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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.

Toyota introduced the Avalon to the U.S. market way back in 1995 as its more upscale, full-size sedan slotted between the Camry and more luxurious Lexus brand. It originally rode on a stretched version of the Camry’s platform and even shared its 3.0-liter, V-6 engine. Generational changes in 2000, 2005, and again in 2013 have kept the Avalon fresh with revised looks, interior appointments, and updated drivetrains.

I recently spent a week getting to know a 2014 Avalon in its most well-appointed form. My Limited tester came coated in a really beautiful dark-blue color Toyota calls Parisian Night Pearl. Its interior came awashed in soft-touch, tan leather seats with contrasting Parisian Night Pearl stitching and accent pieces. Equipped with the Technology Package, my Avalon came fitted with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, and the Pre Collision System. Also present was Toyota’s innovative Qi Wireless Charging system (pronounced "Chee") that works with like-enabled electronic devices.

Though those were the only two main extra-cost options, the Limited trim package took care of checking the other option boxes in one fell swoop, netting nearly every conceivable amenity desired on modern sedans. Heated and cooled leather seats with 10-way adjustments, moonroof, navigation, HID headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a laundry list of standard safety equipment.

Speaking of safety, the Avalon comes rated with five stars across the board from the NHTSA, except for the driver-side frontal crash, which earned a still-respectable four stars. Its other government ratings aren’t bad either. The EPA rates the Avalon at 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined.

The Avalon might not be the most exciting product Toyota builds these days, but it fulfills its intended purpose of passenger comfort very well. Out of all the cars I’ve piloted lately, the Avalon would be my pick for a long-haul roadtrip with the family.

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

***We will start this party at approximately 0945 US EASTERN TIME***

Ladies and Gentleman, you are invited to join us for a special early-week TopSpeed Podcast . The best part? It is totally live. Feel free to click the play button on the YouTube video to hang out with us; you can even chat and comment live to give us feedback and ask us questions.

I know the show is a few days early, but I have a special announcement to make. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it involves lots of horsepower and an epic road trip. You have to watch to see what the announcement is.

Beyond the special announcement, we are going to talk about Justin’s drive of the new 4-Series , the new McLaren P13 GT and the future of solar powered roads .

Mark is also going to regale us with tales of his time with the Chrysler Town & Country , and then we plan on discussing the changed coming to the 2015 Nissan Frontier and then we plan on covering the crazy Hyundai Veloster Midship Concept .

We may have another piece of news or two, and of course we will have viewer questions, and a round of Own, Drive, Burn.

Click that play button and hang out!

Every now and again, we get invites to quick test-drive events, and for the most part we simply ignore them. But when BMW invited us to test out the new 435i M Sport along with its nearest competitor, the 2014 Audi S5 , I would have been nuts to say "no." In one corner is the newest Bimmer with 300 horses coming from its TwinPower Turbo I-6 and all the cool little M Sport bits — brakes, wheels, suspension, etc. In the other corner is the tried-and-true Audi S5 with 333 horses and 325 pound-feet of torque.

This battle of German midsize coupes also includes a battle of power-generating philosophies. From Bimmer you have the new-age twin-scroll turbocharging system and from Audi you have the old, faithful supercharger. Many years ago there was no contest between the two, because the supercharger had no lag, while older turbos had serious lag issues, resulting in slower initial launches while the exhaust gases get the turbo spooling. The introduction of twin-scroll turbocharging and BMW’s perfection of the technology has rendered this a non-issue.

Both the 435i and the S5 are outstanding rigs and do the job of combining performance and luxury well without pushing the bounds of comfort like the wild RS5 and M4 . But which one is the victor in this quick, five-mile-long test in city traffic?

Click past the jump to find out.

The 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo is perhaps the most underrated and under-loved hot hatch on sale today. But I can’t seem to work out why. It takes the successful recipe utilized by names like GTI and Mazadspeed3 and adds a dash of Nissan flair. Sounds like fun to me.

Marketed as a crossover, the little Juke is the last car that anyone expected Nismo to fettle, but the results speak for themselves.

The car is basically pocket-sized, it is 16 inches shorter than a Honda Civic , but it comes loaded with a 197-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder, three pedals and six forward gears. That is more than enough grunt to make any enthusiast happy. You can pout all you want about the fact that the Mk VII GTI has 215 horsepower, but the current MK VI model only has 200 ponies, and it weighs more than the Juke to boot. The Juke will hit 60 in about 6.5 seconds, only a hair away from the Focus ST despite its 50+ horsepower advantage.

This little Nissan can hang with the big-boys, regardless of what that horsepower number says.

Read more about the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo and see my video review below.


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