Tag: SUV

By on November 25, 2015

00 - 1991 Jeep Cherokee Sport in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The XJ Jeep Cherokee was made for approximately a thousand years (OK, 32 years, counting the still-in-production BAW Knight S12), and these trucks are still extremely easy to find here in Colorado. Nice XJs still command good prices here, but used-up ones fill the local wrecking yards. Since I shared a junked Grand Cherokee last week, it’s only fair that we should admire a discarded Colorado Cherokee Sport. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2015

00 - 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee in Colorado  junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The value of a first-generation Grand Cherokee that’s even slightly rough crashed hard quite a few years ago and has remained just a hair above scrap value ever since, so junkyards here in SUV-crazed Colorado tend to be packed with these trucks. XJ Cherokees are plentiful as well, but I tend to notice them more than the bigger and more Chryslerated Grands.

This ’97, however, is one of the (presumably) super-rare Orvis Editions, and so I broke out the camera when I saw it in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2015


Under the best circumstances for the 2015 Cadillac Escalade, I could find a half-dozen reasons not to drive it: It’s too big. Too heavy. Too slab-sided. Too thirsty. Too tall. Too long. Too unwieldy. Too gaudy. Too powerful.

But I kept driving it. Like a salmon driven upstream through bear-infested waters, the Escalade kept calling me to ignore the challenges and instinctually clamber up the power retractable running boards, loosen my belt and start the motor. Who wants to procreate in here?

It’s antithetic to my person. I’m not interested by big, heavy SUVs that cost $89,360 and return mileage firmly rooted in the teens — but somehow I am drawn to them.

Which makes me wonder: why? (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2015

2016 Kia Sorento Limited Exterior

Kia gained a well-deserved reputation in the ’90s for cheap and nasty transportation, but lately they are the greatest social climber since Cinderella. “2016 Kia” and “1996 Kia” are totally different from one another. Even “2006 Kia” seems like a distant memory.

Unusual for a car company, Kia doesn’t shy away from its troubled beginnings in America, which can be seen both in its marketing toward the press and in its product portfolio.

The 2016 Sorento is a perfect example. While the model we were lent for a week is a solid contender to the Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander and even the Acura MDX, Kia also sells a model priced at $24,900, just above the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.

Does this make the Sorento conflicted? Or is the Korean born, German designed and American built crossover the “just right” CUV?

(Read More…)

By on November 2, 2015

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country-016

I understand the logic behind the modern crossover, especially in Sweden.

Sweden’s 360,000 mile network of public and private roads is only 30-percent paved. That leaves some 252,000 miles of unpaved glory to explore. This high percentage of unpaved roads explains why Volvos have long had reasonable ground clearance, why the Swedes invented the headlamp wiper, why the XC70 exists and why Haldex was founded there.

The concept of the crossover is to give you the efficiency of a traditional “car” blended with some offroad ability normally found in a truck-based SUV. (Of course, the modern American crossover is little more than an all-wheel-drive minivan with less practical seats.) While other companies created boxy crossovers like the Highlander and CR-V, Volvo took a European approach by starting with a station wagon, adding all-wheel drive and jacking the ride height up to create the first V70 Cross Country. The result was more aerodynamic than an SUV, had the ride height of a crossover, the practicality of a station wagon and the driving position of a car. Hold that thought.

(Read More…)

By on October 30, 2015

1999 Isuzu Vehicross

Most mainstream consumers don’t recall much about Isuzu. If asked, they’ll either remember their friends’ droptop Amigo back in college, or if they are of a certain age, they’ll know Joe Isuzu and his outlandish claims. Some enthusiasts might know Isuzu as the partner in numerous joint ventures with GM, Honda and Subaru, among others.

That said, Isuzu built some remarkably good SUVs worthy of both halves of that descriptor. The Trooper especially was a good, sturdy off-roader that could handle family duties.

However, for a few short years, Isuzu made a wacky, limited-edition truck that could handle nearly any terrain in style.

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2015


During a call to discuss its third-quarter financial results, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted that the automaker may launch a Ram-branded large SUV to compete with Ford’s Expedition and General Motors’ Suburban/Yukon XL.

The battleship segment is “the near-exclusive use of some others. We have a reasonable chance of getting at least part of that market,” Marchionne said, according to Automotive News.

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2015

2016 Volvo XC90 Exterior-001

Many of you have asked why we bother to review a car we’ve already reviewed based on a few hours at a launch event. The all-new 2016 Volvo XC90 is a textbook example of why more time with a car allows for a more complete review.

At launch events, you have no time to perform acceleration or brake tests of a vehicle (and, of course, you aren’t testing the car on the same circuit that the rest of the cars have been tested upon) and you have no ability to drive the competition back-to-back to get a sense of comparison. There is a reason that first drive reviews tend to be fact based: it’s hard to review a car in a vacuum.

So why is the XC90 a textbook example? Because of my own biases. Biases are interesting things. They can blind you to a car’s faults, or they can lead you to overcompensate and find fault.

After digesting my time with the XC90, I started falling into the latter camp. Edmunds 0-60 tested the XC90 and found it slower than expected. I started wondering if I had been wearing rose-colored glasses and asked myself: “Was it really that good?” Therefore, I had to get my hand on one again so I could run it through our battery of tests and drive it on my own for a week to find the answer.

The answer: It is better.

(Read More…)

By on October 16, 2015


According to my nephew and me: If one is good then 100 is a good place to start.

My nephew is 11. I’m 33. Hopefully his gene pool is deeper than mine. But excess is extra good in my life. I appreciate a larger-than-I-need TV most nights and not one, but two, cheeseburgers in my value meals sometimes. If a Forester is good then a turbo Forester must be great according to my juvenile definition of the world.

Already one of the best crossovers on the market, the Forester actually benefits from Subaru’s glacial powertrain pace: flat-four up front, all-wheel drive underneath — and they’ll check back sometime during the next decade. The naturally aspirated, older 2.5-liter flat four does work in pedestrian Foresters; its 170 horsepower is competent like gas station coffee. Force feeding 80 more ponies — to a total of 250 for the turbo XT — should make the Forester better. It could, right?

I’ll put it this way: Does gas station creamer make gas station coffee better?

(Read More…)

By on October 9, 2015


2016 Infiniti QX50 RWD

3.7-liter VQ37VHR V-6, with Variable Valve and Event Lift (325 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm; 267 pounds-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm)

7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching

17 city/24 highway/20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

19 mpg on the 70/30 city/hwy grocery loop (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Technology Package — $2,750 (Intelligent cruise, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning); Deluxe Touring Package — $2,400 (19-inch wheels, power folding up second-row seats); Illuminated Kick Plates — $440 (!); Premium Package — $500 (Bose 11-speaker sound system, maple interior accents, aluminum roof rails); Premium Plus Package — $2,000 (Navigation, 7-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth).

Base Price:
As Tested Price:

* All prices include $995 destination fee.

Cars will be built in China.

Scratch that — cars are being built in China already, but cars sold in America will soon be built in China.

It’s an inevitability that American car buyers will understand when Volvo brings over its long-wheelbase S60 that promises to be the first Chinese-made car sold in America. It’s already happened in most markets around the world — including Canada — but Americans are averse to cars being built in the C-word like, well, the C-word.

The 2016 Infiniti QX50 (formerly the EX35 in old-Infiniti nomenclature) was not built in China — but for all purposes that we’ll discuss, it was made in China. That’s because the car, which sold at a phenomenally slow pace in the U.S., has been thrown a lifeline from overseas. In China, the QX50 launched six months ago with a longer wheelbase to satisfy that country’s appetite for driving everyone, everywhere, all the time. It was a no-brainer for the U.S., but to justify significantly updating the car for our market, it needed sales — and to sell, it needed to be upgraded. And you can see where this is going.

We’ve had plenty of chances to buy one before now, it’s that just Infiniti hasn’t really ever given us a reason.

(Read More…)

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