2020 LAND ROVER DEFENDER TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. Spurred by low gas prices, choking traffic and an insatiable appetite for SUVs, the off-road vehicle movement has never been riper. I’m talking about real capability that can get you away from all the craziness; from trucks to sport utilities there have never been so many competent choices. Enter the new Defender – a modern interpretation of the iconic original. The days of needing body-on-frame construction and solid axles to prove your off-road mettle are passé. This Defender is modern, smart and everyday luxurious while being respectful to its past. It’s purpose-built for off-roading but that’s not its only personality trait. Made from an all-new aluminum unibody Land Rover says is the stiffest platform they’ve ever created underpinned by a fully independent air suspension that bests a Wrangler Rubicon in ground clearance and hangs with it in other critical off-road geometry. It pairs a full-time 4-wheel drive system with a sophisticated Terrain Response System replete with automatic center and rear lockers making off-roading an absolute breeze. The electronics are amazing and configurable beyond the numerous pre-programmed surface types; I just wish the Terrain Response controls weren’t shared with the climate buttons and knobs over here at a decent reach from the driver. You can view the selections on the center screen or right here depending upon how you’ve configured the display. With these optional new Goodyear Wrangler Adventure tires, this Defender makes mud, ruts and rocks seem like a mere inconvenience.
When the Defender’s 67 year production run ended in 2016, it had already been nearly 2 decades since one could be found in a U.S. Land Rover dealership. The 1997 Defender 90 with its 4.0-liter V8, 4-speed auto and 13mpg was a British-born Jeep rival. But since, Land Rover’s SUV lineup has trended more towards afternoon tea and less to morning fox hunts. The Defender’s much anticipated return is finally here to recapture some of the original’s raw ruggedness with modern day accoutrements.
MSRP as-tested: $73,043
2020 CADILLAC CT5 V TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. Cadillac’s car lineup has been reduced to 2 all-new models, the compact-sized CT4 and this; the midsize CT5, both available in mid-performance models Cadillac refers to as V-Series.
With a twin-turbo V6, MagneRide suspension, Brembo front brakes, an electronic limited slip differential, V Drive Mode, Launch Control and Performance Traction Management, this V-Series injects enough raciness into the CT5 to satisfy all but the most demanding drivers. And for them, the Blackwing variant arrives next summer.
2020 CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY CONVERTIBLE TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES.
I haven’t had a car attract this much attention in forever. Car people, non-car people, doesn’t matter. Everyone knows this is something special. It looks like a race car and depending on the angle it could be a Corvette, a Ferrari, a Lambo or an NSX. But this baby bleeds red, white and Elkhart Lake Blue. And this isn’t just the all-new C8 Corvette, this is the Convertible with a power retractable hardtop so seamlessly integrated you wouldn’t know this isn’t the Coupe. Well, that is unless you go looking for the window to the engine…about the only sacrifice you’ll have to make for top-down driving.
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Test Drive By Car Critic Steve Hammes.
Petite, powerful & pretty. The most lusted after car in its class.
So this Giulia is pretty much what you imagine a racy, Italian sedan to be: bold, boisterous and perhaps, a little high maintenance. New for 2020 there’s an improved touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and enhanced performance pages, a host of connectivity features including WiFi and a mobile app that allows you to control certain car functions, the addition of modern driver assistance features such as the semi-autonomous highway assist and traffic jam assist which do some of the driving for you in select situations, a center console with larger cupholders and increased storage, a wireless charge pad and an updated carbon fiber steering wheel design. It’s not a major update by any stretch but it does address the Giulia’s most pronounced shortcomings making it a more complete luxury sports car. You’re not getting the immersive, light, sound, smell and graphics show the Germans are flaunting these days but you are getting enough high-end convenience, comfort and safety features to make this much more of an attractive buy. Plus, this car drives like it was born to dominate. Close your eyes and listen to it go by and you might think it’s race day at the track.
2020 MERCEDES AMG CLA45 TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. One of the most affordable AMG models has just been redesigned and it’s a live wire with tons of boost and a youthful spirit. This is the CLA 45
Here’s what you need to know. The CLA is all about big turbo punch and road feel. This is one of, if not the, stiffest rides you can buy regardless of drive mode. It’s going to shove you into your seat and take off like a rocket but in a very controlled way. But you’ve got to love the turbo life and not be offended by a nearly brittle ride and lots of tire noise. If you’re ok with that the CLA is going to deliver on fun. Whatever you do though don’t pass on these Recaro seats; they are perfect.