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 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

2020 BMW X1 versus Mercedes GLB

I was lucky enough to get a back-to-back sampling of the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250, each for a one week test. Both crossovers represent their respective German luxury automakers’ most affordable SUV offering. Both offer admission to the marque, while also delivering the full brand experience.

For the record: Technically Mercedes’ cheapest SUV offering is the GLA, however the GLA is more of a small station wagon on stilts. Akin to the Audi A4 Allroad. So the GLB is what you want if you want an SUV feel.

Luxury & Style

Both of my test vehicles exuded entry-level luxury, with leather seats and real wood or aluminum trim. However, the fit and finish on the Mercedes GLB was better. The design language felt brand new, and resembled styling from a modern S-Class Mercedes. The exterior felt sculpted. Whereas the BMW, while nice, the design language felt typical of a BMW from 10 years ago. It looks and feels very traditional, which isn’t a bad thing. Winner: Mercedes  Click Here To Continue Reading

The 2020 Range Rover Velar Delivers Even More: Now With Supercharged V8 Goodness

Look out Range Rover Sport, your little sister is getting an upgrade. The Velar is arguably the beauty queen of the Land Rover family. Its perfect proportions and minimalistic styling, make it worthy of a museum piece. Even the door handles pop in and out in order to not detract from its sleek lines. While the Range Rover Velar is a very capable off-road, its fun is better suited to wet or dry tarmacs. Leave it to the regular Range Rover or the Range Rover Sport if you really want to go rock crawling with their locking differentials and low-speed transfer cases.

My test vehicle for this review is the model range topping Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition. It is a brand new trim for the 2020 model year. The biggest standard equipment enhancement is the 5.0 L supercharged V8, which pumps out 550 horsepower and 502 pounds of torque. The engine transforms the Velar from a beautiful SUV, into a beautiful machine that eats sports cars for breakfast. That, combined with lighter wheels and a calibrated 8-speed gearbox, mean that the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It sounds absolutely incredible when you smash the gas pedal thanks to a sports-tuned quad exhaust. Click Here To Continue Reading

Alfa Romeo delivers on a track worthy SUV

Outside of hauling a race car to the track, SUVs typically don’t deserve a spot in the paddock. There are a few exceptions, and the 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is one of them.

It is a true performance machine, capable out pacing many sports cars. To start, under the hood is a comparatively small 2.9L twin-turbo V6 that pumps out an outstanding 505 horsepower. This paired with an 8-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive. The 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is quicker off the line than the new Porsche 911, yet it can hold four full-grown adults with their luggage in the rear. It also handles surprisingly well with super sticky wide Pirelli tires. Click Here To Continue Reading