Archive for the Maynards garage Tag

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 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...

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...

1968 Mustang GT “Bullitt” movie car to be shown in San Diego, Nov. 4-19

There has been a lot of “Bullitt” engine-revving around the fastback’s 50th anniversary on Oct. 17. The hard-knuckled 1968 film centers on San Francisco PD Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) who was tasked with protecting a Chicago mobster who was about to sing his guts out. It is a gear-jamming 48-hour weekend of chasing the hitmen. Good-guy McQueen drove a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback. The bad guys drove a 1968 Dodge Charger...

Mercedes-AMG E63 S: ridiculously powered, appointed and priced

Nobody needs a big $145,000 Mercedes-AMG E63 sedan that gets to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, but the performance division sold 1,378 vehicles in September and 20,738 year-to-date, which isn’t a bad payday. And that is why most top-tier carmakers give such attention to ridiculously powered, appointed and priced cars. “Customers know AMG is something exclusive,” said Bart Herring, sales chief at Mercedes-Benz USA. “And we have more opportunity to bring them into our brand with...

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: tougher and softer, in all the right ways

The Jeep Wrangler has long been forgiven for everything that made it a charming pain in the rough. But now, the redesigned 2018 Wrangler is just a charmer, off road or on main street. And it is somewhat of a standard-bearer of advanced technologies with its first use of a 48-volt mild-hybrid electrical system. The 2018 redesign steered this symbol of “Don’t tread on me” from the endangered specie’s list, threatened by ever-increasing clean-air standards...

2019 Jaguar iPace EV: Zeroing in on the future

  Skimming along your favorite back road you just might begin to feel the hefty curb weight of the Jaguar iPace — but only if it’s country-lane blacktop. This all-wheel-drive and larger-than-most EVs, is a performance Jaguar that feels tight as a slab of aluminum with sports-car steering and one-pedal function for acceleration and regenerative braking, which happens to be quite useful for some stabilizing trail-braking when powering into a turn. Weighing 4,784 pounds, the...

Jaguar XF Sportbrake: The runway model of modern wagons

The ol’ station wagon ain’t what it used to be but it’s still as functional as it once was. This sedan-extension body style is finding new relevance that is not a minivan or an SUV and not looking like either while having more manners. Wagon’s had become a universal gag reflex among those who grew up sliding around the back seats in the 1960s and ’70s. Even the European and import brands that continued with...

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