When 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was still rubbing sleep from my eyes when I checked my phone upon waking. I was scheduled to drive the Hyundai Santa Cruz, and here was a notification of an email saying something about driving the Hyundai Kona N instead. Was Hyundai short a truck or something?
Nope, they just had two Kona Ns around for media to drive at the lunch stop, and those Ns had to get there somehow. Would I like to drive one?
For those of typical means, ultra-luxury automakers like Bentley exist in a vacuum. We see an M3’s worth of options on a Flying Spur and scoff at something so preposterous, so alien to our understanding of a dollar’s value.
It’s true enough that the law of diminishing returns tends to really kick in when MSRPs soar into six-figure territory and beyond: Is a Bugatti Chiron 50 times better than a C8 Corvette? Probably not. But years ago, when I was handed the keys to my first Bentley press car, I approached the prospect with a similar mindset and came away a changed man.
Few new-vehicle launches in recent years have generated as much hype or been as anticipated as that of the Ford Bronco.
Bronco has been a big story for us and our peers since last summer. We’ve ridden in one already, and now it was our turn to finally drive it. So I dutifully packed a bag and headed to the Texas Hill Country outside of Austin to see if the big Bronco would live up to the hype – and be a strong challenger to Jeep’s venerable Wrangler.
Jeep has offered all sorts of different utility vehicles over the years – it’s sort of the brand’s thing – but it hasn’t recently offered a three-row crossover. The last one it sold was the Commander, which left the market a decade ago.
I quite honestly forgot the Commander even existed – and I started in automotive journalism in 2007. While it was still on the market. I suspect most Jeep faithful have also memory holed that model.
That’s unlikely to happen with the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, for better or for worse.
The last-generation Nissan Pathfinder became the forgotten three-row crossover, in part because it went from a rugged-looking rig to a soft-roading crossover. Nissan is apparently quite well aware of why the Pathfinder moved to the back of mind for a lot of shoppers, and the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is meant to, if not be actually rugged, to project a rugged image.
So, for 2022, you get what the brand calls “bold, rugged design”. And it is bolder than before, with a bit more masculinity to its style, but it’s still blandly conservative enough to fit fine in the PTA line. As if Nissan’s designers felt they could only go so far in terms of being “rugged.”
Standing outside a building that typically hosts weddings in downtown Chelsea, Michigan, a fellow auto journalist and I chatted through our masks about how it’s getting harder and harder to write about crossovers, because so many of them are just in that happy middle – not particularly great, and certainly not bad.
Add the 2022 Volkswagen Taos to that list.
We live in incredible times. Just a few short years ago, there was only one engine you could get with your Jeep Wrangler. Now there’s half a dozen. Sure, the tried-and-true 3.6-liter Pentastar is a great place to start, but you can also get the 2.0-liter turbo, the 48-volt 3.6-liter eTorque setup, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, and a bonkers 6.4-liter Hemi. Plus, for 2021, Jeep is offering a plug-in hybrid version. Called 4xe, it promises green off-roading in a way only a Jeep can. But does it deliver?
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