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Motoring

Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –motoringtampabay.com

TOTALLY OVERHAULED 2025 CAMRY IS A BOLD ATTEMPT … AND IT WORKS!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 


 


Not known to rest on its laurels, Lexus has added one more crossover SUV to its family. Based on the same platform as another fairly fresh Toyota Grand Highlander, the TX it comes with all the bells and whistles expected from the Japanese luxury carmaker division. There’s bold styling, tremendous power, top-notch interior and tech-laden goodies to blow the competition away. Who would have thought the TX would take place of the RX-L?

Power for Lexus’s innovative DIRECT4 all-wheel-drive SUV (providing immediate electric control to all four wheels) comes from a 2.4-liter inline-4-cylinder turbocharged engine. It packs 366 horsepower and 406 pounds-feet of torque. A front and rear electric motor assists with saving fuel. The TX hybrid is mated to an easy-to-engage 6-speed auto gearbox resulting in a quiet and receptive drivetrain. A F Sport-tuned suspension handled via an independent MacPherson strut front and multilink rear absorbs serious bumps with ease. The electric power steering is razor sharp with a firm on-center feel. No worries about coming to a slowdown or stop as braking is handled by solid 15.7-inch front and 13.3-inch rear disc brakes. Normal, eco, sport and custom modes are at the driver’s fingertips. Tow capacity is creditable at 5,000 pounds.

The sleek, aggressive front of the TX shows off a centered chrome bar with the distinct Lexus spindle grille flanked by auto-leveling bi-LED headlamps with a reversed L-shape design. The roomy cabin is tasteful and refined, allocating 20.2 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40 third row, 57.4 cubic feet behind the second-row Captain’s chairs and 97 cubes with both seats folded. A mammoth 14-inch infotainment touchscreen display sits atop the dashboard while the driver can stay focused on the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster in the spacious 149-cubic-foot passenger capacity cabin. Other extravagant amenities include a tri-zone auto a/c, supple F Sport heated/cooled front seats, heated leather steering wheel and aluminum pedals/scuff plates, heated/cooled second-row Captain’s chairs, fold-flat power third-row seat, head-up display, dual cupholders in third row, 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and power lift gate and panoramic moon roof.

Standard safety features include dual front airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction controls, panoramic view monitor, blind spot and rear-cross traffic alerts, smart-stop technology, front/rear parking assists, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system. For enhanced protection, there is also the standard Lexus Safety Sense 3.0 – a pre-collision system to detect pedestrians, lane departure alert with steer assist, smart beam headlamps and dynamic cruise control. A subscription service called Traffic Jam Assist triggers steering, gas and brake pedals under 25 mph.

If the Grand Highlander is to your liking but you want to take a step up or two and can afford the steep price tag, opt for the stylish, functional, nimble and tidy TX. For $71,300 base price, this six- or seven-passenger crossover shows off an upscale aura coupled with a degree of style and energetic performance. Honestly, Lexus has hit it out of the ballpark with the RX-L substitute.

LEXUS TX (F SPORT)
Tires: P255/45R22
Wheelbase: 116.1 inches
Length: 203.5 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 70.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.1 gallons
City: 27 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Weight: 4,730 pounds
Base price: $71,300
Price as tested: $78,254
Web site: www.lexus.com



ALL-NEW LEXUS TX SUV IS A SUPER HIT FROM THE GET-GO!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 


 


Not known to rest on its laurels, Lexus has added one more crossover SUV to its family. Based on the same platform as another fairly fresh Toyota Grand Highlander, the TX it comes with all the bells and whistles expected from the Japanese luxury carmaker division. There’s bold styling, tremendous power, top-notch interior and tech-laden goodies to blow the competition away. Who would have thought the TX would take place of the RX-L?

Power for Lexus’s innovative DIRECT4 all-wheel-drive SUV (providing immediate electric control to all four wheels) comes from a 2.4-liter inline-4-cylinder turbocharged engine. It packs 366 horsepower and 406 pounds-feet of torque. A front and rear electric motor assists with saving fuel. The TX hybrid is mated to an easy-to-engage 6-speed auto gearbox resulting in a quiet and receptive drivetrain. A F Sport-tuned suspension handled via an independent MacPherson strut front and multilink rear absorbs serious bumps with ease. The electric power steering is razor sharp with a firm on-center feel. No worries about coming to a slowdown or stop as braking is handled by solid 15.7-inch front and 13.3-inch rear disc brakes. Normal, eco, sport and custom modes are at the driver’s fingertips. Tow capacity is creditable at 5,000 pounds.

The sleek, aggressive front of the TX shows off a centered chrome bar with the distinct Lexus spindle grille flanked by auto-leveling bi-LED headlamps with a reversed L-shape design. The roomy cabin is tasteful and refined, allocating 20.2 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40 third row, 57.4 cubic feet behind the second-row Captain’s chairs and 97 cubes with both seats folded. A mammoth 14-inch infotainment touchscreen display sits atop the dashboard while the driver can stay focused on the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster in the spacious 149-cubic-foot passenger capacity cabin. Other extravagant amenities include a tri-zone auto a/c, supple F Sport heated/cooled front seats, heated leather steering wheel and aluminum pedals/scuff plates, heated/cooled second-row Captain’s chairs, fold-flat power third-row seat, head-up display, dual cupholders in third row, 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and power lift gate and panoramic moon roof.

Standard safety features include dual front airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction controls, panoramic view monitor, blind spot and rear-cross traffic alerts, smart-stop technology, front/rear parking assists, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system. For enhanced protection, there is also the standard Lexus Safety Sense 3.0 – a pre-collision system to detect pedestrians, lane departure alert with steer assist, smart beam headlamps and dynamic cruise control. A subscription service called Traffic Jam Assist triggers steering, gas and brake pedals under 25 mph.

If the Grand Highlander is to your liking but you want to take a step up or two and can afford the steep price tag, opt for the stylish, functional, nimble and tidy TX. For $71,300 base price, this six- or seven-passenger crossover shows off an upscale aura coupled with a degree of style and energetic performance. Honestly, Lexus has hit it out of the ballpark with the RX-L substitute.

LEXUS TX (F SPORT)
Tires: P255/45R22
Wheelbase: 116.1 inches
Length: 203.5 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 70.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.1 gallons
City: 27 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Weight: 4,730 pounds
Base price: $71,300
Price as tested: $78,254
Web site: www.lexus.com


MAZDA3 SEDAN IS A FUN, ATTRACTIVE EVERYDAY RIDE!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 


 


The potential compact car buyer has endless options on a dealer’s lot but there is one fine ride that stands out for its agility, coolness and sheer excitement. And that, of course, is the Mazda3. Take your pick: the sedan which we recently tested or the hatchback we have driven in the past. Both will leave a smile on your face.

Under the hood of the Mazda3 sits a turbocharged engine putting out 227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque @ 2500 rpm (with 87 octane gas). A smooth-shifting 6-speed auto gearbox makes the drive even more fun. Suspension is handled via a MacPherson strut front and a torsion beam axle rear so unpleasant road bumps or curves are handled with ease. The electric power rack-and-pinion steering is instant and on the mark. As always, it is equipped with the direct-injection Skyactiv, which uses a torque boost via a high compression ratio to increase fuel economy.

A black metallic-finish grille hosts a centered Mazda insignia, surrounded by horizontal LED adaptive headlights and daytime running lights. Also distinct are side sill extensions, rear hatch spoiler, heated power side mirrors, all in black, and a shark-fin antenna. Other carmakers could benefit from borrowing the simple command control center to operate the all-new and bigger 10.25-inch navigation/infotainment screen. Rich-looking black leather upholstery gives the cabin a gorgeous vibe. Other admirable comforts include eight-way power driver and four-way manual front-passenger heated seats, push-button start, dual auto a/c, 60/40 fold-down rear seat with hidden armrest and cup holders, overhead sunglass holder, head-up display, power windows and door locks, paddle shifters, power moon roof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bose 12-speaker audio and AM/FM.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, stability and traction control, hill launch assist, active front-head restraints, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, rearview camera, 360-degree monitor, radar cruise control, lane keep assist and departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and tire pressure monitoring system. The G-Vectoring Control Plus (enables driver to handle emergency situations or untoward road conditions with more accurate steering inputs) comes at no extra cost. And the i-ACTIV AWD works along with G-Vectoring to control torque distribution between front/rear wheels.

The supple and exciting Mazda3 is a compact car, so we will excuse the tight rear seat for passengers. But this fuel-sipper, especially on the highway, is affordable, stylish and enjoyable for the daily jaunt or even to take on a long trip.

MAZDA3 AWD (PREMIUM PLUS)
Tires: P215/45R18
Wheelbase: 107.3 inches
Length: 183.5 inches
Width: 70.7 inches
Height: 56.9 inches
Weight: 3,395 pounds
Fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 32 mpg
Base price: $35,450
Price as tested: $37,065
Web site: www.mazdausa.com


COROLLA HATCHBACK GR IS A LITTLE POCKET ROCKET!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 


 


Take your standard 2024 Toyota Corolla hatchback and soup it up, as in turbocharge the little ride! Voila! You have the high-performance Corolla GR, or a pocket rocket of a ride to drive that moves quickly but gently down the road, and brakes just as swiftly and with poise.

An impressive 1.6-liter 3-cylinder engine cranks out 300 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 273 pounds-feet of torque @ 5500 rpm. The all-wheel-drive hatch is mated to a sprightly and fun to drive 6-speed manual gear box. Rest assured that this chic Corolla will get up to speed with urgency, i.e. 0 to 60 in a mere 4.9 seconds with top speed at 142 mph. The MacPherson strut front and double wishbone multilink rear suspension soak up obstacles with ease and maintain stability in all types of tricky situations. Though not as responsive as one would like, the electric power steering is precise and crisp. Eco, normal, sport and custom modes are at the driver’s disposal.

Up front, the hatchback is sleek, sharp and eye-catching. Flanking the slim, J-shaped LED headlights and fog lamps is a gloss grille and fender with the GR badge. It meets up to an aluminum bulge food with functional air vents and a forged carbon-fiber roof. Triple brushed stainless-steel exhaust tips and spoiler enhance the aggressive outward appearance. The practical cabin is simply laid out with once again the GR emblem lavishly displayed on the 12.3-inch color TFT multi-information display, steering wheel, engine start button and front head rests. The Brin-Naub and synthetic leather seats with red stitches are gorgeous. Other standard amenities are a single-zone auto a/c, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, six-way power driver’s and 4-way front-passenger seats, 8-speaker JBL premium sound system, 60/40 rear fold seat with center armrest, leather shifter knob and a manual tilt/telescopic steering column.

Dual front and side airbags, driver knee airbag, side curtain airbag, vehicle stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, three-point seatbelts for all, front/rear limited slip differentials, keyless entry, blind spot monitor, front/rear crumble zones, rearview camera, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. The standard Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 includes a pre-collision system to detect pedestrians, lane trace alert with steer assist and dynamic cruise control.

The sporty Corolla GR hatchback is incredibly nimble with a perky engine, which provides abundant punch to maneuver in rush-hour traffic. If you are one of those enthusiast drivers who likes to put pedal to the metal, you will take to this pocket rocket in a flash! Like we did!

COROLLA GR (CIRCUIT)
Tires: P235/40R18
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Length: 169.9 inches
Width: 69.9 inches
Height: 57.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons
City: 30 mpg
Highway: 38 mpg
Weight: 3,060 pounds
Base price: $42,900
Price as tested: $44,884
Web site: www.toyota.com


ELEGANT VW ATLAS CROSS SPORT IS INCREDIBLE, AIRY

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas may be the bigger of the two but the Cross Sport (5.2 inches shorter in length, it’s a five-seater with no third row) has as much to offer than its sibling. Perhaps, even beyond as its name implies. Also, unlike the regular Atlas, this one portrays an alluring appearance because of a considerably raked rear hatch.

Under the hood of the coupe-like Cross Sport sits a 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled inline-4 engine that doles out 269 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 273 pounds-feet of torque @ 1600 rpm. For a vehicle weighing nearly 4,359 pounds, it’s quick off the mark, responding with agility in any situation. The midsize SUV is mated a smooth, accurate and easy-to-engage 8-speed auto gearbox. Ensconced on the unitary body is a robust independent four-wheel suspension of strut-type front with lower control arms and multilink rear. Tow capacity is a creditable 5,000 pounds. Eco, comfort, sport, custom, off-road and snow modes are available.

Available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive (our trim), the Atlas Cross Sport has attracted oodles of attention, all good. Horizontal daytime running lights wrap around LEDs and continue into an illuminated light bar and VW emblem, which is mirrored in the rear. Our R-Line trim came with its own badging, of course, stylish front/rear air intakes in the bumpers; and side skirts. The lovely cabin epitomizes European styling and flair with top notch fit and finish, especially the quilted leather seats. The racing-inspired line logo can also be found on the start screen, steering wheel and stainless-steel pedal caps. The 60/40 second-row heated seat tilts and slides forward effortlessly. Passenger volume is worthy at 112 cubic feet while you get 77.6 cubic feet behind the front row with the rear seat down. Personal belongings can stay out of sight in the cleverly hidden cubby under the center console. Cool amenities include a 12-inch touch screen for audio, nav and phone controls, 10.3 configurable digital display, two-zone auto a/c with second-row air vents, three-spoke leather steering column, head-up display, power tilt/slide sun roof, 10-way power driver and eight-way front passenger heated/cooled seats, 12-speaker, 400-watt Harman Kardon sound system and a power lift gate.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability with anti-slip regulation and engine brake assist, traction control, front/rear park distance control, hill start assist and descent control, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard along with the IQ.Drive, which fetches you forward collision warning, auto brakes with pedestrian/bicyclist detection, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

If you are looking for good looks, impressive performance, generous cargo/passenger capacity and a sporty ride in a stylish midsize SUV, the Cross Sport is worth a test drive. It fills in all the blanks. And then some more!

ATLAS CROSS SPORT (SEL, R-LINE)
Tires: 265/45R21 all season
Wheelbase: 117.3 inches
Length: 195.5 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 67.8 inches
Steering: rack and pinion, electromechanical
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 26 mpg
Base price: $51,445
Price as tested: $53,190
Web site: www.vw.com


2024 LEXUS IS500 F SPORT IS AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT TO DRIVE!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 



This is one of our favorite compact sport sedans. Why? It is just an exciting car to drive, ready to take off in an instant, nimble in traffic and quick to merge on busy highways. In the past, we have tested the IS300 and 350, but this time, Lexus dispatched over the top dog in the IS stable – the IS500, which hit the road just two years ago. Want to hear a catchy throaty rumble in your ride? Well, turn on the engine, push the pedal to the metal and watch as you hit 60 in just 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph. Now, that’s remarkable.

Under the unitized steel body resides a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 472 horsepower @ 7700 rpm and 395 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. Equipped with the IS F high-performance model’s eight-speed auto gearbox, it can be driven in eco, normal, sport or snow modes. Suspension in the rear-wheel-drive car is handled by an independent double wishbone front and a multilink rear system to smoothen breaks, bumps and turns on the road. The rack-and-pinion steering with electric power assist is quick, precise and well-weighted.

Slender triple-beam LED headlights and daytime running lights flank the massive spindle grille, while F Sport Performance-inspired bumpers, black badging, rocker molding and dark chrome window trim are a standout. Step to the rear and the L-designed blade-style lightbar and stacked quad tail pipes will catch the eye. A mouse-like, easy-to-use Remote Touch enables the driver to toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls, which are displayed on a 10.3-inch screen. Audiophiles will love the melodious sound resonating from the incredible 17-speaker, 1,800-watt Mark Levinson premium system. Among the plentiful of comforts in the lavish and spacious cabin are dual auto a/c, 10-way power and eight-way front-passenger Nu-Luxe leather heated/cooled seats, power moon roof, LFA-inspired 8-inch TFT instrument cluster with sliding bezel, 60/40 rear seat, rear power sunshade, silver-metallic analog clock, and a power tilt/telescopic heated steering column.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, vehicle stability and traction controls, front/rear crumple zones, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, panoramic view monitor, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system. Add in a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians and bicyclists, lane departure alert, auto emergency brake, lane trace/road sign/steering assists and dynamic cruise control, all part of the no-cost Lexus Safety Sense+2.5.

Looking for a little bit of gusto than just driving from point A to point B in your ride? Then the rev happy and powerful IS500 will be more than pleased to oblige. A lavish cabin and a highly notable safety cocoon should help seal the deal.

IS500 F SPORT (RWD)
Tires: 235/40R19 front, 265/35R19 rear
Wheelbase: 110.2 inches
Length: 185.4 inches
Width: 72.4 inches
Height: 56.5 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons
City: 17 mpg
Highway: 25 mpg
Weight: 4,817 pounds
Base price: $63,370
Price as tested: $66,970
Web site: www.lexus.com


MAZDA STEPS UP THE GAME WITH ALL-NEW CX-90!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 



 

Who would have thought a zero can make a huge load of difference? As in the all-new CX-90 replacing the CX-9 as the Mazda flagship crossover in 2024. We have always been fans of the CX-9 for its tremendous performance, and more than anything, its ability to carry passengers and cargo in comfort. Based on a fresh platform, its replacement, wider, longer and with an increase of 7.5 inches in wheelbase, ups the ante with more premium features and a potent powertrain. And the CX-90 is available in several trims to meet the needs of the diverse buyer.

Under the long hood of the CX-90 sits an e-Skyactiv G 3.3-liter inline-6 turbo engine that cranks out 340 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 369 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. It is enhanced by a 48-volt mild hybrid or rather an electric motor placed between the engine and transmission. The previous 6-speed auto gearbox is now replaced by an 8-speed transmission. Suspension is handled via a double wishbone in the front and a multilink rear with stabilizer bars at both ends. Kinematic positive control helps maintain stability on winding roads. The electric-power assist steering is direct and precise. Swap the MI-Drive for sport, off-road or tow modes, which incidentally is up by 1,500 to 5,000 pounds.

Chrome is sprinkled generously on and around the front fender, bumper and grille with piano black surround. Nappa leather and splashes of maple wood lend classiness to the roomy and luxurious cabin. The quilted/piped, second-row Captain’s chairs, which can slide fore and aft, as well as the 50/50 third-row seat, will be useful if traveling with children. After all, the CX-90 boasts a cavernous 141.6 cubic feet of space. But what will grab your attention instantly are suede-like hanging stitches on the dashboard, specially inspired by hand-book binding and an intricate Japanese weaving technique. Analog instrument gauges are crystal clear in the 12.3-inch meter display. Also, standard are tri-zone auto a/c, 8-way power heated/cooled seats, 12.3-inch infotainment screen coupled with command control, power lift gate, head-up display, tilt/telescopic steering column, second-row window sun shades, push-button start and a 12-speaker Bose sound system.

Dual front, knee and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution, dynamic stability control and traction control, antiskid system with rollover sensor, front seat active-head restraints, three-point front seatbelts with pretensioners, rear backup sensors, blind spot and 360-degree monitors, lane keep assist/departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, front/rear crumple zones and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. Lest we forget, G-Vectoring Control (uses engine timing for more accurate steering inputs) and Smart City Brake Support (designed to reduce rear-end collisions by stopping at low speeds before a frontal impact).

The outgoing CX-9 was never a run-of-the-mill crossover SUV. Neither is its substitute, the CX-90, which touts tremendous power, quick acceleration, excellent people- and cargo-hauling capabilities, and in the looks department, it scores a point or two for bold styling.

CX-90 TURBO S (PREMIUM PLUS)
Tires: P275/44R21
Wheelbase: 122.8 inches
Length: 201.6 inches
Width: 84.9 inches
Height: 68.7 inches
Weight: 4,899 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19.6 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Base price: $59,950
Price as tested: $61,920
Web site: www.mazdausa.com


HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID CAN GO A LOOOONG DISTANCE!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 



 

Planning a trip to West Palm Beach without having to stop to refill or charge? Fear not for the ride with gas/hybrid technology is at your disposal, i.e. if you head over to the Hyundai dealership to test-drive the 2024 Sonata hybrid. The popular midsize sedan boasts a range of almost 580 miles on a tank (13.2 gallons). Yes, you read that correctly!

Though the Sonata underwent a major redesign in 2020, it is back this year with a refreshed design inside and out. We are highly impressed with the car’s new futuristic look and the high-tech wizardry accompanying it. Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter GDI 4-cylinder engine that puts out 150 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 139 pounds-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. When paired with the 39-watt kW electric motor, the Sonata hybrid peaks at 192 hp. A powerful 56 kW lithium-ion polymer battery pack contributes to improved gas mileage. Another fuel saver is an all-new solar roof, which recharges the battery when the car has been turned off, thereby boosting driving range. And as always, during regenerative braking, the battery is recharged by the captured energy as the driver brakes or slows down. At stops, the gas engine shuts down for fuel savings and zero emissions. Power reaches the front wheels through a flawless 6-speed auto gear box.

The seventh-generation Sonata hybrid continues to convey a four-door coupe appearance. But the previous cascading cross-hole grille look is now history. It has been replaced with a full-width LED headlight bar (Hyundai terms it “seamless horizon lamp”) and a more bold-seeming lower black mesh grille. All new and modern is a lone panoramic curved display of instrument cluster and infotainment screens, each 12.3 inches. Looking for the shifter knob? Well, it’s now a part of the steering column. Space saving there for you. An analog instrument gauge solely devoted to the hybrid display, portrays charge, eco and battery readings. With 104.4 cubic feet of passenger volume, the cabin is comparable to competition. And trunk capacity is 16 cubic feet, beating Toyota Camry volume. Dual auto a/c, eight-way power driver and six-way front-passenger heated and cooled seats, 60/40 rear seat, leather tilt/telescopic steering wheel with paddle shifters, 12-speaker Bose sound system, panoramic sunroof and head-up display come at no extra cost.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, front/rear parking sensors and crumple zones, electronic stability and traction control, blind-spot, forward and rear cross-traffic collision assists, highway driving and lane-keep assists, surround-view monitor, smart cruise control with stop/go, front seatbelt pretensioners, remote keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring system.
Base-priced at $37,200 for the Limited edition, the Sonata hybrid is even more enticing once you factor in EPA fuel estimates of 44 mpg city, 51 highway and 47 combined. The sedan responds with agility irrespective of road/weather conditions, guaranteeing a pleasing and peaceful ride. And, of course, daring design, a trait missing in most hybrids on the road.

SONATA HYBRID (LIMITED)

Tires: 215/55R17
Wheelbase: 111.8 inches
Length: 193.3 inches
Height: 56.9 inches
Width: 73.2 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
Steering: motor-driven power rack-and-pinion
Weight: 3,687 pounds           
Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com


THOUGH AN SUV, 2024 BMW X5 M COMPETITION IS A SPEED DEMON!

LEXUS LC500

 

 

 

 

 

 


So what if it is a midsize luxury SUV or to use the BMW term Sports Activity Vehicle? You can
still take it to the track if you purchase the insanely quick X5 M Competition! Or just cruise the
highway! That’s right, this high-performance SUV is road and track worthy! And with a massive
power train to boot, the Bimmer is super-fast: 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds with top speed of 155 or
177 mph with the M Driver’s Package!

A new 4.4-liter twin-power turbocharged V-8-cylinder engine blasts off 617 horsepower @ 6000
rpm and 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 5500 rpm. It is aided by a 48-volt battery placed in the
transmission casing. Essentially, the electric motor with 12 hp and 147 pounds-feet of torque
acts as a starter-generator. The X5 is mated to a standard and flawless 8-speed auto gearbox,
which is even more fun with transfers via the steering paddle shifters. The standard adaptive M
suspension is specially tuned to enhance nimbleness and poise when pushing pedal to the
metal. Active M Differential distributes drive torque evenly to the rear axle for more control and
stability. You can personalize settings for engine, transmission, steering, suspension, brake and
M xDrive as per your taste, style, liking! And the M Servotronic electric power steering with
variable sport has a solid and communicative feel, keeping the SUV straight and watchful at
sharp turns and curves.

Slim LED headlights flank the familiar twin kidney grille with BMW M emblem and matte black
surround. Twin exhaust tips in black chrome, 4 inches in diameter, are a standout along with red
brake caliper wheels. As soon as we stepped into the airy and well-appointed cabin, our eyes
fell on the massive BMW curved display (12.3-inch digital instrument display and a 14.9-inch
infotainment touch screen). Further adding to the rich ambiance were touches of carbon fiber
trim. Red accents for the M buttons on the solid leather steering wheel and gear selector are
eye-catching, as is the ambient light bar across the dashboard. Other niceties include multi-
zone auto a/c, power front heated/cooled Merino leather seats with M logo on the backrests,
panoramic moon roof, head-up display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, front knee and side curtain airbags
are standard along with dynamic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes,
electronic brake distribution, rearview camera, front/rear park distance control, active braking
assist (lane departure warning, blind spot monitor/detect, rear-cross traffic alert, city collision
mitigation), forward collision warning, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitor are
standard.

Weighing almost 5,500 pounds, the BMW X M Competition is German engineering at its finest.
And fastest. And every once, if you can, switch on the track mode (road and sport also offered)
and take the speedy machine for a gutsy drive!
X5 M COMPETITION
Tires: P295/35ZR21 front; 315/30ZR22 rear

Wheelbase: 117 inches
Length: 194.8 inches
Width: 79.3 inches
Height: 69.4 inches
Fuel capacity: 21.9 gallons
Mileage: 13 city, 18 highway
Base price: $122,300
Web site: www.bmw.com


2024 VOLVO V60 PLUG-IN HYBRID MORE THAN JUST A WAGON!

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Who says wagons belong to the past? It’s true you can count the wagons, primarily
made by Audi and Mercedes-Benz, at your fingertips. And then there is Volvo with the
V60 and larger V90.

Based on the popular T8 S60 sedan, the 2024 V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid is fitted with
a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged and direct-injection engine. It is paired with two electric
motors backed by an 18.8 kWh lithium-ion battery to produce 455 horsepower and 523
pounds-feet of torque. Essentially, the V60 can go 41 miles on purely electric. Add an 8-
speed auto gearbox and the start-stop feature (engine stop when the vehicle halts) to
the mix and you have substantial savings in fuel as well as weight to produce an
exceptional wagon.
Our test drive was equipped with the Polester Engineered (PE) upgrade, which
translates into immediate and enhanced engine/throttle response and steadfast gear
accuracy for an exhilarating drive. A partnership with Ohlins, a Swedish suspension
technology brand, means road bumps are felt minimal and the driver is in complete
control at sudden or quick turns on the road. Car racing enthusiasts, this is your dream
ride!
Up front sits a high-gloss black mesh grille hosting not just the familiar Volvo iron mark
but also the Polester Engineered motif, surrounded by horizontal LED headlights and a
PE strut bar. Walk around the wagon and the PE signature gold-colored brake calipers
and tire pressure monitor caps will pique interest. The gold theme continues as you step
into the cabin with the metal color evident also on the seatbelts. Conveying an upscale
aura is a 12.3-inch instrument panel and Nappa leather seats, tailored sport
tilt/telescopic steering wheel and gear shifter. Volvo Sensus infotainment, with a distinct
vertical 9-inch display touch screen, is essentially made up of four tiles: navigation,
media, phone and user-defined. Activate one and watch it expand while keeping the
other tiles visible for future use. Fairly new for 2024 is a Google built-in Assistant, Maps
and Play store. Standard amenities include two-zone auto a/c, charcoal headliner,
Bowers & Wilkins sound system, panoramic sunroof and head-up display.
The Chinese-owned but Swedish-made car company is renowned for safety. Continuing
the tradition, the V60 gets dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee
airbag, lane departure/keep aid, blind spot information, cross traffic alert, rear park
assist and sensors, adaptive cruise control, four-wheel antilock brakes, three-point
seatbelts for all, side impact protection, dynamic stability and traction control, 360-
degree camera, hill start assist and descent control, forward collision warning, tire
pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
Yes, it’s a wagon but don’t for a minute believe that your pricey ride will be slow. The all-
wheel-drive vehicle can take off 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.4 seconds. Apart from

incredible nimbleness, the V60 boasts an extravagant cabin and no-frills capabilities.
Volvo’s long safety list makes it a no-brainer!
VOLVO V60 RECHARGE
Tires: 235/40R19
Wheelbase: 113.1 inches
Length: 187.4 inches
Width: 75.4 inches
Height: 56.6 inches
Weight: 4,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons
Combined electric: 74 MPGe
Combined gas: 31 mpg
Base price: $71,250
Price as tested: $72,925
Web site: www.volvo.com


2024 TOYOTA GRAND HIGHLANDER IS THE PERFECT FAMILY-HAULER!

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Want your ride super-sized? Or in this case, your Toyota Highlander. Then go for the 2024 Grand Highlander. It is longer by 6.5 inches, taller by 2, wider by 2.3, and up by 4 in wheelbase; cabin-wise, legroom increases by 5.5 inches, headroom by 1 and shoulder space by 2. This all-new Toyota Hybrid Max model is truly a blockbuster SUV not just in name but also in looks, performance, comfort and technology.

Our all-wheel-drive test drive was equipped with a 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder turbocharged engine putting out 362 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 400 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. A front and rear electric motor assist with saving fuel. The Grand Highlander hybrid is mated to an easy-to-engage 6-speed auto gearbox with paddle shifters in the top-level Platinum trim. A sport-tuned suspension handled via an independent MacPherson strut front and multilink rear soaks up road bumps with ease. The electric power steering is razor sharp with a firm on-center feel. If venturing off-road, the multi-terrain select control offers mud/sand or rock/dirt/snow modes.

Unlike the regular Highlander, this new vehicle is quite boxy and upright with LED headlights and eyebrow-like daytime running lamps that flank the upper grille with a centered Toyota emblem. But it is the large lower grille, reminiscent of recent Lexus models, that stands tall. The Grand Highlander offers cavernous cargo and passenger capacity, allowing for 20.6 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40 third row, 57.9 cubic feet behind the second-row Captain’s chairs and 97.5 cubes with both seats folded. The dual 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen display and digital gauge cluster are a standout in the spacious 149-cubic-foot passenger capacity cabin. An overhead sunglass holder and digital rearview mirror add to the list. Other niceties include a tri-zone auto a/c, 10-way driver and eight-way power heated/cooled front-passenger seats, heated second-row Captain’s chairs, fold-flat third-row seat, 7-inch head-up display, dual cupholders in third row, and power lift gate and panoramic moon roof.

Dual front airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction controls, panoramic view monitor, blind spot and rear-cross traffic alerts, smart-stop technology, front/rear parking assists, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system come at no cost. The standard Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 includes a pre-collision system to detect pedestrians, lane trace alert with steer assist and dynamic cruise control. Traffic Jam Assist, a subscription service, activates steering, gas and brake pedals under 25 mph.

With a good balance of comfort and performance, the Grand Highlander is exceptionally practical, powerful, spacious, stylish and a delight to drive. If in the market for a family-hauler that can seat up to seven, we highly endorse this bigger Toyota hybrid for a test drive. Or opt for the non-hybrid version. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

GRAND HIGHLANDER (4WD PLATINUM)
Tires: P255/55R20
Wheelbase: 116.1 inches
Length: 201.4 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 70.1 inches
Tow capacity: 5,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 17.1 gallons
City: 26 mpg
Highway: 27 mpg
Weight: 4,920 pounds
Base price: $58,125
Price as tested: $59,878
Web site: www.toyotausa.com


ALFA ROMEO GIULIA OFFERS A PEEK INTO THE ITALIAN SOUL!

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The Germans, whether it is Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz, have had a stronghold on the small luxury sport sedan market. Add the Japanese (Lexus) and Korean (Genesis) brands to the mix and the race becomes fierce. But amid the rivalry, potential car buyers often neglect one of the most thrilling rides with an Italian flair, the Alfa Romeo Giulia. And that is at their own peril!
The 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged Giulia cranks out 280 horsepower @ 5200 rpm and 306 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm, plentiful to cruise the highway or merge into peak-hour traffic. Zero to 60 is achieved in a mere 5.1 seconds with top speed of 149 mph in the rear-wheel-drive sedan. Coupled to an 8-speed auto gearbox, the Quadrifoglio-tuned double-wishbone front and an Alfa-link design rear suspension effectively eliminate sharp bumps on the road and reduce body roll. Providing a positive on-center response is the variable electric assist steering. Braking is handled skillfully by commanding 13-inch front and 12.5-inch rear Brembo vented rotors. The optional 19-inch sport aluminum wheels come shod with 225/40 up front and 255/35 at the rear. Toggle the “dna” button for dynamic, natural, advanced efficiency and race modes.

Our hats off to Alfa Romeo for the off-beat front styling – a massive V-Scudetto dark grille and large functional air intakes, skirted by triple adaptive matrix LED headlights. Glossy black LED tail lamps and Veloce-exclusive finned diffuser and dual dark exhaust tips grab attention. The red leather sports seats are fabulous! Further enhancing the lush cabin is a robust flat-bottomed Formula 1-inspired tilt steering wheel with rock-solid grasp. Also worth a mention is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with binocular hood to lend classiness. The 14-way power heated driver and 12-way front-passenger leather seats are not just plush but also comfy. Other perks include dual auto a/c, aluminum paddle shifters, heated rear seat, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 40/20/40 rear seat, and the 8.8-inch infotainment touch display, as well as a dual-pane sunroof.

Dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes with stability/traction control, blind spot and cross-path detection, forward-collision and lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rearview camera and front/rear park and hill start assist, limited slip differential, tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights are standard. We recommend the $700 Active Assist Plus package for lane keep, intelligent speed, highway and active blind spot assists, vehicle alarm, and driver attention alert.
With its distinct Italian looks, allure and touch, the Giulia touts a solid, nimble, luxury-packed and exciting ride. Plus, the splendid car brags vim and vigor that is absent in European contenders.

GIULIA (VELOCE)
Wheelbase: 111 inches
Length: 182.8 inches
Width: 73.2 inches      
Height: 56.5 inches
Weight: 3,522 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.3 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 33 mpg
Base price: $44,520
Price as tested: $55,140
Web site: www.alfaromeo.com


GENESIS GV70 ELECTRIFIED IS A GROUNDBREAKING RIDE! 

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Since Hyundai launched the offshoot Genesis in 2015, there has been no going back. In fact, the hot-selling luxury brand marches forward, solid and steady. The G70, G80 (gas and electric) and G90 sedans in the Genesis stable and the GV60, GV70 and GV80 SUVs have now been joined by the compact luxury GV70 Electrified. It provides more proof that quality, styling, design, and ease of use have been trademarks of Korean car builder’s upmarket offshoot from Day One.

Sharing a platform with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, the all-electric and AWD GV70 is equipped with a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that assures the driver of going almost 236 miles on a full charge. Dual 160 kW front/rear electric motors crank out 429 horsepower and 516 pounds-feet of torque. Believe it or not, that takes the GV70 just four seconds to reach 0 to 60 mph in boost mode with 483 hp at its disposal. Not bad for a vehicle that weighs nearly 4,890 pounds! On a 240-volt, it will take about seven hours but a fast DC charge (350 kW) can load up 80 percent in just 18 minutes. The good news is that Genesis is offering a three-year courtesy charge at any Electrify America station.

Up front, a clamshell hood meets up with jewel-like, parametric-pixel two-line LED headlights to convey a distinctive presence. The EV charging port is smartly hidden in the crest grille with its inverted G-Matrix pattern. Step inside and you’ll discover a large 14.5-inch split-screen HD display for phone, nav and audio that can be controlled via a knob. Need to shift into park? The rotary dial selector is a handy touch. To be sure, Genesis coddles the occupants with three-zone auto a/c, 16-way power driver and 12-way front-passenger heated/cooled Nappa leather seats, head-up display, aluminum trim, three-zone climate control, heated second-row seat, hands-free liftgate, power/heated tilt/telescopic steering column and tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, Lexicon premium audio system and a suede headliner. A 12.3-inch digital cluster helps the driver monitor the speedometer, power, charge level and trip odometer gauges. And with Vehicle-to-Load feature, you can charge electric bikes, scooters and other gadgets via the outside port or another interface.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, blind spot, forward-collision, park-collision and rear-cross traffic collision avoid assists, front avoid, lane keep and follow assists, rearview camera and surround-view monitor, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Its innovative looks, inside and out, plus cutting-edge technology make the GV70 Electrified an enticing choice. And with scarcely a carbon footprint to leave behind. Move over, Tesla, for a sensational and Electrified Genesis, with more promising EVs on the way.

GV70 (PRESTIGE)
Tires: 265/45R20
Wheelbase: 113.2 inches
Length: 185.6 inches
Width: 75.2 inches
Height: 64.2 inches
MPGe: 98/83/91 (city, hwy, comb)
Base price: $65,450
Price as tested: $74,600
Web site: www.genesis.com


 

MAYBACH GLS 600 IS ULTRA-LUXURY AT ITS PEAK!

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When the chauffeur unlocks the door of the SUV, pops open the bottle and asks, “Champagne, sir?” you know you are living the life! You step into the ultimate ultra-luxury 2024 Maybach GLS 600 surrounded by splendor, style and sophistication unheard of in majority of the rides on the road. This is the extraordinary effect of the best of the best.

Under the hood of the four-seater 4Matic (all-wheel drive) SUV is ensconced a 4.0-liter twin-turbo and intercooled V8 putting out an astonishing 550 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 538 pounds-feet of torque @ 2500 rpm. It is integrated with a 48-volt mild hybrid (electric motor) to save fuel as well as enhance torque. By no means is the Maybach likely to race on a track but regardless, it can still vouch for 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and top speed at 155 mph. Power reaches all four wheels via a weighty, crispy, and precise 9-speed auto gearbox. The Airmatic suspension with adapting damping enables the SUV to adjust height as per road conditions with enhanced control and minimum noise. Handling and steering feel are good overall, thanks to the electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion. It is unlikely a Maybach owner may need to tow their ride, but the capacity is available for up to 7,700 pounds.

Up front, the radiator grille with vertical chrome bars and four louvers shows off a Silver Shadow finish while the air inlet openings display the Maybach logo motif. Walk to the rear of the striking SUV and LED tail lamps parade a light signet formed by three horizontal blocks. But it is only when you step into the absolutely extravagant vehicle that you are blasted by treats rarely found in other rides. Like diamond-quilted perforated Nappa leather heated, cooled and ventilated front/rear seats. Nappa also decks up the dashboard. While the front boasts dual 12.3-inch infotainment displays, rear passengers get their individual 11.6-inch displays, as well as a MBUX tablet located in the armrest. And folding tables and seat footrests. Lest we forget, the second-row bucket seats are not just power adjustable but also recline for your sleeping pleasure! Don’t like the smell for some reason? Well, Maybach has a fragrance diffuser. Power running boards make ingress and egress effortless. The driver has option of classic, sporty and discreet styles depending on the mood. Of course, there is a small fridge for champagne bottles … and to drink the bubbly stuff, there are silver flutes! Other creature comforts include five-zone auto a/c, 27-speaker Burmeister sound system, power sliding sunroof, wood trim with pinstripes, head-up display and more.

Ensuring the well-being of occupants are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, Presafe Plus, electronic stability/traction control, active brake/blind spot and lane keep assists, 360-degree camera, forward collision/lane departure warnings, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

The opulent vehicle’s namesake Wilhelm Maybach looked to create the very best from the very best. After Mercedes-Benz took over the absolute peak of indulgence as a sub-brand in 2015, one can safely say that the German carmaker has more than fulfilled its late founder’s wish.

MAYBACH GLS 600
Tires: P285/45YR22 front, P325/40YR22 rear
Wheelbase: 123.4 inches
Length: 204.9 inches
Height: 72.4 inches
Width: 79.9 inches
Suspension: double-wishbone front, four-link rear
Steering: electromechanical power
Weight: 6,100 pounds
Fuel capacity: $23.8 gallons
City: 14 mpg; highway, 19 mpg
Base price: $174,350


CHRYSLER PACIFICA HYBRID A COMFY FAMILY-HAULER, GAS-SIPPER

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Leave it to Chrysler to come up with a first. A pioneer of the minivan segment more than four decades ago with the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, the automaker debuted in 2017 with the Chrysler Pacifica – world’s first gasoline plug-in hybrid minivan. The result has been a big-seller from day one!  

A 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar gas engine is coupled to two electric motors, one of which serves as a generator and the other delivers torque. The rechargeable 16-kWh lithium-ion battery in the second-row floor enables the Pacifica to go about 32 miles on pure electric. Pumping up the battery via a 240-volt charger takes just two hours. On a full battery and gas tank, you can go well over 500 miles. All in all, total horsepower is 260, plenty to cruise the highway or speed up in rush-hour traffic. The electrically variable transmission in the front-wheel drive minivan is up to the job.

Our high-end Pinnacle model showed off a black front 3D diamond-styled grille with platinum chrome-surround, flanked by bi-functional LED projector headlights, daytime running lights and fog lamps. But it is for interior amenities that people will buy this minivan. Forget Stow ’n Go for the second row (though the Captain’s chairs easily slide) but the third-row bench does power fold into the floor. For extra gas savings, keep a close eye on the digital information display of battery charge, engine power, fuel gauge readings. Laudable are convenient driver and passenger side power-sliding doors for easy ingress/egress. And, of course, storage compartments thrive in the Pacifica, offering 140.5 cubic feet with both rear rows folded and 32.3 cubic feet behind the last row. During long family trips, tiny tots in the rear seat can be entertained via two 10.1-inch touch screens (plus a FamCam offers a bird’s eye view too!) Other goodies include tri-zone auto a/c, eight-way power front heated/cooled seats, power lift gate, quilted caramel Nappa leather seats, 10.1-inch UConnect for infotainment, suede headliner, dual panoramic sun roof, integrated and flowing floor console and a tilt/telescopic leather steering column.  

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all three rows, front knee airbags and active head restraints, lane departure/forward collision warnings, electronic stability/traction control with brake assist, four-wheel antilock brakes, blind spot monitor with rear cross detection, 360-degree camera, front/rear and hill start assists, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian emergency brakes, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

By no means a bargain at a steep $60,345, the Pacifica plug-in hybrid should attract families looking for a safe and solid ride, people- and cargo-hauling capability, and mainly substantial fuel savings at the pump.

PACIFICA HYBRID (PINNACLE)
Tires: P235/60R18
Wheelbase: 121.6 inches
Length: 204.3 inches
Width: 79.6 inches
Height: 69.9 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, twist-blade rear
Steering: electric rack and pinion
Weight: 5,010 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.5 gallons
Gas only: 30 mpg combined
Gas and electricity: 82 MPGe combo
Price as tested: $62,435
Web site: www.stellantis.com


ALL-ELECTRIC BENZ EQS SUV SHINES LIGHT ON THE FUTURE!

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Memorize the EQ signature! It’s an important key mark. As more electric vehicles enter the market, it will also be applied to every EV from the Mercedes-Benz stable. According to the German carmaker, EQ stands for “emotion and intelligence,” two guiding tenets that serve as a steppingstone to reduce carbon footprint. Toward that end, the all-electric large EQS SUV hit the roads a year ago.

Our test drive, the 2023 EQS 580 4MATIC, is equipped with a 107.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack assuring the driver of at least 300 miles on a full charge. Two electric motors (400 kW output) produce 536 horsepower and 633 pounds-feet of torque. Believe it or not, the luxury SUV reaches 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. Not bad for a vehicle that weighs over 6,228 pounds. On a 240-volt outlet, it will take about 11 hours to charge the SUV but a fast DC charger (110 kW) can juice up to 80 percent in a mere 31 minutes. As an incentive, Benz offers a two-year complimentary charge at any Electrify America station.
The single-speed direct transmission is instant with comfort, sport, eco, individual and all-new off-road modes. The Airmatic suspension with adapting damping enables the SUV to adjust height as per road conditions with enhanced control and minimum noise.

The seven-seater EQS portrays a sleek appearance, thanks to its cab-forward, one-bow body shape. Up front, the ‘black panel’ unit (driver assistance systems are located behind) in a deep radiator grille is surrounded by digital light LEDs. Take a seat behind the robust steering wheel and the black/gray leather seats along with the Anthracite Linden wood will leave you in awe. Ambient lights (64 colors) add sparkle to the dashboard and doors. A 56-inch rounded dash called Hyperscreen features two 12.3-inch driver and front-passenger displays and an enormous 17.7-inch central OLED touchscreen. Personal infotainment system or the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) works through voice, touch and even hand gestures (just say, Hey Mercedes!). Other creature comforts include dual auto a/c, Burmeister sound system, power tilt/sliding sun roof, heated/cooled front seats, power second row, wireless phone charger/Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and more.

Ensuring the well-being of occupants are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, Presafe, electronic stability/traction control, active brake/blind spot and lane keep assists, 360-degree camera, forward collision/lane departure warnings, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

An amazing performance, space-age looks and cutting-edge technology make the EQS SUV an attractive buy, i.e., if the high-priced tag isn’t an issue. Once again, the automotive trailblazer Mercedes-Benz has shown us the future with another fine all-new ride.

EQS 580 (4MATIC)
Tires: 275/45 R21 
Wheelbase: 126.4 inches
Length: 201.8 inches
Height: 67.8 inches
Width: 84.9 inches
Suspension: multilink
Steering: electromechanical power
MPGe: 79 city, 74 highway
Base price: $125,950
Price as tested: $138,410
Web site: www.mbusa.com


ALL-NEW BMW XM IS A SUPER PRICEY, SUPER SUV!

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The BMW M Hybrid 8 endurance racing car has competed in the GTP class of the IMSA series, 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the iconic Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. What does this have to do with the Bavarian carmaker’s first super SUV? Well, the BMW XM shares the drive concept with the racecar. And that pretty much makes it not just a road but also an insanely quick track worthy ride.

Under the hood of the high-performance luxury SUV sits a 4.4-liter twin-power turbo V8 blasting off 483 horsepower @ 7200 rpm while mated to a 194 hp electric motor. That adds up to a mind-boggling 644 hp @ 5400 rpm and 590 pounds-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. The plug-in hybrid capabilities mean the XM can go 30 miles in pure electric mode, which takes under 3½ hours to fully charge. It may weigh over 6,000 pounds but this Bimmer is super-fast: 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds with top speed of 155 mph peaking at 168 with the M Driver’s package. It is mated to a standard and flawless 8-speed auto gearbox, which is even more fun with moves via the steering paddle shifters. The standard adaptive M suspension is specially tuned to enhance nimbleness and poise when pushing pedal to the metal. Active M Differential distributes drive torque evenly to the rear axle for more control and stability. You can personalize settings for engine, transmission, steering, suspension and brake as per your taste, style, liking! And the M Servotronic electric power steering with variable sport has a solid and communicative feel, keeping the XM straight and watchful at sharp turns and curves.

OK, so the gigantic kidney grille with mesh air intakes conveys a love-it-or-hate-it moment! But once you are agreed upon the front looks either way, there is only appreciation for this incredibly energetic ride. Twin and slim adaptive LED headlights flank the illuminated grille and its horizontal bars while a carbon-fiber roof, and M sport black brake calipers and XM emblem on the front, side skirts and rear are sure to grab any bystander’s attention. As soon as we stepped into the spacious and well-furnished cabin, our eyes fell on the massive, curved infotainment display screen. Further adding to the rich feel were touches of carbon-fiber trim, anthracite headliner and black Merino leather seats. Other niceties include four-zone auto a/c, heated, cooled and massaging front seats with XM logo on the backrest, Bowers & Wilkins sound system, 40/20/40-fold rear heated seats, head-up display, heated/cooled front cup holders, etc.

Dual front and side airbags, front knee and side curtain airbags are standard along with dynamic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution, rearview camera, front/rear park distance control, active braking assist (lane departure warning, blind spot detect, rear-cross traffic alert, city collision mitigation), adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitor are standard.

Looking for some zest, elegance, performance, as well as more space in an SUV than usual? Then the XM fits the bill. Either way, you will be happy with German engineering. It’s on the finest display in this awesome and outstanding ride though the price tag is beyond most people’s wallets! 

BMW XM
Tires: 275/35R23 front, 315/30R23 rear
Wheelbase: 122.2 inches
Length: 201.2 inches
Width: 78.9 inches
Height: 69.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 18.2 gallons
Mileage: 14 city/hwy combined
MPGe: 46 mpg
Base price: $159,000
Price as tested: $165,895
Web site: www.bmw.com


TECH-LOADED 2024 Caddy Escalade IS A POWERHOUSE

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Is it still the King of Bling after over a quarter century on the road? You bet. The fifth-gen Cadillac Escalade is that and much, much more.

Under the hood sits a 6.2-liter V-8 Ecotec engine that blasts off 420 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 460 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. The 10-speed auto gearbox is quieter than most that we have driven recently in any luxury SUV. And the start-stop feature (automatic engine stop when the vehicle halts) ensures substantial savings in fuel and weight. The Dynamic Fuel Management system deactivates four of the eight cylinders for fuel savings. And if you need to haul a sailboat or another car, tow capacity is an astonishing 8,000 pounds.

You can identify an Escalade anywhere, thanks to its gigantic presence up front with the centered and traditional crest emblem in the Galvano chromed grille, flanked by horizontal HID headlights. The iconic full-size luxury SUV genuinely gleams in the cabin department with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen technology, which basically is light produced in response to an electric current. Three screens: a 14.2-inch instrument display behind the steering wheel; to the left, a 7.2-inch touch screen for driver information center; and a 16.9-inch infotainment screen in the dashboard; all use OLED and boast twice the clarity of a 4K TV! Audiophiles will love the 36-speaker AKG sound miracle, which can be heard via the ceiling, headrests and even the center console! Add the navigation system with augmented reality to the mix and you are in business!

Other luxuries include tri-zone auto a/c, flip-down 12.6-inch DVD screens for rear passengers, panoramic sun roof, hands-free lift gate, head-up display, heated/cooled front seats, suede headliner and attractive dark auburn with black accent interior. The stainless-steel speaker grilles throughout are eye-catching. Ingress and egress into the high-sitting vehicle is convenient, thanks to power retractable running boards. The third-row seat folds via a power button in the cargo hold while the second-row power seat moves fore and aft 5.5 inches.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for rear rows, stability, hill descent and traction controls, four-wheel antilock brakes, rearview camera, rear-cross traffic, forward-collision and side-blind zone alerts, lane keep assist with departure warning, Super Cruise, a hands-free driving assistance system, front/rear park sensors, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. Magnetic Ride Control adjusts the four-wheel independent suspension as per road conditions, resulting in a smooth but firm ride. It also keeps body roll to a minimum.

It may weigh over 5,800 pounds but the Escalade has ample power to result in a graceful, smooth and easy-riding companion as your passengers’ ride in luxury. All you need is an overblown bank balance to pamper yourself and the family.

ESCALADE SPORT PLATINUM (4WD)
Tires: P275/50R22 all season
Wheelbase: 120.9 inches
Length: 211.9 inches
Width: 81.1 inches
Height: 76.7 inches
Suspension: coil-over-shock front, independent rear
Steering: electric power rack-and-pinion
Fuel capacity: 24 gallons
City: 14 mpg
Highway: 18 mpg
Base price: $113,695
Price as tested: $120,715
Web site: www.cadillac.com


2024 OUTLANDER PLUG-IN HYBRID IS A LAUDABLE EFFORT!

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Not many people are aware that the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is the world’s all-time best selling PHEV for five years. It has sold well over 300,000 units globally and is highly popular in Europe. The same could happen in the U.S. with the 2024 version of this seven-passenger SUV.

Under the hood sits a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine putting out 132 horsepower and 144 pounds-feet of torque. PHEV, which adds an electric charge feature, enables the Outlander to go up to 45 miles without using gas. The charge port, located in the passenger’s side rear fender, uses a 240-volt system that can take 6½ hours or a 120-volt using about 16 hours. You can essentially go over 420 miles on a tank (14.7 gallons) with its gas, hybrid and plug-in electric features. Tow capacity is satisfactory at 1,500 pounds.
The gasoline powertrain is mated to twin electric motors (85 front with 114 hp and 100 kw rear with 134 hp), which are powered by a 20.0 kWh lithium-ion battery. That is adequate enough to put out a total of 248 hp and 322 pounds-feet of torque while paired to a single-speed transmission. The SUV does offer a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the ride is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the battery. Lest we forget, Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive system (Super All-Wheel Control) puts the mind to rest in any untoward road/driving conditions.
No doubt, the Outlander sports a cool look with horizontal LED headlights and fog lamps, flanking a “dynamic shield” grille with the familiar Mitsubishi emblem. The rear too shows off a horizontal-themed T-shaped tailgate. The cabin touts plentiful head and leg room for second-row seat passengers. Space in the third row, which folds rearward into a deep well in the floor, is miniscule. Keep an eye on the rounded energy meter for fuel savings, which displays charge, eco and power readings (tarmac, gravel, snow and mud are the other drive modes). Several comforts such as tri-zone auto a/c, thick-rimmed leather tilt/telescopic steering wheel, eight-way power/heated driver and front-passenger seats, 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, power liftgate and a 12.3-inch digital driver display are offered.

Safety features at no extra cost include dual front and knee airbags, side curtain airbag, rearview camera, active stability and traction control, blind spot and lane departure warnings, lane keep and hill start assists, rear-cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, four-wheel antilock brakes, anti-theft alarm, electronic parking brake, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.

This Outlander is an excellent gas/electric/plug-in hybrid attempt from Mitsubishi. It has ample power to ensure a smooth ride with good balance and handling. Besides, there is also generous cargo/passenger space. That it comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile power train/battery and a five-year or 60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty is a bonus.
OUTLANDER PHEV (SEL)
Tires: 255/45R20
Wheelbase: 106.5 inches
Length: 185.4 inches
Height: 68.5 inches
Width: 84.4 inches
Weight: 4,651 pounds
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; multilink rear
Steering: electric power
Gas only: 26 mpg
Combined gas+electric: 64 MPGe
Base price: $46,295
Price as tested: $51,835
Web site: www.mitsubishicars.com


2024 VELAR IS QUINTESSENTIAL RANGE ROVER AT ITS BEST!

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This one’s our favorite Range Rover. Slotted between the Evoque and the larger Range Rover Sport, the Velar is elegant, attractive, agile and just the right size to tackle the daily road rigors or take off the beaten path. The midsize SUV is based on its twin from the other company owned by the India-based Tatas, the supercharged growler Jaguar F-Pace. Press the start button and warm up for 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph in the 2024 Dynamic SE edition.

Under the hood sits a turbocharged/intercooled 3.0-liter V-6 engine (48-volt mild hybrid system) cranking out 395 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 405 pounds-feet of torque @ 5000 rpm. It is mated to an impeccable 8-speed auto gearbox, which also can be shifted via steering wheel-mounted paddles. A double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension with Adaptive Dynamics improves balance, handling and grip by automatically adjusting firmness. It helps that the electric power steering is eager to change directions when you turn the wheel. Using Terrain Response, choose one of the following as per road/weather conditions: comfort (for daily driving), eco, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand, rock crawl, dynamic and automatic. A new noise cancel technology substantially reduces redundant road surface and tire sounds.

Ensconced on the light aluminum structure is an all-new black grille portraying unique graphics and the familiar green oval icon with a complementary color roof. It is flanked by revamped vivid jewel-like pixel auto LED headlights. Retractable exterior door handles that majestically pop out lend class to this tasteful vehicle. Take a step into the extravagant SUV and wonder what happened to the infotainment/climate control buttons or knobs? Well, there aren’t any. The all-new Pivi Pro system is essentially a 11.4-inch floating curved glass touchscreen integrated into the center console for audio, navigation, climate, seat readings. Lending grandiose to the immaculate cabin is a short but conspicuous shifter knob in the hub of it all. Other standard comforts are 14-way power front heated seats, 40/20/40-fold rear seat, dual auto a/c, bright metal pedals, power tilt/telescopic steering column, sliding panoramic roof and an astonishing 400-watt Meridian sound system.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, dynamic/roll stability/electronic traction controls, forward collision warning with auto emergency brakes, lane keep and park assist, adaptive cruise control, front/rear parking aids, blind spot assist, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are offered at no cost.

Like its siblings, the gorgeous Velar shows off tremendous off- and on-road prowess in a nimble, brisk, luxury- and tech-packed ride. It is iconic Range Rover at its finest.

VELAR DYNAMIC SE
Tires: P255/55WR19
Wheelbase: 113.1 inches
Length: 188.9 inches
Width: 80.3 inches
Height: 66.2 inches
Weight: 4,430 pounds
Fuel capacity: 21.6 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 25 mpg
Base price: $70,600
Price as tested: $79,933
Web site: www.landrover.com


2024 HYUNDAI PALISADE IS ROOMY, TRENDY … JUST LOVELY!

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Stylish, attractive and laid-back. That’s the Palisade for you. For 2024, Hyundai has maintained the status quo of its hot-selling midsize SUV. As we always like to say, why tamper with success?
The Palisade and its sibling in the other stable, Kia Telluride, share quite a few of the power train features. It also comes in 7- or 8-passenger configuration and is equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that blasts off 291 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 262 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. The 8-speed auto gear box with paddle shifters is seamless while fitted with an engine start/stop system, which turns the engine off at a halt to save gas. Eco, comfort, smart, tow and sport drive modes (snow and AWD lock for all-wheel drive).

Diamond-cut elements gaze from the new parametric-jewel cascading Hyundai grille decked in shiny black/chrome coat. It is surrounded by ‘crocodile eye’ LED headlights, daytime running lights and turn signals. The cabin gets lavish and eye-catching treatment, mainly massive dual 12.3-inch displays: a touch screen for infotainment system, and the other for digital instrument cluster. Slim horizontal air vents across the dashboard look chic. Also offered are eight-way cooled/heated driver and front-passenger power seats, Nappa leather surfaces, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, head-up display, heated second-row Captain’s chairs, which fold via power button, as does the third row (this one’s heated too!), dual auto a/c and sun roof, tilt/telescopic steering column, seven USB ports, 14 cup/bottle holders, 630-watt Harman Kardon sound system with 12 speakers and suede headliner.

The Palisade comes standard with Hyundai SmartSense, which includes forward- and rear-cross traffic collision avoidance, safe exit and lane keep assists; blind spot collision and front/reverse park distance warnings; and smart cruise control; there also are 10 airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, vehicle stability/traction control, front/rear crumple zones, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.

Base-priced at $52,100 (Calligraphy edition), the Palisade is tremendous value for the money. The SUV might be a 4,506-pound vehicle but it is an imposing machine that results in a well-composed drive, with sharp handling and respectable overall balance. A spacious, well-crafted and gorgeous cabin is another positive to give sleepless nights to old, established competitors on the road.

PALISADE (CALLIGRAPHY, AWD)
Tires: 245/50R20
Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
Length: 196.7 inches
Width: 77.8 inches
Height: 68.9 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
Steering: motor driven power rack-and-pinion
Tow capacity: 5,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 24 mpg
Web site: www.hyundai.com


2023 INFINITI QX60 TOUTS PERFORMANCE, LUXURY

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The Infiniti QX60, which took a break in 2021, returned last year with an all-new redesign though keeping its power train. Based on an all-steel frame, the power in the 2023 six-or seven-passenger midsize SUV is plenty to push the 4,655-pound plus vehicle. The luxurious ride is quiet and graceful whether you are on the highway or testing the ride’s off-road prowess.

A 3.5-liter V-6 engine blasts off 295 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 270 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. It is now coupled with a 9-speed auto, replacing the previous continuous variable transmission. Tow capacity is creditable at 6,000 pounds. The four-wheel-drive system can be driven in auto, 2WD, 4Hi or 4Lo modes depending on road and weather conditions. Up front is a MacPherson strut and a multilink independent takes up the rear. The power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering is accurate and direct. Depending on road/weather conditions, the driver has a choice of standard, eco, sport, personal and snow modes via the drive selector.

The well-equipped Autograph trim with AWD, our test drive, was packed with tech and luxury goodies. A prominent hood meets the double-arch mesh grille surrounded by digital piano key LED headlights and daytime running lights. Also distinct are body-side moldings with chrome accents. A huge bin under the cargo hold will come in handy to hide personal belongings. Total passenger area is nearly 141 cubic feet. The InTouch infotainment system comes with a 12.3-inch touch screen atop the dashboard. Wood trim on the doors and the dashboard above the glove box conveys an elegant appearance. Tri-zone auto a/c, eight-way power semi-aniline/quilted front heated/cooled seats, head-up display, removable center console, roof rails and power slide/tilt moon roof and rear lift gate, seven USB ports and a total 10 cup/bottle holders come at no extra cost.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all rows, front knee airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, blind spot-, forward collision- and lane departure warnings, rear cross traffic alert, 360-degree camera, hill start and distance control assists, front/rear park sensors, adaptive cruise control, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitor.

Boasting a powerful engine backed by a sumptuous cabin, and impressive tow capacity, the midsize SUV is a winner in our eyes. And that would make it a champ amid tough rivals in the ring such as the Acura MDX and Audi Q7.

QX60 (AUTOGRAPH AWD)
Tires: 255/50R20
Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
Length: 198.2 inches
Width: 66.9 inches
Height: 69.7 inches
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
City: 20 mpg
Highway: 25 mpg
Base price: $65,500
Price as tested: $68,390
Web site: www.infinitiusa.com


ACURA INTEGRA MAKES A STUNNING COMEBACK!

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Acura debuted globally in 1986 with the two-variant front-wheel-drive Integra hatchback generating a massive bang with motoring enthusiasts. The signature pop-up headlight design literally ‘popped’ eyes out of people’s head with astonishment. Within no time, race-inspired, high-performance versions of the compact car were on-track championship winners. The exhilarating and fun drive continued till the Japanese carmaker retired the nameplate in 2006 (by then it was called the RSX).

After a 17-year hiatus, the Integra has returned! And it is much bigger, powerful (turbocharged) and truly a blast to take for a spin. Under the hood of our 2024 Integra Type S sits a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 cylinder cranking out 320 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. Best of all, it is coupled to a 6-speed manual gear box with rev-match capabilities to delight the stick-shift crowd. Thanks to the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), the driver can choose sport, sport+ normal and comfort settings. Valve-actuated adaptive dampers ensure a smoother experience in normal or comfort settings and even more enjoyable in sport modes. A MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension absorbs the hits of potholes and broken road surfaces with ease. The dual-pinion, variable-ratio electric power steering is forthcoming with instant turn-in.

That this is an Integra, and a Type S too, is evident from their emblems in front and rear fascia. The vented aluminum hood meets up with an eye-catching diamond pentagon grille, flanked by gorgeous four-element, jewel-eye LED headlights. Triple exhaust tips and a decklid spoiler further boost the classy touch. The cabin is awash in extravagance with black perforated ultrasuede inserts on red leather seats, a black suede shifter boot and Type S imprinted on the steering wheel and front seatbacks. Audiophiles will instantly take to the incredible 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D premium sound system. The 23.4 cubic feet space behind the 60/40 rear seat leaves plenty of luggage room for a weeklong trip. The 9-inch touch infotainment and 10.2-inch digital instrument clusters are standouts. Other luxuries include dual auto a/c, 12-way power driver and four-way front-passenger seats, head-up display, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, front/rear crumple zones and parking sensors, side-impact door beams, vehicle stability assist with traction control, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitor, road departure/collision mitigation systems, limited slip differential, multi-angle rearview camera, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

Welcome back, Integra! We are thrilled that Acura has brought its racetrack winner into the fold once again. Like previous gens, the stylish ride delivers a sports car performance with speedy acceleration and ample power just a throttle away. Gearstick fanatics and heavy lead footers, this one’s been reintroduced specially just for you!

INTEGRA TYPE S (FWD)
Tires: 265/30R19
Wheelbase: 107.7 inches
Length: 186 inches
Width: 74.8 inches
Height: 55.4 inches
Weight: 3,219 pounds
Fuel capacity: 12.4 gallons
City: 21 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Base price: $50,800
Price as tested: $53,785
Web site: www.acura.com


PEEK INTO THE FUTURE IN ALL-ELECTRIC HYUNDAI IONIQ 6!

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It’s World Car of the Year, World Electric Vehicle of the Year and World Car Design of the Year! The World Car Awards is comprised of worldwide professional automotive journalists, so there is significant validity in the recognition bestowed upon the all-electric 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6. Need we say more?

Some months ago, Hyundai showcased the award winner to the automotive media in Savannah, Ga., whereabouts the Ioniq 6 along with other Hyundai and Genesis vehicles will be built. Covering nearly 3,000 acres, the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America will employ 8,100 people. With a price tag of $5.4 billion, the EV assembly plant will produce 300,000 vehicles a year and then top up at 500,000. Full production will be in early 2025. The most aerodynamic Hyundai ever looks to attract millennials, singles or couples, to transition from gas to electric.

Our single-speed direct transmission Ioniq 6 was equipped with the 77.4 kWh lithium polymer battery with all-wheel drive and dual motors (320 horsepower). On 20-inch wheels, this fine sedan has a reach of 270 miles but on 18-inch, it can go up to 316 miles. On a 240-volt, it will take about seven hours but a fast DC charge (350 kW) can load up 80 percent in just 18 minutes. And a leased Ioniq 6 does qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Another good news is that Hyundai offers a two-year complimentary charge at any Electrify America station.

Up front, jewel-like parametric-pixel LED headlights, wide bumper and active grille shutters convey a distinctive presence. As you near the vehicle, flush automatic door handles are a sight to behold! Two high-tech dual 12.3 screens, one for infotainment and the other a digital instrument cluster of speedometer, power gauge, charge level, digital and trip odometers, stand out. The column-mounted shifter is straightforward to operate. Eight-way power driver and six-way adjustable front-passenger heated/cooled seats, dual auto a/c, 60/40 rear seat, bridge-type center console, eight-speaker Bose sound system and a flat-bottomed leather tilt/telescopic steering column are offered at no extra cost.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, electronic stability and traction controls, brake assist, rearview camera, blind spot, forward-collision and rear-cross traffic collision avoid assists; front avoid, lane keep and follow assists; front crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

As gas prices still hover over $3 a gallon, the Ioniq 6 is a no-brainer. Its futuristic appearance and cutting-edge technology make the midsize sedan an enticing choice. And Hyundai’s five-year, 60,000-mile new vehicle, and 10-year, 100,000-mile electric battery warranties should convince you to sign on the dotted line.

IONIQ 6 (LIMITED, AWD)
Wheelbase: 116.1 inches
Length: 191.1 inches
Width: 74 inches
Height: 58.9 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
Steering: motor-driven power
MPGe: 111 city, 94 highway, 103 combined
Base price: $56,100
Price as tested: $57,425
Weight: 4,616 pounds
Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com


SUBARU CROSSTREK IS A REASONABLLY-PRICED, SMALL SUV!

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In 2022, Subaru sold a record 155,142 Crosstreks, making the compact SUV its fastest-selling vehicle in history since debuting over a decade ago. This year and beyond, we can bet more records will be broken by the totally redesigned ride. 
Though it retains the engine, transmission and other mechanical components, the third-gen Crosstrek is like an almost-new SUV. Under the hood resides a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder BOXER engine developing 182 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 178 pounds-feet of torque @ 3700 rpm. It is mated to a continuous variable transmission with 8-speed manual mode and option of steering-wheel paddle shifters. The four-wheel independent MacPherson-type strut front and a double wishbone rear suspension soak up bumps and maintain stability in the standard and revised symmetrical all-wheel-drive ride. Borrowed from the WRX, and understandably so, is the dual-pinion electric power-assist steering, which promptly responds at the slightest turn. The X-Mode with hill descent control allows the driver to pick snow, dirt, deep snow and mud modes for any untoward road/weather conditions. And yes, we will take the 8.7-inch ground clearance any day.

Our Sport trim screamed yellow inside and out! Up front, the new frameless hexagonal grille in black finish is flanked by LED steering-responsive headlights but easily noticeable are also yellow accents on front, sides and rear panels. Step into the sizeable cabin and your eyes quickly glance at yellow tones on the gray cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, door armrests, center console storage lid, and shifter handle, and carbon fiber trim. Even the instrument cluster rings are illuminated in creamy metallic finish! Another welcome new addition is the huge 11.6-inch tablet-style touch screen (first for Crosstrek) to control navigation, audio and phone along with circular knobs. The 60/40-split rear-seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch their legs. Go for the optional $1,920 blind spot detection/rear cross traffic alert system, power moon roof and 10-way power driver seat. It is money well spent. Also standard are heated front seats, dual auto a/c, 4.2-inch instrument cluster, six speakers, retractable cargo cover, push-button start and a wireless phone charger.

Standard safety features are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamics control, stability and traction system, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. The updated Eyesight assist monitor, which features lane departure warning and keep assist, pre-collision brakes and active cruise control, ensures that the driver maintains a straight path.
Whether you are an off-roader or not, the revamped Crosstrek will serve the purpose. Plus, the drive off the fuel pump won’t be as painful (combined 29 mpg) and neither will the price tag in the early 30s. If in the market for a compact SUV that appears cool, attractive, nimble and sophisticated, grab any from a local dealer’s lot before it’s too late. This is one “ride” you don’t want to miss!

CROSSTREK SPORT
Tires: 225/55R18
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Length: 176.4 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 63 inches
Weight: 3,332 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.6 gallons
City: 26 mpg; highway, 33 mpg
Base price: $28,995
Price as tested: $32,210
Web site: www.subaru.com


GAS-SIPPER KIA NIRO PHEV GOES THE DISTANCE … AND SOME MORE!

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The second-generation Kia Niro is here and it can travel a much farther distance than before. Our PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) enables the five-passenger compact crossover to now go 33 miles (previously it was only 26) without using gas. The charge port, located in the driver’s side front fender, uses a 240-volt system that can take about three hours or a 120-volt consuming nine hours. You can effectively go well over 500 miles on a tank (9.7 gallons) with its gas, hybrid and plug-in electric features.

A 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine is mated to an electric motor, which is powered by an 11.1 kWh (previous was 8.9) lithium-ion polymer battery weighing 245 pounds. That is adequate enough to put out a total of 180 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque while paired to a laudable 6-speed dual clutch transmission. The crossover offers a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the ride is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the battery.

A boost in wheelbase, length and width opens up more cabin and cargo space, i.e., 22.8 cubic feet behind the second-row seat. The signature “tiger nose” grille meets up with LED headlights and fog lamps to create a sleek and eye-striking appearance. Black door cladding and wheel arches are a standout also. Two 19.2-inch screens, one for the digital instrument cluster (cool LCD hybrid gauge showing charge, eco and power readings, as well as EV mode) and the other for infotainment, float to sync as one. Standard amenities include 10-way power heated/cooled driver and six-way manual passenger seats, leather steering wheel, dual auto a/c, power tilt/telescopic sun roof, aluminum pedals, 8-speaker Harman Kardon audio and push-button start. A rotary dial serves as the transmission shifter. The 60/40 rear seat folds down to open up 54.6 cubic feet of space.

Kia should be commended for offering several standard safety features, which are optional in competitor vehicles. Some are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, driver knee airbag, rearview camera, lane keep/follow and forward-collision-avoid assists, blind spot and rear-cross traffic collision warnings, four-wheel antilock brakes, rollover sensor, electronic stability and traction control, smart cruise control and a tire pressure monitoring system.

It may not have loads of power (sport mode is offered) but the Niro is an outstanding gas/electric/plug-in hybrid effort from Kia. It is sharp-looking, sporty, practical and sips gas (we averaged over 50 mpg). That it comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile power train and a five-year or 60,000-mile basic warranty is a plus. Lest we forget, the lithium-ion battery is also covered for 10-year/100,000 miles.

NIRO (SX TOURING)
Tires: P225/45R18
Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
Length: 174 inches
Width: 71.8 inches
Height: 60.8 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear
Steering: motor-driven power assist
Weight: 3,336 pounds
Gas only: 48 mpg
Comb electric/gas: 108 MPGe
Base price: $39,490
Price as tested: $41,635
Web site:www.kiausa.com


BENZ INTRODUCES AN IMPOSING PLUG-IN HYBRID GLE450e

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Fitting it between the smaller GLC and the bigger GLS, the GLE is a wonderful blend of power and sophistication that offers spice and entertainment both on and off-road. And for 2024, it gets an impressive all-new plug-in hybrid edition, GLE450e.

Under the hood of the five-seater 4Matic (all-wheel drive) SUV sits a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo and intercooled engine cranking out a combined 381 horsepower and 479 pounds-feet of torque. It is complemented by a synchronous motor powered by a 23.3-kWh lithium-ion battery. Plug it in for a charge and you can essentially go up to 40 miles on battery alone. This is no speedster but 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds and top speed of 130 mph is no small feat! Power reaches all four wheels via a meaty, crispy and accurate 9-speed auto gearbox. The independent double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension with coil springs works well to absorb unpleasant bumps and sudden turns on the road. Handling and steering feel were good overall, thanks to the electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion. Tow capacity for the steel unibody structure is admirable at 7,700 pounds.

Up front, the face is instantly recognizable as a Benz, highlighted by two horizontal chrome-accented louvres crisscrossing a radiator grille with the familiar three-pointed star emblem. Power domes on the bulging hood meet up with horizontal LED headlights to convey an attractive stance. Space is ample in both rows and the dashboard and center console is complemented by alluring wood and lush leather to give the SUV a classy feel. A touchpad controls the audio, nav and phone infotainment on the massive 12.3-inch screen, also similar in size to the digital instrument cluster. A personal infotainment system or the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), works through voice, touch and even hand gestures (just say, Hey Mercedes!). It can’t get any more intuitive and personal for new Benz owners! Other creature comforts include dual auto a/c, power/tilt slide moon roof, 10-way power front heated seats, 40/20/40 fold rear seat, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and copious aluminum and chrome accents.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, electronic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, active parking/brake and lane keep assists, blind spot monitor, Presafe, forward-collision and lane departure warnings, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

Loaded with tech- and infotain-laden features, the GLE450e delivers performance and class that’s matchless for the money. The plug-in feature makes the vehicle even more desirable for daily short commute drivers. You will be hard-pressed to find a midsize luxury SUV that will pay heed to your command (Hey Mercedes!) as you experience the outstanding ride.

BENZ GLE450e
Tires: 255/50R19
Wheelbase: 117.9 inches
Length: 194.3 inches
Height: 70.7 inches
Width: 76.7 inches
Weight: 5,754 pounds
Fuel capacity: 22.5 gallons
Combined city/hwy: 24 mpg
Electric + gas: 58 MPGe
Base price: $69,500
Price as tested: $86,770
Web site: www.mbusa.com


2023 HYUNDAI ELANTRA HEV IS A REMARKABLE GAS-SIPPER

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Yes, you can cut those trips to the gas station short, real short, as fuel prices hover around $4 a gallon! All you have to do is go get a 2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV (hybrid electric vehicle). Believe us, you are assured of at least over 50 mpg in this fine compact sedan.

A 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine puts out a total of 139 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque while coupled to an electric motor operating a 32kW lithium-ion polymer battery. Power reaches the front wheels via a crisp-shifting 6-speed auto gearbox. By no means is this a speedster but the car takes off real quick and comes to a stop at a moment’s notice. Switch to sport mode (normal and smart are other options) and you will end up with a sprightly drive whether on the highway or dodging peak-hour traffic. Suspension is handled via the reliable MacPherson strut front and multilink rear. The motor-driven power rack-and-pinion steering returns a weighted and response to the driver’s input.

The small car portrays a low and wide stance with a dark chrome mesh grille flanked by slim, horizontal LED headlights and daytime running lights. Two colossal 10.25-inch displays: a touch screen for infotainment system, and the other for digital instrument cluster, immediately draws attention. Sporting a horizontal dash layout, the practical cabin comes standard with a 60/40 rear seat, leather-wrapped heated/cooled, six-way power driver and four-way front-passenger adjustable seats, dual auto a/c, tilt/telescopic steering column, Bose audio with eight speakers, power sun roof, wireless phone charger, electronic park brake and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.

Several safety features come at no extra cost. There are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, front/rear crumple zones, electronic stability and traction control, forward-, blind spot- and rear cross traffic collision- avoidance assists, lane keep and forward assists, rearview camera, remote keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring system.

Base-priced at just $29,150, the Elantra HEV makes perfect sense as we see no end in sight for rising fuel prices at the pump. Apart from its gas-sipping capabilities, the car is agile, delightful and fun to drive. There also is Hyundai’s five-year, 60,000-mile basic, and 10-year, 100,000-mile power train and hybrid battery warranties to convince you to sign on the dotted line.

ELANTRA (HEV LIMITED)
Tires: P225/45R17
Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
Length: 184.1 inches
Width: 71.9 inches
Height: 55.7 inches
Weight: 3,069 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11 gallons
City: 49 mpg
Highway: 52 mpg
Combined: 50 mpg
Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com


CARLIKE 2023 INFINITI QX50 IS AN EXCEPTIONAL RIDE

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First, great news from Infiniti in general. Any 2023 model will now come with Infiniti Premium Care, an integrated maintenance program that includes up to three years of inspections, oil changes, tire rotations, brake fluid change, in cabin air-filter replacement and tire road hazard. The luxury division of Nissan has taken the right step at the right time while introducing an all-new Sport trim to the QX50 lineup.

Under the hood of the midsize luxury SUV sits a 2.0-liter variable-compression 4-cylinder turbo engine that puts out 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. Gloss-black accents deck up the exterior all-round, including the black roof rails. The cabin is crammed with extravagance and luxury features such as black aluminum accents on the center console, dashboard, doors, push-button ignition, 60/40-split rear seat, eight-way power heated/cooled 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. Semi-aniline leather perforated seats look elegant. 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 convey 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.

Standard safety features include 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, around-view monitor, rear-cross traffic alert and tire pressure monitoring system. ProPilot Assist helps drivers to maintain their lane and set vehicle speed and distance to a car ahead. 

Though lacking in the fuel efficiency department, this carlike crossover comes with plenty of lavish treats to pamper its occupants. And the lively QX50 is quick on the road, boasting a first-superb ride and praiseworthy handling. Infiniti Premium Care is an added bonus!

QX50 (SPORT, AWD)
Tires: 255/45R20
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: 4,116 pounds
Base price: $50,500
Price as tested: $52,815
Web site: www.infinitiusa.com


KIA HITS A HOME RUN WITH THE 2023 TELLURIDE SUV!

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Its list of honors and raves is endless. U.S. News’ Best Three-Row SUV for families. Car and Driver’s 10 Best Trucks and SUVs. Kelley Blue Book’s Best Buy Award in the 3-Row Midsize SUV. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick. SlashGear’s Best Family SUV. The Car Connection’s Best Family Car To Buy. You get the picture. Honestly, the 2023 Kia Telluride is a sensational hit.

Available in 7- or 8-passenger configuration, the SUV is equipped with a sole power train: 3.8-liter V-6 engine pumping out 291 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 262 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm, more than tolerable to climb a mountainous terrain or navigate the sharp turns of a countryside road. The 8-speed auto gear box with paddle shifters is immaculate, offering instantaneous up and down moves. The SUV also is fitted with an start/stop system, which turns the engine off at a halt to save fuel.

An independent MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension does a particularly good job of soaking bumps and potholes with skill and in this front-wheel or all-wheel-drive SUV. Also worth noting is the motor driven power rack-and-pinion steering, effortless at higher speeds or while pulling into a parking lot. Also serving the overall efforts is 59 percent advanced high-strength steel and sound-damping materials that hold wind and road noise to a minimum.

Taking up a sizeable space up front is a radiator grille with gloss black insert and dark gray surround trim, flanked by LED projector-style headlights and black bezels. It comes standard with forward-collision avoidance, safe exit and lane keep assists, and smart cruise control; there also are 10 airbags, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, vehicle stability/traction control, front/rear crumple zones, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.

Switch over to eco, comfort, smart and sport drive modes (snow and AWD lock for all-wheel drive) via a knob on the center console. Also offered are 10-way driver and 8-way front-passenger power seats, and dual 12.3-inch displays: a touch screen for infotainment system, and other for digital instrument cluster; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, head-up display, cooled/heated front and Nappa leather seats, dual sun roof, surround-view monitor, tilt/telescopic steering column, dual auto a/c, stainless-steel pedals/scuff plates, satin chrome door handles; and a10-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system.

Don’t be deluded into believing that the mighty 4,524-pound vehicle lacks muscle. In fact, the gas pedal releases forceful but silent acceleration to make the Telluride an elegant, pleasing and easy-riding companion. And Kia’s five-year, 60,000-mile basic, and 10-year, 100,000-mile power train warranties should convince you to sign on the dotted line.

TELLURIDE (SX-PRESTIGE, X-LINE AWD)
Tires: 245/50R20
Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
Length: 196.9 inches
Width: 78.3
Height: 70.5 inches
Tow capacity: 5,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons
City: 18 mpg
Highway: 24 mpg
Base price: $51,785
Price as tested: $54,120
Web site: www.kia.com


HYUNDAI TUCSON PLUG-IN HYBRID A USEFUL STEP TOWARD

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After a major redesign andpower train transformation for the front-wheel or all-wheel-drive Hyundai Tucson in 2022, the compact SUV maintains its status quo this year. Undoubtedly, it is a bigger vehicle than the predecessor in every respect. Length went up by 6.1, width and height 0.6 and wheelbase 3.4 inches; cargo volume increased by 7.7 and passenger volume 6 cubic feet. In essence, there is plenty of leg room now for rear-seat passengers. Make it a total of 108.2 cubic feet for total passenger room. Cargo space is a cool 80.3 cubic feet with the rear seat down.

First introduced in 2004, the Tucson now is equipped with a plug-in hybrid version. A 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged hybrid engine develops a total of 261 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque with a 44.2kw electric motor and 13.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The SUV can go on electric-only for nearly 33 miles before fuel kicks in. You can juice up the battery in fewer than two hours with the on-board charger. Power routed through the 6-speed auto gearbox gives sufficient performance. Eco, smart, sport and snow modes are at your fingertips.

A top-seller for Hyundai, the fourth-gen Tucson boasts a sporty, modern, sleek look up front as diamond-cut elements gaze at you from the sharp parametric-jewel grille. The cabin is “hidden tech” as the Hyundai folks likes to call it with a lowered and hoodless digital instrument cluster, button less center stack, capacitive touch controls, multi-air mode, ambient lights, 10.2-inch color touch infotainment display, Hyundai digital key (lock/unlock vehicle with phone), Blue Link and remote smart park assist. The Limited trim comes with a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, panoramic sun roof, heated/cooled and power front seats, Bose premium audio, hands-free power liftgate, tilt/telescopic steering column, and 60/40 fold seat with recline/center armrest.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain with rollover sensor, lane keep/follow assist, forward-collision warning, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, front/rear parking sensors and crumple zones, electronic stability and traction control, blind-spot warning, forward collision avoid-, lane keep/follow assists, rearview monitor, remote keyless entry, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

Are rising gas prices a drain during your daily roundabout? The Tucson PHEV may be the perfect alternative, especially if you drive around 30 miles every day. Regardless, this is a laudable effort from Hyundai as the Korean carmaker continues to electrify more of its vehicles, recent examples being the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. The Tucson hybrid engine shows off ample power to result in a composed ride, with sharp handling and decent overall balance. A spacious, nice-looking and well-fashioned cabin is another plus.

TUCSON (LIMITED, AWD)
Tires: P235/55R19
Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Length: 182.3 inches
Width: 73.4 inches
Height: 65.6 inches
Suspension: front MacPherson strut, multilink rear
Steering: electric power
Weight: 4,235 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11.1 gallons
Combined gas only: 35 mpg
Combined MPGe: 80
Base price: $44,760
Web site: www.hyundai.com


TRACK- AND ROAD-WORTHY M2 IS A FEISTY DRIVE!

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This one will be a good fit on the track! Then, perhaps it can cruise the highway too! That’s right, the BMW M2 high-performance sport coupe is road and track worthy! The Bimmer is super-fast: 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds with top speed of 155 mph! For 2023, the German carmaker has boosted the length by 4.1, width by 1.3, wheelbase by 2.1 and the speedster is 0.3 inches lower than its predecessor.

Power is derived from a 3.0-liter twin-power turbo inline-6 cylinder gas engine that blasts off 453 horsepower @ 6250 rpm and 406 pounds-feet of torque @ 5870 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed manual or a flawless 8-speed auto gearbox, which is even more fun with moves via the steering paddle shifters. The standard adaptive M suspension is specially tuned to enhance nimbleness and poise when pushing pedal to the metal. Active M Differential distributes drive torque evenly to the rear axle for more control and stability. You can personalize settings for engine, chassis, steering and braking as per your taste, style, liking! Furthermore, the M traction control has a 10-point choice! And the M Servotronic electric power steering with variable sport conveys a solid and communicative feel, keeping the M2 straight and watchful at sharp turns and curves.

Up front, it’s got the look, the horizontal one! Portraying a long hood with short overhangs, the wide, frameless twin-kidney grille is encircled by contoured LED headlights while M sport brakes, blue (or red) calipers and the M logo grab attention. As do the M double-spoke light alloy wheels in jet-black trim. Step into the well-appointed cabin and there are only oohs … and more aahs … for this incredibly energetic ride. BMW’s new iDrive 8 operating system is a huge, curved one-piece display of a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster for the driver. Forget the ancient analog devices once and for all as high-tech is now space-age! Go for the lighter carbon roof ($2,600 extra) instead of the moon roof. Further adding to the rich ambiance are touches of optional carbon fiber trim and anthracite headliner. Red accents for the M buttons on the robust three-spoke leather steering wheel and gear selector are a standout too. Other niceties include dual-zone auto a/c, power front heated black Vernasca leather seats with M logo on the headrest and a 40/20/40 rear seat.

Dual front and side airbags, front knee and side curtain airbags are standard along with dynamic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution, rearview camera, front/rear park distance control, active driving assist (lane departure warning, blind spot monitor/detect, rear-cross traffic alert, city collision mitigation), forward collision warning, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitor are standard.

Looking for some vim and vigor in a rear-wheel-drive car? Then the M2 fits the bill. It’s German engineering at the finest. And fastest. OK, not Bugatti speed! And every once, if you can, take the quick machine on the racetrack for a spirited spin!

M2
Tires: P275/35ZR19 front; 285/30ZR20 rear
Wheelbase: 108.1 inches
Length: 180.3 inches
Width: 74.3 inches
Height: 55.2 inches
Fuel capacity: 13.7 gallons
Mileage: 18 city, 23 highway
Weight: 3,814 pounds
Base price: $62,200
Price as tested: $69,695
Web site: www.bmw.com


PERFORMANCE-DRIVEN AUDI S6 IS A THRILL OF A RIDE!

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It’s sporty, stylish and luxurious. To top it all, the 2023 S6 also comes with the renowned quattro all-wheel drive that provides peace of mind in any road/weather condition. One cannot ask for a more graceful and energetic ride in the luxury midsize sedan segment than this Audi. Lest we forget, the S6 is performance-driven too!

The 2.9-liter bi-turbo V-6 engine cranks out 444 horsepower and 443 pounds-feet of torque. This allows the sprightly sedan to accelerate to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, a major feat for a 4,486-pound vehicle. To fight turbo lag, it is equipped with 48-volt electric mild-hybrid capabilities, helpful during stop and go or while cruising the highway. An 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission results in a quiet and smooth drive train. An electronically controlled, adaptive air suspension system delivers admirable poise and stability. The potent brakes, which feature 15.8-inch front and 13.8-inch rear ventilated discs, have a firm pedal feel. They operate inside 21-inch V-spoke design wheels shod with 245/35 tires.

The aluminum-alloy structure-based S6 sports a massive double-slat single-frame grille with the familiar four Audi rings, which are flanked by matrix-design LED headlights. The rear gets four S-specific tail pipes and diffuser inlay in black chrome matte. The cabin is packed with all the luxury accoutrements expected in a ride of this class. A pleasing 12.3-inch digital instrument Cluster matches up well with dual black-gloss touch screens, a 10.1-inch upper display for navigation, radio and telephone controls while the 8.6-inch lower one is solely for climate control and vehicle settings. Offering a solid grip is the splendid and inimitable yacht-like shifter knob. Rear-seat passengers will enjoy abundant headroom and legroom. Our favorite was the red stitching on the Valcona black leather seats, a sight to behold! Also standard are a three-spoke power tilt/telescopic steering column, 12-way heated power front seats, rear manual sun shades, four-zone auto a/c, open/close power trunk, glossy piano black trim, Bang & Olufsen sound system with 16 speakers and a Audi Drive Select so the driver can pick dynamic, comfort, auto or individual modes.

In the event of a possible collision, Audi pre sense basic and front detects an emergency maneuver and prepares the vehicle and its occupants. Ten airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability/traction control, rearview camera, lane departure warning, front/rear parking sensors, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

Undoubtedly, the performance-oriented S6 is a blast to drive. Plus, it’s got the looks, exterior and interior, that should appeal to any potential luxury midsize sedan buyer. We expect this Audi to continue to give the competition (Mercedes and BMW, are you listening?) sleepless nights.

S6 (PREMIUM PLUS)
Wheelbase: 115.3 inches
Length: 195 inches
Height: 56.9 inches
Width: 83.1 inches
Fuel capacity: 19.3 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 26 mpg
Base price: $73,700
Price as tested: $91,165
Web site: www.audiusa.com


ICONIC SPORTS COUPE NIZZAN Z RETURNS TO ACCOLADES

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Yutaka Katayama may not be a household name but you can shower accolades on the late ex-president of Nissan’s U.S. operations in the 1970s. After all, he was instrumental in bringing the Fairlady Z, known then as 240Z, to the American roads. And what a ride it’s been for the icon, which debuted as a 2.4-liter single-overhead cam inline-6 cylinder engine with just 150 horsepower, 4-speed or 3-speed automatic transmission and 14-inch wheels in 1970.

Fifty-three years later, the seventh-gen Z may have dropped its numerical prefix but picked up plenty of power and torque to make for a sensational ride. A 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine cranks out 400 hp at 6,400 rpm and 350 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. The rear-wheel-drive coupe is equipped with a 6-speed manual or you can opt for the 9-speed auto gearbox. A sport-tuned suspension is standard in the Performance edition we test drove. Bringing the quick car to a slowdown or stop are 14-inch front and 13.8-inch rear rotors with red-caliper finish. Normal, enhanced and sport modes are offered. And for the first time, the Z gets a launch control without wheel spin and hop for those heavy lead-footers who like to pull away for a thrill or two!
 
Borrowing the idea from the Japanese market’s 240ZG are two half circles in the LED headlights flanking a black grille that meets up with long aluminum hood, doors and the hatchback. The lower rear stance, short deck and silhouette will remind onlookers of the first-gen Z. A classic touch is the three-bay gauge pod for voltmeter, boost and turbo speed. Leather and suede inserts on the firm but cushy seats look cool too. Some fine standard cabin amenities are auto a/c, push-button ignition, four-way power heated front seats, intelligent cruise control, manual tilt/telescopic steering column, 12-inch digital dash display, aluminum sport pedals, 9-inch touch screen for infotainment ad a 8-speaker Bose sound system.

Safety is paramount in the Z with its standard dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, stability/traction control, auto emergency brakes with pedestrian detection, blind spot/lane departure/forward collision warnings, rear cross traffic alert, limited-slip differential, active-head restraints, front/rear crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Even after more than five decades, the Z continues to offer awesome performance, graceful styling and great value for the money! Z enthusiasts have every right to celebrate the return of the icon with glee.

NISSAN Z (PERFORMANCE)
Tires: 255/40R19 front; 275/35R19 rear
Wheelbase: 100.4 inches
Length: 172.4 inches
Height: 51.8 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Suspension: double wishbone aluminum front; independent multilink rear
Steering: speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion
Weight: 3,536 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.4 gallons
City: 18 mpg
Highway: 24 mpg
Base price: $49,990
Price as tested: $53,835
Web site: www.nissanusa.com


OVERLOOKED SUBARU IMPREZA RS IS A STEAL OF A DEAL

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After 25 years, the RS is back, as in the enthusiast-oriented Impreza trim! Admitted, the 2024 Subaru compact hatchback has for long been under the shadow of the more-popular WRX but if you want some vim and vigor in a ride, it will keep up to your expectations. The ride demonstrates incredible nimbleness, remarkable handling and response.

Under the hood of the RS sits a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder BOXER engine putting out 182 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 178 pounds-feet of torque @ 3700 rpm. It is coupled with a continuous variable transmission with 8-speed manual mode and option of steering wheel paddle shifters. The four-wheel independent MacPherson-type strut front and a double wishbone rear suspension soak up bumps and maintain stability in the standard and revised symmetrical all-wheel-drive ride. Borrowed from the WRX, and understandably so, is the dual-pinion electric power-assist steering, which is quick to respond at the slightest turn of the wheel.
The Impreza sports a new frameless hexagonal grille in black finish, surrounded by hawk-eye LED headlights, a raked windshield and noticeable RS doors/hatch badging. The cabin embodies a clean and simple layout with a huge 11.6-inch tablet-style touch screen (first for Impreza) to control navigation, audio and phone along with circular control knobs. Red bolsters on the black cloth seats look sporty and well-complemented by the gunmetal/carbon fiber accents on the dashboard. Lest we forget, the Impreza now gets wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The 60/40-split rear-seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch their legs. Also standard are leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, aluminum alloy pedals, dual auto a/c, 4.2-inch instrument cluster, rear seat armrest with dual cup holders, and wireless phone charger.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, stability and traction system, rearview camera, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. The Eyesight assist monitor, which features lane departure warning and active cruise control, ensures that the driver maintains a straight path while the DriverFocus distraction mitigation system sounds a warning if its camera and facial recognition software finds tiredness signs or driver diversion.

Why opt for the Impreza? The reasons are endless. The car sips gas; in fact, we eked out nearly 32 mpg during our week’s driving. And then there’s the $27,885 base tag, a steal considering new car prices are up the roof. Anyone looking to purchase a comfy, good-looking, fun to drive, stylish and agile compact hatch would find that the Impreza fulfills all their needs. And some more!

IMPREZA RS
Tires: 225/40R18
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Length: 176.2 inches
Width: 70.1 inches
Height: 58.3 inches
Weight: 3,323 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.6 gallons
City: 26 mpg; highway, 33 mpg
Price as tested: $31,045
Web site: www.subaru.com


2023 VW ID.4 ELECTRIC SUV SHOWS PROMISE!

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Nearly two years ago, we drove the ID.4 on the roads, hills of Chattanooga, Tenn., where the all-electric SUV’s assembly plant is based. Employing 3,800 people, VW has invested $800 million more in the $2.6 billion factory to produce solely electric vehicles.

Recently, the German automaker dispatched over the 2023 ID.4 S for us to test in the Tampa Bay area. Similar in size to the Tiguan, our RWD SUV was equipped with a single rear motor putting out 201 horsepower and 229 pounds-feet of torque. In the underbody is the 62kWh lithium-ion battery pack. But range is just around 208 miles on a full charge. There is also an AWD version, which gets an additional electric motor that develops out 295 hp and 339 pounds-feet of torque. And that has a reach of 275 miles. Plus, there is a $7,500 federal tax credit to be applied. Plugging in the 11 kW charger can take 7½ hours, or best is the 125 kW DC fast charging capability, which requires just 38 minutes. Buyers do get three years to use Electrify America fast charging systems (30-minute session) free. Eco, comfort, sport and custom modes are offered.

It is definitely a bold-looking vehicle, especially up front with the illuminated light bar and the VW logo located centrally while surrounded by LED projector headlights. As soon as the driver settles into the 12-way power leatherette seats, he is greeted by a configurable 5.3-inch digital display or what the carmaker calls an ID.Cockpit. A Discover Pro 12-inch touchscreen for infotainment controls sits atop the dashboard. Passenger volume for the compact vehicle at 99.9 cubic feet is quite creditable. Front-seat passengers get 41.1 inches and rear has 37.6 inches. Fold down the second row and you gain 64.2 cubic feet. Other goodies include dual auto a/c, 60/40 fold rear seat, 7-speaker sound system, heated front seats and tilt/telescopic leather, heated steering wheel, panoramic glass moon roof and hands-free power lift gate.

Dual front and side airbags, front and rear curtain airbags, rearview camera, front/rear park distance control, electronic stability control, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard along with the IQ.Drive, which fetches you forward collision warning and auto brakes with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

Base-priced at $43,995, the well-balanced ID.4 shows lots of potential as the electric SUV segment heats up. It is definitely a far better viable option for buyers (thanks to the fed tax credit) looking at the ever-popular but pricey Tesla or the Mustang Mach-E.

ID.4 S (RWD)
Tires: 235/50R20
Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
Length: 180.5 inches
Width: 72.9 inches
Height: 64.5 inches
Suspension: Strut-type front, multilink rear
Steering: electric power
Weight: 4,416 pounds
Tow capacity: 2,200 pounds
City: 115 MPGe
Highway: 99 MPGe
Combined: 107 MPGe
Web site: www.vw.com


2023 TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID AN INVALUABLE GAS SIPPER

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We first test drove the Toyota Corolla hybrid when it debuted about four years ago in Savannah, Ga. Then, the compact car boasted bold styling, competitive price and consistent value. Same and more applies to the slightly more powerful 2023 Corolla hybrid in which we recently spent some time.

The hybrid is equipped with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to two motors/generators for a total 138 horsepower (up by 17) @ 5200 rpm and 105 pounds-feet of torque @ 3600 rpm. Depending on the model, you can get the continuous variable transmission or a 6-speed manual gear box. The MacPherson strut front and a multilink rear suspension soak up obstacles with ease and maintain stability in all types of tricky situations. And the revamped electric power steering is precise and crisp. Normal, eco and sport modes are offered.

Up front, the new design is sleek, sharp and eye-catching. Flanking the slim, J-shaped bi-beam LED headlights and fog lamps is a rounded nose with a sport mesh black grille, sculpted bulging wheel arches and sharp body lines. A color keyed spoiler, gloss-black diffuser and dual chrome exhaust tips bring up the rear. The practical cabin is simply laid out with metallic accents on the dashboard and chrome door handles. Basic amenities include auto a/c, sport fabric trimmed seats, six-way driver and four-way front-passenger seats, new 8-inch touch screen for audio, phone and nav controls with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4.2-inch TFT multimedia screen, leather-wrapped manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel, six-way driver adjustable and four-way front-passenger seats, four USB-C ports, digital clock and a 60/40 rear fold seat.

Dual front and side airbags, driver knee airbag, side curtain airbag, vehicle stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, three-point seatbelts for all, keyless entry, blind spot monitor, front/rear crumble zones, rearview camera, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. The no-cost and updated Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 translates into a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, proactive obstacle anticipation/road sign/lane trace assists, lane departure alert and dynamic cruise control.

Folks, this one’s a no-brainer as gas continues to hover around the $3.20 gallon range. Base-priced at $25,500 and peaking at $29,000, the Corolla SE hybrid touts 50 mpg city and 43 mpg highway figures with combined mpg at 47. With its agility, good looks, fun-to-drive character, fair price and roominess, this Toyota should march ahead of the competition, again!

COROLLA (SE)
Tires: P225/40R18
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 182.3 inches
Width: 70.1 inches
Height: 56.5 inches
Fuel capacity: 11.3 gallons
Weight: 2,850 pounds
Web site: www.toyota.com


OVERHAULED LEXUS RX350h IS AN LIVELY RIDE WITH ELEGANT CABIN

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The ever-popular RX350 hybrid enters 2023 with a bang, as in an almost all-new version. The Lexus is up in wheelbase by 2.3, front and rear track by 0.5 and 1.7 inches respectively. And most noticeable is that the previous 6-cylinder is now replaced by a 4, but with plentiful power to boost confidence in a driver.

Under the hood of the five-passenger luxury SUV now sits a 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine, mated to electric motor/generators, putting out 246 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 233 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. Drive modes include eco, normal, sport and EV. Up front is the MacPherson strut but the rear gets an all-new multilink suspension system.

The RX350h is fitted with a 259-volt nickel-metal hydride battery under the rear seat, which is recharged by energy captured as the driver applies the brakes or coasts. Also, the continuous variable transmission-equipped car gets a regenerative braking system. When the car is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the batteries.
 
The most evident exterior feature of the RX350 is the exceptionally huge spindle grille flanked by triple Bi-LED headlights and daytime running lights. A walkaround the vehicle reveals a single-lens taillamp wraparound the body, flush window, door molding and rear spoiler. Step in to find the center stack angled toward the driver, making it easier to control buttons on the dashboard. The abundant sprinkle of black open pore wood and Ash Bamboo results in an eye-catching cabin. And we can’t forget to mention the ultra-suede door trim. The 10-way cooled/heated power front semi-aniline leather seats, three-spoke power tilt/telescopic leather steering column, push-button start, multi-zone a/c, 40/20/40-split recline/slide fold rear seat, gated shifter, 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, head-up display and power tilt/slide panoramic roof, hands-free lift gate come at no cost. Indeed, there is a new look and design for the central console box. The mammoth 14-inch infotainment touchscreen atop the dashboard is a standout.

Ten airbags, vehicle stability/traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, blind spot monitor, rearview camera, keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. The updated Lexus Safety Sense 3.0 translates into a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, proactive obstacle anticipation/road sign/lane trace assists, lane departure alert and dynamic cruise control.

Looking for fewer stops at the pump in your luxury ride? With gas prices still above $3 a gallon, the RX350 hybrid makes perfect sense for a potential SUV buyer. Undoubtedly, this elegant and energetic Lexus with a purposeful interior is a best buy.

RX350h (LUXURY)
Tires: 235/50R21
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 192.5 inches
Height: 67.3 inches
Width: 75.5 inches
Steering: rack and pinion electric power
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
City: 37 mpg
Highway: 34 mpg
Weight: 4,455 pounds
Base price: $58,150
Web site: www.lexus.com


STYLISH 2023 VOLVO XC90 PLUG-IN HYBRID CAN GO PLACES!  

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There are quite a few attractive seven-passenger luxury SUVs on the market but the Volvo XC90 is our favorite. We have test-driven one every couple years and were overwhelmed with the 2023 Recharge AWD Ultimate edition that was dispatched to us recently. The T8 plug-in hybrid has received some modifications that make this incredible ride more appealing than before.
Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged and supercharged engine, which puts out an enormous 455 horsepower and 523 pounds-feet of torque. A rear electric motor and a center-mounted 14.9 kWh lithium-ion battery can take the midsize luxury crossover SUV nearly 36 miles (previous was just 18) before the gasoline engine kicks in. Charge time is hardly five hours on a 240-volt volt. The 8-speed auto gearbox in our all-wheel-drive vehicle is sprightly in any untoward situation. And the start-stop feature (auto engine stop when the vehicle halts) ensures substantial savings in fuel and weight.

The stunning crossover shows off a centered Volvo iron mark amid a bright chrome bar grille, flanked by LED headlights and Thor’s hammer-like daytime running lights. The substantial cabin conveys an upscale aura with a 12.3-inch instrument panel decked in shimmer graphite aluminum inlays. Adult passengers have ample space for leg and shoulder room in the two rear seats. Volvo Sensus infotainment, with a distinct vertical 9-inch display touch screen, is essentially made up of four tiles: navigation, media, phone and user-defined. Activate one and watch it expand while keeping the other tiles visible for future use. The Gray Ash wood décor and tailored dashboard in charcoal is a nice touch from the typical leather in most luxury vehicles. New for 2023 is a Google built-in Assistant, Maps and Play store. Standard amenities include two-zone auto a/c, 10-way power front cooled/heated Nappa leather seats, leather tilt/telescopic steering wheel, panoramic moon roof, head-up display, aluminum cargo scuff plate, 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and hands-free power tail gate.  

The Chinese-owned but Swedish-made car company is renowned for safety. Continuing the tradition, the XC60 gets dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, lane departure/keep aid, blind spot information, cross traffic alert, rear park assist and sensors, adaptive cruise control, four-wheel antilock brakes, three-point seatbelts for all, side impact protection, dynamic stability and traction control, 360-degree camera, hill start assist and descent control, City Safety (brakes automatically to help prevent a rear-end collision) also gets steer assist, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
Whether you are off the beaten path or strolling the highway, the 5,000-pound XC90 is incredibly rapid off the mark, graceful in traffic and a dream to drive. Truly, it is a fantastic combination of beauty and performance.

XC90 T8 (ULTIMATE)
Tires: 275/40R21
Wheelbase: 117.5 inches
Length: 195 inches
Width: 79.1 inches
Height: 69.9 inches
Suspension: double wishbone front, integral axle rear
Steering: electric power rack and pinion
Drive modes: comfort, eco, dynamic, off-road, individual
Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons
Mileage: 27 mpg combined gas, 58 MPGe
Base price: $79,400
Price as tested: $85,495
Web site: www.volvo.com


LEXUS FLAGSHIP LX600 IS ULTRA COMFORT AT ITS FINEST!  

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Right off the bat, let’s point out that the Lexus flagship sedan, which replaces the LX570 after shedding 441 pounds, isn’t for everyone. Ask why? Well, it has a base price of $102,025, which with options is almost $107,925. Add tax, tag and you are looking at around $125,000.

Now that price is settled for a few, but not for most, here’s what you get. The 2023 LX600 offers a 3.4-liter twin-turbo engine with continuously variable valve timing that develops a healthy 409 horsepower @ 5200 rpm and 479 pounds-feet of torque @ 3600 rpm. The all-wheel-drive luxury car is mated to a smooth and quick-to-respond 10-speed auto gearbox. Among the multi-terrain modes available are auto, dirt, sand, mud, deep snow and rock. Torsion limited-slip center differential, uniquely tuned front/rear dampers and a sport suspension ensure that this exhilarating car has a firm trip, traction and cornering stability at every turn. Bringing the gigantic SUV to a slowdown/stop are 13.9 front and 13.2 rear ventilated disc brakes. Ready to haul that boat to the beach this weekend? Go for it since you can tow up to 8,000 pounds in the LX600! Despite the 5,665-pound weight, 0 to 60 is possible in just 6.9 seconds with top speed at 130 mph.

Surrounding the massive spindle mesh grille are triple-beam LED headlights, turn signals and daytime running lights. Step inside the lavish cabin and you will be in awe of rich-appearing red leather. Atop the dashboard sits a massive 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen with a 7-inch multi-terrain monitor underneath, as well as temperature controls. Other niceties are F-Sport power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with paddle shifters, aluminum pedals and front-door scuff plates; four-zone a/c, power-fold flat third-row seat, Hadori aluminum trim, heated/cooled power front seats, Mark Levinson sound system, cooled box (fridge!) in the center console, wireless phone charger and an adaptive variable air suspension.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, vehicle stability and traction controls, front/rear crumple zones, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, panoramic view and blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alert, head-up display, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system. Lexus Safety Sense 2.5 brings in a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, lane departure/tracing assists and dynamic cruise control.

If in the market for a full-size rugged but luxury SUV that can tackle the tough landscape (thanks to multi-terrain select and crawl control) with confidence, the upscale LX600 F-Sport edition fits the bill. And it is ultra luxury to the extreme! You won’t be disappointed as long as the steep price tab is within your reach.

LX600 F-SPORT
Tires: 265/50R22
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 200.2 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 74.2 inches
Suspension: double wishbone front, multilink rear
Steering: electronic power rack-and-pinion
Fuel capacity: 21.1 gallons
City: 17 mpg
Highway: 22 mpg
Web site: www.lexus.com


GENESIS G90 IS A PALACE ON WHEELS!

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Meet the 2023 Car of the Year as picked by Motor Trend and so ingeniously illustrated by the award presenter: “The flagship Genesis G90 is luxury distilled — everything you see, touch and experience has been carefully considered and executed with the greatest of care, from crisp lines of the body work, to quilted-leather and warm wood surfaces throughout the interior, and surprisingly intuitive technological touches.” 

And the accolades keep on coming for the fully redesigned car. After all, the G90 is unlike any other sedan you will come across the road. And that is no exaggeration. Under the hood sits a 3.5-liter V-6 cranking out 409 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 405 pounds-feet of torque @ 1300 rpm. A 48-volt mild hybrid system or what Genesis terms “electric supercharger” further boosts power to the engine. Zero to 60 is possible in around 5.4 seconds in the agile and quick ride, mated to a remarkable 8-speed auto gear box.

Up front, the familiar diamond-like grille is flanked by jewel-like, parametric-pixel two-line LED headlights to convey a distinguishing presence. As you near the vehicle, flush automatic door handles are a sight to behold. As are the switches to close the power doors! Two high-tech 12.3 screens for infotainment and a digital cluster of speedometer, power gauge, charge level and trip odometer appear futuristic. Both rows get heated, cooled and massage functions while the driver enjoys 18-way power and the front-passenger 16-way seats. Oh, and the second row power reclines besides enabling its passengers to have controls of all types on their fingers! And then there’s the pillow-like headrest and footrest and how can we forget the wireless charger for the rear row? A Mind Curator (pick vitality, delight, care, comfort) allows occupants to relax with different themes such as for audio, lights, massage and even fragrance! Furthermore, there’s the suede headliner, real wood trim, 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, head-up display, power tilt/slide panoramic moon roof, three-zone climate control, rear power sunshades, etc.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, electronic stability and traction controls, brake assist, blind spot, forward-collision, park-collision and rear-cross traffic collision avoid assists, front avoid, lane keep and follow assists, front crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Truly, the G90 is nothing short of a palace on wheels. Everyone aboard is treated to royalty in the beautifully-made and skillfully executed cabin. Lest we forget, the sedan has tremendous power to leave a lasting impression. Dream about this commanding machine and if you can afford the steep price tag, it’s yours.

GENESIS 90 (AWD)
Tires: 255/40R21 front, 275/35R21 rear
Wheelbase: 125.2 inches
Length: 207.7 inches
Width: 76 inches
Height: 58.7 inches
Suspension: multilink, plus multi-air chamber suspension
Steering: rack-mounted, motor-driven power
Fuel capacity: 19.3 gallons
City: 17 mpg
Highway: 24 mpg
Base price: $98,700
Price as tested: $100,370
Web site: www.genesis.com


GO OFF-ROADING WITH ALL-NEW 2023 RAV4 HYBRID WOODLAND

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And now you can go off the beaten path in an RAV4. That’s right. Toyota has introduced the all-wheel-drive Woodland Edition – its first hybrid off-road special edition SUV! With coil springs and twin-tube shocks borrowed from a TRD-tuned (Toyota Racing Development) suspension to back it up, this is another winner for the innovative Japanese carmaker.

A 2.5-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder gas engine cranks out 176 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 163 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm. Two electric motors boast hp up to 219 hp. A 244.8-volt lithium-ion battery is recharged by energy captured as the driver applies the brakes or coasts. Also, the electronically controlled continuous variable transmission-equipped sedan boasts a regenerative braking system. The TRD-inspired independent MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension with stabilizer bars does a particularly good job of soaking bumps and potholes. And the all-wheel-drive crossover also is equipped with a rack-mounted electric power steering for ease at higher speeds or pulling into a parking lot.

The RAV4 operates in three modes: EV, which is electric at lower speeds of up to 25 mph; ECO, an efficient mode where the driver can control the throttle opening; and sport for some feisty driving. The rounded instrument display showing charge, power and eco readings will come in handy for drivers who like to eke out every gallon of gas.

Projector-beam LED headlights flank a dark gray, metallic-colored hexagonal grille hosting a blue-tinted Toyota emblem. Badges, mudguards and roof rails/crossbars, all in black, are unmistakable. There is plenty of room in the cabin and the 60/40-split second row seat can be folded to obtain 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Storage areas are scattered throughout the cabin, including an open bin atop the glovebox, center console box, eight cup/bottle holders, five USB ports and overhead sunglass holder. Other perks are a power driver seat and tilt/slide moon roof, dual auto a/c, leather tilt/telescopic steering column and shifter, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and a hands-free lift gate.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag and driver knee airbag, blind-spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, side-impact door beams, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle stability and traction control, backup camera and front/rear crumple zones. Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 brings in a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, lane departure/tracing assists and dynamic cruise control.

The Woodland version, which will appeal to the off-road buffs, further enhances the varied lineup of this No. 1 seller for Toyota. Plus, the hybrid SUV boasts sizable passenger/cargo room. And as the stop at the pump continues to hurt the wallet, who doesn’t want a gas sipper for a ride? (we earned a combined 39 mpg).

RAV4 AWD (WOODLAND)
Tires: P225/60R19
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 180.9 inches
Height: 67 inches
Width: 73 inches
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons
Mileage: city 38, highway 35
Weight: 3,775 pounds
Base price: $33,025
Price as tested: $34,360
Web site: www.toyota.com


ALL-ELECTRIC BENZ EQE SEDAN IS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD … AND DRIVE!

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Remember the EQ moniker! Why? Because in the near future, it will be applied to every electric Mercedes-Benz. According to the German carmaker, EQ stands for “emotion and intelligence,” two guiding tenets that serve as a stepping stone to reduce carbon footprint. Toward that end, the all-electric large EQS sedan hit the roads a year ago. As a follow-up, we now have the EQE, its smaller and lighter sibling. And a remarkable one at that.

Our test drive, the 2023 EQE 350 4MATIC, is equipped with a 90.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that assures the driver of going at least 300 miles on a full charge. Two electric motors with 215 kW total system output produce 288 horsepower and 564 pounds-feet of torque. Believe it or not, the midsize luxury sedan reaches 0 to 60 mph in around 6 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. Not bad for a vehicle that weighs over 5,400 pounds. On a 240-volt outlet, it will take 9.5 hours to charge the car but a fast DC charger (170 kW) can juice up to 80 percent in a mere 32 minutes. As an incentive, Benz offers a two-year complimentary charge at any Electrify America station. The single-speed direct transmission is instant with comfort, sport, eco and individual modes.
The EQE portrays a cab-forward, one-bow body shape and a coupe-like roofline appearance. Up front, the ‘black panel’ unit (driver assistance systems are located behind) in a deep radiator grille is surrounded by digital light LED headlights. Take a seat behind the robust steering wheel and the red seat belts amid AMG line black/space gray leather convey class. Ambient lights (64 colors) add sparkle to the dashboard and doors. A 56-inch rounded dash called Hyperscreen features two 12.3-inch driver and front-passenger displays and an enormous 17.7-inch central OLED touchscreen. Personal infotainment system or the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) works through voice, touch and even hand gestures (just say, Hey Mercedes!). Other creature comforts include a 15-speaker Burmeister sound system, power tilt/sliding sun roof, heated/cooled front seats, wireless phone charger and more.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, Presafe, electronic stability/traction control, active brake/blind spot and lane keep assists, 360-degree camera, forward collision/lane departure warnings, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights ensure the well-being of occupants.

With gas still hovering at $3 a gallon, the EQE is a no-brainer. Thanks to an astounding performance, futuristic looks and cutting-edge technology, the all-new electric sedan is an attractive buy, i.e., if the hefty price tag isn’t an issue. Move over, Tesla, for this fresh entrant into the market with more competitive EVs to come from the admirable Benz stable. Let the rivalry begin, we say, in all seriousness!

EQE (4MATIC)
Tires: P255/40R20
Wheelbase: 122.8 inches
Length: 196.6 inches
Height: 59.5 inches
Width: 82.8 inches
Suspension: multilink
MPGe: 131 city, 110 highway
Base price: $78,950

Web site: www.mbusa.com

HYUNDAI OFFERS A VARIED ‘ELECTRIFIED’ CHOICE

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That Tesla is a leader in electric vehicles is a given. But the frontrunner isn’t going to be able to keep the position for long if Hyundai has a say. Or several says (i.e. EVs), for that matter. After all, the Korean carmaker can proudly claim its Ioniq 5 electric SUV as the 2022 World Car of the Year, as well as tout the Kona electric, Tucson PHEV (plug-in hybrid) and regular Santa Fe hybrid. To showcase and experience the diverse lineup, we were recently invited to drive the vehicles in the lush Coconut Grove/Miami neighborhood along the bay and surrounding areas.

The top 5 Southern region markets for electrified vehicles are Miami, Tampa, Orlando while BEV (battery electric vehicles) are again Miami, then Orlando and Tampa. It is no wonder that Hyundai held the ‘electrification’ media experience in ‘The Magic City.’ The strategy is to sell one million Hyundai electrified vehicles per year worldwide, revealed Loren Wong, assistant manager of Product Planning at Hyundai Motor N.A. Looking further, the auto manufacturer will produce 11 EVs by 2030. Toward that end, the company has planned a dedicated EV factory in Bryan County, Ga., with production to begin in 2025. And Hyundai is already offering a two-year complimentary charge at any Electrify America station.

Also present was Andre Carter of Hyundai division Supernal, an advance air mobility company, that seeks to address congestion and pollution. Its aim is to develop a family of electric air vehicles such as a battery-powered and autonomous Electric Vehicle Take-off & Landing or eVTOL (4-5 passengers) for intra-city passengers by 2028. “We are taking the time to create a safe, light-weight commercial eVTOL that provides our future passengers with the security and comfort they find in their own cars,” said Carter.  

Supernal is aware that the novel electric air vehicle concept cannot be dropped into cities unless a system has been fashioned that works for everyone and effortlessly integrated into current transit networks. Why Miami? Because Mayor Francis Suarez has been receptive to public-private partnerships integrating into his city. Carter terms the air mobility concept as “subway in the sky.”
While the Ioniq 5 can go up to 300 miles on a full charge, the Kona electric stretches to 258 miles, thanks to lithium-ion battery packs and electric motors. Fast charging times range from just 18 to 55 minutes for 80 percent. With an electric motor and battery pack, the Tucson PHEV travels in electric-mode only for about 33 miles before fuel kicks in. And the Santa Fe hybrid ekes out 37.1 mpg in city, beating EPA estimates of 33.

As noted earlier, an array of hip Hyundai EVs is gearing up to hit the market – the midsize Ioniq 6 sedan and the larger Ioniq 7 SUV – are just two examples. It’s only a matter of time before the Korean carmaker takes the lead in the EV market, leaving the rest of the rivals far behind!

‘BABY BENZ’ C300 AN EXCELLENT, MUCH-REVERED SEDAN

LEXUS LC500 Its origin goes way back to 1982. Then the Benz 190 was labeled as ‘Baby Benz.’ Over a decade later, the ‘kid’ earned the C-class designation and worldwide sales of more than 10.5 million units with China holding the lead for the past six years. The rest, as they so lovingly say, is history.

But Mercedes engineers have not just kept up with history but taken a step ahead by redesigning the C300 for 2022 inside and out. Under the hood of the steel unibody structure still resides a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder turbo engine putting out 255 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 295 pounds-feet of torque @ 3200 rpm. An integrated starter-generator with a 48-volt capacity provides mild hybrid power delivery of an extra 20 hp. Zero to 60 is possible in just 6 seconds with top speed of 130 mph in this fine, snug and effective ride. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive vehicle is mated to a standard 9-speed automatic, which can be driven in eco, comfort, sport, sport+ and individual modes. The independent four-link axle front and multilink rear suspension works splendidly to absorb unpleasant highway bumps and sudden sharp turns. Returning a weighted response to the driver’s input is razor-sharp, electromechanical power rack-and-pinion steering.

The compact luxury sedan is 2.6 inches longer with a wheelbase up by 1 and width more than .4 than its predecessor. Also receiving a lift are elbow, head and knee room. Up front, the trademark three-pointed star on the power dome hood meets up with a larger Benz emblem centered in the A-shaped radiator grille with chrome surrounds. It is flanked by horizontal LED headlights. A lavish, elegant cabin is expected of any Mercedes with dual auto a/c, 40/20/40 rear seat, steering wheel paddle shifters, Apple CarPlay and Android wireless phone capabilities, illuminated door sills, panoramic sunroof and heated front seats. The flattened round sets of air vents with ambient lights are a sight to behold, especially at night. A central and jet-black tablet-like 11.9-inch touch screen, now tilted toward the driver, serves as a audio, navigation and phone infotainment guide. Indeed, top-notch materials and craftsmanship give the car a rich vibe.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability program, pre-safe (partial braking in an emergency), active brake assist and blind spot assist, forward collision warning, rearview camera, keyless go/start, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

There is no doubt that the revamped fifth-gen C300 augments the Benz sedan lineup. If in the market for a gorgeous sedan that provides punch around town, impressive handling/balance, and a sumptuous cabin bar none, take the C300 for a test-drive. It will be well worth your time and effort.

C300 4MATIC
Tires: 225/45R18 front; 245/40R18 rear
Wheelbase: 112.8 inches
Length: 187 inches
Width: 80 inches
Height: 56.6 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 33 mpg
Weight: 3,957 pounds
Base price: $45,550
Price as tested: $57,270
Web sitewww.mbusa.com


INFINITI Q50 SPORT SEDAN IS A COOL PICK!

VW ID.4 PRO (RWD)Last year, we test-drove the Q50 Red Sport version of this midsize luxury sport car from Infiniti with 400 horsepower. For 2023, the carmaker dispatched over the lesser trim Sensory model boasting 300 hp @ 6400 rpm. Both have the same 3.0-lier V-6 twin-turbocharged engine under the hood. But kid you not, the sedan didn’t feel much different on the road, navigating sharp curves and turns with self-assurance and grace. And except for adding Premium Care maintenance program (three years of oil changes, tire rotations, inspections), the Q50 maintains its status quo.

Putting out 295 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm, and available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the lively midsize sedan is coupled with a slick 7-speed auto gearbox. An independent double-wishbone front and a multilink rear suspension ensure safety for occupants in adverse road/weather conditions. Credit for the superbly accurate steering goes to a power-assist, rack-and-pinion system. Behind the wheels hide large rotors: front dual-piston 12.6 inches at front and rear single-piston 12.1 inches to inspire confidence in the driver. Lest we forget, you can enjoy the Q50 in personal, eco, snow, sport and standard modes.

Up front, the double-arch grille and wide hood are surrounded by LED headlights and daytime running lights. Dual chrome exhaust tips deck the rear. If anyone tells you that the Infiniti cabin isn’t on par with its German rivals, point out the top-notch materials and gloss levels. The InTouch infotainment system, which comes with dual 8- and 7-inch touch screens atop each other, is functional. Also standard are eight-way power heated front leather seats, dual auto a/c, 60/40 rear seat, overhead sunglass holder, Bose audio with 16 speakers, aluminum sill plates with ‘Infiniti’ insignia, and power tilt/telescopic steering column and moon roof. But the 13.5-cubic-foot trunk could use with slightly more space.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, vehicle dynamic and traction controls, front seatbelts with pretensioners, remote keyless entry, rearview camera, zone body construction, blind spot, lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, rear cross traffic alert, auto brakes with pedestrian detection, hill start assist, energy-absorbing steering column, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

A clever and fine choice for a potential sport sedan buyer, the Q50 displays impressive handling, superb grip and a strong steering feel. And it is a head-turner ride to boot.

Q50 SENSORY (AWD)
Tires: P245/40R19
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 189.6 inches
Width: 71.8 inches
Weight: 3,966 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 27 mpg
Base price: $50,350
Web site: www.infiniti.com

 

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