Proof positive of Kia's rapid rise.
If the automaker to watch in 2010 was Hyundai, Kia receives that honor for 2011. Not only does Kia match Hyundai's promise of value and quality products, the Koreans have quickly figured out how to share important parts like engines and platforms without creating me-too vehicles that only have different badges. The differences between a Hyundai Sonata and a Kia Optima are significant -- both the exterior design and the interior execution.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Kia Sportage SX AWD - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
WEEK ONE: May 16-23, 2011
The first Nissan Leaf, the company's highly anticipated all-electric vehicle, was delivered to a customer in December 2010. In the months since, the price of gas has soared to more than $4 per gallon, and the desirability of alternative-fuel vehicles has soared right along with it. So it seems as if the time is ripe for Automobile Magazine to do a long-term (two-month) test of the Leaf. We've tapped various staff editors to each spend one week with the Leaf as their only mode of transportation, thereby giving us a good idea of what it's like to live with an electric vehicle every day.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Nissan Leaf - Living with an Electric Car - Automobile Magazine
We're mostly delighted, but occasionally annoyed.
Months in service: 5
Miles to date: 12,606
Photo Gallery: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4 - Four Seasons Update - May 2011 - Automobile Magazine
A great idea with subpar execution.
Who would have thought that we would have an electric car with so few electronics inside of it? Compared with its more affordable, better thought-out competitors, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive seems like an afterthought. The only indication of range is an analog gauge that measures the battery state of charge as a percentage of full. The Nissan Leaf does it much smarter, with a readout of how many miles the car can cover based on weather, the battery charge, and how much energy is being consumed by accessories. Taking it one step further, the Leaf even has a navigation system capable of determining if the battery has enough juice to get you to your destination.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
One man's quest to re-create a famous race car.
The engine was an afterthought.
Photo Gallery: Reverse Engineering - Automobile Magazine
The updated, 2012 C-class, in more stylish, two-door form.
Where once there was the CLK coupe, which purported to split the difference between the C-class and E-class sedans, now there are two mid-size Mercedes coupes, one for each of the mid-size sedans. Last year saw the debut of the E-class coupe, and now comes the two-door version of the C-class. While the 2012 C-class sedan is a three-model lineup, the coupe will be offered in just two variants: C250 and C350 (there is no two-door version of the C300 4Matic).
Photo Gallery: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250/C350 Coupe - First Drive - Automobile Magazine
5 is midway between 7 and 3 -- or is it?
Months in service: 12
Miles to date: 29,617
Photo Gallery: 2011 BMW 535i - Four Seasons Update - May 2011 - Automobile Magazine
This car is stupidly, awesomely fast.
Whenever I see a BMW X6, in any guise, I can't help but remember the time I walked by two people in a country-club parking lot looking at an X6 quizzically. One of them turned to the other and asked, "What is this car trying to be?" That's a very good question, and one I still ask myself about the X6. And I wonder even more about the X6 M, which takes what is already a vehicle that fits in the tiniest of niches and adds an excessive amount of power and performance at a price approaching six figures.
Photo Gallery: 2011 BMW X6 M - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
A subtle, substantial improvement over an everyday two-door G.
If you get behind the wheel of an Infiniti G37 IPL coupe expecting the sort of transformation that takes place between a BMW 335i and M3, you'll be severely disappointed. Infiniti is targeting the BMW 335is with its first IPL offering and thus keeping the price premium for the IPL badge pretty minimal. It's a good thing that the price increase is minimal because the performance increase is minimal, too. I don't think I would have guessed I was driving an IPL instead of a regular G37 coupe if I didn't know before I got behind the wheel. Perhaps a few laps on a road course would help demonstrate the IPL package's 18 extra hp and 6 additional lb-ft of torque, but the difference is negligible on a commute.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Infiniti G37 Coupe IPL - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
Torque-vectoring rear axle bites the dust.
At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, BMW is expected to release the third iteration of the popular X5. Six months later, the new X6 is scheduled to see the light. Both models are based on a new components set known in-house as "X for all," a result of BMW's growing interest and expertise in all-wheel drive.
Photo Gallery: 2014 BMW X5 and X6 - Deep Dive - Automobile Magazine
AMG's most compact offering, now with a racier new body shell.
The addition of a two-door coupe to the C-class lineup has given AMG the opportunity to expand the family of its popular C63 AMG model. Currently offered as a sedan and (in Europe) a wagon, the C63 adds a coupe variant for the 2012 model year. Mechanically, the coupe and sedan are identical, with one significant upgrade coming to both for 2012. The two-door is the same size as its four-door sibling, but its lower body, more intimate cabin, and sportier styling make it a racier distillation of the C63 formula.
Photo Gallery: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe - First Drive - Automobile Magazine
A car for those who enjoy style and individuality.
The Scion xB is not a car for people who enjoy driving but for those who enjoy style and individuality. The xB isn't exactly my style, but lots of people seem to like it, based on its sales numbers and how many I see on the road. Still, the xB's market share clearly is suffering since the introduction of other boxy competitors such as the Kia Soul and the Nissan Cube. Both outsold the xB last year, and xB sales have fallen off in recent years, from a high of more than 61,000 in 2006 to just 20,000 in 2010. The Soul sold 67,000 units in 2010, almost three times as many copies as the Nissan Cube, its nearest competitor; the aging Honda Element brings up the rear of the pack in the 14,000 range.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Scion xB - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
A serious sports car with a very stout chassis.
Our test car's white exterior over a black and orange interior made for a very sharp color combination. This is a serious sports car, with a very stout chassis, nicely communicative, precise steering, great body control, and excellent roadholding and grip. What we've also got is a VQ-series V-6 that is bordering on unacceptably coarse, hoarse, and harsh. When you give this car the stick, you're not rewarded with mellifluous mechanical noises; instead, you get a lot of harshness and a lot of driveline resonance and lash. I had forgotten that the 370Z has the automatic blipping of the throttle, which is kinda fun. This is a competent and competitive car for the price, but it borders on not being refined enough. I know it's not an Infiniti, but still. All that said, it sure looks great, and it telegraphs "sports car" to all onlookers. In fact, I was driving along a country road that paralleled an open field where several guys were playing with four-wheelers. One of them happened to be in line with my direction of travel. He looked over at me and gunned it, clearly itching for a race. I obliged. He beat me, but only because I came up on traffic and had to slow down. To celebrate his victory, he did a wheelie. I gave him a wave but kept all four of the 370Z's wheels on the ground.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Nissan 370Z Touring - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
Toyota finally introduces the second Prius body style.
You know what the Toyota Prius is and all that it stands for. The third generation of the iconic hybrid vehicle debuted two years ago. Now we??ve driven the Prius v, which Toyota unveiled at last January??s 2011 Detroit auto show. It??s the first time that Toyota has affixed the Prius badge to a vehicle that??s bigger than the current-generation hatchback and its predecessor, the car that made the Prius name a household word.
Photo Gallery: 2012 Toyota Prius V - First Drive - Automobile Magazine
The price of mainstream.
This isn't a sales projection, nor is it the validation of a business case. An Automobile Magazine review isn't the place for that. As automotive savants, we -- and presumably you, too -- are more interested in a car's merits as a car, independent of where it's built, how it's advertised, and what the dealer network looks like. We simply want to know how well machine pairs with man and mission.
Photo Gallery: 2012 Volkswagen Passat - First Drive - Automobile Magazine