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Author Archives: Bob Plunkett

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Bob Plunkett is a veteran automotive reporter whose articles have appeared in industry and consumer magazines for 30 years. He currently produces syndicated automotive reports published weekly newspapers across North America, putting the reader in the driver's seat for a hands-on feel of a vehicle. An adventurer, Plunkett has raced cars, scaled mountains, dived with sharks and run on foot across entire countries to research his articles. For the decade of the 1980s he reported on automotive subjects for an Arkansas newspaper, and during that time wrote speeches for a young Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton. Today, Plunkett still writes from his Arkansas home, but he travels extensively, crisscrossing the globe to drive new cars.

2012 Subaru Forester Compact Crossover SUV

2012 Subaru Forester Compact SUV

With one driver's hands griping a sporty steering wheel and the automatic transmission's manual shift mode set in the lowest gear, a Forester 2.5XT Touring edition applies big torque from a gutsy turbo-charged four-cylinder engine to all four wheels through a four-wheel-drive (4WD) mechanism which operates automatically. Read More »

2012 Scion iQ Micro Compact Hatchback

2012 Scion IQ subcompact coupe

It scores major marks for style and substance, and, as we observe during drive tests in the urban sprawl of Tucson, also draws spectator attention on street corners due to the unusually small package and dramatic geometric styling. This itsy-bitsy economy car carries the nameplate of iQ for model-year 2012 and conforms as a micro compact 3-door hatchback coupe developed exclusively for Scion in America. Read More »

2012 Nissan Versa Subcompact Sedan

2012 Nissan Versa Subcompact Sedan

Yet Nissan breaks this custom with Versa because the notchback seems substantial: Versa's designers pull off a magician's trick by creating surprising cabin room with a lot of nice equipment aboard, and in the process end up with a small car that feels pleasant to drive. Built on Nissan's new global front-wheel drive V platform, the small-scale Versa notchback model aimed at the North American market comes together at a Nissan assembly plant located in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Read More »

2012 Cadillac CTS Luxury Mid-Size Sedan

2012 Cadillac CTS Mid-Size Luxury Sedan

For 2012, a lighter and more powerful V6 applies to the top two trims of CTS and all editions wear a new shield-shaped front grille bearing Cadillac's Wreath & Crest emblem. The new engine is an aluminum 3.6-liter V6 rigged with dual overhead cams, direct injection technology and VVT (variable valve timing). With direct injection, the fuel goes directly into the engine's combustion chamber and fosters a thorough burn of the mix of air and fuel. Read More »

2012 Buick Verano Compact Luxury Sedan

2012 Buick Verano Compact Luxury Sedan

The effort to control NVH inside the Verano is labeled by Buick marketeers as Quiet Tuning. It represents a sense of refinement akin to a premium luxury car yet Buick's smallest sedan brings sticker prices pitched below $28,000. Looking sleek in a stylish design drawn with taut lines and keen edgework, the Verano carries a direct-injection Ecotec four-cylinder engine and mounts exacting mechanical hardware on a rigid front-wheel-drive platform with the tight suspension control of a Teutonic touring car. Read More »

2012 Buick LaCrosse Mid-Size Luxury Sedan

2012 Buick Lacrosse Mid-Size Sedan

LaCrosse, sleek in second-generation style drawn with taut lines and keen edgework, presents powertrain choices on 2012 issues with a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rigged with 'eAssist' battery booster or a powerful 3.6-liter V6 with added flex-fuel E85 capability. LaCrosse's light hybrid version teams a thrifty but conventional 2.4-liter four-cylinder Ecotec engine that sips gasoline with a lithium-ion battery system and electric motor-generator to provide power assistance to the gas engine and improve the fuel economy numbers. Read More »

2012 BMW X3 Luxury Compact SUV

2012 BMW X3 Compact SUV

To emphasize X3's utility and wily traction manners, BMW nixes the SUV acronym in favor of the three-letter descriptive of SAV, meaning sport activity vehicle. Think of it as a raucous sports car yet rigged with the boxy utility bay of a wagon. We see the X3 as resembling one of BMW's 3-Series sports sedans, only it's jacked up in suspension and carries a SUV's cargo compartment. Read More »

2012 Audi A7 Mid-Size Hatchback Sedan

2013 Audi A7 Mid-Size Sedan Hatchback

Our vehicle -- the latest clever concept from Audi of Germany -- carries a badge of A7 and slots into the mid-size class in configuration with a 2+2 cockpit and four doors for passengers plus a tail-side portal. With a low roofline and integrated rear doors, the A7 looks sleek and swift like a curve-craving coupe, yet it provides the four cabin doors of a practical sedan and carves out additional cargo room in the hind quarters like a functional wagon. Read More »

2012 Subaru Impreza Compact Sedan and Hatchback

2012 Subaru Impreza Compact Sedan

Impreza has been redesigned in a fourth generation of models for 2012, which conform as a 4-door notchback sedan and 5-door hatchback. Collectively, these new vehicles are stronger, more powerful and more serious than any previous Imprezas, and they look streamlined slick dressed in sleek new packages. Read More »

2012 Toyota Camry Mid-Size Sedan

2012 Toyota Camry Mid-Size Sedan

But the re-do of Camry, which has been re-sheathed for model-year 2012 with concerns for passenger comfort and personal safety foremost in mind, results in a generously scaled mid-size sedan that's keen in style, invigorated with more powerful yet more efficient engines and laced with luxurious cabin features to position this car close to the realm of Lexus, Toyota's elite upscale line. Read More »