2018 Subaru Impreza 50th Anniversary Edition
Unveiled for the 2017 model year, the current-generation Subaru Impreza received a significant makeover inside and out compared to the previous model, but old engine was carried over with mild revisions. Despite not being that much more powerful, the sedan gets a lot of praise for its comfortable and roomy cabin, the standard all-wheel-drive system, and the available safety features. For 2018, the Impreza continues without any changes — which isn’t surprising given that it’s still relatively new — but Subaru is offering a limited-edition, 50th Anniversary package.
The bundle is part of Subaru’s celebration of its 50th anniversary in the United States. Established in 1953, the Japanese firm crossed the pond to the U.S. in 1968, when Malcolm Bricklin and Harvey Lamm founded Subaru of America in Philadelphia and began selling the tiny 360 model. This limited-edition Impreza is part of a larger scale 50th Anniversary offensive that includes the entire U.S. lineup, minus the yet-to-be-available Ascent. Yes, you can have the package on the Legacy, Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, BRZ, and WRX too, but we’re going to focus on the Impreza in this article.
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2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
If Mercedes-Benz ever decided to make a greatest hits album, the C-Class would undoubtedly be one of the top tracks. Originally offered in the early ’90s as a replacement for the Mercedes-Benz 190 series, the C-Class is framed as the German brand’s entry-level luxury four-door compact. A second generation arrived in 2000, followed by a third-gen in 2007 and a fourth-gen in 2014. Now, as the fourth-gen C-Class enters its fifth year of production, it takes a spot in Merc’s lineup as the brand’s best-selling model, moving a total of 415,000 units in markets worldwide last year. That’s a huge volume for a single model. As such, Mercedes is looking to keep it feeling as fresh as possible, and will give it a slew of new updates to keep buyers coming back for more. The latest includes tweaked exterior styling, an updated interior, new infotainment gear, new safety and assistance tech, and even an extra splash of power as well. All good stuff, if you ask us.
The latest 2019 model year for the C-Class will appear in the metal for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show, where Merc will also pull the sheets on the new A-Class, the new G-Class, and the new AMG GT Coupe. While a full generational changeover is expected in a few years’ time, this new model definitely keeps that old C-Class magic we’ve come to expect, while also adding all the extra goodies needed to keep it in the running with the competition. Read on for the details, and make sure to check back here for the full rundown when the C-Class drops in Geneva.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The Nissan Maxima is something of an oddity in the automotive landscape. It used to be that the Max was the biggest car in Nissan’s lineup — hence its maximum name. But for the last couple of generations, the Maxima’s size has been matched by its cheaper sister, the Nissan Altima.
This creates all sorts of confusion for some consumers. A friend saw me comparing a Camry to an Altima and said, “Shouldn’t you compare Camry to Maxima?”
No, no you should not. The Maxima is much more of a driver’s car than any Camry, though I admit the new-for-2018 Camry closes the gap a little (more on that in a minute.)
As for anyone else who may be confused by Maxima’s place in the family sedan world, let me put it this way: It punches well above its weight — so much so that, if I were considering spending my money on an entry-level luxury car like a Mercedes CLA or Lexus ES, I’d honestly consider the Maxima in that same pack.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
The Sonata is one of those nameplates that just seems to stick around no matter what. First introduced in 1985 as a replacement for the Hyundai Stellar, the first generation only lasted two years before it got the axe. However, the second generation, which was introduced in 1988, fared far better, finding success in a variety of export markets, including North America and Australia. A third generation arrived in 1993, followed by the fourth in 1999, the fifth in 2004, and the sixth in 2010. The latest seventh generation arrived in New York just last year for the 2018 model year, but the hybridized variant was left conspicuously out of the lineup. Now, the new seventh-gen hybrid has arrived following a debut at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. While still framed as Hyundai’s near-premium mid-size four-door, this latest generational update brings improvements in the chassis and handling department, plus new exterior and interior bits, new safety features, and new features for connectivity and infotainment. All told, Hyundai is looking to take a more premium approach with the Sonata Hybrid, enhancing it with an upscale appearance, a nicer ride, and better equipment throughout.
Of course, with demand shifted primarily towards the crossover and SUV segment, competition among the sedans is ruthless right now, especially in the near-premium slot. The question is – where will the Sonata excel? Well, the hybrid gear is certainly a tempting proposition, but how good is it really? Read on to find out.
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2019 Bentley Flying Spur
Launched in 2005 and updated in 2013, the Bentley Flying Spur is getting a little long in the tooth. As a result, the British firm has already begun testing the next-generation model and we have already received the first spy shots of the upcoming luxury rig. Don’t let the Panamera body fool you, this is actually a Bentley mule, and the fact that Bentley is using a Porsche body is by no means surprising. As you may recall, the first Bentayga prototype hit the road with an Audi Q7 body. Also, keep in mind the Bentley, Porsche, and Audi are all under the same Volkswagen Group umbrella. If you’re still in doubt, our paparazzi have already checked the British plates with the DVLA, which revealed that the prototype is indeed registered as a Bentley.
Likely to break cover in late 2018 or early 2019, the next-generation Flying Spur will bring major improvements to the nameplate. Arguably the most imporant is the MSB-F platform, which already made its debut in the new Porsche Panamera. The redesign will also spawn a new styling language, a more luxurious interior, and give the sedan more powertrain options. Official data is virtually non-existent, but I gathered all existing rumors in a speculative review that should keep you covered until a Bentley-bodied prototype shows up in 2017. Make sure you stay tuned for details.
Updated 02/13/2018: Our spy photographers caught the new generation Flying Spur out for a new testing session in Sweden. The new car is expected to debut in late 2018 or early 2019.
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2019 Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan
After four years with the Audi A3 Sedan being the only four-door on the premium compact market, Mercedes-Benz decided its time to jump in with a three-box version of the popular A-Class. The company’s smallest sedan made its debut in concept form at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show and the Germans were quick to confirm that a production version is in the making. With the fourth-generation hatchback just unveiled for 2018, the sedan is only months away from an official unveiling. And alongside the standard model, we’ll also get the potent AMG A45, and according to recent spy shots, a milder AMG variant too. The latter is rumored to be called the AMG A35 and it will take on the Audi S3 Sedan.
While the new A-Class is spectacular in just about every department and sports the most beautiful interior in the compact market, the really big news about the A-Class Sedan is that it will be a global vehicle. When the unveiling took place in Shanghai, I was almost certain that the German sedan will follow in the footsteps of the BMW 1 Series Sedan, which is only available in China as of 2018. But Merc has big plans for the A-Class and has already confirmed that the sedan will be sold in the U.S. The regular model should be followed by both AMG versions, including this one. Before we dig in, I want to stress that the A35 nameplate is by no means official. Last year, the less potent AMG was rumored to get an A40 badge, so it could be anything at this point.
Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG A35.
2018 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition
The Lexus GS F has been around in one form or another since 1991, offered as a mid-size four-door with a solid dose of opulence in the cabin. The latest fourth-gen model dropped in 2011, giving the lineup a little extra sportiness when the mood is right. Now, Lexus is using the platform to pay homage to it’s F-branded trim levels. In case you weren’t aware, Lexus’ F models make up the quickest of the automaker’s stable, with the singular letter tacked to the trunk added as a nod to Japan’s world-famous Fuji Speedway. Lexus first started making F models back in 2008, and now, a full decade later, it’s offering up two special edition F’s to celebrate the anniversary.
The limited-run duo consists of the 2018 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary edition and the 2018 Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary edition, both of which will make their first stateside appearance at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. Both also initially dropped at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, but now they head to Chi Town for their big U.S. debut. Both will also arrive in dealers this summer, and bring customers a slick blue and grey color scheme. Interested? Then read on for the low-down on this upgraded go-faster GS F.
Continue reading to learn more about the Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition.
2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic
Merc has been making the CLS-Class since the early 2000’s, dropping the first-gen with a debut at the 2004 New York International Auto Show. Framed as a sleek sedan packing top-shelf luxury, a sporty exterior, and no shortage of power under the hood, Merc quickly ushered in the go-faster AMG iteration at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. The second-generation CLS arrived in 2011, with a hot-to-trot AMG 63 hot on its heels. Now, there’s a third-gen model on the table, with the latest CLS dropping at the 2017 Los Angeles Show. As is tradition, Mercedes brought along a new AMG iteration as well, introducing the new 53-Series model alongside two other high-powered luxury rides from the boffins at AMG, including the 53-Series AMG E-Class Coupe and the E-Class Cabriolet, all of which arrived in style at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. All told, the latest AMG CLS 53 4Matic comes packing with superlative Mercedes-Benz styling, the latest technology in the cabin, a high-performance attitude, and all the requisite power to back it.
The new four-door coupe also comes a supplementary electric system that adds a good deal of low-end torque on demand, a feature that makes the heavy-hitting luxury cruiser even more frisky when you dig into the skinny pedal. “With the new 53-series models we are extending our portfolio in a first step towards a hybridised future with a leading-edge combination of sporty design, performance and efficiency,” says Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management at Mercedes-AMG GmbH. Sounds good. But how good is it, really? Read on for all the details.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC.
2019 Kia Forte
Introduced in 2008 as a brand-new nameplate, the Forte has already made a name for itself in the affordable compact car market. And while it might not be as popular as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, the Forte was Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in recent years and one of only 15 cars to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018. Not bad for an automobile that had nothing to brag about a decade ago. Almost six years old as of early 2018, the second-generation Forte is living its final months on the market, with a redesigned model introduced for the 2019 model year at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.
Redesigned from the ground up, the third-generation Forte follows in the footsteps of larger Kia models. Not only sportier on the outside, the new Forte comes with an upscale interior that moves it closer to the premium market. In addition to that, it’s the first Kia to borrow styling cues from the hot Stinger sedan. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been expecting Kia to add some "Sting" to its lineup ever since the four-door debuted in 2017. The new Forte arrives just in time for the redesigned Volkswagen Jetta, yet another affordable compact that wants to play in the premium league. But the Forte has other things to worry about too, like the popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. How does it stack against them? Let’s find out in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Forte Sedan.
2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Infiniti has made tremendous progress in recent years, evolving from a brand that used to sell slightly more upscale Nissan models into a full-fledged luxury company that competes against the likes of Lexus and Lincoln. Come 2018, and the Japanese brand is looking to expand into new niches, including the electric car market. The Japanese firm is also readying a new design language, which was previewed at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show by the Q Inspiration concept.
A slightly futuristic midsize sedan, the Q Inspiration is giving us a glance into Infiniti’s future car design. It also signals a next-generation Q70 that’s sportier and uses a new-generation engine with variable compression ratio. "The premium sedan segment has become rather conservative. The Infiniti Q Inspiration previews something that could appeal to a younger audience, who seek modern design and new technologies to inspire and empower them," explained Christian Meunier, the company’s Global Division Vice President.
Infiniti didn’t say whether the Q Inspiration also previews an upcoming flagship sedan, but the concept car should serve as inspiration for all future products. Let’s have a closer look at what it brings to the table in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept.
2020 Subaru WRX
Ever since its introduction in 1992, the Subaru WRX has promised enthusiasts a thick slice of the high-flying, sideways-sliding, gravel-spraying antics that made the six-star brand famous in the World Rally Championship. Thanks to its turbocharged flat-four engine, stout suspension set-up, speed-oriented interior, and wing-heavy exterior styling, the WRX has cemented its reputation as a machine capable of competition-style performance, but at a price that keeps all your internal organs inside you, rather than going to the highest bidder. Over the years, we’ve seen four generations of the ’Rex, with U.S.-based consumers getting their first taste in the early 2000’s with the second-gen “bug eye” iteration. These days, though, the WRX is considered a bit long in the tooth. While still a solid performance buy, the alternatives are plentiful, while the WRX’s updates mostly just spin the tires. In truth, enthusiasts are clamoring for an updated next-generation WRX capable of besting much fresher offerings from the likes of Ford and Honda.
Luckily, it appears as though Subaru is working on exactly that, as previewed by concepts like the Viziv Performance sedan that dropped at the Tokyo Motor Show back in 2017. But we’re impatient, so we decided to create a rendering, put on our thinking caps, and write up a speculative review on what we think the next-gen WRX could bring to the table. Read on for the details.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 Subaru WRX.
2019 Toyota Avalon
First introduced in 1994, the Toyota Avalon is the Japanese brand’s full-size sedan offering, seeing sales in North America, Puerto Rico, and the Middle East. Since its debut at the Chicago Auto Show back in the ’90s, a total of four generations have come and gone, and now, there’s a brand-new fifth-gen heading for the dealer lots. First making the scene at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, the 2019 Avalon is framed as “attainable premium,” or “mid-premium,” and Toyota hopes it’ll entice customers with an upscale, comfortable four-door package that won’t break the bank. Truth be told, the sedan bodystyle (especially full-size sedans) can be a hard sell these days, as consumers usually fulfill their seating-for-five requirements with some kind of high-riding SUV or crossover. Despite this, Toyota is confident the 2019 Avalon will be an exception to the rule thanks to its extensive list of upgrades, which include a variety of luxurious touches and technology enhancements that almost lend it a feeling of “Germaness” on the surface. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll find the Avalon stays true to its Japanese roots, with unique charactersitics throughout, as well as a hybrid option for those looking for extra dollars saved at the pump.
The new Avalon will go on sale later this spring, but until then, read on for the details.
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2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The latest-generation Volkswagen Jetta was launched in 2010 and production for North America began the same year in Puebla, Mexico. Larger than its predecessor, the sixth-gen Jetta was relegated from the premium segment into the same market as the highly popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. In order to keep costs down, Volkswagen removed the leather seats option and the multi-link suspension from the American model. Come 2018, and the German firm launched brand-new model that aims to move the Jetta closer to the premium market again.
Unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show with the company’s recent corporate design, seen on the larger Passat and the Arteon sedans, the new Jetta is a significant departure from its predecessor in just about any department. Fresh and sleek on the outside, the four-door pack more technology than ever and Volkswagen claims that it’s loaded with premium features. It also rides on a new platform, switching to the flexible, all-popular MQB after two generations on PQ35 underpinnings. Let’s find out more about these changes in the review below.
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2018 Volkswagen Passat GT
Launched all the way back in 1973, the Passat is one of Volkswagen’s most iconic models, up there with the Golf and the Beetle. But unlike the Golf, the midsize has yet to gain a higher performance GTI version. Even the tiny Polo got the infamous red stripe, but for some reason, VW kept the Passat away from this badge. It doesn’t really seem as this would change anytime soon, but Volkswagen just introduced something similar in the United States. Developed based on extensive feedback from U.S. customers and dealers, the Passat GT is pretty much a GTI model without the massive power and the chassis upgrades.
Visually, the GT is heavily based on the Golf GTI. Not only it sports the iconic red stripe on its front grille, but it also has a number of blacked-up out features that give it a more menacing look. The interior was upgraded too and received quite a few extra standard features. Things aren’t as spectacular under the hood, where we can find the same VR6 engine as in the regular range-topping model, but the Passat GT benefits from a retuned suspension for a sportier ride. Based on the R-Line version, the Passat GT is a limited-run model, but Volkswagen had nothing to say about production figures. Let’s find out more about it below.
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2019 Fisker EMotion
If you’ve never heard the name Fisker before, let me give you a brief summary. The name comes from Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born entrepreneur and automotive designer currently residing in Los Angeles. Mr. Fisker worked his pen designing such show stoppers as the Aston Martin DB9, BMW Z8, Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket, and VLF Force 1 V10, among others. In 2007, he founded Fisker Automotive, consequently unveiling the Fisker Karma hybrid sports sedan in 2011. Long story short, the Karma didn’t pan out all that great, and Fisker resigned as chairman of the company that bore his name in 2013. But that was then, and now, Fisker has a new automotive startup, and even a new model to go with it. It’s called the EMotion, and it’s framed as a luxurious all-electric four-door with quick performance, groundbreaking solid-state battery technology, and upwards of 400 miles of range per charge, not to mention supercar good looks and Level 4 self-driving capability.
The new firm is called Fisker Inc., and the EMotion will be the company’s very first offering. But it’s not easy to break into the premium EV segment, especially when you consider all the other companies out there vying to do exactly the same. Pair that with growing competition from all the established makes currently doubling down on electric vehicles, and you’re left with odds of success akin to an ice cube’s chance in Hades.
That said, Fisker is no novice in this space. Sure, the Karma didn’t exactly pan out they way it was intended, but when consider Fisker’s vast industry connections and knowledge, Fisker Inc. might actually have a shot at making it. Yes, it’s an extremely bold endeavor, and yes, the claims getting tossed around the EMotion smell a lot like vaporware. But hey – if that guy who made PayPal can do it, why not Fisker?
Updated 1/9/2018: Fisker just debuted the EMotion at CES 2018! Read on for all the details and new images.
Continue reading to learn more about the Fisker EMotion.
2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven
The Lexus GS has been around since 1991, and its latest generation raises the bar for Lexus’ mid-size luxury sedan. The fifth-generation GS debuted for the 2013 model year and underwent a refresh in 2015 as it gained the highly recognizable and polarizing Spindle grille. The refresh also brought the 200t variant and its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. When matched with the available F Sport package, which brings a sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive aesthetics, the GS truly shoulders the role of a proper sports sedan.
I just spent a week behind the wheel of a 2017 GS 200t F Sport covering some 200 miles of mixed driving over familiar Central Florida roads. From the grocery store parking lot to the high-speed Autobahn/demolition derby known as I-4, I put the Lexus through it all. Even the parent pick-up line at the kiddo’s elementary school saw some F Sport action. Here’s how things played out.
Continue reading for my driven review of the 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport.
2018 Toyota Research Institute Platform 3.0 Autonomous Car
A few years ago, concept cars were mostly about futuristic design features and new technology. This is still available today, but most automakers are including semi or fully autonomous driving systems in their show cars. This technology is supposed to become a production feature in 2021, and everyone is racing to get there first. Toyota is among those companies, and it just introduced an update to the LIDAR-equipped Lexus that it showed off twice in 2017. It’s still built around the old LS600hL — the Japanese firm launched a new LS last year — but it’s now called Platform 3.0 and comes with numerous upgrades.
The company’s Research Institute teamed up with more firms and departments than ever to create the third prototype, including CALTY Design Research in Michigan, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development, and Luminar. The latter has recently developed the most powerful LIDAR system on the market, which made its debut on this autonomous Lexus. Production of the CES-bound concept car is scheduled to commence this spring, but volume will be kept low, and all vehicles will be built for testing purposes only. Let’s find out more about Toyota’s most performant autonomous car yet in the review below.
Continue reading to find out more about the Toyota Research Institute Platform 3.0 autonomous car.