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April 11, 2014

2014 Luxe & Large SUV Buyer's Guide

2014 Luxe & Large SUV Buyer's Guide by Bob Plunkett and Martha Hindes                                        

 by Bob Plunkett & Martha Hindes

Road & Travel Magazine's Top  Picks

Dodge Durango

Range Rover Sport

Ford Expedition

Toyota 4-Runner

SUVs have been a life saver for people who are active and haul lots and lots of stuff around. They've also been a blessing for families, especially women, who do not want to be seen in a minivan, deemed and doomed the mom-mobile. But even more so, SUVs have evolved into a status symbol of success for those who wish to be seen as purposeful, powerful and plentiful. SUVs serve our need for utility but they also serve our demand for individualism and identity.

Check out Road & Travel Magazine's top eight picks in its 2014 Luxe and Large SUV Buyer's Guide. Chock full of new amenities for cabin comfort and convenience. These go anywhere, do anything vehicles are not just for off-roaders anymore. They're built with cush for the tush in mind as well as all the interior bells and whistles that  make a vehicle glide in a ride on the inside.

From the outside looking in, they present a rock-star glow for whoever sits behind the wheel. Sitting above the rest, these luxe and large SUVs for 2014 offer a birds eye view for things to come, and go! [Full story]

February 24, 2014

2014 Green SUV & CUV Buyer's Guide - Which Made Top 10?

2014-13 Earth Aware CUV/SUV Buyer's Guide written by Martha Hindes

2014 Green SUV & CUV Buyer's Guide
written by Martha Hindes

The year 2014 could  be a fantastic or frustrating one for hypermiling crossover vehicle fans —  those who specialize in wringing every possible bit of energy, and distance,  from a vehicle fuel source. A tantalizing group of cutting edge, fuel-starving  green SUVs and CUVs peeks out from the pages of glossy automotive magazines.  They leap off the fluid screens of internet blog sites. They highlight conversations  of tree hugging enthusiasts over their water filtering bottles as they travel,  with tender footsteps, across fields, ford streams, climb rocks and breathe in  the essence of the clean air they are determined to protect. Those futuristic  vehicles—that might have made the Jetsons green with envy—hint at the  extraordinary research, development, and cost, from car companies trying to  find new, previously unimaginable ways to cut the energy footprint of getting  from here to there.

Combined with the  promise of an ecologically sound means of transport, they seem to be the  perfect answer for an increasingly clogged environment that conservationists  avow desperately needs cleaner, less earth sullying vehicles. These trendy,  coveted and ultimately usable people haulers seem to have it all — the perfect  size and shape for a number of travel needs from hauling some goods to carrying  a small group of people to subbing as a mobile office or at times a service  vehicle, such as a green taxi.

[See Which Green Vehicles for 2014 Made the Top 10 List]

June 03, 2013

RTM's 2013 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide

Road & Travel Magazine's
2013 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide :
Top 10 With Most Sex Appeal

by Martha Hindes
with contributions by Bob Plunkett & Tim Healey

In a world of rough and tumble expletives, "sexy" definitely is a four letter word. But unlike its coarser counterparts, it stands above the crowd. Where some can sully, it shines. Where others can slip into predictable, it's deliciously new. A balance of wildness with a softer edge. When applied to an auto, it can transform a melding of steel, leather, chrome and gasoline into the lustiest dream, enough to make a grown autophile weak with appreciation.

That's where Road & Travel enters the picture for 2013. Our years of testing, appreciating, pushing the limits and inhaling a tantalizing potpourri of desire and yearning have accumulated into an instinctive sense of what makes a truly sexy automobile -- and why. While some qualities soar more than others, they all have the intangible elements of "gotcha" that just won't let go. Discover the Top 10!

 

 

March 04, 2013

2013 Ford C-MAX Road Test Review

2013 Ford C-Max Road Test Review : Road & Travel Magazine

By Tim Healey

Ford's 2013 C-MAX Hybrid has flown sort of under the radar--we'd almost forgotten about the vehicle until we received our invitation to drive it at the company's press preview--but after spending a day driving it in Southern California, we think it might soon be getting a wee bit more press.

Built to compete with the Toyota Prius V, the C-MAX is basically a cross between a Focus and an Escape with a hybrid powertrain (a plug-in hybrid, dubbed the C-MAX Energi, is planned for the near future).

Ford invited us to Los Angeles and its surrounding environs to test out the C-MAX among the glitterati and paparazzi, and we found that this new player in the hybrid game presents some intriguing questions to hybrid buyers.

The Basics
Powered by a 2.0-liter gas engine paired with an electric motor (lithium-ion batteries supply the charge, marking the first time Ford has used them in a hybrid), the C-MAX is a four-door, five-seat compact crossover that won't be available with a non-hybrid powertrain.

Available in two trims, SE and SEL, C-MAX offers features such as: Ford's MyFordTouch and Sync infotainment systems, a hands-free power liftgate, in-floor storage, dual-zone climate control, a USB port, Bluetooth, a capless fuel-filler, keyless entry, Ford's MyKey security key, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, 17-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, an EcoGuide that tells the driver how efficiently he/she is driving, satellite radio, a reverse-sensing system, ambient interior lighting, a push-button start, and a park-assist system.

Prices start at $25,500 for the SE and $28,200 for the SEL. The SE we tested, which included MyFordTouch, the power liftgate, and a reverse-sensing system, cost $27,990, including the $795 destination fee. To continue the review, click here.

March 01, 2013

2013 Chevrolet Spark Road Test Review

2013 Chevy Spark Road Test Review by Tim Healey

By Tim Healey

Most new-car press launches are set in places that offer twisty roads and elevation changes. Even when they're set in urban environs, the automaker seeks out the curviest possible nearby roads.

Not so with the 2013 Chevrolet Spark. Chevy invited us to Chicago so we dutifully shuffled off to the West Loop (home of meat-packing plants and tastefully decorated loft condos) to sample the Spark. With Chevy's new minicar being aimed at an urban audience, perhaps it should've been no surprise when the drive route turned out to be all urban.

The Spark truly is a city car. Chevy execs said so themselves, suggesting the brand's subcompact Sonic or compact Cruze as alternatives for those who do most of their driving outside of the confines of the concrete jungle. At just 144.7 inches long (the wheelbase is 93.5 inches long), the Spark will be competing with other mighty mites like the Scion iQ, the Fiat 500, and the Smart ForTwo. It's the only five-door hatchback in the segment.

Features & Prices

Chevrolet is keeping it simple by offering just one engine, two transmissions, and three trim levels (base LS, midlevel 1LT, and top-trim 2LT). The cheapest Spark starts at $12,995, including $750 destination fee. A manual-transmission 1LT will start at $14,495 (again, including destination), while a fully-loaded automatic 2LT will set you back $16,720. Chevy says it's keeping a $2,000 price gap between each Spark trim and the corresponding Sonic, in order to keep sales of one car from encroaching on sales of the other. To continue the review, click here.

February 27, 2013

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Road Test Review

2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test Review by Tim Healey

By Tim Healey

Face it, America has become a nation of excess. Too much is not enough. We won't settle for anything less than the best, and no matter how much we have, we want more, more, more.

That's all true, but sometimes we really do need more. Such is the case with the power numbers on Hyundai's Veloster. The odd little three-door hatchback provided plenty of sporty handling when it hit the road in the fall of 2011, but its 138 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque doomed it to some disdain from the motoring press. Consider these quotes from this very Website, the one that you're reading right now, published just days prior to last Christmas: "Of course, spirit is in more than the eye of the beholder. A car that looks fast may not actually be fast, and that is sadly the case with the Veloster," and, "Even when mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the Veloster feels just a wee bit short of breath. Get it rolling and get rowing with the gears, and the Veloster is fun. Trouble is, getting it going takes a fair bit of patience, and the off-the-line jump isn’t quite enough." We also said this: "Hyundai has promised a turbo, and that may cure the Veloster’s ills." This all from the same review in which we compared the car to Charlie Sheen, for whatever that's worth.

Hyundai did make good on the turbo promise, and hence we found ourselves somewhere near San Diego in the driver's seat of the
2013 Veloster Turbo. With 201 ponies now under hood and 195 lb-ft of torque twisting the front wheels, we were hopeful that all the Veloster's "ills" (which were admittedly relatively few) would be cured. To coninue the review, click here.

February 25, 2013

2013 Lincoln MKS Road Test Review

2013 Lincoln MKS New Car Test Drive : Road & Travel Magazine's 2013 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide

by Bob Plunkett

Streaking along serpentine Skyline Drive, the ridge route high above Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, a powerful MKS EcoBoost -- elegant flagship sedan for the 2013 fleet of Lincoln -- tracks in a predictable line through so many chicanes.

MKS's all-aluminum 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine sends turbo-charged muscle to all four of the 20-inch 245/45R20 V-rated tires with big treads clawing for traction on blacktop around every bend.

Rumples in the erosive pavement don't upset this car's smooth suspension due to new Continuously Controlled Damping, a sophisticated device which regulates actions for the shock absorber at every wheel through electronic damping. It changes as much as 20 times every second, switching from soft to hard to soft again in an effort to isolates the movement of each tire for less bounce, vibration and noise, and producing more controlled handling with a smoother ride quality.

The 2013 issues of MKS score multiple enhancements including styling revisions to the body and cabin, upgrades to suspension and powertrain, plus improvements in fuel economy figures.

Lincoln's flagship sedan looks elegant and classy in a bold design for the body which focuses on a double-wing grille that's a contemporary homage to the classic 1941 Lincoln Continental. For 2013 issues the grille tips rearward in a sleeker pose as the prow adds horizontal louvers in a new fascia to underscore the grille with piercing optics of projector-type HID (high-intensity discharge) headlamps wrapping around front corners. To continue the review, click here.

February 22, 2013

2013 Buick Verano Turbo Road Test Review

2013 Buick Verano Turbo Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

by Bob Plunkett

We're cinched firm against the leather seat of Buick's 2013 Verano Turbo compact luxury sedan with hands locked on the heated steering wheel, feet dancing across sport pedals on the floor but eyes fixed squarely on the next bend of Oklahoma 1, squiggly blacktop draped over the pine-studded Ouachita Mountains.

Actually, we're romping along this ridgeback road, which follows contours of the slopes on undulating asphalt with whoop-de-do dips and rises and incessant sharp esses and broad sweepers.

And the newest Buick, projecting a coupe-like silhouette with glitzy waterfall grille crowning the prow, reveals stunning performance from a decidedly sporty vehicle that maneuvers around curlicue mountain traces with the dexterity of a mechanical athlete.
 
Cast on a rigid unibody structure with pliable independent suspension components pinned above each wheel, the test car carries a goosy turbochargedengine which translates all of its considerable torque through a malleable but definitely un-Buick-like six-speed manual shifter and sends it to the two front wheels which also steer in a predictable and controllable front-engine/front-wheel-drive arrangement. To continue thereview, click here.

February 20, 2013

2013 Kia Optima Road Test Review

Road & Travel Magazine Names the 2013 Kia Optima - International Car of the Year

by Courtney Caldwell

Road & Travel Magazine Names Kia Optima

2013 International Car of the Year

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel Magazine

I’ve never fancied myself much of a sedan girl. More like a speedy sports car siren or a mother trucker… the latter of which was my first priority for many years when rearing rugrats and camping out by babbling brooks in the back woods of New England. But this week, priorities changed when the new 2013 Kia Optima SX sedan was delivered as our test car. What a looker!

“Is that the new Jaguar,” one man shouted from across the parking lot. “No, it’s the new 2013 Kia Optima,” I yelled back. “Wow, woulda' never guessed,” he said shaking his head with surprise.

And that’s the reaction the Snow White Pearl Optima received all week long. Driving this car was like having a new puppy. Everyone wanted to stop and pet it, stoop down and take a closer look, inspiring miles of smiles and constant curiosity. I found one woman peering into the windows with her hands cupped around her eyes to get a better look inside. Approaching the car, I asked, “What do you think of it?” Startled and somewhat embarrassed she was caught, she replied, “Oh, so sorry, I wasn’t being nosy but this car is just so gorgeous. I had to get a closer look. I can’t believe this is a Kia!” To continue the review, click here.

February 18, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS Road Test Review

2013 Cadillac ATS Road Test Review by David Merline

by David Merline - Web2Carz Managing Editor

The Cadillac ATS is being touted as the luxury brand's best chance at making serious inroads in the performance luxury market currently dominated by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. It also represents the latest evolution in Cadillac's "Art and Science" design philosophy, part of General Motor's strategy to bring the brand—which has a seemingly unshakeable reputation as a stuffy, old person's brand—into the 21st Century.

In both of these aspects, Cadillac is setting the bar very high. So high that it becomes tempting to praise is asking for the ATS to be judged against some very stiff competition, that's the standard against which it must be evaluated.

On the Road
In terms of performance, the ATS is definitely good enough to take on all comers. A look at the numbers confirms that the ATS is the equal of the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes C350, and the Audi A4 in terms of horsepower, torque, 0-60 speed, and price. And behind the wheel of this rear-drive powerhouse, the car definitely feels Autobahn-worthy. Steering, handling, and cornering are as precise and confident as any Bavarian or German wündercar. The ATS's suspension settings allow the driver to enjoy their ride smooth or sporty, but the growl from the performance package's dual exhaust is fairly harsh—a muscle car yawp sounds ridiculous from inside a luxury car's cabin, especially one that is otherwise so nicely insulated against road noise. To continue the review, click here.