Reviews

For vehicle review columns

BMW X2 M35i — Performance beast



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

For most of our driving life we have preferred small vehicles that can be tossed around, that are easily maneuvered on crowded streets and parking lots, a joy to drive fast and hard on a favorite winding road, and that are relatively easy on the gasoline budget. If they have luxury qualities and awe-inspiring power all the better.

VW Passat — Is this refresh enough?


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By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

There is still a market for mid-sized sedans, but it's a shrinking segment and it takes cutting-edge products with new technology, new designs and bigger and more fuel-efficient engines to keep buyers engaged. Several automakers have stepped up with new and desirable products in an effort to win over crossover buyers.

Jeep Compass — Off-road capable



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

When the second-generation Jeep Compass compact crossover hit showrooms in 2017 it didn't have to clear a high bar to improve on the original car-based Compass, which debuted as a 2007model based on a front-drive platform. The original model wasn't a particularly good car, carried very little go-anywhere equipment — the most un-Jeep-like model in Jeep's storied off-road history.

Mercedes GLC 300 4MATIC Coupe — A delightful SUV



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Through the years a coupe in auto parlance meant a vehicle with two doors. German automakers have revised that definition in recent times labeling anything with a fastback design a "coupe." In particular Mercedes-Benz and BMW have introduced a line of fastback crossover SUVs — with four doors — as coupes.

Hyundai Kona — Solid crossover value



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The sub-compact Hyundai Kona crossover was named North American Utility of the Year in 2019 beating out such vaunted finalists as the Acura RDX and Jaguar I-Pace. Now in its third year of production, the 2020 Kona is a delightful blend of style inside and out, considerable capability with a stout turbocharged engine, and a value in even the highest priced trim level coming in below 30 grand.

Toyota Supra GR — Sports car excitement


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By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Toyota Supra is back in dealerships 21 years after the previous Supra left the automotive scene. It returns for 2020 with new shapely sheetmetal and with considerable help from BMW. You read that right. There's a lot of the German Ultimate Driving Machine — seen and unseen — in the Supra GR. And that's a good thing.

Ford Explorer ST — A hot-rod SUV



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

During the last half of the 20th Century a famous Ford slogan was "Ford has a better idea," which included a lightbulb as a visual image. It lived up to that mantra several times with the upscale two-seat Thunderbird in the mid-50s, the Ranchero car-based pickup in 1957, and the iconic Mustang in the mid-60s. Another "lightbulb moment" was the Explorer, a four-door compact family SUV introduced in 1990 as a 1991 model.

Lexus LS 500h — Hybrid car luxury



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Virtually every automaker this decade is pursuing some form of "electrification" within their brands whether it be luxury or mainstream. Listen to the talking points of worldwide automakers and full electric is the wave of the future. Except it isn't — at least not now. Indeed, the multi-billion dollar push to EVs has been slow in paying dividends especially in this new age of unprecedented gas engine fuel efficiency and low prices.

Ford Escape Hybrid — Stylish and efficient



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Ford Escape has been one of the best-selling sport utility vehicles in the country since its introduction in 2000 as a 2001 model. It moved away from the bigger body-on-frame SUV that dominated the market at the turn of the century with smaller car-based unibody construction to compete with such relatively new models as the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.

Lincoln Aviator — First-class luxury



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Lincoln began remaking its lineup several years ago with the remarkable Continental sedan. Then came the big three-row Navigator SUV continuing the transformation with an award-winning vehicle worthy of its luxury designation. Next up are the company's three crossover sport utilities with new names and new luxury personas. Thankfully the confusing MK designation is gone. Now we have — in the order of size — the Corsair, Nautilus, and three-row Aviator.