First Drive: 2017 Kia Sportage

Kia is not lounging on its haunches. The automaker took its longest running nameplate, the Sportage, and completely changed the crossover utility vehicle. It was designed in Frankfurt, Germany, refined in Southern California and it is rolling off an assembly line in South Korea.

The new Sportage is a little bit longer and the wheels are now pushed to the corners. The tiger nose grille is lowered, the headlights are longer and they’re pulled back into the fenders. There are also wrap around taillights. And in what is a becoming a brand signature, the ice cube LED fog lights on the turbo powered Sportage seemed bigger, and thus were more prominent.

It was as though the sheet metal was pulled tightly over the front of the chassis. It gives this new Sportage a distinctive face. Kia cals it “tension.” Wheels at the corners meant the 2017 Kia Sportage hads short overhangs and that makes the 17, 18 or 19-inch wheels look even bigger.

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Car Review: 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition M/T

2016 Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition

I’ve been a fan of the Veloster Turbo from Hyundai since I drove the inaugural version several years ago through the winding canyon roads surrounding San Diego. I recently had the 2016 Rally Edition for a week and got to experience the vehicle again, this time with plenty of routine city and highway drive time along with some more challenging roads. The car is just as fun as I remember, though I do miss those SoCal roads.


My Veloster Rally Edition came with Matte Blue exterior paint with black wheel rims that made the car stand out as I drove through town. The Veloster is still in its first generation, so there haven’t been significant design changes to the exterior, which still features the unique third door for easy access to the back seats. The unique look and body shape gives the Veloster more interior room, as the designers weren’t wed to tradition sports car dimensions, while the headlamps and large grille provide a powerful look for the vehicle.

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First Drive: 2016 Nissan Sentra

2016 Nissan Sentra - angle

The 2016 Nissan Sentra gets a facelift, including a new front grille, as part of a substantial mid-cycle refresh for this compact car. About 20% of the Sentra has been changed, which is about three times the change in a refresh design and makes the Sentra’s look consistent with the changes we’re seeing in Nissan’s sedan lineup. I drove the new Sentra on a gorgeous, sunny day in Orange County with some spectacular coastline views and plenty of city driving settings.

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First Drive: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is different. It’s packaged lightning, and the package is pretty impressive.

This Italian-made pocket rocket is the first of a slew of Alfa Romeos headed to this market. And if the 4C is any indication, then there is a new player in the luxury performance game and the engineers from Modena, Italy are to be taken seriously.

Our test car was 157.5 inches long, 73.5 inches wide, and at 46.6 inches, it wasn’t even four feet tall. That meant we had to slide down into the 4C, and it was almost like sliding down into a not-so-shallow bathtub, and then had to climb our way back out.

If ever there was a pretentious test for friends, female and male alike, getting into and out of the Alfa Romeo 4C is it. But the slide into the tub was worth it. The Alfa Romeo 4C is a palpitating piece of machinery.

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First Drive: 2016 Nissan GT-R

2016 Nissan GT-R 45th Anniversary Gold Edition

Yes, the 2+2 GT-R looks great. It has a severely sloping roof, huge quad exhaust pipes, four LED headlights, matching four-ringed taillights and a fixed wing on the trunk; muscular wheel wells and aero blades on the fenders’ edges provides optimum airflow around the tires and along the body.

As slick as this car looks, however, the sheet metal covers up the fact that GT-R this is a supercar. For the uninitiated, that means the GT-R’s top speed is in the 200 mph category.

And its nitrogen-filled, high-performance run flat 20-inch tires suggest that the Nissan GT-R can achieve its top speed of 196 mph. The 3.8-liter dual turbocharged V6 engine generates 545 horsepower and 463 foot-pounds of torque. The dual clutch six-speed automatic transmission shifts gears at warp speed.

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