First Drive Reviews

  • 2019 Audi E-tron  -  first drive report  -  Calirornia, May 2019

    Not every electric-car first-drive event urges us to climb a mountain to get a good idea of driving range. Actually make that no other automaker, ever. But that’s what Audi had us do with its 2019 E-tron electric SUV: drive it on a prescribed route that took us nearly 195 miles from Yountville, California (102 feet elevation) and over 7,427-foot Echo Summit along U.S. Highway 50. The strategy to take the demanding route stems from a hard reality: Audi has a lot to prove with its E-tron. Earlier this spring, its EPA range ratings were released at just 204 miles—underwhelming...

  • 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 first drive  -  Norway, May 2019
    First drive review: 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC electric crossover charges ahead, luxury first

    Norway has a lot of electric cars—so many that it can make anyone driving a new vehicle with an internal combustion engine look like a Luddite. Mercedes-Benz brought us there to experience the EQC—and possibly to normalize it in a sea of EVs that makes California look like a land of...

  • 2020 Kia Soul EV first drive  -  South Korea  -  April 2019
    2020 Kia Soul EV first drive review: 243 electric miles in the box

    I’m snaking the 2020 Kia Soul EV around a bend in the Korean countryside, happy to push faster after weathering Seoul’s famous morning traffic earlier, but I can’t escape two recurring thoughts. The first is that, if anything, real-time range estimates are conservative, or at the...

  • 2019 Kia Niro EV first drive  -  Santa Cruz, CA  -  February 2019
    2019 Kia Niro EV: first drive of 239-mile electric crossover

    Just before reaching a tight series of esses on the Monterey Peninsula’s famous 17 Mile Drive, I clicked the left steering-wheel paddle to bump the Niro EV up a regeneration level—a motion that mimics downshifting in a gasoline vehicle—then clicked the right paddle to ease things...

  • 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e XLE  -  First Drive  -  Wisconsin, December 2018
    2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e: First drive of 50-mpg all-weather hybrid

    Between the unexpectedly wild styling, the very wide model range, the Prius Prime plug-in, and now the all-wheel-drive 2019 Prius AWD-e, it seems that Toyota has opted for a mix-and-match philosophy for the current fourth generation of America’s favorite fuel-sipper. The big news for...

  • 2019 Audi e-tron first drive  -  Abu Dhabi UAE, December 2018
    2019 Audi e-tron first drive: Redrawing the electric-vehicle boundaries

    Road-tripping along in the 2019 Audi e-tron, your passenger might not even know (or care) that you’re in an all-electric utility vehicle—rather than just an extraordinarily quiet gasoline one. And as the driver, you might even forget. It gets right to Audi’s point behind the...

  • 2019 Toyota RAV4

    The 2019 RAV4 Hybrid is Toyota’s way of flexing its corporate might. It’s as if the automaker called on each of its departments to create the new hybrid crossover SUV. The folks from design coughed up some 4Runner and Tacoma cues to give it a butch look. The Lexus team chiseled the cohesive, angular interior design. And the Prius development team worked under its hood. The result is a 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that’s unusually thrifty for a crossover SUV. It’s not without its faults, but overall the RAV4 Hybrid I drove on roads winding around Carmel, California, is a...

  • 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric  -  First Drive  -  Hollywood, CA
    2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: first drive of affordable 258-mile crossover

    Our first test-drive time with the Hyundai Kona Electric included plenty of what’s very familiar to Los Angelenos: plodding along to the next stoplight on wide boulevards, waiting another few minutes, and repeating—with occasional squirts into traffic gaps and quick merges into the...

  • 2019 Honda Insight
    2019 Honda Insight video review

    You could be forgiven for not remembering the two Honda vehicles that have worn an Insight badge before. The first was a quirky hatchback two-seater that struggled for acceptance with mainstream buyers. The second was a Prius-like Prius fighter, egg shape and all. This 2019 Honda Insight is the...

  • 2019 Toyota Avalon
    2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid first drive review: understated efficiency

    When it comes to hybrids and Toyota, one shape typically comes to mind. Hint: It doesn’t have a trunk. The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid—like the Camry Hybrid that it’s loosely based on—hides in plain sight. It’s a full-size, four-door sedan that seamlessly blends into the...

  • 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke
    2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke first drive: diesel, the not-so-efficient way

    Ford has a gem of a diesel engine under the hood of the 2018 F-150 Power Stroke—as long as drivers aren’t enamored with good fuel economy. Wait, what? After a day of driving F-150 diesels in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Boulder, Colorado, unladen, with beds loaded up with...

  • 2019 Jaguar I-Pace first drive
    2019 Jaguar I-Pace: brief first drive of all-electric luxury crossover

    A parking lot in suburban New Jersey isn’t the first place I’d look for a revolution. According to Jaguar, it’s where ours will start. After just over four minutes behind the wheel of the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace, the electric Jaguar feels like the beginning of something. DON'T MISS...

  • 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range electric car, road test in greater Atlanta area, Feb 2018

    “The Tesla Model S was a moment. The Model 3 is a product.” That pair of sentences perfectly summarized the several hours we spent last month with the 2018 Tesla Model 3 kindly loaned to us by reader Jeff Southern of Atlanta. We’d covered more than 100 miles on a variety of highways, back roads, and suburban stop-and-go arterials, testing everything from full-on acceleration to cruise control, on routes from straight-ahead six-lane Interstates to twisty mountain back roads. The Tesla Model 3 turns out to be better, in some ways, than its advance press made us fear...

  • 2018 BMW i3s
    2018 BMW i3s first drive review: sportier and nearly as efficient

    BMW's Test Fest in Palm Springs, California, at The Thermal Club attracts a broad range of cars. The star of the show is the 600-horsepower 2018 BMW M5. But before I can test that wild sport sedan on the track, I’ll do my best to balance my carbon footprint in the new 2018 BMW i3s. BMW has...

  • 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e
    2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e plug-in hybrid SUV: first drive review

    No doubt the hoi polloi are prepared for emissions-free vehicle zones, what with their bicycles and their little electric cars. But what is the aristocracy to do when its high-end luxury SUVs are banned from city streets in central London? Enter the 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e plug-in hybrid...

  • 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, Six Flags Magic Mountain, California, Dec 2017
    2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid first drive review (pricing from $28,840)

    Some plug-in hybrid models are easily distinguishable from the rest of the cars their maker sells. Others, like the 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, are all but invisible. It takes a sharp eye to see the charging port door on the left-front fender or the trim and badging differences that distinguish...

  • Tesla Model 3 with BMW i3 driver Tom Moloughney, Dec 2017  [photo: Tom Moloughney]
    Tesla Model 3: impressions of a BMW i3 driver (and reservation holder)

    Getting an opportunity to road test and review a Tesla Model 3 electric car has thus far proved a very difficult task. Since the Model 3 launched in July, Tesla has only been delivering them to employees, friends of the company, and a handful of prior Tesla owners—and most have been eerily...

  • 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid drive, Napa Valley, Caifornia, Dec 2017
    2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid first drive

    There's a new plug-in hybrid in town, and it could expand the audience for cars that provide useful electric range for daily driving while retaining an efficient gasoline engine for longer trips. The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is the third and most important model in the Clarity lineup...

  • 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

    It’s easy for the 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid to get lost. Short of small “Hybrid” badges on the front fenders, not much on the car’s exterior says it's powered by electrons. There’s no plug-in variant for now (a role reserved to the Clarity Plug-In sedan), and the latest hybrid Accord is built alongside other Accords in Ohio this time around. Even the battery packs, which have been moved from the trunk to underneath the rear seats, don't intrude the way like they used to. Will buyers miss having less trunk space than other Accords? (Editor's Note: Probably not.)...

  • 2018 Nissan Leaf
    2018 Nissan Leaf electric-car prototype driven: first impressions

    When visiting an automaker's proving ground to drive cars still under development, security is extensive. Cameras have to be left on the bus, all phone lenses have to be covered, and documents committing you to keep quiet until the embargo lifts must be signed. In late June, we drove a...

  • 2017 Audi A5 Sportback g-tron (European model), driven, Aug 2017  [photo: Ronan Glon]
    Audi A5 Sportback g-tron: first drive of natural-gas luxury sport sedan

    Audi’s vision of future mobility primarily centers around an array of long-range electric cars scheduled to debut in the coming years under the "e-tron" badge. These are intended to be Tesla killers, as they’re often called in Germany. But there’s another kind of tron with a...

  • Kirk Bell and John Voelcker in Volkswagen ID Buzz electric Microbus concept vehicle
    Volkswagen ID Buzz drive: electric VW bus offers unique EV concept

    When you see a concept car drive onto the stage at an auto show, don't be fooled into thinking it's what you'll drive out of the dealer a couple of years later. We got to drive the Volkswagen ID Buzz all-electric Microbus concept car Saturday for a couple of miles along the oceanside road outside...

  • 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier and 2017 BMW i3 electric car, Aug 2017        [photo: Tom Moloughney]
    Chevy Bolt EV reviewed by BMW i3 driver: electric cars compared

    Owners of specific electric cars sometimes tend to become boosters and fans for their particular EV as well as plugging in to drive in general. So it was with Tom Moloughney, whose purchase of the very first 2014 BMW i3 REx range-extended electric car in the U.S. he wrote about for us three years...

  • 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE, Willamette Valley, Oregon, June 2017
    2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid first drive

    The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient version of all-new range of Toyota's popular mid-size sedan, its best-selling vehicle in the U.S. until very recently. The new Camry Hybrid is based on some of the same underpinnings as the 2016 Prius, and uses that car's updated hybrid system...