The Virtual Driver

Dendrobium EV hypercar: The musical

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 20, 2017) In the movies from the 1930s and early 1940s, whenever the youthful performers got together to think of something to do, inevitably someone blurted out with great enthusiasm. “Hey kids, let’s put on a show!” Today that throw away line seems to be, “Hey kids, let’s build a hyper performance electric vehicle!”

2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo — European 'shooting brake'

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 19, 2017) The production Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo broke cover at the Geneva show. Available in four versions — Panamera 4, Panamera 4S, Panamera 4 E-Hybrid and Panamera Turbo — the new model is every inch the sporting European “shooting brake” that combines attributes of a station wagon and coupe.

Volkswagen Arteon: A CC by another name still looks sweet

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 13, 2017) Volkswagen’s CC was designed to sit between the Passat sedan and Phaeton, but when VW’s luxury liner left the U.S. market, it became the brand’s top offering. The Arteon, which is built on the same MQB structure that underpins the Golf, Euro-spec Passat, and the Tiguan and Atlas SUVs, replaces the aging CC with a new range topper that swaps the old car’s “fastback with trunk” for a true hatchback. Think of it as VW’s answer to the Audi A7.

Saints and sinners: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 4, 2017) For most vehicles, this is the picture you’d expect to see at the beginning of a story. An interesting background, decent lighting, and a clear look at the front and side of the subject. Nothing special. Nothing fancy. Nothing too exciting. In many cases it’s almost an afterthought taken on the day before the vehicle being tested is collected, or on the first day when the weather cooperates.

The American V8 — Undisputed master of inexpensive power

By William G. Sawyer
Editor at Large
The Virtual Driver


(February  19, 2017) DETROIT — Ever since Henry Ford popularized the V8 engine in 1932 it’s been the power plant of choice for everyone from bank robbers to teens drag racing on Woodward Avenue, and professional racers. Once Chevrolet introduced their 265 cubic inch small block engine in 1955 the floodgates opened and the American V8 took its place as the undisputed master of inexpensive but explosive power in a variety of applications.

Finally — An all-new Ford Expedition for 2018

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 14, 2017) In some ways it’s hard to believe that the Ford Expedition has been around for 20 years. Then again, the looks of the vehicle changed so glacially that it’s even more difficult to believe that this is the fourth generation Expedition. Which, if you do the math, suggests a new generation every five years. Well, not quite.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited — Comfortable and quiet, but boring

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 9, 2017) During lunch at a VW all-model drive event a few years ago, one of the VW  engineers remarked on the styling of the then-current Hyundai Elantra. “It’s too much. The basic shape is nice, but the detailing is too heavy handed and over-the-top, unlike the Jetta. This would never fly in Germany, and I think the car will look old and out-of-date very quickly.”

New 2018 Toyota Camry screams 'bold'

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 29, 2017) Like the latest Prius, the 2018 Camry — which was unveiled at the Detroit auto show earlier this month —  is built on the modular TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. A clean-sheet design, the new Camry lowers the hip points of the front and rear seat passengers by 1 inch and 1.2 inches., respectively, drops the overall vehicle height by 1 inch, and lowers the hood 1.6 inches.

Why Ford used an obscure Canadian road course for GT comparison tests

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 28, 2017) Ford announced this week that its new GT has a top speed of 216 mph, produces 647 horsepower and 550 lb.-ft. of torque with 90% of peak torque available from 3,500 rpm, weighs approximately 3,000 pounds bone dry (that is, with no fluids whatsoever onboard), has a power-to-weight ratio of 4.72 lb./horsepower, and is faster around the track than the McLaren 675LT and Ferrari 458 Speciale.

2018 Honda Odyssey: Can magic slide seats outdo Chrysler’s stow and go?

By Christopher A Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 22, 2017) From the B-pillar forward, the new Odyssey shares its underbody with the Pilot crossover. From there back, however, it’s a unique vehicle. Ultra-high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium are used to reduce weight (up to 96 pounds, depending on trim level) and increase torsional rigidity 44%. In addition, the 280 horsepower direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 has 32 more horsepower.