First Drive

First Drive articles

2017 Nissan Titan



PHOENIX — Last year, Nissan made big news with the full-sized Titan pickup, which was completely redesigned and restyled for the first time since it went on sale back in the 2004 model year. Truck owners are fervently brand loyal, and Nissan has had a rough time of it, trying to get Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 owners to switch brands. As a result, Titan sales have never quite lived up to expectations.

2017 Smart electric drive



MIAMI — I’m in Miami’s South Beach for the media launch of Smart’s latest and much improved third generation EV. My driving partner and I are drawing a fair amount of attention as we make our way to the comically tiny red and black car we’ll be evaluating. The stares, jokes and wisecracks are coming from my fellow auto journalists who want to watch my 6’-6” frame — along with my drive partner at 6’-4” — gyrate, pirouette as we attempt to enter the vehicle.

2017 Audi S3



PHOENIX — The Audi A3 sedan arrived on the U.S. automotive scene a couple of years ago as the entry-level vehicle for the brand. Since then, Audi has launched Audi 3 versions in convertible, plug-in hybrid Sportback e-tron, and the high-performance S3 sedan tested here. Think of it as a smaller version of the popular Audi A4. 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid



LOS ANGELES — Nearly 35 years after Chrysler introduced the original minivan, it again plots revolution. It’s only after a full day of driving the Pacifica Hybrid down California’s Pacific Coast Highway, through the canyons around Malibu and Hollywood, and on open Interstate does the significance of this van develop. It will shake the segment to its core.

2017 Subaru Outback



PHOENIX — I’ve always thought the Subaru Outback to be the Centaur of vehicles. It didn’t start out that way when it was first introduced back in 1995 and marketed as a Legacy Grand Wagon in Japan. That was long before the crossover utility vehicle craze came on the automotive scene. Through the years Outback has morphed larger, away from a station wagon and in the direction of a crossover utility vehicle.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport



PHOENIX — With just five percent of the automotive market share, two-door coupe models are considered objects of desire rather than a vehicle that fills a mainstream transportation need. People buy them because they want one not because they are necessarily a practical choice. And visually, the new Infiniti Q60 is not only an object of desire it’s also absolutely gorgeous inside and out.

2017 Buick Envision



HOUSTON — In our modern driving society, crossovers are the station wagons of the seventies. Fortunately for us, shape, power, and fuel efficiency have all improved since then, and you don’t get the two kids making awkward faces at you from their rear-facing back seat. I only make the station wagon comparison to say, they’re everywhere. People with or without kids, men and women of all ages and demographics, are driving crossovers.

2017 Maxima SR Midnight



GOLDSBORO, N.C. — For years Nissan has claimed the "four-door sports sedan" moniker for its flagship Maxima. And the all-new-for-2016 Maxima is designed for those buyers who are luxury intenders, but looking for a vehicle that is more sporting in both appearance and road manners. The Maxima delivers with more than just an alluring design — it also features a healthy 3.5-liter V-6 making 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque.

2017 Nissan Rogue



LAKE OCONEE, Ga. — Following three straight years of sales growth since the introduction of the completely redesigned second-generation Nissan Rogue for the 2014 model year, it has been given a mid-cycle refreshing for 2017 to stay competitive in the booming compact crossover market.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime



OJAI, California — When it comes to pioneering vehicles that get exceptional fuel economy no one would argue that Toyota is the world’s leader with over 25 years of alternative fuel vehicles under its belt. Offered products include gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in a few select markets.