First Drive

First Drive articles

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.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo



LAKE OCONEE, Ga. — An engine doesn’t necessarily make a car, but it can certainly give it swagger.  Take the Nissan Sentra for example.  Earlier this summer, I tested the Sentra and liked it very much.  But, when Nissan mentioned shoving the Juke’s turbocharged engine under the hood, stiffening the suspension, quickening the steering, and sporting out its exterior, I was ready for a drive.  At the recent Rogue and Rogue Hybrid preview in Georgia, I had my chance.

2017 VW Golf Alltrack



SEATTLE — It may or may not come as a surprise to you but the popularity of the traditional family sedan is dying with demand at a five-year low. That’s even as we are in the midst of one of the U.S. auto industry’s best sales years ever following up on last year’s record pace. Vehicles in this segment include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and others.

2017 Audi Q7



PHOENIX — The original Audi Q7 SUV has been around since 2007, when it was introduced to compete with Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. But sales never approached those of the Mercedes or BMW offerings.  For 2017 Audi has completely redesigned the Q7. In the process, it shed some 474 pounds, an unusually huge amount for any vehicle.

2016 VW Golf R



INDIANAPOLIS — My buddy and I were walking to my car for lunch while I was telling him about this really cool Volkswagen I was driving.  He saw it from the door and said, “Big deal, it’s just a Golf!”  Well, he’s half right.  It is a four-door Golf in all the familiar styling and practicality that implies.  But, it’s not just a Golf.  It’s a Golf R that kicks pants and stops hearts.

2017 Ford Fusion



LOS ANGELES — I’m not surprised to read that Ford says the mid-size Fusion four-door sedan is its second best selling vehicle — behind only the F-150 truck. What’s more surprising, in an age when it seems everyone wants an SUV, it outsells the Ford Explorer. Every time I see one on the freeway I am struck by how handsome it looks. Car buffs say it captures “Aston Martin” styling.

2017 Cadillac XT5



PHOENIX — The reinvention of Cadillac into a contemporary luxury brand continues with the latest introduction to the lineup with the first ever XT5 an all-new replacement for the outgoing mid-size SRX crossover vehicle. The SRX was first introduced for the 2004 model year and has been the sales leader for Cadillac.