Category: Car Reviews

By on October 20, 2021

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee LWhen the Grand Cherokee originally debuted back in 1993, Americans were just warming up to the idea of daily driven sport-utility vehicles. The idea was pretty straight-forward: Take the capability of the Cherokee XJ, tune it for real-world drivability, tweak the look, and add some creature comforts that shift the scales away from the utilitarian toward the premium.

Nearly three decades later the concept remains largely the same, but the all-new Grand Cherokee L is worlds apart from the first generation ZJ. Aside from the third row (a first for a Grand Cherokee), this decked-out SUV rolls around on decidedly massive 21-inch wheels, boasts massaging front seats covered in quilted Palermo leather and a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, and floats on an adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers – latter of which is also a first for the model.

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By on October 19, 2021

2021 Chrysler Pacifica HybridMinivans are rarely sexy, but that won’t stop companies from trying to make them attractive, with varying degrees of success.

The gang in Auburn Hills decided that eye-pleasing design might help the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid capture sales. With that whole “hybrid” thing thrown in for a good measure of green cred.

The approach mostly worked, at least within the limitations that the van shape imposes on creativity. The Pacifica Hybrid is, dare I say, stylish.

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By on October 12, 2021

In the beginning, someone created the buggy. Now the buggy was primitive and lacked more than a couple of horsepower, and darkness was over the surface of the automotive world because this buggy had leaf springs.

And some engineer said, “Let there be a functional suspension,” and there was a coil spring – and, if you liked Mopars, maybe a torsion bar. And this engineer called the coil spring good and the leaf spring crap. And so, there was day and night, buggy suspensions and a reasonable ride, and the engineer created cars in his own image, and old trucks were the serpent.

And so, trucks from time immemorial have been infested by poor-riding leaf springs because they could handle great loads. But these trucks, they did handle like the Leviathan, so some have moved to the proper coil spring, good and true, to hold up their cargo. The 2022 Toyota Tundra has been so blessed with coil springs, among many other improvements. But is it good?

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By on October 11, 2021

Image: Gabe Ets-Hokin

Remember that scene in the famed 1968 shoot-em-up Bullitt where Lieutenant Bullitt, after surviving a harrowing car chase up and down the streets of San Francisco, a chase that ended in the fiery deaths of some black-suited bad guys in a Dodge, went and picked up his Saint Bernards from the dog groomer and then took his daughter and her boyfriend to lacrosse practice in his four-door Mustang GT crossover electric vehicle?

You don’t remember it (unless you regularly attend Phish concerts) because Ford has never built a four-door ‘Stang before the Mach-E, and it certainly has never built an all-wheel drive pony car, and for the love of Pete, ‘ol Henry’s namesake most certainly has never built such a thing with the “GT” moniker, the label it reserves for its most throaty, hairy-chested, terrifying torque-monster of a street ‘n strip muscle car. 

Until now of course. I submit the Mustang Mach-E GT, pumping out a gajillion horsepower and a bazillion lb-ft. o’ torque, and what has two giant thumbs and got to drive such a device on his favorite Northern California backroads? This guy.

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By on October 5, 2021

2022 Ford MaverickThere are currently two small trucks on sale – the Hyundai Santa Cruz and the 2022 Ford Maverick. Only one really looks the part.

That would be the latter. And thankfully for Ford and its buyers, the Maverick more than acts the part, too.

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By on September 27, 2021

2021 Dodge Durango 392. Tim Healey/TTACIf you want a large SUV and want performance, Dodge is happy to oblige. I mean, the brand even built a Hellcat Durango, fer chrissake.

Of course, not everyone wants the insanity that is a Hellcat, yet some buyers still want performance that goes above and beyond the norm.

Enter the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT 392.

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By on September 17, 2021

2021 Acura TLX. Tim HealeyMid-size luxury sport sedans sometimes come up short when it comes to the sport part of the equation. Acura’s TLX, for the most part, does not.

Yeah, I know, I just gave away my conclusion upfront, thus violating a basic guideline of writing a review. Stick around to find out why I came to that conclusion after the local press fleet tossed me the keys all those months ago (hence the snow).

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By on September 16, 2021

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 AWDWhen Volkswagen invited us to test drive the all-wheel-drive version of the ID.4 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I hesitated.

Fly all the way to Tennessee just for a slightly different version of a car I drove a few months ago? A place that’s been one of the worst COVID hotspots during the Delta variant surge, no less? Is it worth the time out of office, even if COVID wasn’t a thing?

Then it hit me as I blasted some forlorn backroad with Eddie Rabbitt’s “Driving My Life Away” – apt for an automotive journalist – blaring on the radio. I was thinking too old school.

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By on September 10, 2021

Bradley Iger

While Audi, Mercedes-AMG, and other luxury automakers hold performance driving programs at various race tracks across the U.S. and abroad, years ago Porsche decided to take a different tack. Now operating in seven different locations around the world, its Porsche Experience Centers are basically automotive playgrounds that showcase the brand’s performance heritage and contemporary racing efforts while also providing a facility for customers to build out custom specifications in the Personal Design Studio. The most interesting feature of the PECs, though, is the Driver Development Tracks. These purpose-built proving grounds allow drivers to put the capabilities of Porsche’s various vehicles to the test – whether that’s the at-limit handling of a Cayman or the off-road prowess of a Cayenne.

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By on September 9, 2021

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan/Tim Healey

Volkswagen is in the midst of remaking its SUV lineup.

Just in the past few years the company has added a five-seat version of the Atlas – the Atlas Cross Sport – as well as adding the Taos small SUV and the ID.4 EV. Now the venerable Tiguan, which was the veteran of the group, has gone under the knife.

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By on September 8, 2021

2022 Infiniti QX60. Tim Healey/TTAC

Like the Nissan Pathfinder it shares its bones with, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 is redone for 2022.

Infiniti folks try to shy away from the Pathfinder references and comparisons because it’s their job to sell consumers on the differences, as well as why one should pay more for the QX60 when it’s mechanically a Pathfinder.

Never mind that most car buyers, regardless of their level of industry knowledge, know that Infinitis are Nissans in fancier clothing, just like Lexus with Toyota and Acura with Honda. Luxury-car shoppers know this and don’t care – they are spending bigger bucks on the luxury brands for some combination of the following reasons: Standard features, available features, the dealer experience, interior materials, and styling.

I can’t speak to the dealer experience, but Infiniti has gotten the differentiation right when it comes to the rest of that list, especially the styling and materials. As for the feature and content mix, well, that’s going to come down to what you’re willing to spend.

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By on September 7, 2021

As I’m sure many of you who’ve read my work here know, I’m not a full-time automotive journalist. I work in a sales career – my nights and weekends, when not occupied with my kids and their activities, are spent in my dungeon of a basement office, mashing out car reviews and other stuff. I literally take vacation from my day gig to go on the occasional new car launch for TTAC and other places. So, I don’t get to write about every car I drive – and occasionally, it takes me a while to publish on a car I’d driven months ago. Witness reviews publishing in June that have snow in the background (Ed. note: You’re not the only one. Ahem).

I’m mentioning this as it’s been about three months since I drove the 2021 Genesis GV80. It’s been a busy summer, to be certain, but I’ve had time. But every time I open a new Word doc and title it “2021 Genesis GV80 Review.docx,” I sit staring at a blinking cursor for what seems like hours before I pack it in and resolve to write another day.

My struggle comes from my complete lack of complaint about the GV80 – and my total concern that I come off to you, the Best & Brightest, as a Genesis shill. If a midsized premium SUV/wagon/crossover thing is what you need, I can think of no other vehicle that is better. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

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By on August 31, 2021

It’s probably exciting to be working in transportation media at a dawn of an all-new product category. Imagine the journalists in 1964 witnessing the birth of the pony car. What about those in the mid-Nineties covering the birth of the crossover – never mind, that probably wasn’t all that thrilling. I’m picturing, instead, the newsroom at The Truth About Buggies in 1884, with cigar-chomping editors looking at telegraphed press releases touting the first automobile, sending poorly-paid flunky journalists on junkets via train with a typewriter.

Perhaps we’ve witnessed our own segment birth – or, really, re-birth – with the reimagining of the compact pickup truck market. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, it would seem to anyone watching, would be the first entrant into that category. Hyundai, inexplicably, would rather you not call it a truck.

Have you ever seen those wobbly hitch-mounted cargo carriers obscuring the license plates on slow-moving SUVs – usually with a Yeti cooler and some camp chairs strapped down? Perhaps the Santa Cruz is more like that – a Tucson with a well-integrated, weather-resistant (when properly equipped) cargo carrier.

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By on August 16, 2021

2022 Jeep Wagoneer

The differences between the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer and the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer aren’t many.

The latter has a smaller-displacement V8, less power, an available 4×2 drive train, a cheaper price tag, and isn’t quite as deluxe. But it’s still upscale – just not quite as much as the SUV with Grand as part of the moniker.

That means the overall experience of driving the Wagoneer isn’t too different from the Grand Wagoneer, yet there are still some noticeable variations. Read More >

By on August 16, 2021

 

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

When the invite hit to drive the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer hit my inbox, I found myself a tad surprised by the location – New York City.

Or, to be precise, the roads outside the city in the Hudson Valley and Westchester County. We’d merely be laying our heads in Manhattan, with the real action taking place in the suburbs. With brief forays into strange lands named New Jersey and Connecticut.

There’s a reason why so many first drives are held in California – good roads and good weather. It’s the same reason why drives don’t take place as often in places like New York, Chicago, or even Detroit. The roads aren’t as fun to drive and are often in bad shape, and the weather is less predictable. Events that involve the (mostly) controlled environment of a track are an exception, of course.

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