First Drive

First Drive articles

2021 Toyota Sienna



PHOENIX — With its completely redesigned Sienna minivan for 2021, Toyota takes a bold new step by making it exclusively a four-cylinder hybrid through all five trim levels — LE, XLE, Limited, Platinum and our tested mid-level XSE. As a hybrid, the Sienna is the most fuel-efficient minivan in America with a combined EPA fuel rating of 36 mpg. By comparison, the 2021 Honda Odyssey minivan gets 22 mpg in city-highway combined.

2022 Hyundai Tucson



TUCSON, Ariz. — Hyundai made a big deal out the introduction of its all-new, fourth-generation Tucson SUV introduced to the automotive media last week in where else but Tucson, Ariz. The outgoing Tucson while in itself a decent and credible compact crossover utility vehicle never gained the traction and sales against newer and more popular crossover competitors like the Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V.

2021 Mini Countryman plug-in



INDIANAPOLIS — I have long been a fan of the Mini, a fun little zipper with classic British looks that can fillet cars way above its weight class.  About ten years ago, my family even bought a first-generation Countryman crossover.  It was underpowered, but drove like a BMW, got good gas mileage and had the best Harman Kardon audio system I’ve ever heard.  It became too small for our growing family, so it had to go.  I wonder if we would have made the same hard choice if we owned the 2021 Mini Countryman SE ALL4 “plug-in.”

2021 Cadillac CT5-V



MIAMI — A replacement for the aging CTS when it reached showrooms as a 2020 model, Cadillac’s CT5 — previewed at the 2019 New York Auto Show —  made a rather impressive debut by earning the No. 1 ranking for midsize sedans in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. For 2021, it is offered in five trims, but this review will concentrate on the 2021 Cadillac CT5 V-Series edition that tops the portfolio at a starting MSRP of $48,700 when the $905 destination and delivery charge is tacked on.

2021 Acura NSX



PHOENIX — The Acura NSX supercar couldn’t help but turn heads and draw a crowd whenever I parked. The styling is gorgeous with an exterior design that’s enticingly worthy of praise. No crazy swoops, no melodramatic over-the-top spoilers at the rear or sculpted fins, rather styling that’s astonishingly beautiful, mostly. The snout is large and a bit on the fussy side, the rear a bit heavyset, but overall errs on mimicking the likes of the McLaren 570S in my eyes.

2021 Ram TRX



INDIANAPOLIS — Stellantis has been installing its Hellcat supercharged V8 engine in anything that can take it from the Dodge Challenger to the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  There’s been one notable omission until now:  The Ram pickup.  Not only is the 2021 Ram TRX the brand’s most off-road capable pickup, but it is also the fastest.  You can think of it as the Devil’s chariot. It looks like somebody thoroughly peeved it off.  Its snarling hood scoop tops a black mesh grille, slit headlamps, and painted panels that all appear to have melted around twin tow hooks. 

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid



MIAMI — Fully redesigned for 2021, the Kia Sorento gets a new look as it enters its fourth generation along with an upgraded, premium-like interior, and a new hybrid drivetrain for the fuel-conscious consumer. My model for the week, the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX, came packed with all kinds of features included in its $38,205 MSRP (including $1,170 for destination and delivery) while earning fuel mileage ratings of 39 miles-per-gallon city, 35 highway, and 37 combined.

2021 AMG E63 S Wagon



MIAMI — Back in the day long before SUVs and minivans existed, the station wagon ruled when it came to family transportation. Often with wood-grained side panels and foldable seats in the far back that faced to the rear, the station wagon offered much-needed space to accommodate larger families and all the stuff they tended to pack for summer vacations.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E



PHOENIX — There’s been quite a buzz about the new Mustang Mach-E, ever since it debuted at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Fast forward through 12 months of presidential-election fever, a global pandemic, and we finally got a week of seat time behind the wheel of Ford’s first mass-market all-electric SUV, and it bears the legendary Mustang pony badge fore and aft.

2021 Cadillac Escalade



INDIANAOPLIS — My family has spent way too much time in our house during the last few months — because of COVID, winter temps, and admittedly, general laziness.  We needed to get away, to have a retreat.  With the completely redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade in the driveway and just two and a half hours between us in Indianapolis and the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, we loaded up to go.