Mercedes-Benz CLA250 — The real deal

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It sounded like an idea whose time probably shouldn't have come — an entry-level Mercedes-Benz with a starting price under $30,000 with front-wheel drive and a transverse 4-cylinder engine. But here it is nonetheless, and we found that the 2014 CLA250 is the real deal.

2014 BMW i3

AMSTERDAM  — The electric-car industry hasn't just been characterized by revolutionary technology, but by entirely new ways of thinking about automobiles, their marketing, and their place in society. General Motors and Ford are approaching electrics with a fresh eye, and Tesla seems to be trying to change the game entirely.

Jeep Cherokee — Going in a new direction

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Compact crossovers are the family station wagons of the 21st Century and Jeep has a new contemporary entry in the burgeoning segment to do battle with such heavyweights as Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe. Aside from the traditional seven-slot grille the 2014 Cherokee is a totally new take on the old bare bones Cherokee that exited the scene in 2002.

Porsche Cayman S — Sports car perfection

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Porsche may have upstaged its iconic 911 with its second-generation Cayman. We discovered the 2014 Cayman, which falls under the flagship 911 in the German's sports car hierarchy, to be a wonderful companion in any situation whether cruising the Interstate from point A to point B or tackling a serious stretch of winding rural-road blacktop.

BMW 435i — A new take on the Ultimate Driving Machine

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The car formerly known as the 3-Series coupe has been reinvented and becomes the first in a new BMW lineup with a 4-Series designation, a reclassification designed to elevate the coupe into something just a bit sportier, slightly larger and with more feature content than the 3-Series. It also comes with a price starting about $2,000 higher.

Toyota Corolla — A more appealing best seller

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

For years the compact Toyota Corolla has been widely acclaimed for its reliability, fuel economy and resale value and it has been the sedan of choice for more than 10 million buyers in the U.S. for nearly five decades since introduced in 1968.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

INDIANAPOLIS — Having left the Galant, Montero, and Eclipse behind, Mitsubishi is re-focusing itself towards plug-ins and compacts.  It’s a dubious strategy given the insane competition from cars like the Toyota Yaris, Chevy Spark, Nissan Versa, and Ford Fiesta…not to mention the Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt.  At least Mitsubishi’s newest sub-compact comes with a popular name and outstanding fuel economy.

Mazda3 — Close to perfection

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

No vehicle even with today's advanced technologies and 21st Century engineering capability has reached what we consider the pinnacle of perfection in its respective segment, but some come remarkably close. One example: The compact 2014 Mazda3.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

PHOENIX — No cars, no dealers, no factory, no nothing; it is a convoluted story but that’s what BMW started with when it acquired the full rights to Rolls-Royce in 1998. The first car on BMW’s watch didn’t roll off the newly built assembly line at Goodwood, England, until 2003. But since the introduction of the Roll-Royce Phantom, the company added five more models in eight years.

Kia Soul — It has the hamsters dancing

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The dancing hamsters have got to be loving life these days. The first Kia Soul "driven" by these amusing rodents has been transformed into a second-generation Soul that includes an upgraded interior, more cargo space, loads of desirable options, a panoramic sunroof that boldly brings the great out-of-doors in, and improved performance from a beefed up platform and a revised 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine.