2020 Nissan Sentra - Driven
The Sentra might be Nissan’s best-selling model of all time, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s been labeled as “cheap,” “uninspired,” or “sluggish.” Those claims to fame come courtesy of the last-generation model that has, thankfully, been replaced. For the 2020 model year, the Nissan Sentra ditches its old digs for a new Maxima-inspired design that sits atop a new platform. That old, sluggish 1.8-liter engine has been replaced with something a little more responsible and powerful, the 2.0-liter from the Nissan Rogue.
With the Nissan Sentra set to hit dealers in late February, Nissan invited us to give its updated compact sedan a test drive to see just how much better it really is. This is our experience.
2020 BMW X7 - Driven
The BMW X7 is one of the newest models in Bimmer’s lineup, and it serves a noble purpose as the brand’s flagship SUV (or Sports Activity Vehicle, if you listen to BMW’s “we-need-to-be-different” nonsense.) It was announced back in 2014, and shown off in concept form (the BMW X7 iPerformance Concept) in 2017, but wasn’t available at dealers until March 2019. Since then, we’ve been itching to get behind the wheel of one, and BMW was happy to oblige.
As you might expect from a flagship model, the X7 is about as luxurious as you can get without dipping your toes in the six-figure range. It comes close, with the X7 XDrive50i commanding an MSRP of $92,600, but it won’t cross that big mark unless you start checking off option boxes. Even the M50i falls just shy of six figures at $99,600. Under the hood of our xDrive50i sat a 4.4-liter V-8 (the same one that may be discontinued soon enough,) and it was good for 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 mph was rated at 5.2, but we got there in just a hair over 5 seconds, mighty impressive for a vehicle that weighs 5,617 pounds.
Interior space of the X7 was great, but what really caught our attention was the air suspension that would raise or lower as needed. Loading something into the rear? No problem, the suspension will drop to make it easier for you. Going over rough roads? Raise it up a notch. Spirited driving? The suspension will help keep things level. It’s like there’s nothing it can’t do. Comfort was on par with what you would expect, while materials and fit and finish were top notch.
We’re busy writing out in-depth review and driving impression of the 2020 BMW X7 right now, but until we’re done, we’ve posted our awesome photo gallery in the slider above and further down the page – be sure to check it out.
2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody – Driven
These days, the “Hellcat” name is synonymous with power, and that holds true with the Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody. Much like the standard Hellcat, this Charger sits in a very small bubble that includes cars like the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Chevy Corvette Stingray, and even the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. It’s the unique, four-door configuration that really made the Charger Hellcat stand out, and the widebody model takes that to the next level. Make no mistake, the Widebody charger isn’t just an aesthetic package, and we got to experience just what it has to offer. This is what our week-long experience with 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody was like.
2020 Nissan Versa - Driven
The third-generation Nissan Versa was launched and the 2019 New York Auto Show, and with it came an all-new design inside an out. The new Versa features a wider body, was finally updated to feature Nissan’s V-Motion grille, and the rear end benefits form boomerang-shaped tail lights. We got the chance to test the SR model, so it had the extra spoiler on the rear deck but overall, as a package, the new Versa is sportier and more aggressive than before.
The interior felt a dramatic revamp as well, borrowing features from the recently updated Maxima and Altima. The new “Gliding Wing” instrument panel is probably the most recognizable change here, but we also had the SR model, so we were focused on things like the flat-bottom steering wheel, seven-inch infotainment display, and the red and black interior. In terms of cargo room, the Versa will swallow up 14.3 cubic-feet of goods with the rear seats in place or as much as 88.9 with the seats folded down.
Under the hood of our SR tester sits a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that was completely revamped from the last model. It delivers a meager 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, which is, impressively, 12-percent more horsepower and 7-percent more torque. The engine sent the power to the front, 17-inch wheels via an automatic transmission. Pricing for the Versa SR starts at $18,240, but ours was priced at $21,490 with a few option boxes checked. Stay tuned for a full, in-depth review of the 2019 Nissan Versa SR.
2020 Subaru Legacy - Driven
One automaker after another is facing a new reality: Most people prefer SUVs to cars. That’s nothing new to Subaru, whose cars have played second fiddle to its crossovers ever since it turned the midsize Legacy station wagon into the Outback in 1995.
A crossover before the term “crossover” existed — before even “car-based SUVs” had really emerged on the scene — the Outback was a Legacy with some butcher detailing and, soon after its launch, a higher ground clearance. Since then, the Legacy has dwindled from Subaru’s flagship to a minor part of the company’s lineup, while the Outback has become its No. 1 product. Last year, the company sold five times as many Outbacks as Legacys.
Other companies’ buyers stuck with sedans longer. That’s probably because Subarus’ famously standard all-wheel-drive system already attracted the type of buyer who wanted more utility than a sedan. But now, nearly across the board, sedan sales are falling as crossover sales rise.
Some automakers have responded by discontinuing their sedans. Many of the survivors are focusing on what makes sedans stand out from SUVs: low, sleek proportions and a sporty driving experience. The latest iterations of the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry have all dialed up their style and their performance chops. The idea is that if someone still wants a car today, they really want a car — something beautiful, something fun, something interesting.
The redesigned 2020 Subaru Legacy, meanwhile, isn’t really any of those things. It sticks firmly to the old-school midsize sedan rules: a smooth ride, a big back seat, a fuel-efficient powertrain, and easy outward visibility. And, just like it has for decades, it comes standard with the same all-wheel-drive system that you’d find in a Subaru crossover. There’s little pizzazz to the design, which is nearly indistinguishable visually from the previous-generation 2015-2019 Legacy. The driving experience isn’t zesty like an Accord or like some past Legacy generations. This is a sedan that blends into the background, and Subaru doesn’t use discounted pricing to lure the remaining sedan shoppers. Even the Legacy’s storied all-wheel-drive advantage is dwindling; the Nissan Altima recently introduced an optional AWD system, and the Toyota Camry is following suit this year.
The Legacy is a safe, comfortable, no-nonsense midsize sedan. The new generation is roomier than before, it gets better gas mileage (especially if you opt for the optional new turbocharged four-cylinder, which replaces last year’s thirsty six-cylinder), and it has a bigger infotainment screen on most models. If you think excitement is overrated, you don’t have to count out this Subaru — though we’re going to go over its shortcomings as well. Prices start at $23,645, including the mandatory $900 destination charge.
2020 Ram 2500 HD - Driven
Although Ram has been around the block for almost four decades, it was not until recently that the brand became a household name and a serious contender to the undisputed king of the industry, the Ford F-Series. Ram is essentially a by-product of Dodge and is a fully-owned subsidiary of the FCA since 2014. The name might be new, but the company has been building trucks since the 1970s under the name ’Fargo Trucks’ which was sold outside the United States..
The marque has essentially gone through a paradigm shift over the last decade and is consistently rising up the sales chart. In 2019, Ram sold over 630,000 examples; almost 60,000 more than the Chevy Silverado, to occupy the runner-up position. A lot of it can be credited to the fantastic engines in the lineup, and Ram’s constant effort to infuse luxury into its cargo-haulers. Not to mention, it has been paying a lot attention to safety as well. To top it all off, these trucks became an overnight sensation when Ram announced a 1,000 pound-feet of torque figure for the 3500 series. The Ram 2500 doesn’t boast of that, but it still has a lot going in its favor to be deemed as a potent threat to the Blue Oval and the Bowtie.
The model that arrived at the TopSpeed HQ was a black Ram 2500 HD Laramie. This is a mid-level trim that may not come with the best features that Ram has to offer, but it is one of the most practical trims to buy that covers all the basic essentials you would need on a daily basis. The truck came with a Cummins engine under the hood, a large touchscreen system on the inside, and a fairly wide, intimidating footprint that would shoo away all the smaller vehicles on the road with ease. But, when you pit it against the like-for-like trims of Ford and Chevy products on paper, it feels a little weak.
With that said, the Ram 2500 HD Laramie is still a strong contender and worthy of being shortlisted in your book if you’re in the market for a heavy-duty truck priced at around $50,000.
The seventh-generation Subaru Legacy debuted at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, and less than a year later, we finally got to get behind the wheel of one. Right away, we were impressed. It’s built on top of Subaru’s newly optimized global platform, which means it’s stiffer in all the right places. And, thanks to Subaru’s newly adopted Dynamic X Solid philosophy that makes the Legacy more expressive than even – something that’s clearly visible in the front end design and in the rear where the rear decklid is morphed into a makeshift spoiler of sorts.
The interior probably got the biggest update, though, with the major highlight being that new 11.6-inch, vertically oriented infotainment display. It’s dubbed “HD Subaru Starlink,” and it’s about as modern as you can get without stepping into a Mercedes. Other interior features worth boasting is the new Nappa leather – a first for the Legacy and Subaru as a company – improved headroom and legroom, and improved cargo capacity.
Subaru has finally decided to Turbocharge the Legacy for the first time since 2012, and our Legacy XT tester featured a 2.4-liter Boxer engine that delivers a cool 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. All of that is sent through a CVT with a somewhat decent manual mode. It doesn’t make up for the lack of a manual or something with real gears, but it’s definitely not the worst CVT on the market. Four-wheel drive is, as you’d expect, a standard affair, and it took our tester just 6.1 seconds to hit 60 mph – not bad for a family sedan that’s also safe. The Subaru Legacy starts out at $22,745, but to get an XT model like ours, you’ll have to pony up at least $34,195 or $35,895 for the XT Touring.
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi - Driven
We have been itching to get behind the wheel of the 2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk. 8 and would really love to try out the yet-to-be-released Mk. 8 Golf GTi, but we’ve been told we still have to wait a while. To make things good, however, and hold us over, Volkswagen decided to send out an MK. 7 2019 Golf GTi and, while it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we have to admit that the week we spent with it was beyond memorable.
As you can see from the photo gallery organized into the slider above and the page below, the Golf GTi, even in its older design, is quite the looker. It’s attractive from all angles, and the interior really gives you the feeling that you’re sitting in a proper hot hatch. The flat-bottom steering wheel and eight-inch infotainment displayed helped in the regard, but the overall fitment of the seats and materials put together one hell of a package.
The 2.0-liter turbo-four under the hood isn’t the most powerful four-cylinder on the block – the title is reserved for the Mercedes-AMG A45S – but it’s powerful enough to keep just about any enthusiast happy at 228 ponies and 258 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen claims that’s good for a 5.7-second sprint to 60 mph, but we actually got there around one-tenth faster. More impressive than that is the fact that this baby is as nimble as can be. The 35.8-foot turning circle means it can turn on a dime (this is much better than both the Focus ST and i30 N that it competes with) while the 5.1-inch ride height feels like the sweet spot in terms of dealing with typical road conditions.
All told, our week with the Golf GTi isn’t one that we’ll forget, and we can’t wait to try out the MK.8 to see just how Volkswagen will manage to improve. Until that happens, though, you can enjoy our massive photo gallery. We’re busy putting together an in-depth review on the 2019 golf GTi, so be sure to check back in with us soon to learn the finer details!
2020 Lincoln Aviator - Driven
The Aviator name was revived back in 2019 as a replacement for the Lincoln MKT. Ever since, we’ve been dying to get our hands on one to see just how well it actually represents Lincoln as a brand and if it can actually handle the stiff competition in the premium SUV segment. Well, our requests were finally answered and a Lincoln Aviator showed up at TopSpeed HQ with full tank of gas and the paperwork that said we could drive it for a week. And, drive it we did.
Any negative preconceptions we had about the Lincoln brand or the Aviator in general were axed the second we stepped inside. The cabin, for the most part, feels highly premium and the layout was very spacious. We didn’t have the hybrid model, so all our power came from the 3.0-liter V-6 that was good for 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, two figures that proved themselves to be more than enough for a vehicle this caliber.
We were equally impressed with the amount of available cargo room (up to 77.t cubic-feet with all the seats folder flat, and the technology inside felt really upscale compared to what we expected based on previous experience with Lincoln models. Our model started out at $51,100, but our tester was fitted with a couple of options that made it a little more expensive. We’re busy putting together an in-depth buyer’s guide for this very vehicle, so until then check out the full, high-resolution photo gallery that we’ve added to the slider above or the body of the page below.
2020 Audi TT-RS - Driven
Audi updated the TT-RS for the 2019 model year, and after just a year on the market, we finally managed to get our hands on one. To our surprise, we found that the updated front and rear designs actually give the TT-RS a more dynamic, yet aggressive look. That is thanks to, at least in part, the new honeycomb grille up front that’s paired with the contrasted front spoiler lip.
Further emphasizing the sporty appearance of our TT-RS tester were the black mirror caps, the black accents on the rear spoiler, and the black diffuser-like elements in the rear fascia. Most people wouldn’t recognize some of the smaller bits, but those black legs for the spoiler, for instance, really stand out with the black accents on the rear decklid and the taillights.
The interior design of the TT-RS just screams performance and, at times, we almost felt like we were driving a Porsche. Maybe it’s the honeycomb inserts on the seats, the low seating position, or the material on the flat-bottom steering wheel. Honestly, it was probably a combination of all three, but we were so mesmerized by the crispness of the Audi virtual cockpit it was hard to look away.
Under the hood sits Audi’s classic 2.5-liter inline-five with 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. We really wish we had a six-speed manual, but unfortunately, the best we could ask for was the seven-speed automatic. The AWD was nice and, despite Audi’s claims of a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph, we actually clocked the same run somewhere in the high-3.5 to low-3.6 range on multiple occasions. If we had tried a top speed run, we would have been limited to 155 mph (we didn’t break the highway speed limit, though) however, if you’re willing to pay for it, you could get that limit raised to 174 mph. Pricing for our tester, as you see it here, was $77,490.
2020 BMW X6 - Driven
The BMW X6 has been around since 2007, and in the space of 13 years, it has become one of the most popular coupe-SUVs in the segment. Now that the third-generation X6 (GO6) has arrived, Bimmer’s resident coupe-SUV is ready to take on all comers in its segment. The third-generation X6 comes with plenty of upgrades. All the press releases and first-wave reviews made points of all of that. But you don’t get to appreciate these upgrades until you actually see the X6 in person, as we did when we recently took one out for a spin around town.
The all-new X6 looks good on paper, but it looks even better up close. BMW outdid itself in designing a coupe-SUV that fully embraces its identity. The X6 also comes with a gorgeous interior, though that’s hardly a surprise considering the company that makes it. Very little about the all-new X6 comes as a disappointment, though considering the market that it calls home, it’s still going to have a fight in its hands against some of its rivals. BMW did the new X6 proud, though. It’s arriving at the party packing serious lead.
BMW Introduced the seventh-generation G20 3 Series for the 2019 model year and with it came a new design language, update engines, and some features from models like the 5 Series and X5, among others. To top all this off, it’s also just a bit larger and more aggressive than the seven-year-old F30 3 Series that it replaced. We didn’t get a chance to run the new 3 Series prototype around the track on the original pre-release test days, so we’ve been itching to see just how much better new the 3 Series is and whether or not all that new technology and new driving dynamics live up to the hype. So, we started reaching out in hopes of getting our hands on a new 3 Series tester, and BMW delivered. In fact, it delivered so well, that we got to spend a week with none other than the new 2020 BMW M340i – the best model you can get without going full-on M.
So, is the M340i really a poor man’s M3? Does it really compete against the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 or the Audi S5 Sportback? Does the M340i really deserve its time in the limelight? Well, after a week of a weird, love-hate affair with the 2020 BMW M340i, we have answers to all these questions and more. Here’s our experience….