Reviews

For vehicle review columns

Kia Stinger — Challenging the elite

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Korean auto company known for its nondescript economy cars of the '90s has surprised the automotive world over the past decade with new, fresh, head-turning designs including a revitalized mid-sized Optima sedan that now competes with the best of the segment; a funky little Soul hatchback that will wow you over with its driving demeanor, and the mid-sized Sorento crossover that has earned numerous awards.

Lexus LS 500 — Raising the luxury bar

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Lexus brand was launched nearly 30 years ago to take on the European auto elite. The first car produced by Toyota's new luxury division was the LS 400, a large sedan with a 4.0-liter V-8 engine making 250 horsepower and mated to a four-speed automatic. It became an instant success. As the years went by, the LS has become more sophisticated and the engines have gotten bigger and more advanced. And they have all come with eight cylinders — until now.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake — A very sexy wagon

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Sportbrake in European parlance means luxury wagon and the mid-sized Jaguar XF has a version for 2018 that enhances the sex appeal of the sedan, but sacrifices none of the sedan's outstanding driving traits while adding a 32-cubic-foot cargo area under the hatch. Meet the Jaguar XF Sportbrake — practical, stimulating and fun.

Toyota Camry XSE — Loaded and looking good

By David Finkelstein

Toyota is reaching out to a wider customer base with the introduction of the sporty Camry XSE model for 2018. The XSE trim level is loaded with welcomed and numerous factory extras that help to raise the bar with both the car's curb appeal, its performance and connection to drivers wanting a glitzy four-door automobile.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid — An outstanding vacation vehicle

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

If you had to pick the most comfortable and economical summer road trip vehicle for four adults we think you would come to the conclusion that it's impossible to beat the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid minivan. The award-winning Pacifica has scads of cargo space, and gas mileage that no other minivan or mid-sized-to-large crossover could touch for a 3,400-mile 16-day sightseeing trip. We called it our National Parks vacation because we visited eight national parks and three national monuments in South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

Hyundai Kona — A real charmer

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The subcompact crossover class is exploding. It seems like a new model appears on the market every few months to satisfy the driving public's large appetite for small cargo haulers. So it behooves manufacturers to build vehicles that stand out from the crowd, and Hyundai has done just that with its all-new Kona.

Volvo XC40 — A Scandinavian treat

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Volvo completed its new three-vehicle crossover SUV lineup this spring by adding its smallest and least expensive model — the 2019 XC40. We think it may be the best of the three, which also includes the award-winning mid-sized three-row XC90 and the compact XC60. The XC40 successfully translates the distinctive look of Volvo's larger SUVs into a smaller package.

Jeep Wrangler — Still the off-road champ

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Before the all-new 2018 Wrangler models arrived, you had to be a Jeep aficionado to really enjoy living with it on a daily basis. They were built for off-road, no apologizes necessary. Thankfully, the new Jeep has been updated with refreshed styling, a higher-quality interior, and new safety features. The carryover Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 285-horses and 260-lb-ft of torque can now be mated to a modern eight-speed automatic transmission, which improves drivability. We lived with the standard six-speed manual, which will probably be the choice for most people opting for the off-road capable Rubicon.

Mazda CX-5 — A standout crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

One of the most popular automotive segments in the U.S. is the compact crossover, and prospective buyers have a vast array of very good products from which to pick. But like every other segment, there are standouts — vehicles that rise like cream to the top. The second-generation Mazda CX-5 is one of those handful of vehicles that stand taller than the rest. The CX-5 was redesigned for 2017 with a comfortable ride quality, a full slate of the latest safety and technology features, a surprisingly sprightly driving demeanor, and a refined interior that could live quite well in a luxury SUV.

Kia Sorento — Refreshed inside and out

By David Finkelstein

If you want to attract new SUV buyers in this competitive global industry, you've got to keep reinventing the vehicle. That said, it's evident that Kia Motors got the message as it now features a heavily refreshed Sorento for the 2019 model year.