First Drive: 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan TDI Euro Spec

Let’s start with what a kick it is that Volkswagen allowed Clean Fleet Report to drive the 2014 Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec. Was it a bit of a tease? Yes. Did it accomplish what they were seeking to do: get journalist input on this crossover and our opinions on how it would fit as a U.S. model? Definitely!

Road Test: 2014 Subaru Forester

The 2014 Subaru Forester is the first all-new model for this brand since 2009. It is slightly larger than the outgoing edition, looks only a little different but has an unexpected surprise – it’s more fuel efficient.

Test Drive: 2013/2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 With Start-Stop

Mercedes-Benz has added start-stop technology to its compact SUV, the GLK, along with direct injection and diesel engine technology, to boost fuel economy. It’s a win-win-win with better fuel economy, more power and all of the usual Mercedes luxury.

Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 Crew Cab

n the market for a truck? How about a really nice truck that seats five or six big adults very comfortably, comes ready to act as your office on wheels, can tow pretty much anything you have in mind and if necessary, can get you through the mud and muck over hill and dale? Or maybe you are looking to “feel like a man,” which is what the SoCal Chevrolet dealers radio commercial told me that driving the 2014 Silverado will do. Other commercials note that the Chevy pickup’s V8 gets better fuel economy than rival Ford’s V6. That must be some truck!

My Top 10 Cars & Trucks for 2014

These are the 10 or more cars and trucks I’m looking forward to spending some time with in 2014. I hope they all make, but I probably should also have saved a spot or two on the list for some surprises. In 2013 we had a few of those and I’m expecting more in 2014.

My Top 10 High-MPG Cars of 2013

No one should doubt that 2013 was a breakthrough year for advanced technology vehicles, whether running on electricity, gasoline, diesel or some combination of the three. The choices expanded, prices dropped and infrastructure exploded (for plug-ins). This year presents an abundance of riches; as I wrote earlier, we (at least we in California) now have 10 pure electric vehicles to choose from–and 2014 promises and expanded roster of choices. I had the opportunity this year to sample more than half of those available. Add in plug-in hybrids and the list of EV choices almost doubles, while traditional hybrids, clean diesels and high-MPG gasoline vehicles ranks keep growing both in number and popularity.

Road Test: 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI R-Line

The Touareg is one of the rare SUVs that comes with three engine options: gasoline, clean diesel and hybrid, along with six trim levels. we’ll take an in-depth look at one of them. The 2014 Touareg TDI I was driving had the R-Line package, It puts the punch in a premium SUV.

Road Test: 2014 Toyota RAV4

The 2014 RAV4 is a compact crossover that doesn’t waste a square inch of passenger or cargo room. It has surprising amounts of both in a body that has presence on the road without occupying too much of it. In addition to Toyota’s-brand quality and resale value, you get above-the-traffic ride height, comfortable seating for five, and just enough off-road capability to keep you out of trouble — or get you into it.

Luxury Electric Car Market Heats Up

Tesla has spurred more serious activity in the high-end of electric cars than has ever been seen. Its success has other automakers bringing new models onto the market and promises to boost attention on EVs the same way high-end sports cars highlight attention on some of their lesser companion models. At any rate, it looks like we’re in for some fun, high-performance, luxury electric cars in the near future.

Test Drive: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

The XV Crosstrek’s modest base price fetches the utility of a small wagon with a roomy cabin and cargo area that offers practicality and easy drivability. And it will meet the needs of those who prioritize fuel economy over performance, contributing a small roll in saving the planet while exploring it.

Test Drive: 2013 Ford Escape

Ford Escape is not the first compact crossover, but it has been a best seller over the last 13 years and leapfrogged the Honda CRV for 2013 compact-crossover sales leadership. There are a lot of reasons for its success and number one is fuel economy.

Test Drive: 2013 Lexus RX 450h

Since the beginning the RX hybrid has been in the top ten hybrid sales column and was the most popular hybrid sport utility in 2012. For 2013 Lexus has given both the gasoline and hybrid RX models a refresh. With an EPA combined fuel economy of 30 mpg — 32 city/28 highway — the RX 450h front drive model is the most fuel-efficient sport utility on the road. And the second best? The all-wheel drive version with a rating of 30 city/28 highway/29 combined. Bottom line: In general, the 2013 Lexus RX 450h is the perfect all-purpose vehicle as an everyday hauler of full-size people and their stuff. It’s at its best around town, picking up people and delivering people and doing so in all kinds of weather. Plus, it delivers the best fuel economy of any sport utility.

2013 Honda CR-V: Road Test

Fuel economy is most certainly a contributing factor in the 2013 Honda CR-V’s 145,000-plus sales through June. Honda’s smallest sport utility (crossover, if you prefer, since it rides on a car-based platform) tops the elusive 30-mpg highway barrier, with 23 city/31 highway. The all-wheel drive versions are rated at 22/30.

Top 10 2014/2013 AWD & 4WD SUVs/Crossovers with the best MPG

Sport utility vehicles and crossovers are popular because they are functional. One trip to Costco is enough to convince many families that a Prius won’t cut it. Regular trips up to the mountains in the winter to ski could similarly motivate a car buyer to look for an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle rather than the front-wheel drive found on most high-mileage hybrids. All of which leaves the environmentally conscious consumer with some tough choices.

Better Fuel Economy Front-and-Center at 2013 NY Auto Show

You need look no further than the 2013 New York International Auto Show media preview this last week to see that automakers are aggressively laying out multiple paths to get to the fuel economy goals of the U.S., Europe and Japan. Electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, diesels and advanced gasoline engines (as well as other technologies) point to a diverse future.

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