This week, we present our five favorite test drives of last year. Included are cars only, as next week we’ll feature our five best test drives for SUVs, trucks, minivans, etc. So here we go with our five car test drives that impressed this scribe for reasons noted in the capsule. In no particular order, here we go.
1. 2019 BMW 330i xDrive Sedan: Built in Munich, Germany, and sporting a longer wheelbase, less weight and perhaps the best looks in the history of compact class BMWs, this new-generation BMW is worthy of a top five nod. These new 3-Series BMWs are clearly some of the best out there, as the 3-Series BMW line offers consumers a chance to own a quality, excellent handling and stunning-looking BMW for a price that is, in my opinion, undervalued at $42,250 base. This new generation 3-Series offers consumers the best of both worlds as the wheelbase is stretched 1.6 inches yet its curb weight is over 100 pounds lighter thanks to the use of lighter yet stronger assembly pieces. The new build offers a slight width enhancement and a lower center of gravity that makes this compact class BMW the best handling of the 3-Series to date. Our tester cost $58,770 with all options included.
2. 2019 Honda Accord: Fresh off a complete redesign and featuring everything a new generation Accord should. Included are a brand-new chassis platform, 2-inch longer wheelbase, lower to the ground stance and a wider, roomier interior. Built in Marysville, Ohio, since 1982, we drove the top tier Touring 2.0 Turbo but rest assured the entry LX 1.5-liter turbo starts at $23,720 is well equipped. These new 10th-generation Accords are a bit shorter in length even with the stretched wheelbase and lighter in curb weight. Thanks to the wheelbase extension, rear passenger legroom improves while cargo room increases to a “best in mid-size class” dimension. Both gas and hybrid models are available. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 delivers 252 horses and 273 lb. ft. of torque and accelerates as quick as most of the muscle cars from back in the Sixties. It’s capable of quarter-mile runs in the 14.2 second range at 100 mph and zero to 60 arrives in 5.7 seconds, making the new Accord with the 2.0-Turbo a muscle car in family sedan dress. Our Touring tester came in at $37,028.
3. 2019 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe: Cadillac ATS-V is built in Lansing, Michigan, for those seeking high performance and is clearly not for an inexperienced driver. Specifically, when the ATS-V’s 464-horses and 445-lb. ft. of torque is unleashed, everything happens quickly and 100 mph arrives in seconds. As for fuel mileage, 17 city and 25 are listed on the window sticker which is very good for a high performance car of this caliber. ATS-V rides on a near 110-inch wheelbase while the twin-turbo V6 mates with our tester’s optional 8-speed automatic. However, Cadillac is pulling back production on some of the cars it currently produces for 2020 and the ATS-V is one of them. However, don’t fret as dealers are taking orders on the new CT6-V with its all-new Blackwing Twin-Turbo 4.6-liter V8 producing over 627 lb. ft. of torque from its 550-horsepower design. If you desire a twin-turbo ATS followed by that legendary “V” badge, now is the time to buy as they’ll be gone after 2019 production. Our tester came in at $80,775 from a base of $67,795.
4. 2019 Lexus ES350: This Lexus sedan competes in the crowded midsize class and came delivered in performance-bred F Sport trim with an entry price of $44,035. It provided spirited performance when called on while still adhering to the Lexus ideology of opulence found in every Lexus assembled. Built in Georgetown, Kentucky, and listed as a midsize by the EPA, our F Sport was loaded with both amenity and performance upgrades, including a color coordinated front bumper, sport mesh grille, 19-inch all-season tires on F Sport specific split five-spoke alloy wheels. Under the hood, ES350 F Sport receives a 3.5-liter V6 developing 302 horses and 267 torque. The engine couples to an eight-speed automatic which is standard on both the Lexus F Sport 350 and entry 350 trim. The ES350 eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters make driving the front-wheel-drive Lexus more fun so if you enjoy more aggressive driving when the times and conditions are proper like at open track days, F Sport is indeed a car you will appreciate. EPA numbers are good at 22 city and 31 highway and notable is F Sport’s more aggressive engine sound when RPM’s rise.
5. 2019 Volkswagen Golf SE 1.4 Turbo: This Volkswagen compact is still one of the most popular cars in this segment. Now in its seventh generation following a 1974 debut Golf is available in Sedan, Hatchback or small wagon trims ala Golf, GTI, Golf R, e-Golf and Sportwagen. Our tester arrived in SE 4-door dress with a base price of $25,245. The entry Golf S Sedan is a popular consumer choice thanks to an affordable $21,845 entry price. Most notable is that even with the entry S trim, you receive forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring (front assist) blind spot monitor (different than the upgraded active blind spot), and rear traffic alert. A fully independent suspension offers great grip on all type of roads and conditions. Handling is crisp and precise, which has been a VW calling card for years. And, just as baby boomers cherished all the Beetles and VW Micro Buses/Vans, the young generation loves all the current VW Golf models.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.