The Outlander is more like a small station wagon than an SUV, but that’s OK because most SUVs are driven and used as if they were wagons. It has a third-row seat, but it is small and best used only by children. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway and is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The ride is fairly smooth and reasonably well controlled.
Tucked away in a small storefront on Main Street in Pleasanton, Kan., is a small collection of vintage motorcycles, many of which are owned by Dick Carpenter. Carpenter, 68, displays about 40 bikes that belong to him and a couple of his friends in a small storefront next to his office. He describes the eclectic collection as “riders” that are interesting but not spit-and-polish museum pieces. Carpenter’s motorcycle interest leans heavily toward Harley-Davidsons, the earlier the better.
The CC is available in Sport, R-Line and Executive models, with prices ranging from $31,795 to $42,895 for the VR6 Executive with all-wheel drive. The turbo's boost comes on at low rpm so the CC steps away from a stop with considerable vigor. Volkswagen’s terrific DSG dual-clutch automatic is such a delightful transmission that I would choose it over the manual. The CC's interior continues the coupe theme. The ergonomically formed sport seats sit low and offer added lateral support for vigorous driving. The fit and finish is excellent.
Infiniti’s top-of-the-line sedan is the Q70, and if it doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because Infiniti has renamed its entire lineup so that all models begin with Q. The Q70 was the M37 last year. The Q70 comes with a 3.7-liter V-6 or a 5.6-liter V-8 in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Base prices range from $49,600 to $64,600. There are four drive modes – Eco, Standard, Sport and Snow – that can be selected with a knob on the console. The Q70’s interior is a very inviting place, made even more so by the test car’s optional premium, deluxe touring and technology packages.
The 2014 Toyota Corolla has a level of technology and sophistication that puts it near the top of its segment. Inside, the Corolla is comfortable, with generous side bolsters on the seats providing good lateral support. It’s also quiet. The continuously variable transmission is programmed to have seven discreet shifts that mimic a traditional automatic. The Corolla can be equipped with either of two 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engines. Prices begin at $16,900 and top out at $22,675. There are 12 trim levels.
Honda has struck a nice balance with its very successful CR-V compact SUV. It looks largely the same, yet sports new body panels, a lower roof and a bigger interior. It has better gas mileage, and all CR-Vs come with a rearview camera. The engine is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder whose power is rated at 185 horsepower. This four-valve engine responds with good muscle at low rpm because it has a wide power band. The cargo area is deeper than before.
My daughter-in-law took one look at the 2015 Yukon XL and described it as a family truckster. With room for seven, two video screens and a cargo space big enough for a week’s worth of luggage, that’s certainly an apt description. Plus, it can tow 8,000 pounds.
It only takes a few blocks behind the wheel of the Macan S to realize that Porsche has created a compelling car that marries the performance of a sports sedan, the versatility of a wagon and the off-road capability of an SUV. In my estimation, it sits atop the compact utility segment without any peers.