2014 BMW X5

VANCOUVER, B.C. — We’re on winding roads leading up into the mountains north of Whistler and the car we’re driving handles just about as well as any BWW. Yet it’s not a car it’s the all-new, third generation 2014 X5 SAV. BMW insists on calling its SUVs Sports Activity Vehicles, which, we guess, is really a more appropriate designation than Sport Utility Vehicle.

Infiniti QX70 — A new name for crossover enjoyment

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Infiniti’s QX70 sport utility is loaded with a lot more sport than utility although it falls into the genre of a car-based SUV or crossover featuring some measure of off-road and bad-weather capability. Infiniti's QX70 line, introduced in 2003 as the FX, may be best suited for the sports car addict who just can’t let go, but needs more space for passengers and cargo.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

DETROIT — The Ford Fusion Hybrid’s reign as the top mid-size hybrid sedan didn’t last long. (Yes, I know, Toyota claims the Prius is a midsize sedan, but most buyers don’t equate the car’s two-box, fastback design and compact exterior with your average midsize sedan.) Along comes Honda with its Accord Hybrid, and — wait a minute — ties the Fusion with a 47 mpg combined rating?

Lexus IS 350 — A redesign that works

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Lexus has taken its 2014 IS to the next level gaining sports sedan status equal to such vaunted players as the BMW 3-S
eries, the Audi A4 and the newly minted Cadillac ATS.  The redesigned sports sedan gets updated, contemporary styling; a new stiffer structure making it easier to tune for performance while maintaining a comfortable Lexus-like ride; a longer wheelbase resulting in additional and much-needed passenger space and a spacious trunk measured at 13.8 cubic feet; an interior upgrade befitting the Lexus emblem that blows away most of the cars in the segment; and added feature content.

2014 Kia Soul

MINNEAPOLIS — When Kia introduced the boxy Soul four years ago in Miami, little did the company realize what a hit it would become. Manufacturers love to predict how many cars they will sell and the Soul has far exceeded their initial expectations selling four times as many as planned. Its success has left its closest competitors — the Honda Element, Nissan Cube and Scion xB — all but dead in the water.

Honda Odyssey — Cleaning up

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The automotive hit of the week was a vacuum cleaner. It was used to sweep up debris left from a plant-buying trip and picking up granola scattered about by a five-year old. All this cleaning was courtesy of the 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan and its newest feature, an in-vehicle vacuum cleaner.

2014 Toyota Corolla

MINNEAPOLIS — Two years after launching in Japan as a 1966 model, the Corolla joined Toyota’s U.S. lineup where it has stayed for the past 45 years. In that time, Toyota has sold more than 40 million Corolla’s worldwide, including 10 million in the U.S. Last year, despite being an old design in a sea of new releases, the Corolla was the second best selling Toyota in the U.S, and number two in the compact segment overall. That should tell you something.

2014 Cadillac XTS VSport

GOLDSBORO, N.C. — It seems the headlines coming from Cadillac these days are all about the new all-new 2014 CTS and also its all-new VSport model. The CTS VSport features a twin-turbo version of Cadillac's 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 making 420 horsepower and producing performance in the upper ranges of 4 seconds from 0-to-60.

2014 Volkswagen CC

INDIANAPOLIS — I’m a big fan of the Mercedes-Benz CLS63, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, and Audi RS7 — all super sexy four-door German super coupes.  Packing muscles of the gods, they romp from 0-60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds  and touch 190 mph with their 560 horsepower V8 engines.  Of course, these fabulous show ponies cost around $130,000.  Yeah right! 

2014 GMC Sierra

INDIANAPOLIS — Trucks are not meant to be glamorous. Sure, they’ll pull a glimmering vintage Airstream trailer, put a wooden Chris Craft boat into crystal water, or carry home that mid-century credenza, but any trucks worth their fully-boxed frames can also haul a bed load of dirt, plow through snow, and charge through muddy fields.