First Drive

First Drive articles

2021 Cadillac Escalade



INDIANAOPLIS — My family has spent way too much time in our house during the last few months — because of COVID, winter temps, and admittedly, general laziness.  We needed to get away, to have a retreat.  With the completely redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade in the driveway and just two and a half hours between us in Indianapolis and the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, we loaded up to go.

2021 Dodge Hellcat Redeye



PHOENIX — Last year, we tested the bargain-priced Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack Plus, equipped with a 485-horsepower, 6.4-liter V-8 SRT 392 Hemi, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. That Charger was overshadowed by the attention-getting headlines of its more powerful big brother, the 707-horsepower Charger Hellcat.
Now for 2021, it’s no surprise that Dodge once again released a better and more powerful SRT version of its high-performing Charger.

2022 Acura MDX



PHOENIX — The Acura MDX is one of the first 2022 models to arrive in showrooms. And just about everything in this fourth-generation three-row crossover is brand new. Acura is Honda’s premium brand, and has been around since 1986. The popular MDX was first introduced for 2001, and Acura says the new model is in an entirely new class. Changes start with the exterior styling, and continue to the all-new ultra-rigid platform with an MDX-first double-wishbone front suspension, new technology, and more space for people and gear.

2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid



INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been the best-selling pickup for generations, has carried carpenters to worksites, busted trails to mountaintops, rolled up to clubs, and took young couples to the altar.  It’s so embedded in American culture that it’s even been on postage stamps.  But, for the first time in its very long history, it can power a worksite, campsite, or partysite all on its own.  A full redesign lofts the 2021 Ford F-150 to the top.

   

2021 GMC Yukon AT4



INDIANAPOLIS — One of my favorite car magazines essentially called GM’s all-new full-size SUVs losers because they’re apparently not that great on the skid pad.  In other words, their grip when being driven like a race car is not good.  Well, newsflash, full-size SUVs weighing 5,677 lbs. and packing the underpinnings to rise up and bound over rough trails are rarely very good at autocrossing.  Climb aboard the completely redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 and I suspect you won’t care.

2021 Mercedes GLA250



GREENVILLE, S.C. — The redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLA250 puts a little more emphasis on “utility” in this, the smallest of Benz SUVs. Make no mistake, there is still a certain amount of fun-to-drive in the GLA250, but in its re-imagining, Mercedes added some traditional SUV cues resulting in a more mature, more substantial carryall.
I recently spent a week with a front-drive GLA250. The price of admission to the GLA-Class is $37,280, including the $1,050 factory delivery charge.

2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge



INDIANAOPLIS — Volvo has a well-earned reputation for building autos that protect their passengers, but the automaker is expanding its compassion for humans to include the environment.  It has launched its Polestar electric vehicle division and offers an all-electric XC40 compact crossover, but plug-in versions of its traditional models will add juice to the plans.  The 2021 XC60 Recharge Inscription is a great example.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R



PHOENIX — There’s much to say when writing about the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R, not the least being that it’s one of the best track cars ever produced, possibly the very best.  Let’s start with the details: 577 horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, a cranium-compressing 516 pound-feet of torque, AMG Speedshift  DCT 7-speed transmission, limited slip electronic differential, 16-inch compound carbon-ceramic disc brakes, rear-wheel steering, and extreme-performance sport tires.

2020 Land Rover Defender



MIAMI — The 2020 Land Rover Defender is a new SUV sporting an old name. First introduced in 1983 as the Land Rover 110 with a Land Rover 90 coming a year later — the designations were based on the vehicle’s wheelbase, not engine size — the name was altered to Defender in 1990, but it wasn’t too survive very long in the U.S. market.

2021 Hyundai Elantra



WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. —  For more than 30 years, Elantra has been the standard bearer Hyundai in the competitive compact sedan segment that includes varsity brands such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and others. Even though compact crossover utility vehicles have become the flavor du jour for a copious number of car buyers, loyalists who prefer sedans still remain. And Hyundai makes excellent vehicles that still attract scads of customers.