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2017 BMW 1 Series Sedan

2017 BMW 1 Series Sedan

The battle in the compact premium sedan market is about to get serious

The second-generation 1 Series has been around since 2011, when BMW redesigned the compact it first introduced in 2004. Unlike its predecessor, the current 1 Series consists of only three- and five-door hatchbacks since the two-door coupe and convertible was renamed the 2 Series back in 2011. In 2017, a third body style was added to the lineup, in the form of a four-door sedan.

Based on the Concept Compact Sedan that BMW showcased at the Guangzhou Motor Show in 2015, the 1 Series Sedan is a China-exclusive model and it’s manufactured as part of the joint venture between the BMW Group and BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd in Shenyang, alongside the long-wheelbase versions of the larger 3 Series and 5 Series.

The logic behind BMW’s decision to sell the 1 Series Sedan in China is pretty simple. The German firm sold over half a million cars in the country in 2016, which makes China BMW’s biggest market. The need of a smaller sedan based on the 1 Series appeared following customer requests of a more compact, yet premium vehicle for the crowded streets of China’s largest cities. Of course, the 1 Series Sedan is also a response to the popular Audi A3 Sedan, but BMW won’t be able to compete properly against its German rival unless it brings the new sedan to Europe and the United States too.

It remains to be seen whether this will change sooner or later, but until it happens, let’s have a closer look at the BMW 1 Series Sedan.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 BMW 1 Series Sedan.

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2017 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape

The long-anticipated next-generation Ford Escape has been official unveiled at the 2015 LA Auto Show. Totally revised with new looks, two new powertrains, and a slew of technology features that not only make the Escape a better crossover, but a more connected one. That will surely help drive sales in this day in age.

The new Escape hasn’t grown over the outgoing model, but does take plenty of styling details from its larger brother, the Edge. The trapezoidal grille leads into a more angular design with a more premium feel. The steeply raked windshield returns, allowing for plenty of forward visibility.

Inside, a more upscale cabin greets all five passengers. The driver now has the use of SYNC 3, Ford’s latest infotainment software. What’s more, the Escape is also debuting SYNC 3’s newest feature called SYNC Connect. Coming with a free, five-year subscription, SYNC Connect allows owners to remotely start, lock and unlock, monitor diagnostics, and track vehicle location from a securely connected smartphone.

Of course, the new Escape come with Ford’s modern assortment of safety systems, including the blind spot information system, hill-start assist, auto high-beam control, and the foot-operated rear tailgate. New for the Escape is adaptive cruise control, Enhanced Active Park Assist, Lane-Keeping System, and the Driver Alert System.

Updated 11/17/2015: Ford unveiled the 2017 Escape at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Ford Escape.

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2016 - 2018 Fiat 500X

2016 - 2018 Fiat 500X

Italy’s very own Jeep Renegade

Launched in 1957, the Fiat 500 evolved from a tiny economy car into a full lineup of vehicles incorporating various body styles and engines. The change occurred starting 2007, when Fiat unveiled the new 500, a modern car that features a distinctive, retro look similar to the new Mini Cooper and the Volkswagen New Beetle. Since its revival, the Fiat 500 range expanded to include the 500C, the larger 500L, the all-electric 500E and the high-performance 500 Abarth. In 2015, the Italians introduced a new model that marked the company’s entrance into the compact crossover market, a segment previously unexplored by the Italians.

Developed alongside the 2015 Jeep Renegade, the 500X is the largest 500-based Fiat yet and features a more rugged design, a revised interior and all the engines you can have with the regular hatch, save for the electric motor. The crossover joined the Jeep Renegade when it arrived in North America, where it’s sold alongside other versions of the 500 nameplate.

Continue reading to learn more about the Fiat 500X.

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2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i - Driven

2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i - Driven

Introduced for 2012, the current fourth-generation Subaru Impreza holds its own against the small-car competition, yet it somehow lacked that special feel to it – its Subaru-ness that fans often talk about. Well for 2015, the Impreza bows with a mid-cycle refresh that includes a slight nose job and some interior material upgrades, but not much else.

To see if the changes make a difference, I spent a week behind the wheel of an Impreza 2.0i dressed in Limited trim. My sedan came coated in Crystal White paint with attractive 17-inch alloy wheels accenting the bright look. One major option package was selected, which included the EyeSight Driver-Assist System, navigation, keyless access and push-button start, and the power moonroof.

The trim and options combined to make a semi-luxurious sedan with and interesting combination of equipment. I say interesting because while the car could autonomously maintain a safe following distance, it left me to adjust the leather seats by hand. Such miss-matched combinations were almost common in the car, yet other pairings seemed to work well together.

Click past the jump for the full review

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2014 Mini Countryman and Paceman Frozen Black Limited Edition

2014 Mini Countryman and Paceman Frozen Black Limited Edition

Mini decided to add some flavor to the Countryman and Paceman lineup and added a new Frozen Black metallic paint offered in a limited edition for the top models in the lineup. The new paint features a textured, shimmering matte finish and offers the Mini model a more expressive appearance.

Applying the new Frozen Black finish requires a special procedure, and Mini applies it in three layers: special surface treatment, color, then a clear lacquer finish. For the attached exterior parts, like the front and rear aprons and the exterior mirror caps the new Frozen Black metallic paint is applied separately.

This new paint is completely weather resistant and car wash resistant, but Mini advices against waxing or polishing it by hand. BMW — Mini’s parent company — offers a special line of products developed for treating the Frozen Black metallic paint finish. Typical Bimmer move: specialize everything to maximize future profits.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Countryman and Paceman.

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2014 - 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

2014 - 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi’s biggest seller brings a number of new updates for 2014 to increase refinement, style and interior technology. Both models move up a notch in driving ability, helping maintain the 2014 Outlander Sport’s class-leading status among the compact crossover market segment.

A new LED running light design is available up front, along with some snazzy blue LED brake lights out back for 2014. A black leading edge of the roof is also quite stylish, and marks out the Outlander Sport SE at the top of the range. In the top trim level, the 2014 model year also brings better leather and a a standard display audio screen.

All Outlander Sports now pack a new balancer shaft for the engine, extra insulation and redesigned steering wheel controls. Overall, the Outlander Sport is still one of the sportiest and best-handling compact crossovers out there.

Is the Mitsu’s tight handling and build quality enough of an incentive over the Jeep Patriot? How about the turbocharged Nissan Juke?

Updated 02/06/2015; Mitsubishi announced that its Outlander Sport lineup will be expanded with the addition of a more powerful 2.4 version, which gets of course a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. The new engine delivers an extra 20 horsepower over the base 2.0-liter engine. Prices for the new 2.4 version will start from $21,295 for the 2.4 ES and $23,595 for the 2.4 GT version.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, with all the updates for this model year, options info, and pricing data on the optional huge glass roof

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2013 Mazda5

2013 Mazda5

The sporty Mazda5 van brings its unique blend of hauling space, double sliding doors and low-dollar fuel bills into this year intact. The Mazda5 does without the latest touchscreen technology in its versatile cabin, but has a stellar driving position and balanced handling to make up for any missing trendy items.

There are real tradeoffs for the Mazda’s eager handling and great mileage ratings. A slippery drag coefficient isn’t enough to silence the roars inside this boomy machine at 80 mph, but for some the car’s $20,000 entry price will mean accepting these shortcomings.

Where the Mazda is happiest is in the smart and practical small family car market, where not even larger crossovers can touch its skillful blend of attributes like easy city driving, amble rear-seat access for loading and unloading, and the hauling flexibility of the compact van’s capacious rear cabin (especially with the second row of seats removed).

The unique small minivan market position occupied by the Mazda5 is more crowded than before, with competition from seven-passenger haulers like the Mitsubishi Outlander and Dodge Journey a real threat despite the crossover models’ less-practical, SUV-style rear doors.

The crossover squad is also nowhere near as fuel efficient in daily driving as the Mazda5. While lacking the newest direct injection from the SkyActiv engines, the Mazda5’s 2.5-liter engine is rarely underpowered in the car’s family mission.

Click past the jump for the full review of the Mazda5, with highlights on all the latest updates and changes.

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2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

Ford’s little commercial vehicle that could, the Transit Connect, is completely fresh for 2014 with new styling, multiple length and roof sizes, and a new EcoBoost option. Another first is a seven-passenger MPV variant called the Transit Connect Wagon. The passenger model will be offered in short or long wheelbase configuration, arriving in U.S. dealers in October with prices expected to start in the $24,000 ballpark.

As useful as full-size vans are, even Ford’s brand-new, enormous 2014 Transit cargo van is not ideal for light commercial duties like doggie daycare pickup or flower delivery. Ford’s elderly E-series vans are equally unsuitable for dropping kids off at school - so the latest Transit Connect Wagon has a willing market among van-deprived Ford loyalists.

The Transit Connect Wagon is a five-seater in the short-wheelbase configuration, and up to a seven-seater on the longer length option. This is no compact car - the larger TC Wagon has a 121-inch wheelbase.

Both vans come with dual sliding doors and an available one-piece power tailgate preferred by moms. How does this hot new Ford stack up versus the Mazda5 or Nissan Quest?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon, with a full image gallery of the exterior design and interior layouts.

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2013 Mazda CX-9

2013 Mazda CX-9

The revised CX-9 follows on company’s hot streak of stylish new models like the Mazda3 and Mazda6 sedan. New LED lights and a slinky Kodo grille revamp the face of Mazda’s largest and most expensive model.

The seven-seater CX-9 carries over its previous 3.7-liter V-6 in front or AWD configurations. Paired to the crossover’s singing engine is a premium Aisin six-speed automatic with sport and manual modes. A 60 mph sprint time in the mid 7 second range shows off the CX-9’s impressive chassis design – even without the SkyActiv banner that helps build buzz around the smaller CX-5.

Refined but sporty damping helps this full-size Mazda crossover to be quite competitive in the $35,000 large crossover segment, and the new gearstick design is a classy touch.

Mazda is firmly in touch with premium buyer needs by the looks of the interior, and the CX-9’s revised cabin maintains the stylish vertical accent bars up the sides of the center stack. Touchscreen technology and rear-seat movies are offered in the plush Mazda CX-9, but what are its key advantages over the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2013 Mazda CX-9, including the features and pricing by trim level and a large photo gallery of the new styling.

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2014 Honda CR-V

2014 Honda CR-V

The family friendly Honda CR-V crossover announced its 2014 prices and updates today, with only a modest increase and a handful of new features like an easier fold-down back seat. Still hot off the car’s redesign last year, the CR-V is America’s best-selling crossover with an easy driving demeanor and quite a large cargo area, even with the back seat up.

Seating five people and bringing some of the most robust and reliable mechanicals ever made, the Honda CR-V’s celebrated position in the firm’s range speaks to the car’s exceptional balance of size, performance and efficiency.

The style of the previous CR-V was also ripe for updates, as seeing its grinning open grille intake at every stoplight became quite tiresome over the years. The new design brings a broader and flush-mounted upper grille with flowing wings that meet the headlights. These lights are still goofy and oversized, but overall the nose of the CR-V is more friendly and sleek.

The roof of this generation of Honda CR-Vs has some interesting shaping as it leaves tons of second-row headroom before rumbling downward to meet the rear glass. There is more structure and definition to the Honda’s trademark chrome-trimmed glasshouse, but the CR-V will still not be winning any design competitions any time soon.

The cabin took a big leap forward with the latest refresh, and offers a new navigation and infotainment setup, as well as a streamlined audio button interface – quelling critics of Honda’s overwrought interior layouts in recent years.

The CR-V still majors on reliability, affordability and family versatility. How does it compare with the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5? Is its large seats-up trunk volume and handy urban maneuverability enough to outweigh its lackluster MPG and performance stats?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Honda CR-V, with all the official pricing and features explained in detail.

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2014 BMW X1 M Sport sDrive28i

2014 BMW X1 M Sport sDrive28i

The BMW X1 is a fantastic addition to the Bimmer range, as well as to the TopSpeed Garage. During our week testing the M Sport X1 sDrive28i, the car won many friends with its driving environment, striking new-BMW styling crispness and a truly sports-car-like agility versus the larger X3.

The X1 is offered stateside in three trim levels across the turbo four-cylinder 28i and turbo six-cylinder 35i powerplants, with xDrive available across the range. The test car’s X1 sDrive28i pairs the base engine with the top M Sport trim level at the top, bringing a beautiful body-color bumper treatment absent from the cheaper ’Sport’ and ’X-line’ trim packs. The M Sport option also includes a variety of other tasty upgrades, including sports leather seats and handsome special paint and wheel options.

The X1 fills such a successful gap in the entry-level BMW offering that it even caught Audi and Mercedes-Benz flatfooted, with their GLA250 and Audi Q3 competitors still at least a year from reaching American buyers.

The X1 certainly doesn’t have the small premium crossover market to itself, but does carve a unique niche with few pretend off-road aspirations and a decidedly performance focus to its V-rated, 18-inch Pirelli’s.

This road-going bias helps the X1 to be an agile and playful companion on any stretch of pavement, with a 60 mph sprint just above 6 seconds for both rear- and all-wheel-drive 28i four-cylinders and down to the low 5’s for the potent X1 xDrive35i.

All this with a base price just above $30,000 means the X1 is the first affordable BMW entry for crossover shoppers, considering the Acura RDX or the Mini Cooper Countryman.

The full TopSpeed Garage drive review is past the jump, and takes a close look at the coolest performance options and features of the practical but sporty X1 sDrive28i M Sport.

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2014 Chrysler Town & Country

2014 Chrysler Town & Country

The Chrysler Town & Country is just about the finest minivan it has ever been, with class-leading performance and economy stats from its 3.6-liter V-6 paired to a six-speed automatic.

The exterior style of the new-for-2013 Town & Country S looks mean and lean wearing a black chrome grille and dark alloy wheels. Inside, the T&C is also better than ever, with standard leather seats and dual 9-inch overhead screens for the back seat’s built-in Blu-ray DVD player.

Rumors and speculation about the Town & Country’s future have been rampant in the Chrysler-Fiat era, with most bets on a big refresh for 2015 or 2016 that will bring crossover styling and perhaps a new name to the much-loved minivan king’s loyal buyers.

The core attributes of this year’s T&C are therefore extra special: flexible hauling space that can go from packing seven people, to 140-plus cubic-feet of stuff - and back - without unbolting or removing any seats.

Stow ‘n’ Go is still a masterful party trick for the Chrysler van twins, but the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are firmly established as winning the back-seat comfort contest. Thicker padding is available on fixed second-row buckets as an option to replace the tumbling chairs, but other comfort and drive quality issues remain for minivan shoppers.

The T&C finally has enough power to move confidently while carrying a full load, but still suffers from some old-fashioned harshness in the suspension, and little handling confidence on twisty highways.
Of course, families are the prime market for minivans, meaning prioritizing comfort, safety and technology first.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country, with special details on the cool new S model that is priced at just $32,000.

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