2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250: Up Close

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The latest addition to a growing class of shrinking vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 compact (or is it subcompact?) crossover looks like a cross between a wagon and a crossover, and not necessarily in a good way.

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In person, the profile looks a bit awkward — sort of like a crossover with an exceptionally short greenhouse, and a rear end that tapers as sharply as a common hatchback car rather than a wagon or an SUV. By comparison — to my eye, at least — the competing BMW X1 looks more like a downsized, slightly more wagonized X3.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | November 24, 2013 | Comments (1)

Mercedes-Benz Unveils S-Class AMG and Final Edition SLS AMG at the L.A. Auto Show

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On the heels of its release of the S63 AMG full-size sedan, Mercedes-Benz has rolled out the ultimate S-Class, a dual-turbocharged V-12-powered S65 AMG.

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As the S-Class ramps up, the SLS AMG supercar winds down: The SLS AMG GT enters its last model year for 2014 with a Final Edition. Here's a rundown of the super-powered duo.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | November 24, 2013 | Comments (0)

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf: Up Close

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The Volkswagen e-Golf doesn't look a lot different from the regular Golf. It has the same crisp lines and tidy profile, but its few unique elements like blue-colored accents and C-shaped LED daytime running lights will be easy to miss. From a design perspective, it's the anti-Nissan Leaf.

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California drivers will be able to put a white carpool-lane sticker on it, which might be the most important exterior feature of all.

By Mike Hanley | November 24, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase: Up Close

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Land Rover's new long-wheelbase Range Rover has a backseat so massive that it makes this 6-foot-tall writer feel like I'm sitting in a high chair with my feet dangling off the seat's edge.

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Stretching the Range Rover's wheelbase adds an additional 7.3 inches of rear legroom, which is substantial enough to make anyone feel like an executive, but Land Rover didn't stop there.

By Joe Bruzek | November 23, 2013 | Comments (0)

2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop: Up Close

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I agree it's unsettling when a "redesigned" car doesn't look much different from the one it replaces. That's definitely the case with the "new original" 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop (that's what the original two-door is now called). On the other hand, people would complain if Mini changed it too much and missed the mark.

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What matters, along with the new engines we're eager to test, are the changes inside.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | November 23, 2013 | Comments (1)

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe: Up Close

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There isn't one body line, curve or crease that looks out of place on the Jaguar F-Type coupe. The way the roofline stretches back into the rear deck and the rear fenders jut out over the wheels is perfect enough to make you forget the F-Type first debuted as a convertible.

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Ogling the F-Type coupe is like looking at an entirely new car.

By Joe Bruzek | November 22, 2013 | Comments (0)

2015 Kia K900: Up Close

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Not even a full year after Kia announced its premium Cadenza sedan an even more luxury-oriented K900 is here to bring Kia into the luxury car segment ... again. The K900's feature list reads legitimately with an available V-8 engine, leather-trimmed dashboard, 9.2-inch navigation system, available Nappa leather interior, fully digital instrument cluster, reclining rear seats and available full LED lighting.

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Michael Sprague, Kia's executive vice president of marketing & communications, announced preliminary pricing at the K900's debut: $50,000 for an entry-level V-6 and $65,000 for a fully optioned V-8. That $50,000 is a touch more than the starting price of a BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS 350 and Audi A6.

This is one of those times when actually getting "up close" is vital to separate the promise from reality.

By Joe Bruzek | November 22, 2013 | Comments (2)

2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible: Up Close

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California is the perfect place to introduce a new convertible, with sunny warmth the normal condition for local residents. BMW agreed, holding the world premiere of the new 4 Series hardtop convertible at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. Replacing the 3 Series convertible in BMW's lineup, the 4 Series convertible is a larger, more luxurious droptop that furthers the company's new naming convention-odd numbers for sedans, even numbers for coupes.

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Power up and push the convertible top button and you'll begin a mesmerizing process of steel origami as the three-piece hardtop folds and descends into the trunk. It only takes 20 seconds to drop the top and it is quite a sight to behold. The new top also features more sound insulation than the old 3 Series model, resulting in a quieter ride with the top up.

By Aaron Bragman | November 22, 2013 | Comments (1)

2014 Honda Civic: Up Close

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Honda took a lot of heat for its most recent redesign of the Civic compact and responded with a rushed redesign of the sedan for 2013. Now we have an earlier-than-expected refresh of the coupe for 2014 revealed at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

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The new coupe offers some mildly tweaked styling, some new features like push-button start, Honda's innovative LaneWatch technology and a new multimedia system on top trim levels that introduce capacitive touch technology to the Civic lineup.

By Aaron Bragman | November 21, 2013 | Comments (8)

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at the 2013 LA Auto Show

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Competes with: Toyota RAV4 EV
Looks like: Your average, ordinary, everyday Hyundai Tucson
Drivetrain: Electric motor making 221 pounds-feet of torque, powered by an onboard hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery
Hits dealerships: Spring 2014, Los Angeles and Orange, Calif., counties only

For years we have seen concept car after concept car powered by hydrogen fuel cells - electric cars that use onboard sources of electricity generated from hydrogen instead of from a land-based grid. But now Hyundai says it is ready to offer a production-ready fuel-cell electric vehicle to the public as early as next year.

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The company has built the powertrain into its Tucson compact SUV and has announced that the car will be available for lease by anyone who wants one starting in spring of 2014. The catch: It will only be available in Southern California to residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties. The move is meant to tie into a recent multimillion-dollar push by the state of California to proliferate hydrogen fueling stations throughout the region. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario - it's hard to introduce a production fuel-cell car without a hydrogen infrastructure to fuel it, but if there aren't any fuel-cell cars available for consumers to buy, there's little call to develop that infrastructure.

By Aaron Bragman | November 21, 2013 | Comments (2)

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