First Drive

First Drive articles

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.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550

LOS ANGELES — If you ever wanted to be the center of attention may we suggest the following — pick a nice, crisp spring day in the City of Angels, climb into a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550, put the top down and proceed to drive for hours on the Pacific Coast Highway and other environs where you’re in your element.

2013 Ford Flex

PORTLAND, Ore. — We heaped the Ford Flex with praise upon its introduction four years ago because of its incredible utility, its outstanding versatility and its family friendly demeanor. The boxy Flex was in our estimation the embodiment of the 21st Century station wagon. But the fly in the ointment is its polarizing styling, and that's probably the chief reason sales have sagged. Ford hopes styling tweaks and upgrades in packaging will give the grand wagon a new lease on life for the 2013 model year.