NEW CAR REVIEWS FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE
NEW CAR REVIEWS FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE
We drive dozens of new cars every year, from fuel-sipping compacts to red-blooded sports cars. And being in New England, we get to test them in the most extreme conditions -- freezing blizzards, scorching heat, and, in Boston, a barrage of potholes.
Check back for our take on the latest models.
Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe—“Seating conﬁguration is one of the main differences between the two vehicles. The Hyundai Santa Fe Limited we drove features a six-passenger seating conﬁguration with dual captains chairs for the second row occupants, with a small third row rear seat that you wouldn’t want to sit in for long unless you were under the age of eight. It’s a similar story for the Kia Sorento SX, though the captains chairs give way to a second row bench.”
Hyndai Sonata Hybrid—“The Sonata Hybrid is visually quite different from its conventionally powered counterpart. While the 2013 Sonata is a study in attractive, staid design, the Sonata Hybrid looks like its replacement … from 2023. The massive, black mesh grille and curvaceous LED strip in the headlights let all passers-by know that this is not the standard Sonata.”
Scion iQ —“Today’s review vehicle, the iQ—no, the “i” has nothing to do with Apple products—is what Scion calls the premium microcar. That seems high praise for a car that at one time competed only with the Smart Car but now ﬁnds itself battling the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper, and Mazda2 in the crowded small/microcar corral. The Cooper is the largest feeling and heaviest (2,535 pounds) of the group. Mazda’s 2 is the longest (35 inches longer than the iQ’s 120-inch length) and weighs as much as the 500 but its 100 hp output puts it in the middle of the offerings.”
2014 Lexus IS —The IS cabin features overlapping layers and splashes of upscale stitched vinyl—a welcome improvement over the Toyota Camry-grade molded faux stitching in the Lexus ES. Materials are decent, with consistent graining toward the center console and optional real wood trim. The shoe drops on materials below knee level, but the IS has eye candy where you see it.
2014 Chevy Impala —The 2014 model is entirely new and rebuilt from the ground up, using the very same platform as the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS. While the new Impala remains front-wheel-drive, it packs a lot of exciting features into a vehicle segment that has traditionally been ho-hum.
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe —“Compared to the Veracruz, the new Santa Fe offers more contemporary styling, increased overall power and efﬁciency, greater capability, a host of comfort and convenience features, and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that helped catapult the Hyundai brand into mainstream prominence.”
2013 Buick Verano —With its normally aspirated, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic, the Verano has adequate passing power. The turbocharged four-cylinder turns the car into a smooth-revving sleeper. It’s one of the quickest Buicks I’ve ever driven—a list, alas, that does not include the famed GNX of the late 1980s.
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek —All new for 2013, the Subaru XV Crosstrek picks up where the Impreza left off, mixing the success of the ﬁve-door hatchback with a little more ground clearance and 1,500 pounds of towing capacity.
Chevy Avalanche —What makes the Avalanche different is that the area behind the second-row seats is replaced with an integral cargo bed. Too, there is a removable bulkhead between the truck’s interior and the cargo bed. This allows you to fold down the rear seats and to slide longer items into the bed area.
2013 Nissan Pathfinder
2013 Nissan Pathfinder —The redesigned 2013 Nissan Pathﬁnder is now much more a family oriented crossover than it is a college boy’s rugged SUV.
The Pathﬁnder is now built on the same unibody structure as its lauded cousin, the Inﬁniti JX35. It comes standard with comfortable seating for seven and is ﬁlled with thoughtful storage spaces. Family needs weren’t overlooked in the redesign: The second-row seats can slide and tip forward with a forward-facing child safety seat installed in them.
2014 Kia Sorento
2014 Kia Sorento —Bring up Kia in conversation with the average passerby, and he or she is not likely to know much about the brand. That, despite the fact that Kias probably offer the best value and content-per-dollar of any current automaker.
The updated 2014 Kia Sorento is proof.
Lexus GS405h sedan
Lexus GS405h sedan --The vehicle offers an array of attractive features in addition to Lexus’s traditional conservative styling, a look that should keep the vehicle current for a decade.
Add luxurious cabin appointments, state-of-the-art (and easy-to-use) electronics, surprisingly good performance, best-in-class fuel economy, and (presumably) the Lexus standard of reliability. Given the Toyota-Lexus hybrid history, this should be a trouble-free vehicle.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee —In the cabin is where Jeep has gone above and beyond its predecessor. Though the main layout remains the same, the improvements in display technologies have made competitors like the Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer drab by comparison. The two most apparent updates are theTFT digital gauge cluster and the latest Uconnect 8.4-inch available touch screen.
2013 Honda Accord Coupe
2013 Honda Accord Coupe —“Enter the 2013 Honda Accord Coupe, which ﬁnds a unique way to embody their values in a convincingly modern fashion. It picks up the mantle of the personal luxury car by combining a spacious interior with premium features and a robust powertrain.”
2013 Audi A8L —“Though the A8L (which stands for “long”) may be new for 2013, it employs the same clean design and focus on technology and performance that underscore the Quattro’s all-wheel-drive.”
2013 Range Rover
2013 Range Rover —“It is the world’s ﬁrst SUV to be constructed with an all-aluminum, lightweight monocoque body structure. That alone helps to contribute to the 2013 Range Rover’s amazing 420kg (926 pound) diet program.”
2013 Cadillac XTS
2013 Cadillac XTS —“The Platinum does offer equipment you won’t ﬁnd in other XTS trims, or in other cars in general. The CUE Information and Media Control System is better than just about any smartphone integration system I’ve experienced, plus it integrates with the industry standard OnStar system.”
2014 Subaru Forester —“The new Forester is an extremely nice crossover SUV, bringing improved performance, better fuel economy, more interior space, and comfort to the Subaru showroom.”
2013 Nissan Maxima —“With its 3.5-literV-6 engine and continuously variable automatic transmission, the Maxima’s drive is satisfying.The CVT conﬁguration is quieter than that of the Nissan Rogue, even as it provided a somewhat bland driving experience, which many don’t mind and may even prefer.”
2013 Volvo XC60 - “The XC60 easily used its 9.1-inch ground clearance to ford foot-deep puddles in the ﬁrst storm’s driving rains and was equally adept in using the ‘instant traction’ aspect of its all-wheel-drive system to deal with the snow-covered hard-pack during and after the second storm.”
2013 Mazda CX-9 - “Boasting a 3.7-liter, 273 hp,V-6 with 270 lb.-ft. of torque channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission, the CX-9 can pull seven passengers with ease in its front-drive setup or with the tested all-wheel-drive setup in one of three trim lines: Sport, Touring, or Grand Touring.”
2013 Ram 1500 - “Even though the Ram just hit showrooms in late fall, it was No. 5 on the US sales charts in December, trailing Ford’s perennially leading F-Series (68,787 sold) and the Chevrolet Silverado (50,699). However the Ram’s 31,407 sales figure wasn’t far behind the No. 3 Honda Civic (33,118) and No. 4 Toyota Camry (31,407).”
2012 Toyota Tacoma —“Although considered a mid-size pickup, there’s nothing very little about the Tundra. The 2012 got a boost with a change to a 4.0-liter, 236 hp,V-6VVT-I engine that mates to a standard 5-speed automatic transmission with on-the-fly fourwheel-drive.”
2013 Nissan Sentra —“[Nissan] has updated the Sentra for 2013 as an entirely competent daily driver with the features and fuel economy that will make the average commuter more than happy.
The Sentra receives the benefit of Nissan’s current sedan styling cues. Lines that have been expertly crafted onto the larger Altima sedan have been downsized successfully to a smaller package.”
2013 GMC Terrain with Denali trim —“The Denali trim level puts the Terrain firmly into the luxury SUV category. In fact, the only feature (not available) we’d have liked was a heated steering wheel, especially as the weather turned colder.”
2013 Jaguar XJ - “Only a small badge on the trunk, one that says 3.0 AWD, sets the 2013 Jaguar XJ apart from its rear-wheel-drive brethren. That’s just the way the folks who make this iconic British luxury sedan want it to be.”
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek SUV —“The XV Crosstrek is a worthy competitor in the compact SUV grouping, given Subaru’s track record, the standard AWD, and excellent fuel economy.”
2013 BMW ActiveHybrid3 —“Clearly, this is the direction in which the common automobile is headed—hybrid setups applied to existing powertrains to achieve improved fuel economy while retaining commonly accepted driving characteristics. In the meantime, the ActiveHybrid3 is a statement, representing your endorsement of an environmentally responsible future.”
2013 Volkswagen Convertible —“This redesign of the convertible lets Volkswagen better attract male buyers, and you won’t find any flower vases. ‘Whoa, I would actually drive this,’ was overheard said by another male journalist who will not be named.”
2013 Volkswagen Jetta
-- “No longer the edgy, near-performance machine, Jetta is aiming for a quieter corner of the market. The good news is there is still room for the performance buyer.”
2013 Nissan Pathfinder —"The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder boasts handsome styling and a decent, if imperfect, compromise between drivability and fuel efficiency."
2013 Honda Accord EX —"Where other manufacturers have a light that glows in the driver or passenger side mirror to alert you to a vehicle in your so-called “blind spot,” Honda uses the camera mounted in the passenger-side mirror that shows a clear picture and also superimposes three lines (red, orange, yellow) to tell you how close the cars on the right are."
2013 Porsche Boxster S —"With every subsequent version and generation since its 1996 debut, the Boxster has inched closer to the sports car ideal, culminating with the vehicle reviewed here, the 2013 Porsche Boxster S."
2013 Ford Edge —"This mid-size SUV has only grown better over time, and this year, it adds Ford’s intelligent Eco-Boost engine, which means better mileage and less gas money out of pocket."
2013 Ford Taurus —"Despite a host of changes, ranging from minor rhinoplasty to added luxury features and improved efficiency, the 2013 Taurus hasn’t entirely risen above the stigmatizing cloud hanging over so-called “domestic” sedans. The Taurus, like similar large models from Chevrolet, is a car people typically rent on vacation, but won’t buy when they return home."
2013 Buick Enclave —"Even brand-new, the Enclave already is the best seller among luxury crossovers. Its primary competition is the Acura MDX as well as the Audi Q7, Infiniti JX, Lincoln MKT, and Volvo XC90."
2012 Chevrolet Volt —"Now, with the economy still only slowly recovering, Americans are again looking at higher fuel efficiency. Chevrolet answered in December of 2010 with the Volt, a car that is primarily electric and rechargeable via household electricity."
2013 Ford Fusion —"The 2013 Ford Fusion arrives as a breath of fresh air, with significant ramifications for the entire family sedan market. It is the first truly different car to enter the family fourdoor segment in more than a decade."
2013 Lexus GS350 —"The 2013 Lexus GS350 sedan, definitely is looking to get some consideration from the buyer who normally opts for the German midsized luxury sedans from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. The redesigned Lexus GS350, the fourth generation of the vehicle, has a lower look, wider track, quicker steering, and better handling."
2013 Cadillac XTS —"It’s easy to capture a younger buyer with a fun rear-wheel drive sports car like the ATS, which is on its way; it’s far more difficult to deliver that new image of luxury in the vehicle class that is most synonymous with “Old Cadillac.” This American luxury brand has somehow pulled it off by creating a full-size sedan that is surely the new hip."
Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2013 —"The redesigned 2013 Genesis 2.0T is better in a big way, with more power and a retuned suspension, though an unflattering-sounding engine hurts the otherwise improved driving experience."
2013 Ford Flex -- "In fact, for those who could use a minivan but vow they’d never be caught dead in one, the Flex is a hidden jewel and worthy choice."
2012 Hyundai Veloster —"Style-wise, the Veloster isn’t your ordinary hatchback. Up front, there’s a huge front grille that looks as though it’s ready to gobble up the competition. In back, a pair of large circular exhaust outlets exit in the center of the bumper, a styling cue mindful of some of my favorite Ducati sport motorcycles."
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS —"The Panamera GTS is the result of taking Porsche’s massive grand touring four-door car and cranking every attribute to 11. The result is closer to a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti than it is to Porsche’s cornerstone, the 911."
2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL —" The Altima definitely has a sportier “driver’s car” feel that I didn’t appreciate enough on the first go-around."
2013 Acura RDX -- "The RDX, first introduced in 2007, is completely redesigned for 2013 with a new engine, new transmission, new sleeker looks, longer wheelbase, new interior, and a new all-wheel-drive system."
2013 Volvo S60T5 —"The Volvo S60’s turbocharged engine and Sport Mode setting made the refreshed sedan a pleasure to drive."
Chrysler 200S —"The Chrysler 200S hardtop convertible looks great with the top down. It also has a nice look when the top is up, as it will be most often in New England."
2012 Nissan Rogue —"On the road, the Rogue’s handling is stable and car-like, thanks to four-wheel independent suspension, another characteristic that makes this a fine multipurpose vehicle. The flexible cargo area adds to that versatility, providing you don’t have to transport more than five people."
2012 MINI Cooper S Roadster
—"...The MINI Cooper S Roadster is enjoyed, using the best attributes of a small, nimble car, but with a power plant that turns this into one of the most enjoyable cars I have ever driven. Better than a BMW. Better than a Porsche.
Prepare to have your sensibilities rearranged."
2012 Nissan Murano —“Now three years into its second generation, the Murano is showing its age, not in the driving experience or its interior quality, but in fuel efficiency.”
2013 Cadillac XTS —“An XTS will likely excel at loafing around town or racking up hundreds of highway miles at a time. While Cadillac marketers compare the XTS to other German sedans, the car doesn’t try to be a BMW, and that’s just fine.”
2012 Toyota Tacoma —“With the amount of fun you can have with the Tacoma, you will start to forget about the MPG’s—or lack thereof.”
2013 Lexus ES350 —“Lexus also has given the ES350 a sportier, lower design with another take on the spindle grille design that’s the new face of Lexus.”
2013 Dodge Dart —“Our first impression is that the new Dart will make Dodge a formidable player among compact cars and may even siphon some mid-sized shoppers.”
2013 Mercedes-Ben GLK —“The interior is an impressive update, highlighted by the burled walnut trim inserts and classic crosshair-style vents.”
2012 Nissan Versa —“On the road, the Nissan worked a bit at acceleration off the line but after that was surprisingly capable and cruised easily at highway speeds.”
2012 Toyota Camry —“This latest Camry is redesigned, has a more spacious interior, returns great fuel economy, and is loaded with user-friendly technology.”
2012 Bentley —“It’s estimated that 80 percent of all Bentleys built since orders were first taken in 1920 are still drivable, though many are in museums and private collections.”
2012 Hyundai Azera —“We liked the ride, the styling, the performance, the space, and the long list of standard features.”
2012 Avura ILX —“The ride quality is good, exhibiting the road-surface awareness we expect from Acura, without undue punishment on one extreme or wallow on the other.”
2012 Nissan Altima —“Altima isn’t likely to pass Camry in the near future, but the new version is a terrific package, upgraded across the board.”
2012 Infiniti G37X Coupe —“The G37X really shone on a 25-mile stretch of curvy, less-traveled Connecticut back roads.”
2012 Porsche 2012 —“Most staggering, aside from its killer-looking rear end with the sliced LED tail lamps, is the car’s stretched wheelbase.”
2013 Ford Escape —“While power is usually the first performance factor that shoppers focus on, the Escape excels in the steering and handling department, too.”
Volvo C30 —“Like a study in abstract design, the C30 is deceptive in its shape and proportions.”
Volvo XC70 and Honda CRV —“Driving the Tiguan, you feel like you’re in a less-expensive Audi. The steering is weighted perfectly, although it’s slightly slower to respond than the CRV.”
2012 Chevrolet Equinox —“There’s a lot to like about the Equinox; in fact, we were happy with most everything other than middling fuel economy and frustration with the multi-step process to set presets.”
2013 Scion FR-S —“The FR-S’ strengths are maneuverability and spirited handling that evoke words like lively, feisty and, most of all, fun.”
2012 Kia Rio Hatchback —“But the bottom line is Kia has a solid lineup and its entry-level Rios are up to speed across generational lines.”
Acura ILX and Acura RDX —“First drives of both vehicles showan interesting mix of value, technology, green thinking, and performance.”
2012 Jaguar XF —“Driving the base V-8 was a satisfying experience even for someone who regularly tests cars with even bigger numbers on their spec sheets, but for shoppers who aren’t as impressed, Jaguar does offer more powerful trim levels.”
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution —“The Evo’s steering and handling match up perfectly to quickly dart the car one way or the other at the slightest twitch of the steering wheel.”