Honda Accord SE — A solid choice

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The challenge for manufacturers of popular mid-sized segment sedans is how to keep them fresh in the last year or two of a typical five-year cycle against all-new products especially from competitors who are on a different schedule. Just such a challenge faces Honda and its popular Accord, a perennial best seller in the U.S.

Kia Sportage — Becoming prince charming

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

From a frog to a prince; boring to exciting. From ordinary and bland to cutting edge style. That’s the Kia Sportage story.

The 2011 Sportage indeed personifies Kia’s revitalization from just OK to a legitimate challenger to the long-standing Japanese brands. Other examples for the 2011 model year include the mid-sized Sorento crossover, the all-new just-out mid-sized Optima, which is the kissing cousin to the revolutionary new Hyundai Sonata, and the compact Kia Forte.

Mazda2 — Modern minimalist fun

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Looming government mileage standards that have the industry scurrying to adjust their fleet numbers skyward and a stubbornly sluggish economy have combined to fuel the reemergence of the small car in America.

Land Rover LR4 — Brings peace of mind

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Most LR4 owners have no desire to take their high-dollar vehicle off road, but they know that if they ever need to reliably slog through mud, rock climb, or ford rivers, it is parked, ready and waiting, in the driveway. It's peace of mind. An insurance policy, if you will.

Jeep — Full line gives breadth to change

By Al Vinikour

One of the most iconic brands in the entire auto industry is Jeep. Everyone knows the history of Jeep, from its indoctrination under fire in World War II to present day versatility. What most people don’t realize, however, is the work that’s been going on behind the scenes to create the brand’s entire line for 2011.

Nissan Juke — Interesting and inexpensive

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

After driving more than 100 cars, trucks and sport utilities a year for four decades, it’s hard to find something new, something that stands out as very different.

Perhaps the 2011 Nissan Juke doesn’t fall into the category of “very different,” but it comes darn close and Nissan’s latest effort to build something that stands out from the crowd appears to be a success.

Buick Regal — A growth hormone for an iconic brand on the rebound

 By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It’s an improbable story. Stuck in the mud, Buick looked like a sure candidate to be eliminated by a struggling General Motors a couple years back. Sales in 2009 had slumped to just over 100,000 units and the average age of Buick buyers had risen to nearly 70.

Those numbers should have spelled the end of the line for the venerable brand; but instead, Pontiac got the ax and Saturn was put on the trading block and eventually died when no suitable buyer stepped forward.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

SAN FRANCISCO — If you are a fan of the entry-level luxury Acura TSX sedan — and there will be about 30,000 new owners this year — then we think you will be a fan of the new TSX Sport Wagon. It has the same sporty nature as the sedan.

2011 Nissan Quest

DEL MAR, Calif. — Historically, Quest has almost been like the industry’s minivan after-thought. But after driving the all-new 2011 product there’s no doubt it came to play. Considering the renewed interest and products in the import minivan segment catering to the active family has been the battle cry. 

2011 Hyundai Elantra

SAN DIEGO — The Korean onslaught continues with the introduction of the all-new 2011 Hyundai Elantra. It’s only been four years and four months since the launch of the last generation Elantra but appearance-wise it might as well have been a decade.