First Drive

First Drive articles

2018 BMW 550i XDrive



MIAMII — BMW — which is much easier to remember than“Bayerische Motoren Werke” AG, or in English, “Bavarian Motor Works” — has championed the slogan “The  Ultimate Driving Machine” since the 1970s, and it doesn’t take a long time behind the wheel of just about any of its models to see that that is no idle boast. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to drive every one of its offerings, I have never been disappointed by the performance of any of those I have.

2018 Honda Civic Type R



PHOENIX — The Honda Civic is one of the most popular, affordable, reliable and best resale value cars one could hope to purchase. It’s also one of the most staid, sedate and uninspiring vehicles one could drive. Even Honda acknowledged that Civic had grown boring and placid over the years.

2018 Jeep Wrangler



TUCSON, Ariz. — One could easily argue that the Jeep Wrangler is the most instantly recognized vehicle in the world. Even my three-year old grandson would excitedly call out “Jeep, Papa! look!” whenever he saw one. Born in 1941 as the Willy’s Overland MB, it was specifically tailored to Army specifications for the Allied soldiers in World War II. Most were sent to soldiers in England and Russia under the Lend-Lease program.

2018 Infiniti Q50



PHOENIX — The Q50 Infiniti’s best-selling sedan gets a mid-cycle refresh for 2018. That means, rather than a complete redo, there’s tweaking to the front and rear fascia, modest changes to the interior as well as innovative technologies designed to support the driving experience. One would have to park the outgoing 2017 Q50 next to the refreshed 2018 to discern the difference, visually. Up front, there are new lower air intakes, a modestly reshaped front bumper, and a grille that’s a bit more dimensional.

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe



In the world of big SUVs, really big SUVs, we get names like Expedition, Armada, Sequoia, and… Tahoe. Big road beasts named after big things. The Chevy Tahoe along with its big brother the Suburban are no exceptions, nor are they any stranger to bigness.

2018 Mercedes E400 Coupe



INDIANAPOLIS — There’s nothing wrong with owning a Mercedes E-Class sedan.  They’re very respectable, undeniably responsible luxury cars for the respectable and undeniably responsible.   But, chop off two doors, lower the roofline and suddenly you’re wearing a red dress.  Going back to the 1970s, E-Class coupes have been some of the most desirable and timeless cars to dance out of Germany.  The 2018 E400 is especially ravishing.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT



PHOENIX — Dodge is the last automotive brand that has remained committed to building true muscle cars. Some will argue that Chevrolet has the Camaro and Corvette, and Ford the Mustang, but nobody does high-performance better or on a wider scale than Dodge. Dodge already does Challengers with up to 840-horsepower with its human-hauling rocket sled Demon, and 707-horsepower Hellcats in a choice of either a Challenger coupe or a four-door Dodge Charger, that’s popular as a cop car.

2018 Ram Rebel



INDIANAPOLIS — There are 11 Ram 1500 models, ranging from the work-ready Tradesman through the Big Horn, Lone Star, Sport, Night, Laramie, and Limited Tungsten editions.  Each has a unique character that appeals subsets of the broad spectrum of full-size truck drivers.  Towards the top is the Ram Rebel, which is perhaps the most expressive of an expressive family. Rebel is big and bold with hints of Power Wagon and Lil' Red Truck. 

2018 Mercedes GLA 250



PHOENIX — The small, compact luxury crossover segment is growing rapidly, with numerous manufacturers flooding the market with a vast choice of vehicles and trim levels. Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30 are just a few, with Jaguar’s new E Pace going on sale in 2018. We last drove the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, the German automaker’s first compact crossover utility vehicle, shortly after it was introduced back in 2015. It’s actually more of a hatchback than an SUV and is smaller than the company’s GLC compact crossover.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan



INDIANAPOLIS — With a name conceived as some amalgamation of a tiger and iguana, the Tiguan was always part car, part SUV and styled like a Golf on heels.  It identified as a Volkswagen, but looked bland.  But, driving it was a spicy delight with that turbo engine propelling it down the left lane of fast freeways.  Well, it’s all new for 2018 and it’s gone from bland to a big spicy habanero.