Saturday, 09 December 2023
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What’s that you say? A sporty Toyota Avalon? Have pigs started to fly?

No, the pigs are not yet airborne. But yes, starting with the 2020 model year, Toyota has given the TRD treatment to its traditional, full-size family sedan, and the Avalon has a very cool, racecar-looking version that may appeal to a different segment of car buyers.


To get right to the point, the Avalon TRD is definitely a looker. It garnered a lot of attention while I was driving it, and for good reason.

Up front, you get a truly aggressive-looking spiderweb grille design, on the tires you get a distinctive black and red look, and on the rear you get dual exhaust with polished tips and a piano black rear spoiler. It's also immediately noticeable how low to the ground this vehicle is.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD
  • Price as tested $45,394
  • Best feature Powerful engine, racecar looks, roomy interior 
  • Rating 4.5 out of five stars 
  • Who will want this vehicle? Sedan buyers seeking a roomy sedan that offers a thrilling driving experience
Posted On Wednesday, 09 September 2020 01:09 Written by
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In the compact car segment, the Mazda3 fills a very specific role: Typically this sporty little ride will appeal mostly to driving enthusiasts, while the masses generally shy away and move toward more traditional best-sellers. But should they?

I recently spent some time in the 2020 Mazda3 hatchback, which carries over most of the 2019 version’s reinvention, and I’m back with a full report on whether it has the goods to try to move beyond its traditional role in the compact world.


Featuring Mazda’s unique front overhang and grille design, and extra-sharp side lines, the exterior of the Mazda3 features a striking design that will garner lots of positive feedback. The only downside of the design is that it allows for poor rear visibility.

When we start talking size, remember that this is a compact car. So by nature it’s small, and it has limited storage space compared to its rivals in the segment. The rear seats are tight for adults (but good for children). For families, I would recommend moving up to a larger sedan (within the brand, the Mazda6 is a strong option that’s more roomy than the Mazda3).

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2020 Mazda3
  • Price as tested $31,470
  • Best feature Driving experience blows away most small-car competitors
  • Rating 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle? People who rarely have back seat passengers and want a small, sporty, fun ride
Posted On Tuesday, 25 August 2020 00:07 Written by
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People buying compact sedans aren’t generally looking for a vehicle that will take home beauty awards. They tend to want something functional and practical and affordable.

Nissan competes in this segment with the Sentra, and saw a need to step things up for the 2020 redesign. And it turned out quite nicely.

With the 2020 Nissan Sentra SR Premium, Nissan has managed to meet all the criteria listed above, plus offer a beautiful looking ride that will turn heads. It looks like a sports car, and drives much better than you’d expect from an entry-level sedan out of a non-luxury automaker’s stable.


The 2020 Nissan Sentra I tested featured a two-tone Monarch Orange and Super Black color scheme which was sharp and among the best looking vehicles I’ve seen this year. The design up front is especially bold and attractive and jumps out at you in a good way.

In a class not known much for its looks, this may be among the best-looking options available in 2020. I got more feedback on this car than I've gotten on vehicles that cost twice as much, and it was all positive.

This is a compact sedan, so legroom and headroom are tight in the rear, but the front seats are quite comfortable. The quality of materials used inside the Sentra were higher than you might expect for this price point, too.

Standard on the SR trim level are 18-inch alloy wheels, dark chrome grill, LED headlights and fog lamps, heated exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, leather shift knob, and sport cloth interior.

The Premium package (well worth its $2,170 cost) will get you thin lens LED headlamps, power sliding glass moonroof, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats, leatherette seats, Intelligent Around View Monitor, and auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2020 Nissan Sentra  
  • Price as tested $25,325 (starts at $19K)
  • Best feature Extra sharp redesign, ride quality, tech and safety offerings   
  • Rating 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle? Compact sedan buyers seeking a good-looking, safe and fun-to-drive ride
Posted On Thursday, 16 April 2020 03:49 Written by
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The luxury sport sedan segment is one of the most brutal in the business. Featuring strong entries from everyone from Audi and BMW to Mercedes-Benz and Genesis, success in this field requires a near-perfect effort from rival automakers.

Volvo’s entry in this category, the S60, manages to shine despite the prominent foes it is facing. I recently tested a 2020 Volvo S60 and I’m back with a full report on what stands out.

After a strong redesign for 2019, the look of the S60 carries over for the 2020 model.

The exterior design of the S60 is simple and elegant, yet also smooth and eye-catching, with a low design and nice side lines. It stands out in a segment known for good-looking rides.

Moving inside, Volvo really nails the luxury look and feel that’s needed to succeed in this segment. The Nappa leather seats are incredibly plush and comfortable, even on longer trips.

The R-Design trim level that I tested featured standard four-zone climate control, interior lighting and a tailored dashboard. For 2020, a virtual instrument panel is now standard for all models.

Among other features that boost the luxury in the S60 include a panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, leather steering wheel and gear shift knob, auto dimming interior & exterior mirrors and metal mesh aluminum inlays.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2020 Volvo S60   
  • Price as tested $51,990 (starts around $36K)  
  • Best feature Sporty ride, strong safety features, stylish design 
  • Rating 4 out of five stars    
  • Who will want this vehicle? Luxury sedan buyers looking for a well-designed, safe and attractive vehicle
Posted On Sunday, 22 March 2020 03:22 Written by
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The numbers don’t lie.

While wagons represent just 1.4 percent of vehicle sales in the U.S., the Subaru Outback owns the segment, representing nearly 80 percent of those sales.

But it’s not resting on its laurels, and the Outback — one of the few truly affordable options in the wagon category — is back with a brand new design for 2020. 
I recently spent some time in a 2020 Outback, and I’m back with a report on how well it measures up against the myriad SUV and wagon options available.


Built on Subaru’s Global Platform, the 2020 Subaru Outback offers a very spacious cabin that is very comfortable for all passengers.

The vehicle is 191.3 inches long, and features excellent cargo space: specifically 32.5 cubic feet with rear seats up, and 75.7 cubic feet with the seats down.
For 2020, the passenger volume and maximum cargo value both see slight increases. There is also a 60/40 split in the rear seat to boost versatility.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle 2020 Subaru Outback  
  • Price as tested $38,355 (starts around $27K)  
  • Best feature Spacious design and cargo space, one of the best remaining affordable wagons, strong tech upgrades
  • Rating 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle? Those who want more than a sedan, but don’t want to join the SUV bandwagon, have a great option in the Outback  
Posted On Monday, 02 March 2020 02:23 Written by
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