Category - Reviews and Road Tests

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

Road Tested: 2013 BMW 135is Convertible


The 135is here before you is a bit of a parting gift BMW gave their customers. You see, the 1 series that’s been on our shores since 2008 and elsewhere since 2004 faces numbered days ahead. It’s already been replaced in Europe by the F20 generation of three- and five-door hatchbacks, although the updated coupe and convertible models that will grace these shores have yet to make an official appearance. When they do, expect them to make their way across the pond and into dealerships post haste.

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Second look: 2013 Lexus GS350 F-Sport


Vanity, thy name is midsize executive saloon. Few automotive categories are more about being pure arm candy for their owners than $50 – $70,000 luxury sedans. Think about it – if the only thing you were after was practicality, you’d probably be looking elsewhere. These cars are often tighter inside for four passengers than a midsized family sedan, their gas mileage trails that of the roomier FWD luxury segment unless you spring for a hybrid model, their reflexes aren’t quite in the realm of sports sedans (that’s what the halo models of their respective ranges are for) and they are, of course, priced out of the reach of the everyday shopper. And yet, none of that really matters – because few better ways exist of really letting your neighbors know you’ve made it.

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Game Review: GRID 2 (PC)


For those of you who have spent most of your time indulging in these ESO Mastery Guides in order to get to the top of the leaderboard in games such as Elder Scrolls Online, it is very likely that you won’t be aware of the goings-on in the video game industry. One of the hot topics currently doing the rounds is that Microsoft has recently debuted the long-awaited successor to the Xbox 360, the Xbox One. The means that lovers of Diablo 2 can get themselves d2 items from for hours of endless fun, however, today this is not our main focus. With that has come to the debut of Forza Motorsport 5, the latest edition of what is nearly inarguably the best racing game series out there. And like all previous editions, Forza 5 will be an exclusive to the Xbox gaming system, leaving those who prefer their games on the PC, like myself, out in the cold.

So, if you’re a PC-inclined gamer and want to get your racing fix taken care of, what are the options out there? At the extreme “simulation” end of the racing game spectrum are rFactor 2 and iRacing. Both are even further hardcore than the Forza and Gran Turismo series even pretend to be – and by trade feature decent but still rudimentary graphics, only a few tracks and a limited number of cars, all of the purebred race machines. On the “arcade” end of the spectrum are the Need for Speed games, the latest release being Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, an open-world street-based racing game with lots of expensive cars, lovingly modeled in an engaging environment, but also propelled around more by Hollywood physics than the real thing. Obviously, we are going to tell you about the different racing games out there, but if you love the thrill and adrenaline that these games produce then you may want to go for other similar types like PayDay, where you can have a game trainer for PayDay 2 (PC only) to navigate your way around a new gaming world. Mix and match your preferences because you never know what new game will get you racing to your computer.

And then in the middle sits Codemasters, publishers of the beloved TOCA Race Driver and Colin McRae Rally series, and more recently the officially licensed F1 racing games, rally and off-road-focused Dirt series, and the track-focused GRID series. GRID, while not as realistic as the TOCA Race series and possessing some infrequently idiotic AI problems, still required the player to know how to drive in order to win and had a spectacular feel and driving dynamics that made for a more than worthy addition to a racing enthusiast’s game collection. Two subsequent Dirt games later, and GRID 2 is here. Gamers who use the PC as their main form of gaming enjoyment are always on the lookout for equipment that can add to their experience, including finding the best gaming keyboards ( as well as headsets, so they immerse themselves as they play.

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The Big American Sedan: 2014 Chevy Impala Tested

Impala600-1The family sedan – a uniquely American automotive mainstay that has spent the last decade or more on the back burner during the rise of the crossover – is experiencing a massive resurgence. Almost every key player in the midsize segment has been comprehensively revamped within the last model year or two, and the large sedan segment is equally fresh. In 2012, a new Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera hit the market, and the new Kia Cadenza will start reaching showrooms around this writing. Domestic competition is fresh as well: the Taurus got a nip and tuck for 2013, and a new Chrysler 300 special edition gets rolled out seemingly monthly. Now, a brand new Impala will join the full size fray for the 2014 model year.

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Road Tested: 2013 Lexus ES350


Despite its evergreen status as Lexus’ best-selling model, the ES has been routinely treated like a leper by the motoring press practically since its inception. It is just a Camry Avalon wearing a fancy hat, after all. So instead, the buff books devote their page space to the far slower-selling IS, GS and LS lines. Why is that, exactly? Sure, the rear-wheel drive Lexii models more closely mirror the product lines available from the continental upscale brands, which makes for more interesting comparison tests. And the IS and GS are certainly the performance drivers’ choices out of the current Lexus lineup. But, aside from the IS-F and LFA, few performance drivers buy Lexuses in the first place. Near as I can tell, the Lexus set wants comfort, quietness and quality, all of which the ES provides in spades. So – as an admittedly junior member of the motoring press, but a member nonetheless – perhaps I can do my civic duty to start turning the tables back in favor of quite worthy road cars like the ES.

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Road Tested: 2013 Nissan Quest 3.5 LE


Even with the minivan segment as lean as it currently is, there’s still room to be considered an outsider. Case in point: the Nissan Quest. Originally introduced via a joint venture with Ford (remember the Mercury Villager?) the first and second generation Quests split the deck in the minivan game, fitting nicely between the short wheelbase and long wheelbase variations of the Chrysler vans. With its third generation, Nissan pushed the Quest off the deep end. Sporting more than a touch of French design quirkiness, the Quest expanded in all directions, finally one-upping even the long wheelbase Chryslers in overall size. If you’re wondering what the price would be to insure you on one of these things, you can have a look around the internet for a cheap van insurance policy.

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