Category - Reviews and Road Tests

Use this as a level one category for car reviews and add each car maker as a sub-category

SLC Punk! 2017 Mercedes-AMG SLC43 Driven

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I consider myself lucky to have driven a number of high-dollar sports cars during my relatively short time on this rock. I don’t say this to brag, even humbly, but merely to frame the forthcoming review as one hopefully grounded in reality. And when I say “high dollar”, I mean those in the $60,000 to $100,000 range. Which is certainly high dollar to me, and at two to three times the average new car transaction price, for most of the buying public, as well. But in the sports car world, it’s merely mid-range. Deep into six-figure territory (and beyond) lies nearly the entire Porsche 911 range, plus the McLarens, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis that are the stuff of car guy dreams. But there’s still a lot to be had in this middle ground of the merely expensive – witness the Corvette, M3/M4, Z4, Boxster/Cayman, Jaguar F-Type and Audi TTS (which I’ll be reviewing in a couple of weeks). And of course, the SLC43 seen here.

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Driven: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider

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You’ve got to give it to Fiat – it takes chutzpah to take on the entry-level sports car segment, one fraught with dwindling historical sales and fickle buyers that tend to chase the latest shiny new metal. Perhaps it was this bleak category outlook that prompted them to reach out to Mazda with a partnership idea. The 124 Spider that you see before you is the product that resulted, and it’s quite special.

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Speed Read: 2016 Wrangler Sahara

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The Wrangler, in a world chock-a-block with homogenized product offerings, still stands out as one of those love-it-or-hate-it affairs. The hokey slogan “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand”, so commonly emblazoned across the windshields of these trucks, actually rings true when you’re behind the wheel. The driving experience that at first seems so appallingly outdated really does grow on you as the miles go by; it becomes quaint, even endearing. My first full week with a Wrangler left me with pangs of despair when the keys were taken away. But that was a hardcore Rubicon – would the tamer Sahara elicit the same feelings?

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Driven: 2017 GMC Acadia Denali

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As a nation perennially obsessed with weight loss, it’s refreshing to see those who make our precious consumer goods adopt the same mentality. If there was one criticism to be levied at the previous Lambda-platform GMC Acadia (there was more than one), it was its sheer bulk. Sure, it did a great job at hauling seven humans and their gear, though preferably, at least two of those humans would be less than full-sized. But when it came time to park and maneuver the thing, the Acadia’s size would start to get in the way. Fully loaded, the 3.6-liter V6 was taxed with almost 5,000 pounds of crossover to haul around. Enter this fresh, clean-sheet, newly mid-sized Acadia, some ten model years in the making.

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Driven: 2016 Nissan Titan XD

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Possibly more than any other mainstream automotive segment, image is important for pickup buyers. Especially full-size pickup buyers. Brand loyalties run deep, and while domestic manufacturers win the lion’s share of sales (understandably so, given the segment’s U-S-of-A origins), the market is so vast that even table scraps represent real dollars to new entrants. Witness the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan – pretenders to the throne, perhaps, but well-made trucks in their own right. The Tundra’s done alright for itself, despite a lengthy time on the market without a redesign, but Titan sales have languished in recent years – for the last two sales years, it has accounted for just 0.5% of full-size truck sales. A full redesign was in the cards, then, and the XD model seen here is the first result of those efforts.

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