Volkswagen Jetta TDI — Simple and economically compelling

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI sedan and wagon are unexpectedly green and predictably fuel efficient without the need for batteries, sophisticated computer equipment and long-term warranties on the electrical system.

Volkswagen’s new diesel — certified in all 50 states — works well in the compact Jetta sedan giving frugal families a very alluring alternative to the current crop of complicated hybrid vehicles.

Volkswagen CC — Is this the best looking VW ever?

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Volkswagen CC is our kind of car. It makes a personal statement we agree with.

It’s a sleek, stylish four-passenger sedan — Volkswagen calls it the “Comfort Coupe,” hence the CC tag — that sets it apart from the standard Volkswagen offerings, and most everything else on the road with four doors.

Toyota Corolla – familiarity breeds content

By Ted Biederman and Jim Meachen

Toyota decided to take the safe road in the long-awaited redesign of its incredibly best-selling Corolla compact sedan.

This 10th generation Corolla edition is instantly recognizable first as a Toyota and then as a Toyota Corolla. And that was surely the intent. Likewise, a new 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine making 132 horsepower is responsive enough to satisfy most people, and its very fuel efficient with just six more horses than the previous engine. Nothing much new there, either.

Toyota Yaris — A Bit of Zest for the Budget Minded

By Ted Biederman and Jim Meachen

Our first experience with the sub-compact Toyota Yaris nearly two years ago was not a good one. Our 2007 Yaris test car was a modern rendition of the celebrated stripper of the past, a car with four doors, a steering wheel and an engine. A positive impression was not derived from our seven days behind the wheel.

Toyota Venza — a breed until itself

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Several people questioned us about the Venza during our recent week behind the wheel of a V-6 model of the new Toyota.

It’s not unusual to get into conversations about a vehicle seen for the first time. It’s legitimate curiosity for shoppers of a family- type hauler or for people just mildly interested in new automotive products.

Subaru Impreza 2.5 GT — comfortable and quick

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Comfortable and quick! That’s how we found the 2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5 GT compact hatchback after several days behind the wheel.

And for good measure, it comes with built in bad-weather prowess because all Subaru vehicles have been for many years outfitted with all-wheel drive as standard equipment.

Subaru Forester — a grown up CUV without a critter in sight

By Ted Biederman and Jim Meachen

Our first stop in the 2009 Subaru Forester was the liquor store.

No, we didn’t need a pint of gin to whip up a martini.

We needed boxes. And through the years we’ve found that the liquor store is a grand place to find boxes just the right size for moving books, clothes and other small objects.

Saab 9-3 Saab SportCombi — crossover alternative

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Manufacturers cringe when you call one of their four-door hatchbacks a wagon.

But vehicles that look curiously like station wagons of old are making an astounding comeback, particularly among the European entry-level luxury ranks.

Pontiac G6 — It's hot and going fast

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It was an historic, but sad day when the driver handed us the keys to a 2009 Pontiac G6.

Although the G6 sedan outfitted with a 4-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic is a solid mid-sized car there’s nothing historic about it. It just happened to be the last new Pontiac we will ever test drive — unless the brand is reincarnated at some far-off date.

And we almost missed the opportunity.