I’ve always enjoyed driving the Lexus IS, certainly much more so than other Lexus models. ES? RX? Pshaw. Though I’ve never owned one, I have gotten close to doing so twice, only to have the purchase vetoed by my ever-sensible wife. Does the all-new third-generation 2014 Lexus IS 350 AWD finally appease my wife’s reservations? Read on to find out.
It’s hard to overstate what huge plans Toyota had for the its then-new Tundra pickup, circa 2007. The company spent a fortune developing their jumbo-sized 2007 Tundra, talking to people who used trucks (though every truck manufacturer says they do that), shedding the “good but small” mantra of the first-generation Tundra and going with a truck that went toe-to-toe with the dominant American-brand pickups. Toyota even built an all-new factory for the Tundra in San Antonio, Texas, in the heart of truck country. Strong initial sales tapered off, and the Tundra remained an also-ran while GM, Ford, and Ram sold hundreds of thousands of pickups. Toyota reckons it’s time to fire another salvo in the pickup wars, so we spent a week with the refreshed 2014 Tundra to see how the truck stacks up against some tough competition.
You probably know a woman who is smart, very clever, and well-dressed enough that it isn’t readily apparent she is carrying around more weight than you first might believe. She really opens herself up when she escapes in warm climates, and is otherwise buttoned down and conservative.
The Toyota Avalon is all new for 2013, having debuted earlier this year. Despite being new from the ground up, its mission remains unchanged-the Avalon is a softly-sprung, large near-luxury car geared toward traditional American-style comfort/luxury in the vein of Oldsmobile or Buick vehicles from the 1980s, rather than attempting to be sporty or aggressive. For 2013, the Avalon is available with either a 200 HP hybrid powertrain, or a 268 HP 3.5 liter V6. Both versions feature more upscale, modern styling than its predecessor, which we reviewed in 2011.
I can remember as a child riding along in our family’s Suburban when my mother would pick up my grandma to take her to an appointment. We’d either have to bring along a stool to assist with her ingress or nearly lift her into the large truck. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of “soccer moms” who are roughly the size of my late Grandma Haak driving hulking SUVs and minivans, and you might be struck by the irony of a small person in a large vehicle. Then there is the opposite situation – big people in small cars. One of the funniest things I ever saw was a giant guy – probably 6’6″, 250 pounds – standing next to his broken down original Mini Cooper along the highway. The point is, there are just some cars that don’t seem to fit certain drivers.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t have high hopes for the 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV. Having reviewed the current generation Versa sedan when it launched a couple of years ago, I figured I knew what I was getting in to- the Versa sedan was softly sprung, with squishy seats upholstered in a strangely fuzzy material, uncomfortable driving position, an uninspired, droning powertrain and hard plastic interior trim bits- and I haven’t even brought up the Versa Sedan’s styling, which could charitably be described as “inoffensive.”
I just finished writing a review of the Dodge Journey. As I did so, I was appalled by what Daimler did to Chrysler, and how that affected the products created by pre-Fiat, pre-Cerberus Chrysler. I was again reminded of, as an American, how offensive I found Volkswagen’s most recent move downmarket to larger, de-contented vehicles that were intended to be more appealing to American tastes. Is this how German automakers view Americans? Easily tricked by spec sheets and a “bigger is better” mentality? Time to see if a bigger 2013 Passat SE TDI 6MT indeed means that it’s better.
I’ve always been a little weird about iPhone cases. I am one of those guys who upgrades my phone every year, and the excellent resale value of the iPhone is higher if the phone is in great condition when finding its new owner. I have spent at least $50 or $60 every year on cases for my phone; I’ve tried clear plastic cases, minimalist cases, silicon cases, the iPhone 4 bumper, leather pouch cases, a BookBook wallet case – almost the entire spectrum of choices. But it’s only for the past year that I have been interested in in-car mounts for my phone.