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Bruce Caldwell
Automotive

2012 Kia OptimaThe 2012 Kia Optima is an excellent car and an outstanding value that’s available in three four-cylinder iterations. The Optima is by design very versatile and the three distinct engines help broaden its appeal. There’s a powerplant for every driving style and budget.

The Optima was redesigned for 2011. The base 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine was first augmented by the lively 2.0-liter 274 horsepower I-4, which was followed by the introduction of the 2.4-liter gas/electric hybrid engine. read more »

 
Automotive

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited RubiconThe 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is a truly unique vehicle. As such it’s not for everyone, but people that understand and love Jeeps are crazy about the Wrangler. The 2012 Wrangler Unlimited does an excellent job of blending traditional super tough, go-anywhere Jeep attributes with modern technologies and conveniences. The Wrangler doesn’t have the level of luxury found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it’s a million miles ahead of its 1941 progenitor — the flat fender military Jeep. It’s a true multi-purpose vehicle. read more »

 
Automotive

2011 Kia Sportage SXThe “S” in SUV supposedly stands for sport, but given the lumbering size and weight of most full-size SUVs the sporting component can be in short supply. The growing compact SUV segment provides more maneuverability, but often at the expense of horsepower. Passenger/cargo capacity is obviously less in the smaller vehicles, but how often do big rig owners really utilize all that available space? read more »

 
Automotive

2011 Toyota HighlanderWe attended a family wedding in Cannon Beach, Oregon, the last week of September. Weather conditions can vary dramatically (which they did) and we were charged with transporting huge cartons of glassware for the reception centerpieces. We needed full wardrobes to accommodate temperature swings and activities ranging from hiking/beachcombing to dinner parties. read more »

 
Automotive

2012 Nissan VersaI can only imagine how annoying it must be for professional basketball players trying to run errands in their Bentleys and Maybachs without being harassed by ardent fans. Although fame provides the wherewithal to buy house-priced cars, there must be times when anonymous transportation would be nice. read more »

 
Automotive

2011 Acura MDXThe 2011 Acura MDX is the latest version of Honda/Acura’s most deluxe SUV. The model received a major revamp in 2010, so 2011 changes are under-the-skin. A key item is the excellent six-speed automatic transmission. The MDX is loaded with high-tech safety, information, and entertainment features. read more »

 
Automotive

2011 Dodge AvengerHoney, I shrunk the Charger. That was our first impression of the 2011 Dodge Avenger, which bears a close and very positive resemblance to the full-size Dodge Charger. That’s a good thing and something that should help sell the midsize Avenger. Styling for midsize sedans can lean toward bland and conservative, so it’s refreshing that Dodge applies their overall bold styling philosophy to the full model lineup. read more »

 
Automotive Quick Pick

2011 Honda Accord CrosstourHonda Accords are tremendous vehicles. Their engineering, quality, comfort, and value are first class, so why management felt the need to add the odd Crosstour hatchback sedan baffles us. It’s not a typical wagon, sedan, or SUV.

Walkaround: It’s hard to get past the sloped rear roofline of the Crosstour. The current Honda front-end styling borders on ugly, also. read more »

 
Automotive

2011 Scion xBPractical doesn’t have to be boring. Case in point: the 2011 Scion xB Release Series. The unique/cute/quirky/odd (take your pick) hatchback/mini wagon/compact sedan/mini mini van (take your pick again) is a little difficult to classify, but it’s not difficult to praise. The versatile, compact commuter/errand runner is distinctive looking and fun to drive and operate. It’s styling puts a smile on your face and driving it keeps the smiles coming. read more »

 
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