Many will point to Alan Mulally and the “mortgage years” as the period during which Ford initiated its product renaissance. In my opinion, it started years before that—1998, to be exact—with the debut of the Mk1 Focus. The replacement for the decent-but-not-great Escort, the Focus charmed the automotive press, offering sophistication and refinement that had previously been exclusive to more expensive compact offerings. Volkswagen, at the time still building Jettas and Golfs on a chassis featuring a twist-beam rear suspension, took notice too, and decided to hire away some Ford suspension engineers to help them develop the rear multi-link setup found on Mk5 and newer compact Vee-Dubs.
In the U.S., those who normally disparaged anything domestic went to great lengths to downplay the excellent compact’s European heritage. “Just another F.O.R.D.,” they’d say. “Yeah, it has a neat suspension. So does the Neon.”
For the past few model cycles, Lexus has made a push to revitalize its image with enthusiast shoppers. Like the folks at Cadillac, the Lexus marketing team likely sees sportiness as a means to attract affluent young buyers away from BMW and Audi. How effective that strategy is, I can’t really say, but if it means Lexus continues to build cars like the refreshed Lexus IS-F, then I think the real winner is the enthusiast buyer.
In this piece, we’re going to look at two flavors of the midsized Lexus: The GS350 F-Sport and the GS450h. If we’re going to evaluate the GS properly, we need to answer three big questions. First: In a vacuum, is it fun to drive? Second: Does it sacrifice luxury in the name of sporty driving? And third: How does it compare to its peers, specifically with its closest analog at Infiniti? Let’s get started.
Lead photo courtesy of Scion. Other photos by the author.
I’m writing this only six weeks after driving the FR-S, but it feels like it’s already years too late. Thanks to the wonders of Web 2.0, the FR-S was old before it even debuted. Like the Nissan GT-R and the new Chevy Camaro before it, Toyota and Subaru’s joint project came in riding a wave of hype that would shame a lot of west-coast beakers, fueled by daily speculation and rumor seeping out from the innumerable followers of thousands of automotive forums and outlets.
Joining the 2013 Subaru model line in the United States is the Subaru XV Crosstrek. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the XV Crosstrek as a dolled up Impreza hatchback, but looks can be deceiving. Much more than an Impreza sportback, the XV Crosstrek has undergone some of the same transformations from sportback to crossover that has made Subaru’s Outback line a runaway success.
Photos courtesy of Kia I’ve dedicated a lot of thought (and blog space) to Kia and Hyundai over the last couple of years. It occurred to me while retrieving those stories that it’s unusual for me to cover a single Korean vehicle in a review—a failing that I intend to make up for.
This is not the first time I’ve driven a Sorento, but it is the first time I’ve dedicated a review to it, and that’s not really fair. For one thing, the Sorento is a good car, easily as good as the Journey that I referred to in my Genesis Coupe story above. But more than that, driving a Sorento convinced me that Kia was the real deal.
In Washington, D.C., a stoplight on Independence Avenue is more than just a traffic control device. It’s a choke point–a security checkpoint–but normally, you don’t get asked for your papers. Normally.
This has occurred to me before, but wasn’t on my mind as I sat at the traffic light at Independence and 2nd Street Northeast in Capitol Hill. In fact, despite the presence of a D.C. metro cop in my rear-view mirror, it wasn’t anywhere on my list of concerns. The police presence in D.C. is so ubiquitous these days that I rarely give the various law enforcement and paramilitary organizations a second thought. I’ve only been working downtown for five years, but it’s long enough to become used to seeing M16-equipped officers standing on the sidewalk.
So as I eased away from the stoplight and my mirrors lit up with red and blue, my first instinct was to simply move out of the way. I slipped into the right lane and slowed to allow the officer to pass, but when I glanced in the side-view to monitor his progress, I was greeted by the glare of a mirror-mounted spotlight. Hmmm. I know how this story ends.