Road Trip: 2016 Kia Sorento

Our friends at Kia offered us the opportunity to take the all-new 2016 Kia Sorento on a road trip and I gladly accepted, particularly when they explained the trip would be between NBA playoff games in Cleveland and Chicago!

Not only would we be able to enjoy the games, but we’d be traveling in style with the 240 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0L AWD version of the Sorento. It became clear right away when we headed to Chicago that we had an ideal road trip vehicle that offered the comfort and luxury you’d want on a long drive. (Read more about our road trip here.)

Exterior

I liked the previous generation Sorento, but the exterior styling has improved dramatically with the all-new generation introduced for the 2016 model year. It all starts with the aggressive and prominent front grille, narrower and longer headlights and eye-catching LED front fog lights. The result is a distinctive look from the front that sets the tone for the entire design.

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First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

SAN DIEGO – The high-powered, low-volume 2015 Volkswagen Golf R could play a big role in getting the German automaker’s U.S. sales back on the good foot. That would mean more VWs rolling out of showroom doors.

Here’s the deal: the VW Golf recently was named Car of the Year by two very prestigious organizations. Now, the Volkswagen Golf R helps to fill out a lineup that includes the regular Golf, a performance version of that compact car, a diesel powered Golf and an electric Golf. A station wagon is on the way, but we came here to test drive the Golf R. It is the high-powered version of this car.

By the numbers, this Golf R has a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood that makes292 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque. It’s mated to a direct sequential gearing, read six-speed dual clutch, automatic transmission branded (DSG). This version goes on sale in the spring. It will be joined by a six-speed manual Golf R this summer that will be sold as a 2016 model; it will about $1,000 less than the automatic.

With the fast-shifting DSG, the Golf R can get to 60 mph from a standing start in a blistering 4.9 seconds and it has a top track speed of 155 mph. Because of low sales for the two-door Golf R in the past, the 2015 version will only be sold in this market as a four-door. Mileage is expected to be 23 mpg in the city, more than 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

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Car Review: 2015 Acura TLX 2.4L

As we pointed out in our first drive of the all-new TLX, Acura has gone a long way towards revitalizing its sedan lineup with this replacement for the TL and TSX, so I was looking forward to having one to try out for a full week. The TLX model I had for the week came with a 2.4-liter, 206-horsepower i-VTEC inline-4 with 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with torque converter and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS). The TLX is also available with 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower i-VTEC V-6 with 9-speed automatic transmission and P-AWS, and with this version, you can get all-wheel drive as well.

Exterior

You’ll immediately notice Acura’s signature Jewel Eye LED headlights on the TLX. This new look has upgraded the styling across the Acura lineup and looks fantastic on the TLX. The overall design is sporty but classy, and compared to the 2014 TL the 2015 TLX is 3.7-inches shorter in overall length while maintaining the same wheelbase. As you can see from the photos, the TLX design looks great from every angle, and I loved the look of our Crystal Black test model.

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Car Review: 2015 Lexus CT 200h

If you’re looking for a hybrid, but you still want a luxury vehicle, you’re now in luck, as there are so many more options on the market. Lexus alone has six hybrids in its lineup, so you now have many options to choose from. The sporty CT 200h is aimed at introducing the Lexus brand to younger buyers with its styling and connectivity features.

Exterior

Lexus has changed its image with its signature spindle grille, which is very prominent on the front end of the CT 200h. The compact hatchback reminded me of many of the cars you see in Europe and the rear spoiler gives it a very sporty look. You certainly don’t get the impression that you’re looking at a hybrid, and I suspect younger buyers and professionals will love it. Little has changed from the 2014 model other than a badge for the F SPORT version.

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Car Review: 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

2015 Outlander Sport SE

For the 2015 model year Mitsubishi has updated its perennial best-seller with some aesthetic changes and engineering improvements to this sporty compact crossover. I tested the SE model with all-wheel drive for a week and came away impressed with what the vehicle offered for the price.

Exterior

The 2015 Outlander gets new, stylish-looking LED running lights in the SE model but otherwise the exterior design remains unchanged, which isn’t a bad thing as the Outlander’s exterior works for a sporty but practical crossover. I like the front end and the vehicle looks great from every angle. The Ruby Red version we tested looked particularly sharp, and I like it in the other offered colors including the blue model pictured here. It has the type of look that should be appealing across a wide variety of consumer groups as the designers haven’t tried to get too cute with any aspect of the design.

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