BMW

2022 BMW iX xDrive50 First Drive: A Glimpse at the Future

BMW’s newest SUV previews our and its electric future.

BMW is serious about going green. Forget about concept cars; starting in 2025 all BMWs will ride on what's for now called the Neue Klasse platform, a single electric vehicle architecture to rule them all. Board member and development CTO Frank Weber called the Neue Klasse "new new" and went on to describe it as "the most radical departure BMW has ever done." Until that time, the Bavarian automotive giant is launching all sorts of EVs on various other platforms, including the i4, an electric 5 Series presumably named i5, an i7, as well as a small SUV that will most likely be called the iX1. BMW already sells an electric X3 named—you guessed it—iX3, but not here in the U.S. However, the brand's most ambitious EV to date is the new iX. I just spent a day in the X5-sized electric SUV, specifically the U.S.-bound AWD 2022 iX xDrive50. How is it? Keep reading. 

From a platform point of view, the iX rides on a highly modified version of BMW's CLAR platform. CLAR underpins the majority of BMW's lineup, including the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Series, as well as the X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7 SUVs. The Z4 and Toyota Supra, too. Perhaps a better way of explaining the iX's architecture is to say that it rides on a new high-strength steel, carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, and aluminum spaceframe platform, but one that relies heavily on CLAR componentry. Like suspension pieces, for instance. This allows the iX to be built alongside its gasoline-powered siblings at BMW's massive Dingolfing factory. As for the competition, there hardly is any. Both archrivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz have yet to build electric midsize SUVs. Jaguar does have the slow selling I-Pace, though its short range knocks it from most people's short lists. The Cadillac Lyriq will be a worthy opponent once it shows up in a year or so. That leaves the nearly $100K Tesla Model X, which makes the $84,195 iX seem like a solid deal.

What Makes The IX?

Powering the xDrive50 are two motors, one per axle, that combined spin out 516 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque. Stout numbers, no doubt, though come January, the even more powerful iX M60 bows with over 600 horsepower. Those 516 ponies puts the iX just below the output the current X5 M50i gets from its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, though the gas-powered X5 makes slightly less torque (553 lb-ft). BMW wants to show consumers there's no performance hit for choosing an EV, at least on paper. We haven't tested or weighed the iX yet, though the EV is much heavier. BMW is quoting an EU-specified curb weight of nearly 5,700 pounds.

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 Why so heavy? Batteries. Until something better comes along, electric cars, trucks, and SUVs will be using lithium-ion batteries, and, like bricks, they're heavy. At 105 kWh of usable capacity, the bmw ix has a fairly large battery, too. To give you some perspective, the Tesla Model S and X both have 100-kWh packs, whereas the Lucid Air uses a 113-kWh battery pack. In terms of range, before I set off with a 96 percent state of charge, the iX was telling me I had 351 miles (565 km) to go. That's a predictive range, based on several factors, such as driver (or, in my case, previous driver) behavior. BMW claims 380 miles of range on the EU cycle, and that will probably drop to around 300 miles on the EPA cycle. One thing that will upset existing EV fans more than new converts: There is no frunk. None at all. Seems like a mistake.

That Face

How about that grille? That's the new face of BMW. Hate it? Well, every human on Instagram seems to agree with you. That said—and yes, I'm obviously old, soft, blind, and on BMW's payroll—in person I thought the iX's face looked, dare I say it, good? There was something about the massive kidney grilles and the narrow, robot-like eyes that just worked. Almost like a second-generation Cylon from the Battlestar Galactica reboot. It's miles better than the grille on the new M3/M4, at any rate. Back to Instagram, the big question seemed to be, if there's no engine, why is there a grille at all? Aside from branding, the twin grilles (which are covered in self-healing skin) are cleverly stuffed with sensors, including two types of radar. As for the rest of the exterior, the hard side is nearly generic save for the floating roof. From the rear, the taillights look too skinny, and the body-colored bumper makes the iX's butt look fat.

Inside The IX

The iX's interior is an exercise in minimalism, at least for BMW. A massive, curved touchscreen dominates the cabin. In days past, BMW has angled the controls toward the driver. In an homage to days of yore, the screen (that contains the controls) bends toward the driver. The number of buttons has been reduced by 50 percent, what BMW considers the bare minimum. That said, if you look down at the lovely piece of wood that surrounds the iDrive knob, you'll see 12 buttons, not counting the controller itself (which does click down and in the X and Y axis) but including the volume wheel. The buttons that remain are logical, and there's a calmness and spaciousness to the interior that's new for the brand. However, there's also a sparseness that just doesn't scream premium luxury to me. And at nearly $85K to start, it ought to.

Technically speaking, the iX is stacked. The latest and eighth iteration of iDrive is more powerful than ever. I know this because I sat through at least three iDrive workshops while I was in Munich. Three! Just know that if you say, "Hey BMW, take a selfie," the iX takes a picture of you. No, really. However, the selfie camera is there as a security feature. Did you leave your wallet or purse on the front seat? Just open your phone and have a look. Speaking of wild tech, meet Maneuver Assistant. Long story short, Maneuver Assistant records how you park the iX—say, in a tricky spot in your garage—like a macro. The iX will then repeat the maneuver whenever you tell it to. Said maneuver can be up to 200 meters long. The iX can store up to 10 such maneuvers. Here's the coolest part: The maneuvers can then be transferred from profile to profile. Meaning you could record the move and then transfer it to your spouse/your kid's profile. That's dang nifty, no?

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But How's It Drive?

First impression: Driving around Bavaria's gorgeous Berchtesgaden region that puts the verdant in verde, one is reminded why going green is so monumentally important. I want your kids to see what I just saw. Ahem. Pointed down the mountain with the iX xDrive50 in efficient mode, simply lifting off the throttle allows the iX to coast. The sensation is wonderful, as if the machine is suddenly free. I guess there's enough brake regen to hold the speed, but it feels like you're sailing. I know some EV enthusiasts (they exist, trust me) love huge levels of regen and one-pedal driving and all that, but I prefer to freefall. The iX is remarkably quiet, bordering on perhaps a bit too quiet. The BMW Group's other spaceframe products, Rolls-Royces, are in fact too quiet. What does too quiet mean? You can hear your own heart beating. The iX comes close.

One area where the bmw ix struggles is that it doesn't sound or feel particularly premium. I know I'm sitting on leather, but the interior has been simplified so much that I feel like I'm in a device, as opposed to a luxury vehicle. I would love to see the (eventual, I hope) Alpina version of the iX, one that's generously slathered in leather. The xDrive50 is slick and high-tech, but there's a Tesla-like sparseness that doesn't connect with me. Plus, the spot that's normally a drivetrain tunnel is simply empty space. Like in a cargo van. Now, maybe that was the design team's intention? Maybe they said, "Look, Tesla is dominating the EV space, and we need to be more like it." If that's the case, then BMW really has succeeded in going minimum. Some customers might even dig it. Call it the Tesla Syndrome. But for my large hunk of cash, I'd like some more wood, metal, and leather. To me, the Tesla aesthetic doesn't work here.

As for driving on curvy, fun Bavarian roads, it's fine. The iX drives at least as well as the Tesla Model X, and now that I'm thinking about it, quite similarly. That impression makes sense as both weigh about the same, have said weight located in the same spots, and make about the same power. To be clear, I'm talking about the last Model X I drove back in 2016 when the 90D version of the electric three-row SUV produced 518 horsepower from its two motors. For 2022 you now choose between 670 Long Range or 1,020 ponies in the Plaid. Like the equally heavy Tesla, the iX is betrayed by physics. This might be part of why this EV SUV doesn't necessarily feel premium. There's a minivan quality that's hard to get past. I'm not feeling the ultimate driving machine. I'm not feeling BMW as a brand in the way it tackles a road. It's quite like how I felt about the i3. Interesting car, interesting concept, but doesn't feel the way a BMW should feel when I close my eyes. The iX just feels like… an electric thing. That said, the noise the motors make (or is that coming from the speakers?) is quite cool.

Let's Talk Range

As far as range goes, I left the hotel at 96 percent charge, and 20 kilometers later the battery was still at 96 percent. I had been in Eco Pro mode most of the time and was pointing downhill. But still, that's impressive. Six km later, the battery was still reading 96 percent. Wanting to burn a little juice, I switched out of the efficient mode and into Comfort. In 4 km, it was still showing 96 percent. I was starting to think the computer was broken. Also, the range was telling me I didn't have to charge for 565 km (351 miles) and that I would arrive at my first destination in 28 km with 89 percent of the battery left. When I started, the computer said I'd make it with 88 percent remaining. The computer therefore doesn't account for downhill driving or elevation changes in the range estimates, so keep that in mind as I'm sure the opposite would be true going uphill. I made it to the first stop having consumed just 1 percent of the battery's juice. Not bad. As mentioned, the iX will probably be rated right around 300 miles of range in the U.S. Based on my driving experience, I predict BMW is going to have a Porsche Taycan situation on its hands, where the EPA rated the Turbo S version at 192 miles of range, but it's actually capable of over 250.

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After my first stop, it was time for some freeway. Let me be the first to say that the bmw ix whips ass on the autobahn. This is a seriously quick EV, especially accelerating from about 75 mph to 105 mph. Let me be the billionth person to say, God bless unrestricted sections of autobahn. I took the iX up to its top speed of 124 mph (200 kph) just to check things out, and you can feel the computer shutting down the fun right when you nudge past 120 mph. However, I set the cruise at 170 kph (about 106 mph) and had a couple of realizations. The first is that moving this quickly in absolute silence (I had it in Eco Pro mode) is quite cool. There's hardly any wind noise—it's like being in a private jet. Second, the iX is aerodynamic enough (0.25 claimed Cd) that even well into the triple digits the range isn't affected too negatively. I travelled 30 km (about 19 miles) at 170 kph and used only 4 percent of the battery. Moreover, the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist work as well as anything, save for Cadillac's impossibly good Supercruise. Once you're moving in a high-speed, straight line, the iX drives great.

Conclusion

The 2022 bmw ix previews many things coming down the automotive pike. Not only is it a glimpse into BMW's sustainable, electric, carbon-neutral future, but this type of machine—an electric carlike SUV-sized people mover—will become the dominant mode of first-world personal transportation within the decade. As a signpost pointing toward the future, I feel confident concluding that we're in good shape vis-à-vis the driving world to come. But as a BMW? I'm struggling here. For whatever reason, I want and expect all BMWs to drive better than other machines, or at least most other machines. This is probably an unreasonable expectation, but dammit, all BMWs used to have an X factor. I can still remember driving an ex's E39 540i two decades ago. The relationship went nowhere, but I got a memory that will last a lifetime. As for the all-new bmw ix when it arrives in Q1 of 2022, we Americans will have a fast, powerful, efficient, tech-laden yet minimalist SUV in a segment with few serious competitors. I just wish the iX were a bit more memorable.

(https://www.motortrend.com/reviews/2022-bmw-ix-xdrive50-first-drive-review/)

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Review: Safe, Simple and Slow

The verdict: Toyota turned the popular Corolla transportation appliance into a roomier, more versatile, even slower transportation appliance — now with optional all-wheel drive.

Versus the competition: There are more exciting competitors, better performing ones, some with nicer interiors, those with better ergonomics and ones with better multimedia systems — but the Corolla Cross’ combination of basic safety, value pricing and reputation for reliability will immediately make it a strong contender.

Until now, if you wanted a small SUV and you went to your local Toyota showroom, your choices were twofold: the RAV4 compact, which has grown to nearly mid-size proportions over the years, or the cramped and quirky C-HR, which features neither significant room inside nor optional all-wheel drive. Nothing hit that “sweet spot” between the two, nothing sized “just right” for people on a budget who still wanted the high seating, additional cargo space and all-weather capability of an SUV.

Well, Toyota has rectified that gap in its lineup with this, the new 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. It uses the Corolla name because it uses a lot of Corolla parts: It sits on the same platform as the compact sedan, uses the same engine and transmission, and shares a lot of common interior bits. And while it’s easy to take shots at the Corolla sedan (its reputation is not one of excitement), that car is known instead as a safe, steady, reliable choice. Owning one won’t light your heart on fire, but it may set your mind at ease knowing that your car is very unlikely to ever let you down, drain your wallet or leave you stranded. Toyota is hoping that this same sentiment will transfer over to this new subcompact SUV — and there’s every reason to think that they’re right.

It’s Certainly Toyota-Shaped

From the outside, it’s not difficult to imagine the new Corolla Cross fitting into the Toyota lineup. The family resemblance is strong, with a front and rear end that look like a three-quarter-scale Highlander right down to the horseshoe grille and separated horizontal taillights. The only distinctive feature might be the more sculpted fenders along the sides, but Toyota’s efforts to make the Corolla Cross more mainstream-appealing than the quirky C-HR are clearly the styling priority. A high point: LED headlights are standard across the range of trim levels, something that’s starting to become more common. Overall, however, the styling previews the experience you’re going to have with a Corolla Cross: It’s safe and anonymous, none too exciting but pleasant enough.

Stepping into the Corolla Cross’ cabin puts you in an immediately familiar environment — the Corolla compact is the bestselling vehicle in the world, with Toyota announcing recently that 50 million of them have been sold over the decades. So the look of the dash, gauges, controls, electronics — all of the bits and pieces of the Corolla Cross — look similar to the successful design of the Corolla. Again, Toyota’s not breaking any new ground with this interior, but it’s not trying to, either — it’s trying to build on the successful formula that’s made the Corolla a global hit. It’s easy to look at, relatively simple to use and uncomplicated in what it provides.

The seats are comfortable front and rear, and there’s sufficient legroom in any position for four people, though five might be tight with three across in the backseat. There’s plenty of headroom for all occupants even with an optional moonroof, and outward visibility is top-notch, with no significant blind spots. It feels like sitting in a new Corolla sedan, only taller, with a more upright seating position and a better view over surrounding traffic. That boost in interior volume is notable, creating something more than simply a Corolla wagon — the cargo space is significantly more usable than a C-HR’s, and every Corolla Cross comes with a standard 60/40-split, folding backseat to boost capacity even more when necessary. Given the popularity of SUVs versus their mainstream sedan counterparts these days, it’s not hard to imagine the Corolla Cross becoming a more popular variant than the sedan or hatchback with the boost to user-friendly passenger and cargo flexibility.

The standard gauges are analog dials with a small digital display, or you can spec a larger digital display in the XLE trim that looks snazzy if a bit busy. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but you’ll have to plug your phone in — despite the top XLE getting Qi wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available on any trim.

 

Definitely Not Built to Thrill

Toyota’s marketing strategy for the Corolla Cross portrays it as “just right,” with just the right amount of space, comfort, tech and efficiency. It’s hard to argue that point; it does have plenty of all the above. What it doesn’t offer the right amount of is grunt: Using the powertrain from the Corolla sedan, the Corolla Cross comes saddled with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder non-turbocharged engine making a tepid 169 horsepower and 150 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission that features an actual 1st gear before the pulleys take over, but it doesn’t help much. The transmission does an admirable job of keeping the engine in its power band, it’s just that there isn’t much power there to be had.

Simply put, acceleration is dog slow. Foot to the floor at a stoplight with just one person in the car elicits more noise than movement, and the Corolla Cross’ performance on the highway on-ramps and steeper hills around Austin, Texas, proved that it truly could use either a turbocharger to wring some more useful low-end torque out of the engine or a larger engine entirely. The Corolla Cross comes with a 1,500-pound tow rating, but I can’t imagine towing anything with this — even the idea of putting five people and luggage in the thing would make me question the safety of its underpowered engine.

toyota-corolla-cross-xle-2022-08-angle-exterior-gray-rear2022 Toyota 

Thankfully, the rest of the Corolla Cross’ dynamic behavior makes up somewhat for that lack of guts. Handling is neutral, the ride is well damped for a vehicle with such a short wheelbase, and body motions are controlled and taut. The brakes are strong, firm and confidence-inspiring, and while there is a bit of road noise depending on pavement conditions, the overall experience is one of a calm and quiet cruiser. How well the Corolla Cross works with a full load of occupants and gear onboard, however, remains to be seen.

Add Price to the List of “Pros”

So the latest crossover from Toyota is nicely sized, handles well, is comfortable and features a good deal of standard safety equipment. It might not be able to get out of its own way if you give it some gas, and we’ve yet to see how a full load of people affects its drivability. It can be accused of being underpowered, but it won’t be accused of being overpriced. The new 2022 Corolla Cross FWD starts at $23,410 (all prices include destination) for an entry-level L trim, climbs to $25,760 for an LE and $27,540 for a top XLE trim. Adding AWD will tack on another $1,300 regardless of trim level. A fully loaded XLE AWD won’t top $30,000, making it quite a nice package given its considerable equipment.

It stacks up well against a number of competitors, too, being larger than a Honda HR-V, Ford EcoSport and Hyundai Kona. A Chevrolet Trailblazer would be an excellent choice to stack up against the Corolla Cross, featuring a choice of turbocharged engines, more engaging handling and a very similar pricing structure. There’s no shortage of small SUVs in the $20,000 range for the Toyota Corolla Cross to go up against, but it would seem that Toyota has done its homework in crafting something that’s likely to steal some sales from all of them.

(cars.com)

2022 Porsche Macan Does More with Less

"Oh, that's the Macan," the woman said. "I like those." Just as we were feeling smug about our ride, it became obvious she was talking about another Macan, parked a few spots over. Ah, well, it is the bestselling Porsche after all, and one can't be too annoyed to see someone else in the same dress at a party. Besides, it's a good dress, both fashionable and practical, as a sporty SUV should be. And the one she was admiring? So last season. The trend for the 2022 Porsche Macan involves new details in and out, and more power under the hood.

There is plenty to love about the starter Macan, and we're not alone in thinking so. Most Macans you'll see on the road will be this four-cylinder model. Porsche says the proportion of customers choosing the base model over the more powerful S and GTS (and previous Turbo) has been about 60 percent, and the automaker expects that trend to continue. While the performance models offer more power, plus a few cosmetic changes not available on the base version, you'll get the same wide-hipped, athletic stance no matter which Macan you pick—and if our parking-lot admirer was any indication, all of them are head turners.

It impresses on the road too. Backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and standard all-wheel drive, the entry-level turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 261 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, increases of 13 horses and 22 lb-ft over the 2021 model. Porsche made a lot of engine changes to free up those ponies. The new mill is fed air by a larger turbo and a redesigned intake designed to diminish turbo lag. It also has a higher-pressure fuel-injection setup, a new timing chain, and different pistons and rings. Reduced internal engine friction may not be your usual topic of conversation with the other parents in the school parking lot, but now it could be. Leave the bragging about acceleration times to the folks with the V-6 models, though. Even with its baker's dozen of extra horses, the four-cylinder Macan should reach 60 mph in a relatively tame 5.5 seconds, and that's with the optional performance boost of launch control from the $1220 Sport Chrono package. That was about the only option our test car didn't have, so we avoided late-night street races in favor of sunrise in the hills above Malibu, California. It may not be a straight-line rocket, but the Macan is delightful when lines on the map get squiggly.

2022 porsche macan base
On the two-page options list for our example, one item we would spring for is the adaptive air springs, a $2750 add-on that includes Porsche's PASM adaptive dampers. Various suspension and drive modes are expected in many vehicles these days, yet often they don't seem to do much other than satisfy a desire to click buttons. But the Macan's settings result in noticeable changes to its character on the road. The standard damper setting is soft enough to allow some wallowing around turns and absorb every bump like ciabatta soaking up olive oil. Click over to Sport Plus, and the Macan straightens up like a slouching schoolboy whacked with a nun's ruler. Now it's paying close attention, and all the sponginess is gone. Rough spots of pavement make their way through the steering wheel with soft thumps, enough to communicate a sense of the road but nothing that would turn your cream to butter on the way home from the grocery store. A lot of cars claim to deliver both comfort and handling. The Macan makes good on that promise, and it comes to a stop with the same smooth confidence with which it turns. The base model features conventional cast-iron rotors clamped by four-piston calipers in front and single-piston floaters at the rear, but the S model's upgraded tungsten-carbide-coated brakes are an option for those who are fond of white calipers and minimal brake dust.
 
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Inside the cabin, away from dust of any kind, the Macan employs Porsche's minimalist interior decor with mixed results. What works in the smaller cockpit of a 911 feels sparse in the larger space of an SUV. Even with $3880 worth of extra red and black leather on the doors and dash, the interior feels underdone, with an odd jumble of touch-sensitive controls on the console and a slimmed-down but somewhat old-fashioned shifter jutting up by the cupholder. The gauges and infotainment screen were similarly split in design focus. The gauge cluster, with its sweeping physical needles, was refreshing, but the 10.9-inch center touchscreen was so small that Apple CarPlay may show up larger on your iPhone. And Android Auto? Still not supported. Storage compartments, usually the shining glory of an SUV, are as scaled down as the center display.

The Macan's back seats provide ample legroom, but the gently sloping roofline limits headroom. This also necessitates a deeper reach to help small children in and out of the back, but the seats themselves—heated on our car, via the $2240 Premium package—are comfortable and feature a fold-down armrest, cupholders, and USB ports. While the tallest adults might not want to spend much time back there, most family-oriented buyers should be adequately pleased. As expected from a compact crossover, the Macan's 17-cubic-foot cargo area isn't move-a-couch large, but who wants to move a couch? Groceries, coolers, suitcases, pool floaties—the Macan can easily carry any combination of them, and it offers several handy tie-downs and an underfloor storage compartment.

2022 porsche macan base
While many SUVs are seemingly designed more for comfort and utility than driver entertainment, the Porsche Macan is still all about the view out the windshield, whether that's on an early-morning run up a winding road or a nimble dance through the moving chicanes of a strip-mall parking lot. Even in its most rudimentary form, Porsche's compact crossover is an enthusiastic partner through all the unexpected twists of a day on the go. Let buyers of other more capacious SUVs lumber through town in their big seats, staring at their expansive infotainment screens, sucking down to-go drinks from cupholders large enough to house a koi pond. We're going to weave through them until the scenery is open road. The base Macan proves that you don't need to have the most horsepower to have a great drive.
 
(caranddriver.com)

Range Rover Sport PHEV SUV review

“The Range Rover Sport PHEV could prove to be far cheaper to run than other models in the range, and it’s more luxurious, too”

Pros

  • 31-mile electric range
  • Low CO2 emissions
  • Good to drive

Cons

  • Reduced practicality
  • Thirsty once batteries run out
  • Less suited to high-mileage drivers

The Range Rover Sport P400e plug-in hybrid arrived as part of a range update, and brought with it an option in the luxury SUV’s range that will be of great interest to company car drivers. Tax rates and running costs will be significantly lower than for other versions of this big, heavy car, yet it offers an impressive level of comfort and luxury.

There are plenty of alternatives, including the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, Audi Q7 e-tron, BMW X5 xDrive40e and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid. The Range Rover Sport has only around 26 miles of all-electric range, so it falls behind some of these rivals when it comes to commuting on battery power alone.

The Sport features a 297bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 114bhp electric motor, so it can go from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds. It’s not just about the power, though, because the electric motor means low-speed driving is as quiet as it gets. Of course, this being a Range Rover the electric motor’s instant torque means it’s a superb off-roader as well – although most owners never go near so much as a muddy field.

The interior is as luxurious as you would expect given the brand’s credentials. Materials are high quality and there’s plenty of tech, including a dual-screen infotainment system with all the modern features you need. One area the PHEV model does lose out is with boot space, because of the space taken up by the hybrid batteries. There’s no seven-seat option here, either, and the plug-in model’s maximum towing weight is lower than for other versions.

From the outside, you might not think you are even looking at an electrified car. The only clues lie in the charging port on the front – and even this is hidden away most of the time – and the badges.

The Range Rover plug-in makes the most sense for those who don’t tend to do a lot of long trips but can’t quite make the jump to a fully electric car just yet. Yet the Range Rover Sport P400e is possibly the most luxurious model in the range to drive, because of the near-silent low-speed running when the engine is off. We’d still stick with a diesel model if you do a lot of motorway trips, though.

MPG, running costs & CO2

 If you regularly cover short distances, the Range Rover Sport P400e makes a lot of sense

The Range Rover Sport P400e might have a relatively thirsty 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but combining this with an electric motor and battery pack means running costs can be significantly reduced. As with all plug-in hybrids, this benefit diminishes the further you drive – and if you don’t have access to a charging point – so the P400e is best suited to motorists with a fairly short commute who can top up the batteries frequently.

Thanks to the 13.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Range Rover Sport can travel for up to 26 miles on electricity alone, boosting its official fuel economy figure to 88mpg – a huge improvement over the 27.4mpg of the equivalent petrol-only model. While this figure will obviously depend on how you drive the P400e, its 72g/km CO2 emissions figure is fixed, which means this is by far the cheapest Range Rover Sport for company car drivers. Its 18 per cent Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band compares with 37 per cent for the standard Si4 petrol.

 Compared with its closest rivals, the P400e betters the 25-mile range and 75g/km CO2 emissions of the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, while the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine manages just 59g/km of CO2 and 134.5mpg, and has a slightly lower, 25-mile range on battery power.

Road tax for the P400e costs the discounted VED (road tax) rate each year. However, there’s also the additional surcharge in years two to six owing to the fact the hybrid costs more than £40,000 to buy.

Charging the P400e at home takes around 7.5 hours using the standard 10-amp cable, but this can be sped up to under three hours using rapid charging with a dedicated wall box and 32-amp cable. The charging port is located in the front grille, making it easier to park facing public charging posts.

Engines, drive & performance

 The P400e is no slouch, but it’s less fun to drive when the batteries are depleted

The Range Rover Sport’s P400e badge signifies its power level, because its turbocharged 297bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor combined produce up to 399bhp. This PHEV certainly isn’t short of power, then, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds, before hitting a maximum speed of 137mph. This is only four-tenths faster than the petrol model, but the P400e feels very different to drive, especially in town. Here, electric power allows the Sport to accelerate briskly from a standstill with little fuss or noise – attributes that suit its character. It's just a shame the P400e can hesitate when asked to accelerate from a rolling start at a junction or roundabout – a frustrating sensation.

 
Back on the road, it’s when the battery pack is depleted that the Sport P400e makes least sense. With a small engine and more weight to lug around, it needs working fairly hard and emits a vocal whine that’s at odds with the Range Rover’s luxurious character.

Tackle a winding road and the P400e does a better job of disguising its weight, serving up impressive agility and grip for a big SUV. It’s sharper than the XC90 that majors on comfort, while being slightly less driver focused than the Cayenne.

Interior & comfort

 The Sport is just as luxurious as ever, but now has more up-to-date technology

Inside, the Range Rover Sport is just as luxurious as ever, with swathes of leather covering virtually every surface and metal trim that’s cool to the touch. The PHEV features the brand’s Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, with two 10-inch displays stacked on top of each other. These are crystal clear and look great, with the top display taking care of sat-nav and media, while the bottom screen is used for vehicle settings. It largely works well, but smartphone integration still lags behind rivals such as the Audi Q7 – and it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

There are plenty of places to charge your smart devices, with up to 12 power points dotted around the interior, as well as two traditional power sockets to charge laptops and other devices that need more juice than a USB port can provide. You can essentially turn the Sport into an office away from home – or family entertainment centre – at the drop of a hat. The introduction of the Activity Key from the Jaguar F-Pace means you can also take a waterproof wristband on your outdoor adventures instead of the key and use it to unlock the car when you get back.

Practicality & boot space

 The battery pack reduces load space and towing ability slightly, but they’re still beyond what most families will need

It has a lower roofline and sleeker shape than the standard Range Rover, or a Volvo XC90 for that matter, but the Range Rover Sport is still a large SUV. It can carry five adults in comfort, with well shaped leather seats providing plenty of support.

 
However, there have been some compromises in practicality in order to fit the battery pack and electric motor. In the standard Sport, there’s up to 780 litre of luggage space, but this is reduced by up to 79 litres in the P400e, while the boot floor is also raised up by 46mm. Perhaps more significantly for families, there’s also no longer the option of the 5+2 seating layout that makes the Sport an occasional seven-seater, because there’s no room to stow the third row in the boot.
 
Towing has been made simpler, thanks to Advanced Tow Assist, a driving aid that allows you to guide a trailer into place using the reversing camera and turning the rotary controller to steer its path. The on-board computer then automatically works out the correct steering inputs required. It’s worth noting that the P400e can tow between 500-1,000kg less than other Sports, but its maximum trailer weight of 2,500kg is still more than enough to pull a large caravan.

Reliability & safety

 Land Rover doesn’t have the best reliability record, but the Sport is loaded with safety equipment

Land Rover doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, and in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey it finished in 22nd place – although that’s actually an improvement over previous years.

While the Range Rover Sport hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, safety should be less of a worry. Both the fully fledged Range Rover and the Range Rover Velar managed a five-star result, so there’s little reason to think the Sport would do worse. It shares most of those models’ safety kit after all, including features such as autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and electronics designed to help prevent rollover accidents.

Price, value for money & options

 For the right type of driver, the Sport PHEV could bring real cost benefits

Depending on its specification, the 400bhp plug-in hybrid P400e costs around £4,000 more than a Range Rover Sport fitted with a 300bhp V6 diesel engine. Some will consider this a bargain, especially company car drivers considering the potential tax savings – although we’re talking about a car costing well over £70,000 here, so it’s all relative.

However, the savings only really make sense if you plan on driving on electric power a large proportion of the time. If you often drive more than 30 miles a day, or on long trips, a diesel will probably make more sense.

(https://www.carbuyer.co.uk/)

Tested: 2022 Volkswagen Taos Plays Big Among Subcompact SUVs

Nearly as large as the compact Tiguan, the Taos is an attractive new entry point for VW's crossover lineup.

The all-new 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the product of a familiar pattern in the car business. As a particular vehicle segment grows in popularity (in this case, crossovers), manufacturers tend to enlarge and differentiate their entries to make room for new models that fill the newly created gaps in their lineup. With VW's range of SUVs in the United States swelling to include the compact Tiguan, mid-size Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, and the electric ID.4 (sort of an SUV, we guess), a vacancy opened up in the increasingly popular subcompact space, among the likes of the Jeep Compass, Kia Seltos, and Subaru Crosstrek. It also helps that VW won't be offering Americans a regular TSI version of its latest Golf hatchback, which we're still sore about. At least the Taos is a compelling little crossover on most fronts.

2022 volkswagen taos sel rear

"Little" is sort of misleading, though, as the Taos is one of the larger players in its class. Its MQB-based architecture rests atop a wheelbase of either 105.6 inches for the all-wheel-drive variant or 105.9 inches for the front-driver. It has a huge back seat for a subcompact SUV, and its capacious and easily accessible cargo hold can swallow 25 cubic feet of stuff behind the rear seats (28 cubes if you forgo all-wheel drive). On the road, if you don't know to look for its distinguishing design cues—a broad LED lightbar that connects the standard LED headlights plus chrome TAOS lettering on the rear liftgate—you can easily mistake it for a (slightly) larger Tiguan. VW says the name Taos refers to the rugged, picturesque town in New Mexico. We didn't go there for our drive, but we did traverse our local Michigan haunts in both of the vehicle's primary configurations.

2022 volkswagen taos sel interior

HIGHS: Cavernous interior for a small SUV, impressive fuel economy, attractive base price.

Powering the Taos is a new 1.5-liter version of the EA211 turbocharged inline-four—a 1.4-liter EA211 is found in the Jetta sedan. Aided by the boost of a variable-geometry turbocharger, the engine purrs willingly to its 6400-rpm redline and produces a respectable-if-not-quite-spirited 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the latter from just 1750 rpm. That's less grunt than you'll get from a top-spec 175-hp Seltos 1.6T or a 250-hp Mazda CX-30 Turbo, but it's perfectly adequate for casually merging onto highways. Standard front-wheel-drive models pair the turbo-four with a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive versions get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which VW calls a direct-shift gearbox (DSG). The company says this split allowed it to focus both on greater fuel efficiency with the eight-speed and a sportier driving character with the dual clutch.

2022 volkswagen taos sel
Our test car was a front-wheel-drive SEL model, which ambled to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds at 87 mph, making it slightly quicker than the latest Subaru Crosstrek with a 2.5-liter flat-four and significantly fleeter than a Jeep Compass. The more-powerful turbocharged Kia Seltos, however, is roughly a half-second quicker both to 60 and through the quarter-mile.

That said, the front-drive Taos is the fuel miser's choice, earning an EPA combined estimate of 31 mpg, versus 28 mpg for all-wheel-drive models. Our example fared well in the real world with a 30-mpg average, and it posted an impressive 40 mpg on our 75-mph highway test, beating its federal rating by 4 mpg. Both the aforementioned Subaru and Kia managed only 30 mpg on our highway run. But the all-wheel-drive model's DSG isn't as convincing in its role as a sporty transmission. While its shifts are generally quick and well-coordinated at speed, it lacks the eight-speed's unobtrusive smoothness, being relatively clumsy around town and under quick on-off-on throttle applications. Only all-wheel-drive variants get a drive-mode selector with Normal, Eco, Sport, and Individual settings, but even in its most aggressive mode the dual clutch hesitates between upshifts when accelerating briskly. There are no steering-wheel paddle shifters, so we mostly let the DSG pick its own gears rather than use the shifter's sluggish manual gate.

2022 volkswagen taos sel

LOWS: Modest performance, some cheap-looking interior plastics, clumsy optional dual-clutch transmission.

The other significant difference between the two drivelines is the rear suspension. The front-wheel-drive Taos features a torsion beam at the rear, while the all-wheel-drive model employs a multilink setup. This is why there are two wheelbase lengths. The multilink's greater composure and more substantial feel make the all-wheel-drive Taos our clear choice. Though the all-wheel-drive Taos adds a claimed 255 pounds of additional mass, its more sophisticated suspension fosters greater driver confidence by bringing better body control. We'll have to wait for a second test car to see if this more-refined character translates to better grip than the modest 0.83 g that the front-driver exhibited on the skidpad.

Braking ability is adequate and is controlled via an easy-to-modulate pedal, despite some mushiness in the first inch or so or travel. We recorded a so-so 176-foot stop from 70 mph. All of the examples we've driven have rolled on 18-inch wheels (17s are standard, 19s are optional), with our test car's wrapped with Bridgestone Turanza LS100 all-season tires. With decent ride comfort and reasonably low levels of interior noise—68 decibels at a 70-mph cruise; 73 at full throttle—road isolation is good for a vehicle that starts at $24,190. Just don't expect Golf levels of agility from the Taos's extra girth and higher center of gravity.

2022 volkswagen taos sel
From the low liftover height of its cargo floor to its rear climate-control vents to its ability to easily accommodate six-plus-footers front and rear, the Taos's interior is highlighted by its functionality. This subcompact feels solidly built, and material quality is mostly commensurate with its price, although the hard, shiny plastic dashtop panel looks chintzy, especially in the top-spec SEL models that go for more than $30,000. While not boldly inspired, the Tao's cabin does benefit from contoured trim pieces and contrasting colors that lend it some character. Soft-touch materials are soft enough and well placed, and there's VW's familiar and nicely thick-rimmed steering wheel. Seating choices include cloth upholstery for base models, leather at the top of the range, and a leatherette/cloth combo with grippy inserts for mid-level SE trims. All offer good comfort and excellent visibility.

At 72.5 inches, the Taos is actually a hair wider than the one-size-up Tiguan and feels similarly spacious in terms of elbow space. Unlike the Tiguan, there's no available third row of seats. Base models get an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster and a 6.5-inch center touchscreen, with the displays in higher trims increasing to 10.3 and 8.0 inches, respectively. We like that the Taos sticks with VW's more familiar infotainment system rather than adopting the newer, less-intuitive version in the ID.4 that we're still warming up to. Ambient lighting, automatic headlights, and VW's App Connect smartphone integration system all are standard.

 

2022 volkswagen taos sel
Additional microprocessors control the IQ.Drive bundle of active-safety features: stop-and-go adaptive cruise control with semi-automated assistance, active blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automatic forward-collision warning, and emergency braking. IQ.Drive is a $895 to $995 option on lesser S and SE trims and standard on the top SEL. Notable extras include a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, and a yet-to-be-released Basecamp appearance package that will add a touch of off-road flair.

Coincidentally, the starter S model's competitive $24,190 base price is the same as that of the outgoing Golf hatchback that the Taos more or less replaces. Budget $28,440 for the SE trim and a somewhat substantial $32,685 for an SEL model like our test car, plus another $1450 to $2045 if you want all-wheel drive. Depending on the configuration, those prices position the Taos awfully close to certain versions of the grander Tiguan, which starts at $26,440. Yet, considering the Taos's generous packaging and strong roster of equipment, potential Tiguan buyers won't have to sacrifice much if they step down to this new lower rung in the brand's model range. The Taos isn't the fun-to-drive substitute for the Golf that we'd prefer, but it does make a solid anchor for VW's SUV lineup.

(https://www.caranddriver.com)

Hyundai Kona N SUV review

“In the Kona N, Hyundai has created another fantastic performance model - one that makes a great alternative to a Volkswagen T-Roc R”

Pros

  • Very quick
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Cheaper than nearest rivals

Cons

  • Automatic only
  • Too many drive settings
  • i30 N is bigger and costs less

The standard Hyundai Kona isn’t our favourite car in its class but the Kona Electric is one of the best electric cars on sale. The Kona range is now even broader and better with the introduction of the Hyundai Kona N, a high-power, performance-focused model. Despite the car industry moving towards electrification, Hyundai still sees a place for fast and loud petrol cars for enthusiasts to enjoy.

The world of fast small SUVs wasn’t very heavily populated until relatively recently but now the Volkswagen T-Roc R, BMW X2 M35i, Audi SQ2 and MINI Countryman JCW are all fighting it out for supremacy. There’s also the more affordable and less powerful (but no less fun) Ford Puma ST. Hyundai has found a gap in the market directly between these cars, making the Kona N more powerful than the Ford but less expensive than all its other rivals.

The car’s 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is shared with the Hyundai i30 N, as is most of the rest of the running gear. The i30 N is one of our favourite hot hatchbacks, so the recipe is a good one and sets the Kona N up well. A 0-62mph sprint can be done in 6.4 seconds, unless you engage launch control, in which case it’s just 5.5 seconds. This makes the car easily quick enough to mix with its rivals, despite the Kona N only coming with front-wheel drive.

But the Kona N allows you to dial back the performance with a slightly bewildering range of driving modes (even ones for mud and snow). Sticking it in Eco or Normal will make the car feel little different to a standard Kona and the ability to calm things down suits the car’s slightly raised driving position.

The Kona N has joined the range as part of the model’s facelift, so it feels fresh and modern inside. Digital dials are standard, as is a new 10.25-inch touchscreen, while a smattering of specific badges and stitching choices elevate it above the regular Kona. The price of the N may look high compared to entry-level versions of the Kona but you get a huge amount of kit as well as the performance, such as a head-up display, a premium sound system and heated and cooled electrically adjustable seats.

While the Kona N does share its running gear with the i30 N, it’s slightly more expensive, slightly less practical and doesn’t come with the option of a manual gearbox like the i30 N does. We can’t imagine any of these will be major issues if you like the Kona’s driving position and styling, however.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The Hyundai Kona N is thirsty, just like its rivals

More often than not, the trade-off for a powerful petrol engine is poor fuel economy - and that’s exactly the case here. While the Kona Electric and hybrid models are focused on efficiency, the Kona N certainly isn’t. It’ll achieve up to 33.2mpg at a steady cruise and much less if you drive it enthusiastically. In fact, use all of the car’s performance all of the time and you could end up travelling fewer miles on a tank than you’d get from a full charge in the electric model.

Whether you pick the Kona or another fast SUV like the Volkswagen T-Roc R or BMW X2 M35i, that’s about as efficient as a performance SUV gets. However, because the Kona doesn’t breach £40,000 like many of its rivals, private buyers will only pay the standard rate of tax per year. It almost goes without saying that the Kona N will be costly to run for company-car drivers, as its 194g/km CO2 output puts it firmly in the top Benefit-in-Kind band.

Engines, drive & performance

 The Kona N is one of the best hot SUVs on the market

The Hyundai i30 N was the brand’s first hot hatchback but Hyundai’s relative lack of performance-car experience meant nothing; the i30 N shot to near the top of the hot hatch class. The smaller, Ford Fiesta ST-rivalling Hyundai i20 N is also excellent, and the Korean company has done it again with the much-anticipated Kona N.

Just like the i30 N, the Kona N uses a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that produces 276bhp. That enables a 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds, or just 5.5 seconds if you engage launch control. In the past, launch control was reserved for supercars and sports cars but now you’ll be able to surprise people with a perfect launch in your small SUV. The Kona is only available with an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, whereas the i30 N is also available with a manual gearbox. We’d like the option of the six-speed manual here too, as the auto gearbox sometimes struggles to find the right gear.

The Kona N comes with electronically controlled dampers and a differential as standard in the UK, which, again, would previously have been reserved for the very best performance cars. You can feel the differential working if you press the throttle down mid-corner, as the car tightens its line and doesn’t stray wide. It makes the car’s performance feel accessible and gives you confidence to drive faster.

There are also a wide range of driving modes, from Eco and Normal to Sport and even mud/snow settings but the sportiest setup is accessed by pressing one of the N buttons on the steering wheel. With N mode engaged, the suspension firms up and makes the Kona more agile through corners. A wider track (the distance between left and right wheels) helps reduce body roll to almost zero.

Another Kona N-specific feature is the NGS button on the steering wheel. Press this and you’ll get a hit of extra power (the full 286bhp) for 20 seconds. We can see it being useful for quick overtakes, where you want all the power without having to resort to scrolling through all the driver modes.

Interior & comfort

 The Hyundai Kona N has a sporty feel inside and lots of equipment

Joining the range as part of the Kona’s facelift, the N benefits from Hyundai’s very latest interior design. There’s a new 10.25-inch touchscreen on top of the dashboard and a large digital instrument cluster instead of traditional dials. The N gets a sports steering wheel with the aforementioned N buttons, plus seats trimmed partly in leather and partly in Alcantara suede.

You’ll pay less for the Kona N than its main rivals but you’ll get more equipment as standard. The front seats are electrically adjustable, heated and cooled, while the outer rear seats and the steering wheel both have heating too. There’s also automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, a head-up display and a reversing camera.

Practicality & boot space

 The Kona isn’t the biggest inside and the i30 N has a bigger boot

One of our bugbears with the standard Hyundai Kona is that it is far from the most spacious small SUV on sale and the N is the same in this respect. A Volkswagen T-Roc R or a MINI Countryman JCW will be more comfortable for adults in the rear seats but then you might find it’s fine if you’re not regularly bringing mates along for the ride. We’d recommend sitting in the rear seats with the driver’s seat in your position before you buy.

Many small SUVs have a surprisingly large boot - the Renault Captur offers more space than some cars in the class above - but the Kona has one of the smallest boots in the class. The N’s 361 litres isn’t terrible but the i30 N offers more rear-seat and luggage space for a lower price.

Reliability and safety

 A five-star safety score and glowing customer satisfaction are both impressive

The standard Kona was the best-rated car on sale in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with top scores for everything except practicality. Although the Kona N wasn’t specifically mentioned in the result, it should be absolutely excellent to live with. Kona owners love the fit-and-finish, the technology and the driving experience - and the N provides tech and performance in spades. Hyundai’s five-year warranty is more generous than its rivals too.

Euro NCAP tested the Hyundai Kona in 2017 and awarded it a five-star score, with 89% protection for adult occupants. The range-topping Kona N features a host of driver assistance technology including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and following, front and rear collision avoidance and a head-up display.

(carbuyer.co.uk)

2021 Dodge Durango GT First Test: Still Young at Heart

In its 11th year, the freshened Durango drives newer than some and tows more than all competitors. 

This 2021 Dodge Durango GT seems a little like the older big kid in class who might have been held back a grade or two. Compared to his peers, he's more muscular, capable, mature. He'll never be valedictorian, but he's sure gonna get picked first for the tug-of-war team. 

Gently Massaged

The third-generation Durango enters its 11th year with a freshened wardrobe (fascias, lights, spoiler, footwear), and a fancy 10.1-inch optional Uconnect 5 screen that's just as big, bright, and crisp as the calculators all those younger, scrawnier, smart-enough-to-skip-a-grade kids keep showing up to class with.

Given the advanced age of the 2021 Dodge Durango GT, the structure feels remarkably tight, absorbing road inputs without reverberation. Interior materials—even on this mid-grade example—also seem quite class-competitive, with stitching on the dash and armrests. It doesn't seem to want for much modern technology, either, with available wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, over-the-air-upgradable infotainment, available wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a liberal sprinkling of A- and C-Type USB ports throughout the cabin. It feels notably newer than the 2018 Dodge Durango 4 R/T that spent a year in MotorTrend's Detroit office.

2021 Dodge Durango 4 GT 61

Tech Extras

If you want your 2021 Dodge Durango to have key items like advanced brake-assist, forward-collision warning, and adaptive cruise control, they come bundled in a Technology Group option on most trim levels. It added $2,495 to this Durango GT model, it's not offered at all on the base SXT, and it's only included as standard equipment on the Citadel model. Yes, you must pay $2,395 for adaptive cruise even on the Durango SRT 392 and Hellcat.

Sadly, no matter how hard this big-boy studies, he's just never going to ace the crash tests invented after he started school, so the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the Durango "marginal" on the small-overlap test. (Deficient structure and safety-cage performance resulted in poor lower-leg-/foot-injury-rating performance.) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates it four out of five stars in all but side impact (5/5).

Still Some Reasons To Buy

For these reasons and more, our MotorTrend Ultimate Car Rankings place the Dodge Durango toward the back of the three-row SUV class, but that doesn't mean it's not the ideal vehicle for certain buyers. Any Durango might be an obvious choice if you occasionally need to tow a 6,200-8,700-pound trailer but don't care to deal with the bulk, cost, and/or fuel economy of a full-size Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, or Toyota Sequoia. The rest of the mid-size three-row class tops out at between 3,500 and 5,000 pounds, with the Ford Explorer rated next best at 5,300.

2021 Dodge Durango 4 GT 63
 A Durango is also a compelling choice for those who just find such highly ranked SUVs as the Subaru Ascent, Hyundai Palisade, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander too beige or bland (our SUV of the Year-winning Kia Telluride strikes us as neither). The Durango doesn't blend in with this crowd: Its muscular bodywork, aggressive air intakes, sporty dash, and well-bolstered seats establish a more aggressive vibe.

Put To The Test

But then, sporty is as sporty does, and all the structure and size required to make the 2021 Dodge Durango GT a great tow vehicle add a lot of weight relative to its classmates. The fact its aging 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 ranks mid-pack in terms of power and torque helps land the AWD V-6 Durango a lowest-in-class performance of 7.8 seconds to 60 mph and 15.9 seconds through the quarter mile at 88.5 mph. The rear-wheel-drive model shaves but a tenth or two off those times without surpassing any other AWD competitors. Of course, stepping up to the first of the Dodge Durango's three V-8 options in an R/T model bumps it to near the front of the pack behind the lighter Ford Explorer ST and Honda Pilot Black Edition. In fact, the bigger-engine SRT models legitimately compete with fancy-brand Euro SUVs.

It's the same story with handling performance, where the V-6-powered 2021 Dodge Durango GT laid down figure-eight and maximum lateral-grip figures that largely trail the class, while the R/T ranks well and the SRTs are in another class entirely. But can we agree that folks in the market for a mainstream three-row SUVs don't plan on using them for bracket racing, gymkhana, or to burn up the Tail of the Dragon?

2021 Dodge Durango 4 GT 31

Beyond The Numbers

When those buyers aren't towing boats and campers on the weekend, they just want to haul people and stuff in quiet comfort. Here again, sadly, the basic 2021 Dodge Durango GT makes a less compelling case for itself. In terms of both overall cargo space with all seats folded, and third-row passenger volume, Durango ranks smack in the middle of the class. But tallying total passenger volume in each seating row plus cargo room behind the third-row seat, its 158.8 total cubic feet bests only the Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, and Mazda CX-9.

The newer kids are also getting mighty clever with things like third-row seat access. The forthcoming Jeep Grand Cherokee L and Nissan Pathfinder, for example, each allow the middle-row seat to tilt and slide forward while an empty forward-facing child seat remains installed. The Durango's middle-row seats, on the other hand, require the backrest to fold before dumping the entire seat forward for third-row access. Even if your family has outgrown child seats, the new way is easier—particularly with Nissan's electric actuator buttons.

2021 Dodge Durango 4 GT 60

Bottom line: If you don't tow anything and don't much care what your family-schlepper looks like, the SUVs at the top of our rankings list may offer better overall utility, superior safety, and lower ownership costs. But among the cool kids, this big, brash 2021 Dodge Durango GT is destined to win popularity contests.

(motortrend.com)

2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer Go Big for Jeep

 An old-school formula brings modern levels of comfort and technology to Jeep's new full-size SUVs.

Jeep says that the all-new 2022 Wagoneer drives like the "smallest big car." After spending a day with Wagoneers and Grand Wagoneers, we'd probably drop "smallest" from the phrase. This is because at their core, these 214.7-inch-long SUVs employ the segment's proven formula: take a full-size pickup frame, include all the big V-8 powertrain options, and build a box on top.

2022 jeep wagoneer

 Around town, a little residual body-on-frame jiggle runs through the structure after abrupt inputs or bumps. Out on twisting roads, the big truck rolls—you should really let the inertia settle before turning the wheel in the opposite direction—and to maintain the vehicle's path, the steering needs constant attention. That softness pays dividends on the highway, where the ride is quite plush and appropriate for road trips. The throwback two-spoke steering wheel offers a vague connection to what's happening at the tires, and the overall feel is light.

 Buyers will have to parse through seven Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer trim levels to find their best match. Wagoneers come three ways, all powered by Chrysler's Hemi 392-hp 5.7-liter V-8, which is backed by the company's 48-volt eTorque hybrid system and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The electric assist adds 130 lb-ft of torque on initial throttle application and makes for one of the more seamless start-stop systems we've experienced. Equipped with the optional 3.92:1 axle ratio, the combo moves the Wagoneer's mass off the line smartly, and the smooth V-8 doesn't leave you wanting on the highway.
VIEW PHOTOS
2022 jeep wagoneer

Grand Wagoneers come in four versions, each with a beefy 6.4-liter V-8. A GW-exclusive intake manifold and exhaust cap the fun at 471 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque—14 horses and 20 lb-ft short of what the engine makes in a Scat Pack Challenger. A robust torque curve gives an easy initial surge; stay in it and you'll find that the big V-8 loves to run to the top of its rev range. It sounds great, too, if a little out of place. There's no hybrid system here, but like the 5.7-liter, cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing help make the most out of a gallon. The Grand Wagoneer feels a bit livelier with its larger engine—Jeep claims a 60-mph time of 6.0 seconds—but the lesser Wagoneer, with its electrically assisted 5.7, seems quicker than its claimed 7.3-second time to 60.

Buyers might be more interested in the EPA fuel-economy numbers: Four-wheel-drive Wagoneers carry labels of 15 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway; their 17-mpg-combined rating is 1 mpg short of the Chevy Tahoe with a 5.3-liter and the Ford Expedition. Grand Wagoneers manage up to 15/13/18 mpg (combined/city/highway), which makes them similarly less efficient than the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. The soon-to-be-released rear-wheel-drive Wagoneer Series I will be good for an additional 1 mpg combined.

In a move that attempts to elevate the Wagoneer above the rest of the Jeep lineup (marketers call the Wagoneer a "premium extension of the Jeep brand"), there isn't a single Jeep badge on it. Yet there's no mistaking it for anything but a Jeep, and all-terrain tires are offered on the Wagoneer Series II, with 18-inch wheels, and on the Wagoneer Series III, with 20s. There are three optional drivelines: Quadra-Trac I brings full-time all-wheel drive to the Series II, the Quadra-Trac II in the Wagoneer Series III adds a two-speed transfer case and hill-descent control, and at the top of the line, any Wagoneer can be had with Quadra-Drive II, a four-wheel-drive system that nets an electronically controlled locking rear differential. That's standard on the Grand Wagoneer, optional on lesser models.

Wagoneers come standard with a load-leveling setup for the rear suspension. Four-corner Quadra-Lift air springs are optional on the Series II; Series III and Grand Wagoneer models get it standard. The system can raise the truck by 1.7 inches to give it 10.0 inches of ground clearance and up to 24 inches of water-fording capability. Additionally, it'll drop the truck 0.6 inch at speed for better aerodynamics, plus it can lower the vehicle when parked an additional inch to aid ingress and egress.

2022 jeep wagoneer
 

But all of that kind of misses the point: If you're shopping cars this big, the last thing you're thinking of is hitting fire roads—or for that matter, performance on winding country roads. No, it's what's inside the box that matters, and Jeep designers nailed it.

The Grand Wagoneer in particular offers a legitimately luxurious experience, not just for its many creature comforts, but in the interior design itself. There's a lot of wood flowing through the dash and center console. If sculpted American walnut isn't your taste, you can opt for aluminum trim instead. The seats are large and comfortable, and as you might guess, all rows inside the gigantic cabin are easily accessible. High-end details are dotted throughout, such as the knurled-aluminum gear-selection knob and the leather-wrapped start button (yes, you read that correctly). In typical Jeep fashion, the cabin is filled with reminders of what you're driving. "Grand Wagoneer" appears in large lettering on the steering wheel, the sides of the seats, and inlaid in the wood in front of the passenger's seat.

2022 jeep grand wagoneer

The upright, boxy exterior shape is sure to polarize, but that form gives the Wagoneer best-in-class overall passenger volume, second- and third-row legroom, third-row headroom, and cargo volume behind the third row. It's seriously roomy inside, enough so to warrant an optional camera for front-row passengers to see who threw something at them from the wayback.

The Grand Wagoneer features four screens up front. In addition to the digital gauge cluster, there's the big center touchscreen—12.3 inches in the Grand and 10.3 in Wagoneer—and, below it, a smaller screen for secondary controls such as seat heaters and massage. An unexpected feature: The bottom screen can flip up, revealing a useful storage cubby with power outlets behind it. Front-seat passengers get their own display flush mounted in the dash.

2022 jeep grand wagoneer
The sheer amount of equipment that Jeep's leviathans offer is impressive. Each trim has an extensive list of options, many unique to particular trim levels. There's an available head-up display with night vision, all the driver-assistance stuff you can imagine, Amazon Fire TV integration in the middle-row screens, and two high-end McIntosh audio systems, the grandest being a 23-speaker, 1375-watt monster with a 12-inch subwoofer. Any lingering small-big-car thoughts will be crushed by the pricing structure. Wagoneer Series II and III 4x4 models arrive at the end of the summer and start at $72,995 and $77,995, although the rear-drive version will drop the entry point to just below $59,995 when it goes on sale in the first half of 2022. Grand Wagoneer models open up at $88,995, with the top-of-the-line Series III starting at an appropriately grand $105,995.
 
(caranddriver.com)

Tesla Model Y SUV review

"The Tesla Model Y takes what makes the Model 3 great and adds SUV practicality"

Pros

  • Fast and efficient
  • Spacious interior
  • Hatchback boot

Cons

  • Delayed for the UK
  • Patchy build quality
  • Limited model lineup

The Tesla Model Y has all the ingredients to be a hit when it eventually arrives on UK shores. The Tesla Model 3 has already struck a chord with buyers, appearing in the list of top-selling cars during 2021 and scoring well in our Driver Power owners satisfaction survey. Adding SUV style and space is only likely to make the recipe more desirable.

There's certainly enough hype around the brand but Tesla does risk missing the boat. Instead of arriving as a trailblazer, the Model Y will find itself competing against the Volkswagen ID.4, Skoda Enyaq iV, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQA and Ioniq 5. In other words, just about every mainstream manufacturer has realised it needs to sell an electric SUV and many of them are already available.

Part of the reason for the delay is Tesla CEO Elon Musk's desire for European examples of the Model Y to be built at a new Tesla Gigafactory in Germany, the completion of which has faced significant hold ups. The Y began arriving with the first American customers in March 2020. 

When the Model Y does arrive here, there's likely to be a Long Range and Performance model, sticking closely to the Model 3 on which the car is based. Both versions offer impressive acceleration and four-wheel drive but it's the Performance that's likely to be faster than any rival, with 0-60mph taking around 3.5 seconds.

The Long Range will be capable of around 314 miles between charges, thanks to its smaller wheels and slightly reduced performance, while the Performance will have a range of around 298 miles. These are impressive numbers but according to official figures, they're no longer class-leading, with the Mustang Mach-E capable of up to 379 miles in its most efficient specification.

Inside, the Model Y has the same minimalist interior and technology as the Model 3, focused around a high-res 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard. Air vents have been replaced by a narrow slot and leather by vegan-friendly materials. It works well once you get used to its controls but quality isn't on the same level as the top European manufacturers.

A taller roof means there's more space and headroom inside the Model Y than the Model 3, while its hatchback boot is much more useful for loading luggage or sports equipment. However, the Enyaq's boxy shape makes it even more accommodating.

We'll need to spend time behind the wheel of a Tesla Model Y in the UK to deliver our final verdict but we suspect fans of the brand and families alike will love the Model Y even more than the 3. Tesla should be worried, however, that the market for electric SUVs is getting significantly more crowded as the wait for the Model Y continues. 

MPG, running costs & CO2

 Tesla's small SUV has an impressive range and charges quickly

When the Model Y arrives, it's likely to be in Long Range and Performance versions, both of which have the same size battery. Thanks to smaller, 19 or 20-inch alloy wheels and less power from its electric motors, the Long Range is expected to have a range of around 314 miles. Step up to the Performance version, and 22-inch alloy wheels and more power reduce range to just under 300 miles.

Both the Long Range and Performance models take just under 12 hours to charge from empty to 100% using a 7.4kW wallbox, while a rapid charge at 250kW can take the battery from 10 to 80% in just 19 minutes. Another draw is the Tesla Supercharger network of public chargers, which won our 2020 Best chargepoint providers survey, coming top in every category. 

As with all EVs, the Model Y is exempt from VED (road tax) but the biggest savings will be for business users, thanks to very low Benefit-in-Kind liability. This can save company-car drivers hundreds or even thousands per month compared with petrol and diesel models.

Engines, drive & performance

 Lots of power and assured handling makes the Model Y fun to drive

While Tesla hasn't revealed the exact power of the Model Y destined for the UK market as yet, the Performance version is expected to get the same 455bhp as the Tesla Model 3 Performance. Nobody is ever likely to describe it as lacking in speed, with a 0-60mph time in the region of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 150mph. There's instant acceleration when you press the throttle, followed by sustained acceleration that a Mercedes-AMG C63 or BMW M3 would struggle to match. 

The Long Range version isn't quite as unhinged, with around 345bhp getting it from 0-60mph in just under five seconds and on to a top speed of 135mph; step out of the Model Y Performance and it almost feels slow. The car feels taller than the low-slung Model 3 but there's still almost no body lean in corners, thanks to the low centre of gravity of the battery pack beneath your feet. There's some feel of the wheels and road through the steering too, keeping the driver in touch with what the Model Y is doing. 

Regenerative braking as you release the accelerator can be adjusted and in its maximum setting, it slows the Model Y noticeably, negating the need to use the brake pedal in most circumstances. It takes a bit of getting used to when first making the switch from a petrol or diesel model but quickly makes sense and can become rather addictive as energy is put back into the battery to improve range.

Interior & comfort

 Clever tech abounds but not everyone will like the minimalist design

The Model Y's interior is virtually identical to the Model 3, although you will notice the extra headroom. The raised seating position also makes getting in and out easier, and the extra space helps the Model Y feel airier inside, especially for those in the back seats, who also get to enjoy a larger panoramic roof.

The dashboard is the epitome of minimalism, with just a large central touchscreen; if you look through the steering wheel there are no dials or screens . Everything from the media system to the climate control and wipers are controlled either by the screen, controls on the steering wheel or column stalks. The 15-inch display is impressive, with Tesla's own software that works well and is frequently updated. It also has some pretty unique features, including the ability to show streaming entertainment like Netflix while parked up or play console-style computer games.

It's not perfect, however, and material quality is still off the pace of rivals like the Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace. It's also likely that trim options will be limited for the Model Y when it arrives in the UK, with far fewer ways to add features or personalise the interior than those offered by manufacturers like Audi.

Practicality & boot space

 A taller roofline and hatchback boot help boost practicality

We've mentioned that the Model Y's taller roof means passengers have more headroom than in the Model 3, which makes it possible for adults to sit comfortably in the back seats. The electric 'skateboard' under the car helps here because there's less intrusion into the interior, resulting in a flat floor and a longer interior than that of a traditional SUV of a similar size. 

Along with its SUV looks and raised seating position, most buyers will choose a Model Y for its improved practicality. Along with its frunk (storage space under the bonnet), a hatchback tailgate is likely to appeal to UK buyers more than the Model 3's saloon version, creating a much bigger opening to load in bulky items. Its three-part rear bench also folds down electronically. Tesla has also hinted that a third row will be available to make the Model Y a seven-seater but this hasn't been confirmed yet, and it also doesn't look like there'll be much space, so they're likely to be limited to children. 

Reliability & safety

 Safety is excellent but the Model Y's build quality feels patchy compared with rivals

While the Model Y hasn't appeared in our Driver Power reliability survey yet, the Model 3 came 18th out of the top 75 models. However, strong scores in other areas offset a poor performance for exterior and interior build quality. It scored very highly for running costs and gained a category win for its powertrain, while practicality also impressed - an area in which the Model Y should do even better.

It's a similar story for safety, where the Model 3 has been crash-tested but it's unlikely the Model Y will be scrutinised by Euro NCAP just yet. The Model 3 scored an impressive 96% for adult occupant protection, along with a very high 94% rating in the Safety Assist category.  

The Model Y also gets the same Autopilot semi-autonomous driver aids, so it's covered in numerous sensors and cameras that can help the driver avoid collisions and take over some driving tasks on well-marked roads. 

(carbayer.co.uk)

New Volkswagen T-Roc Active 2021 review

The new Volkswagen T-Roc Active trim adds extra kit to the small SUV for not much more money

Verdict

Active trim adds worthwhile extra kit and boosts the level of value on offer in the T-Roc range. It’s an attractive small SUV that’s complemented by enough tech, comfort and fundamentally sound driving dynamics, but we’d save even more money and go for the more efficient 1.0 TSImanual model, which will still offer enough power for most users.

Special editions sometimes mean that sales are slow. After all, why would you risk tweaking something that is making money? However, the application of a new Active trim level has occurred right across the Volkswagen range, and the manufacturer’s T-Roc compact SUV has definitely benefited from these alterations – or more to the point, customers have.

That’s because at £27,490 for this 1.5-litre TSI 150 EVO car equipped with VW’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic DSG gearbox, the Active model is only £300 more expensive than SE trim, yet it comes with extra kit to the value of £2,160 if you were going to add it as optional extras.

This includes a winter pack, featuring heated seats, a powered tailgate, foglights, tinted windows and standard-fit sat-nav as part of the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on SE trim as well as with Active, which might be many people’s preferred choice for navigation.

Other standard items include adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous braking and lane assist, plus two-zone climate control.

It is worth mentioning that, while Active trim does add plenty of features, one option that’s still worth specifying is the £445 10.3-inch digital dashboard.

This new trim also brings some cosmetic upgrades, including lots of Active badging outside, Active sill plates and puddle lighting, and 17-inch wheels. They’re small tweaks that you might not notice, but with a contrast roof our car looked smart.

From behind the wheel the Active is no different to any other T-Roc, which means that the 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI turbo engine is smooth and pulls well from low down. Sometimes the DSG gearbox is a bit too eager to kick down if you go beyond around 50 per cent throttle, but at a relaxed pace it shifts smoothly and early. It’s an equally easy-going partner to the engine, which delivers easily accessible performance in a sustained surge and with not too much in the way of engine noise either.

The ride is fine on 17-inch alloys. The T-Roc is based on the same MQB A0 platform as VW’s Polo supermini, and while the ride is sometimes a little bobbly, it’s mostly good. Some tyre roar at higher speed impacts refinement, but comfort is a commodity the T-Roc offers in large enough quantities for an everyday SUV.

It’s also relatively precise when it comes to handling. Cars like the Ford Puma or MINI Countryman will be more fun from behind the wheel, yet the T-Roc’s light but precise steering and good level of grip mean it delivers enough dynamically. As a result,while it rarely feels inspiring or encourages you to drive it a little more enthusiastically, it also rarely feels out of its depth.

On that subject, we know most people looking at SUVs in this sector will buy on finance anyway, so with a monthly cost of £274 based on a three-year PCP deal limited to 10,000 miles per year and a 20-per-cent deposit, the T-Roc Active is an affordable model, even if the lesser 1.0-litre TSI 110 manual car would be more than adequate in performance terms,  more efficient and cheaper still to buy.

 The powertrain doesn’t affect the practicality on offer though. So, with a rear cabin that can accommodate two adults but is better suited to children, plus a fair 445-litre boot that eclipses a VW Golf’s (it’s understandable why people buy SUVs when you analyse the info), the T-Roc is a fairly versatile machine. It should cover most bases, including if you’re after a small lifestyle SUV, as the Active name suggests.
Model: Volkswagen T-Roc 1.5 TSI EVO DSG Active
Price: £27,490
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque: 148bhp/250Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Top speed: 127mph
Economy: 44.1mpg
CO2: 148g/km
On sale: Now

(autoexpress.co.uk)

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