Two Thousand Sixteen, it was quite a year to say the least. While the world may be crumbling around us, it was a banner year for RFD car reviews. Below are the seventy five new car reviews, with a couple used gems tossed in there for good measure.
First, some quick statistics that break down our reviews by type. 28% were sedans, 24% SUVs, 11% hatchbacks, 11% hybrid/electric, 7% convertibles, 5% trucks, 4% coupes, 3% wagons (for that, I apologize, we’ll do better), 1% vans (thanks Justin) and 74% of these were done by someone named William. That doesn’t seem to add up to 100%, but I can’t be bothered to figure out why. Besides, that’s not why I gathered you all here today, it’s to recognize the great work my team did in 2016 and acknowledge some of our favorites of 2016.
Huge thanks to Will Clavey of Clavey’s Corner, our resident Canadian reviewer extraordinaire, who oh by the way was picked up by our friends at Jalopnik. Godspeed sir, we will see you exiting cars like a BAMF again soon! Keep an eye out for his “CC” logo down below which highlight some of his favorites of 2016.
As always, thanks for reading, viewing, whatever you do when you come by RFD. 2016 was our biggest year ever, and we plan to keep that momentum rolling into Detroit in a few weeks and even bigger stories, reviews, and fun in 2017.
2017 Toyota 86
Live from the New York International Auto Show. The Scion brand is no more, but the FR-S lives on as the Toyota 86. The brand change is the perfect time for a mid-life refresh, and Toyota has introduced some updates to the car as well.
2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Review
The best analogy I can come up with is how I felt at the end of Tokyo Drift, where they put that RB Nissan engine in the 1967 Mustang. It’s just not right. Or is it?
2016 Honda Civic Coupe: We’re Getting Closer and Closer to the Type R
Ferrari 488 GTB Review: Twin-Turbo Flop?
he 488 GTB is simply amazing – a prime example of the modern RWD supercar. It’s blisteringly quick and hugs the tarmac harder than a freshman does a toilet during welcome week. The improvements over the 458 are both worthy and tangible and need to be experienced to believe, especially after a romp in a 458.
Review: 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
People who already own an Infiniti, or have considered owning an Infiniti will buy this car, but that’s not enough. The Q60 Red Sport 400 needs to be a conquest car, it needs to open minds of longtime Mercedes-Benz and BMW owners, and to do so, it’ll need to be more than just a pretty face in the crowd.
The Track is the Only Way to Understand the Subaru BRZ
Review: 2016 Lexus RC F
This car just breaks my brain. It does not make any sense that this orange RC F parked in front of my house came from Lexus. Built by the producer of staid hybrid sedans and crossovers, under the watchful eye of Toyota, in no way should this car exist in life. But it does, and it’s mostly spectacular. With a big 5.0 V8, it will take minutes off of your Waze ETA like few other you’ve driven.
2016 Chevrolet Impala Review: My Name is Jonas
So we worked out that 2 feet of snow make road test (and video production) difficult, it’s impossible not to talk about Chevrolet’s mid-size sedans without talking about Accord and Camry, and in the end the Impala is a good car. I am still concerned about whether or not Chevy is diluting their sedan offerings with two sedans of similar size, look, and price.
2016 Acura TLX SH-AWD: Return to Form
I must confess, I really enjoyed this car, one that I would myself consider buying, even with its flaws. The TLX remains a solid argument in the mid-size luxury car segment; a return to form and a big step forward for the Acura brand. It’s smooth, comfortable, fast, fantastically well put together, loaded with luxury amenities, and above all, offers a lot for the money.
Driving Through White Sands in a 2016 Toyota Corolla S
If you have around $20,000 to spend on a compact car, the Toyota Corolla S should be on your list, it’s quite good at a lot of things and even comes with a 6-speed manual. Perhaps it’s because I initially thought it was a Yaris, but I left New Mexico impressed with Toyota’s former smallest car, and can say that it’s much more than that.
2016 Honda Civic Sedan Turbo: The Mojo is Back
To wrap it all up, it feels great to finally see Honda getting it right with the Civic. Simply put, this car no longer competes against other compacts; it redefines the entire segment, something we should always expect from a Civic.
The Verano is Buick’s Way of Recapturing its Youth
There’s just something missing to truly make it a desirable compact luxury sedan and in some ways, I felt kind of bad for the little Buick, because there is serious potential here. Buick just needs to sort this car out, and above all, find a way to sell it to the people it was actually designed for.
2016 Kia Optima SX Turrrrrrboohhh!
Like the Sorento, the big selling point here is what you get for your money. You might have a project car, but you need something to tool around in for the everyday stuff. You don’t want a crossover/minivan/SUV, but instead something more enjoyable with a bit of style that doesn’t look like your neighbor’s Audi.
2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country: Sweden’s Eagle
Overall, it feels great to see Volvo returning to the industry with bold new models and a fresh corporate image. The auto industry needs more Scandinavian ingenuity and the S60 CC is a sign of great things to come from the brand.
My 2016 Nissan Sentra Press Car Had Wind
I’m sure its owners will appreciate its long-term reliability record, competitive fuel economy, and low maintenance costs. But in the same price range, the Sentra faces formidable competition that must be taken into consideration. Simply put; coming from the same carmaker that builds the GT-R, there’s definitely room for improvement here.
2017 Acura ILX: the New Integra?
The ILX may not be the new Integra, but it remains a fantastically well-executed compact luxury sedan that pushes all the right buttons to attract younger buyers into Acura showrooms.
2003 Infiniti M45: the Future Classic You Never Heard of
To sum it all up, if you’re looking for a used performance sedan that will fly under the radar and make a Ford Mustang omelet for breakfast, you need to get a 2003-2004 Infiniti M45. It’s the best performance sedan you’ve never heard of.
2016 Mazda 3: Does It Zoom-Zoom?
After a week and a few hundred
miles kilometers in the 3, what do I think of this basic rental car version? This was no press loaner, and wasn’t optioned up to the gills like most of them are. But for $21,480 Canadian, it would make a great daily driver, even for an enthusiast on a budget. I’d stick with the stick – for fun, to save a few bucks, and for the extra zoom-zoom – but the automatic shifted smoothly, fairly quickly, and chose its gears well.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima is the Sleeper Sedan We Grew Up Loving
If you grew up in the nineties like me, you probably remember the fourth generation Nissan Maxima, or the A32 if you happen to be a Maxima nerd. With boring Camry-like styling and a VQ30DE, 200-hp, 300ZX-derived 3.0-liter V6 under its hood, that thing was the very embodiment of what a factor sleeper should be.
Is the Volkswagen Jetta the Black Sheep of the VW Family?
Even if the mundane Jetta would love to inherit its sister’s platform and drivetrain options, it still manages to impress with ageing hardware. And since it’s so hard to find this kind of refinement and driving pleasure at such an attainable price, I’d recommend anyone shopping for a compact sedan to consider the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta.
The Lexus ES350 is the Most Camry You Can Get for 45K
Simply put, while the IS and GS take care of battling the Germans in the numbers war, the ES sits comfortably in the background, fulfilling its duty as the spacious and quiet luxury cruiser designed for those who prefer staying at home, rather than going out for a drive.
Why is the Honda Accord More Fun to Drive Than an Acura ILX?
The Lexus GS350 F-Sport Ironically Feels Like an E39 5-Series to Drive
I can’t say I disliked this car, it’s an impressive machine, and it’s very hard in writing to express how well this car drives. It’s supple in all the right ways. But unfortunately, it somehow doesn’t leave a strong enough impression to consider it over anything German, or even American in this price range.
2016 Chrysler 300S 5.7L: Walter White Approved
2016 Chevrolet Malibu: Definitely the Car We Didn’t See Coming
Chevrolet has definitely succeeded at making its mid-size sedan matter again. The only thing left for GM to do is inject the Malibu with a tad more character and soul. Perhaps an SS badge would do the trick?
Hurtling Towards Middle-Age in a 2016 Toyota Avalon
It’s similar to the RAV-4 we tested recently, it does everything it attempts well. It may not be the best, but when you compare it to some of the competition, it’s…wait a minute…I just built a 2017 Toyota Camry online. Would I buy one. No. But I’m far to image conscious, even at 40. If you aren’t, just buy a Camry. It’s the same, but cheaper.
2017 Acura TLX SH-AWD: Track Tested
The Acura TLX is a fine sedan; a technology-packed machine that looks good enough, sounds fantastic, is properly quick off the line, seats 5 comfortably, offers a lot of car for the price, and will out handle a VW GTI on any road surface. But Acura needs to sharpen it up a bit. Make it matter. Let it stand out from the crowd instead of hiding in a dark corner waiting for people to take notice. I know: how about slapping a Type-S badge onto its trunk?
Video Review: 2016 Lexus GS F
Lexus has managed to tow the line between Nurburgring run and Whole Foods run, understanding better than most that the latter is more a part of daily life than the former. Do you need over 500 horsepower for anything other than bragging rights? Of course not. Will it lap a track faster than an M5, not likely. Is it a masterful compromise of speed for comfort, very much so.
2016 Volkswagen Golf R: An Audi S3 In Disguise?
It may not have the Ford’s Drift Mode or be jumping down rally stages like a Subaru, but I think it’s better at everyday driving than the other choices, even if it may be a little more serious and less fun. The Golf R is the grown-up GTI, a premium Golf with a premium price tag.
2016 Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition: Old School Hot Hatch
No, this car has nothing to do with the one Thierry Neuville and Nicholas Gilsoul will be using to tear up WRC rally stages this year. It does, however, mark Hyundai’s participation in the sport, and adds just enough hardware to satisfy the hardcore enthusiasts – or so Hyundai thinks.
A Full Grown Automotive Journalist Can Sleep in the Honda Fit
In conclusion, the 2016 Honda Fit remains the champ at delivering cheap and cheerful transportation. It’ll return a 5.7 L / 100 km average on the highway, will only cost $35 to fill up, and offers enough interior room for you to sleep in it in case you get stranded and can’t find a camping ground on a roadtrip.
2016 Ford Focus ST: First Drive
Overall, my first impressions are quite positive. It’s no all wheel drive drift mode monster like the RS, but the ST still has quite a bit going for it. Check back later for a full review. Oh wait, here it is!
2016 Ford Focus ST Review
he Focus ST surprised me most in how solid and refined it is. I was expecting it to be the least refined of these choices, but at least in ST3 trim, it’s much more refined than the WRX. It’s almost as refined as the VW GTI, and more powerful. It’s also the least expensive of these three choices, and made in America.
The Mini Cooper Clubman is a Charming Buddy That Carries All Your Junk
Simply put, if you were to ask me if I’d recommend buying a Mini Cooper Clubman, from a logical standpoint I’d tell you to go buy a Golf instead. But as I’d be telling you this, my inner child would look at you with a grin and say: “go ahead my friend, you only live once”.
First Drive Video Review: Ford Focus RS
There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Ford Focus RS, and we are here to confirm that pretty much all of it is true. Yes, the ride sucks but overall the new RS is spectacular in so many ways. Take a look at our video, and then continue below for the full review.
The Ford Focus RS Is Terrible, and I Desperately Want One!
Sometime after noon it finally arrived, and even though it was calmly driven by a staid delivery driver and not Ken Block, I could no longer contain my enthusiasm. I was out the door like a shot. And after a week with the car, I’m here to tell you that the Ford Focus RS delivers everything you want. Almost.
Video:The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Review
Truth is, I really, really, liked this car. There is just something about it. Something that makes you want to drive it in near-freezing temperatures with the top down. Something that says, “feed me twisty roads when the sun is out”. This car has the character you need in your life.
2017 Mazda MX-5 RF
I wasn’t totally sold on the looks of the ND, but I think the MX-5 RF looks truly amazing. I’m also not generally a fan of grey cars, but Mazda’s “Machine Grey” is the right color for this car. It’s sure to be a hit in northern climates where winter is a thing, and I think others may buy it for looks alone.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS Convertible Review
When Chevrolet said they were dropping off a brand new 2016 Camaro RS convertible, the RFD office was abuzz with excitement. We knew we had to pull out all the stops and give drop-top Chevy a thorough review. As I am want to do, I had the monroney emailed over. Wait, did I read that right? Forty eight thousand, two hundred, and twenty five dollars? Then I drove it.
Video Review: Smart ForTwo Passion
Thanks Ike. That’s what I kept saying to myself after our intrepid Untitled Car Show host convinced me to take this Smart ForTwo Passion out on a test run. Well, “run” isn’t quite the right word. More like jog. I’ll admit, I have never been a fan of the Smart, any of them. To me, it was an expensive, tiny, not all that economical, waste of time. I now have completely changed my mind. It’s also weird.
A Second Take on the Smart ForTwo Passion
So am I crazy? Maybe. At the end of the experience I told Will I wouldn’t buy one. I stand by that. If however I came across one tipped over, left abandoned on the street, scrounging for food, with that look in its eye of longing for love…instead of calling the pound I would rescue it. But only if it had the manual transmission.
2014 Cayenne Turbo S Review: The Ugly Duckling
I’ll just be honest. When the Porsche Cayenne first debuted in 2002, it hurt my soul, just a little bit. Now, I’m not a total purist who demands that Porsche builds only air-cooled 911s, but still…Porsche, building an SUV? It seemed sacrilegious to me, an angry teenager in the suburbs. And trust me, nobody does angsty entitlement like a spoiled white kid from an middle class family.
2016 Jeep Renegade Review
2016 Volkswagen Tiguan: Comprehensive Review
To wrap it all up, if what you’re looking for in a compact SUV are dynamic driving characteristics, sports car like handling, and German refinement, the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan still has what it takes to have you served. It’s as fun to drive on dry pavement as a Golf GTI and will let you drift it like a rally car on snow-covered surfaces.
2016 Mazda CX-3: It’s a Car!
2016 Fiat 500X: Italian Flair
All in all, the Fiat 500X is an honest-to-goodness fun-to-drive urban crossover that has just enough character and soul to make it feel like its own bespoken model instead of a simple corporate platform swap. Fiat’s subcompact crossover is indeed a competent little trucklet and should certainly sell well. However, in my opinion, the lack of a manual transmission option on all-wheel drive trims is a sacrilege, especially for an Italian vehicle.
2016 Hyundai Tucson: Aiming for Perfection
The 2016 Hyundai Tucson is a high quality vehicle that offers a lot of value and redefines what we’ve come to expect from a compact crossover. Make no mistake, Hyundai no longer builds flimsy cars, this is a genuinely well executed people mover. Now, if Hyundai could find a way to inject a bit of power and soul in the Tucson, they’d be selling a perfect vehicle.
2016 Audi Q3: Is It Faster Than a Bike and a Bus?
We think that the Q3 brings much of the same driving enjoyment found in similar VWs and crams in a bunch of standard extras that the VW offers as optional. At $40K, it’s not cheap, but if you find yourself looking for a comfortable compact SUV to go race a mass transit bus and a doofus on a bike, it’ll get the job done.
Can the 2016 Ford Escape Help You Escape?
Aside from these nit-picking glitches, the Escape was an amiable companion. I loved how the rear seats folded flat to provide plenty of cargo capacity. I was able to fit my 26″ full-suspension mountain bike in the back without taking the wheels off, and still had room to keep my bag, shoes, and accessories. On my wish list for this car, I’d like more storage capabilities for cellphones, drinks and large burritos. Oh yea, and give it a manual transmission.
What do the Kia Sportage SX and Taco Bell Have In Common?
Despite the glitches, can Kia overcome Kia? Heck, yeah! For all the people who have a memory of what Kia used to be in the 90s, it will be hard. But those those of you who grew up thinking Facebook is for old people and only use SnapChat, you’ll have no issues settling into a new Kia Sportage.
2016 Acura RDX: It’s OK
Crossovers are sold as being sporty, but not reckless, functional, but not dowdy, attractive, but not sexy. They don’t excel at any one thing in particular, but they’re pretty good at a lot of things. The problem is the entry level luxury game has changed, and Acura is still playing by the old rules, worrying about the same old competition. Instead of boasting about being the economical choice in the segment, they need to think about what segment they’re really in.
2016 Hyundai Tucson 1.6T: An Almost Perfect Compact Crossover?
“Now, if Hyundai could find a way to inject a bit of power and soul in the Tucson, they’d be selling a perfect vehicle.” That’s what I had said about the Tucson in March. And here I am now with a model that answers all of my requests. Hyundai, you’ve certainly proved to the entire world that you can in fact be the benchmark in a particular segment. Your 2016 Tucson 1.6T is so good that it may well be the perfect compact crossover.
2016 Toyota RAV4 SE Review
Its rare that you get to meet a pioneer. The first of its kind. The Toyota RAV4 debuted in 1994 and was the first compact crossover SUV; it established what is now an incredibly popular segment. What I’m testing today technically isn’t really a pioneer, more of a descendant of one. The 2016 RAV4 is the only the 4th generation of the small Toyota SUV, and this iteration has been around in varying forms since 2012. So it’s had some time to get its feet set in the small crossover fight. So how is it then?
Why Buy a Range Rover When a Volvo XC90 R-Design Exists?
If you do need a new SUV with all of the capabilities of a truck – a rare combination these days – the 4Runner is an excellent choice. Not only did the 4Runner survive the toughest rally in the northeast without even batting an eyelash, it did so while towing one car, dragging another, and carrying six passengers and a rally car bumper at one point. That, more than anything, convinces me that the Toyota 4Runner seriously puts “utility” back into the phrase “Sport Utility Vehicle.”
What is it Like to Drive Porsche’s Stripped Out Baby SUV?
Will People Actually Try to Find Paths in their 2017 Nissan Pathfinder?
Truth be told, this is a vehicle that will feel more at home doing the school run than jumping through a sand pit over the weekend. That said, the Pathfinder may succeed at being a lifted minivan, but the reality is, some of its competitors will haul your family while also delivering a spirited driving experience along the way.
Yes, Another Volvo XC90
At the end of the day though, what truly sets the Volvo XC90 apart is the feeling that it was designed by humans, for humans. It’s a vehicle that puts the priority on your family’s comfort and safety before anything else. It also happens to be supremely attractive, innovative, powerful, environment-friendly, and more luxurious than much more expensive offerings, all of which are qualities that further enforce my claims of calling this the best SUV on the planet.
2017 Acura MDX: You Don’t Mess With a Winning Formula
1988 Honda Civic Wagon RT4WD Review
They don’t make cars like this anymore, and I wish they did. Sure, it doesn’t have Bluetooth, navigation, stability control, ABS, and eleventy zillion air bags. But it also isn’t a big, bloated, overweight crossover. This is a fun-to-drive small car with all of the utility of a crossover.
2001 Audi S4 Avant: The TARDIS
What this car does best is comfortable sporty street driving. It’s not out to win races, but it’s a great step up in both luxury and performance from the A4. And despite its loud color, it’s a particularly stealthy vehicle. Nobody expects a woman driving an Audi wagon to be fast until all you can see are her taillights.
BRZ vs WRX: What Would I Get Today?
Real life makes it imprudent and impractical for me to change cars under my current life circumstances. I will continue to drive and enjoy my BRZ. It’s a good car, and at this point I have it lightly modified exactly the way I want it. But after experiencing the new WRX, I think it’s only a matter of time before a different World Rally Blue Subaru occupies my driveway.
2001 Honda Insight Review
The Insight certainly isn’t as fun to drive as the NSX, but it’s far more fun to drive than any other hybrid costing less than $100,000. This one is for sale for $6,000. If I had a need for a fuel sipping commuter car, I might just buy it myself.
Arcimoto: Electric Motoring For The Masses
Arcimoto calls their three wheeled car bike thing “The Everyday Electric.” Though I’d need the extended range package for my daily commute, I could see myself taking this to work regularly. Despite being close to twice the price of an Elio, over time it would make up that difference in savings on gas. State and federal electric vehicle tax credits could also go a long way toward paying the premium over an Elio. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for both of these futuristic vehicles.
The Toyota Prius Makes Even the Most Hardcore Enthusiast Care About Saving Fuel
At the end of the day, the 2016 Toyota Prius is just too cool to be ignored and definitely fulfills its promise of delivering maximum efficiency, technology, and fuel economy at an attainable price. Yes, it’s still a bit soulless and some may argue that you can go out and buy much more fun to drive compact cars for less money, but no other vehicle comes close to the Prius’ efficiency, everyday livability and stellar reliability in that price range.
I Drove a Prius For a Week
It’s practical, you can fit a lot of your stuff in it. It’s likely reliable, being a Toyota and all. And in its new form, it’s not terribly ugly. I actually like the futuristic exterior for the most part. It’s much less bland than previous generations and sort of looks like it’s from the future. Cool. Well, not cool, but less uncool.
Toyota Avalon Hybrid: Short On Speed, Long On Legroom
So, you could have a bumpy, ugly Camry, or for the same price you could ride around in a bona fide luxury sedan in absolute comfort and silence. I know which I’d pick. Sorry Will, but not only is the Avalon a better deal, it’s quite simply the best car on the market for the money.
Would You Buy a Chevrolet Volt Over a BMW 3-Series?
To sum it all up, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt may not be as revolutionary as a Tesla Model S, but it still moves technical frontiers forward in its own respect. Not everyone can afford a $100 000 electric car, and while the Teslas are breaking new ground in EV technology, Chevrolet is making the whole idea attainable, and easy to live with for common folks.
Do We Even Care About the 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid?
I managed to review a Toyota Camry Hybrid. And trust me, it wasn’t easy. Truth be told, no matter what our reviews say about this car, they won’t stop Toyota from selling them like hot dogs. It’s one of those no-brainer vehicles that somehow manages to rake in massive sales numbers no matter what people say about it.
Just Wait and Buy a Tesla
2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Review
As was the case when I brought you the review of the 2015 Ford F-150 4×4 EcoBoost, I’m still not a truck guy. However, I’m starting to get it, sort of. The Toyota Tacoma is a truck I always wanted to like. In fact it ranked towards the top of my completely uneducated list of trucks I would consider buying, if I ever needed a truck. Unfortunately, my fantasy didn’t quite live up to reality, and I found myself comparing this Toyota truck to the big Ford we tested. Take a look at the video to find out how it did.
The 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is a Fantastic Roadtrip Vehicle
To sum it all up, it’s evident that nobody needs a truck like this. It’s really just a big toy for people with money to waste. But are we happy Toyota is building it? Of course we are, because not only is the 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro proof that the Toyota brand still has a sense of humour, it’s proof that the off-road wars are heating up and have never been this extreme. Now, how about throwing me the keys to that Raptor, Ford?
The Honda Ridgeline Doesn’t Care About the Other Trucks
Call it what you will, the charm of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline lies in the fact that it dares to challenge the status quo while giving a spanking to well-established competitors. Who would have thought that unassuming skater boy would get so far in life?
2016 Dodge Ram Rebel
For fifty large, you need a V8, pure and simple. It’s just science. Redneck science, but still science nevertheless. The math makes sense too, you can switch from the puny 3.6L V6 engine (that delivers a minuscule delivers 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque) to the manly 5.7L HEMI V8 with a more adequate 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torques for just $1150. Chump change, check the box you wuss. Wait, the Raptor starts at $48,325 and has more power? Get that instead. Rebellion over.
2016 Ford Transit: A Great Toy Box
I don’t run a business, and I don’t have a race car or bike, so at the moment I have no need for a full size van. But if I did, the Transit would be at the top of my list. It would make a great toy box.