Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Every brand has its calling card.

For some in the auto world, the focus is all about safety (i.e. Volvo); For others, it’s power (see: Dodge); For some it’s about reliability (Toyota, for one).


And then there’s Mazda, a smaller brand but one with many diehard fans -- and for a very good reason. They have perhaps the best calling card of all -- their vehicles are a blast to drive. Period.


They’re not the most powerful brand, wouldn’t win a drag race, and are far from the fanciest or most high-tech. But the overall experience of driving the Mazda lineup ranks well against any of the competition in the non-luxury segment of modern vehicles.


While their lineup comes in many sizes -- from Miata sports car up to CX-9 three-row SUV, in this review I’m going to focus on a couple vehicles on the smaller side of their lineup that I recently got to spend some time in -- the 2018 Mazda compact sedan, and the 2018 Mazda CX-3 subcompact SUV, which is essentially a raised-up version of a Mazda2 sedan.

It’s been nearly a decade, but the Chevy Traverse is at long last getting an overhaul.


Lower in annual sales that most of its three-row SUV competition, it’s made some needed changes (slimmer weight, boosted power, tech upgrades) to help catch up to the many vehicles in a class that only continues to grow (Its competitors include the new Volkswagen Atlas; Ford Explorer; Dodge Durango; GMC Acadia; Honda Pilot; Toyota Highlander and Mazda CX-9).

I recently spent some time in a 2018 Traverse and I’m back with a full report on how it holds up.

Luxury car buyers are very picky, but also very loyal. If you get them to be a fan of your brand, the key is to not mess things up so they’ll stick around and not jump ship.

In the case of the Audi A5 coupe, which I recently tested, the vehicle has been updated for 2018. This competitor in the luxury coupe segment keeps most of its heritage but also sees key improvements; Will it be enough to keep buyers loyal and not have they sway over to BMW or Mercedes or other Audi competitors?

LOOKS

With Audi generally more focused on what’s under the hood, exterior design on the A5 is attractive (including the instantly recognizable Audi grille and four-ring logo up front), but not overall showy or gaudy like some of the competition. The A5 features sharp-looking 18-inch 10-spoke wheels and all-season tires, with options to upgrade to 19-inch or 20-inch wheels.

 

With some auto brands, there’s often debate about how to classify them. With Buick, the debate centers on whether it’s truly a luxury brand (like fellow GM stablemate Cadillac) or something less -- perhaps more of a premium brand that’s more plush than Chevy but not quite at a Cadillac level.

Either way, it’s really all semantics. Because in the end, what matters is that a vehicle is well-built, performs well and looks great. And with the vehicles Buick has been putting out in recent years, they are certainly meeting that expectation.

I recently spent some time in Buick’s largest SUV -- the three-row Buick Enclave, which can be considered the crown jewel of the Buick lineup -- and I’m back with a full report.

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