Behind the Wheel

When Godzilla gets Juke'd

Quick Spin: Nissan Juke-R

Have you ever seen "that couple" -- the short, rotund Geek Squad individual and the Olympic beach volleyball player walking hand in hand? A similarly weird aura surrounds the incredibly unnecessary yet blissfully real 545 horsepower Nissan Juke-R ($665,000). We got some seat time in this, one of the rarest production automobiles in the world.

Silicon Valley does motorcycles

Behind the Wheel: Zero DS

With the recent proliferation of electrified transportation, it seems things are swinging solidly from Who Killed the Electric Car? to "Who Maimed the Gas Engine?". Motorcycles are no exception. One of the best e-bike makers out there, Zero, let us test their Zero DS ($14,000) for a few weeks in L.A. to see if a silent motorcycle is a groundbreaking way to ride or a tad emasculating.

It truly is a party

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Ford Fiesta ST

Though the Ford Fiesta (not to be confused with the midget-special Ford Festiva) has been around since 1976, it wasn't available stateside until 2011. Back then, we enjoyed the original 1.6-liter 120 hp inline four cylinder hatch but longed for more pep. Obviously the engineers behind the Shelby GT500 and the F150 Raptor SVT follow Gear Patrol closely, because they answered our need for more zip with the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST ($22,000).

To drive or ride? That is the question.

Behind The Wheel: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

If anyone "missed" purchasing a Maybach, then it's time to rejoice in the heralding of a German luxury sedan that makes no bones about its levels of refinement, complexity and utter technological wizardry -- the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We got to drive (as well as experience) the limousine-level sedan recently in Toronto.

When perfect is not enough

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus

In 2008 Audi introduced the R8, a mid-engine V8 somewhat inspired by their highly successful R8 Le Mans Prototype race car, and blew the world away, winning both the World Performance Car and World Design Car of year awards. It's undergone only minor changes -- until this year. The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus ($171,000) gets one of the best upgrades yet, a smooth-as-glass and lightning fast seven speed dual clutch S Tronic transmission. We drove it.

Jurassic Park(ing)

Behind The Wheel: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

After twelve generations of model updates, the Ford SVT Raptor is arguably the most tenacious version of the Blue oval's numerous F-150 iterations. Truly testing this machine called for something more than a few days piddling around Los Angeles, so when when we were invited to go attend the one-day Raptor Assault School at Miller Motorsports Park in the wide open Utah countryside we moved quicker than a rattle snake on the floor of a country line dance. What we drove was an out-of-the box, insanely capable machine able to run, jump and crawl over just about anything in its path.

Grand Touring Family Style

Behind the Wheel: Ferrari FF

It's a well-known fact that the mellifluous sound of a Ferrari V12 is ultimate bellow of the vehicular gods. The now-famous Ferrari V12 first showed up in the 1947 125 S, the Italian automaker's first roadgoing car. Since then, some form of 12-cylinder Ferrari engine (V12 or Flat-12) has showed up in no fewer than forty cars over the past seventy years. One of Ferrari's most recent offerings, the Ferrari FF, makes use of the V12 staple, albeit in its most powerful form ever in a roadgoing car -- but the FF also makes a noticeable departure from Ferrari Grand Tourers of the past through polarizing style, all-wheel-drive, practical (yes, practical) seating for four and enough cargo room to hit the road for more than a day. We got the behind the wheel with family in tow.

Vee Dub-steppin' it up

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Volkswagen CC R-Line

Wikipedia astutely defines a dark horse as, "a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, especially in a competition of some sort". There's a dark horse in every race: Abraham Lincoln in politics, Mark Cuban in everything, and that one Nickelback album in music. The VW CC ($31,795+), we believe, fits that bill in the upscale midsize automobile realm. We got behind the wheel for a week-long driving review.

The Poster Child For Invincibility

Behind The Wheel: 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz's longest-running production model, the Gelandewagen (G-Wagen), is a testament to versatility and timeless style. For $135,000 one can not only look ultra tough in this military-inspired ride but drive like it as well. Plus, the humble 382 horsepower, 5.5 liter V8 from the "regular" G-Wagen goes bi-turbo in the AMG and jumps to 536 wild horses. We got behind the wheel deep in the Catskill mountains to give AMG's beast a good thrashing and see how much it would bite back.

Slow bullet

Behind The Wheel: Volkswagen XL1

In the current automotive landscape, true environmental halo cars don't exist. Volkswagen, however, has produced their own version of a hippie halo car. It's no V12 powerhouse, nor does it even come close to resembling anything supercar-ish in appearance. But what the VW XL1 definitely does is make a bold statement about what an ultra-efficient, super-small displacement hybrid can be. Our recent trip to VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany gave us a prime opportunity to evaluate the XL1 from all angles, including the view from behind the wheel.

Not exactly roughing it

Airstream Land Yacht

The vintage polished aluminum of Airstream Trailers is as recognizable as the curvaceous body of a 'Vette. Nowadays, they transport everyone from happy families to celebrities; Felix Baumgartner even holed up in one before his stratospheric leap. Previously unchanged in its 82-year history, the newly released Airstream Land Yacht ($140,000) brings a new level of sophistication in materials and design to this classic roving hotel room.

A weekend track-attack in orange

Behind The Wheel: 2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition

BMW has a history of using racetrack names for their paint colors: Marrakesh Brown, Laguna Seca Blue and Dakar Yellow. But the 2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition ($80,000, as tested) is the first time they’ve used one on a car itself and the first time the iconic track has lent its name to...

Andiamo!

Behind The Wheel: 2013 Fiat Abarth 500 Cabrio

It's nearly impossible to miss the iconic Fiat silhouette made more aggressive and distinctive in the 2013 Abarth 500 Cabrio ($26,000). Fiat's answer to the 500's supposed lack of soul carries the fervor -- in its looks, its performance, and its aural delight -- of an operatic crescendo. The sound of the engine and smooth long revs mean you can exploit every tick on the tach and push this thing hard -- which, of course, we recommend, having tried it ourselves.

To see one is to lust

Behind the Wheel: 1968 Jaguar E-Type Series 1.5

Ali Sadrieh is a man who lives in the present. From his cutting edge podiatry practice in Los Angeles, to his love of all things tech, he believes there has never been a better time to be alive. It is this very love of all things digital that inspired him to own an "analog car": the iconic and rare 1968 Jaguar E-Type Series 1.5. Through a chance crossing of paths, we were able to meet Ali and take his gorgeous Jag for a ride. Read on to see the video.

Tanks for the memories

Off Track: Driving the Abbot FV433 Self-Propelled Gun

The mud pit looked impossibly deep, twin ruts at least two feet high and half full of a murky stew from the rainy spring. “Does this thing ever get stuck?” I asked. My driving instructor, Brendan, an Airborne infantryman a few weeks shy of entering Green Beret selection, smiled and said, “Nope, just keep her straight so we can keep some trees upright.” Just another day, taking the Abbot FV433 Self-Propelled Gun out for a spin.

Behind the Wheel: Star Motorcycles Bolt & Bolt R-Spec

A day of cruising sunny, funky San Diego is enticing enough without a brand new ride underneath you. All the better, then, when Yamaha brought us to downtown San Diego for a well-organized day aboard their new Bolt, an American-style bobber -- an exercise in convincing some die-hard riders that their bike is a viable alternative to Wisconsin iron.

Some cars take it to 11. This takes it to 13.

Bull & Bravado: Driving the Lamborghini Aventador

Six hundred ninety-one horsepower. All-wheel-drive. A gearbox so mechanically high strung you instinctively quiver before each pull of the shift lever. And of course, the obscene sheet metal geometry. Enormous in every direction and specification, it makes us pause and wonder if this is what pornographic design is. Welcome to the Lamborghini Aventador.

One hell of a legacy

Behind the Wheel: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

The SLS AMG by Mercedes-Benz is truly the 300SL Gullwing reincarnate. Only the resurrected version is so much faster, you'll wonder what happened to your eyebrows. How do we know? We got behind the wheel and watched it make people's necks sore.

From isn't to IS

Track Day: 2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

The suburbs of Austin, Texas are hilly, colorful and vast, and look especially pretty when seen out the windshield of the latest, all-new sports sedan. They're even better looking when reduced to a racetrack blur. The 2014 Lexus IS F Sport has been redesigned to look sexier, feel more solid and drive harder, and recently gave us the distinct pleasure of melting scenery around the track at Driveway Austin while testing out its sporting mettle.

Luxury within reason

2014 Acura RLX

On the heels of the NSX concept last year and the brand new entry-level ILX, the longer, leaner Acura RLX looks nothing like the car it replaces, so we were piqued when Honda's luxury division invited us up to Napa to experience all the RLX has to offer. Fine wine and luxury cars. Makes sense to us.

True British Muscle

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon Black Edition

Aston Martin recently decided that being one of the most prestigious and sexiest car makers on the planet wasn't enough. They needed to be audacious. Their execution of this? Surgically transplanting the 6.0-liter 510 hp V12 from the DBS into their smallest and lightest offering, the Vantage. The Carbon Black edition adds carbon-fiber side strakes, lightweight carbon fiber and Kevlar seats, piano black accents and gloss black painted wheels, which convey the same kind of ballsy aggression as the drivetrain underneath that extruded aluminum body. Read on for a video and photo essay of this Brit stunner.

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

Battling the Ghost of Winters Past: 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe

My winter BMW driving history is a sad one, littered with shattered taillights, bent frames and too many loaner cars. After one too many calls to my insurance agent, I finally gave up on the Bayerische Motoren Werke for good, moving on to more sensible Scandinavian cars that understood what winter is all about. Given my less-than-stellar driving past, the prospect of piloting a 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe, in Germany -- in winter -- both thrilled and mortified me. On the one hand, the opportunity to put the whip to 445 twin-turbocharged horses on the very roads for which they were bred was a once in a lifetime opportunity. But it was December, and my PTSD flared up, with visions of mid-Autobahn donuts making my palms sweat.

S is for Sexy

2013 Audi S7

We want everything -- always. That's the American way. We want our gourmet burger with egg, parmesan crust and arugula, our clothes to fit well, be cheap and last forever; we want to marry the veritable hot girl who drinks beer... craft beer... at a football game. Audi's answer to this consumer desire to have it all(ish) is the S7 ($79,000+). Despite the A7's success, rumor has it (thanks, Adele) the performance division of Audi wasn't satisfied yet -- so they snuck into the garage one fateful night and replaced the standard 310 hp V6 turbo with a 420 hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The S7 emerged.

King of the hill and vale

Behind The Wheel: 2013 Range Rover

The remote West is a far cry from where most modern SUVs claim their stomping grounds, but it's exactly where we found ourselves recently. Utah's desert landscape isn't what you'd call sparse, as far as scenery is concerned. Sedimentary rock formations that range from the utterly massive to the small and bizarre are scattered as far as the eye can see, peppered by small patches of remnant snow and capped by the beautiful winter desert sky. But this is where we tested the 2013 Range Rover -- and the car felt right at home.

Fun Per Gallon

Quick Spin: 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid

If a hybrid vehicle is what you seek, there are two ends of the spectrum. On the left: the Toyota Prius, sipping fuel at 51mpg through an uninspiring 98 hp engine for $24K. On the right: the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, which will run you close to $100k, with an “is-this-really-a-hybrid” 22mpg due to its...

Accountants in search of flair, take note.

Quick Spin: 2013 Hyundai Azera

The original Hyundai Azera wasn’t exactly sure what it wanted to be, despite Hyundai’s goal of slotting it between the Sonata and Genesis sedans. The placement made sense, given the huge gap in pricing between the two aforementioned cars. And though the Azera was a practical bargain with its roomy interior and V6 engine, it...

Not just another cushy ride

Behind The Wheel: Lexus GS350 AWD

Lexus, once the darling of middle-aged Asian-American women everywhere, is focusing more nowadays on driving experience as opposed to driving you to boredom. Lexus has also revised their design language to be more edgy, adventurous and sporty in appearance -- relatively speaking, of course. What they've wrought is more than just a new brand-identifiable spindle grille, and it's a change in the right direction. We've been tracking Lexus all year and even got in some track time in their new GS sporty sedan earlier this year; we came away impressed.

Porsche's finally done it.

Quick Spin: 2013 Porsche Boxster

Previous Boxster owners were largely perceived as the type of people Ron Swanson might hate -- pastel wearing, shoulder sweater draping, Mediocre University Honors graduates who yearned for the 911 Cabrio but either couldn't afford it or couldn't muster the skills. Of course, it was a Porsche, so it drove well and handled well, but aside from the S model, it seemed to lack that Stuttgart Blitzkrieg-like power that Porsche drivers expect. So with this new generation of the German roadster, Porsche decided to make it worthy of her pedigree.

The Charge of the Ford Brigade

Ford Focus Electric

It wasn't that long ago that driving a Ford was done simply out of loyalty to Made in the USA. They were cars made in America for America, and though "this land is your land, this land is my land" is a nice sentiment, most vehicles from "our land" were built from a "this is how we've always done it" mentality. No real innovation. No real style. No real appeal.

425 lb-ft. Diesel. 'Nuf said.

Behind The Wheel: BMW X5 xDrive35d

The BMW X5 xDrive35d is a mouthful, an earful and a pocketful all at once. Its visually eclectic nomenclature is BMW speak for all-wheel drive and a diesel powertrain. Yes, we said diesel. Get used to it, because the clean-burning fuel is here to stay — providing both efficiency (relative, of course, for something this...

A sublime encounter with the bull

Steering by the Horns: Giro Lamborghini

In the world of exotic Italian automakers, the Lamborghini name needs no introduction — especially with the legacy of V12 superbeasts like the Miura and the Countach. Such icons adorned the walls of many a high school boy’s room just a few decades ago, and still ring true in our memories as a couple of...

Biscotti, Pavarotti, Maserati

Quick Spin: Maserati GranTurismo Sport

Maserati’s singular focus on high-end beautiful Italian machinery has made them masters. The GranTurismo, GranTurismo Convertible and the Quattroporte are all essentially a variant on one auto. They’re vehicles with gorgeous lines and roaring V8s; each is designed to be (Maserati vernacular) “a good host” (however, as Olivia Munn and Mario Lopez demonstrate, good hosts...

Semi-hot hatched at birth

Quick Spin: Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Hyundai is making some serious waves in the automotive industry. With a new design language pervading the lineup and cars that compete in just about every segment (Hyundai pickup truck, anyone?), Hyundai is seeing monumental growth. Last year, the Korean automaker came out with the radically styled Veloster; now they’ve...

The Anti-Amanti

Behind The Wheel: 2013 Kia Optima SX T-GDI

Korean car makers are creating huge waves in the industry, and the Kia Optima is a perfect example of this automotive tsunami. Just a few short years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find such a car in their lineup (the awfully poseur-like Kia Amanti didn’t exactly qualify). We always end up tooling around in...

Its worst emission? Burnt rubber

Behind The Wheel: 2012 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

The second coming of the very popular and virtually unpronounceable Volkswagen Touareg (“Too-a-regg”) now comes in Hybrid form, which actually makes more sense than hybridizing a compact car that already gets better gas mileage than its larger automotive counterparts. And though its 20/24 city/highway mileage numbers don’t truly impress (the Touareg TDI gets better fuel...

Four on the floor

All-Wheel-Drive for the Masses: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 Sedan

With fresh changes to design language inside and outside of recent models like the XC60 and C30, Volvo has impressed buyers in the luxury/European markets, tempting some potential German-made owners to their (safe) side of the road. In hopes of continuing that trend, Volvo’s released an affordable AWD option for their entry-level, 2.5L engine 2013...

Drop Top Gorgeous

Behind The Wheel: Audi R8 V10 Spyder

Legend has it that when you drive a supercar, your biceps and pectorals enlarge by up to 30% and your testosterone levels climb rapidly, giving your confidence a much needed kick in the basement. On the down side, you become increasingly discourteous and you can’t seem to supress the desire to purchase (and wear) a...

The longer, faster cat's meow

Behind The Wheel: Jaguar XJL Supercharged

Jaguar cars, long known for their sexy lines and classic proportions, were growing extremely long in the tooth with their XJ platform, a design that was pulled, smoothed out and tweaked since the Series 1 cars in 1968. In cat years, that’s food for worms. Well, in 2009, Jaguar took the much needed leap into...

Creature comforts where creatures roam

Behind The Wheel: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL

New Mexico seems other-worldly to those unaccustomed to the arid nature of the South West. But the desert-like atmosphere isn’t as stark as you might think. From Albuquerque to Santa Fe, the adobe style homes fit in well with the captivating landscape. Blue sky and enormous cumulus clouds as far as the eye can see...

The second time's the charm

Behind The Wheel: Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder

Back in May, we whet your appetite with photos of the Lamborghini LP550-2 Spyder, and we promised you a revisit in a video clip. What you need to know is that even though Lamborghini specializes in their all-wheel-drive setups, the rear-wheel-drive LP550-2 Spyder is perhaps one of the most exciting to drive, largely due to...

Anything but mini

Behind the Wheel: Mini John Cooper Works Coupe

Mini Cooper, Maxi Clones. The sprawling lineup from BMW now includes a car with a hat, the Mini John Cooper Works Coupe, the answer to a question nobody really asked. Though it’s not really a coupe, since it technically qualifies as a hatchback, the appearance is certainly so. Okay, so it’s not the best looking...

The sound and the fury

Behind The Wheel: Porsche Cayman R

If ever there was a car that could make you an instant superhero with the neighborhood elementary school boys (and girls, for that matter), it would be the Porsche Cayman R, specifically painted in Peridot Metallic (a.k.a., Chernobyl Green). Consider it the ultimate Hotwheels sports car, come to life. We had the chance to toss...

FRE-SH

Behind the Wheel: Quick Spin in the Scion FR-S

Toyota’s sports car submission has been woefully absent from the automotive scene since the MR-2 Spyder bit its last customers in 2005. Well the Scion FR-S ($24,930) has something to say about that. Recently introduced with its sister vehicle, the Subaru BRZ, the FR-S is a game changer for the automaker. Initially, Toyota wasn’t too...

The sleeper awakens

Behind the Wheel | 2012 Audi S4

Audi’s S4 has been on the scene since 1991 as Audi’s performance response to BMW’s M3 and Merc’s C-Class AMG. Quick, sophisticated and a sleeper in its own right, the S4 still tended to reserve itself for those who wanted solid performance and creature comforts but didn’t necessarily pine for the M3’s razor handling and...