Recent Gears Articles

Electric Company

Tesla is courting car lovers with more favorable financing terms, while Ford's hybrids are catching up to Toyota

Craving a slice of Tesla's automotive future, but don't have the bank account for the $62,400 sticker price? Fear not. The company's CEO Elon Musk has announced that, in addition to now offering unconditional warranties on all Model S power packs -- even if the user is at fault -- and using Model S and Roadsters as loaners should one's car need to visit a garage, Tesla is also upping its finance terms to make the Model S even more ... [Read]

Simple Elegance

Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion

Given the range of automobiles in Volkswagen's current line-up, you'd be forgiven for thinking of them as something of a German Chevrolet. From the entry level spunkiness of the Rabbit/Golf to the everyday practicality of the Jetta to the SUV stance of the Toureg, VW covers the spread for performance, style and price. Not long ago, Volkswagen jumped into the ultra-premium market with the ill-advised Phaeton. Meant to compete with the highest-level German sedans from BMW and Mercedes, it ended ... [Read]

Room to Zoom

2008 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring

2008 Mazda CX-7 Grand Touring Mazda has been all about the ''zoom zoom'' in recent years and, for the most part, has backed it up with some nicely styled - and more importantly, nicely tuned - cars that turn heads as well as corners. Introduced in 2007, Mazda's CX-7 was one of the more appealing of the still-growing ''crossover'' class: vehicles that aim to combine the best aspects of sedans and SUVs into a more reasonably sized package. Given the ... [Read]

Tiguan On

Volkswagen Tiguan

The word that pops to mind most often these days about the Volkswagen line of Rabbits and Passats and Beetles and Touregs is ''nifty.'' They all share a look similar to their German brothers Audi and BMW, but distinctive enough to mark them as clearly Volkswagen machines. The interiors seem perfectly fit to each particular model's purposes, from the racy blacks of the R32 to the more playful approach of the Beetle. Volkswagen Tiguan Volkswagen's new entry into small-to-midsize SUV ... [Read]

Alternate Realities

Hybrid cars are the first wave of the future -- and the second wave is on its way

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. And in these days of uncertain gas prices and economic unease, necessity may need to get pretty inventive indeed. Auto showrooms have seen a drop-off in visitors, while sales of the once cachet-laden giant SUVs have nosedived and thrifty cars that drink gas by the sip instead of the guzzle have found themselves the belles of the ball. Honda Civic Hybrid So the buzz these days is definitely around hybrids, plug-in ... [Read]

The Goldilocks Solution

Suzuki SX4 Crossover

Around the time enormous SUVs began to inspire more than a twinge of guilt in many of their owners and gas prices caused a steady ache in gas-hog drivers' wallets, auto manufacturers devised a new marketing niche to alleviate those pains: the crossover. A crossover means to take the best of the large SUV -- all-wheel drive and copious cargo space -- and merge it with the best of the passenger car -- a lower road profile and far better ... [Read]

Sharp Edges

Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

My experience with the Mitsubishi Lancer goes way back. That is, if you're counting hours logged playing Gran Turismo on the PlayStation, where tricked out Lancers have been my racing ride of choice from the mid-90s to the present. Mitsubishi Lancer GTS My fondness for the digitized car carried over into real life, where the economically priced sedan takes its place alongside such other tuner favorites as the Subaru WRX, generally replete with giant rear-deck spoilers and high-decibel exhaust pipes. ... [Read]

Center of Attention

2008 Volvo C30

Consider the platypus. At the front, you have a duck's broad bill. At the rear, a beaver's hairy body. It's one of nature's most interesting amalgamations, taking features from two disparate sources and combining them into a weirdly compelling and perfectly functional form. Volvo C30 Now, consider the Volvo C30. At the front, you have the hawk-like nose of the Swedish brand's stylishly successful S40 sedan. At the rear, a hatchback's lift-up glass. It's an amalgamation, all right, combining two ... [Read]

Electric Company

2008 Lexus RX 400h

In a time of four-dollar-a-gallon gas, nothing primes the pump of personal satisfaction quite like driving a hybrid. You can sigh with self-important relief as you cruise along under the power of your own electrically-assisted engine and gaze with pity upon all those poor souls who bought big, honking SUVs back in the days when $3 gas seemed an outrage. You know, back in 2007. 2008 Lexus RX 400h But while you may crave the cultural significance of driving an ... [Read]

Pretty Ugly

2008 Scion xB

It takes a certain kind of style to make ugly an asset, a style generally limited to small dogs and Subarus. Toyota's (supposedly) youth-targeted brand Scion has been making some impressive gains in the field of desirable ugliness, particularly with its boxy xB line -- an overgrown Sluggo, ugly as all get out, yet still possessed of charm. The funny thing is that the new xB is actually far less ugly than its more angular predecessor, even as Toyota/Scion has ... [Read]

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