First Drive

First Drive articles

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL

SANTA FE, N.M. — Mercedes-Benz unveiled its second-generation GL-Class luxury sport utility. If initial impressions mean anything the legendary German car company will not be able to build enough to meet the demand, which is good news for American workers because every one of the vehicles is manufactured at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

2013 Lexus ES 350, ES 300h

DETROIT and NEWARK, N.J. — Welcome to the big leagues, ES. Lexus introduced its ES luxury sedan in 1989 and six generations later will be offering the popular mid-size sedan as both a gasoline and a hybrid variant. The first five generations of the ES shared the Camry platform, but for 2013 the new ES is “its own man” and enters the market with all guns blazing.

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

TORREY PINES, Calif. — Have you ever fancied yourself as an auto executive because you feel you can make decisions as well as they can? Here’s your first question as the new MBEO (Make Believe Executive Officer) of Hyundai Motor America: What would be the natural progression for your Elantra sedan that was the winner of the North American Car of the Year? The answer is simple; remove the two rear doors, sport it up and make it a coupe.

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

TORREY PINES, Calif. — The main complaint about the iconic three-door, four-passenger Hyundai Veloster hatchback after its introduction last year was its underwhelming performance.  That complaint has been very adequately addressed with the 2013 Veloster Turbo that infuses the little sporting car with 201 horsepower.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350

MEADOWS OF DAN, Va. —  For 2013, Mercedes-Benz has restyled its GLK350, a luxury sport utility vehicle it brought to the United States when it debuted in 2009 as a 2010 model. Labeled a mid-size SUV, the GLK joined other members of the Mercedes SUV family like the full-size M-Class and the larger GL-Class.

2013 Nissan Altima

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nissan has unveiled its 2013 Altima, the fifth generation of what is now the second best-selling car in the United States. In its 20 years of existence 4.4 million Altimas have been sold, but it has never challenged for sales domination in the U.S. This time out, Nissan is confident its new sedan is ready for prime time and can dethrone the Toyota Camry and achieve the lofty goal of number one.

2012 Honda Ridgeline

GOLDSBORO, N.C. — The utility of a pickup truck and the comfort of a car make the aging Honda Ridgeline unibody crew cab a still-solid choice for the weekend Home Depot warrior. Or the family who desires a vehicle that can tow the jet skis, haul several duffels or roller-boards in a secure compartment, carry camping supplies in the five-foot-long dent-resistant bed, and tote five passengers for the weekend beach getaway.

2013 Scion FR-S

LAS VEGAS — Scion is reinventing itself in the wake of declining sales over the past few years. After hitting its peak in 2006 with sales of 173,034, the little Scion boxes lost favor in the U.S. slumping to 49,000 in 2011. One of the cars coming to the rescue is an amazingly well balanced and extremely fun-to-drive rear-wheel 2+2 sports car for 25 grand called the FR-S.

2013 Dodge Dart

AUSTIN, Texas — With all apologies to Mr. Pun, just as Robin Hood had a quiver full of arrows, so, too, does Chrysler’s Dodge Division have an arsenal of Darts. In automobile lore, Dart has a storied past, selling more than 3.6 million originals between 1960 and 1976. During its run it had something for everybody, power-wise.

2013 Ford Escape

SAN FRANCISCO  — Ford unveiled its all-new 2013 Ford Escape in San Francisco in April and used the location’s twisty mountain roads to illustrate the SUV's handling and ride improvements. The Escape is an important element to Ford's continued domination of the sport utility market, and Ford has high hopes the revitalized Escape, which comes with a choice of two fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines, will continue to be the compact segment leader.