warmed up to the BMW X6 4.0 xDrive.

2020 Hyundai Venue



MIAMI — The auto industry is always riding the wave of change especially when it comes to the car buying public and their insatiable appetite for crossover utility vehicles. And, here’s a brand new one, the entry-level Hyundai Venue. With it, the South Korean brand is chasing after younger buyers, enticing them to buy a new car with a roomy interior, advanced safety features and a great warranty all for about what you’d spend for a three- or four-year-old Toyota or Honda.

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio



INDIANAPOLIS — Like Liza Minelli’s father, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is Italian.  It quite literally wears that fact on its fenders with the four-leaf clover, or Quadrifoglio, from the brand’s racing team.  Look beneath the skin for a track-tuned  barnstormer with Ferrari-derived engine, adjustable chassis, and the moves of a quick turn through Tuscany. This is a beast you’ll want to savor…then devour.

   

2020 Nissan Titan



PHOENIX — Nissan launched its current generation Titan pickup truck in 2017. Until then, it had remained relatively unchanged since its initial launch back in 2004. The 2017 Titan was a major leap forward and huge improvement over the previous Titan. To stay competitive — now that the other major brand full-sized pickups have completed refreshes in the past two years — Nissan has given the Titan modest updates outside and some really meaningful feature upgrades for the 2020 model year.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB



SCOTTSDALE, Az. — Mercedes has just added yet another significant SUV to its product lineup. The all-new GLB slots between the smaller urban-stylish GLA and the larger rounded and best-selling GLC. GLB is offered in two-row five-passenger and three-row seven-passenger configurations ($850 upcharge) with standard front-wheel drive or optional 4Matic all-wheel drive, and is surprisingly affordable ($36,600 FWD and $38,600 AWD).

2020 Toyota Camry TRD



PHOENIX — For Toyota to have the audacity and downright adventurousness to actually slap the TRD (Toyota Racing Development — the brand’s in-house tuner division) on a Camry, let alone an Avalon, is clearly considered getting out on the skinny branches. It’s more than common to see the TRD moniker (add no vowels here please) affixed to the rear fenders of the world’s largest automaker’s trucks and SUVs, making them more off-road capable.