First Drive Reviews

  • 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV  -  First Drive, Portland, July 2013

    Aspire, Sprint, Swift, and Esteem: They’re among the most ironically inappropriate car names. But in its new EV guise, the Chevy Spark has the perfect name, on many levels. This car certainly has more than a spark of personality; it's all-electric (forget about those spark plugs); and, perhaps most importantly, as GM's first battery-electric car since the 1990s-era EV1, it's a Spark of something greater. Whether you look to Lenin, Mao, or Ayn Rand, the Spark is a symbol of revolution and motivation—and we'd like to think that GM considered that...but maybe we're projecting. The...

  • 2014 Volkswagen XL1 (Euro spec)  -  First Drive, Wolfsburg, June 2013
    2014 Volkswagen XL1: First Drive Of Wolfsburg's 261-MPG Car

    Look out, owners of 200-mph testosterone-supplement poster cars. If there ever was a real hypercar, it's the Volkswagen XL1. Although in recent years the term hypercar has been distorted—to include cars that are faster (and often even thirstier) than those supercars from Lamborghini, Ferrari...

  • Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid first drive, Mallorca
    Toyota Auris Hybrid Wagon: Are You Missing Out On Europe's Prius V Alternative?

    It's easy enough to find a hybrid these days, with plenty of automakers offering cars that blend gasoline engines and electric propulsion to one degree or another. More difficult is finding a hybrid vehicle suitable for more active families, those with greater need for space and practicality. Where...

  • Audi R8 e-tron track drive, Berlin Tempelhof Airport
    Audi R8 e-tron: First Drive Of Audi's Electric Supercar

    We'll start with the bad news: No, Audi definitely won't be producing any more examples of its R8 e-tron electric supercar. And even if it did, it'd be well beyond the reach of mere mortals--rumor has it that each of the ten e-trons currently in existence have set Audi back around $1.3 million. All...

  • 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, test drive in Hell, Michigan
    2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: First Drive

    It’s not every day Chevrolet executives talk about launching at car that competes directly with … a Volkswagen. The new 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel, however, aims directly at the only affordable compact four-door sedan with a diesel engine sold in the U.S. until now: the Volkswagen Jetta...

  • 2013 Renault Zoe electric car
    Renault Zoe Electric Car: First Drive Of Europe's Leaf Alternative

    You might think that Europe, with its congested cities and relatively short distances between cities, would be the perfect environment for electric cars. Whether or not that's the case, the choice of electric cars there isn't nearly as wide as it is in the U.S. But with the Renault Zoe you see...

  • 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid drive event, NYC area, April 2013

    When we first drove the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid in the fall of 2010, it was a pre-production car and--frankly--it wasn't very smooth. The 2011 Sonata Hybrid production car was better, but far from the standards of the best hybrids. Now the Korean carmaker has taken another crack at the car, with numerous updates and modifications to the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. And after a 60-mile drive out of New York City and up into the rolling hills of tony Westchester County, we can report that the first hybrid from the aggressive Asian carmaker is definitely a better car. Its drivetrain is smoother...

  • 2013 Fiat 500e electric car, Los Angeles drive event, April 2013
    2013 Fiat 500e Electric Car: First Drive

    The 2013 Fiat 500e may be a compliance car, but its engineers created an electric car that's so much fun to drive that seemingly they want it to be more. And with remarkably aggressive pricing--the same $199 monthly lease payment as on a top-of-the-line gasoline 500--Fiat's marketers are trying...

  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell
    Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive Supercar: First Drive Video

    It was a Mercedes-Benz icon before it became a performance flagship. Now it's a messenger for the future: the gullwing's going electric. The SLS AMG Electric Drive electric car is closing in on series production, converting the octane-addicted supercar to fit a greener vision of the future. We've...

  • Mercedes-Benz A Class A180 quick drive
    Forbidden Fruit: Mercedes-Benz A Class Quick Drive

    Selling luxury vehicles is a delicate balancing act. Concentrate on your most wealthy clientele and the market is lucrative, but limited. But go too far the other way, catering for the mass market, and you risk damaging your reputation. This is the barrier Mercedes-Benz has had to cross in...

  • 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost (European version)
    2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0-Liter EcoBoost: Quick Drive Report

    Much fanfare has been made about Ford's 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine. Offering the performance of a 1.6-liter with the economy of a much smaller unit, many would have you believe it represents the future of internal combustion. If not transported to the future, our first drive...

  • 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Convertible first drive
    2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Convertible First Drive

    Despite the seemingly endless combinations of drivetrains, body styles, and features, there are still a few cars in the U.S. market that are unique in their makeup--and we're not talking about the Tesla Model S here. The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible is the only convertible available in the...

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Oct 2012

    The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid gives VW something it hasn’t had before: a way to appeal to hybrid buyers who won’t consider its TDI diesels—no matter how fuel-efficient they may be. The result is a relatively sporty, conventional looking compact sedan that’s fun to drive, comfortable to ride in, and appears to return 40 mpg or more in mixed usage. 40 mpg or more On two different legs of our road test around Santa Fe, New Mexico, our Jetta Hybrid test cars returned 45.2 mpg and 41.7 mpg over hilly routes of 71 and 150 miles. One note on those gas mileage numbers...

  • 2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
    2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class: U.S-Bound Premium Compact Driven

    Big German automakers used to thrive on producing large, luxurious sedans. Built seemingly to last forever, they were vehicles of aspiration, a cut above volume vehicles from other carmakers. How things change. Aspiration may still be a part of owning a Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi, but now gas...

  • 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid  -  First Drive, 10/2012
    2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: First Drive Report

    Over the past several years, 40 miles per gallon has become a sort of high water mark for compact cars, with a long list of special efficiency-focused models aiming to meet or exceed that number. Yet for those vehicles, we're talking highway mileage. The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, on the other...

  • 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, New York City
    2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid: Very Short First Drive

    Memo to carmakers: Midtown Manhattan on a weekday can be a challenging, frustrating place to hold a test drive. Two days ago, we drove the new 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid at a Ford media event, one of a handful across the country to show off its redesigned mid-size sedan. The 2013 Fusion will be...

  • 2012 Coda Sedan
    2012 Coda Sedan: First Drive

    It's been a long time coming, but the 2012 Coda Sedan is now on sale at a handful of dealers in California. Six months after the very first Coda compact electric cars were delivered to buyers, the company is gearing up a major publicity push to sell the electric sedan--which we've now driven. Our...

  • 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid
    2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid: First Drive

    Last week, Honda released the specs and photos for its 2014 Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid. Now, we can talk about what it's like on the road. The short answer? Like the Ford C-Max Hybrid, it offers new and strong competition for a model of the well-established Toyota Prius--in this case, the...

  • 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012

    The verdict is in: At last, the fabled Toyota Prius hybrid has a viable competitor. If you're in the market for a five-door hybrid hatchback with very high fuel economy--an EPA rating of 47 mpg combined--you should drive a C-Max Hybrid before you trot down to your local Toyota dealer and sign the papers for a Prius. Two weeks ago, we drove the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid for half a day through a mix of Los Angeles stop-and-go traffic and the winding, hilly curves of the Pacific Coast Highway. It's Ford's first-ever "dedicated" hybrid--no gasoline-only version is sold in the States--and at a...

  • 2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar, New York City, Aug 2012
    2013 Chevrolet Spark: First Drive

    Yeah, we drove the pink one. The 2013 Chevrolet Spark, the first Chevrolet minicar in many, many years, comes in a remarkable array of pastel colors, including one called Techno Pink. One of two Sparks we tested yesterday came in that very distinctive shade; the other was Salsa (lime green). Other...

  • 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012
    2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: First Drive From Behind The Wheel (Video)

    The new 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is quick, relatively fun to drive, and the only all-electric crossover utility vehicle on the market today. It has a good, intuitive touchscreen display and instrument cluster that shows both the maximum possible range and a constantly updated range based on both the...

  • 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012
    2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: First Drive Of Tesla-Powered Crossover

    If the ideal electric car has a real-world range of 100 miles or more and the practical utility that American families buy crossovers for, the future may be arriving this year. The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV has every bit of space that the gasoline versions do. Its Tesla-engineered battery pack and...

  • 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL, New York City, July 2012
    2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL Sedan: Weekend Drive Report

    When auto writers drive test cars, they're usually loaned out from carmakers' regional fleets. So when we asked for an 2012 Nissan Versa sedan to test over a four-day weekend, following our brief test drive of the all-new Versa in May, the car we got seemed rather familiar. It was, in fact, the...

  • 2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012
    2013 Honda Fit EV: Video From First Drive Of All-Electric Car

    Yesterday, Honda delivered its first Fit EV electric car to private buyers--or, more accurately, private lease customers, since the car isn't available for outright sale. Only 1,100 lucky lessors in a small handful of states will ever get behind the wheel of a 2013 Honda Fit EV, because for Honda...