Cadillac is a brand with a history that a lot of people think is filled with luxury cars and glamour, which came crashing to Earth around 1983, after a truly dreadful, horrifying, awful little snotbox called the Cimarron was unceremoniously conned into America’s collective memory. However, Cadillac’s new ATS, their latest attempt at an entry-level car, is rather intriguing and a far cry from Cadillac’s typical barges full of feathery pillows in lieu of “suspension.” Cadillac is going after the 3-Series with this car, a very bold move these days. After hearing all the hype, I waited impatiently until the mid-level engine hit the showrooms, then hit the streets in the silver car above. This is the story of how Cadillac made amends.
BMW has always been one to beat for sports sedans. They pretty much invented the segment back in the late 1970s when the first E21 3-Series rolled off the production line. Since then, the lineup has expanded to include more body styles, more engines (including diesels and now the first-ever hybrid model), and along with that, more features and a higher price. Competitors have stepped up their game, including Lexus, Infiniti, and Cadillac, all of whom tried to unseat the E46 and E90 series 3er’s, but never really succeeded. This year, the 3-series got a big makeover, and I decided this spring, not long after they hit the streets of NJ, to try one out for myself.
GM has had a spotty history with smaller cars over the past 35 years or so. Its 1970s attempt, the Vega, was plagued with reliability issues stemming from an underdeveloped engine block and corrosion problems. The 1980s were no better, when the Citation (and its X-car brothers) became best remembered for massive recalls and a class-action lawsuit which ruined Chevy’s reputation for reliability (beyond its tarnished state). The Cavalier and Cobalt over the past years have been remembered as cheap transportation with little more than basic frills (although the Cobalt at least went fast with its SS turbo). However, the new Cruze, which has been on the market for a few years now, has quickly become a success, even outselling all of its competitors last month (and not for the first time). I’ve driven a few of them over the past 12 months and would like to share some thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »
Buick has not had the best reputation with smaller cars. Their most recent entry, the Skylark, turned a once great name into one best remembered for being an elderly librarian’s best friend and a speed demon’s worst enemy on I-95. However, Buick’s fortunes have turned around a lot in the past two years or so, with newfound success in the larger and smaller portion of the premium midsize market and a newfound lease on life. So, I took this white Verano you see here for a spin in South Florida to see if it was up to the hype. Read the rest of this entry »
The Chevy Sonic comes from a line of shamelessly terrible econo-boxes. The first generation Aveo made car lovers cringe every time they saw one, and the Sonic is its replacement. So, things don’t look good for the Sonic if its family tree is anything to go by, but thankfully it seems the Sonic was adopted. Up front I will tell you that this car is a vast improvement, and tangible evidence of GM’s improvement over the last few years. I had seen the Sonic at a few car shows, and I thought it was pretty cool for what it was, but other than that I never gave it too much consideration. Then I recently started seeing comparison tests in magazines pitting the Sonic against the Fiat 500 Abarth and the Mini Cooper S, which peaked my interest big time. Read the rest of this entry »
BMW has made its fortune on being a performance brand, and the 135i is the cheapest way to get the N55B30 engine in BMW’s lineup. The 1-Series has been around since 2008 in America, and has been reasonably successful in the USA. Since I felt like seeing what the turbocharged inline six felt like in BMW’s lightest 4-place car, the 1-Series was a natural fit. I was not disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »
The WRX can be considered a car that turned Subaru’s image in America around virtually overnight. Once a seller of slightly staid, yet nearly unbreakable AWD sedans and wagons, they are now a seller of reasonably priced AWD vehicles and rally sport specials such as the Impreza WRX, STi, and the Legacy 2.5GT. By 2005, every single model Subaru built had the turbocharger option available, as Subaru saw fit to make the WRX’s legacy work across the board. The Forester, a Subaru staple since 1995, received the turbo engine in 2004. The example I drove was a 2004 2.5XT Limited with about 80,000 miles, in average shape. Read the rest of this entry »
On December 18th, Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy, bringing its 64 year offbeat history to an unfortunate end. Saab enthusiasts are some of the most vocal and most possessive of their brand, and undoubtedly, they will mourn the loss of this name. Around Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to add another car to my wagon test–Saab’s own wagon, the 9-3 SportCombi. At the moment, it’s the only wagon Saab sells in the United States, and when I got to the dealer, the car I drove was already discounted by $9,000. This amount is no misprint–and any new car marked down this much is either a demo, or the dealer seriously needs it off the lot (in this case, the latter). But, when I started the engine, I forgot about Saab’s financial woes, and asked myself this question: Despite all the gloom and doom, is this car actually worth buying right now? Read the rest of this entry »
Acura seems to have a very different approach to the luxury car market than its Japanese luxury car kin, and it’s paid dividends for them over the years. While Lexus and Infiniti chase the big boys in Germany, Acura goes after the lower priced market and does a good job of offering a slick alternative to the norm. The TSX, while in every other part of the world a Honda Accord, is Acura’s entry-level model, but this is no bad thing. Since I wanted to try the wagon out for the sake of a family member who may need one in the near future, I got a set of keys and took a black TSX Tech Sport Wagon for a drive. Read the rest of this entry »
Test Driven COMPARISION: 2012 Ford Focus SE Sport vs. 2011 Mazda3s Sport vs. 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLSPosted: June 2, 2011
Since when did compact cars become so interesting? Back in 2009, if you wanted something good in the compact class, you bought a Honda Civic or Volkswagen Jetta, and no one was the wiser. But now, other brands have stepped in, and the pickings are, evidently, worth a serious look. On a random day in April, I decided to drive three new compact cars, all of which are significant in their own right. Read the rest of this entry »