TB’s journey into automotive journalism has been a long road. The road is paved with piles of car mags under the bed, Porsche posters in glass frames, and pushing the limits of whatever car he is driving.
His car passion started out like many other kids, with an obsession for mechanical toys from day one. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1982, Tom’s family moved to Chicago in 1985.
There, he discovered an *amazing* new candy called Skittles, which was brand new at the time and not available anywhere in the South yet. He sent bags to his old pals in Charlotte.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs was filled with Construx, big-wheels, two-wheeler bikes, R/C cars, Ariens lawn-mowers and neighborhood sports year-round.
Auto shows were a feast of gathering bags and bags of the newest brochures. Cut out and made into collages, the auto show was heaven. Weeks of bulletin boards and Blu-tac bedroom wall art would follow.
The all-new 2015 Cadillac Escalade has arrived! Official images followed a posh event in New York last night, debuting the production version of the new Cadillac flagship.
After becoming quite familiar with the updates to the similar 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon Denali , it is clear that all three of these machines are vastly improved in almost every way. As the Cadillac of the line, the Escalade naturally brings the best 420-horsepower, V-8 engine and third-gen magnetic shocks as standard.
The Caddy’s exterior is defined by some striking LED lighting front and back. Luxury details abound inside the cabin, including special leathers and better seats than its cheaper siblings. Offered as a gurgling rear-drive or refined all-wheel-drive setup in regular or ESV sizes, the new Escalade is faster, smoother and more efficient than ever before.
The Escalade is still the king of the road in many places, and the new grille is certainly enough to grab some flash bulbs. This big truck looks great versus the previous three generations of Cadillac full-size SUVs. With pricing and dimensions that put most other SUVs in "time out," the Escalade is tipped for pricing between $65,000 and $95,000 when it arrives in early Spring 2014.
Update 11/8/2013: The 2015 Cadillac Escalade is making tis auto show debut at the 2013 Miami International Auto Show today. We will bring you any new information that comes from this debut as soon as we hear it. Stay tuned!
Click past the jump for all the official launch details from Cadillac on the exciting new 2015 Escalade.
The Fiat 500 Abarth is back for 2014 with new colors, new wheels and a more comfortable passenger seat design. The 500C cabrio was new with Abarth trim in Spring of 2013, and is expected to be the volume leader for 2014 with almost no performance or interior room downsides versus the coupe.
These cute Fiat 500 twins are looking just as fresh and intimidating as always versus the hum-drum base-engine 500 models, and the rest of the econo-car hatchback market in the U.S. These are two cars for people who have chosen the ultra-nimble hot hatchback route, plus they offer up both driving thrills and the feeling of driving a classic Italian racing brand.
While the regular 500 undercuts the Mini Cooper significantly on price, the $6,000 Abarth premium makes life more challenging versus the hottest Mini performance cars. Even so, the Mini ’s dated styling means the trendiest shoppers have long since moved on to something more current.
The 500 Abarth also undercuts the equivalent Mini Cooper S engine on price, but moves this tiny machine past $26,000 for the Abarth 500C - which is uncomfortably close to the Subaru BRZ and other performance cars.
The arrival of the American-spec Ford Fiesta ST certainly complicates the theoretical comparison test for these performance supermini’s.
Logic is typically not the most critical factor in this realm of the new car segment, and the 500 Abarth nails the less-concrete buying criteria like passion, brand image and performance zest.
Click past the jump for the full review of the Fiat 500 Abarth and the new 500C Abarth, with all the updates on the new features and changes for 2014.
Updated 11/7/2013:TopSpeed’s Phillipe Daix got his hands on a 500 Abarth this week and put together a short drive video of the peppy city car. Check out the video after the jump.
The 2014 Camaro RS really knocked my socks off. Its arrival was perfectly timed with some incredible track videos of the brand-new Z-28, and we hit it off right away.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. This is a V-6 engine ponycar - three words that over the years have become synonymous with soft, underpowered and uninspiring editions of the Mustang and even the previous F-body cars.
The 2014 Camaro V-6 is hard from its $24,555 base pricing: with a creamy six-speed, 5.8-seconds to 60, and a limited-slip diff out back (unless you get the 6-cog auto).
Over the week we spent having a ball driving this potent and rear-drive machine, the improvements versus any previous Camaro V-6 are significant. With all the highest-tech equipment now in reach of the V-6 buyers, there simply is no ’wimpy’ version of this car.
Even with lots of work to do back at the office, every lunch run was a lot more fun in the 2014 Chevrolet RS.
Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Driven review for all the details.
Do you prefer a shabby beach house or high-tech luxury condo with 60 floors of pure ocean views and in-unit garages?
Vacation living just got a lot swankier for car-loving fat-cats across the globe. The new Porsche Design Tower in Miami broke ground this April with a fabulous pre-launch gala showcasing unique features, tech and style of the new Porsche beach-front high-rise.
The Porsche association is the most newsworthy element of this A-list project in Miami’s Sunny Isles, but the building itself is a masterpiece of holistic and conceptual design.
From the drafting tables and wild technology of the Porsche Design think-tank comes this 130-unit oceanfront tower on some of the best beaches in the world. Even the most affordable of the $5-million-plus floor-plans will be enough to feel like king of the Atlantic with 4200 square feet of living space and a glass-walled, two-car garage right next to the living room fireplaces.
No, this is not a timeshare in Boca. This is a fully-staffed, museum-quality building that is both a showpiece for Porsche’s foray into lifestyle design, and a tech-infused beach getaway for some of the world’s richest people.
These residences are not yet complete, but the developer preview renderings are enough to fill your dreams of the ultimate high-rise castle in the sky.
Click past the jump for all the high-res details of the upcoming Porsche Design Tower in Miami, including its automated system of elevators that bring a driver — and his whole Panamera full of groceries — up as high as 60 floors and into his glass condo garage.
The Juke NISMO is a hilarious riot to drive. If you take one thing away from this full review, that should be it.
Highway fast lanes clear rapidly when any hint of GT-R or NISMO is coming up from behind.
As the second NISMO-tuned effort after the incredibly transformed 370Z Nismo, the Juke is the perfect combination of economy-car basics, but with the highest-tech racing components outside, inside and under the hood.
There are amazing details all over the Juke Nismo, especially with its very fun and entertaining persona on the roads. This car loves to be floored in AWD V-spec and Sport modes, slamming through seven virtual - and seriously sporty — upshifts at the red-line. In a CVT!
It is true. A huge part of the NISMO magic in the Juke is the reprogrammed ECU that makes sport mode a mandatory button push - right after lighting up the push-button ignition.
TopSpeed’s Juke Nismo press loaner is the $25,000 AWD automatic with the navigation system upgrade, but all the joy and fun cornering stance is also on offer in the manual-transmission, front-drive Juke Nismo from just $22,990.
The Nissan Juke NISMO is an incredible machine for sports-car fans and hooning boy-racers alike.
Click past the jump to hear all the reasons why this might be the smartest Fiesta ST alternative on the market.
The 2014 Ram Heavy Duty is heavily revised with new air suspension options, an all-new interior, and a fifth-wheel trailer towing option that allows these huge trucks to hitch a trailer right into the bed of the pickup truck.
The Heavy Duty Ram line also brings a mild exterior refresh with the projector-beam lights on posh trims like the Laramie test truck.
A quick spin was enough to have me looking for poundage to haul somewhere, maybe a friend who likes to ride dressage horses competitively?
Sadly, not enough time to test the limits of this tall workhorse by towing some show ponies out back.
This all-new 2014 Mega Crew Cummins 2500 is the big chief of the Ram family, with over 800 pound-feet of torque and tow ratings that would make a tractor trailer blush with embarrassment. For a non-truck-guy, the 2500 Ram is generally thought of as the 20,000-pound trailer max — in the right settings.
The 3500 Ram is now in a class of one with a 30,000-pound towing max, again with the right option boxes ticked.
With base pricing just below $30,000, how does the Ram HD line compare with the best-sellers from Ford and Chevy ?
Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Driven review of the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 Diesel.
Transformers 4 is deep in filming major action sequences all over the world this year, with director Michael Bay’s latest tweets from Hong Kong proof enough to love or hate this guy.
As an effects and brand integration expert, Mr. Bay’s Transformers films have a huge fan base all over the world. Since 2007, these movies are directly attributed to more than $400 billion in total attributed revenue from ticket sales at the movie theaters, but also for all the products Mr. Bay integrates into his films.
Product placement is so irritating some times. More so than even Mr. Bay himself, at times, which is a big achievement.
When the brand integration is forced, it ruins the plot’s authentic feel. Seeing a Nokia or Sony smartphone in any music video since 2000 is a good example of bad product placement.
Good product placement means writing the brands into the plot of the movie from before day one.
Chevrolet has been a generous partner for the Transformers films, both footing the bill for a new fleet of Autobots for each film and also marketing the movies pretty aggressively with its own dollars.
The reason for this is simple: full-length action films have a global and multilingual reach far beyond any 30-second television commercial.
Oh, and could our new car be the Star of the film? The 2007 Transformers film debuted the Camaro before it was on sale, and since then has shown interesting concepts for what ultimately became the 2014 Corvette Stingray.
These movie cars take the ’pulse’ of GM’s styling departments by letting them create without production feasibility or engineering limits. They are, in short, the best concept cars Chevrolet makes.
So feast your eyes on the nearly 20 high-resolution pictures snapped by Ron Alder Photography in Hong Kong this week.
Click past the jump for real-life images of the Camaro BumbleBee concept that is featured in Transformers 4, arriving in theaters in June 2014.
The 2014 XJ sedan finally achieves all the potential of this iconic luxury brand with long-wheelbase, all-wheel-drive or even supercharged versions that match buyer priorities and also Jaguar ’s inherent sportiness.
The previous XJ sedans have all been brilliant at one or two of the executive limo buyer’s checklist areas, including style and interior panache. At different times, the previous XJR was hilariously fast and full of roaring character. But never has the XJ offered buyers such a wide swath of excellence in body styles, technology, style and performance.
The XJ really snapped to attention on the sales charts with the 2013 inclusion of a new 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 and AWD grip near the base $74,000 configuration. This not only catapults the XJ into consideration for Audi and Lexus buyers, but it also improves the previous standard V-8’s mileage stats.
So like a chorus or an orchestra, all the instruments in the Jaguar symphony finally seem to be playing the same some. And it is a catchy tune with the XJ’s beautiful nose and subtle styling that is a perfect match for the ultra-limo segment’s discerning buyers.
A brief sample of the 2014 XJ L 3.0 AWD was enough to take in its liquid curves, attractive nose detailing, and a cabin so full of leather that it smells like the inside of a Burberry purse.
Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Driven review of the 2014 Jaguar XJ L 3.0 AWD, including photos of the huge back seat and details about the entire XJ lineup.
The Buick LaCrosse is fresh for 2014 with a variety of improvements in almost every area, but with pricing that holds the base line at $34,000.
The outside is sharper than before with LED and bi-xenon lighting up front, while new LED styles for the brake lights come in out back.
Inside, everything takes a step toward classier finishes and surfaces, while tech integration for the touchscreen infotainment and active safety is now one of the best from any luxury brand.
Larger wheels all around are a LaCrosse feature for 2014 as well, but the most notable improvements to this smooth full-size sedan really come from its manners on the road.
A far stiffer chassis than ever before is married to the traditional Buick attributes of smooth, quiet and safe cruising. The increased rigidity for the platform brings only benefits, including a ride that is just as cozy as before in standard settings, but with a firmer ride selectable electronically, as well, for windy mountain roads.
During its stay here at the TopSpeed Garage, the LaCrosse’s benefits were clear from the moment we sat in its huge leather chairs.
Our tester was the 304-horsepower, V-6 model, but almost all of the new tech and other updates also apply across the new-for-2014 eAssist hybrid model at the base side of the price range.
For this much roominess and comfort, the only other contenders in the Buick ’s $35,000 to $45,000 segment are the revised Lincoln MKZ or the smaller Audi A6 .
How does the flagship Buick define itself in a segment filled with other classy limousine options?
Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Driven review of the 2014 Buick LaCrosse for all the details.
What has four seats under a dreamy soft top, a twin-turbo V-8 making over 400 horsepower and all the latest LED style from the new E63 AMG ?
The 2014 E550 Cabriolet, of course.
This car really stops the conversation, to some extent. Much as new cars get critiqued and reviewed from afar, only a few hours with the E550 Cabrio on a sunny day is all we — or you — will need to fall in love.
All the best parts of the soft new Mercedes-Benz aesthetic and brand appeal are present, from the high-tech full-LED option up front, to the AirScarf and embracing Sport seats inside that use active bolsters in the twist.
All that, with the breeze in your hair and 60 mph in just over 5 seconds. There is only one.
Click past the jump to enjoy the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet as much as we did on our brief test route.