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Wallpaper of the Day: 2018 BMW X2

Wallpaper of the Day: 2018 BMW X2

It is a tall car or a small SUV? We don’t know, but it certainly looks good as a wallpaper for the weekend.

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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 Fiat 500X

2016 Fiat 500X

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. As we move into the 2015 model year, the Italians are introducing a new model that signals 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 will join the Jeep Renegade when it arrives in North America, but it’s not very likely to become a more popular option than Jeep’s mini SUV.

Updated 10/07/2015: The new Fiat 500X was named a "2015 Top Safety Pick+" - the highest rating offered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The small crossover did "good" in all the five tests done by the institute.

Continue reading to learn more about the Fiat 500X.

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2015 - 2016 Honda CR-V

2015 - 2016 Honda CR-V

Honda introduced the CR-V to Japan and the rest of the global market in 1995. Since then, the little SUV has seen four generations with the most recent strolling the red carpet in 2012. It only took a few years, but Honda updated it for the 2015 model year, bringing an improved safety structure to achieve better results during IIHS crash testing. Other improvements that came with the facelift include a new, direct-injected “Earth Dreams” engine and a new CVT transmission to go with new shock absorbers, springs, anti-roll bars, and lower control arms. All this promised to provide better ride quality and performance, while a new steering gear ratio and larger brake booster also gave the little SUV a sportier feel during normal, everyday maneuvers.

All told, the CR-V has been a hot-selling crossover that has always achieved good all-weather performance while providing room for up to five passengers without sacrificing comfort. On top of that, the facelift in 2015 also brought about better fuel economy to the tune of four mpg in the city, three mpg on the highway, and three mpg combined. Furthermore, the EX-L with Rear Entertainment System trim was discontinued, but a new Touring trim as been added as range-topping trim with all available safety features as standard and standard side mirror cameras.

Obviously, Honda went above and beyond as far as facelifts seem to go these days, so let’s take a better look at the 2015 to 2016 Honda CR-V and go over all the details.

Updated 10/06/2016: After being heavily revised for the 2015 model year, Honda CR-R enters the 2016 model year with pretty much no changes. The only addition to the lineup is a new Special Edition placed between the LX and the EX. It gets 17-inch alloy wheels with an exclusive two tone finish, second-row and rear privacy glass, and security system. The 2016 Honda CR-V will be put on sale at a starting price of $23,595.

Continue reading to learn more about the Honda CR-V.

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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 Toyota Corolla - Driven

2014 Toyota Corolla - Driven

The venerable Corolla has been a mainstay in Toyota’s U.S. lineup since its introduction in 1968. Toyota’s longest-running nameplate has undergone numerous alterations over the years, but has always remained a stalwart of the compact sedan segment. In 1997, the Corolla surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle as the best selling nameplate worldwide. That tradition continues today with the updated 2014 Toyota Corolla.

I recently spent a week getting to know a Corolla equipped in the LE Eco trim — the Corolla’s most fuel-efficient trim package. Equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, electronic power steering, skinny tires, and a Continuously Variable Transmission, the Corolla earns an EPA economy rating of 30 mpg city, 42 mpg highway, and 35 mpg combined.

Coated in a deep Evergreen color, the Corolla did a great job at keeping its fuel-conscience end of the bargain. My weekly total average topped just over 31 mpg, besting the Corolla’s EPA city rating. A light throttle and careful driving quickly saw the average increase on slower highway jaunts, making the EPA’s estimates seem obtainable.

The Corolla proved to be a reasonable yet rather tossable set of wheels during its week stay, though there were a few quibbles about NVH.

Click past the jump for the full review of the new 2014 Toyota Corolla

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2015 Subaru Legacy - Driven

2015 Subaru Legacy - Driven

The Legacy was a bit of a departure from the Subarus of the past when it rolled onto U.S. dealer lots in 1990. The all-new Legacy featured a new flat-four engine that was more refined and quieter than the automaker’s previous engines and it didn’t have to share the engine bay with the car’s spare tire. Yes, that was a thing. The Legacy’s first generation lasted until 1995 when the second generation took over. The Legacy was new again in 2000, 2004, and 2010 with the third, fourth, and fifth generations, respectively. Despite the changes over the years, the Legacy never lost its “quirkiness;” among which was a standard all-wheel-drive system and a manual transmission option.

Now totally redesigned for its sixth generation, the 2015 Legacy is a new bag of tricks. Subaru has seemingly traded quirkiness for quietness – a sort of yielding to the needs of the mainstream. Gone are the manual transmissions and visceral feelings of driving; replaced by a car better suited to compete with the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

I recently spent a week getting to know this new Subaru inside and out. My particular tester came loaded to the hilt with the most inclusive option package. Decked out in the Limited Trim, the car came with the “Moonroof + Keyless Access & Push-Button Start + Navigation” package. What’s more, under the hood was the optional 3.6-liter flat-six-cylinder engine that powers all four wheels.

Click past the jump for the full review of the all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy

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Mazda in Hot Water Over Mazda6 Fire Risk

Mazda in Hot Water Over Mazda6 Fire Risk

If you happen to own one of the most beautiful mid-size sedans on sale, the new Mazda6, you may want to get to your dealer really quickly. Mazda and the NHTSA are recalling more than 19,000 2014 Mazda6 models for issues with the fuel system.

Now what happens is actually little awkward, but apparently you can put too much gas inside the tank. The back pressure that should build up to shut off the pump doesn’t do so at a low enough volume. Sure, you could accidentally spill some fuel and ruin your new shoes, but the real concern is a much different issue.

Image you fill up your car on a nice, crisp spring morning, and the temperature is a brisk 45 degrees. If you have that tank too full and the temp gets hot outside, all that fuel will begin to expand. According to the NHTSA, that fuel could find its way into the charcoal canister which is a part used for improved emissions. Yes, that means fuel is going near the exhaust system. Last time I checked, hot metal and gasoline was a pretty reliable recipe for making fire.

All it takes to fix is a quick adapter in the tank shut-off valve, and it shouldn’t take very long to fix. Just make sure you get into your Mazda dealer to have it done. You don’t want your car to burst into flames because you were too lazy to see a dealer, do you?

Read more about the Mazda Mazda6 sedan after the break.

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2014 Kia Forte

2014 Kia Forte

Much like its sister company, Hyundai, Kia has been designing cars that not only offer its customers low-cost options to higher-priced brands, but also cars that offer high-quality workmanship and stylish appearances. We all knew that the Kia Forte is going to be up for a significant redesign when its 2014 model year debuts at the 2012 LA Auto Show, but we were not too sure what direction Kia would take it.

But now that the covers have been officially pulled and we have our answer.

We want to say that the Forte blew us away, but that just wouldn’t be fair to it. Sure, there are things about it that we like, but some elements of the car still leaves a lot to be desired. Then again, a car like the Forte, or any other in this segment for that matter, isn’t subject to an all-or-noting affection level.

There are things about it we liked. There are things we didn’t like. At the end though, the Forte received good marks from us because the things we liked outweighed the things we didn’t like.

Not by much. But hey, that’s still worth some salt to us.

Updated 02/24/2014: TopSpeed editor in chief, Justin Cupler, spent a week with a Kia Forte EX with all sorts of goodies installed. Did he love it? Check out the "Driving Impressions" section after the jump.

Find out what we think of the new 2014 Kia Forte after the jump

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2014 Honda Insight

2014 Honda Insight

Honda’s entry into the hybrid hatch market hasn’t come without any adversity. It’s tough enough to break into a segment long dominated by the Toyota Prius and etch a name for itself; even more so that you’re coming into the fight with less fuel economy than the proverbial kingpin.

But all is not lost in Honda’s quarters. After all, the 2014 Insight still has some cards up its sleeve, starting with a price considered as the least expensive in the market. And like with most hybrids, fuel economy is always a hallmark for the Insight, thanks to its capability to hit 41 mph in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.

All that, though, and you’re still likely to take what you can get with the Insight. It doesn’t look nearly as good as what you’d like, but for a car that doesn’t do much outside give you bang for your buck in mileage, you take what you can get on the other things.

Click past the jump to read more about 2014 Honda Insight

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2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Edition 30

2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Edition 30

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI arrived for the first time on the North American market in 1984, and to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the company announced today the special edition Edition 30. The model will be offered in two trim levels: Edition 30 and Edition 30 with Navigation, and will be put on sale in early 2014.

When compared to a base Jetta GLI, the new Edition 30 version will be distinguished by a red trim on the front grille, a trunk lid-mounted spoiler, "Edition 30" badges and a set of 18-inch, “Laguna” aluminum-alloy wheels. Buyers can order the Jetta GLI Edition 30 in just in four exterior colors: Deep Black Metallic, Pure White, Tornado Red and Reflex Silver Metallic.

The interior will be distinguished from normal Jetta GLIs by V-Tex leatherette seats with contrasting red accents, a new steering wheel with the same red contrast stitching. There will also be carbon-look trim inlays; "Edition 30" kickplates and floormats with red stitching.

Depending on the trim level, the new GLI Edition 30 offers as standard feature: leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, Premium VIII touchscreen radio with SiriusXM Satellite Radio or RNS 315 touchscreen navigation system.

Click past the jump for a short history on Jetta GLI’s presence on the North American market.

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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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Travel: Climb Dance the Summit of Pikes Peak For Just $12 Year-Round

Travel: Climb Dance the Summit of Pikes Peak For Just $12 Year-Round

All this talk of gorgeous HD Point-of-View driving videos reminds me of a knockout drive to share here as part of a travel article.

The four videos show the high-def ascent of the Pikes Peak Toll Road outside Colorado Springs, Colorado. Taken earlier this summer by none other than this grinning goon.

The car of choice for this adventure is the only car for the job, in my opinion. My cherished but battered 2005 https://www.topspeed.com/cars/subar...Subaru Legacy GT manual Wagon.

This is the car that I mention in my bio as currently non-functional in garage ion the updated TopSpeed Team page...

It is still needing a big electronics overhaul to come back to life as spunky as it was when new.

But watching the clouds roll by while the upgraded turbo spins furiously and boost spikes as high as 19 PSI.

Climbing Pikes Peak takes about 45 minutes and costs about $12.00 per car. It is mostly tourists driving very slowly, with double yellow no-passing zones all the way to the top.

But on that rare sunny day, the only things slowing you down are fear of heights and the thin atmosphere at the 14,000-foot crest of the peak.

Click past the jump for the next four videos in this series, in order, going up and coming down the legendary Pikes Peak in all its high-definition glory.

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2014 - 2015 Hyundai Tucson

2014 - 2015 Hyundai Tucson

The second generation Hyundai Tucson was announced in 2009 and the only update it received was back in 2011 when the old GL trim was replaced by a new GLS version. Things are completely different for the 2014 model year though, as the Tucson was updated with some minor changes on both the exterior and the interior, but under the hood it received two new, more efficient engines.

The 2014 Tucson will be Hyundai’s first vehicle on the American market to be powered by the new 2.0-liter Nu GDI engine, with other models to follow at a later point. Next to the new engines, the 2014 Tucson is also offering an all-new SACHS Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD), Hyundai’s Blue Link safety, service and infotainment telematics system, two-stage reclining rear seats and third-generation navigation with a larger seven-inch touchscreen display and HD Radio technology.

For 2014 model year the Tucson will be offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited with prices ranging from $21,450 to $27,700.

Updated 07/22/2014: Hyundai announced prices for the 2015 Tucson which is now available in dealerships. The model received pretty much no changes for the 2015 model year, so prices remained unchanged: $21,500 for the base GLS version and up to $27,800 for the Limited edition. Details after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Hyundai Tucson.

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With Few Eager Buyers, New Malibu Ad Tugs Heartstrings

The failed relaunch of the latest Malibu is still haunting Chevrolet, with slow sales and heavy, heavy discounting needed to move anything near the projected sales numbers. Or even half the sales totals of the larger previous generation.

Car commercials are designed to elicit an emotional response, even a subconscious one. If successful, good creative that focuses on the brand can even plant a purchasing seed in that shopper’s mind for their next car.

Chevrolet has taken full advantage of this with a new television ad showcasing the 2014 Malibu. The target of the campaign is the Chevy family.

Chevy dads, moms, kids, and friends are shown enjoying the most important things in life while driving around in their new Malibu family-mobile. Thought-provoking piano music sets the tone as a meaningful life moments play out and we’re reminded of what matters most – and how grown men can cry like babies when viewing such television spots.

The full-blown marketing campaign aims to rectify the mediocre sales the all-new 2013 Malibu fetched, even with its complete redesign. Chevy received large numbers of customer complaints about bland styling, tight rear legroom, and below-segment-average fuel economy.

Chevy appears to be confident the expedited fixes to those problems will be what customers are looking for and will be enough to win buyers away from the Camry, Accord, Fusion, and Altima.

The front fascia of the 2014 Malibu receives the bulk of the remodeling with a cleaner, more aerodynamic and aggressive look while the interior only gets very minor changes to the center console.

The big interior changes happen in the back seat to address customer complaints of tight rear legroom. Although the car hasn’t changed in length, the rear seats cushions were trimmed by half an inch to visibly enlarge the space and seatbacks were moved rearward, allowing occupants to sit deeper within the seats. The front seatbacks were also scalloped 1.3 inches inward, allowing for more rear seat knee room.

Changes under the hood include the addition of a stop-start feature on the base 2.5-liter inline four. The simple change bumps EPA fuel economy numbers from 22 city/34 highway to 25/36. With the customer complaints addressed and fixed, we’re curios to see how the ’14 Malibu fares against the stiff competition the midsize sedan class offers.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu

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2014 - 2015 Infiniti QX50

2014 - 2015 Infiniti QX50

Infiniti’s name change is starting to take hold with the QX50 and QX80 officially carry over from their previous nameplates aside from the new badges. The name change is hard to swallow. Let’s just get that in the open.

Not only are the new names confusing, but they ditch all the old short-hand for model and engine size. One upside I know from starting my career as an Infiniti dealer runner is to call the pronounce the name differently. QX4 became "Q by four" - and so QX50 could be called "Q by 50." Still not exactly peachy to say, but I digress.

The EX37 is now the QX50 for 2014, and comes in four flavors of trim and rear- or all-wheel-drive traction from about $35,000. Where does this model fit with the new Infiniti Q50 that is leading the brand?

Style-wise, the crossover QX50 was never really the centerfold of its first-gen FX cousins. Even so, it is an even closer replica of a G35 wagon that was never offered stateside. Near-perfect weight distribution, a 325-horsepower engine and a swanky seven-speed automatic are still the main benefits of this sporty crossover.

Quality and interior luxury is up there as well, but certainly not space, with no quoted figure for the seats-down luggage capacity, one has to fear the worst.

How does the 2014 QX50 stack up versus the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, the Audi A4 Allroad or the cute BMW X1?

Updated 05/22/2014: Infiniti announced today prices for 2015 QX50 which continues to offer the same features as the 2014 model year. The only change is the Bluetooth Hands-free Phone offered as standard feature on the base models. Prices for the 2-15 QX50 will start from $35,000.

Click past the jump for all the details from Infiniti on the freshly-renamed QX50.

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2014 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

2014 Acura TSX Sport Wagon

The 2014 TSX Sport Wagon is the perfect example of Acura giving shoppers a competitive, unique and well-built luxury station wagon for just above $30,000. And what does the market say in response to the only low-roof hauler in a time when Shooting Brake and coupe bodies have never been hotter?

The market yawns, then saunters over to the RDX sitting nearby in the (usually totally empty of humans) Acura showroom floor. A slightly taller ride height and a V-6 engine are available for a few thousand over this classy and nimble TSX Sport Wagon.

For that cash, the RDX brings much, much newer infotainment controls and available AWD that the TSX lacks.

But the RDX is wearing (even worse) looks these days that are like a melted and shrunken MDX. Or maybe a mushed up Starburst candy.

So the RDX solution is not quite as appealing as when the RDX was a spunky turbocharged bandit.

After being outsold by the brand’s crossovers by more than twenty to one, the TSX wagon is 100-percent carryover for 2014. Some new pics that are not renderings or a photochop are welcome from Acura, but the TSX is in a holding pattern while Acura tries to define its future strategy.

The TSX Sport Wagon is not alone in offering frugal family transit with great quality and handling. The BMW X1 is a sporty and quick rear- or all-wheel-drive crossover new in America for 2013, while the Mazda CX-5 is even a bit more eager in corners than the Acura.

But for the shopper who really wants to make a wagon envy statement?

Please follow the jump for all the details on the 2014 Acura TSX Sport Wagon.

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2014 Nissan Sentra SR

2014 Nissan Sentra SR

With every passing year, compact cars seem to get better and better, so it’s no surprise that the the Sentra is not the same entry-level, cheapo Nissan it used to be. Our Sentra tester is fitted with the SR trim package, which adds in plenty of bells and whistles that you would expect from a more expensive vehicle, including keyless entry, push-button start and navigation. The best part is the price; at $21,550 as tested, the Sentra SR offers plenty of bang for your buck.

The Sentra SR’s exterior is very well appointed with LED headlight surrounds, sport front and rear bumpers, and side skirts that look like they belong in "The Fast and the Furious" series. Even the alloy wheels look pretty good for the price.

What really pulls the whole exterior together is that Electric Metallic Blue paint that we last saw on the 370Z a few years back. Sure, it’s not a Ferrari, but there’s a lot to take in for the price point.

The interior is a not quite as satisfying as the outside, but the push-button start and navigation system for under $22k, we’re not complaining.

The seats are cloth, but they look good for the class, and the dash is padded with the more expensive, soft plastic. Add to that trimming that doesn’t feel like it was stamped in the same Chinese factory as your iPhone case, and the overall interior package is fairly attractive. Top that with good rear leg room, nice visibility all around and folding rear seats, and you have a flexible product with very little compromises.

On the road, the Sentra drives okay, but with a CVT driving the front wheels, it is not an overly exhilarating experience. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels better than a lot of more expensive cars, and the CVT does a good job at limiting torque steer and unwanted movement in the steering wheel.

The suspension is comfortable for daily use, but it also allows you to take corners with confidence. We even caught ourselves taking a few corners fast enough to get a little feedback from the tires, which added a some extra fun to the drive. Is it Porsche fun? No, but it is above average for the econo-box class.

Overall The Nissan Sentra SR gives you a lot for your money. On the outside, it looks good enough to prevent your buddies from chuckling at you when you roll up in it, and inside, you have plenty of premium features to keep you happy for years to come.

Of course, with the 2014 Toyota Corolla debuting a sporty look, your choice of entry-level sedans is getting harder.

Toyota Corolla
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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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2014 Ford Escape

2014 Ford Escape

Detail changes refine the best-selling Ford Escape for 2014, including a new backup camera and better towing compatibility when equipped with the clever foot-activated power tailgate. The biggest other change to celebrate? A price cut of over $1,000 on the sporty Titanium EcoBoost trim versus 2013.

Full (versus partial on 2013 and before) leather trim inside the Titanium specification is joined by a gigantic available moonroof and a new style of wheels, in what Ford calls 18-inch sparkle nickel painted aluminum.

The Escape still carries much of its concept-car style onto the roads even without the upgraded Titanium’s xenon and LED lights. The proportions are firmly modern but maintain a sense of adventure with tough plastic for the fenders as sills. Overall, this redesign of the previous boxy Escape is a large leap, perhaps two or three normal generations in a single bound.

As such, the tech underneath also matches the future-tech mission of the exterior styling. Three available engines and a twin-clutch automatic are at the very forefront of tech in the crossover space, where the RAV4 and CR-V still bumble along with dated four-bangers and thirsty transmission setups. Is there anything slower than a Honda driver on the phone?

The Escape’s appeal is very solid in the crossover market, even with a price range that can grow far larger than its budget rivals. In top specification, this is truly the thinking man’s Evoque: a mechanically identical sibling of the mini Range Rover, but for almost exactly half the price at all trim levels.

In the real world, is the Escape as sporty as the Mazda CX-5, or as big as the brand-new, 2014 Nissan Rogue that arrives at dealers in November?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Escape, including all the new colors and trim options to go along with the latest backup camera and SYNC technology.

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2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Audi unveiled the new-generation A3 hatchback at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, and shortly after, it started to test the other models in the A3 lineup, including the convertible version.

After being caught testing in many times, the new A3 Cabriolet will make its official debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. To no one’s surprise, the model will carry over many of the components from the hatchback version, with the only exception being, of course, that new cloth top.

The new model grew significantly, as its total length goes from 166.8 inches to 174 inches. Despite this growth, the A3 actually drops 110 pounds over the previous model, thanks to Audi switching over to lightweight materials and the new building technologies.

Updated 09/09/2013: This review has been updated with the official details, images, specs and video.

Updated 06/19/2014: Audi announced prices for the all new A3 Convertible which will be put on sale on the U.S. market as a 2015 model year. Set to go on sale this summer, the A3 Convertible will be priced from $35,600. You will also find a new set of high res images and one new video. Enjoy!

Click past the jump to read more about the Audi A3 Cabriolet.

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