Currently browsing: Car of the week

2018 Kia Niro PHEV: The future of plug-and-play

The beauty of the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid sneaks up on you. It’s not in its function-over-form body but in how easily this compact-class crossover wagon-hatchback fits into a busy lifestyle. With around 26 miles of battery driving, it is quick to dispense with errand-running and with engine assist there are more than 500 miles of total driving range; it is an EV that doesn’t fiddle around. The Niro PHEV is an urban runabout and...

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: The shape of things to come

Forget everything you once knew about the Corolla nameplate being synonymous with boring but dependable transportation. The redesigned 2019 Corolla Hatchback is updating the 52-year-old nameplate with youthful styling, sophisticated interior materials, a full integration of safety technologies and a new attitude of sporty drivability. It might now be the benchmark in this segment of compact, five-door non-sedans, which includes the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Nissan Versa Note...

2018 Nissan Leaf: Simple green without the gimmicks

Critics of electric cars point to the obvious downsides of range, range anxiety and price. But few realize the upsides until they own an EV and the first of those validation points might be not having to go to a gas station except for a fountain drink, lottery ticket or the air pump. Then there are the obvious incentives of reduced vehicle maintenance and an ever-topped-off tank after an overnight charge. And somewhere on the...

2019 Subaru Forester: A new North Star

There have always been good reasons to buy a Subaru Forester, but its exterior styling was never among them — until the redesigned 2019 model. The new Forester is a complete remake and roomier with more power and loaded with safety technologies, including the watchful DriverFocus camera to monitor for distracted or drowsy driving. The exterior styling is familiar but more appealing, especially at the rear. But it is Subaru’s attentive engineering that is the...

2019 Mustang Bullitt: History in the remaking

The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is now in its third sequel and getting better with every evolution. Ford has made a mini-franchise out of limited-edition Bullitt models that pay tribute to the fastback’s film debut in 1968 with Steve McQueen at the wheel. The now-legendary “Bullitt” film came out 50 years ago on Oct. 15. I was in the theater then, a car-crazed 14-year-old. After that death-defying car chase with the bad guys in a...

Time flies in a Porsche watch

Porsche unveiled the new, eighth-generation at the recent 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and with it the new Porsche Design watch to honor it: the 911 Chronograph Timeless Machine Limited Edition. Low profile, as is the new wider and lower 992, the special edition watch is limited to 911 pieces and uses a hypoallergenic titanium case. The Swiss-made ETA Valjoux 7750 movement is visible through the sapphire case back and customized with the Porsche Design Icon...

Drive A Tank for a new Thanksgiving tradition

I grew up in the rural Midwest where it was a common tradition to hunt rabbits and other game on Thanksgiving morning. I was never much of a hunter or even a good shot to bring home dinner. But I might have better luck driving a Sherman tank and hunting other armored vehicles at Drive A Tank, in rural Kasota, Minn. This map dot is about halfway between the cities of Mankato and St. Peter...

Tesla Model 3: Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

Tesla is complicated, but its cars are not. A recent week in a new Model 3, the compact electric sedan, is a rethinking of car ownership. It’s as much lifestyle choice as transportation. There is much awareness of this new car and brand — and some attitude. A driver in an Audi A4 tried a stoplight drag race and a few other drivers were not hospitable in yielding the right of way, which was quite...

2019 Infiniti QX50: More luxury, more sophistication, more complexity

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 is fresh start with striking exterior styling, a more luxurious presentation, Level 2 semi-autonomous driving and a first-of-its-kind engine with variable compression. There are a lot of moving parts to the redesigned QX50, the brand’s midsize five-passenger SUV crossover. Its new 2.0-liter VC-Turbo four-cylinder engine is getting much attention in advertising and in road-test evaluations, but not all of it is progressive. Infiniti says the engine’s variable compression ratio technology is...

2019 Kia Forte S: more than “just a commuter car,” Kia says

Starting the morning with a fuel readout of 411 miles till empty is a happy start to any commuter’s day. That message greeted me in my first drive of the redesigned 2019 Kia Forte sedan, which has a highway fuel-economy rating of 40 mpg. But Kia is adamant that its Stinger-influenced Forte is more than “just a commuter car.” It is, but with a more efficient four-cylinder engine, a new continuously variable transmission engineered by...

About Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard has been the automotive editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1992.

He drives nearly 200 vehicles a year for review, has attended several high-performance driving schools and a few off-road driving courses.

He attends many new-vehicle press introductions and schmoozes with auto-industry execs.

Mark Maynard