The four-years-later RAV4 (the 2019) is getting better

The Toyota RAV4 will always have a special place in my heart, because it was my first-ever official review vehicle. Back then, in 2015, we were a family of five with a bun in the oven, so we could all just about squeeze into that vehicle for a trip to our OB/GYN in Downtown Atlanta.

Four years later, our family has grown by two, and the RAV4 has grown a bit as well, at least under the hood. The 2019 model still has the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but now it delivers 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque versus the 2015 model’s 176 horses and 172 pound-feet. Continue reading

The all-new Ford Police Interceptor utility hybrid is a “no compromise” pursuit vehicle

A childhood dream came true recently when a few of us automotive journalists were invited to join loads of law enforcement officers in test driving Ford’s all-new Police Interceptor utility vehicles, including the first-ever pursuit-rated hybrid model. This spectacle took place in a parking lot at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which constantly amazes me with how many different kinds of non-NASCAR events it hosts throughout the calendar year.

Going back to 1996, I have spent countless hours riding along as a journalist with police officers and sheriff’s deputies, but only now, 23 years later, have I taken the wheel of a police vehicle. And with all due respect to those Crown Vics of yesteryear, they would be left standing at the starting line by these new Police Interceptor utility vehicles. Continue reading

The 2019 Toyota C-HR is slow but fun

If you buy the 2019 Toyota C-HR, I’m guessing it will be because it is such a good-looking vehicle, kind of like an awesome Hot Wheels car, and not because it gave you chills to drive it. And I’m good with that. It really is a hot-looking car.

Let’s go ahead and list what’s not hot about the C-HR, and then we’ll get to what still makes this a pretty cool ride. Continue reading

The 2019 ES 350 Ultra Luxury edition is well beyond ‘entry level’

It’s always a pleasure to do a weeklong review of a Lexus vehicle, and the ES 350 is probably my favorite of the fleet, so I was looking forward to that late-June delivery. I was intrigued all the more to learn it would be the “Ultra Luxury” edition.

The cynical side of my brain wondered if it would live up to the billing, especially as the ES is considered by industry insiders to be an entry-level luxury sedan. I, of course, shared this cynicism with a couple of friends, but when later they asked if it really was ultra-lux, I had to consistently answer, “I can’t think of anything it lacks.” Continue reading

Sprewell Bluff offers the Flint River at its most pristine

Sprewell Bluff Park in Upson County is one of my new favorite daytrip destinations.

Growing up as I did in Clayton and Fayette counties, I have crossed the Flint River innumerable times, and I have often wondered, “Where does it go from here?” One of those places is right through Sprewell Bluff Park, which is located about six miles west of Thomaston. Continue reading

Hicks rebounds to be among champions crowned during Thursday Thunder finale

HAMPTON – There were fireworks on track and in the sky for drivers who claimed season titles in the Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John’s finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Just three points separated the top two drivers in the VP Racing Fuels Pro Division entering the final race, with Senoia’s Joshua Hicks holding the narrow lead over Jensen Jorgensen of Stockbridge. However the championship picture changed shortly after the race started, with an incident in the first turn collecting several cars, including the top two racing for the title. Continue reading