Featured Reviews

Alfa rides new Tonale into expanded U.S. presence

Alfa Romeo has always made vehicles full of passion, and high-maintenance ,issues, but the new 2024 Tonale aims at eliminating those issues and making major impact in U.S.

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Glossy white Outlander blooms by roadside growth of lupines.

Mainstream Outlander moves upstream

Mitsubishi's history is of a small Japanese manufacturer, specializing in advanced technology, and the new Outlander is a thoroughly modern example, as a midsize SUV with seats f

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2023 Genesis G90 sets ultra-luxury standard

Hyundai had built the G90 to take on the ultra-luxury sedan market dominated by German brands, but in its latest version, the G90 checks all the boxes and establishes some new on

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New Raptor R whistles with high-tech muscle

It might be blatant head-on competition with the Ram T-Rex, but Ford has redone its top F-150 to make the Raptor R, with 700 high-tech horsepower, to reclaim its top rating.

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Sleeker Tiguan combines assets of sedan, SUV

After years of going from boxy to elongated, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan settles in as a perfect blend of family sedan and sleek SUV, with room for seven.

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Slick design of 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T has high-tech hybrid, AWD.

MAMA Spring Rally dazzling dose of future

Annual MAMA Spring Rally at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., offered both nostalgia and surrealism, with dazzling new cars such as the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T.

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Family reunion birthday party included, from left, Jeff, Dad, Jack, and Joan at Lakewood home.

Year-long break in reviews was no vacation!

After 50 years of writing an auto review every week, it was unusual to take some time off -- and also unintentional. Funny how the term "cardiac arrest" takes new meaning when it

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Maverick, Tremor bridge Ford truck span

Ford has spent several generations battling to the top of the truck market. The new Maverick compact FWD is at the light-duty end, while the F150 adds a Tremor version,

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Polestar, e-tron, Ioniq 5, EV6 top TC Auto Show

The 49th Twin Cities Auto Show runs through Sunday, May 22, at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, with an array of electric vehicles amid the new-car displays. And even fair food!

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Mustang Mach-E strikes stunning pose with a calm Lake Superior background.

Mach-E fits inside Ford's Mustang corral

Familiar form of the Ford Mustang has been expanded to adoprt the new Mach-E -- a pure electric vehicle with 270 miles of range and hot acceleraton.

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  • About the Author

    John GilbertJohn Gilbert is a lifetime Minnesotan and career journalist, specializing in cars and sports during and since spending 30 years at the Minneapolis Tribune, now the Star Tribune. More recently, he has continued translating the high-tech world of autos and sharing his passionate insights as a freelance writer/photographer/broadcaster. A member of the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year jury since 1993. John can be heard Monday-Friday from 9-11am on 610 KDAL(www.kdal610.com) on the "John Gilbert Show," and writes a column in the Duluth Reader.

    For those who want to keep up with John Gilbert's view of sports, mainly hockey with a Minnesota slant, click on the following:

    Click here for sports

  • Exhaust Notes:

    More and more cars are offering steering-wheel paddles to allow drivers manual control over automatic or CVT transmissions. A good idea might be to standardize them. Most allow upshifting by pulling on the right-side paddle and downshifting with the left. But a recent road-test of the new Porsche Panamera, the paddles for the slick PDK direct-sequential gearbox were counter-intuitive -- both the right or left thumb paddles could upshift or downshift, but pushing on either one would upshift, and pulling back on either paddle downshifted. I enjoy using paddles, but I spent the full week trying not to downshift when I wanted to upshift. A little simple standardization would alleviate the problem.

    The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has the best paddle system, and Infiniti has made the best mainstream copy of that system for the new Q50, and other sporty models. And why not? It's simply the best. In both, the paddles are long, slender magnesium strips, affixed to the steering column rather than the steering wheel. Pull on the right paddle and upshift, pull on the left and downshift. The beauty is that while needing to upshift in a tight curve might cause a driver to lose the steering wheel paddle for an instant, but having the paddles long, and fixed, means no matter how hard the steering wheel is cranked, reaching anywhere on the right puts the upshift paddle on your fingertips.

    Even in snow-country, a few stubborn old-school drivers want to stick with rear-wheel drive, but the vast majority realize the clear superiority of front-wheel drive. Going to all-wheel drive, naturally, is the all-out best. But the majority of drivers facing icy roadways complain about traction for going, stopping and steering with all configurations. They overlook the simple but total influence of having the right tires can make. There are several companies that make good all-season or snow tires, but there are precious few that are exceptional. The Bridgestone Blizzak continues to be the best=known and most popular, but in places like Duluth, MN., where scaling 10-12 blocks of 20-30 degree hills is a daily challenge, my favorite is the Nokian WR. Made without compromising tread compound, the Nokians maintain their flexibility no matter how cold it gets, so they stick, even on icy streets, and can turn a skittish car into a winter-beater.