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Auto Word: The 2017 Sportage Grows, Regroups and Rallies

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Kia's Sportage nameplate has been around since this Korean carmaker started selling cars in the U.S. in 1994. And my, oh my, how far this compact crossover has evolved in 22 years.

The 2017 Sportage is a completely re-engineered vehicle. It's a little larger, wider and longer. It's a showcase of Kia's can-do perseverance. At first glance, the ...Read more

Auto Word: Hyundai's 2017 Elantra Redesign Targets Style, Technology and Refinement

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Hyundai's 2017 Elantra Redesign Targets Style, Technology and Refinement

The once cheap and cheerful Hyundai Elantra has evolved from a "head (choice) to (a) heart choice of a compact car," the company says.

The 2017 redesign made three key fixes: design, technology, and body structure and safety. The styling is an immediate observation. ...Read more

Auto Word: Second-generation Plug-In EV Is More Efficient but Has Limits

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The redesigned 2016 Chevy Volt doesn't drive as sporty as it looks, but just about everything else about it has been improved.

Now in its second generation, this extended-range electric car can be driven about 15 miles farther on a charge. Its motor and engine (generator) are more efficient, and the whole car is lighter and quicker.

The car is...Read more

Auto Word: Diesel's Not Such a Dirty Word for Range Rover Sport Td6

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Diesel's Not Such a Dirty Word for Range Rover Sport Td6 It is cruel and unusual punishment to drive an $85,000 Range Rover Sport across scrabbly rock outcrops that can slice tires and gouge aluminum body panels. But traversing these outdoor environments can be done in complete luxury -- with street tires -- with a Range Rover.

There's a reason...Read more

Auto Word: Lexus Updates Its Best-Selling Crossover

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Lexus defined the budding crossover segment in 1998 with its first RX model. At the time, it was a radical concept and a striking design. It was SUV-like with a wagon's simplicity and a level of luxury that beat anything the American motorist had experienced.

Now in its fourth generation, the RX is still the brand's best-seller, and it has been...Read more

Auto Word: The Nissan Titan XD Is a Gentle Giant

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

When Nissan was designing its first full-sized pickup in the late 1990s, it knew that whatever it came up with could not be one millimeter less in capacity, ability or power than anything made by the Detroit Three. That truck, the Titan, went on sale in 2003 with the hardware and specs to compete. But it still could not chink the armor of the ...Read more

Auto Word: El Nino Repellents and Other Do-It-Yourself Car Care Products

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

If you've had trouble seeing through your windshield during this dark rainy week, it's probably not just your eyes. Have you checked your wiper blades lately?

If you are shopping for wiper blades, consider the Rain-X Latitude Water Repellency blades. These are curved beam blades, which I prefer because they hug the glass more and have a more ...Read more

Auto Word: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Makes it Easy to be Green

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint of any model year 2016 SUV, according to a study by the Automotive Science Group, based in Santa Rosa.

But the dilemma for buyers to go with an electrified vehicle is still economics vs. environment. It is somewhat reassuring that the RAV4 Hybrid is some of both.

Sold in ...Read more

Auto Word: iM Hatchback will Soldier on as a Toyota

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The Scion brand had just crossed into its teen years when parent company Toyota announced in February that the brand would be disbanded by August and the cars rebranded for Toyota.

Loyalists may feel abandoned, but Scion's lineup was just a variation of existing Toyota models. The brand was launched in 2003 as an edgy upstart to reach the ...Read more

Nissan Spends Big to Update a Small Car

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Compact sedans are emerging as a bimodal chess piece.

These once-cheap and cheerful sedans were the econoboxes of the brand, but to get something nice meant moving up and paying more. Now, compact sedans range in price from base models to almost luxurious models with access to advanced technology.

"The competition is getting tight," said Ken ...Read more

Auto Word: Buick's New Convertible is the Ideal Reward Car

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Buick has at long last thrown caution to the wind and added a convertible to its lineup. And it is a good, four-seat ragtop.

The 2016 Cascada (properly pronounced Kas-KAH-da) is just rolling into dealerships in two trim levels with starting prices of $33,000 and $37,000. Buick is excited for the car because there are so few choices in four-seat...Read more

Auto Word: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is Rich on Extras, Lean on Fat

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is a heaping helping of comfort food in the midsize sedan segment.

It has contemporary styling without trying to draw attention as a trendsetter -- though it is. Its functional format maximizes driver sight lines, ease of entry and exit and seat comfort in both rows.

The Sonata is available with two choices of four-...Read more

Auto Word: 2016 Toyota Tacoma is all About Action and Agility

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The best thing about the new Toyota Tacoma is its chassis. There is high-strength steel in the frame for rigidity and ultra-high-strength steel adds strength to the body shell. And those steely enhancements should prevent the doors from binding when crawling around off-road.

That's good because Toyota says its ninth-generation Tacoma is all ...Read more

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