Car Review: 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST

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As the Ford Focus continues posting very impressive worldwide sales figures, one need not wonder what the Blue Oval will do to continue building momentum behind this Focus nameplate. Ford has at last released the long-awaited Focus ST, which absolutely takes the compact car segment to new and wonderful heights. The all-new Focus ST is Ford’s first truly global performance car, building on the heritage of previous Focus ST models in Europe and giving drivers around the world the opportunity to share the exhilarating performance, excellent handling, addictive sound and sporty design that Ford’s ST badge represents. With innovative technologies throughout, the Focus ST will be highly fuel efficient too. Yes, the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST was one of our favorite reviews in recent times for numerous reasons, and we’ll let you know why below.

EXTERIOR

From the striking one-piece design interpretation of Ford’s signature trapezoidal grille at the front, through the sculpted side skirts and dynamic rear bumper with prominent diffuser-style vents in the lower fascia, Focus ST’s design adds aggression and aerodynamic stability. The highly effective roof spoiler is optimized to deliver improved high-speed stability and reduced drag, while the unique center-exit exhaust sports a tailpipe design influenced by the exclusive hexagonal mesh of the front bumper.

The well-recognized Focus ST style extends to the iconic Y-shaped alloy wheels. Wrapped around the rado grey 18-inch wheels are high-performance 235/40R-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires, developed after rigorous testing on all kinds of road surfaces and in all kinds of conditions. These dynamic features together play a huge role in what Ford has accomplished her, as the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST truly resembles a sports car rather than a compact. The Focus ST turned heads wherever we drove the car, and we realized quickly that the Focus ST was a superstar on the road! The performance blue paint was also a real winner that just highlighted all of the muscular curves and highpoints of the ST.

INTERIOR

When you first enter the cabin of the 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback ST, the first thing you notice are the black and blue partial leather recaro sports seats that look like they would fit nicely into a track-only racing car. These seats are not for the buyer looking for bland looks and passive seating, as these ST sports seats wrap around your body and keep you nice and snug for those tight corners. The dashboard is closing in on perfection with a well laid out instrument panel and a smart center console with armrest with storage and room for two good size cups. The leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with the ST branding was super cool and again an upgrade from just about anything you can find stock from the factory. An illuminated entry, MyFord touchscreen with Sirius, dual zone electric air temp control, navigation system and one of the top stereo systems in this price range is also included. We fit four adults somewhat comfortably in the Focus ST and felt there was ample storage in the hatch area.

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Car Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta 5-Door Hatch SE

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When one looks to the 2014 Ford Fiesta, you have to expand your thoughts on the car, because Ford smartly offers many configurations of this gem. We had the chance to test drive the 2014 Ford Fiesta 5-Door Hatch SE with a manual five-speed transmission and truly appreciated what this car had to offer. The overall design is solid but not overwhelming, and for the price range you are looking to spend on a Fiesta, most will find the packaging appealing!

EXTERIOR

The major change to the exterior is the front fascia, which incorporates Ford’s global look and resembles cars that can cost thousands of dollars more that the Fiesta. Yes, the thinner headlights with built-in LED running lights with more aggressive lower intakes, a pronounced power dome on the hood and a new trapezoidal grille transform the Fiesta into somewhat of a combative little brother to the Focus and Fusion models. We thought the 16-inch painted aluminum wheels set the tone for the Fiesta, along with auto headlamps, dual power mirrors, the 5-bar chromed grille, integrated spotter mirrors and rear spoiler.

INTERIOR

The 2014 Ford Fiesta 5-Door Hatch SE is much better car when it comes to the interior space compared to the 2013 model. The center counsel and armrest between the two front seats is a huge improvement, as you don’t get the feeling that just because it’s a compact car that it has to eliminate so many things that buyers crave, and I believe that was part of why Ford built the new Fiesta in the first place, so hat’s off on a great step forward! The seats are also very comfortable and wider than some midsize sedan seats that we’ve driven, which was a welcome surprise.

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Car Review: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

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Honda didn’t hold back when redesigning the 2014 Odyssey, which would have been a safe play, but instead swung for the fences in design and function. We had the opportunity to test the striking 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite while taking a long road trip with six adult-sized passengers (including the driver) to find out what this people mover had to offer. Honda reinforced and expanded upon the vehicle’s already great features, including the exceptional value for money that already defines the Odyssey for its target buyer, which is Gen X and Gen Y families.

EXTERIOR

Refined and youthful, sporty and advanced, the Odyssey’s refreshed styling adds new premium elements for 2014. The 2014 Odyssey features sleeker, more sophisticated exterior styling with a new, more deeply sculpted aluminum hood, new aluminum front fenders, a new bolder twin-bar grille and a revised lower front fascia with integrated chrome-trimmed fog lights. New two-tone mirror housings, darker-finish projector-beam headlight housings, LED taillight bars and new badging add to the 2014 Odyssey’s premium look. Other notable exterior highlights include new black-trimmed headlights, new available fog lights and black-surround grille for an upscale appearance. New body-color matched side mirrors and additional bright chrome trim add to the premium appearance. New rear styling and LED taillights with clear lenses and eye-catching perimeter “light pipes” add to the polished look.

Weight savings come from the use of aluminum for the hood, front fenders and front suspension lower control arms. The 2014 Odyssey EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite models have a wiper-linked headlight system that automatically turns on the headlights when the front wipers are activated. In addition, new standard one-touch turn signals improve convenience for the driver when making routine lane changes. With this system, one flick of the turn-signal lever provides three blinks of the turn signals – ideal for changing lanes. Pressing the lever past the “click point” provides continuous blinking. A new keyless entry system with push button start on EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite allows the driver to approach the vehicle, open the door and start the engine, all without touching a key. The system only requires the driver have possession of the key fob. The system also simplifies opening the sliding side doors and tailgate; locking all doors when leaving the vehicle requires only touching the lock button on any door handle. We were also impressed with the Odyssey’s power moon roof with tilt feature, 18-inch x 7-inch alloy wheels, blind spot information system, front and rear parking sensors, dual power sliding doors, power tailgate, expanded view drivers mirror and heated power door mirrors with turn indicators. Together, the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite has a look all to her own and really doesn’t reveal how much space is inside this modern machine because of the sleek skin and aerodynamic design.

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INTERIOR

There is that “wow’ factor when you first enter the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite with the enormous amount of cabin space, including the untouchable storage area behind the third-row seating. Inside the 2014 Odyssey, new finishes brighten the cabin and an all-new center stack showcases a host of new features. Additional standard technology on the Odyssey Touring Elite brings new levels of ease and connectivity to owners, including keyless Smart Entry with Push Button Start, HD Radio, an SMS text messaging function and HondaLink featuring Aha Mobile interface. HondaLink, which debuted on the 2013 Honda Accord, enables Odyssey owners to connect quickly and easily to a wealth of cloud-based content. The free HondaLink smartphone app uses the owner’s favorite online content to create live, personalized radio stations, allowing drivers to put away their phones and hear updates and news feeds, as well as check out restaurant reviews.

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Car Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR

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It’s not easy to pack the punch of a sports car into a four-door sedan while keeping the price reasonable for the general public. But Mitsubishi did just that with the 2014 Lancer Evolution GSR, and after a week of testing, there is no doubt that the Lancer Evolution can run the streets with the best of them out there!

EXTERIOR

The large, rear wing spoiler on the 2014 Lancer Evolution GSR is definitely old school and adds so much style with something so simple. But so much of what you see on the Lancer Evolution GSR isn’t just for looks, but for performance as well. Further aiding the tractability cause is a set of highly adhesive 245/40R18 low-profile Yokohama Advan asymmetrical performance tires clad to lightweight 18-in. x 8.5-in. wheels with the Lancer Evolution GSR model wearing Enkei cast-alloy rims. Also adding to the sleek exterior are flared fenders, aluminum roof panel, aluminum front fenders with vents and aluminum hood with hear extractor vents.

INTERIOR

The best way to describe the interior of the 2014 Lancer Evolution GSR is modern with no frills! That’s not to say that the latest technology and comfort features aren’t present, but even with all of those extras, there is no mistaken that this car is about performance. Our test model was loaded with recaro black leather seats, power glass sunroof, heated front seats, center console upgrade, sound dampening enhancement, auto A/C with micron filter, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, high contrast sport meter gauges, color multi-information display, steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio switches, 6.1-inch touchscreen display audio and Fuse hands-free link system with USB port. The seats are strong, but being the larger person that I am, they felt a bit small and uncomfortable at times.

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Car Review: 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD F Sport

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The 2014 Lexus IS 250 AWD F Sport grabs your attention from the moment you first see it and kept our attention throughout the one-week test drive. The third-generation 2014 IS sport sedan features a bold design highlighted by the new dynamic signature spindle grille and for the first time separated LED Daytime Running Lights which are as cool as any on the road today. A combination of “aggressive elegance,” a more powerful road presence and a stronger brand identity help make the new IS models more alluring than ever.

EXTERIOR

The available F SPORT package as tested included unique 18-inch wheels with ultra-white paint that made a bonafied first impression on all that gave us feedback. Some notables that played key roles in the good-looking IS 250 F Sport was the further evolution of the spindle grille from the GS and LS models, featuring a more three-dimensional design with a chrome-plated frame and darker gray insert from top to bottom, standard HID low/high beam headlamps with LED DRLs and available twin projector LED low/ high beam headlamps, F SPORT exclusive colors (Ultra White, Ultrasonic Blue Mica, Obsidian and Matador Red Mica), and a wheelbase that has been increased by nearly three inches. Width has been increased by nearly half an inch for an aggressive stance.

INTERIOR

This isn’t your father’s Lexus, as the IS 250 AWD F Sport has the attitude of a premium sports car with the functionality of the smartest luxury sedan all wrapped into one superb interior space. The driver can appreciate improved seating position and headroom, while the rear seat offers significantly improved roominess, ingress and egress. Separating the shocks from the springs results in a larger trunk as well.

New luxuries abound in the 2014 Lexus IS. A high-efficiency dual-zone climate control system uses new, touch-sensitive electrostatic temperature switches. The IS offers two multimedia systems: a standard high-resolution Lexus Display Audio (LDA) with controller or the optional Lexus navigation system. The navigation system is operated via a second-generation Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI) multi-function control device, which also allows control of the climate, audio, phone controls and more. New interior design with LFA-inspired, driver-focused cockpit and enhanced rear seat roominess and luggage capacity earned high marks from drivers and passengers alike.

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