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Articles by Jonathan Spira

Review and Test Drive: 2020 Lexus NX 300

Roughly one year ago, I noted that Lexus’s Department of Naming knew what it was doing when it named its then entry-level crossover the NX with the explanation that “NX” stands for “nimble crossover.”  As a result, when a Cadmium Orange 2020 NX 300 showed up at our door this past April, at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, I was excited.  After all, during a pandemic, who wanted boring?
Although …

In Vienna, A Hotel Room Comes with A Night at the Opera

I haven’t been to a live performance in a concert hall since seeing “My Fair Lady” at the Volksoper in early March, because, uh, social distancing and all, and I miss it quite a bit.  While it’s doubtful that Broadway will reopen before late fall at the earliest, and the Metropolitan Opera, which cancelled its fall season last week, may reopen New Year’s Eve, I now have the opportunity to …

Restaurant Review: Cagen – New York’s Best Sushi as Takeout Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

Four and a half years ago, I ventured to the East Village to try what I understood to be the one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city, Cagen.  In it, I found chef and owner Toshio Tomita, who spent 16 years working for Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu restaurant fame.
Perhaps I had been misinformed as I left believing Chef Tomita had built an establishment that vied with the best …

Restaurant Review: Brownstone Pancake House, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Since the closure of restaurants in the United States amidst the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve had nary the opportunity to visit a restaurant, let alone write a restaurant review.  But there I was, in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, dining out, despite New Jersey’s lockdown.
Admittedly, I was still in the driver’s seat of my car in the restaurant’s parking lot when the waitress came to take my order.
Given that the last meals …

Review and Test Drive: 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XSE

It’s hard to imagine that the Toyota Avalon has been around long enough to be in its fifth generation but the elegant family sedan continues to carve out its niche in the United States, now sporting a massive grille à la Lexus. Built on the new TNGA platform shared with the Camry, the latest Avalon has a sporty look to it thanks to the fastback-like rear windscreen that slopes gently …

Review and Test Drive: 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

If you think gasoline-electric vehicles are a non-starter, you haven’t driven the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE.  While Toyota has manufactured the Camry since 1982 – that’s almost 40 years if you’re counting – this is decidedly not your father’s Camry.
The eighth generation of the Camry – known internally as the XV70 – was introduced in early 2017 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  It went on …

The Post-Coronavirus Age is ‘The End of the Beginning’

How different might the post-coronavirus world look? Many predict radical change while others expect things to return to the way they were before the virus struck. Some see an apocalypse, others a minor shift in how we live.
I see neither.  To borrow from Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” as this quote …