First Drive

First Drive articles

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350



RALEIGH, N.C. — The 2012 SLK350 — the first offering in the sports car's third iteration — has entered the marketplace and comes with a new performance-strong 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Other engines are on the way, but the new direct-injection V-6 gives the SLK a just-right performance persona.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-250

 
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Question: What’s the last thing you thought you’d ever see? A) a Unicorn; B) a Jewish delicatessen opening up in Tehran; C) the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series; or D) a Mercedes-Benz with a four-cylinder engine. If you answered anything but D you’re way off. Mercedes-Benz has always been associated with luxurious, performance automobiles — those that spend most of the time cruising the Autobahn at 135 mph (and slightly slower on North American freeways).

2012 Hyundai Veloster

PORTLAND, Ore. — Veloster as a word means absolutely nothing. Think of it as a vehicular Seinfeld show. But get behind the wheel and you’ll be asking yourself, “Is there anything these Koreans can’t do?” A recent get-together with Hyundai’s all-new 2012 Veloster three-door coupe shed more light on this question and the answer is a qualified “no.”

2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost

 
 ROCHESTER, Mich. — Not far from this bucolic community, in the midst of some 3,800 acres lays Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds, with more than 100 miles of roadways and every kind of surface you could imagine. It is here that Ford tests all manner of current and future vehicles and it is here that we were able to test the 2012 Ford Explorer with EcoBoost. A four-cylinder version at that!

2012 Ford Edge EcoBoost



ROMEO, Mich. — Can the Ford EcoBoost deliver the advertised combination of solid performance and segment-leading gas mileage in the popular mid-sized crossover Ford Edge? After some seat time in the 2012 Edge with its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine at Ford's test facility here, we say yes.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle


HERNDON, Va. — Many people would think the most successful single car design in history was the Ford Model T. Ergo, many people would be wrong. The Volkswagen Beetle overtook the Model T for that honor on Feb. 17, 1972.  Volkswagen is ready to market its third-generation Beetle in the United States this fall.

2012 Jeep Wrangler

PORTLAND, Ore. — There’s a great line in the hit movie Rambo where Col. Samuel Trautman, John Rambo’s commanding officer in Vietnam, addresses a comment by Brian Dennehy, a vicious local sheriff who is convinced that he can starve out the former Green Beret. Trautman says, “I’ve seen John Rambo eat things that would make a Billy goat puke.” By comparison we’ve seen the 2012 Jeep Wrangler do things that would make a mountain goat envious.

2012 Volvo S60 R-Design



YOUNTVILLE, Cailf.  — Volvo engineering has always been front and center about safety; performance and style not so much, although Volvo has had a tad of success with both when you take a look back.

2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist


DETROIT — It used to be assumed that Buick was allied with the Mercury Grand Marquis as having initiated the “Final Purchase Plan.” Well, the Grand Marquis is history, and so is the stodginess so rightly or wrongly associated with one of GM’s stellar brands. Case in point is the all-new 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist Technology.

2012 Mercedes M-Class



MISSOULA, Mt — Vehicle classification doesn’t seem to be a perfect science but under the circumstances it’s probably as good as it’s going to get. However, sometimes confusion reigns. Case in point is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV.