Lexus IS 350 C — Fulfilling a wish

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

You have always wanted just one convertible experience in your life, but for a variety of reasons you were never able to make the purchase, but you still have a passion for an open-air machine even as you figure the time for such extravagance has slipped away.

BMW 550i GT — Something different

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Over the last year we’ve driven several of the new-breed hatchback crossover sedans, most of which we wondered, “…why did they build this?” There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.
We recently did a stint in the 2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo, a very large luxury sloping-roof hatchback that delivers the ultimate in comfort, handling and performance; but we still asked what exactly is the point of a high-riding vehicle that costs more than a sedan, but has less utility than a car-based crossover SUV?

Cadillac SRX – Style takes it to the forefront


By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The original Cadillac SRX mid-sized sport utility vehicle introduced in 2004, based on the rear-drive CTS platform, could be outfitted with a V-8 engine and a third-row seat. It remains a very useable, drivable crossover.

We took it over ice-covered roads — more like a skating rink — several years ago after one of eastern North Carolina’s infamous ice storms. The SRX, equipped with all-wheel drive, walked the walk and talked the talk. Using a load of caution in the driver’s seat, the Caddy handled the icy conditions without mishap.

But to us its styling was ungainly, not doing a good job of carrying Cadillac’s edgy design theme.

Mazda CX-7 i Sport – Where less is more

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Sometimes less is more. Take Mazda’s 2010 CX-7 for example.

The compact CX-7 crossover has been on the market since 2007, a stylish entry that fits nicely into the company’s decade-old Zoom-Zoom theme. Since its inception four years ago, the CX-7 has had only one engine option, a turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 244 horsepower and an impressive 258 pound-feet of torque.

Hyundai Tucson — A 21st Century station wagon

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

South Korean automaker Hyundai has accomplished much over the past couple of years including the creation of the new mid-sized Sonata sedan that has become a benchmark for its segment.

Another rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick is the creation of a small crossover that has taken center stage in the extremely competitive segment. The all-new 2010 Tucson can unapologetically stand toe-to-toe with such industry stalwarts as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue.

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet — Money can buy happiness

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

In the human experience there’s nothing quite like the first time, for anything. And so it is with launching for the first time the 500-horsepower 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo outfitted with the lightning-fast dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. It’s an experience that it is not soon forgotten. Call it g-force giddiness, akin to hitting the first big drop on a roller coaster.

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon — A smart American anomaly

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Europeans have held a monopoly on mid-sized luxury wagons in the U.S. for the past decade. There’s certainly little to criticize in the European offerings such as the BMW 5-Series Touring and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. They offer first-class luxury transportation.

Acura MDX — How to build a modern mid-sized luxury crossover

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Of all the new driving aids now available, and it seems the MDX has all of them, we came to the conclusion while hurdling down a congested section of Interstate 95 in South Carolina in a 2010 Acura MDX that adaptive cruise control is the most useful.

As with most new technology it quickly evolves. In its first iteration more than a decade ago, we disliked the long distance between cars adaptive cruise forced on the driver.

Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible — Fun-in-the-sun

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We usually advocate ignoring the top trim level of any vehicle, opting for a mid-level trim with the proper engine and transmission and then adding options as desires and budget dictate. This usually means a modicum of savings because you are not saddled with a plethora of stuff in the manufacturer’s inventory attached to the top trim no matter how delicious, but irrelevant, they may be.

Volkswagen Golf — A rose by any other name

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

First it’s the Rabbit. Then it’s the Golf. Then it’s the Rabbit again. And then, egad, it’s back to Golf.

The Volkswagen Rabbit of many years ago eventually became the Golf as the vehicle was known in Europe from inception. Then came along the marketing genius de jour and Golf was changed back into a Rabbit from 2006 through 2009, and now it has once again been re-christened the Golf, and hopefully this time for good.