13 great first cars that aren’t boring

Advertisement First cars usually need to be affordable and practical, but they can also be fun to drive Share Shares Copy Link Copy {copyShortcut} to copy Link copied! Updated: 11:54 AM EDT Apr 5, 2017 Collin Woodard Writer Chris Perkins Weekend Editor Honda SOURCE: Honda 13 great first cars that aren't boring First cars usually need to be affordable and practical, but they can also be fun to drive Share Shares Copy Link Copy {copyShortcut} to copy Link copied! Updated: 11:54 AM EDT Apr 5, 2017 Collin Woodard Writer Chris Perkins Weekend Editor Buying your first car can be an incredibly difficult decision. It feels like everyone has advice for you, and if you're an enthusiast, it probably feels like that advice is mostly about how you should buy the least expensive beige-mobile you can find. It's true that you could very likely wreck your first car and that spending a lot of money on it is wasteful, but just because your first car should be somewhat practical, safe, and reliable doesn't mean it also has to be oppressively boring. If you're going to buy an affordable car that's still fun to drive, you might have to learn to do a little of your own wrenching to keep them running, but that's nothing your dad's tools and a few YouTube videos can't solve. Advertisement In that case, here are 13 great first cars for budding enthusiasts.1. Volkswagen Golf GTI Volkswagen Few cars offer a mix of approachable performance, practicality, and fun quite like the Volkswagen GTI. It's a daily driver that's as fun as many of the best sports cars on the market. The fifth-generation (Mk5) GTI is a particular sweet spot with its 200-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and choice of dual-clutch or manual transmissions. It's quick, but not too quick for an inexperienced driver.2. Honda Civic Si Honda Everyone knows that the Honda Continue Reading

First Drive: A slice-proof roof and good looks define the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Full Car Details More Reviews Twice over two decades of ownership of five different examples of Mazda’s outstanding MX-5 Miata, I’ve needed to replace convertible tops, each time because someone used a knife to slice into the car looking for something to steal. The tops aren’t cheap, and in my experience not only are insurance companies disinterested in paying for factory replacements but also the aftermarket tops simply do not fit as well or reflect the same level of quality. You would think, then, that I’d fall instantly in love with the new 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, or “retractable fastback,” which replaces the previous-generation MX-5 Miata PRHT (power retractable hardtop) with a rakish silhouette and a slice-proof roof. But after a brief interlude on a brilliant morning in sunny San Diego, I did not. Don’t get me wrong. I adore the fourth-generation Miata, and I thoroughly enjoyed what little time I had with the great looking new MX-5 RF version. But those flying buttresses that remain in place when the roof is retracted virtually eliminate the wide-open feeling you get in the soft-top version, which itself doesn’t provide as much oneness with the world as the 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 I’ve got parked in my garage. This openness, after all, is the point of owning a convertible in the first place, is it not? By the numbers: How the RF treatment impacts the MX-5 Miata The discontinued MX-5 Miata PRHT might have looked like it was wearing an ill-fitting baseball cap when the roof was raised, but when it was dropped it preserved the openness of the soft-top model. Rightly, however, when it comes to sports cars, function ought to follow form. After all, I never upgraded to the PRHT simply because I was never crazy about the third-generation Miata’s styling (and the company never launched another Continue Reading

2017 Mazda CX-9 adds some sexiness to the seven seater at LA 2015

Mazda's popular CX-5 and bar-raising CX-3 crossovers have set a nice precedent for the brand's SUV lineup, and now they've got their flagship. Meet the 2017 Mazda CX-9, a seven-passenger SUV that questions whether crossovers have to be un-sexy. Featuring an all-new turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder under the hood, the CX-9 is a big step for Mazda in more than just lineup expansion. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. The turbocharged unit is the first engine to wear the SKYACTIV badge, and sets Mazda up nicely for a full lineup of forced-induction engines in the future (did someone say "Mazdaspeed?"). This particular unit makes 250-horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, more than enough usable power for the everyday soccer mom or school shuttle dad. In terms of styling, Mazda chose not to mess with a good thing, as the CX-9 is a fitting evolution of the "Kodo" design language that has permeated through their whole lineup. Sleek curves and handsome chrome accents make this crossover seriously good looking, and almost sports-wagon-like in its appearance. Inside is no different story, as the show-bound pre-production model was fitted with a handsome brown Nappa leather interior and seven seats. Silver and black trim, as well as faux wood accents, bring this economy crossover upmarket at first glance, and will certainly please buyers looking for a bargain price but premium look. But seeing as this is a Mazda, how will it drive? All signs point to "sprightly," thanks to a six-speed automatic and a much more rigid chassis. The CX-9 even saved almost 200-pounds in front-wheel-drive configuration and 300-pounds in all-wheel-drive over the previous generation. Could this be the first "superleggera" crossover? We'd like to think so. The CX-9 goes on sale in the spring of next year, and Mazda is hoping it will help carry the independent brand back into the mainstream. We'd say Mazda's Continue Reading