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The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
F SPORT ADDS MORE PIZZAZZ TO LEXUS IS 350

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Some months back, we test drove the third-generation Lexus IS 350. Under the hood of the redesigned compact sport sedan is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine blasting 306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 277 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm and mated to an eight-speed auto gearbox with paddle shifters. It also comes with rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive systems.
But recently when Lexus dispatched over an IS

PRICEY HIGHLANDER HYBRID CAN SEAT UP TO 8

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
As gas prices hover close to $4 a gallon, hybrid vehicles continue appealing to buyers. Most buyers usually settle for the hot-seller Toyota Prius. But if there is a need to haul more than five passengers, then the 2014 Highlander hybrid should be your vehicle of choice.
A 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 engine, coupled to three electric motors, develops a total of 280 horsepower

JAGUAR XJR – THIS CAT IS A THRILLER OF A RIDE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Remember the XJ Supersport? Well, it is history and has been replaced by the XJR, a supercharged growler that can zip off from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 174 mph. And you can bet the XJR has no difficulty braking just as swiftly and with poise, thanks to 14-inch brake rotors.
Under the hood of this speedy cat resides a 5.0-liter V-8 engine blasting off 550

2015 VW GOLF PACKAGE WORTH A LOOK OR TWO!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Meet the 40-year-old (for U.S. market) but all-new iconic Golf. The seventh-generation, 2015 hatchback is longer (2.1 inches), wider (.5 inch) and more spacious than its predecessor. Based on the MQB platform from Volkswagen, the front wheels have been moved forward by 1.7 inches, allowing more flexibility. It is also lighter by up to 79 pounds, depending on the model, with height

LEXUS ES350 IS YOUR NEAR-PICTURE-PERFECT RIDE!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Who wants to tinker with near-perfection? Launched 25 years ago, the Lexus ES350 has been the standard bearer for midsize luxury sedans. Delivering an entertaining and energetic ride since its launch, Lexus has left the front-wheel-drive car alone for 2014 but with minor changes: standard HID headlights and LED fog lamps, available bamboo wood trim, heated/cooled seats with

DODGE VIPER A BRUTE FOR THE TRACK, NOT THE STREET

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It is only with brutes such as the Dodge Viper GTS (or the Charger SRT though to a much lesser extent) that we like to rattle off data: top speed is 206 mph; 0 to 60 mph in lower 3 seconds and ¼-mile in mid-11 sec; 0 to 100 to 0 in less than 12 sec; and brake distance from 60 to 0 in just 106 feet. To put it bluntly, the two-door, two-passenger coupe from the Street and

WANT 50 MPG? GO FOR THE DEPENDABLE 2014 TOYOTA PRIUS

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
We will admit that of the Prius models we have driven in the last several years, we didn’t earn 50 mpg on any of them. Till the 2014 Prius Three trim, which we recently test drove, and hit that mark effortlessly. We are impressed and hope you will be too. After all, everyone feels the pinch in the wallet as gas prices inch up toward the $4 gallon mark.
There is

RS TRIM LENDS LIVELINESS TO CHEVY SONIC

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Two years ago, when Chevy introduced the Sonic to replace the Aveo, we tested the 1.8-liter engine (138 horsepower @ 6300 rpm). We found the powertrain to be just adequate for the subcompact. But recently, we tried out the speedier 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder (138 hp @ 4900 rpm) RS and were quite impressed with the result: a sprightly, pleasant and rewarding sedan that left us

EUROPEAN-SOLD VOLVO V60 MORE THAN JUST A WAGON!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Who says wagons belong to the past? Yes, Volvo did pull out the V50 and V70 wagons from the U.S. market sometime back but it still sells the XC70 here and now will bring the European-sold V60 here as a 2015 model. Based on the popular S60 sedan, this luxury sport wagon will be equipped with the T5 Drive-E 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged and direct-injection engine producing 240 horsepower @

RESTYLED LEXUS IS 350 WILL BE A TOUGH CONTENDER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Competing with the Germans is no cakewalk but you got to give credit to Lexus for taking a shot or two. As it has with the third-generation redesigned 2014 Lexus IS 350. The compact sport sedan is nippy off the mark, sprightly in traffic and a blast to drive. Under the unitized steel body resides a 3.5-liter V-6 engine developing 306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 277 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800

PERFORMANCE, LUXURY CONTINUE WITH ALL-NEW QX60

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
That JX35 we test drove last year, we are told, is history. Sort of. The seven-passenger crossover from the Nissan luxury division is now the all-new QX60. Apparently, to keep things simple (though we must admit it can be confusing), Infiniti has a fresh vehicle alpha-numeric nomenclature designating all crossovers and SUV as “QX” and sedans, coupes and convertible as

MUSCLE-CAR BUFFS WILL LOVE DODGE CHARGER SRT8 SUPER BEE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Here are some stats to flabbergast you: 0 to 60 in high 4 seconds; ¼ mile in high 12 secs; 0-100-0 in fewer than 6 secs; stopping power 60-0 in 120 feet; and top speed of 175 mph. That is the 2014 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee for you. With no changes for 2014, the large sedan retains a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine, which generates 470 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 470 pounds-feet of torque @

DESPITE SMALLER ENGINE, 2014 PANAMERA POWER UP!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Since debuting five years ago, this four-door, four-passenger Porsche has evolved. We recall that the 2010 model was equipped with a naturally-aspirated 4.8-liter V-8 engine. Well, now that is history. It has been replaced by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine pumping out 420 horsepower (up by 20 from its predecessor) @ 6000 rpm and 384 pounds-feet (increase of 15) of torque @ 5000 rpm.

2015 CHEVY TAHOE A HANDS-ON SPECTACLE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
At a base price of $62,000 (for our top-line LTZ trim), this isn’t a cheap drive. And neither are its fuel economy figures (at just 15 mpg in city for us) anything to write about. But leave apart the two negatives, the fully redesigned 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe will continue to attract buyers, mainly for its capability of carrying nine comfortably, towing up to 8,400 pounds and cargo space

TOYOTA SIENNA TOPS IN HAULING CARGO, PASSENGERS

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Why tinker with perfection? Toyota knows better. No wonder the Japanese carmaker has left its third-generation 2014 Sienna intact barring a now-standard tow prep package for all its five trims. And the minivan continues to be offered in all-wheel drive if that is to your liking.
A 3.5-liter DOHC dual VVT inline-6 cylinder engine puts out 266 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 245

ENJOY ON- OR OFF-ROADING IN 2014 TOUAREG

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Watch out, Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Infiniti QX70! Here comes a performance-oriented midsize luxury SUV from Volkswagen to take you head-on! And that too an all-wheel drive. The Touareg with its R-Line edition has debuted with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine pumping out 280 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 266 pounds-feet of torque @ 2500 rpm. The upper and lower control arms in front and a multilink

STAY COOL WITH THE AFFORDABLE, ATHLETIC SCION tC

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Just three years ago, Toyota had totally redesigned its five-passenger sporty hatchback. And now, it has revamped the Scion tC inside and out while improving the 6-speed auto gear box for twice as faster upshifts and downshifts than its predecessor.
Though down by just 1 horsepower, the 2.5-liter, DOHC inline-4 cylinder engine, which develops 179 hp @ 6000 rpm and 174

911 CARRERA 4S TOPS AT TOP-DOWN MOTORING!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
With each new-generation model, the iconic Porsche 911 keeps on getting better and more appealing. Same applies to the 2014 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, which continues with a rear-mounted, water-cooled and horizontally-opposed 3.8-liter boxer-6 engine. Step on the gas and you will experience the rush of 400 horsepower @ 7400 rpm and 325 pounds-feet of torque @ 5600 rpm. The all-wheel-drive

LFA-INSPIRED LEXUS IS-F IS FUN TO REV!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
In December 2010, Lexus rolled out the two-seat 4.8-liter V-10 LFA supercar blasting off 552 horsepower with a top speed of 202 and capable of 0 to 60 in just 3.6 seconds. Base price was $375,000 and two years later, the Japanese carmaker stopped making the car after selling 500 units.
Sorry, folks. Buying the supercar is out of question. But coming quite close to the

CHEVY IMPALA FINALLY READY TO TAKE ON COMPETITION!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

For nearly 10 years, the Chevy Impala has been the best-selling full-size sedan in America. But something did not seem quite right with this flagship sedan. Till now. After years, the car has been totally redesigned with a visibly bigger exterior, roomier interior and a power train that packs a solid punch.
Welcome to the reincarnated Impala, which is equipped with a 3.6-liter

PRICEY FORD FUSION ENERGI IS ELEGANT, SPACIOUS

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

One factor the 2014 Fusion Energi has going for it is that the field of hybrid plug-ins is wide open. Except for the Prius Plug-in, Chevrolet Volt and the Honda Accord Plug-in hybrid. Right off the bat, the midsize sedan from Ford starts with a few negatives: miniscule trunk (8.2 cubic feet because of battery) and a tag that would cause jitters in a potential buyer.
A 2.0-liter

WITH GAS PRICES SOARING, COROLLA IS A NO-BRAINER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

It is the best-selling car nameplate in the world. Nearly 40 million units of the compact sedan have been sold in 47 years. With its wheelbase stretched nearly 4 inches, the totally redesigned for 2014 Toyota Corolla also is longer (by 4 inches), lower (by .4 inches) and wider (by .6 inches) than its predecessors.
Our all-new LE Eco model of the 11th-generation car was

2002 RETURNS TO BMW FOLD AS A 235i M COUPE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
In 1968, BMW began selling the compact 2002 in the United States. The two-door car was an instant hit and sold well over 400,000 units before being replaced by the 320i in 1976. Now, after 38 years, the then-popular 2002 has returned as two coupes: 228i and the much-powerful 235i M.
Our test drive was the high-performance M with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged and intercooled

CORVETTE STINGRAY IS BACK! AND IT’S ALL NEW

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
That Chevrolet Corvette you’ve known all these decades, you can forget it all. A fully redesigned Corvette with the revived Stingray (remember the ’63 Sting Ray?) designation has replaced the legend in 2014. Our rear-wheel-drive convertible was equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine belting out an incredible 455 horsepower (up by 19 from its predecessor) @ 6000 rpm and 460

AFFORDABLE JEEP CHEROKEE IS A GREAT DAILY RIDE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited compact SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Though our test-drive version was equipped with a front-wheel drive, we enjoyed a smooth, safe and adequate ride with capable handling and a good overall balance.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power is routed via a 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder

TOWN & COUNTRY CELEBRATES 30 YEARS

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Two years ago, Chrysler revamped its Town & Country model trim line for simplicity purposes. And that has worked. The 2014 minivan is equipped with a sole 3.6-liter V-6 engine, which makes 283 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 260 pounds-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. Power routed through the 6-speed auto gearbox gives a satisfactory performance.
Sandwiched between the Chrysler winged badge

REDESIGNED SOUL RETAINS ITS HIP LOOK!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Quirky, lanky, boxy. Call it what you may but the Kia Soul has gained a following that appears to want more and more from the Korean carmaker. For 2014, the company has obliged its ardent fans with a total redesign, which boosts the wheelbase by 0.8 inches, width by 0.6 inches and the height tanks slightly by 0.4 inches. Of course, this also translates into a roomier cabin.
It’s

2014 CHEVY MALIBU DESERVES A SERIOUS LOOK!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
In the market for a midsize sedan? Well, you have some super choices such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Mazda6. But wait, there’s yet another car that should be on your list of test drives. We must say the competent but redesigned Chevrolet Malibu has been treated somewhat like a stepchild of sedans for far too long.
Our ride was equipped with an Ecotec

SUPERCAR AUDI RS7 IS A SUPER MACHINE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Here we go again. Last year, it was the performance-machine Audi S8 that blew us off our feet. In 2014, the German carmaker has matched or should we say edged out the S8 with an even more powerful and all-new high-revving RS7.
The staggering stats: 4.0-liter TFSI (turbo fuel stratified injection) twin-turbocharged and front-mounted V-8 engine; 560 horsepower @ 6600 rpm and

2014 GMC SIERRA IS A NO-FRILLS WORKHORSE

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

THE RIDE: Four-door, up to six-passenger 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD Crew Cab SLT full-size pickup.
DOWN THE ROAD: Hardcore pickup owners, your poised ride is here. This solidly built pickup ensures reasonably quick acceleration from any speed, ample passing ability and accurate handling/balance.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A

REVAMPED MAZDA6 A MUST BUY FOR MIDSIZE SEDAN FANS!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
We must admit it’s an all-new Mazda6. For 2014, the Japanese carmaker has tossed out the bigger V-6 engine while retaining the 2.5-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder power train, which now packs slightly more power and torque. The third-generation midsize sedan develops 184 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 185 pounds-feet of torque @ 3250 rpm. Transmission choices are a 6-speed auto or

LET THE PILOT STEER YOU TO YOUR DESTINATION IN STYLE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Sure it’s boxy and lame in looks but the Pilot gets the job done. The 2014 Honda SUV continues pretty much as is with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine packing 250 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 253 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed auto transmission, which when combined with the Variable Cylinder Management, operates in three or four cylinder modes for substantial

2014 ACURA RDX DELIVERS POWER, LUXURY

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Redesigned inside out just last year with a new power train, transmission and steering, the 2014 Acura RDX continues pretty much unchanged. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine blasts off 273 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and churns out 251 pounds-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. A variable cylinder management system deactivates up to half of the cylinders at lower speeds to enhance fuel efficiency. The

KIA PUMPS UP THE POWER IN 2014 SORENTO

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Kia lovers, no need to fret. The Korean carmaker still sells the entry-level 2.4-liter 4-cylinder GDI engine in the 2014 Sorento. But for those who seek more power behind the wheel of this popular midsize SUV, the option is a 3.3-liter DOHC GDI V-6 engine blasting off 290 horsepower (up by 16) @ 6400 rpm and 252 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. Seating seven, the Sorento is

MITSUBISHI LANCER GT: WHAT’S NEW FOR 2014?

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Under the hood of this fun and agile ride, Mitsubishi has retained the reliable 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine cranking out 168 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 167 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. And rightly so. Why tamper with a power train that works? So does the smooth and easy-to-engage Continuous Variable Transmission as well as the proven and sport-tuned front MacPherson strut

HONDA ODYSSEY: WHAT’S NEW FOR 2014?

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Honda won’t sit still with the status quo of its popular people-hauler. Though the minivan received a major redesign just three years ago, the Odyssey gets a tweak or two. The major change is an upgrade in the transmission from a 5- speed to a 6 speed. That boosts the EPA fuel ratings from the previous 18 city/27 highway to 19/28 for all trims for 2014.
Under the hood

REDESIGNED 2014 MAZDA3 IS A FINE FIRST RIDE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Since debuting in 2003, it has sold more than 3.5 million units all over the world. This ride quite handily is the best-seller for Mazda. So it didn’t surprise us when the carmaker totally overhauled the 2014 Mazda3. Based on the CX-5 SUV and the Mazda6 sedan, this compact car has been perked up by 2.4 inches in its wheelbase, lowered by 0.6 inches and wider by 1.6 inches.

2014 ACURA RLX IMPECCABLY BLENDS LUXURY, PERFORMANCE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Remember the RL? No? Well, don’t blame yourself. That was an Acura best forgotten. In its place, we have an all-new improved flagship RLX for 2012. The midsize luxury sedan replaces the previous 3.7-liter V-6 with a 3.5-liter V-6 cranking out 310 horsepower (up by 10) @ 6500 rpm and 272 pounds-feet (increase of 1) of torque @4500 rpm. Available only in front-wheel drive for

REVAMPED REGAL TAKES BUICK TO NEW HEIGHTS!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com
The scenic, winding back roads of Kentucky proved to be the perfect setting for our test drives of the 2014 Buick Regal and Regal GS. Introduced in 2011, the Regal is joined in the Buick lineup by LaCrosse, Verano, Enclave and Encore.
The totally redesigned Regal gets a fresh waterfall grille, bi-functional halogen headlights, deck lid with integrated spoiler, rear fascia with

AUDI PUTS 2014 TDI MODELS TO THE TEST AND WINS BIG!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
Guess who was the overall winner of the TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) Efficiency Rally (wave 1) organized for the media recently in Washington, D.C.? Yours truly, of course. 36.7 mpg at an average speed of 37.8 mph. The ever-obliging Audi of America marketing folks brought in the 2014 A6, A7 and Q5 – all TDI models – for us to test drive in the nation’s Capital

FIAT 500L A SUPERB CARGO, PEOPLE MOVER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Size-wise, this is Fiat’s first expansion since debuting in the United States in 2011. And the growth via an all-new 500L should be worth the efforts. “The new vehicle shares only the Fiat 500 number. That’s it,” point out the marketing folks for the automaker. We believe that.
The four-door (a first for Fiat) compact wagon is 27 inches longer and 6 inches

DEBUTING FWD ACURA MDX SHOULD DRAW NEW BUYERS

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

It’s almost like an all-new MDX. For 2014, Acura has lightened its popular midsize luxury SUV by 275 pounds while stretching the wheelbase by 2.8 inches. Out goes the previous 3.7 liter V6 power train to be replaced by a smaller 3.5-liter V6 cranking out 290 hp (down by 10) @ 6200 rpm and 267 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. Though the competent 6-speed auto gear box has been

LEXUS LS 600h IS ULTRA LUXURY ON WHEELS!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Right off the bat, let’s point out that the redesigned Lexus flagship sedan isn’t for everyone. Ask why? Well, it has a base price of $119,910, which with options totals to $128,610. Add tax, tag, delivery and destination and you are looking at close to $150,000. 

AVALON HYBRID AN ADMIRABLE GAS SIPPER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

You can essentially go 650 miles on a full tank in the redesigned Toyota Avalon hybrid. That’s at about 39 mpg in city or highway driving. Not bad though the front-wheel-drive ride is priced at $41,400. But then this is luxury on wheels. For 2013, the sedan is wider, lower and shorter by 2 inches than its

FIAT ABARTH CABRIO IS AN ENJOYABLE RIDE!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Just a year ago, we drove the base Fiat 500. That was a quickie. And recently, we drove an even quicker Fiat, the Abarth Cabrio. 

Performance-oriented folks will dig the turbocharged and intercooled Abarth, which is equipped with a 1.4-liter inline-4 cylinder

ALL-ELECTRIC i-MiEV AN ADEQUATE DEBUT FROM MITSUBISHI

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

All we needed were 36.5 miles of driving behind the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) and we got the hang of it. Besides, the all-electric car can’t go past about 62 miles on a full charge. The five-door, four-passenger hatchback is powered by a 49 kilowatt electric motor along with a 16

REDESIGNED 2013 LEXUS ES350, 300h ARE FUN RIDES

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com 

Introduced in 1989, the ES has been redesigned with a boost in wheelbase of 1.8 inches and length of 1 inch. That opens up 0.8 inch more rear headroom, 2.8 inches in knee room and 4.1 inches of legroom. The two sedans also share a MacPherson strut front and dual-link

HYUNDAI ENHANCES SONATA HYBRID; OFFERS DIVERSE SANTA FE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

If you haven’t visited Charlottesville, Va., you should. It’s not only a gorgeous place but also a pleasure to drive on the evergreen city’s winding and hilly roads. Hyundai couldn’t have picked a perfect spot for its 2013 Sonata hybrid, which has

DODGE CARAVAN CONTINUES TO ATTRACT FAMILIES

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

What can one say about a trendsetter since 1984? The Grand Caravan continues stronger than ever with five trims to pick from. Dodge has even trimmed the price on the base by $1,000. So you can get the American Value Package (AVP) for just $19,995. Also, the second-row bench is now standard. If you fancy that Blue-ray-compatible DVD entertainment system, it

FUSION IMPRESSES IN CROWDED MIDSIZE SEDAN MARKET

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com 

It’s a tough field but since debuting in 2006, the Fusion has made the most of it. Amid such stalwarts as Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Ford then introduced this midsize sedan to replace the aging Taurus and looks like the move has worked. 

Available

PERFORMANCE-MACHINE S8 COMES WITH A STEEP TAG!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com 

First, the spellbinding figures: 4.0-liter TFSI (turbo fuel stratified injection) twin-turbocharged and front-mounted V-8 engine; 520 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 479 pounds-feet of torque @ 5500 rpm; 8-speed Tiptronic transmission with manual/sport shifts; quattro all-wheel drive; 21-inch wheels; 0

CAYENNE SUV COMPARABLE TO A PORSCHE SPEEDSTER!

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com 

Guess which is the best-selling Porsche in the United States? 911? Boxster? Panamera? Three strikes and you are out! The German automaker’s sports cars may be hugely attractive to motoring enthusiasts but it’s the decade-only midsize SUV Cayenne, which sold nearly half of the Porsche

HIGHLANDER PERFECTLY BALANCES COMFORT, PERFORMANCE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Here’s the dilemma potential buyers of the 2013 Toyota Highlander are likely to face. Should they buy the current model or wait for next year’s totally redesigned inside out SUV? Well, the decision is theirs but they cannot go wrong either way. After all, since it was launched in 2001, the up to

2013 HYUNDAI AZERA A LOT OF CAR FOR THE MONEY

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Redesigned last year, the midsize upscale car from Hyundai continues in 2013 without any significant changes. As it should. After all, the second-generation Azera – targeting move-up sedan buyers from Sonata – responds with nimbleness irrespective of road and weather conditions. You are certain to

‘TRAVERSE’ AND ENJOY THE LANDSCAPE IN THIS CHEVY CROSSOVER

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

With annual sales down last year, it was about time Chevrolet put some spark into its 2009-introduced crossover SUV. No wonder the body-frame integral structure of the Traverse, sharing its design with the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, gets a slightly tweaked exterior and an all-new

2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT8 A MUSCLE CAR IN SUV OUTFIT

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Let us get the hurdles (for lack of a better word) out first. Base price? $62,995. With options, it peaks at $68,000. EPA fuel estimates? Merely 13 mpg in city and 19 highway. Look beyond these and the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT8 is yours. 

REV-HAPPY AUDI S4 FULL OF VIM AND VIGOR

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Lead-foot drivers, you’ve been warned! Put pedal to the metal on this ride and you will take off 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds. And top speed is 155 mph. This high-performance version of the Audi A4 sedan will take your breath away with a reasonable 3.0-liter V-6 supercharged engine putting out an astounding 333 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 325 pounds-feet of torque @ 2900

FX37 PERFECTLY BLENDS PERFORMANCE, LUXURY

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com 

In just six months, you can forget the FX label. Starting next year, get ready for some confusion from the folks at Infiniti who are changing the FX nameplate to QX70. The present EX, G, M and JX plaques also will begin with the letter Q. 

For 2013, the luxury car division of Nissan has retained the premium midsize SUV’s interior/exterior but swapped the power train

NISSAN QUEST AN ASTONISHING CARGO, PEOPLE HAULER

By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com 

One thing is for sure. Among minivans such as Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Dodge Caravan, the Quest is a looker. Maybe not exactly stunning but a ride that will draw oodles of attention for its boxy appearance. 

For 2013, Nissan has carried over the Quest without any noticeable changes. The unibody structure-based minivan retains the 3.5-liter V-6 engine pumping

REDESIGNED ESCAPE IS A THRILL OF AN SUV

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Last year, a little over 261,000 Escapes were sold. In 2013, Ford should not be surprised if that number surges for the top-selling compact SUV in the United States. In that case, the credit should go to its total redesign. Forget the Escape hybrid, which has been discontinued. So has the six cylinder. In their place are three four-cylinder engines, one of which (2.5 liter, 168 hp) has been

GENESIS COUPE IS GREAT VALUE FOR THE MONEY

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

In the looks department, this Hyundai hot-seller is a bigger knockout than its predecessor. With a mid-cycle refresh for 2013, the pumped-up front fascia, hood, grille and LED tail lamps, and new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs, further boost the sleek styling. 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Genesis coupe’s dynamics, which result in a stiff ride. Two

ENCORE -- THIS BUICK BABY IS FOR REAL!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

The new Buick baby has arrived. No kidding! Known traditionally for its bulky and full-size vehicles, the GM luxury brand has undergone a renaissance to “small”, first with the compact Verano sedan, and now with the Encore. 

Under the hood of one of the smallest SUVs resides a sole 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder that develops 138 horsepower @ 4900 rpm and

2014 SUBARU FORESTER A WISE PICK!

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

If you were in awe of the previous Subaru Forester, you will be in even more admiration of the fourth-generation, redesigned compact SUV. The 2014 Forester is slightly bigger in its wheelbase by 0.9 inches, length by 1.4 inches and width by 0.6 inches. And that translates into 3.7 inches of extra legroom for rear-seat passengers from its predecessor. 

Though available as a

OVERHAULED KIA FORTE A GREAT VALUE

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com

THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan.

DOWN THE ROAD: Slotted between the Rio and Optima, the totally redesigned third-generation compact ride is longer (1.2 inches), wider (0.2) and lower (0.6) than its predecessor. Plus, wheelbase gets a 2-inch boost. The result is an enjoyable car to drive, displaying superb agility, grip and