Mark Savage

Automotive Contributor

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is also the executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and editor of FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.  Savage is an Indianapolis native where he fell in love with cars, the Indy 500 and all things fast, dating back to his pedal car days. He speaks with fellow contributor Dan Harmon each month.

Mark Savage

I’m a fan of Subaru’s Outback wagon/crossover, but the Legacy sedan has always been a bit too fuddy-duddy looking for me. Seems Subaru forgets about styling when it comes to the Legacy.

That’s odd as Subaru’s sedan competes against heavy hitters like Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord, both of which have been restyled, mostly for the better, in the past few years. Legacy has the advantage of standard all-wheel-drive, yet even in its newest 2020 duds, the Legacy’s styling is, well, more dud than dude.

Mark Savage

With a name like Corsair the history buffs among us might expect Lincoln’s new compact luxury SUV/crossover to fly, and it does.

Well, it flies as in it rockets away from stoplights. Lincoln has ditched its MKC model in favor of Corsair and put the emphasis on power and handling, but less on luxurious ride. This sharp-looking ute in the tested AWD Reserve trim rocks out with a 2.3-liter turbocharged I4 that pounds out 295 horsepower. Boom!

That mark exceeds the power curve on many of its competitors, such as Cadillac’s XT4, Acura’s RDX and Lexus NX, to name a few.

Mark Savage

Do you prefer old school or retro to an overabundance of digital doodads? Do you prefer driving your vehicle to your vehicle driving you?

Nissan has an answer for SUV lovers. Its name is Pathfinder. This is a fine SUV with room for seven passengers, but with a modicum of the gizmos and gadgets that can make today’s vehicles safer, but often frustrating to drive. I enjoyed this drive without a lane-departure system beeping or tugging at the wheel and everything else on the dash being simple enough that having an electronics degree wasn’t necessary.

Mark Savage

Chrysler has been making minivans since the 1984 model year. But its latest, the 2020 Pacifica, is easily the best of the bunch.

Chrysler minivans have nearly always been comfortable and easy to drive. The company’s Stow 'N' Go seats were a brilliant addition, as were its earlier rear seats that could be rolled out for easy removal and storage. But, let’s be honest, there were some mechanical issues, something about transmissions. That’s behind the company, now part of Italian conglomerate, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Mark Savage

Looking for a new car can be overwhelming. That's why we turn to Mark Savage — Lake Effect's car contributor who test drives about one car a week. His experiences culminate in the annual Zoomie Car of the Year awards. After a four-year hiatus, 2020 marks the return of the Zoomies.

Mark Savage

Dodge’s Durango SRT is the truck version of a NASCAR stocker.

SRT is all about power, muscle and grunt with an engine grumble that sounds like a stock car ready to bust out of the pits and head up the banking at Daytona. Otherwise, it’s a fine, luxurious mid-size SUV that will haul a family, or a load of friends in comfort all the while satisfying their need for speed.

How so?

Mark Savage

My wife calls Toyota’s 4Runner a manly man’s truck, and it certainly is.

Tall, muscular looking, big tires and wheels, a hood scoop, a husky luggage rack on the roof and an engine that growls along with knobby tires that rumble on the road. Yes, manly and a serious off-roader, made even more so by being the TRD Pro edition.

Mark Savage

Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport crossover is simple, yet effective.

By that I mean it’s nothing fancy, but it’s a solid family hauler with four-wheel-drive, enough safety equipment to satisfy most folks and a sporty new nose so it doesn’t look like the styling fairy has passed it by.

Mark Savage

Occasionally I get to test drive a new model twice within a year or 18 months because the car makers fill their fleets with their newest models. The hope, of course, is that us auto writers will drive, and write about, said new wheels, and sales will blossom.

Hard for much to blossom in Wisconsin in winter, but the Genesis G70, launched early last year, is a rose among thorns when it comes to pricing and value in the luxury sport sedan market. As I said in my earlier review, Japanese and European luxury sport sedan makers better beware.

Mark Savage

There’s no denying a certain panache in the Land Rover name and a certain pride a Rover driver feels in its ability to crunch through the Serengeti brush and ford rushing hippo-infested streams as it takes you deep into the rugged, wild outback.

Yet Rover is no rough and tumble Jeep. It has evolved into a luxury brand and proudly wears a hefty price at which one should expect all the finery a car maker can pack into a leather-slathered interior.

Mark Savage

Our electric car future receives another jolt of energy with the arrival of Kia’s Niro EV.

If you believe electrics are a fad and that internal combustion is the only way to go, you’re in for a shock. Because all the carmakers are rushing to get full electric cars and crossovers onto the highways as quickly as they can. In the short-term, the hybrids and plug-in hybrids are the way to go. But with mainstream cars like the Niro being electrified, it’s only a matter of time until one is in your driveway.

2020-Jeep-Wrangler-Unlimited-Sahara
Mark Savage

A couple of years back, I drove the newly redesigned Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and was wowed by how much better it rode and drove than previous Wranglers.

For those who don’t worship Jeeps as God’s gift to off-roaders, the Wrangler (two-door) and Wrangler Unlimited (four-door) are Jeep lovers’ favorite Jeep. They look decidedly Jeepy, like updated World War II workhorses, but with today’s interior finery and much better fit and finish outside. Plus, they aren’t all olive drab. My test unit was Firecracker Red, a bright red that looks great.

Mark Savage

Bare bones cars are a rarity today. Even the low-cost sedans that serve as entry-level vehicles for most car makes are far from what we would have called “basic transportation” just a decade or two ago when cars still had crank windows.

Take this week’s dandy little Nissan Versa SR for example. With a starting price of just $19,135, including delivery, you’d think this spiffy Electric Blue sedan would be about as bare bones as car makers go to satisfy the needs of the low-budget shopper. But you’d be wrong and the metallic blue paint job is only example one.

Mark Savage

Subaru’s handsome Outback seems to have overrun southeastern Wisconsin roads. And it makes sense. The Outback is practical for families and also empty-nesters looking to travel in comfort and safety, all at a high value and with AWD.

Full disclosure, my family owns a 2017 Outback, so I knew what to expect when I test drove the 2020 line-topper, the Touring XT. But there were a few surprises. Three stand out: the new 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer 4-cylinder engine, the giant new infotainment screen, and a heated steering wheel. The trio are major improvements.

Mark Savage

Ford’s Explorer is the ubiquitous family SUV. It’s likely today’s 20- and 30-somethings think of Explorer as what mom and dad, their uncles, cousins and maybe a brother or sister drove, or still drive.

There are a lot of Explorers on the road and to be honest, Explorer was one of the first super popular SUVs to persuade car buyers to switch to trucks. At its peak, it was selling more than 400,000 units a year. After just a few years on the market, it became one of the top 10 best-selling vehicles of the year.

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