Author - John Kucek

Driven: 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

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I’m of the opinion that, after much exposure to their lineup of fire-spitting muscle cars, there’s nobody else in the automotive industry that captures the spirit of classic American steel better than the Italians; specifically, Fiat-Chrysler group. And while the thought of a muscle-bound Jeep Wagoneer probably wouldn’t have been widely accepted back when that truck first debuted in the 1960s, if it had been built, it would have no doubt felt a lot like today’s ballsy Grand Cherokee SRT.

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Driven: 2016 Lincoln MKX

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Long considered little more than a Ford Edge in fancy clothes, Lincoln has gone to painstaking levels to differentiate the latest MKX from its more plebian sister, and the result seen before you certainly looks the part. The real question is, does it stack up from a dynamic perspective, and are all of these changes enough to both set itself apart in a sea of luxury midsize crossovers, and justify a lofty $64,000 as-tested sticker? Read on to find out.

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Comparison: 2017 Elantra vs. 2016 Cruze

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Though Honda’s latest Civic has captured most of the (admittedly few) headlines there are in the compact car segment this year, two of the class’s perennial heavyweights just went under the knife for major reconstructive surgery, too. The Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra are two takes on the small sedan theme that are aimed at the exact same buyer – rental fleets! Just kidding – let’s find out which of these revamps has proven to be the most successful.

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Driven: 2016 Lexus RC 200t

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It’s reassuring to see Japanese automakers taking a renewed interest in driving dynamics for mainstream models, and nowhere is that more evident than in the latest Lexus IS. The company’s original IS300 was a moonshot at the near-luxury segment behemoth, the BMW 3-series, and what the Lexus lacked in credentials it made up for with polished driving dynamics, edgy looks and peerless build quality. Compact, lithe, and powered by a lusty, naturally-aspirated straight-six driving the rear wheels, it pulled all of its most important moves directly from the BMW playbook. It also helped establish Lexus as a builder of something other than discounted, more reliable Mercedes-Benzes – it finally became a builder of sports sedans.

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Comparison: 2016 Mustang EcoBoost vs 2016 Camaro 2.0T

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SAMSUNG CSCIt’s rare, in my experience, for the stars to align and grant a journalist like myself with two similarly-equipped cars that compete in the same segment on subsequent weeks, but that’s just what happened recently when a Bright Yellow bundle of joy landed on my doorstep just a week after I handed back the keys to an EcoBoost Mustang. Happenstance, or divined by the manufacturer fleet gods? The Mustang-versus-Camaro battle has waged on for decades, but it seems especially prescient these days: both pony cars are better and more competitive than they’ve ever been, and at the same time to boot.  Either way, a comparison was in order.

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Driven: 2016 BMW X1

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BMW’s first-generation X1, introduced to the world in 2009 and shipped to our shores for the 2013 model year, was a bit of an odd duck. Underpinned by the E90 generation 3-series Touring, it was a low-slung, long-hooded, basically-a-station-wagon version of a station wagon that already existed. In fact, it actually boasted less interior room than the equivalent 3-series wagon, largely as a result of being dimensionally shorter and narrower (and only slightly taller). And therein lies the rub: the X1 was too small for Americans.

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