For vehicle review columns

Ford Ranger — Back in the game

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Probably one of Ford's most debatable decisions of the 21st Century was to ax the aging Ford Ranger in 2011 — for many years a compact/mid-sized pickup truck leader — instead of building an all-new version. It left General Motors a clear playing field when it introduced all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sizers that were far advanced from previous models.

GMC Sierra AT4 — Off-road performance

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

In years past there hasn't been much to distinguish the GMC Sierra from the Chevrolet Silverado other than the Sierra was more feature-laden and came in at a higher price point. It seems one of General Motors' goals with its all-new-for-2019 full-sized trucks was to better differentiate appearance and personality that easily distinguishes the brands giving the GMC a clear-cut personality of its own.

Mazda3 Hatchback — Head of the class

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The updated 2019 Mazda3, which comes in sedan and hatchback configuration, is a good example of why Mazda has earned the reputation for building high quality well-engineered and superbly designed cars and crossovers with luxury-like interiors. In the case of the Mazda3 you can add precise handling, an energetic engine, and decent gas mileage.

Additionally, Mazda has added all-wheel drive as an option for just $800 to give drivers a viable choice. And Mazda has made the previous optional engine — a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder — the standard powerplant across the lineup endowing all Mazda3's with 186 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross — A stylish crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Mitsubishi has become a company of crossover SUVs and the strategy has brought it back from the brink of extinction in the U.S. and into some semblance of prominence riding on the back of the Outback and the Outback Sport.

Lexus RX 350L — Stretched for three rows

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Maybe it was just a stroke of luck or maybe it was a very savvy decision based on the future of the luxury market. Either way, Lexus was the first out of the starting blocks with a smaller unibody sport utility vehicle, which has morphed into the modern crossover.

Kia Telluride — Big, bold and beautiful

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It's big, bold, blocky and just a downright beautiful large sport utility crossover. We are speaking about the all-new first-time-out 2020 Kia Telluride. In fact, it's the biggest vehicle Kia has ever manufactured, nearly eight inches longer than its stablemate, the Sorento. Kia designers say it is "boxy on purpose" yielding more room on the inside.

Nissan Altima — Advancing the sedan

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We like sedans, particularly mid-sized sedans that offer just-right five-passenger size, useful cargo space, decent handling and performance, affordable gas mileage, family friendly prices (compared to crossovers), and pleasing styling. We are thankful that there are a few mostly Japanese companies who continue to advance sedan design despite American automakers’ best efforts to totally eliminate them from the marketplace.
Nissan is one of the companies that has not given up on sedans. Nissan officials say studies show that Gen Z and Gen Y buyers still favor sedans over crossovers.

BMW M2 Competition — Driving thrills in a small package

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

While the popular BMW 3 Series has grown bigger and more expensive over the years, the German company known for its "ultimate driving machine" has filled the space once occupied decades ago by a smaller 3 Series with the compact 2 Series giving buyers the opportunity to purchase a smaller point-and-shoot fun-to-drive car.

Sold as a coupe or convertible, the 2 Series has been on the market since 2014 and now comes in two standard formats — the 230i with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and the M240i with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder making 335 horsepower and 396 pound-feet of torque.

Toyota 4Runner — An off-road champ

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Step back in time when the family sport utility vehicle — now known as a crossover utility — was built on a body-on-frame truck platform, was loaded with interior plastic, usually came with a spacious cargo area but tight rear-seat accommodations, and tended to wander on the road without constant inputs from the driver. You can have much of that same experience today at your neighborhood Toyota store. Ask for a test drive in a 2019 4Runner.

Kia Soul — Delightfully quirky

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

More than a decade ago several sub-compact imports hit the marketplace defying classification. We called them boxes on wheels. The Honda Element and Scion xB in 2001 were among the first such vehicles to hit our shores followed by the Nissan Cube in 2009 and Kia Soul in 2010. They had charm and enormous interior space for their little size.