2012 Honda Pilot

RALEIGH, N.C. — Traditionalist SUV buyers, those who prefer their vehicle to look like a box, have found comfort behind the wheel of the mid-size Honda Pilot since its remake in 2009. Not only does it meet their idea of design but like most Honda fans they are looking for traditional Honda reliability and resale value. This appeal was pointed up by 2011 sales figures. More than 116,000 copies of the Pilot were sold, a 14,000 unit gain over 2010.

Chevrolet Sonic — Deserving of a new name

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Some pundits had a good time mocking the name when Chevrolet announced last year that it was calling its all-new sub-compact car the Sonic. In with the Sonic, out with the Aveo; sort of. The Sonic name is exclusive to North America while other markets will still have the Aveo name attached to the vehicle.
Good name, bad name? GM says Sonic “is a youthful, energetic name that helps convey what this vehicle is about.” Sonic does seems to fit the car, but so many other products already wear the name including a fast food chain and one of the largest automotive dealership chains in the country.  

Honda CR-V — Staying the course

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Don’t mess with success. That seems to be the current mantra of Honda with the introduction of its all-new, hugely conservative version of its best-selling vehicles for 2012. 
The Honda CR-V, which has for several years been the best selling SUV in America, has been improved in some key areas, but styling changes and drivetrain updates are minor. Honda has embarked on a “stay the course” strategy despite a host of new stylish competitors now on the market or awaiting 2013 introductions in the compact SUV segment. Only time will tell if this strategy of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” will work.

2012 Subaru Impreza

GOLDSBORO, N.C. — When speaking of the excellent new crop of compact cars already in American showrooms or on the way later this year, seldom is the Subaru Impreza part of the discussion. That may be changing in the coming months with the introduction of an all-new, stylish and more fuel efficient Impreza. The redesigned 2012 Subaru is better looking, has more interior space and is more fuel efficient than its predecessor.

Infiniti QX56 — Success in a limited market

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Aggressively pushing automotive green in the form of electric, hybrid and natural gas is a good thing. But no matter how badly we want to see progressively better fuel economy, there will always be the need for big, brawny truck-like vehicles that can tow heavy things and carry massive payloads. And real fuel efficiency is not synonymous with truck-based vehicles capable of doing the hard work of life. 

Cadillac CTS-V — American muscle

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Looks great; goes fast.
If forced to sum up the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe in four words, that’s the four we would use. More specifically the CTS-V carries an appealing concept-car design that has miraculously made it into the ranks of production cars, and it houses supercharged muscle measured at 556 horsepower.

Nissan Versa sedan — Spacious and affordable

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

If our only choice for a beach trip involving three adults, beach gear, a big cooler, and luggage was a subcompact sedan, we would be happy inside a 2012 Nissan Versa. We know this because the Versa was our vehicle on a five-day late-fall beach outing in North Carolina and again as our year-end holiday conveyance in Southern California.

Buick LaCrosse eAssist — Where big and mileage meet

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

There is considerable Chinese influence inside and out of the 2012 LaCrosse because Buick is that country’s number one luxury brand. The LaCrosse carries a distinctive look from its high beltline, broad body and deeply sculpted body lines, and an oversized Buick waterfall grille actually works well surrounded by blade-shaped headlamps.

Hyundai Accent — A pleasant surprise

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

 For nearly a decade we have recommended the sub-compact Hyundai Accent to people who desired a new car over a used car, but were strapped for cash and couldn't afford much of a monthly payment.
The second and third generations of the Accent were no-nonsense plain-Jane vehicles that offered a low purchase price, excellent gas mileage, enough creature comforts and amenities to make driving life bearable, and enormous monetary peace of mind with a gargantuan 10-year, 100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

Cadillac SRX — Performance catches up to design

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Sales of the first generation Cadillac SRX, designed to compete against the hot-selling Lexus RX as well as models from European brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volvo and BMW, hit 30,000 only once, in its inaugural year of 2004, before falling into also-ran status.
The mid-sized luxury crossover RX, with sales nearing 100,000 annually during the first decade of the 21st Century, had nothing to fear from the Cadillac in terms of sales supremacy.