2023 MAZDA MAZDA3 HATCHBACK TEST DRIVE
2023 MAZDA MAZDA3 HATCHBACK TEST DRIVE FOR TOP SPEED BY STEVE HAMMES 2023 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback The Mazda3 has the hot hatch look but, until recently, it was all for show. With the introduction of turbocharged power starting with the…
2022 AUDI e-tron SPORTBACK TEST DRIVE
2022 AUDI e-tron SPORTBACK TEST DRIVE FOR TOP SPEED BY STEVE HAMMES 2022 Audi e-tron Sportback Prestige quattro Audi’s original e-tron, its first fully-electric SUV, debuted in 2019 and was joined by the sexier Sportback variant the following year. Since,…
2022 TOYOTA COROLLA CROSS TEST DRIVE
If you like the value of the Corolla but favor an SUV body-style, the Corolla Cross is calling. Already offered as a sedan, hatchback and hybrid model with a high-performance variant joining soon, a Corolla crossover SUV just seemed inevitable. Priced from $23,410 including destination it’s a welcome alternative to the slightly more expensive CH-R which favors style over practicality and can’t be had with all-wheel drive. Thought it’s not much to look at this well-appointed XLE grade packs a lot of usefulness and features into its elevated body which clears an impressive 8+”. For those who are intimidated by the size and fuel economy of a traditional SUV but crave its commanding view and 5-door versatility, the Corolla Cross slots in nicely. Rated at 30mpg with a nearly 400 mile driving range it’s a value proposition that asks few sacrifices of its owner. With adequate sizing in the front, middle and rear, a roof rack and the ability to tow 1,500 pounds, the Corolla Cross presents as a do-it-all for the car shopper on a budget. Its least desirable trait comes from the powertrain – a CVT mated to the modestly powered 2.0-liter engine with its 150 pound-feet of torque which can at times cast a pall on the driving experience but I’m guessing it would hardly bother the typical Corolla Cross owner. The Corolla Cross is more than just another utility vehicle – it’s one that strikes a compelling balance in every aspect of its offering.
2022 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF R TEST DRIVE
The vaunted Golf R; the pinnacle of performance for VW’s humble hatchback. For the enthusiast crowd, the allure of a speedy little 5-door hasn’t wavered which is why Volkswagen is leaving the base Golf off of their American car menu and instead is exclusively importing the GTI and Golf R; the models the drivers want. And this all-new Mk8 keeps to the Golf R’s tenets of being fast, glued to the road, fun-to-drive and within financial reach of mere mortals. Don’t worry manual lovers; a 6-speed is still available but this DSG automatic-equipped Golf R with all of its features as standard carries an MSRP of $45,885. It only comes in 3 colors and if you’re shift-for-yourself curious the stick costs $800 less, delivers 15 fewer pound-feet of torque and loses 3mpg. This Golf R is so good at what it does I sometimes feel like I’m just along for the ride. Either way we should all be glad that VW hasn’t abandoned this car – a nice counterpoint to the EV revolution.
2022 MAZDA CX-9 TEST DRIVE
The 3-row CX-9 is Mazda’s largest vehicle with seating for up to 7. But this generation is now in its 7th model year and though there’s much here that I still like Father Time is taking its toll.
If you’re like me you generally stray from popular trends instead preferring individuality and exclusivity in your purchases. And that doesn’t mean having to spend lavishly; it simply reflects your desire to not follow the herd. Case in point; the CX-9. 265,000 Americans decided to buy a Toyota Highlander last year and rightfully so…it’s an excellent, family-friendly 3-row SUV. But you like stuff not everyone else has and Mazda sold only 35,000 of these in 2021 and it’s not because it can’t compete with the top-sellers it’s just an underdog story from a small Japanese automaker. Now, I’m not here to tell you it’s better than the competition – it has some interior packaging and feature faults for sure – plus it doesn’t offer and powertrain choices – but if you have to check the license plate before getting into your SUV in the store parking lot just to make sure it’s actually yours, the CX-9 is an intriguing alternative. The styling and the drive are my favorite parts of the CX-9. It still looks amazingly sharp and this Soul Red paint is incredible.