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

This may be overstating it some, but if ever there were a modern-day Volkswagen Beetle in both spirit and style, it would be Kia’s sweet Soul.

Mark Savage

A loaded-down road trip to Minnesota was the perfect test for Honda’s latest crossover/SUV, the midsize Passport.

You may recall Passport as a midsize SUV offered earlier by Honda until 2002. It was a revamped version of Isuzu’s Rodeo — remember Isuzu? This is a whole new beast and a dandy one at that.

I drove a black forest pearl Passport Elite, a pre-production model that most maker would be proud to claim as a full-on productions model. The paint job was spectacular, appearing dark metallic green in sunlight and black just as soon as there were clouds overhead.

Mark Savage

Sports cars used to be more plentiful. But as we Americans have become larger, so have our cars, crossovers and trucks. Rare is the sporty or sports car, and rarer yet, one we could afford.

But in 1970, Nissan introduced its Datsun 240Z, a long-nosed low-slung sports car with quick handling and a modest price. That same formula is working for 2020 as Nissan launches its 50th Anniversary edition of the Z car, now a Z370.

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Mark Savage

Luxury and prestige have their price. And for Audi’s largest SUV, the Q8, that starts at $68,395.

Luckily, that includes delivery charges — and to be honest, quite a lot else. Think of this as the SUV version of Audi’s fancy pants A8 sedan, which as a top-line model you’d expect to be loaded.

The Q8 is a five-person luxury hauler with oodles of head and legroom front and rear, plus a sizeable cargo area in back. This also is sleek looking (for an SUV), giving it some personality, which again, you’d expect for this price.

Mark Savage

If you’re looking for a mid-size sport-utility truck or crossover with a third-row seat, you might’ve chosen the most competitive segment for your vehicle search.

That’s where the perfectly fine Nissan Pathfinder finds itself. After more than 30 years on the market, Pathfinder is a known quantity, an expected strong value and good ride. It remains so, but then so are most of its competitors: Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and the newish Volkswagen Atlas and Subaru Ascent. All are solid choices.

Mark Savage

When you’re driving to the home of the MoonPie, you need something that boasts American pride and craftsmanship, and that’s what I got from Chevy for a rare trip to Chattanooga, Tenn.

xalanx / stock.adobe.com

Trucks, SUVs and crossovers — oh my. What's a poor sedan to do?

There was a time when sedans were king of the roads. If you needed more cargo room, you bought a station wagon. But those days are long gone. Trucks, SUVs, and crossovers have reigned supreme, basically, since the gas shortages of the 1970s.

But sedans have been quietly doing their thing this whole time, getting us from point A to B without any fanfare besides the occasional headline. And while there are fewer choices these days, the remaining ones have upped their game to stay competitive.

Mark Savage

There was a day when a Cadillac had to be as big as a cruise ship and loaded down with enough chrome to make a knight on horseback feel inadequate.

No more.

Cadillac has decided that affordable luxury with interesting styling is the way to get post-boomer buyers. Witness the new XT4, the smallest Caddy SUV, just a notch below its fairly petit XT5. The XT4 is svelte and sexy with beautifully sculpted front and rear lights and a handsome grille that give it a more distinctive look than many SUVs.

Mark Savage

If you’re a person who prefers the happy medium to going full out off-roader or suburban commuter for your pickup, Chevrolet’s Colorado will suit you well.

This bright red (Red Hot) Colorado was the top-level ZR2 with the Bison package, so slots in at the high-end of this segment’s pricing and is fully meant for off-road action. Not living on a farm or being a contractor that frequents construction sites, I had to settle for an on-road test.

Mark Savage

About a decade ago, Ford’s Ranger was a compact pickup made primarily, or so it seemed, for teenage boys to range around small towns and suburban areas.

Rangers were small, had inexpensive wheels, and were often the first truck a kid owned. Eight years after Ranger disappeared from Ford’s truck landscape, it’s back and it has grown into a midsize pickup, a true hauler that you could use to tow a decent-sized trailer and boat, or snowmobile.

Mark Savage

You’ll either want a Jeep Gladiator pickup, or you won’t.

What I mean is, the long-awaited Jeep pickup is an image vehicle as much as it is a pickup. That’s not to say it doesn’t function as well as a pickup, it certainly does. But it looks like a Jeep, and that’s really all that matters.

Case in point: my sister-in-law declared it an “ugly thing”, while another woman rider, who loves and owns Jeeps, said it looked “fantastic.”

Mark Savage

Electric cars have come a long way over the past few decades, but they still only run a short distance. Once limited to traveling less than 100 miles before needing a recharge, some modern electric vehicles have doubled that mileage.

"I guess what's impressive to me is that electric cars are coming on stronger and stronger. They have more distance, more range than they used to have, and there's more of them out there," notes automotive contributor Mark Savage.

Mark Savage

No matter how much good I have to say about Nissan’s new Leaf (and I have plenty to say), I’m not sure you’ll believe me.

That’s because the original Leaf, as revolutionary as it was as the first fully electric car to be marketed to the masses, was underwhelming, if for no other reason than that its range was only about 80 miles. Certainly that would be fine for a city commuter, but not real practical for much more than that.

Mark Savage

Ford revamped the nose and tail styling of its successful Edge crossover for 2019 and at gave it more power and a better transmission.

I’d driven a new Edge Titanium last winter and it, along with the lower level SE and SEL, is aimed squarely at the family market. But this bright metallic blue ST edition had a decidedly sportier edge to it.

Mark Savage

Volkswagen's (VW) new luxury family sedan proves that cars are not dead yet. This sporty fastback is simply so much more fun and comfortable to drive than an SUV or large crossover that it makes you wonder why cars are falling out of favor.

VW has launched the Arteon (odd name to be sure, but not a deal breaker) to replace the CC which was equally attractive. The tested Chili Red (medium metallic red) SEL with 4Motion has everything a family predestined to buy a ute or crossover could want.

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