Author - John Kucek

Speed Read: 2015 GMC Canyon

When I drove the Chevy Colorado earlier this year, I found it to be an extremely viable alternative to the dominant Tacoma in the mid-sized truck category – a segment Toyota had basically come to own after the Americans vacated it. We recently spent time in the Colorado’s GMC-badged twin, the Canyon, and found some surprising differences – despite their nearly identical appearances.

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Speed Read: 2016 Fiat 500X

Subcompact crossovers are all the rage right now: for proof, look no further than any mainstream dealer’s showroom. Most of the big name players have put a rush order on their cute ute plans, save for a few hold outs, and those vehicles are now starting to hit dealer lots in earnest. FCA has taken a two-pronged approach to getting in on the action – Jeep’s Renegade covers the rugged end of the image spectrum, while the new 500X pictured here plays on Fiat’s already established, slightly cutesy Continental charm. The question is whether or not it’s able to capitalize on that charm while remaining a solid crossover entry.

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Driven: 2015 VW GTI

Car writers and hatchback aficionados have long extolled the many virtues of Volkswagen’s original GTI – its nimble chassis, willing powerplant, and generous helpings of practicality and value all conspired to make it a pleasure to live with on a daily basis. It formed the basis for the entire hot hatch genre, and numerous copycats owe VW a debt of gratitude for popularizing the segment. I learned of the GTI’s virtues first hand as a highschooler, when my father counted a 1998 Mk3 VR6 among our family’s stable. Ever since that car, though (and many would argue the heavy VR6 wasn’t all that representative of the original GTI ethos), the marque has had a bit of an uneven history. Depending on who you ask, nearly every generation save the original has had its share of detractors, though the “marks” ending in odd numbers do seem to be the most universally beloved. This Mk7 version should be in fairly good standing, then, right? Yep – this one’s definitely a winner.

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Driven: 2016 Nissan GT-R


Among its many talents, the Nissan GT-R has perhaps been most adept at dividing opinion in its seven years on American soil. Looking past the supercar power level, dizzyingly complex all-wheel drive system and fighter jet cockpit, there are many supposed car lovers out there who feel the GT-R simply cheats its way into the ridiculous numbers it lays down. Its detractors would have you believe that any ham-fisted wannabe could wrestle his GT-R around a track in a time that would put experts to shame. It’s got so many computers figuring out power distribution and cornering attitude, after all, that you could just about sit back with your hands off the wheel and let the car sort the lap out. Sounds plausible, right?

A week in Nissan’s legendary sports car was enough time for me to separate fact from fiction.

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Driven: 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid


The Toyota Avalon has always occupied a sort of tenuous middle ground between the Camry and its Lexus platform mate, the ES, in that it is somewhat larger and nicer than the former, but lacks the brand cache and upscale interior detailing of the latter despite costing nearly as much. The ES pips it on rear seat legroom as well, a category you’d think the longer Avalon would surely excel in. So then, what purpose does the Avalon serve in the Toyota ecosystem? Let’s find out.

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