Hyundai’s midsize sedan has undergone quite the transformation in the last four model years. Take the 2011, for example – radically restyled compared to the car that came before it, the previous Sonata probably had the most pronounced impact on Hyundai’s catapult rise to the American mainstream. Glancing quickly at this new Sonata, it might be easy to label it a more conservative restyling of the same basic car. But to write it off as such would be doing the 2015 model a great disservice.
Author - John Kucek
When Toyota’s Camry-Wagon-turned-crossover known as the Highlander debuted in 2001, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about its existence. This is, after all, essentially the vehicle that assured the demise of the wagon variant of the Camry around the world, though in the US that body style had been dormant since 1997 anyway. Keen as we car guys are on the station wagon, it’s clear by now that the crossover is here to stay. The Highlander has changed a lot in the intervening years, too – though this 2014 redesign might be the most radical departure yet from that oddball Camry with two rear windshield wipers.
When Volkswagen offered to fly me up to drive a full smattering of their 2015 model lineup around Northern Virginia’s rolling hills and the quaint towns they are dotted with, they were ostensibly asking me to really focus on just two of those 2015 models – the fully electric e-Golf, and the refreshed Jetta. Still, though it already had its official launch and has been on sale for a few months now, I was also eager to sample the current GTI. Here’s a recap of what I drove, put in order from “really, really liked it” to “liked it”. There wasn’t a dud in the bunch, honestly, though I admit to steering clear of models like the Passat and Tiguan, which I’d already spent time in recently, and others that weren’t significantly changed for the 2015 model year.
When development work concluded on the V36 platform, which forms the basis for the 2014 Q60 seen above, it’s easy to believe that Nissan’s engineers had little inkling of the radical brand changes that would occur at Infiniti during their new model’s shelf life. Indeed, during Johan de Nysschen’s two-year tenure as the brand’s chief, much was changed – including their entire system of model nomenclature. Thus, the G37 convertible became the Q60 convertible that I recently spent a week with – but make no mistake, the G37 is still alive and well in this car.
Introduced as a 2010 model, the hardtop convertible version of the Lexus IS isn’t yet “old” by industry standards. Still, a replacement looms on the horizon in the form of the upcoming RC coupe and likely convertible spin-off. Its main competitor from the land of the rising sun, the Infiniti Q60 (nee G37), is also nearing replacement, though neither of these cars could be called dated from an aesthetic perspective. I drove the IS 350 and Q60 convertibles back to back to find out what makes these two hardtops tick.
For decades, the rational response to any “What compact car should I buy?” question has unequivocally been “Civic or Corolla”. With Honda seemingly in the weeds during the last generation Civic’s development, that leaves the Corolla as the de facto answer when someone asks you for sensible consumer advice. There’s a new one out now, and I’ve driven it.