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Savage On Wheels

  • Lexus refuses to mess with success when it comes to its IS 350 sports sedan. With a sleeker look and strengthened chassis, the IS 350 still has Lexus' trusted 3.5-liter V6, keeps the IS 350’s overall dimensions within an inch of its predecessor and delivers the same smooth luxury feel to go along with ample performance.
  • The burgeoning small crossover market just added another competitor: the Volkswagen Taos. If value is your main shopping criteria, the Taos should be near the center of your bull’s-eye.
  • The Genesis G70 is a good sized car, fun on the road and faster than nearly anything not costing way north of $50 grand. It’s what you’d want if you long for a performance car that looks sharp, but feels luxurious.
  • Hyundai has the good engineering sense to deliver decent gas mileage with its high-horse turbocharged engines, now offered in the tested Sonata N Line mid-size sedan. The N Line looks great, packs the value, but adds a kick with a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 that spits out an amazing 290 horsepower.
  • Rarely do the options on a test car add up to even more than a modestly priced car or crossover itself, but that’s what happened with the high-lux Lexus LS 500 AWD. This is a CEO-mobile and competes with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi’s long stretchy sedans.
  • Kia joined the likes of the Chrysler Pacifica, the Toyota Sienna, and the Honda Odyssey back in 2002 with its boxy Sedona, whose van-like appearance inspired few. But now Kia has brought out the noisemakers, party hats, and kazoos with a major redesign and a rename to the Carnival — a veritable festival on wheels.
  • Land Rover jumps back in to the more utilitarian end of the huge SUV market with its Defender series, which had disappeared in 1997 as Rover romped full force into the luxury SUV market.
  • The Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic is similar in size and performance to Mazda’s CX-30 or a Subaru’s Forester, also packing all-wheel drive. It’s sporty looking and performs well, but is on the higher end of starting prices compared with the others and sadly the test crossover was saddled with 18 options.
  • The 2021 Buick Envision Essence is attractive, totally in synch with today’s crossover styling trends, and comes well equipped at a price that's a bargain for folks looking for near luxury at an affordable price.
  • The BMW M440i four-seater convertible is a driver’s car, a joy on the road, a hoot on the highway and as beautifully designed and assembled as a Rolex watch. Everything about the luxury sports convertible feels right and fits tight.