Tara Weingarten

Road Test: Mercedes-Benz

Time for our first double-decker road test! Call it "Extreme Makeover: Car Edition." In an effort to keep its snazzy line in Hollywood shape, Mercedes-Benz has taken a cue from TV and nipped and tucked two of its superstars: the E Class (below) and the SL (above).

Road Test: Toyota Camry SE

Japanese carmakers have become so good at predicting what we American drivers want, they are on the verge of overtaking our market. Jump behind the wheel of the seventh-generation Camry and you'll see why.

Travel: Jump Onboard--Quick!

The longest lines this summer may not be at Disney World but on your way home. Ah, welcome to the airport--packed with all the vacationing crowds trying to get out of town.

Road Test: Volvo C70

Volvo's new C70 isn't just a fun open-air convertible, it's also a work worthy of the Museum of Modern Art. It's not so much the car's looks that demand attention, though it's stylish enough.

The Good Life

Whether you're heading to the beach or the pool this summer, chic accessories are a must. "It's a huge market," says designer Melissa Odabash. "Beach gear is becoming increasingly fashion-forward, and people are looking for items that are both versatile and trendy." Her caftans provide a hip starting point: silky and retro-sexy, they're beloved by Riviera glitterati andcasual beach bunnies alike (£200-£1,000; odabash.com ).

Road Test: Gallardo Spyder

Subtle it's not. Hit the ignition and hear a roar from its massive exhaust pipes that could wake the dead. But was it music to my ears? Well, duh. The Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder's strident sound complements this new supersexy twin-seater's buff Italian looks.

Road Test: 2006 KIA Sedona LX

What does the Kia Sedona have to offer? From the looks of it, you wouldn't think much. Here's a minivan, bland as toast inside and out. But tap the accelerator and ...

Travel: A Better Class Of Coach

Fasten your seat-belts ... and prepare for a bumpy ride. This summer, airlines are expected to be more crowded than ever before. Carriers predict a record 209 million passengers between now and Labor Day, up about 1 percent from last year.

Road Test: Grand Vitara

It's cute (well, a little stubby), not too pricey and completely utilitarian. That makes Suzuki's newest Grand Vitara a great choice for that summer tradition: the family road trip.

Road Test: BMW M Roadster

BMW's new little toy is a major buzz maker and a naughty, naughty car. I tap the little round black button that reads SPORT. I press the gas pedal as I climb the freeway on-ramp and look in my mirrors to merge into highway traffic.

Travel: Another Day In Paradise

It's time to pack your hula skirt. With summer about to start, few destinations attract as many tourists from families to honeymooners--as Hawaii. Just ask the 7.4 million people who visited last year.

Road Test: VW GTI

It's the type of car that teenage boys drool over, kinda like an automotive equivalent of Natalie Portman. But I adore this car, and I am certainly no teenage boy.

Road Test: Jaguar XK

If gorgeous is as gorgeous does, then the redesigned XK is a New York supermodel on a catwalk. But it's got another, more athletic side. Think Tom Cruise acting extra-manly in "M:i:III," that is if you can block the creepy image of his holding a sonogram wand against his fiancée's belly.

Road Test: Eclipse Spyder GT

Just in time for spring, the Mitsubishi Eclipse takes its top off. This is, for the most part, a fun car with enough space for you and three friends (that is, if you push the front seats up just a bit).

Road Test: Honda Fit

Are you fit? Honda's newest little bullet is. Going back to the carmaker's early days--when it churned out little Civics by the container-load--Honda's latest nano-size car easily seats five and still "fits" handily into subcompact spaces at the mall.

Style: A Hairy Situation

The beauty world is still fussing about ionic hair dryers. How come? They emit negative ions that quickly evaporate water molecules, so you spend less time with the heat on.

Road Test: BMW M5

The M5 is one of the cars that secured BMW's stellar reputation. But the latest M5 is now packing a mind-boggling 500 horsepower in "sport" mode. It's so scary fast, I almost can't believe this car is legal.

Road Test: Pontiac Solstice

The new Pontiac Solstice is a charming, fun and accessible roadster, reasonably priced for a ride that delivers breeze-through-your-hair open cruising. But its best feature is its Batmobile-esque rear-end humps over each seat--pure folly.


Five and a half million of you have bought Ford's flagship SUV, the Explorer, making it the No. 1 midsize in America. For 2006, the Explorer gets a bolder, more aggressive look and improved roominess, plus optional extra seating for seven (for $1,340).

Road Test: Porsche Cayman S

A week in the Cayman S and I am a new woman, almighty and invigorated. I am also stripped down to raw nerve endings, feeling every punch of the throttle. You might say the Cayman is just a hard-topped version of the Porsche Boxter, itself a thrilling ragtop roadster.

Education: Speak In Tongues

Carol Kaminski, a 49-year-old speech pathologist from Philadelphia, wanted to brush up on her Spanish. But instead of taking a community-college class, last fall she decided to pack her bags and head to Granada, Spain.

The Good Life

The living room used to represent the showcase for style and comfort in a home. These days, the bathroom is quickly taking its place. New technologies and materials make it easy to linger ever longer.

Road Test: Ford Fusion

Ford cuts a little edge into the five-passenger family sedan with the new Fusion. This stylish car isn't a bad boy, but it does include some sharp architectural touches--loads of bling and shiny chrome.

Road Test: Mercedes S550

Flagship sedans are on every street corner out here in Los Angeles. How do you stand out? Hop behind the wheel of the redesigned S-Class from Mercedes. Purebred touches are everywhere, in its full-leather upholstery, burl-walnut trim and heated 14-way power front seats.

Safety: It's a Slippery Slope

The blizzard on the East Coast last week frosted cities and streets. How do you steer safely? We asked for tips from auto experts. Unfreeze door locks by heating the end of a key with a match.

Road Test: Jeep Commander

If G.I. Joe were in the market for some new wheels, he'd want them to look like this. Jeep's super-rugged, beefy, boxy seven-passenger vehicle isn't just tough-looking.

Road Test: Toyota Avalon

These days, even domestic cars are built overseas with foreign parts, so who can say what's American anymore? Try Toyota. (But don't get all patriotic on me.) Its new redone Avalon is probably America's perfect full-size family car.

Road Test: Cadillac XLR-V: Born in the U.S.A.

The car is angular, muscular, bold and aggressive. It has big brakes that are cross-drilled and vented front and rear. It rides on four 19-inch wheels and has four chrome-tipped exhaust pipes grouped together for a mean, nasty look.


Lexus is known for its luxe, fast, smooth cars. Now with the second-generation IS 350, it wants to rule the sports sedan category. Sorry, kids: we're not quite there yet.

Road Test: F430 Spider

It's 85 degrees outside--autumn in L.A., after all--and I should be melting. But I've got goose bumps behind the wheel of the new Ferrari F430 Spider. I press the START button and all hell breaks loose. ( Plus , the angels in heaven sing.) A deep, sultry riot of sound emerges from four exquisitely tuned exhaust pipes.