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topspeed garage

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With every passing year, compact cars seem to get better and better, so it’s no surprise that the the Sentra is not the same entry-level, cheapo Nissan it used to be. Our Sentra tester is fitted with the SR trim package, which adds in plenty of bells and whistles that you would expect from a more expensive vehicle, including keyless entry, push-button start and navigation. The best part is the price; at $21,550 as tested, the Sentra SR offers plenty of bang for your buck.

The Sentra SR’s exterior is very well appointed with LED headlight surrounds, sport front and rear bumpers, and side skirts that look like they belong in "The Fast and the Furious" series. Even the alloy wheels look pretty good for the price.

What really pulls the whole exterior together is that Electric Metallic Blue paint that we last saw on the 370Z a few years back. Sure, it’s not a Ferrari, but there’s a lot to take in for the price point.

Nissan Sentra SR

The interior is a not quite as satisfying as the outside, but the push-button start and navigation system for under $22k, we’re not complaining.

The seats are cloth, but they look good for the class, and the dash is padded with the more expensive, soft plastic. Add to that trimming that doesn’t feel like it was stamped in the same Chinese factory as your iPhone case, and the overall interior package is fairly attractive. Top that with good rear leg room, nice visibility all around and folding rear seats, and you have a flexible product with very little compromises.

On the road, the Sentra drives okay, but with a CVT driving the front wheels, it is not an overly exhilarating experience. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels better than a lot of more expensive cars, and the CVT does a good job at limiting torque steer and unwanted movement in the steering wheel.

The suspension is comfortable for daily use, but it also allows you to take corners with confidence. We even caught ourselves taking a few corners fast enough to get a little feedback from the tires, which added a some extra fun to the drive. Is it Porsche fun? No, but it is above average for the econo-box class.

Overall The Nissan Sentra SR gives you a lot for your money. On the outside, it looks good enough to prevent your buddies from chuckling at you when you roll up in it, and inside, you have plenty of premium features to keep you happy for years to come.

Of course, with the 2014 Toyota Corolla debuting a sporty look, your choice of entry-level sedans is getting harder.

Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla
Nissan Sentra SR

The 2014 truck season is in full swing, and some of the main manufacturers are launching all-new variants of their resident pickups. Chevrolet already released its new 2014 Silverado , and Ford is set to reveal its all-new 2015 F150 that will be based on the 2013 Atlas Concept .

Even SUVs are off to a good start, with the debut of the 2014 X5 and 2014 Range Rover Sport . Toyota has been waiting patiently for the pickup market to come back, and its is now set to launch the 2014 Tundra with "Truck Of The Year" aspirations.

The Tundra looks quite similar to last year’s model but if you look closer, you’ll find that it is loaded with improvements.

Toyota invited us to the woods of Georgia to test drive it and see how it does on and off the road, as well as with a trailer hitched to the back end.

Click past the jump to read what we think of it.

Posted on by TB +  

The 2014 STI risks getting lost in the shuffle of the next-gen WRX ’s launch at this fall’s Los Angeles auto show . As is customary for Subaru when upgrading the Impreza -based models, the next-gen STI will follow the regular WRX as a projected 2016 model year intro.

That is more than enough time to fall in love again with the current model’s brash styling, forceful turbocharged power delivery, and better tech integration in the cockpit than ever before. 305 horsepower and a 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph means the WRX STI is still a favorite here in the TopSpeed Garage .

Introduced for 2011, the current STI’s strength as a Subaru performance flagship is fully intact. As a low-volume model, its boxer rumble casts a performance glow over even the base $18,000 Impreza sedan. No changes to the STI for 2014, aside from the audio system now offering integration of Aha’s music app.

First-hand driving impressions of this track toy are included, as are comparisons with the WRX STI’s potent competition from the BMW 135i and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution .

Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Garage review of the 2014 Subaru WRX STI, still a game-changer with wild turbo boost and AWD traction to make every corner seem like a straightaway.


The Grand Cherokee SRT is Jeep ’s real hero car, and the only one to compete effectively with the super-SUV benchmark from Porsche . The Jeep ’s drastic SRT makeover is arguably the most effective across the Chrysler range by blending the huge Hemi V-8’s torque with the sure-footed and quite advanced Grand Cherokee platform.

A change across the board from “SRT8” to “SRT” for all the performance trims prepares the range for its next generation of super and turbocharged SRT models - with forced induction making the SRT6, SRT4 etc cylinder counts much less meaningful.

The SRT conversion makes the Grand Cherokee one of the most entertaining models out of Auburn Hills, with all the track attitude and road muscle of the Viper but far fewer tradeoffs in daily driving.

As almost a totally distinct model from the Grand Cherokee range, the SRT version is new for 2014 with the latest interior tech upgrades, a new eight-speed auto transmission, and the tasteful headlight LED accents that were new this year on the base models.

Combined with the menacing nose graphic of the Grand Cherokee SRT, the additional LED lights update the nose appearance nicely. A black lower bumper shroud makes the SRT seem mean even with the lights off, with its 20-inch wheels and giant tires looking very prominent from all angles.

The real news with this latest Jeep is new launch control programming for the cutting-edge autobox that should offer an even quicker sprint than the last model’s 5.1-second rush to 60 mph. Smoothness, economy, and tow ratings are also all up across the board, making this Grand Cherokee SRT quite an appealing prospect for hot-rod SUV shoppers.

Will the loss of the "8" on the badge hurt its street cred versus the Range Rover Sport? Is the price premium and five-seat layout a problem versus the Ford Explorer Sport ?

Click past the jump for all the latest images and details of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

Posted on by TB +  

The BMW X1 is a fantastic addition to the Bimmer range, as well as to the TopSpeed Garage . During our week testing the M Sport X1 sDrive28i, the car won many friends with its driving environment, striking new-BMW styling crispness and a truly sports-car-like agility versus the larger X3 .

The X1 is offered stateside in three trim levels across the turbo four-cylinder 28i and turbo six-cylinder 35i powerplants, with xDrive available across the range. The test car’s X1 sDrive28i pairs the base engine with the top M Sport trim level at the top, bringing a beautiful body-color bumper treatment absent from the cheaper ’Sport’ and ’X-line’ trim packs. The M Sport option also includes a variety of other tasty upgrades, including sports leather seats and handsome special paint and wheel options.

The X1 fills such a successful gap in the entry-level BMW offering that it even caught Audi and Mercedes-Benz flatfooted, with their GLA250 and Audi Q3 competitors still at least a year from reaching American buyers.

The X1 certainly doesn’t have the small premium crossover market to itself, but does carve a unique niche with few pretend off-road aspirations and a decidedly performance focus to its V-rated, 18-inch Pirelli’s.

This road-going bias helps the X1 to be an agile and playful companion on any stretch of pavement, with a 60 mph sprint just above 6 seconds for both rear- and all-wheel-drive 28i four-cylinders and down to the low 5’s for the potent X1 xDrive35i.

All this with a base price just above $30,000 means the X1 is the first affordable BMW entry for crossover shoppers, considering the Acura RDX or the Mini Cooper Countryman .

The full TopSpeed Garage drive review is past the jump, and takes a close look at the coolest performance options and features of the practical but sporty X1 sDrive28i M Sport.

Posted on by TB +  

The 2014 Ford Explorer Sport is a welcome addition to the TopSpeed Garage with its racy 20-inch wheels and twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. Taurus SHO enhancements transform the Explorer package from just a family-friendly AWD seven-seater into a taut performance machine that is both fun to drive and luxurious on the road.

The $40,000 Sport comes in as the top Explorer trim level, and the only one to get the 365-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. Dozens of performance and luxury enhancements join the potent powerplant: a sport-tuned suspension, huge vented disc brakes with front and rear performance calipers, dark-tinted headlights and a gloss-black grille round out the exterior mods for this performance variant.

The changes extend indoors as well, where the Explorer Sport is the pick of the range with leather-trimmed, heated sports buckets up front. Standard MyFord Touch by Sony and a powerful stereo join the fun, as do illuminated scuff plates and custom Sport badging.

As one of the best-known Ford nameplates, the Explorer lost its coveted spot as the default midsize SUV over the early 2000s following the introduction of the BMW X5 and a host of other truly premium models.

This latest all-new generation of Explorer has evolutionary styling but a sophisticated unibody design to replace the old Explorer’s body-on-frame construction.

After years in the doldrums, the Explorer Sport’s engine brings the magic back with a globally-competitive crossover package that can comfortably seat seven people and deliver 22 mpg on the highway.

The turbo power of the Explorer Sport trim helps the Ford stand apart from the segment-leading Buick Enclave and Nissan Pathfinder – but is the Ford’s fun-to-drive nature enough to reclaim buyers seeking a premium seven-passenger crossover?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Explorer Sport, including a video walkthrough of the car’s interior at start up and during the 0-60 sprint.

Posted on by TB +  

The Fusion Hybrid finally cracks the code to unravel Toyota’s stranglehold on the eco market by offering consumers what they actually want: a gorgeous sedan shape, a quiet cabin and very good handling. These are all places where the Prius cannot compete. The Ford also runs lithium-ion batteries for a 47 mpg rating, despite costing just $27,000.

Ford’s most promising hybrid to date is joined by a plug-in model called the Fusion Energi. The Hybrid is the volume electrified sedan and packs some great technology into one of the most attractive midsize car shapes on the market.

The Hybrid might actually be the pick of the range that also includes a 1.6-liter EcoBoost and a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder in a new-for-2014 ‘S’ trim at the bottom of the range.

The Fusion Hybrid offers nearly all of the Energi’s benefits for about $10,000 less. This makes it a really viable contender among urban dwellers without access to a garage plug.

The 47/47/47 mpg across all EPA categories takes most of the headlines but the Fusion Hybrid also drives really nicely and is more balanced that the typical sedan, thanks the trunk-mounted battery pack helping even the weight distribution of this front-drive car.

Conventional Hybrid sedans are just starting to really move up the sales charts versus the dedicated Prius hatchback. Even among Prius owners, there is some latent desire for a classic large sedan’s refinement and handling. The Fusion Hybrid aces these criteria and many more, via a sophisticated suite of interior technologies and active safety options that are from a class above.

How will the Ford fare versus this fall’s supercharged Nissan Altima Hybrid and the popular Toyota Camry Hybrid ?

Click past the jump for the first-drive review of the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid with highlights on the new features and equipment.

Posted on by Simona  

After being teased for a few weeks now, the 2014 GMC Sierra finally made its online debut via Facebook. The model receives a new exterior look, improved interior and three “all-new” EcoTec3 engines. GMC also promised that the 2014 Sierra will be offered with the longest list of standard features ever offered on a full-size GMC pickup.

On the exterior the 2014 Sierra has been made more aerodynamic and, thanks to the addition of new features like the aluminum hood, it is now lighter than its predecessor. The interior has also been highly updated and it has been designed to offer a better driving experience.

Under the hood GMC has placed three “new” engines — a V-6 and two V-8s — with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 version delivering best-in-class fuel economy. The company did not reveal any specifications yet, but confirmed each engine will deliver improved output and better fuel economy.

Still, we are wondering if these updates will be enough to deliver the same performance figures as its key competitors: the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 . Hit the jump to find out.

Updated 04/02/2013: GMC announced today that the 2014 Sierra will arrive at dealerships this summer. Also revealed were the official specifications for the 5.3-liter V-8.


For all of the press and hype surrounding the Toyota GT 86 and the Subaru BRZ , not a lot of people know or have given love to the third model of the bunch, the Scion FR-S.

All that’s about to change because the Scion FR-S has arrived. For those that have shed rivers of tears when they found out that neither the GT 86 nor the BRZ were headed Stateside, news that the FR-S will arrive in America is tantamount to a post Thanksgiving blessing.

Now, we’ve actually seen a concept version of the FR-S - called the FR-S Concept - at the New York Auto Show , so it really didn’t come as a surprise to a lot of us that the sports coupe was coming to the US, but seeing the concept and seeing the production version are two different things.

It doesn’t even matter that we’re not getting the GT 86 and the BRZ. We have the FR-S, and just like a child that comes to us, we’re going to shower it with as much love as we can possibly give.

Find out more about the Scion FR-S after the jump.

Ah, the Fisker Karma . It is likely one of the most well designed and heavily debated cars available today. Some people love it and cannot get enough of it and others can’t stand it. It’s truly one of the most polarizing cars on the market and a lot of that is because of some of the issues it has run into and the massive DOE loan that Fisker took out to help produce it.

We pretty much sit right in the middle. We’ve loved its looks from the day we saw the concept model that no one believed would ever be produced. Its issues and some of the sub-par reviews, on the other hand, pushed us back toward the middle..

Well, the only way we can really find out if we truly love it or hate it is to test drive it. And that is exactly what we did, as we took a road trip to Fisker of Tampa Bay at 320 East Fletcher Ave. in Tampa, and met up with Fisker brand manager Jackie Daly and general manager Bryan Mobley for an exclusive viewing and test drive.

So, did we walk away impressed or did the Karma underwhelm?

Click past the jump to find out.


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