The Right Spec

Right Spec: 2025 Ram 1500

Tim has a first drive of the revamped 2025 Ram 1500 coming soon, so with that in mind we thought it an opportune time to grab some Google SEO traffic build on the theme and include it in our alarmingly irregular Right Spec series.

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The Right Spec: 2024 Ford Ranger

The midsizer from Dearborn was overhauled for the 2024 model year, introducing sorely needed updates to its interior and new styling plus an improved choice of powertrains. This makes it a decent selection for our Right Spec series – at least until someone at Toyota deems us all worthy of a build-n-price tool for the Land Cruiser.

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The Right Spec: 2024 Ford Mustang

We walk into this Right Spec knowing it’ll likely cause a decent amount of discussion and perhaps some effigies to be set alight. The venerable Mustang is new for 2024, becoming the last man standing from Detroit after the Challenger and Camaro shuffle off this mortal coil.

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The Right Spec: 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6

The design studios at Hyundai are firing on all cylinders these days, ironic since some of the eye-popping vehicles they’re churning out don’t have any cylinders at all. The upcoming IONIQ 6 is one of ‘em, set to be offered in a number of trims and powertrain options.

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The Right Spec: 2023 Mazda CX-50

Incomprehensible naming schemes aside (CX-50 versus CX-5 will be spoken of in marketing case studies for years to come), Mazda has made a habit of cranking out attractive-looking vehicles with an eye towards driving enjoyment. Helping the latter immensely is the smart decision to have serious gearheads at the helm of most Mazda projects. 

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The Right Spec: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla

Say what? A generation of drivers generally knows the Corolla as a beige sedan acting as a rolling roadblock in afternoon traffic. But as part of a continuing example of how having a true gearhead – Akio Toyoda – at the head of a car company can do wonders for entertaining product development, the three hundred horsepower GR Corolla has rolled out and dragged the nameplate into conversations with machines like the Civic Type R and other hot hatchbacks.

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The Right Spec: 2023 Kia Telluride

Leaving aside the absolutely psychotic dealer markup being slapped on these things by some sellers over the last couple of years, the squared-off Telluride represents a good-looking and reasonably equipped SUV which has been eating the lunch of more than a few established competitors.


This model year brings a few cosmetic changes and a dizzying 10 different trim levels. Which one do we prefer? Why, the one without any greedy markup, of course.

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The Right Spec: Ford Bronco

This one’s sure to set the comments section ablaze. We’re going to tell you the right way to spec a new Bronco – and you’re probably not going to like it.


First, let’s start with the smallest engine available *ducks to avoid busted u-joints and fake beadlock wheels hurled in our general direction*

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The Right Spec: 2023 Chevrolet Colorado

It’s been more than a minute since we have delved into the world’s build & price configurators, an activity which surely litters the search history of every gearhead reading this site. Since our last installment, there has been no shortage of new vehicle introductions, including a few trucks which predictably tweak your author’s interest

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The Right Spec: 2022 Ford F-150

Choosing the right spec of a pickup is fraught with danger since it is unlikely any two truck customers have the same needs. Jim might need a base two-wheel-drive regular cab for chores on the farm while Bill could be after a Crew Cab monster to tow the family camper.

Nevertheless, we shall try. Consider the following as a selection of F-150 which is likely to be pressed into runs to the hockey rink and the scattered bit of towing on the weekends, mixed with a decent amount of useful new tech. In other words, the one this author would buy.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Subaru WRX

This 2022 model year marks the introduction of a fifth-generation WRX – that all-wheel-drive hooligan that some of us first discovered on the screens of a PlayStation. The car has gone through several permutations over the years, including some ill-advised styling choices, but has never left the psyche of most gearheads as one of the preferred turbocharged tools for sliding around a dirt-covered back road.

For 2022, the WRX adds a new top-of-the-line GT trim, featuring electronically controlled dampers that can tailor the dynamic performance to the driver’s preferences. But – hang on a minute; according to the bumf, that trim is only available with a CVT!

The humanity.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Genesis GV70

Some of us who are rapidly approaching a certain age will clearly recall when Lexus (and Infiniti, to a lesser extent) first showed up on the luxury car scene and promptly took the establishment to school. Fast forward 30+ years and we find an upstart Korean brand attempting the same thing – and being largely successful.

The GV70 plugged an important hole in the Genesis lineup, given the perpetual thirst of Americans for crossovers and SUVs. Its unique lighting treatments might be a love-it-or-leave-it affair, but there’s no denying this thing brings the goods to a cutthroat segment.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5

Viewed in a vacuum, especially through the filtered lens of an online picture, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 might appear to be a hatchback roughly the size of a VW Golf. In reality, it’s a lot more crossover-like inside and out, with the added bonus of seating flexibility that eliminates a space-hogging center console which creates a spiritual successor to the old-school bench seat.

There is a quartet of trims offered in our market, starting with the $39,700 SE Standard Range with its single motor and rear-wheel drive.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Honda HR-V

Sketches of the next bite-sized Honda surfaced this morning, showing a vehicle with an admittedly big gob but wearing proportions that are a smidgen less awkward than the machine which has been around now for very nearly a decade in some markets. If this were pre-pandemic times, we’d be bleating that a Right Spec would help buyers select the best of what’s being cleared out of dealer lots in favor of the new rig. That’s hardly the case these days.

Nevertheless, it’s entertaining to learn where the different trims land in terms of desirability. Let’s find out what’s on tap for the final model year of this HR-V generation

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The Right Spec: 2022 Mazda 3

Believe it or not, people do still actually buy small cars in this country. Yes, there’s a continuing mass exodus for SUVs and crossover-type vehicles but a few level-headed souls remain who choose to open their wallets for an affordable compact machine.

This migration of buyers has pushed several major automakers to put their efforts into this segment In The Bin which, fortunately for us, means the remaining competitors are some good’uns. One of the best? The little Mazda 3.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota Tundra

Thanks to Toyota’s glacier-like design cycle, a new Tundra is something most of us will experience only a few times in our adult lives. How long was the last generation around? Well, George W. Bush still had nearly three more years in the White House when the XK50 Tundra was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2006. Yeah, it’s been a minute.

All that changed when the curtain dropped on the ’22 Tundra earlier this year. While the mighty and burly TRD Pro has gotten a lot of the press (and most of the promotional photos), there are actually about half a dozen trims on offer, some of which can be layered with options and packages.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Our fancy-pants Managing Ed. is currently enjoying the sunny and rocky environs of Moab, sampling different variants of the new-for-’22 Jeep Grand Cherokee. His impressions will appear on these digital pages in due time but, until then, let’s examine what might just be The Right Spec of this popular SUV.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Kia K5

While hammering away at his keyboard in preparation for publishing this post, it dawned upon your author that The Right Spec for any new vehicle these days is – thanks to the chip shortage and a myriad of other supply problems – whatever resides on the lot. Or at least doesn’t have an exorbitant markup placed on its sticker.

Why are we profiling a family sedan this week? Because there are still swaths of Americans, believe it or not, who’d rather have this type of machine in their driveway than yet another SUV to add to the line of vehicles in the school pick-up line. And as for why the K5, in particular, was selected – well, let’s just say we hope to start an argument in the comments.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Chevy Colorado

GM’s mid-sizer showed up as a contestant in the Ace of Base series a couple of years ago, back when the four-banger could be paired with a manual transmission. Chevy has since quietly removed that option from its order sheet, leaving cheapskates frugal shoppers with a fistful of automatic transmission.

An advantage of these Right Spec posts? The ability to venture beyond the bargain basement. Despite its second-rung status in the Chevy Truck pecking order in terms of size, there’s no shortage of trim configurations for this bowtie pickup. Throw in a trio of body styles plus a few engine choices, and the decision tree grows quite a number of branches.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

We’ve covered the Civic sedan on these digital pages in the past, noting improvements in several areas over its predecessor save for one detail – a manual transmission. Honda gets it right with the ’22 hatch variant, offering a six-speed stick in this body style.

Sure, the build-n-price tool isn’t officially live on Honda’s site as of this writing but there’s no lack of information about this model on their media site. Which is the best bang for your Honda hatchback buck?

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The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota 4Runner

With every mainstream automaker on the planet seeking to pad their bottom line with tasty SUV profits, the number of jacked-up wagons on offer is truly dizzying. Most of them are car-based, of course, including several in Toyota’s own wheelhouse – witness the mystifying Corolla Cross introduced this year.

This makes the 4Runner something of a glorious throwback. Perched on its toes and looking out into traffic with a lantern jaw, this SUV may be old as the hills but is enjoying some of its most robust sales to date.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe

In terms of sales, the Tahoe/Yukon and its larger cousins are the beyond-dominant leaders in the full-size SUV category. Blame (or thank) a robust fleet program that places these brutes in the hands of most security forces across our nation. If you spy a black Tahoe or Suburban parked outside your home … well .. you’ve seen the movies.

This is, in this author’s opinion, part of the cosplay when private individuals buy them for schlepping their family back and forth to school or the soccer game. For the 2021 model year, GM imbued these machines with a dose of new style and more efficient packaging; for 2022, they’ve upped the availability of certain powertrain combinations. It’s the latter that has made Tahoe a great candidate for today’s post.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Subaru BRZ

Yes, I know – we covered the Toyota GR 86, this car’s fraternal twin, just two weeks ago. But with both companies making a play for enthusiast dollars, it’s smart to see if the same conclusions we drew for the Big T also apply to the Exploding Galaxy.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Infiniti QX60

Fresh off the line for this model year, the new QX60 turns Infiniti’s offering in the brutally competitive luxury crossover segment from a long-in-the-tooth ride to a modern new whip with screens and tech galore. Snicker if you will at my choice of mentioning those two features off the top, but customers spending in excess of 50 large on a rig like this tend to be entranced by those items.

There is a quartet of trims on tap for the 2022 QX60, all of which are propelled by the same engine and transmission combo. Our man Tim had the chance to sample a top-shelf trim in the tony environs of Napa Valley, but is that the one to get? Let’s break down the options and find out.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota GR 86

When Toyota and Subaru shacked up nearly a decade ago to birth the 86/BRZ twins, our enthusiast community rejoiced at the bundle of joy. Here was an affordable, rear-wheel-drive coupe on skinny tires that was designed to make its driver grin – both on the way to work and at the autocross course.

The next-gen car, called the GR 86 in Toyota showrooms, builds on the nimble chassis while bumping its displacement for more (and more accessible) power. There are but two trims – base and Premium – plus the choice of a manual or automatic transmission. You know our answer to the latter, so let’s figure out which trim is more appealing to the fun-seeking gearhead.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

One of the last things your author thought he’d be writing were the words “Hyundai pickup truck” as they relate to a real-world vehicle one can buy right off the showroom floor. Until this year, the only relationship we’ve had with such a vehicle is after a knackered old Elantra caught the business end of a Sawzall.

But build it they have, with Tim handing down his verdict after a First Drive earlier this month. As per usual on such events, all the testers were a top-rung model with the most expensive powertrain. But is that the way to go if you’re seeking a unibody trucklet for work and play?

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The Right Spec: 2022 Jeep Wagoneer

Jeep has decided to jump in the expensive end of the SUV pool with the truck-based Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. By now you’ve read Tim’s reviews of the brutes and had time to make up your mind if Jeep is on the right track or not with its ‘different lengths of sausage’ approach to styling. Hey, it works for Audi.

Drilling down into the minutiae of trims and features is always fun. Let’s see if we can parse The Right Spec from the maze of options on offer in this segment’s newest player.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Our own Tim Healey recently found himself behind the wheel of Hyundai’s new trucklet, where he proclaimed it to be an all-around performer while tooling around the tony environs of Palo Alto. Whether he stopped into Tesla HQ for Elon’s take wasn’t mentioned and doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the Santa Cruz starting price, anchored at the end of a swimming pool that’s usually filled with commuter cars and small hatchbacks. Its sticker does climb to nearly 40 grand when all the option boxes are checked, however, leaving us with the question of finding the right balance of price and features

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The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota Corolla

It might surprise readers to learn that the writing staff at TTAC do not spend the majority of their time in gullwinged supercars or week-old BMWs. We do occasionally put down the jar of Grey Poupon and clamber aboard practical cars – y’know, the type which people actually buy.

The humble Corolla is likely at or near the top of the list made by shoppers who want simple transportation. Your author knows more than a couple of people for whom Corolla could actually be a parallel for the term ‘default car’. This series examined the Civic a couple of months ago, so it’s only right we do the same for the other popular machine in this segment.

We’ll return to six-figure hypercars next week.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Land Rover Defender

There are more than a few readers looking at this installment of The Right Spec and opining that the best way to spec a Land Rover – any Land Rover – is to not do so at all. Given some, uh, challenges that have befallen early adopters of the rebooted Defender, they may have a point.

Nevertheless, this thing turns more than a few heads and stylists in Coventry certainly got it right when putting pen to paper (or mouse to screen, as it were). For 2022, the Defender’s base price has jumped a bit; but, as we’ll see, the best models are much further up the food chain.

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The Right Spec: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

If you’re initially confused between the Grand Cherokee L and Wagoneer (both Grand and not), we don’t blame you. They are distinguishable side-by-each – but separately? Not so much. Think of it this way: The GCL is a unibody design with V6 and V8 options while the Wago is body-on-frame and has two V8 choices.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee L was put through its First Drive paces on this site just a month ago. With that top-tier entrée having settled nicely, it is time to paw through the chaff six different trim levels and figure out which one makes for The Right Spec.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Nissan Pathfinder

Thanks to Nissan’s glacier-like design cycles, we don’t have to look very far back in the history books to find a so-called ‘real’ Pathfinder. Before it morphed into a three-row crossover that blended into the scenery, it was a body-on-frame rig with a proven engine and square-shouldered stance that didn’t apparently play well in the company’s corporate slide deck.

Except it probably should have. After all, Toyota is currently making bank with such a machine in the gotta-have-it 4Runner.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Honda Civic Sport

Like it or not, the Civic perpetually resides at or near the top of automobile sales charts in America. Even in 2020, a notably tumultuous year, Honda sold over a quarter-million of the things, good enough for eighth place on the best-seller list (they also sold over 333,502 CR-V crossovers, if you’re wondering).

While we’re eons away from the old days of Civic Nation and underglow lights, any new compact sedan from the Big H is worth talking about. There are four trims on offer at launch – LX, Sport, EX, and Touring. Which is our favorite? You know we’re gonna ask you to click the jump and find out.

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The Right Spec: 2021 Ford Bronco

Seeing the response to a Right Spec analysis to last week’s Wrangler, our fancy-pants Managing Ed rightly suggested we go ahead and examine the Bronco. Fresh off a couple of days wheeling it around the sagebrush of Texas, he was ready to declare the long-awaited Blue Oval bruiser lives up to all the hype.

But what the correct mix of options? What’s the Right Spec? Let’s crack open the configurator and find out.

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The Right Spec: 2021 Jeep Wrangler

We briefly thought about covering the new (and thirsty) Grand Wagoneer for this week’s entry into the Base Camp series, given the model’s excellent retro name and propensity to induce rose-colored myopia in adults who mis-remember the Malaise Era. However, we all know there’s only one way to order such a rig: fully loaded.

Which is why we’re focusing our efforts on the Wrangler. It serves as Jeep’s trademark since it is the image that pops into most people’s minds – even non-gearheads – when they hear the word ‘Jeep’. Plus, in most guises, it approaches something that can even be called affordable.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Ford Maverick

Thanks to all of you who welcomed this new series when it appeared on your digital screens last week. Experiments can fall flatter than that can of 7Up you left out overnight, and we’re glad this one made the cut.

Given the BnB’s propensity for small pickup trucks with blue ovals on the grille (remember Sajeev’s understandable but slightly terrifying infatuation with his last-gen Ford Ranger?), the new Maverick makes a perfect foil for the second entry in The Right Spec series of posts.

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QOTD: What's Your Spec?

Yesterday you saw our new feature, The Right Spec, which exists to replace Ace of Base. As a reminder of how it works, Matthew (or anyone who pens one in his absence) will take a popular model (and/or one recently reviewed here) and tell you how he thinks you should spec it.

As I edited his piece, I was reminded of the endless debate that takes place in auto-journo circles when it comes to specs on the cars we actually test.

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The Right Spec: 2021 Dodge Challenger

Long-time readers of this site (thanks, both of you) will recall the Ace of Base series of posts, natterings in which we ruminated on the state of a particular model and its entry-level trim. Thanks to a myriad of reasons, we’re morphing this concept into a new product for your eyeballs called The Right Spec. This time around, we’ll be teasing out what we think is the best spec of a given vehicle – we hope it generates some comments. Knowing you, the BnB, it surely will.

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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
  • EBFlex The answer is yes. Anyone that says no is just….. wrong.But the government doesn’t want people to have that much freedom and the politicians aren’t making money off PHEVs or HEVs. So they will be stifled.