topspeed garage

topspeed garage

The Sonata has been roaming the streets of America since 1989. Those early Hyundais were rather boring, bland cars with little styling, questionable reliability, and a name that was synonymous with less-than-impressive tax brackets. Things began to change for the Korean automaker when its products became better looking and longer lasting. The 2005 Sonata was a key player in that movement with its good-looking proportions and U.S.-built claim-to-fame. Things got even better in 2011 when Hyundai debuted the YF platform Sonata. Its upscale looks and solid powertrain sent the competition packing and sent Hyundai’s sales numbers skyward.

Now entering 2015, the Sonata has once again gone under the knife. But unlike 2011, the look is more sculpted, angular, and upscale thanks to Hyundai’s new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language.

Like I mentioned in my Sonata preview article, I spent a recent day behind the wheel of Hyundai’s newest car in hopes of gaining an understanding about the direction the new Sonata is headed, as well as the changes that exist.

Click past the jump for the full review

Say hello to the 2015 Hyundai Sonata – the Korean automaker’s all-new midsize sedan. From its front grille to tailpipes, this car is completely different inside and out for the upcoming model year. Hyundai invited me to spend a day behind the wheel of its latest cash cow along the rolling hills of Montgomery, Alabama in the shadows of its massive assembly plant perched just off I-65.

With six trim levels and three engines to sample, the testing was extensive. The drive route included plenty of twisty roads, some interstate jaunts, and a few in-town treks to get a feel of how the new Sonata handles. Hyundai has spread out its trim packaging from spartan to sporty to luxurious. The trim levels include SE, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T, Sport 2.0T w/ Ultimate Package, and Eco. The three engines are spread evenly throughout the trim levels and include the turbocharged, 1.6-liter I-4; the carry-over, 2.4-liter I-4; and the turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4.

But before I dive into all the nitty-gritty details of the new Sonata in full Driven Review, click past the jump for a sneak peak at what the new car is all about.

So often when I get a time with a car, I typically focus on how it rides, drives and performs, but with SUV s, cargo room is a huge deal for many buyers. Sure, you need to haul Johnny’s and Suzie’s soccer and softball equipment from A to B, but what about when things need to get a little dirtier than usual? So many crossovers fall flat when hauling anything other than groceries or sports equipment, but is the Sorento an exception to this rule?

Absolutely yes! Kia advertises its Sorento as having 72.5 cubic feet of cargo room — only about 8 cubic feet less than the much longer Explorer — with all three rows of seats folded, and I put this to the test. I happened to have a bit of a landscaping project to finish off this week, and I needed to pick up a ton of mulch, so I decided to see just how many bags I could easily stuff into the back of this midsize crossover.

In my first trip, I folded the third row of seats left the second row up, and still managed to cram 15 two-cubic-foot bags of mulch without much issue. But that was nowhere near enough for my project, so I took out my son’s booster seat and folded the second row of seats, exposing a rather cavernous hull with a relatively flat loading surface. Off to Lowes I went after pre-ordering 30 — yes thirty — two-cubic-foot bags of mulch.

After some careful planning, I was able to stack the mulch bags in piles of five before they got too close to the sunroof, and I was able to create a total of six stacks of five. Even with 30 bags of mulch in the rear, I still had a good eight inches between the last row of mulch and the rear hatch, so there was no "I hope the rear glass doesn’t shatter" moment.

So if you’re looking for an SUV that can haul seven passengers day in and day out, while still having the ability to carry cargo when needed, the Sorento is more than capable.

Click past the jump to read more about how easy it is to access this huge amount of cargo room.

The Outlander Sport joined Mitsubishi’s lineup in 2011, and save for a mild tweak to the continuously variable transmission, it hasn’t changed much since. When it debuted, the Outlander Sport was essentially a smaller version of the larger Outlander model. That all ended in 2014, when Mitsubishi completely revised the front end of the bigger Outlander model and left the Sport model to carry the sportier, Lancer-inspired grille. Heading into 2014, the Outlander Sport gains a few extra goodies, including new steering wheel-mounted controls and HD radio on the range-topping SE model.

I once loved Mitsubishi models. You had the Eclipse , Lancer Evo and the 3000GT to do the sporty stuff in, a few SUVs to do the heavy hauling with, and a slew of sedans and hatchbacks to do your A-to-B driving. Well, now Mitsubishi is due to lose the Evo , the 3000GT is long gone, and the Eclipse is gone, leaving the lineup rather bare.

Last year I had the chance to drive the 2014 Outlander , and I came away a little disappointed in what it offered. Now I am getting the chance to drive the range-topping 2014 Outlander Sport SE. Can this compact SUV fare any better than its big brother did?

Click past the jump to read my review on the 2014 Outlander Sport SE to find out.

The original Prius hit the streets of America back in 2000 with its Corolla -like looks and a funky hybrid-electric drive that was unlike anything else on U.S. roads except the two-seat Honda Insight. That first-generation Prius was replaced in 2004 with the familiar hunchback turtle look we’re all used to. The second generation is where Toyota really gained ground with hybrid sales, moving over 600,000 cars before the third-generation Prius took over in 2009. With the new model, the Prius gained a few reshaped exterior panels and a more futuristic interior while retaining is stellar fuel economy numbers. Since then, Toyota has moved over 710,000 third-gen cars.

I recently found myself behind the wheel of a 2014 Toyota Prius with the “Three Model” option package. One level up from the base model my tester came equipped with some nice features like a 6.1-inch touch screen in the center dash, Sirius XM radio, navigation, Toyota’s smart key entry and start system, and power windows. But despite those features, the car still felt very basic. Cloth seats, a rubber steering wheel, manual seats, and hard plastics everywhere kept the car feeling rather down-market.

Besides the interior’s shortcomings, the Prius performed just as you’d expect: slow and efficient. So does the car live up to all the hype that’s been following it all these years? Click past the jump to find out.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Toyota Prius

When the Civic debuted in 1973, we were just coming out of the muscle-car era and the strangulation of the American V-8 had begun. Much like the V-8 engines of the era, the Civic’s 1,169-cc, inline-four engine produced all of 50 ponies. In 1986, Honda ventured into the performance world with the Civic, as it introduced the performance-oriented Si hatchback . With 91 horsepower and 93 pound-feet in tow, the debut Civic Si could hit 60 mph in around 10 seconds and still deliver 30 mpg on the highway. The 2014 Civic Si Sedan has more than twice the power of its distant sibling, and delivers unexpected pop for a naturally aspirated model.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan, and gave it the flogging it so loudly cried for. With its rev-happy four-cylinder, 18-inch wheels and close-ratio six-speed manual, the Civic Si Sedan seems to be — on paper at least — the perfect combination for gearheads with a family and a lighter wallet.

Click past the jump to see what I think of the 2014 Civic Si Sedan .

The Legacy was a bit of a departure from the Subarus of the past when it rolled onto U.S. dealer lots in 1990. The all-new Legacy featured a new flat-four engine that was more refined and quieter than the automaker’s previous engines and it didn’t have to share the engine bay with the car’s spare tire. Yes, that was a thing. The Legacy’s first generation lasted until 1995 when the second generation took over. The Legacy was new again in 2000, 2004, and 2010 with the third, fourth, and fifth generations, respectively. Despite the changes over the years, the Legacy never lost its “quirkiness;” among which was a standard all-wheel-drive system and a manual transmission option.

Now totally redesigned for its sixth generation, the 2015 Legacy is a new bag of tricks. Subaru has seemingly traded quirkiness for quietness – a sort of yielding to the needs of the mainstream. Gone are the manual transmissions and visceral feelings of driving; replaced by a car better suited to compete with the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

I recently spent a week getting to know this new Subaru inside and out. My particular tester came loaded to the hilt with the most inclusive option package. Decked out in the Limited Trim, the car came with the “Moonroof + Keyless Access & Push-Button Start + Navigation” package. What’s more, under the hood was the optional 3.6-liter flat-six-cylinder engine that powers all four wheels.

Click past the jump for the full review of the all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy

When it comes to press cars and review cars, there are few machines I know more intimately than the 2014 Audi A6 TDI . Last year I joined a collection of fellow lunatics and set out on a 48-hour cannonball run from LA to New York City to test out Audi’s new 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine, and really test its real-world fuel economy. After 46 hours and nearly 3,000 miles, I had spent several hours in every seat, tried to eat, sleep, and work inside of its wood-filled interior, and used almost every gadget it contained to keep myself entertained.

I have made lots of big road trips in lots of cars including the Nissan GT-R and Porsche Cayman S , but this was a whole new experience.

After such an experience, I have lots of things to say about Audi’s full-size luxury sedan . From equipment and pricing to performance and fuel economy, the Audi made major impressions. But where all those impressions good, would I do the trip again, and do I think it’s a car worth spending money on?

All your answers await after the break.

Ever since the Land Rover’s Range Rover trudged over its first rough ground in 1970, the SUV has been leading the pack in terms of off-road ability and useful amenities wrapped in a utilitarian package. Originally only sold outside the United States, the Range Rover didn’t make its first official (and non gray-market) U.S. sale until 1987. Since then, the Range Rover has undergone three generational changes, with each becoming more luxurious than the last. The fourth-generation Range Rover debuted for the 2013 model year with a heavily revised and highly stylized design, and a more rounded, aerodynamic look.

I recently spent a week getting to know the Brit inside and out. My tester came nearly fully stocked with every conceivable option available from Land Rover, including the ultra luxury Autobiography Package. The list of amenities reads like a dream car wish-list. Full Semi-Aniline leather seats; rear seat entertainment package; 18-way power front seats with memory, massage, heating, and cooling; 1700-watt, 29-speaker Meridian 3D surround sound system; exterior Surround Camera System; Adaptive cruise control; Parallel Park Assist; four-zone climate control; and Adaptive front headlights. And that’s just the most notable of the optional extras.

The list of standard features is twice as long and includes things like the 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster screen, the full panoramic glass roof, 21-inch alloy wheels, permanent four-wheel-drive with Land Rover’s Terrain Response System, and of course, power everything.

Speaking of power, the Range Rover had no shortage of it under its aluminum hood. Perched inside is a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 cranking out 510 horsepower and a rock-crawling 461 pound-feet of torque. Guzzling back the required premium gasoline, the massive 5,100-pound SUV sprints to 60 mph in a scant 5.2 seconds. To say the Range Rover Autobiography is an exercise in excess is an understatement, but for a select number of buyers, it combines the right amount of high-end luxury with the go-anywhere capabilities Land Rovers are known for.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Range Rover Autobiography

Following the 2013 model year, Acura axed its aging flagship, the RL , and introduced a new sedan for the 2014 model year. The 2014 RLX — yeah, we know it’s not the most creative of names — is Acura’s answer to the 5 Series and A6, but can the Japanese luxury-car builder really compete with the best of the best? With Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter V-6 boosted to 310 horsepower under the hood, the new sedan is poised to make a valiant effort at least.

I recently got the chance to get behind the wheel of the new RLX sedan, and I had some mixed feelings about it. It certainly didn’t lack in features, as it came with leather everything, touchscreen, Krell audio system with 14 speakers, tri-zone climate control, and much more, but something just wasn’t quite "luxurious" about it. As a first impression, it wasn’t promising.

After a full week behind the wheel of the newest member of the Acura family, did the RLX change my feelings about it?

Click past the jump to read my full review on the 2014 RLX and see the results.


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