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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Autos Don Adair

SATURDAY, NOV. 29, 2014

Underway, the six-cylinder GT delivers a balanced ride-and-handling package, with sufficient power for effective freeway merging and two-lane passing. Seats are firm and supportive and visibility is good in all directions. Predictably, third-row seating is cramped. (Mitsubishi)

Mitsubishi Outlander: 7-passenger utility

Earlier in the month, I wrote this about Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport: Some compact crossovers are more refined. Some are sportier and others more utilitarian. But, for buyers facing winter weather on a limited budget, the Outlander Sport may be the value proposition they’re seeking. If…

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MONDAY, NOV. 24, 2014

Styling is more mature this year, though the Sport trim’s chrome accents undercut that effort. Suspension tuning favors comfort over performance and the Sonata confidently soaks up road-surface imperfections, while passing little of the impact into the cabin. (Hyundai)

Hyundai Sonata Sport: What's in a name?

I don’t envy the people who name cars, but I do reserve the right to question their judgment. When I created this month’s review calendar, I scheduled a pair of midsize family sedans back-to-back. Each wore Sport trim badges, which seemed like a fair point…

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SUNDAY, NOV. 16, 2014

SATURDAY, NOV. 8, 2014

SATURDAY, OCT. 25, 2014

Passat is Volkswagen’s mid-size, four-door family sedan. When the time came to introduce the expected two-door coupe, VW instead stretched the Passat a half-inch, lowered its roofline 2 inches and re-sculpted its sheet metal. Hands-down, the resulting four-door was one of the prettiest VWs ever. (Volkswagen)

VW CC: One pretty Passat

In 2009, Volkswagen debuted the CC, a slick “four-door coupe” whose flowing silhouette suggested high-performance European luxury, but whose platform was strictly Passat. Passat is Volkswagen’s mid-size, four-door family sedan. When the time came to introduce the expected two-door coupe, VW instead stretched the Passat…

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FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 2014

 (Lexus)

Lexus RC F: F stands for fast

Halfway through my fourth of fifth fourth lap — almost time enough to sort out the braking points and apexes — I realized was driving a Lexus like I had never before driven a Lexus. Or ever expected to. Tires squealed. Brakes stank. Ponies —…

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SATURDAY, OCT. 11, 2014

 (Audi)

Audi A3: Little, but all grown up

My grandson Henry is smart, as well-read as a seven-year-old can be and fairly certain he’s right. All of the time. Also, he’s a car guy. He wanted to know what I was driving on a recent visit. “It’s an Audi A3.” “That’s not an…

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SATURDAY, OCT. 4, 2014

Longer than last year by 1.4 inches, wider by 1.5 inches and heavier by about 100 pounds, the 2015 Escalade (from $72,690, including destination) carries eight, tows up to 8,300 pounds and accelerates from zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds. (Cadillac)

Escalade: Bigger and better 

As long as there are big buyers, big loads and big families, Cadillac’s Escalade will always find a home. A big home. For 23015, Cadillac’s large luxury SUV is redesigned inside and out. It’s bigger, stronger and quicker. Its cabin is quieter and its ride…

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SATURDAY, SEPT. 27, 2014

Now, a 2012 makeover finds the Pathfinder back in the crossover fold, where it has established itself as a fuel-efficient, seven-passenger people-hauler. (Nissan)

Nissan Pathfinder: Efficient people-hauler

In its first four iterations, Nissan’s Pathfinder has changed identities more often than most people change their minds. The Pathfinder began life in 1985 as an old-school, truck-based, body-on-frame SUV. In 1995, it morphed into a car-based crossover, a “soft-ute” better suited to the daily…

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TUESDAY, SEPT. 16, 2014

Jeannie and Jay Froehlich say they're not retiring. They're escaping. (Don Adair / Don Adair)

North Idaho couple sells it all, hits the road

In October, Coeur d’Alene residents Jay and Jeanie Froehlich will put it all behind them and hit the road. The Froelichs, both in their early 50s, say they’re not retiring. They’re escaping. Their escape vehicle: A 20-foot, 2015 Lance four-seasons travel trailer. “It’s exciting, to…

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SUNDAY, AUG. 17, 2014

At the moment, the K900 is available only with a 420-hp V-8, with a 311-horsepower V-6 expected soon. Both incorporate direct injection and variable valve timing and match up with an eight-speed automatic transmission.  (Kia)

K900: Kia’s $60,000 flagship

Now and again a car comes along that challenges the established order and makes us rethink the idea of car. Kia’s new $60,000 K900 flagship is one of them. Positioned to compete with flagship models from brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, it undercuts the…

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SATURDAY, AUG. 9, 2014

The compact crossover has remained resolutely compact; it exists in a no-man’s-land between large hatchbacks like the Nissan Juke and almost-midsize crossovers like Honda’s CR-V. (Hyundai)

Hyundai Tucson is a tidy package

By the terms of the unwritten rules of the automotive world, every car must grow larger with each succeeding generation. Larger, roomier, more powerful. It’s the automaker’s mantra. While Hyundai complies in nearly every case, its 2014 Tucson goes against the grain. The compact crossover…

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SATURDAY, AUG. 2, 2014

ts DNA dates to the late-‘70s, but the 2014 E Class wagon is fresh and vital. Fully made-over in 2010, the entire E Class family receives sweeping mid-cycle updates this year. A handsome new front end debuts, along with a batch of new safety technologies, an auto stop-start system and a new diesel engine. (Mercedes-Benz)

Mercedes-Benz E350: The not-so-retro wagon

Few things in life are as retro as a station wagon. Regardless, few cars are less retro than Mercedes-Benz's E350 Station Wagon. Once the wagon-of-choice for the well-heeled, Mercedes-Benz’s venerable mid-sizer has survived the wagon-killing onslaught of the SUV and its domesticated, sedan-based spawn, the…

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SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2014

Customers asked for a roomier cabin, so the 2014 Highlander is three inches longer and a half-inch wider. A redesigned rear suspension makes room for a third passenger in the third row, boosting capacity to eight, and increases behind-the-seats cargo capacity by 34 percent. 
 (Toyota)

2014 Highlander: Toyota delivers

Now might be a good time for Toyota to revive the old “You asked for it, you got it” slogan. Buyer input played a large role in this year’s make-over of the midsize Highlander crossover. Customers asked for a roomier cabin, so the 2014 Highlander…

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SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2014

SATURDAY, JULY 5, 2014

This year, Volkswagen’s compact Jetta sedan enjoys the benefits of a trickle-down product strategy. New to Jetta is a turbocharged, 1.8-liter engine that arrived earlier on such models as Passat, Beetle and CC.

It’s stronger, lighter and more efficient than the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine it replaces. (Volkswagen)

VW Jetta: Trickle-down theory at work

Mention “trickle down” in a political crowd and watch the sparks fly. It’s a different ballgame in the car world, though. This year, Volkswagen’s compact Jetta sedan enjoys the benefits of a trickle-down product strategy. New to Jetta is a turbocharged, 1.8-liter engine that arrived…

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SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2014

The Charger’s  waspish waist and muscular flanks carry more than a hint of the Viper’s menace. Its powerful and protuberant grill is as blatant as a Mac truck’s. (Dodge)

Dodge Charger: Exuberant, economical muscle 

Retiring types should not become auto writers. We drive too many cars that draw too much attention. Your basic Camry, Escape and Passat may go unnoticed, but the double-take cars — the ‘Vettes, the Bentleys, the Plasma Purple Mitsubishi Mirages — can drive a shy…

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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2014

The Fiesta ST rides 15 millimeters lower than standard trims and gets a sport-tuned suspension, a quicker steering ratio and more powerful brakes.  (Ford)

Ford Fiesta ST: Euro-flavored fun 

There’s no good reason to want Ford’s new Fiesta ST. Fun is its own good reason. The ST is a sharply focused, sport-tuned subcompact built by Ford in Spain. It debuted in Europe in 1976 and had a three-year US run, from 1978-80. In 2010,…

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MONDAY, JUNE 16, 2014

As it enters its twelfth generation, the plus-sized SUV has evolved into a well-rounded rig, with virtues that extend beyond its massive people- and load-carrying capacity. (Chevrolet)

Updated Suburban wears refinement well

For much of its 80-year lifespan, the Chevrolet Suburban was a blunt instrument. Heavy, inefficient and crude, it possessed a logging camp’s rustic charms. But as it enters its twelfth generation, the plus-sized SUV has evolved into a well-rounded rig, with virtues that extend beyond…

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MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2014

SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 2014

BMW’s new diesel not only sports sterling efficiency numbers (32 mpg city/45 mpg city/37 mpg combined), but does so in lively fashion. The 0-60 mph sprint comes up in the low-7-second range, about average for the sport-sedan class and quicker than the base, 180-hp/200 lb-ft 320i ($33,675; 24/36/28). (BMW)

BMW 328d: Strong dose of diesel

The EPA reckons you can drive your new BMW 3 Series diesel 678 highway miles between fuel stops. According to my highly non-scientific reckoning, that’s probably about right. The 2014 BMW 328d ($38,225) runs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that compensates for its meager…

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2014

SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2014

Honda has proven remarkably surefooted as it tweaked its five-passenger crossover to meet demand and fend off the competition. Relying on solid engineering, efficient powertrains and a stream of passenger-friendly innovations, the CR-V’s tenders have kept it fresh and relevant. (Honda)

Honda CR-V: Pint-size colossus

Honda’s CR-V made its US debut in 1997. For most of the intervening years, it has stood like a pint-sized colossus over the compact crossover class, piling up a succession of sales titles. Honda has proven remarkably surefooted as it tweaked its five-passenger crossover to…

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SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014

Thanks to Kia and its corporate parent Hyundai, the family sedan segment is awash in technology that a short time ago was the exclusive domain of the luxury segments.

Kia was among the first to understand that buyers of compact and midsize family sedans would spring for amenities common among larger cars. Hence the availability of such options as heated steering wheels, high-end leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats and ventilated front seats. (Kia)

Kia Optima: Midsize rule-breaker

Though it has to yet find the sales chart’s upper reaches, Kia’s Optima has changed the rules of the midsize sedan market. Thanks to Kia and its corporate parent Hyundai, the family sedan segment is awash in technology that a short time ago was the…

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SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2014

The Civic is available in sedan (from $19,180, including destination), and coupe ($18,980) body styles, and in gasoline, gas/electric hybrid and natural gas formats. The sedan can be had in fuel-efficient HF ($20,730), Hybrid ($25,425) and Natural Gas ($27,430) trims. The hot-shoe Si is available as a coupe ($23,580) or sedan ($23,780). (Honda)

Honda Civic: Growing its game

Last year, for what seems like the umpteenth year in a row, Honda’s Civic was the third-best-selling passenger car in the US and its best-selling compact. This means that more than 350,000 Americans bought a car known for its reliability, not its flash. I find…

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Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.