Long-Term Road Tests News & Updates

On this page you'll find the latest updates to our Long-Term Road Tests. The topics covered in these ongoing vehicle reviews range from things like fuel efficiency and comfort to highlights of specific features like GPS and audio technology. Check back frequently as our auto reviews are updated on a regular basis.

Daily Long-Term Vehicle Updates

2014 Acura MDX: Hauling a Dorm Room to College

September 29, 2014

2014 Acura MDX

This week we're using our 2014 Acura MDX to move our daughter to her dorm at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She's a freshman and this will be the first time she's lived away from home, so she packed a lot.

I'm not sure if it will all fit in her dorm room, but it fit in the MDX...barely. We stuffed it from floor to ceiling, and we folded the 60-percent portion of the middle seat down and piled that to the headliner, too. The result was a useless windshield mirror and just enough remaining room for three of us.

Good thing the door-mounted mirrors are decent-sized. And the rearview camera was an absolute necessity for backing up.

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2014 Nissan Rogue: Disappointing Road Trip

September 29, 2014

2014 Nissan Rogue

When I took our long-term Chevy Silverado to a Tough Mudder event a few months ago, it proved to be the perfect transport for a group of dirty, sweaty and sore adults. Last weekend, I signed myself up for a 12.5-mile obstacle course called the Spartan Beast that promised similar levels of mud and pain. The forecast was for 105 degrees, and a few of my friends were joining me, so we needed seating for four, good air conditioning and a place for our muddy gear when the race was over.

For space and mud-friendliness, the obvious choice was our Ram 1500, but it was spoken for, so I went with our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue. It has enough space for four, and plenty of cargo capacity, but it turned out to be the wrong vehicle for the job.

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2015 Porsche Macan: The Slick Steering Wheel

September 29, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan

We paid $615 to get the sport steering wheel on our 2015 Porsche Macan S. I like all the in-wheel features, even the stubby little paddle shifters. What I don't like is the carbon fiber. Yes, a wheel should slide through your hands, but a little resistance is preferable to sheer slither. That's how the carbon fiber feels to me.

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Haulin' Craft

September 29, 2014

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited

Now that my only child is safely in high school, I took the liberty of cleaning out our home arts 'n crafts closet which has been accumulating googaley eyes, multi-colored pipe cleaners, felt squares and countless jars of Mod Podge over the past decade.

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2014 Mini Cooper: Still Mini

September 29, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan

So the 2014 Mini Cooper is a little bit bigger. In the name of crash safety, comfort and stability, it's picked up a few inches, in more than a few places, but there's one area where it feels the Mini is still...mini.

Yeah, you're looking at it. And yeah, this is another trunk post.

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: Door Handles (With Video)

September 29, 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

The door handles on the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe are similar to but not quite the same as the door handles on the Tesla Model S. You need to press the unlock button on the key fob to pop the door handles on the Jaguar F-Type. The Tesla's opened automatically as you approached the car.

The Jag's are also painted the same Firesand Metallic as the car's body. The Tesla's were not. But they both tuck away nicely when locked.

See them in action after the jump.

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2015 Porsche Macan: Boomers Thinking Small

September 26, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan

Edmunds.com analysts have just published some interesting stats about the compact SUV segment. It's exactly this part of the market that Porsche was keen to enter when it brought the 2015 Porsche Macan S to market.

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2014 Mazda 3: Getting the Bigger Engine With a Manual Transmission

September 26, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

Back in June of this year I wrote about the 2014 Mazda 3, "If you're a driving enthusiast...you might be bummed out that Mazda doesn't offer a manual transmission with this engine. It's a six-speed automatic or nothing."

Well, Mazda's people must have read my update (or, more accurately, were already on the case) and made changes to address the issue. For 2015, Mazda's letting you pick the six-speed manual transmission with the 3i trim level's 2.0-liter four-cylinder and the 3s trim level's 2.5-liter engine.

Now the question is: Which one to get?

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2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: That's Not a Cherokee

September 26, 2014

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited

THAT's a Cherokee, on the left.

(say with Crocodile Dundee drawl for full effect).

I've been waiting more than a year to do this post. From when we first started seeing mule photos of the new Cherokee to taking delivery of our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited, I've wanted to line this pretender up against the real thing. I'm glad I've held on to my old Heep (156,000 miles) and not just for this shot.

>

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2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: 15,000-Mile Update

September 26, 2014

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI

The odometer clicked past the 15,000-mile mark on our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI. The car continues to put those miles on without any mechanical hassles.

Also, our lifetime fuel economy has increased to 27.2 mpg.

So, what to do next?

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: Hidden Vents

September 26, 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

Our long-term 2015 Jaguar F-Type has a little secret under the dash. When the car is off, the vents are hidden away giving the interior a cleaner, sleeker look. Turn on the F-Type and the vents rise up from the center stack, which makes me feel like a superhero of some sort (or a super-villain if you prefer). It's a little bit like the Corvette's hidden USB port in that sense. Click through for a video clip.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Difficult Child Seat Install

September 26, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

Last weekend I installed two Britax child seats in our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250. The car's lower (LATCH, ISOFIX) anchors are exposed so that part was easy and secure. However, the top tether, which is located behind the rear headrests, was more difficult.

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2015 Porsche Macan: Mirror Dip Tip

September 25, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan

In addition to having a backup camera for parallel parking, I like the vehicle setting that lets a driver dip the passenger side mirror to see her position in relation to the curb. It was not immediately obvious to me how to achieve the mirror dip in our 2015 Porsche Macan S

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2015 Jaguar F-Type R: Start-Stop Fuel Savings Test

September 25, 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type R

Yes, our 2015 Jaguar F-Type R has a start-stop system. I know, right? But a lot of new European cars have one. Gasoline is outrageously expensive on the other side of the pond.

A representative of a U.S. carmaker that sells over there told me European-market buyers actually demand this feature. If it's not standard, he said, they'll pay for the option more often than not. This wouldn't be the case if it didn't work, and there's no arguing with the pure logic of the basic concept.

Indeed our initial test with our 2014 BMW 328i x-Drive Gran Turismo (say that three times fast) suggested there's real money to be saved. Use of the system earned us another 2.5 mpg, an improvement of 9.4 percent.

But was that real? What would happen if we tried it with another car, our 2015 Jaguar F-Type R, for instance?      

Last week I returned to our Orange County city course with the F-Type and made one lap in each mode on consecutive mornings.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Road Tripping and Fuel Economy

September 25, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

I drove our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 almost 900 miles round trip this week from Southern California to Palo Alto and back. Took the long way up the 101 instead of tolerating the inane behavior on the 5 freeway.

The CLA is a solid road trip companion. Mostly.

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2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: Rear Seat Armrest

September 25, 2014

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

"You know what? My arms are tired. I need a place to put them. A place to rest them, in fact. Those suckers have just been dangling at the ends of my shoulders since birth. It's getting old."

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2014 Acura MDX: Performance Testing

September 25, 2014

2014 Acura MDX

The Acura MDX has long been the driver's SUV. With an energetic engine, direct steering and suspension designed for people who know the difference between a damper and a hamper, the MDX was deemed just a tad too enthusiastic for the Pampers crowd.  So the 2014 Acura MDX is softer, quieter and more comfy.

It's still got sauce, though, kicking out 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. So, we took it to the track to see if it's still got the moves.

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2014 Kia Cadenza: Trunk Release Button But...

September 25, 2014

2014 Kia Cadenza

You've seen some posts by our staff about the usefulness of the trunk features in our long-term 2014 Kia Cadenza and one about it bonking Scott on his head.

This weekend I went grocery shopping and was happy to see the cargo net in the trunk to hold my bottles in place. But I noticed a cost-cutting feature in our Cadenza. While it has a trunk release button on the keyfob, it just unlatches the lock to the trunk. The trunk lid then pops open a little but does not have any equipment to auto-open and auto-close.

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2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Performance Testing

September 24, 2014

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI

Since we took delivery of our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI back in December, it has performed the regular commuting duties with little or no fuss. Our VW has also undertaken a few moderate road trips and hauling duties, you know typical sedan stuff. It has served us as well as any other midsized family sedan in this capacity. It also went to our test track.

The big news with this 2014 Passat isn't its ability to hold five people pretty comfortably, we knew it did that. The interesting bit is actually its new 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gasoline motor that pumps out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

How'd it do?

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Cooling Checkup

September 24, 2014

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

After twice experiencing overheating in our 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray during extreme driving, we brought the car to Bunnin Chevrolet in Culver City for a checkup.

Now, we knew going in there probably wouldn't be a whole lot the dealer could do, especially since the chances of them replicating the problem would be near nil.

But we figured it was the right thing to do.

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2014 Acura MDX: Third Service

September 24, 2014

2014 Acura MDX

The "Maintenance Due Soon" warning appeared in the instrument panel in our 2014 Acura MDX for the third time just as the odometer was about to hit 22,000 miles. We could have waited until service was required, but the SUV was about to go on a 2,000-mile road trip and we didn't want to travel on used oil.

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2015 Porsche Macan: I'd Buy One

September 24, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan

A small luxury crossover SUV isn't something that normally evokes a lot of passion. But our 2015 Porsche Macan S has quickly become one of my favorite vehicles in our long-term fleet.

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