First Drive

First Drive articles

2019 Honda Insight



PHOENIX — It comes as a surprise to most people that Toyota Prius wasn’t the first hybrid electric vehicle sold in the U.S. Rather, it was the Honda Insight, an odd looking three-door, two passenger hatchback that arrived in 1999 as a 2000 model, seven months earlier than the Prius. Fuel economy estimates under then-current EPA standards were 61 mpg city, 70 mpg highway, and 65 mpg combined.

2019 Nissan Altima



SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Nissan has not given up on cars — sedans in particular — as several other major automakers have done in favor of crossover SUVs. Sedan sales have slipped from 50 to 30 percent of the U.S. market in recent years and Nissan figures 30 percent is the bottom. That implies there's no where to go but up and Nissan wants to be there for the comeback.

2018 AMG GLC43 Coupe



PHOENIX — Pick any vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio of product offerings and chances are, there’ll be a performance-oriented AMG version from which to choose. In fact, the Barons of Bavaria have currently attached the AMG badging to over 40 vehicles, including 11 SUVs. Two of the most recent additions are the compact GLC43 and GLC43 coupe.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe



PARK CITY, Utah — There was a time not all that long ago when Hyundai’s product lineup, while generally good, was unremarkable and easily blended in with the wallpaper. To be sure, their design was on the weird side – case in point, the Santa Fe compact crossover utility vehicle that debuted in 2000 as a 2001 model.
But over the years Hyundai has evolved nicely, with significant improvements in reliability, gas mileage, and its game-changing 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

2019 Ram 1500 eTorque



LEXINGTON, Ky. — Ram has developed a unique hybrid system for its lineup of 2019 Ram 1500 V-6 and Hemi V-8 pickups designed as a seamless way to improve gas mileage while at the same time add significant torque to both engines. It has rather appropriately been dubbed eTorque. The eTorque 48-volt mild-hybrid system will be standard equipment on all V-6 models and comes as a $1,450 option on the V-8 models.

2018 Maserati Levante



CHELESA, Mich. — Maserati, an Italian automaker with a rich and noble racing heritage delivered by its luxurious high-performance sedans, sports cars and coupes, has, for the first time, added the brand’s trident badge to a much needed sport utility vehicle. Named the Levante (pronounced la-von-tay) for the tropical Mediterranean winds, it is uniquely Italian and positioned to compete directly against vehicles like Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport.

2018 Lexus RX 350L



INDIANAPOLIS — Our society teaches our little brains that longer is better, whether we’re talking about hot dogs, vacations, or, um, car hoods.  But, longer is not always better.  Nobody needs a longer workday, dentist visit, or hurricane.  But, a longer Lexus RX crossover with a third-row seat?  Yeah, that’s definitely better.

2018 Challenger Widebody



PHOENIX — Since Dodge reintroduced the Challenger for the 2008 model year, both the Mustang and Camaro muscle cars have undergone complete refreshes. Further, Camaro is expecting another update for 2019. By contrast, the Challenger has basically remained unchanged for the past 11 years, except for one minor mid-cycle refresh back in 2015. Still, sales keep climbing and thus far in 2018, it is outselling the three-year-old Camaro.

2019 Infiniti QX50



PHOENIX — There’s no denying that the U.S. car-buying community is crossover-crazy, shunning traditional family sedans for a piece of the upscale driving action you get with the likes the popular Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace and numerous others including the Infiniti QX50, the long awaited replacement for the EX and QX50 predecessors after a one-year hiatus.

2018 BMW M5



MIAMI — You’ve no doubt heard the term “sports sedan” used to describe regular family cars that have enhanced performance characteristics, but did you know that the genre dates as far back as the 1930s? I confess I didn’t until I did a “Google” search (Is there any other kind?) and found it was first used in the 1930s to describe “sports saloon” versions of British-made Rover cars.