Driven: 2014 Lexus RX450h

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You could be forgiven for thinking it’s a bit late in the Lexus RX’s model life cycle for us to review it; after all, these pages are usually devoted to freshly restyled or all-new metal. But in fact, though this platform’s basic bones stretch back to the 2010 model year, the RX received a heavy refresh for 2013 that brought it right up to date against others in the entry-level luxury crossover segment. We’ve covered the normal RX350 before on these pages, but never the full-zoot RX450h hybrid version. What makes this CUV a perennial class sales leader? Read on for a look. Read More

Tested: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you probably know there’s a new, heavily revised 2015 Dodge Challenger on the horizon. And for the last week or so, there’s been an inundation of media about the fastest, most powerful iteration of said new Challenger (actually, make that any muscle car, ever) known as the Hellcat. I went to the press introduction to spend a day with the Challenger, in the hopes of getting past the hype and finding out what this new Hellcat is really all about. Read on to find out. Read More

Decoding the 2015 Challenger line-up

Clockwise starting from top: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Dod

Trying to figure out which 2015 Challenger best fits your desired performance goals and options list requires poring over a labyrinth of commingled model names and trim packages; we figured a basic primer would be helpful coming out of our press introduction with the cars yesterday in rainy Portland. Here goes:

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Driven: 2014 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SEL

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When Volkswagen introduced the current North American market, US-built Passat in 2011, it was a move seen as either heresy or necessity, depending on which side of the VW enthusiast fence you sat on. After all, if the company wasn’t going to trade on its “Continental manufacturing for the mainstream” appeal, what was the point? At least, that was the counterargument to VW’s claim that a midsize sedan designed specifically for the North American market would finally allow them to compete on price, size and content with competitors from Asia and the US. Despite being three model years in, we haven’t yet covered the “NMS” Passat on these pages. No time like the present…

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Keys of the Week: 2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

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As I drive around in the latest iteration of VW’s American-market Passat, now featuring the 1.8 TSI engine, driving impressions of the outgoing 2014 Sonata in Hybrid guise – a car I drove the week prior – flashed into my mind. The Sonata that this 2014 Hybrid is based on was introduced back in 2009, and the newly revised 2015 Sonata will be hitting dealerships around the time you read this (though the Hybrid version soldiers on in current form until a new one bows for 2016).

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Keys of the Week: 2014 Tundra CrewMax Platinum

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We at Speed:Sport:Life are fans of the pickup truck. This is a good thing, because we seem to find ourselves behind the wheels of them quite often. Our keys of the week belong to the Tundra CrewMax Platinum edition.

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Quick Test: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

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Normally, when I’m queued up in front of a bunch of cones, I’m running on adrenaline and a less-than-optimal amount of sleep. I’m reviewing the version of the course I’ve tried to burn into my subconscious from the course walk, and my hands are flexing almost imperceptibly on the wheel as I rehearse my line. I’ve been told my lips move, as if I’m mumbling. I believe it. It’s how I program; how I run the course before I run the course.

Not this time. I’m a passenger for this run, sitting shotgun in a high-performance SUV, watching a Fiat 500 Abarth burble through a long sweeper a few hundred yards to my right.

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Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat – SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVEN HORSEPOWER

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The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has officially been rated at Seven.Hundred.And.Seven.Horsepower. Need we say more?

Driven: 2014 Jaguar XJR

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Jaguar, rarely one to build homely cars, has nevertheless been on an unprecedented streak of late, churning out one fast, beautiful, glorious-sounding sports car after another. Whether that has something to do with former Evo magazine founder Harry Metcalfe leaving his editorial post to become Jaguar-Land Rover’s new halo product planner last year (which I am obscenely jealous of) remains to be seen. What does seem apparent is Jaguar’s desire to create a high-performance sub-brand that can compete head on with the likes of Audi’s quattro GmbH (think RS models and the R8), Mercedes AMG and BMW M with their own line of “R” and “R-S” models. The XJR pictured here is one such shot across the Germans’ bow.

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Driven: 2014 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio

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Since its introduction, the Fiat 500 has had an uncanny ability to appeal to shoppers from all socioeconomic classes. It’s a bit classless, in the way it’ll fit right in whether it’s parked in a high-end valet lot, or the parking lot of the value club. The 500C droptop version ratchets up that appeal even further, with the Abarth adding a bit of cheeky high-performance flair to the equation. So how does the mightiest-mite 500C Abarth measure up as a driver’s car?

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