Key to the Highway

Observations about cars and the auto industry

2012 L.A. Auto Show: Mazda

Last year, Mazda revealed the CX-5, its first vehicle built entirely with the company’s Skyactiv drive train and architecture. This year, it’s the Mazda 6′s turn. Following on its Moscow debut, the new Mazda6 midsize sedan shows up for the first time in North America and is the second Skyactiv-based vehicle in Mazda’s lineup here. […]

2012 L.A. Auto Show: Kia

Kia and sibling-parent company Hyundai have been on a redesign binge the past few years. This year it’s the compact Forte’s turn, with the new generation model of the four-door compact coming first. Kia’s design chief says the car has a sport sedan ethos. Nice touches are LED running lights, lighted door handles and puddle […]

2012 L.A. Auto Show: Ford

Ford’s presence at the L.A. show is marked by restyled Fiesta’s launch with a high-performance ST model with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost on one end of the range and a 1.0-liter EcoBoost powered version on the other. The three-cylinder, 1.0-liter EcoBoost is compact enough that one was brought to Los Angeles as carry-on luggage, but puts […]

2012 L.A. Auto Show: Porsche

Porsche often skips the Detroit and other auto shows, focusing on its largest market in North America: Southern California. That means the German sports car maker sees no reason not to debut significant models at a show known more for hybrids than high-performance. The Cayman is probably the best handling Porsche, at least for drivers […]

2012 L.A. Auto Show: Mercedes-Benz

Black Series. The words themselves conjure up images of German witches gathered round an AMG model instead of a cauldron. This time out, the magic potion has been poured on the SLS AMG, already Mercedes-Benz’s top-of-the-line model. An SLS AMG Black Series promises to bring another 39 horsepower from the 6.2-liter, twin-turbo V-8 to a […]

2012 L.A. Auto Show: Hyundai

The Korean automaker brings the seven-passenger version of the Santa Fe crossover, following up on the well-received five-passenger Santa Fe Sport. Simply called Santa Fe, the larger version receives the 3.3-liter, gasoline direct-injection V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Santa Fe will tow 5,000 pounds and offers all-wheel drive with what the automaker calls […]

Motor Press Guild Track Day 2012

The L.A.-based Motor Press Guild is an organization for automotive journalists, analysts, industry and public relations people. As it has for several years, MPG recently held its Track Day event over two days at AAA Speedway east of Los Angeles. Thirty automakers brought nearly 100 vehicles for journalists and analysts to drive. While the brief […]

2012 MPG Track Day: 2012 BMW 335is Coupe

Mentioning how fast the 335is can reach triple-digit speed on the racetrack seems obvious. All that turbocharged power gives the coupe performance that isn’t brutish, but it’s ever-present like a grouchy bouncer at a Vegas … never mind. On the track, the 335is is reasonably agile, but softer than I’d like. BMW has moved toward […]

2012 MPG Track Day: 2013 Scion FR-S

The idea of an automatic transmission in any car with sporting intentions was scoffed at before this century. Dual-clutch gearboxes – born on the racetrack – have dispelled the idea that ultimate performance requires the driver dance on three pedals. Still, the idea of an old-fashioned hydraulic torque converter automatic in the Toyota/Subaru designed sport […]

2012 MPG Track Day: 2013 Cadillac ATS

If you liked the CTS, you’ll love this car. It’s like a business suit with a rapid pulse. Stylish, comfortable – although I had to fiddle a bit to get the seat where I wanted it – and available with just about every luxury feature you could want, the ATS takes what the CTS offered […]