First Drive

First Drive articles

2018 Hyundai Kona



KONA, Hawaii — Rolling into dealer showrooms across the U.S. now, the Hyundai Kona, a little late to the small crossover-utility market, is going up against some of the most solid and serious performers in its class: Subaru Crosstrek, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and others. Still, we think it’s one of the best.

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In



PHOENIX — Honda has introduced an entirely new model line of vehicles called Clarity. It encompasses different fuel powertrains including a hydrogen-powered electric car, a fully electric vehicle, and a plug-in hybrid.  For now, the hydrogen-powered electric car is only available in California, and only as a leased vehicle. The all-electric model is only available in California and Oregon, while the plug-in is for sale nationwide.

2018 Buick Regal TourX



INDIANAPOLIS — One of my favorite cars is the green 1970 Buick Estate wagon, woodgrain and all, that co-starred in the movie, The Way Way Back.  It’s a classic America family car so familiar to Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers.  But, in a world of crossovers, wagons have taken a third-row seat to SUVs of all types.  The Subaru Outback, built in Lafayette, Ind., is now the nation’s best-selling wagon.  Somewhere between the Outback and The Way Way Back is a new-generation Buick wagon — The 2018 Regal TourX.

2018 BMW 530e



INDIANAPOLIS — BMWs conjure many images for many types of people — a luxurious four-door sedan with a power plug probably isn’t one of them. But, it is a reality with the 530e, a mid-size BMW with power and posh to spare…and fuel efficiency never before experienced. If it wasn’t for the “eDrive” logos on the C-pillars, and an extra door on the driver side front fender, you may never know there’s anything special about the 530e. 

2018 Mercedes AMG GT R



PHOENIX — AMG, the high-performance speed shop for Mercedes, has been hammering out a steady stream of unrestrained, tire-shredding, asphalt-ripping street machines for more than 30 years. The GT R is its latest sports car. If you’re familiar with Germany’s Nurburgring (nickname Green Hell), it’s worth knowing that the GT R got around the track in a record 7 minutes and 10 seconds, which Mercedes claims is a record for rear-wheel-drive cars.

2019 Jeep Cherokee



MALIBU, Calif. — With 9 million sales worldwide and 2 million in the U.S. alone, the compact crossover utility vehicle is “the largest SUV segment in the world,” says Scott Tallon, director of Jeep Brand. Up against segment leader Nissan Rogue and big sellers like Honda CRV, RAV4 and Ford Escape, the Jeep Cherokee makes up just 9.5 to 10 percent market share in the segment.

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet



PHOENIX — The A5 is an attractive version of Audi’s A4 sedan and is available as a coupe, four-door Sportback, and a Cabriolet, tested here. The A5 Cabriolet is available in a choice of two trim levels: base ($49,600) and the performance-oriented S5 version ($62,300). Both trim levels are luxury drop tops with an attractive exterior and a formal interior. Both are well tailored with superb build quality, top rate materials — leathers, wood veneers and brushed aluminum or stainless steel trim — comprehensively engineered with impeccable attention to detail.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback



INDIANAPOLIS — If it’s January, it’s time for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  Arriving at the glitzy affair requires a comfortable car for the long drive, agile quick performance to get you there safely, and elegant style to set valets back on their heels.  It’s guaranteed to be snowy, so having all-wheel-drive is a big plus.  I couldn’t have picked a better traveling companion than the 2018 Audi A5 Sportback.

2018 Mini Countryman plug-in



MIAMI — The Mini Cooper is not yet at the stage where it needs to be upgraded to the “MAXI” Cooper, but it seems to be moving in that direction. Launched in 1959 as a trend-setting, two-door sub-compact that was 120.25 inches long — not much more than the wheelbase for many large vehicles — and weighed in at just over 1,300 pounds, the Mini now is available as a four-door wagon that is four feet longer and weighs in at twice the original hardtop’s heft.

2018 Buick Enclave



INDIANAPOLIS — Buick can be described as BE and AE, or before and after Enclave.  Before Enclave, Buick built large fluffy sedans for large fluffy people.  After Enclave, Buicks found homes in the exclusive driveways of younger style-conscious professionals.  Beyond that, though, Buick virtually invented the concept of a luxurious three-row crossover that’s become a staple of every luxury automaker.  After a decade, the Enclave goes in for a makeover.