topspeed garage

topspeed garage

The Prius is the flagship of the environmental movement. Toyota ’s wonder child has dominated the world of hybrids since its introduction in 2001. As a man with petrol in my veins and a favorite cars list that includes names like Porsche and Lamborghini , the Prius should be the antithesis of all I love about motoring. With a focus on quiet and environmentally friendly transportation, the Prius has been branded as one of the worst and most uninteresting thing to drive in the world.

This is my first real experience with Toyota’s darling though, and I wanted to at least give it a fair shake. The model sitting in my drive is the Prius V model, the largest of the family and the least fuel efficient. It has a CVT, some batteries and only two pedals. After a week with this machine and more than 500 miles I learned a lot about it.

Was it the terrible car I had feared or did it turn out to be something else entirely? Hit the jump to find out.

Read more about my drive of the 2014 Toyota Prius V after the break.

TheGMC Yukon traces its roots back to 1992 when GMC took the Jimmy nameplate from its full-size SUVs and gave it to its midsize, Chevy Blazer counterpart. Since then, the GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe twins have been topping sales charts year after year. In 1999, GMC launched the Denali trim line as an answer to the Lincoln Navigator. Over the years, the Yukon Denali has continued with good success as a stepping-stone between the regular Yukon and the all-out luxury Cadillac Escalade.

I got to spend a week behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 GMC Yukon Denali, and boy is it a sweet ride. Chrome accents, 22-inch chrome wheels, metallic white paint, and HID and LED lighting make this Yukon a standout. With the Denali trim comes a bevy of standard upgrades, including the powerful 6.2-liter, EcoTec3 V-8, Magnetic Ride Control, and power-everything inside the leather-lined cabin.

Though it’s on the pricy side, the Yukon proved to be a capable rig with room for seven and plenty of posh to go around. Head past the jump for the video review, photo gallery, and full review.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali.

The Kia Sorento debuted in 2003 as a midway point between smaller crossovers and midsize SUVs, giving buyers yet another SUV option to choose from. The model underwent its first redesign in 2011, when it received a healthy set of changes that gave it a more refined and sporty look to better match the changing crossover realm. In 2014, the Sorento underwent very minor aesthetic changes, but it gained an all-new chassis, and these changes brought about the third generation for the crossover. Only minor changes make their way into the 2015 Sorento, including an updated UVO system and the new SXL trim.

I spent a week behind the wheel of the range-topping 2015 Kia Sorento SXL, and got a really nice feel for what it offers buyers. Overall, the Sorento SXL is an oddity in the crossover SUV realm, as its size and seven-passenger capacity make it hard for small crossovers to match its usefulness and its premium features are typically reserved for luxury SUV s. On the flip side, it does not have the badge notoriety or the driving dynamics to rival the luxury SUVs.

So, does the Sorento have a place in the market?

Click past the jump to read my full review and find out.

The Lexus RX essentially created the luxury crossover market when it debuted in 1998. By using a unibody chassis rather than a body-on-frame setup like most SUVs, the Lexus was quieter, more comfortable and nicer to drive than any of its competitors. Lexus had an immediate hit. Now more than 15 years later I have been given the keys to a third-generation model. Meet the RX 450h.

The “h” signifies that this particular family machine is powered by a hybrid system. Toyota makes some of the best hybrids in the business, but I worry that the weight and heft of an SUV may be too much to ask of the Hybrid Synergy Drive setup. With lots of crossover competition from America and the German’s alike the RX 450h has some stiff rivals. Can this latest version of Lexus’ segment defining crossover keep up with the now rampant competition?

Read more about the 2014 Lexus RX 450h after the break

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 .


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