Hatchbacks

2014 Kia Soul Stays Fresh with Funky Styling and Special Features

The first Kia Soul model was sold in 2010. Since then, the Soul has become a favorite of everyone from urban dwellers looking for a fuel-efficient compact with personality, to those who appreciate its low profile with easy trunk and rider access. 2014 brings its first major redesign since 2010, and it quite the transformation. The Soul is known for…


2013 Toyota Prius v for the Growing Green Family

Toyota has been in the hybrid automobile business longer than just about anyone. Both Honda and Toyota have been offering hybrid gas/electric vehicles more than a decade, but only Toyota and its Prius line, including the new Prius v, has grown so much it not only outsells mainstream models, but has evolved into a family all its own: Prii. The…


Globally Green 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi

The Ford C-MAX is a global vehicle that only recently arrived on US soil and is a bit of an anomaly. One might even relate it to the foreign exchange student you remember from high school, the one that was a really nice kid, loaded with international charm, but looked and sounded a bit different when thrown into the mix…


Say Hello to My (New) Little Friend, the 2013 Ford Focus ST

As I sat around lamenting the departure of the fun little Volvo C30 hatchback from US soil, my friends at Ford assured me they had a new car that would make me forget all about the saucy Swedish runabout, and they were right. Goodbye C30 – hello Focus ST! Yes, Ford’s global Sport Technologies medical staff delivered the perfect prescription…


Chevy Volt at SXSWi Review

Chevy Volt, loaned to me for the week of South by Southwest Interactive for review purposes When it comes to car reviews, Gear Diary has some experienced people to check things out for you. But this time, neither our intrepid (and superlative) car reviewer David Goodspeed — and how excellent is that a name for a car reviewer, right? “Goodspeed”? Awesome!…


A Fond (and Fun) Farewell for the 2013 Volvo C30

Hot Hatches – boy, how I love ‘em, whether it’s the celebrated green chile pepper from New Mexico or a cool baby wagon from an automaker such as Audi, Mazda or Volvo. Unfortunately we have to bid farewell to one of them, the Volvo C30. C30 is the baby in the Volvo lineup here in the States. It was launched…


Fiat 500 Abarth an Italian ‘Hottie’

When I first reviewed the Fiat 500 last year I found the new little import to be fun and quirky but it lacked one important aspect – performance. Ladies and gentlemen, I now give you the Fiat 500 Abarth. Embodying the “small but wicked” spirit of namesake Karl Abarth’s hot little Fiats in the 1960s (something akin to John Cooper’s…


2012 Kia Rio Review

For the last several days, I have had the opportunity to tool around in a 2012 Kia Rio. It’s a cute, sporty, very compact car, and it has been quite a difference from my usual car, a Toyota Prius, and Sarah’s car, a Volkswagen Jetta. It has a lot of impressive features, and a few things I found to be…


Plugging Into the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

My knowledge of and experience in electric vehicles has grown exponentially this past weekend as I spent time with the new all-electric entry from Mitsubishi – the 2012 i-MiEV. Mitsubishi would like the world to simply call the little EV “i” but since even its own paperwork and fender badging utilizes the “MiEV” (Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle) nomenclature I am sticking…


Is the 2012 Scion iQ the ‘Smart’ Choice?

Move over smart car, Scion is taking over the micro-subcompact car segment with its iQ. The new Scion iQ is being touted as the world’s smallest four-seater and adds yet another model to the funky spinoff division of Toyota. I had been looking forward to testing this new little urban go-kart. I find its design much more appealing than Daimler’s…


New Prius c Cute, Compact City Slicker

The newest member if the Toyota Prius hybrid family has arrived – the Prius c. The “c” refers to city, where the new compact hybrid’s use is primarily intended. Aimed towards urbanite millennials, Prius c offers Toyota’s Synergy Hybrid gas/electric drive technology in a more compact package. Prius c is a “two-thirds” scale model of the original Prius hatchback styled…


2012 Toyota Yaris Marks Forward Progress for Automaker

Toyota is working feverishly to recover from a few setbacks in global production last year. Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the automaker in the Asia-Pacific regions in 2011, and at a time when Toyota was releasing new or redesigned product. One such re-launch is the 2012 Yaris. Toyota has found that 70 percent of new car buyers in the subcompact…


Nissan JUKE Puts the ‘Fun’ in Funky

The segment is urban sport cross(over) and the manufacturer is Nissan and for the many of you (like me, initially) wondering what the heck this vehicle is I present the JUKE. Funky name and a funky style to be sure but one spin around the block and JUKE proves itself a worthy competitor in this, and the global, market. After…


Finally, the Real Ford Focus Comes to America

I’ve been waiting for the 2012 Ford Focus for a very long time. Even as Ford was rolling out the red carpet on the last generation Focus compact in 2007 I was waiting for this car. Heck, my anticipation goes back a decade. Well, it’s here and in usual Ford fashion Focus arrived in a flurry of product placement as…


Mark Levinson Helps Lexus Celebrate Launch of CT200h

The automotive audio industry has been a busy and competitive business segment for several decades. What began on the west coast in the 1970s spread to the rest of North America in the ‘80s and from there to the OEM side for automakers around the turn of the millennium. Entering its 10th year with luxury brand Lexus, Harman and Mark…


2011 Mazda CX-9 Still a Winner

Mazda’s CX-9 is one of the automakers most award-winning vehicles, garnering North American Truck of the Year and the Motor Trend Sport Utility of the Year, amongst others.


2011 Scion xB: Which Way Funkytown?

When Toyota first launched its Scion division of vehicles aimed at younger, hipper consumers the buying public threw them for a loop. The funky new box on wheels (dubbed “xB”) was actually being snatched up by boomers hand over fist.


2011 Ford Fiesta Walk-Thru Video

UPDATED! Now with Review! Here is a video I put together using my Nikon D-SLR camera shooting several thousand still images and combining them for a pseudo-motion video highlighting the all-new Ford Fiesta. How will automakers counter the predictions for five-dollar-a-gallon-gas this year? Ford wants you to celebrate – with a Fiesta! Yes, the car you simply could not get…


Lexus CT200h Sporty New Hybrid CrossTourer

Lexus has a new hybrid vehicle being readied for market and let me begin by saying I wish them more luck with this CT200h hybrid sportwagon than they saw with the HS250h hybrid sedan that debuted last year. Lexus’ last sporty wagon was on the inaugural IS300 platform and was dubbed SportCross. I was assured the CT200h is not intended…


Honda Accord Crosstour and Acura ZDX crosswhatevers

“But, what are they?” As if to corner the market on producing the most polarizing vehicles for the 2010 model year, Honda and its luxury division Acura have each released a new vehicle that almost forces consumers to scratch their heads faster than the heartbreak of psoriasis. No definitive term has surfaced yet to identify the niche segment the new…


Despite Early Issues, 2010 Toyota Prius Best Yet

(All photos courtesy Toyota) Toyota Prius is the ubiquitous hybrid. And yes, I did have to look that word up. The 2010 model is the third generation Prius to hit U.S. soil and this new midsize model bring better fuel economy, enhanced performance and modern styling to the platform. It is roomier, quieter and equipped with all of the latest…