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Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –

LEXUS LC500 For 2022, Apple CarPlay compatibility and ProPilot Assist are standard on all Infiniti QX50 trims along with some minor updates. Otherwise, it’s the same midsize luxury SUV as before. Which is just fine with us.

A 2.0-liter variable-compression 4-cylinder turbo engine develops plentiful 268 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 280 pounds-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. The slick and smooth continuous variable transmission shifts effortlessly. Ensuring stability at quick turns and bumps on the road is a MacPherson strut front and a rear multilink suspension. The variable-assist, direct adaptive steering conveys an unswerving feel. Braking duties are handled exceptionally well by 13-inch vented front and 12.1-inch rear discs. Four drive modes are offered: standard, eco, sport and personal.

Based on a steel unibody structure, QX50 is undoubtedly a boldly attractive vehicle beginning with a long clamshell hood that meets up with a double-arch black-metallic grille, surrounded by horizontal LED headlights and fog lamps. The aluminum roof rails are standard as are the chrome dual exhaust tips and rear tail lamps that connect to the chrome strip. The cabin is crammed with extravagance and luxury features such as aluminum accents on the center console, dashboard, doors, push-button ignition, 60/40-split rear seat, eight-way power front seats, dual auto a/c, 8-inch upper touch screen for navigation and a 7-inch lower screen for climate, audio and phone controls. InTouch, a rotary knob in the center console, controls the dual screens. The familiar Infiniti double-wave instrument panel lights up with electroluminescent gauges. A mix of leather and aluminum on the short but easy-to-grip shifter knob gives a classy touch. As for roominess, there is plenty with a total interior volume of 135.8 cubic feet, and 64.4 cubic feet with the rear seat down. There also is a substantial hidden under-floor bin.

Dual front, side and knee airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic and traction controls, antiskid system, front/rear crumple zones, front seat active-head restraints, blind spot and lane departure warnings, rear-cross traffic alert and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. Looking into the future of autonomous transport, ProPilot Assist helps drivers to maintain their lane, and set vehicle speed and distance to a car ahead. 

Evidently, this carlike crossover is no gas sipper but the QX50 does offer oodles of extravagant treats to coddle its occupants. And the nimble Infiniti is quick on the road, touting a first-rate ride and commendable handling.

Tires: 235/55R19
Wheelbase: 110.2 inches
Length: 184.7 inches
Height: 66 inches
Width: 74.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 16 gallons
City: 22 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Weight: 4,105 pounds
Base price: $48,950
Price as tested: $49,975
Web site:


VW ID.4 PRO (RWD)Introduced just a year ago, the Santa Fe hybrid is an excellent addition to the Hyundai midsize SUV lineup, thanks to its bold styling, inviting cabin and best of all, better gas-sipping capabilities than the regular version.
Our test-drive Limited model was equipped with a 1.6-liter inline-4 turbo engine putting out a total of 226 horsepower (beating the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 hybrids) and 258 pounds-feet of torque. That is plenty of power for passing or merging into peak office-hour traffic. Finding help for that extra energy is a 44-kw electric motor backed by a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with max output of 64 kWh. A 6-speed auto gear box with paddle shifters is competent and, of course, fuel efficient.

The all-wheel-drive Santa Fe, which has center-locking differential capabilities, distributes power between front and rear wheels depending on road and driving conditions to result in a safe and comfortable ride. A MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension ensure that the SUV handles the rigors of daily driving with comfort. The motor-driven power steering is quick and precise. Want to save fuel? Switch to eco mode from smart or sport.

Up front is a three-dimensional horizontal wide grille flanked by noticeably slim LED T-shaped headlights. Our Limited edition was packed with such fine goodies as 8-way power heated/cooled front leather seats, 10.25-inch LCD touch screen for nav, phone and audio, Bluetooth phone capabilities, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 60/40 rear seat, suede headliner, panoramic sun roof, Harman Karmon sound system, surround-view monitor, tilt/telescopic steering column and dual auto a/c. Well-placed storage bins/cubbies abound throughout the cabin, which flaunts 146.6 cubic feet of space. 
The Santa Fe comes standard with Hyundai SmartSense, which includes blind-spot, forward-collision avoidance, safe exit and lane keep assists; smart cruise control; and of course 10 air bags. You also get rear cross-traffic collision avoid assist, rearview monitor, four-wheel antilock brakes, rollover sensor, electronic stability, traction and downhill brake controls, hill-start assist, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Base-priced at $40,160, the Santa Fe hybrid is a splendid combination of performance, practicality and fun. In our week of city driving this commendable SUV, we eked 37.1 mpg beating EPA estimates of 33. And Hyundai’s five-year, 60,000-mile basic, and 10-year, 100,000-mile power train and hybrid component/battery warranties should convince you to sign on the dotted line.

Tires: 235/55 R19
Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
Length: 188.4 inches
Height: 66.3 inches
Width: 74.8 inches
Weight: 4,204 pounds
Fuel capacity: 17.7 gallons
City: 33 mpg
Highway: 30 mpg
Web site:


VW ID.4 PRO (RWD)Guess which is Nissan’s top-selling vehicle in the United States? No, it isn’t the popular Altima sedan. It is the Rogue, a compact crossover that has delivered a cozy well-damped ride while targeting youthful and active lifestyles. 

For 2023, the 1.5-liter DOHC turbocharged engine develops 201 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 225 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. It is coupled with a continuous variable transmission, which can be noisy at times. The electric power rack-and-pinion steering conveys a solid on-center feel, willing to change directions when hustled along on the road. An independent strut with coil springs makes up the front while the rear is equipped with a multilink suspension. The all-wheel-drive system distributes torque evenly to the wheels irrespective of road conditions.  

Ensconced on the unibody-type structure is a V-motion black grille with chrome accents, and LED headlights and daytime running lights. Offered at no extra cost on the Platinum trim are dual auto a/c, 9-inch touchscreen for infotainment controls, eight-way driver and four-way front-passenger power and heated seats, quilted semi-aniline leather seats and shifter, tilt/telescopic steering column, push-button start, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system. Ingress and egress is effortless with the 60/40-split rear seat, which when folded, ekes out 74.1 cubic feet of space. And passenger volume is an admirable 105.4 cubic feet. An under-floor cargo area tray can come in handy to store soaked belongings. Need to haul extra luggage/belongings? The roof rack capacity can hold up to 220 pounds of weight.

Dual front and side airbags, front-center airbag, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, antiskid system, front seat active-head restraints, rear cross traffic alert, front/rear crumple zones, hill start assist, blind spot warning, lane-departure warning, auto emergency brake with pedestrian detection, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. Looking into the future of autonomous transport, the ProPilot Assist helps drivers to maintain their lane, and set vehicle speed and distance to a car ahead. 

Listen up, all you younger and urban SUV buyers. Nothing beats the Rogue in usefulness, functionality, respectable fuel-economy figures and value. In fact, it is one handy ‘Rogue’ you want to keep by your side, or in this case, parked in your garage.

Tires: 235/55R19
Wheelbase: 106.5 inches
Length, 183 inches
Width: 72.4 inches
Height: 66.5 inches
Weight, 3,713 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons
City: 28 mpg
Highway: 34 mpg
Base price: $38,640
Price as tested: $43,100
Web site:



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