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Auto Word: Nissan Murano Platinum a Style-Conscious 'Social Lounge'

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Platinum is the new gold standard for the buyer who wants it all, and, apparently, there are plenty of them. Nearly all brands offer this over-the-top level, which is sweetened with value pricing. The allure is for buyers to allow indulgence without broadcasting extravagance.

Nissan applied this level of near-luxury to the redesign of its third...Read more

Auto Word: VW Golf R Is a Humble Hustler

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The 2015 VW Golf R is a near-supercar trapped in the body of a five-door hatchback.

Not that the body style hurts its performance, but the Golf R's level of ability goes way beyond its humble body style and even that of the slightly-less-sporty Golf GTI.

The Golf R, now in its seventh generation, is a complete update that is larger, wider and ...Read more

Auto Word: Audi A3 Cabriolet Has a Way With Pleasure

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

I thought about calling Audi PR and asking if they'd just leave the A3 Cabriolet tester for a few more weeks ... or years.

It is simple, sophisticated and has all the right moves while neither overpromising nor underdelivering. And the two big tests a convertible has to pass for me are how fast the top drops and how smooth is the airflow at ...Read more

Auto Word: GMC Sierra Elevation Ready for Show and Go

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The GMC Sierra Elevation cleans up real nice for a Saturday night on the town.

It's a monochromatic paint and trim treatment for a genuine, full-size half-ton pickup. And even with 20-inch wheels, it is fully functioning for work -- not dumbed-down to be street cool.

Sold only in a double-cab body style, Elevation Edition pricing starts at $34...Read more

Auto Word: Land Rover's New Compact Discovery Sport Has Street, Trail Cred

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Dual-Sport Disco: Land Rover's New Compact Discovery Sport Has Street, Trail Cred

It may not look the part in its street view, but the new Land Rover Discovery Sport is a credentialed trekker.

It can ford a creek of up to 23.6 inches, if the driver knows how to create a bow wave. With its sophisticated (and standard) all-wheel-drive system and...Read more

Auto Word: Mitsubishi Revamps 2016 Outlander, Reinvigorates Brand

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

It may be understatement to say that Mitsubishi has had some challenging times lately in the United States. But at the recent media drive for the 2016 Outlander crossover, company vice president Don Swearingen said, "We've pulled ourselves out of it and the (new Outlander) is the best product we've ever brought to market."

The company has high ...Read more

Auto Word: Infiniti QX80 Limited a Posh Brute of an SUV

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The habitat of the big truck-based SUV has been decimated in most regions of the U.S., not just by a downsized economy but also by downsized housing developments, downsized parking spaces and garages.

The big SUV has its assets, particularly when hauling the family and the trailered toys to the lake, marina, mountain, desert, horse shows or a ...Read more

Auto Word: Lincoln's 'Bespoke' Treatment Adds Perks, Prestige for MKZ

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

There is much sameness in the styling of midsize sedans, so when a crisp zephyr of styling blows in, it gets noticed.

The Lincoln MKZ is a power stroke of divergent styling that can only be recognized as a Lincoln. It's unique without just being different. And this luxury division of Ford Motor Co. is reinventing the rest of its line with these...Read more

Auto Word: Two Personalities for 500X Crossover

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Fiat's third family member from Italy, the 500X, is destined to become the brand's most-popular model and biggest seller. It has the right size, the right looks and the right features with the right pricing.

The 500X shares the bones of the 500L wagon, but is a much different execution. The X concept was started from scratch (though it shares ...Read more

Auto Word: Cayenne E-Hybrid Redefines Porsche Performance

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Supercharged Plug-in: Cayenne E-Hybrid Redefines Porsche Performance

Porsche now has three plug-in electric vehicles, the most of any luxury manufacturer, it says -- the Panamera S E-Hybrid large sedan, Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUV and the 918, a million-dollar, limited-edition sports car.

It is the electrified and more mainstream Panamera and ...Read more

Auto Word: Acura TLX Reborn With a Performance Edge

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

Welcome back, Acura. I can't imagine the dark depression that caused you to snuff the flame of building performance cars, but the spark is coming back in the new TLX.

Punch up Sport-plus mode, flick off a double downshift of the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic and push those 7,000 rpm redline shifts. It feels good and sounds good, as an Acura...Read more

Auto Word: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Final Pricing, Start of Production

Automotive / Mark Maynard /

The wait is almost over, Mazda North America said at the end of April, when it at long last announced complete pricing for the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata and that production had begun. The first 1,000 cars earmarked as Launch Edition models.

The bad news is that Miatas for the U.S. market will not be available until late summer.

All U.S.-spec ...Read more

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