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2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven

2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven

The segment leader is looking better than ever!

Not only is the Toyota RAV4 a critical model in Toyota’s lineup, but it’s also the benchmark for the compact crossover segment as a whole. First introduced in 1994, the RAV4 now enters its fifth generation and twenty-second year of production for the 2019 model year. Highlights for this latest update include a fresh look, a revamped interior, the latest tech goodies, a new platform under the skin, and the new off-road-ready Adventure grade. The hybrid powertrain returns as well. Overall, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 looks to keep its spot at the top of the crossover heap - but does it? To find out, Toyota flew me out to Carmel, California to give it a drive.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

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2018 Mazda2 (Mazda Demio) - Driven

2018 Mazda2 (Mazda Demio) - Driven

City cars don’t get more fun than this

If cars were judged based on how cute their face is, then the 2018 Mazda2 (also known as the Mazda Demio in its native market, Japan and some other markets) would be among the best cars in the world. However, it’s obviously not just about looks, since cars nowadays, even small city cars, need to be fully featured, well-rounded vehicles that you can even drive on the highway without it feeling daunting.

Thankfully, the pint-sized Mazda2 proved to be thoroughly competent in all those areas and more - it even surprised me on a few occasions. But returning to looks for a second, the Mazda2 is certainly one of the most daring vehicles in its class, only really matched for visual impact by the Peugeot 208 - in the trinket-laden Peugeot’s presence, the 2 can almost be described as sculptural.

Its interior is equally daring, and even if it can’t match the best in class for fit and finish quality, it’s still pleasant to spend time in it. But what many owners and possible future buyers of the Mazda2 may not know (and never find out if they drive slowly and sedately) is the fact that the little 2 is a hoot to throw around - it has fun but predictable handling, and it really puts a smile on the spirited driver’s face much more so than most rivals.

If you live in North America, you can actually buy a sedan version of the Mazda2, however, it wears a Toyota badge and is called the Toyota Yaris sedan; previously it was known as the Scion iA.

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Budget Direct Renders Six Unique Manufacturer Collaborations

Budget Direct Renders Six Unique Manufacturer Collaborations

There are some great results, and some "close your eyes!" results

One of the great things about car renderings is the ability to let your imagination go crazy. You can use an existing car model and re-imagine it without a roof, or you can get really creative and redesign it in a different body type altogether. There’s something to be said, then, for renderings that take two models from two different automakers and combine them to create an entirely new model. It’s the kind of Transformers-like job that we should be seeing more often in the real world. Or should we? The truth is, BudgetsDirect undertook this very exercise, and the results are all “interesting,” to say the least. As an added bonus, we’re doing our own part and renaming these creations in the best way we can.

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2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2016 BMW 6 Series Convertible

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2016 BMW 6 Series Convertible

Bimmer’s shiny new toy arrives to take the place of the departed old guard

The BMW 8 Series Convertible has arrived, and with its arrival comes a lot of questions regarding how it compares to the model it’s effectively replacing: the departed 6 Series Convertible. To be clear, the 8 Series Convertible isn’t a direct-line successor to the 6 Series Convertible. It’s packaged as a true-born flagship, developed to compete against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet and, in some ways, the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. You can’t say the same thing about the 6 Series Cabriolet. Still, even if there’s no direct connection between the two, it’s hard not to think of one without thinking of the other. So, we lined them up together to see how the 8 Series Convertible and the 6 Series Convertible compare to each other.

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2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante

The DB11 cost twice as much. Is it worth it?

The fact that BMW revived the 8 Series nameplate after almost two decades is definitely one of the headlines of 2018. But equally important is the fact that the Germans announced two brand-new versions of this car: there’s an M8 just around the corner, and BMW just introduced the 8 Series Convertible.

The first drop-top version of the 8 Series in history, the Convertible, is here to tackle the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet. However, the topless German is also an option against more expensive grand tourer, like the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. Let’s find out how it compares to the notably more expensive British convertible in the comparison below.

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2018 BMW 330i GT xDrive - Driven

2018 BMW 330i GT xDrive - Driven

BMW’s 3-Series Gran Turismo is the other practical variant in the 3-Series lineup for those who don’t want to buy the wagon. It actually has more carrying capacity than the load lugger, and unmatched passenger room, as well as a hatchback design, so you can load big items into the back fairly easily.

It’s really the amount of interior space that impresses in the 3 GT, a car that is nowhere near as popular as it should be because, from my experience with it, there’s actually a lot to like, and it has a bit of a lovable character. Comfort levels are very high, especially if you avoid the harder suspension of the M sport pack (which apparently ruins the ride quality), and opt for the standard setup with adaptive dampers - it is the most comfortable 3-Series you can buy by quite some margin.

Design and styling may not be to everybody’s taste, certainly, but the fact that it has a bit of extra ground clearance over a regular 3-Series and the fact that it’s slightly taller overall, doesn’t negatively affect the way it looks. I think that for a halfway model whose aim is to convince you not to buy an actual crossover or SUV, it looks more than adequate and for some reason better in person than the 6-Series Gran Turismo - its larger and more expensive 5-Series-based brother.

In the 330i xDrive Luxury spec I tested, it was motivated by a turbocharged four-cylinder which is easily powerful enough for lively acceleration and not terrible on fuel. I wouldn’t call it explicitly sporty, but it is miles better to throw around a twisty road than, say, the BMW X3, which just feels tall and cumbersome by comparison.

BMW is probably not going to make a follow-up model for this 3 GT, due to its low appeal in these crossover crazed times. That means a few years down the line it will be even less of a common sight so as time progresses people may start looking for these as a rare, slightly oddball model, but one with excellent daily driver credentials.

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2019 Lamborghini SC18 Alston

2019 Lamborghini SC18 Alston

A one-off supercar with aero inspired by the world of motorsport

From the outrageous styling, to the thumping V-12 powerplant, to the breathtaking performance, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is anything but boring. But that’s not stopping one lucky owner from turning the volume knob up to 11 on their Raging Bull. Say hello to the SC18 Alston, which comes with race-spec aero and a track-ready attitude to set it apart from its more “standard” brethren. And although it’s designed for track use, the SC18 Alston is still road-legal, bringing the best of both worlds into wing-tastic harmony.

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2019 Audi R8

2019 Audi R8

The ultimate road-going R8?

Introduced in 2015, the second-generation Audi R8 was facelifted for the 2019 model year. The mid-cycle upgrade arrived rather soon, suggesting that the supercar might be redesigned in three years or so. The facelift brought a sportier exterior, a mildly altered interior, and important changes under the hood. Likewise, the R8 V10 Plus model was renamed the V10 Performance.

Sharing 50 percent of components with the R8 LMS GT3 race car shown at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, the revised R8 looks more aggressive than ever. It’s also significantly more powerful than before, with up to 30 horsepower added to the 5.2-liter V-10 engine. It’s also the first R8 to surpass 200 mph in every trim, including Spyder models. Although it was originally believed that Audi might add a new GT model to the lineup, the sportier car spotted testing in Europe turned out to be just the regular facelift. Let’s find out more about all of that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi R8.

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2020 Aston Martin DBX

2020 Aston Martin DBX

Aston Martin’s first SUV comes to take on the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga

Meet the first ever Aston Martin SUV, the DBX, which is set to make its market debut in the fourth quarter of 2019 - it’s exactly one year away. It will be built in a new facility located St Athan, in South Wales, a plant which Aston Martin aims to make its “home of electrification.”

Since there’s already a fully working pre-production prototype, it means work on the Aston DBX is quite advanced and, from under the camo, we can see what it’s going to end up looking like. It’s obviously going to be quite a departure for the brand, but since the Aston Martin badge is one of the most prestigious and desirable in the world, it will undeniably prove popular among luxury SUV buyers.

Aston Martin announced its intention to make a high rider with the DBX concept it showed back in 2015, but the production incarnation looks nothing like the sleek two-door concept. The production Aston Martin DBX is a more conventional five-door design, since it not only needs to look good but also cater for practical needs as well.

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Toyota Brightens Its 2020 Lineup with a Redesigned Corolla That's More Powerful and Safer Than Ever

Toyota Brightens Its 2020 Lineup with a Redesigned Corolla That’s More Powerful and Safer Than Ever

The brands best-selling nameplate enters a new stage of life

This is the all-new Toyota Corolla sedan that is set to reach no fewer than 150 different markets as of next year. It looks better than before, drives better than before, and packs plenty of new tech features lacked by its predecessor - it is expected to reach showrooms around the world as of Spring 2019.

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2018 Jeep Gladiator

2018 Jeep Gladiator

Our Predictions for the Wrangler-based pickup

The Jeep Gladiator is the company’s upcoming pickup truck based on the latest-generation Wrangler. The first Jeep-badged truck in almost three decades, the Gladiator will make its public debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. A recent leak confirmed the Gladiator name too, following rumors that it might be called the Scrambler.

The Gladiator has been confirmed for some time now, but Jeep has been quiet on the details until recently. Between spy shots and insider information, we knew the pickup will have the upcoming 2018 Wrangler JL’s frame, front styling, cab, interior, and powertrains. Fortunately, the truck leaked ahead of time and now we have both photos and some information about it. Check it out in our speculative review below.

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2020 BMW M340i xDrive

2020 BMW M340i xDrive

382 horsepower BMW 3 Series To Fall In Love With

Just before its official unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show, BMW released the first specifications about the best G20 3 Series revealed so far - the M340i xDrive. It is not an M3, but it is really, really close to being one. Actually, the M340i is the most powerful 3 Series ever revealed. Save for previous two generations of the M3.

Taking the G20 3 Series architecture to a level unachieved by any BMW 340i of before, the 2020 BMW M340i xDrive comes with a standard, electronically controlled, mechanical limited slip differential, a 382 horsepower engine, and specially tuned eight-speed transmission with Launch Control.

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7 Electric SUVs And What They Bring to the Table

7 Electric SUVs And What They Bring to the Table

They are all kind of the same, really

With the short, but obvious invasion of electric SUVs on the market, I am quite interested in what all of those machines bring. Many of the major manufacturers invested heavily in introducing a new generation of electric SUVs with Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar, and BMW coming long after Tesla actually sparked the creation of the entire segment with the Model X.

Now, with a number of electric SUVs on the market one would expect some radically different thinking behind a seemingly similar car, but that may not be the case. Aside from five expensive electric SUVs (the I-Pace, the Model X, the EQ C, the E-Tron and theiX3 Concept), the only ones that were brave enough to give the market an electric shock are Hyundai and Kia with the Kona Electric and the Niro EV. So, learn here what all of them bring to the table and how do they differ.

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Top Midsize Crossovers and SUVs of 2018

Top Midsize Crossovers and SUVs of 2018

Because sedans are a thing of the past

Crossovers have taken the market by storm. In fact, the impact is so hard that sedans may soon have to be declared as extinct machines. This year, we saw a lot of crossovers and SUVs, some with facelifts, some with new generations, and some brand new names. Out of all of them, we’ve chosen a mix of 12 SUVs and Crossovers that you need to consider if you’re in the market for one.

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2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"

FoMoCo’s take on the Jeep Renegade

In March 2018, Ford unveiled its plans for the next two years, which includes many new models and a shift toward crossovers in the U.S. The bigger news includes dropping most cars in favor of SUVs, a hybrid version of the F-150 truck, and a revival of the iconic Bronco. The latter will be joined by a smaller sibling with similar boxy cues. A baby Bronco!

Described as a vehicle "designed to win a growing number of people who love getting away and spending time outdoors with their families and friends," the compact SUV was partially revealed in a teaser photo. In November 2018, photos of the actual vehicle leaked onto the web following a Ford dealer meeting. And based on what we can see, it’s aimed directly at Jeep. Specifically, while the new-generation Bronco will go against the all-popular Wrangler, the smaller crossover will take on the Renegade. There’s no official name for it yet, and details remain a mystery, but it could roll out by 2020.

Updated 11.14.2018 - Leaked photos from a dealer meeting shows the "baby" Bronco before we’re supposed to see it. Check out the photos in the gallery section.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming "baby Bronco."

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