2021 Ford Bronco Sport Carries On The Tradition

The Ford Bronco Sport is the tamer brother in the “Bronco Family” of vehicles (that can be a good thing). By the way, yes the Bronco name plate is no longer just a model, but also sub-brand of purpose built off-road vehicles from Ford. Similar to Mustang being the on-road performance brand.

While the new regular Ford Bronco is designed to be an extreme and versatile off-road vehicle like the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco Sport is designed to be a little more civilized. It is akin to the Jeep Cherokee. Both of these SUV’s will get you out of the mud and sand, or through a snow storm using 4X4 drive modes and locking rear differentials. However I would leave rock crawling to their muscular brothers. By default, the Bronco Sport is front wheel drive. The rear wheels only engage when the vehicle’s computer detects a loss of traction. Even when you press the 4X4 “lock button,” the Bronco Sport is front wheel bias. This is likely due to the fact that the Bronco Sport shares many of its drivetrain components with the Ford Escape.

The Bronco Sport has dynamite exterior look. One that makes you feel adventurous, like you can conquer any mountain. But what is great is that it can also comfortably fit a family of four with luggage. Its off-road manners are equally as good as its on-road manners. Think of it as the perfect car to take on a Boy Scout camping trip to another state. You will look like a cool Dad and keep up on the trails without having to sacrifice comfort or interior space.

My pre-production test vehicle was quite bare, but nothing felt cheap on the vehicle. All of the materials were high quality, even the cloth seats and use of interior plastics. All of the controls are intuitive, and the on screen visuals of the instrument cluster and central infotainment system cool. Occupants get a nice little animation of a Bronco every time you start the vehicle – it makes the Bronco badge feel all the more special.

The Bronco Sport starts at around $27,000. So if you are in the market for an everyday off-road vehicle, suitable for both weekend adventures and commutes to soccer practice, the Bronco Sport is definitely worth a test drive.

The first ever 4XE: The Jeep Wrangler Goes Electric

The future is electric vehicles, there is no doubt about that. Certain parts of the European Union, as well as California have gone on record banning the sales of gasoline powered vehicles at a future date. Electric vehicle are great when it comes to saving the planet and lowering your cost per mile, but they are terrible for road (or off-road) trips. If you are in the middle of nowhere, an electrical outlet is hard to come by. Also, electric vehicles take forever to charge. This is why I am a fan of electric plugin hybrid vehicles. It gives you the freedom to use both gasoline or electric depending on your needs.

Luckily, Jeep has recognized the dual-purpose practicality of the Wrangler and has given us a vehicle that an act as an electric car around town, and act as a gasoline vehicle when in the middle of nowhere. To test how well it works, Jeep sent me the Wrangler Rubicon 4XE. The “E” stands for electric, because you can drive this Jeep at highway speeds for up to 20 miles without a single ounce of pollution. Past the 20 mile mark, a powerful, but fuel efficient gasoline motor picks up the pace by both driving the wheels and charging the batteries. The batteries are also able to charge using regenerative braking. The system worked flawlessly for me, with smooth transitions for both braking and power types (gasoline vs electric). I frequently forgot that I was driving on electric. In Hybrid Mode with a fully battery, the Jeep Wrangle Rubicon 4XE will intelligently switch between electric and gasoline drivetrains based upon maximizing fuel economy. When aggressive on the throttle, electric motors act as turbo chargers to give you that extra bit of pep.

To highlight the specialness of the Wrangle Rubicon 4XE, Jeep gave this vehicle cool blue touches on both the interior exterior: special decals, blue outlines on the lettering, blue tow hooks, and thick blue stitching on the interior. This Jeep feels extra uniquely special, which is refreshing because most hybrid versions just “borify” a vehicle. The only downside of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4XE is the cost. My test vehicle was priced at just over $61,000, which is super reasonable for a sporty plug-in hybrid, but really expensive for a Wrangler that is going to traverse through mud and go rock crawling in the desert.

The 2021 Subaru Legacy Is The Best Sedan In Its Class

In all honesty, the 2021 Subaru Legacy is not the best looking car in this segment. It is not bad, but it isn’t the best. For instance, the exterior lines are nice, but boring. And the cabin has been drastically improved over previous versions, but it doesn’t hit the mark when compared to KIA’s jaw dropping interior design.

However, if you are more concerned with overall quality than style, then the Subaru Legacy should be your #1 draft pick. The ride quality and comfort are second to none in this segment. Bumps in the road a mitigated and the seats are plush, yet supportive. I could drive all day long in this Subaru without getting tired. The Legacy also steers really well; it is responsive with the right amount of feedback. When going around corners, the vehicle feels well-balanced for non-sports sedan. Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system also helps keep you firmly planted on the road. Everything else about this vehicle is solid, from its accident avoidance system to it’s sound system. The build quality reminds me of a Lexus, yet you can get a Legacy for 1/2 the price.

I am not in the market for a economy sedan, but if I were, I would have already signed on dotted line for 2021 Subaru Legacy.

The 2021 Lincoln Aviator Seats Are Amazing!

I am normally not a fan of large SUVs. They are harder to park and you have be more careful when changing lanes on the highway. Plus, I love sports cars, and large SUVs are the exact opposite. However, the front seats on the 2021 Lincoln Aviator Black Label have stolen my heart. They are incredibly comfortable!

You have to get the Black Label or Black Label Grand Touring trim levels though, but the seats are different in the lower level models. The Lincoln Aviator Black Label’s seats are large and plush, but supportive, like you would find on a luxury private jet. Unlike most jets though, you can adjust the Aviator Black Label’s seats in 12 different ways. You can conform them to hug you or contort them give you the ideal support. I am convinced that my posture improved every time I drove the Aviator. With these seats, it is completely unnecessary, but their is an optional massaging feature. So after a long day at the office in an uncomfortable chair, you can release the stress of the day.

The rest of the vehicle exuberates luxury with definitive lines and a powerful stance. Despite its large size, the Lincoln Aviator is easier to drive than it looks. It offers great visibility, and with its 360 degree camera, it is easy to park.

I would say that the 2021 Lincoln Aviator Black Label is a must drive for anyone with a bad back or for drivers who sit in the car hours at a time.

2021 Kia Seltos Review

I am not a fan of the name, but I love the exterior and interior styling on the Kia Seltos. This well priced ($22k to $26k) economy compact crossover looks it should be on display at the New York Auto Show instead of my driveway for a week. The wheels look absolutely amazing, with a great design and red center cap accents. They remind me of top-level race cars with center-locking wheels. The black a-pillar, b-pillar, and roof give the Kia Seltos a luxury look. It reminds me of a Range Rover.

The overall interior on the Kia Seltos is a bit more conservative, however it does use a range both low-end and premium materials. The higher-quality materials obviously dresses up the vehicle. The aggressive exterior design cues are extended into the cabin on the doors, which progressive door handles and a unique speaker cover design. The vehicle can comfortably fit four adults, however I felt a little cramped in the vehicle. My knees kept hitting the steering column when getting in and out.

The Kia Seltos drives well for the price point, and it looks stylish, so I would say it is good car for first-time new car buyers.

2021 Chevy Tahoe and 2021 GMC Yukon

I was privileged to recently spend time with both the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 GMC Yukon. Most automotive journalists will point out that these vehicles are near identical, with the same platform, engine and transmission. While that is true, I think the nuances of each brand give both vehicles character.

The 2021 GMC Yukon is more athletic. It is seemingly more rugged, as if it was design to work on a job site or farm. This was highlighted with the Yukon’s deep tread tires, higher ride height, and stiffer suspension.

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe on the other hand is more refined. The exterior body panels are more sculpted, and you get a prettier grill. The suspension appears to be a little softer, and the tires are quieter, with less road noise coming into the cabin.

The interior on both the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 GMC Yukon deliver a premium feel, with leather on the seats, arm rests, and steering wheel. The dash is not leather, but its high quality material combined with contrast stitching on both vehicles offer a heightened sense of luxury.

Both vehicles are large, but they are easier to drive than they look. They offer great visibility from the windows and mirrors, plus there are cameras to help you navigate parking spots. You, along with the rest of your family will enjoy the SUVs’ size for road trips. Six large adults, plus the dog can easily spend hours on the road.

I would personally pick the GMC over the Chevy, because I like the GMC’s sport nature. However you can’t go wrong with either vehicle.

First Drive: The 2022 Infiniti QX55 Is Dressed To Impress

With styling cues that pay homage to the very first performance crossover, the QX55 is a showstopper in the modern crossover/suv world. The vehicle is structurally very similar to the QX50, but the QX55 is sleeker and more modern. It is essentially the “sport coupe” version of the QX50. The vehicle looks like a proper Infiniti with bold line, enhanced by chrome trim and LED lights in the front and rear. Specifically the piano key tail lights.

The interior elements of the Infiniti QX55 compliments the striking exterior lines. My favorite color combination is black on red, because it exemplifies the sporty look of the vehicle. The modern elegance of the QX55 was bolstered by aluminum trim details and soft touch plastics instead of old-school wood trim. There is also 3 digital displays to showcase navigation, audio, and climate control all at once. Most people work using multiple monitors, so it is fitting to have multiple display at your finger tips inside the vehicle.

While the Infiniti QX55 is one of the most beautiful crossovers on the market, the looks don’t match the driving dynamics. It feels planted on the road and it is no slouch, but the 268 horsepower turbo-charged 4-cylinder motor was underwhelming for such a sporty looking vehicle. To make matters worse, the QX55 uses a CVT transmissions which offers a smooth power delivery, but lacks the drama of a traditional automatic or dual-clutch transmission. Also the steering felt a little numb. However, if you don’t care about 0 to 60 mph times, then the QX55 is winner.

The cherry on top of the Infiniti QX55 is its standard equipment and price point. For less than $50,000, every QX55 comes standard with a leatherette interior and 20” wheels. For reference, 20” wheels are a $4,000 option on the Porsche Macan. The QX55 also comes standard with all-wheel drive and an assortment of technology and safety upgrades that are often times options for other vehicles. Notable upgrades include leather seats and a 16-speaker BOSE sounds system.

For luxury buyers that want to challenge the norm, while being on the forefront of style and technology, the Infiniti QX55 is a solid choice.

One Size Fits All: The New Land Rover Defender

My one week with the new Land Rover Defender was nothing short of fantastic. That is because the new Defender does everything really, really well. Typically with factory built extreme off-roaders, manufacturers have to have compromises. The iconic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon for instance can conquer any terrain, but it doesn’t feel planted like car at excess highway speeds.

What you drive says a lot about you, especially in a white collar professional setting. Getting out of an F150 Raptor in a suit and tie, looks weird. It is like guys wearing dark denim shorts. So if you are dressing for success, your vehicle should too. With all of its British charm, I was able to easily rock a blazer with the Land Rover Defender everyday and not be embarrassed in the parking lot or around clients. The Defender’s unique exterior style looks sophisticated with a hint of sport. It is stylish, even amongst rows of $100,000 SUVs from BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, and Bentley.

The interior of the new Land Rover Defender is brilliantly designed with a modern look and sporty accents, such as exposed bolts and body color trim. The build quality of the interior felt solid, with each piece held firmly in place and minimal gaps. All of the materials felt like they were made with high-quality properties. Even the doors has a nice solid feel with you closed them. The only thing I didn’t like is Land Rover’s use of synthetic materials for the seats, dash, and doors on the Defender. I would have expected a $70k+ vehicle to be equipped with at least leather seats. My co-workers and other occupants didn’t mind. In fact they quite enjoyed how spacious and airy the backseat felt.

My test vehicle was equipped with an inline 6-cylinder motor that pumps out nearly 400 horsepower and over 400 pounds of torque. And with a 0 to 60 time of 5.8 seconds, this means the Land Rover Defender is almost as fun on-road as it is off-road. The Defender felt peppy despite its curb weight exceeding 5,000 pounds. It was fun zipping around town in a perfectly sized SUV; small and agile enough to navigate congested city streets, but big enough to feel safe. The ride quality was suburb at any speed thanks to its adjustable suspension. Even at excess speeds on the highway, the Defender feels incredibly planted and comfortable, like it is designed for a 1,000 mile road trip. With a first and second row seating only configuration, the Defender has enough cargo space for a month long vacation.

The Land Rover Defender actually walks the walk and talks the talk. It is not just post SUV pretending to be an off-road *cough Bentley Bentayga cough.* The Defenders proper off-road pedigree shines through with an adjustable ride-height of 11.5” and 38 degree approach angle. It also has locking differentials and a low-speed transfer case. Plus its rugged construction, makes it better suited than anything else on the market, including its posh big brother, the Range Rover. The only thing that comes close is the Wrangler, but the Defender won’t beat you up on the trails. For novice off-roaders, Land Rover’s terrain response system will automatically adjust the cars settings based upon sensor readings. The Land Rover Defender can even go through 34” of water with ease. So next time you have to cross a shallow river, choose the new Defender over a boat.

This vehicle is so good, the new Land Rover Defender might just find a permeant home in my driveway.

Follow Jonathan on Instagram to see what he is driving next @JonathanReviews

The last (and only) great station wagon, Mercedes E450 Wagon

There was a time in America where families pilled into a station wagon for their annual family road trip. It was big, comfortable, and fuel efficient. Memories were created at each stop, and each mile offered a relaxing way to come together as a family. There was also plenty of room for luggage and the family dog. Outside of road trips, Moms could use the family wagon to take the kids to soccer practice, and Dads could use the family wagon for home improvement projects. All of this was later replaced with minivans and then by SUVs. While both of these modes of transportation are great from a utility standpoint, nothing compares to the drivability, fuel economy, and comfort of a station wagon.

For a week, I got to experience the forgotten love of a station wagon in the Mercedes-Benz E450 Wagon. Because of its low riding architecture, the E450 Wagaon drives a sedan. It is quite and superiorly stable at high speeds. 100 mile commutes are no more fatiguing than a short trip to the grocery store. The vehicle glides with ease under the power of a 362 horsepower inline-6 cylinder. It is by no means a sports car, but it is peppy. And around corners, there is no fear of rolling over.

I rarely fall in love with 4-door vehicles, but I absolutely smitten with the Mercedes-Benz E450 Wagon’s interior. The designo package with quilted stitched seats and nappa leather on the dash delivers an S-Class quality interior with utility of a 3-row wagon. It also rides like a buttery smooth S-Class, with adaptive air suspension. Its load-leveling and adjustable ride height ensure the drive and passengers a leisurely drive no matter what you are hauling. My test vehicle also had optional massaging seats, like on the S-Class. Which means after a long day of sitting at the office, you can refresh yourself while waiting in the carpool line at your child’s school.

The E450 Wagon’s only real competition comes in the form of the Audi A6 allroad and Porsche Panamera Sport Turisumo. Both are fantastic vehicles, but the Audi misses the mark in terms of stateliness, and the $98,000 Porsche is more of a sports cars than a luxury vehicle. If I were a Dad, the Mercedes-Benz E450 Wagon would be the vehicle I would buy.

Too much horsepower??? Never! 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody Review

The Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody may have way more horsepower than the rear wheels can handle, but it makes the car all the more fun to drive. Off the line, this 800 horsepower (797 to be exact) visceral cat will leave every 12 year old boy from here to Detroit grinning ear to ear. It is the last true iconic American muscle car.

With that much horsepower, the only safe way to test the vehicle’s limits is on a closed road. The real-wheel-drive Hellcat Redeye can easily go sideways if you are not careful. Plus with a reported 0 to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of over 200mph, you can easily loose your license on public roads. Luckily for me, the city of Pompano Beach offered to loan me their airport for a few hours for testing. So in old-fashion Top Gear style, I got to work.

Under the hood of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody is a supercharged 6.2L V8 HEMI engine. Even though it has “the most powerful mass-produced engine in the world,” it isn’t actually the quickest sedan. That is because all of the power is going to the rear wheels versus an all-wheel-drive platform like on the less powerful BMW M5 for example. However, real-wheel-drive cars are always more fun to drive. This means when trying to launch the Hellcat Redeye as fast as possible, you either need a delicate foot or launch control. Or you just say the hell with it, and you have fun burning tire tread and creating smoke. During my comprehensive testing at the Pompano Beach airport, I couldn’t actually get the car to do 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, my tests came closer to 3.8 seconds with launch control. But I think that was because I was on a set of well used Pirelli tires. A fresh set of sticky rubber could easily make up the difference.

I also couldn’t get “the fastest sedan in the world” up to 200 mph, but that is just because I didn’t have a long enough runway available. Because of the sheer force of acceleration when the rear tires lock into grip, I have no doubt that this un-earthly machine can take you 1/3 of the way from breaking the sound barrier.

At the end of each tarmac run, my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head due to the Hellcat Redeye’s massive Brembo six-piston brakes. The force is matched to what you can expect from a Ferrari race car, but enhanced due to the 4,600 pound weight of the vehicle. During the entire test, I didn’t experience an ounce of brake fade even though I could feel them working hard to slow down this friend sedan from 150+ mph to 0 mph.

The comparatively heavy weight of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye means that the now standard widebody is a must for corners. Its ultra-wide tires allow the Hellcat Redeye to claw around corners. The car doesn’t feel nimble, but it could handle its own around a race track against the finest competition. The Hellcat Redeye Widebody with the majority of its weight in front, is naturally a understeer car. It pushes on each corner. However if you can drive by the seat of your pants, you can easily get the rear end to swing out, offering you and your passenger the ride of your lives.

Typically you would be looking at north of six figures for any vehicle with over 500 horsepower. But you can pick up the 800 horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody for less than $80,000. Sure the interior is filled with plastic trim, but this is a car you can take to the drag strip, use on a road course, drift competitively, and pick the kids up from school all in the same day. I call that a win!

A special thank you to the City of Pompano Beach for letting me borrow part of your airport for testing and photos. As always, thank you to Dodge for loaning me the 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody to drive for a week. I hope I didn’t burn too much rubber 🙂