First Drive

First Drive articles

2022 Mercedes-Benz S580

MIAMI — The S-Class has long been the flagship vehicle for the Mercedes-Benz luxury lineup and a case can be made that it also sits at the top of its class in the auto world — period. U.S. News & World Report magazine, which doesn’t do original automotive reviews but bases its rankings on an analysis of critiques from several sources, rates the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S-Class No. 1 among vehicles it classifies as “Super Luxury Cars.”

2022 Nissan Frontier

PHOENIX — For 16 years the Nisan Frontier has remained largely unchanged and in automotive speak a rolling fossil where new Oldsmobiles were still in dealer showrooms.  For reference, there wasn’t even such a thing as the iPhone. Yet while it was well past its freshness date the popular mid-size pickup still sold in respectable numbers. That’s not surprising, the old Frontier still looks good, it did most things extremely well and not everyone gets overly excited with the latest high tech and digital stuff they’ll never figure out how to use or even want to know.

2022 Kia Niro EV

INDIANAPOLIS — I have a pretty long commute — about 35 miles each way.  And as I noticed while picking up soda at the gas station last weekend, 87 octane was $4.65 per gallon.  Premium and diesel were uncomfortably over $5.  I own a Smart car and have test cars most of the time, so gas prices don’t usually affect my budget much, but goodness that’s expensive.  I let it sink in, then realized I still don’t care because…I’m driving the 2022 Kia Niro EV.

2022 Mercedes EQS 580

MIAMI — Mercedes may be late to the party, but it makes a grand entrance to the all-electric vehicle market with the 2022 EQS 580 4MATIC sedan. Spectacular is a word that just doesn’t do it justice. It’s not just a luxurious electric vehicle, it is luxurious vehicle period with a prominent profile and opulent interior. You can even get pillows for the  headrests!

2022 Toyota GR86

PHOENIX — If the Toyota GR86 looks somewhat familiar to you it might be because it was formerly known as the Scion FR-S, or the Toyota 86 after Toyota officially discontinued the Scion brand in 2016. Beginning in August of 2017 the 2017 Scion FR-S became a Toyota branded vehicle along with the iA and iM sedans.

2022 Honda Passport TrailSport

PHOENIX — One of the hottest automotive segments today is off-roading Pickup, SUVs and dedicated – rugged 4x4s eagerly ready to tackle the best of “hardcore rock-crawling” challenges. Vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, new Ford Bronco and Raptor pickup, Land Rover Defender and numerous others.
Then there’s Toyota that affixes the TRD and TRD Pro moniker on everything from the capable 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra to Highlander, Sequoia, RAV4 and even Camry.

2022 Mazda MX-30

HERNDON, Va. — It wasn’t long after Japanese automaker Mazda introduced itself to America that it reintroduced the rotary engine — initially known as the Wankel rotary — to that same American market. With fewer moving parts, an extremely compact package and an almost electric-like smoothness, the rotary was perfect for a family of compact coupes and sedans. But it was also thirsty, and Mazda’s timing — on the cusp of our first OPEC crisis — couldn’t have been worse.

2023 Subaru Solterra

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Subaru knows its people, who are among the most loyal to any automotive brand.  They love their Outbacks, Foresters, Ascents, and WRXs.  They are also among the most environmentally conscious, dog-friendly, off-roading auto owners around.  They take their kids to school and hike on the weekends.  What they haven’t had until now is an electric vehicle of their own.  That changes with the 2023 Solterra that I just sampled in California.

2022 Polestar 2

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Polestar is a new stand-alone car brand from the Chinese automaker Geely, that has owned Volvo since 2015.  The name comes from a Swedish team that races Volvo’s. Polestar is the all-electric vehicle brand for Volvo that sells its cars through its own dealer network and online. You can’t buy a Polestar at a Volvo dealership but it’s where Polestar vehicles will get serviced by specific Volvo dealers if you own one.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

PHOENIX — For years we’ve been hearing rumors of a powerful phantom Cadillac sedan by the name of Blackwing. Of course, we’ve been well acquainted with Cadillac’s CTS-V sedan which has been among the luxury brand’s offerings for several years. That vehicle was discontinued when the Blackwing was finally launched for 2022, available in two flavors: a compact CT4-V and a midsize CT5-V.