Category Archives: Car Reviews

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic Sedan

Restyled and sporty C class may again spur sedan sales …

The compact C Class sedan has been a hot seller for Mercedes-Benz for years, but its popularity has waned like yesterday’s boy band the last couple years and one has to wonder how much of that is because it hadn’t been redesigned in seven years.

That and the fact crossovers and SUVs are eating all sedans lunch these days in the U.S. market where bigger is always better.

Well, Mercedes will get its answer soon enough as it launched a restyled C Class for 2022. It’s sporty and touts an interior that you’ll either love, or strongly dislike. Hate is such a loaded word.

My tester was a black C 300 4Matic sedan, but be aware a coupe and convertible also are available, yet look more like the previous generation C Class as they have yet to be restyled.

Mercedes stretched the car two inches and lengthened its wheelbase an inch while widening it just a bit. The philosophy is old-school, longer, wider, lower. That formula has worked for various brands through the years.

I enjoyed how the C 300 drives. Its 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged I4 is perky with just slight turbo lag, even in Sport and Sport+ drive modes. This is no dragster, but there’s some kick and the engine sounds throaty and fun at high revs, albeit a bit tinny at idle.

Pressing the 255-horse turbo and Mercedes’ 9-speed automatic into service on the freeway was both smooth and speedy. The German automaker claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds and the C quickly galloped to 90 mph on a highway entry ramp, with more power still available. The C 300 can be pushed a bit and easily slips in and out of freeway traffic.

Plus the four-link front suspension and multi-link rear are finely tuned for crumbling Midwest roads so that even on the crumbliest of streets the ride was pleasant and well controlled. If only more crossovers and SUVs were this competent.

View Mark’s video: 2022 Mercedes Benz C 300 4Matic Sedan review by Mark Savage and Paul Daniel – YouTube

Handling is lightly weighted and nicely sharp if not sports sedan precise. This doesn’t feel like a BMW because it’s a Mercedes, so leans more toward luxury. Press the Dynamic button on the center stack’s base and either Sport or Sport+ mode will significantly firm steering effort, but never to a tiresome level. To me, Sport seems the best mode as it quickens acceleration, while firming the steering enough to feel more, well, sporty.

Add in the 4Matic AWD system and the 19-inch tires for excellent grip. We had some snow and sleet to contend with during my test. The car handles tight twisties well even with slop under its treads.

Note that the test car added the 19-inch tires and fancy blacked out spoked AMG style wheels. Those wheels add just $600 to the bottom line, quite reasonable for a spiffed look. But beware, there are viele extras here that push the C 300 to near upper-level luxury pricing.

Speaking of which, before we get to the spiffy interior, Mercedes has priced the C 300 at $46,600 for the 4Matic model, while a rear-driver starts at $44,600, so a $2 grand premium for AWD. At that price the car is at the upper edge of low-end luxury models. For instance, a Genesis G70, a lovely car, starts at about $39,000.

But Mercedes likes to sell its vehicles with ala carte options and the test car’s 16 add-ons could make one woozy. They propelled this one to $60,870. Ach du lieber! Choices are plentiful between the base and $60+ grand, including Volvo’s S60, BMW’s 3 Series, the Audi A4, Cadillac CT5 and Lexus IS.

Pricing be damned though if you love this interior.

The layout is bold and brassy and ladles on the digital finery with the best of them. But the impressive (or some say no) look starts with a $1,620 black and red leather package. Seats and doors reflect both colors and then there’s the glammy spray of metal-weave trim across the dash’s face and on the expansive center console. Other trim, such as door armrests and five oval-shaped air ducts is a satin chrome. Add in stylish aluminum speaker covers in the doors and the interior sparkles like a jeweled timepiece.

I like the two-tone look, although some may think it comes on too strong like a guy wearing an overabundance of Versace cologne. But compared with Mercedes’ all-black interiors of the past this is a breath of fresh air. Tan and cream would look smart too, but be less dramatic.

Beyond looks Mercedes updates the digital screens, a 12+ inch display for the driver’s instruments and separate nearly 12-inch info touchscreen angled toward the driver at mid center stack. They are high-def and the driver’s can be adjusted to reflect the dial structure and colors a person desires, including one allowing the nav map to appear mid-gauges. I like digitals, but sometimes there are too many choices and many look pretty flat.

The touchscreen was easy enough to use, but there are haptic touchable controls, so you swipe a button on the steering wheel to boost radio sound, or lower it. Also one can swipe a finger along the trough in the roof control panel to open or shut the dual panoramic sun roofs ($1,000 extra). That one was OK, but adjusting the radio sound took a lot of tiny swipes to reach a proper sound level. Dials my friends, dials work.

Rear seat passengers also were concerned that their sunroof shade closed in synch with the front roof’s. They wanted a separate control so they could leave theirs open when the driver had closed the main roof’s shade.

I can’t say enough good things about the power heated seats and their supportive side and back bolsters. Wow, these were terrific, just a scrunch less snug than Aunt Hilda’s hug at the holidays.

There are three memory settings along with power seat controls on the door panels, but I found them a bit clunky to operate, sometimes not responding with the angle I was hoping to adjust. Again, simplicity may be a better solution. Good news though, the heated seat button is on the door and is simple to push. It also turns on the heated steering wheel ($250 extra), a must in our climate. Oddly no cooled seats in this luxury sedan.

Rear seats are comfy enough, but headroom is a bit tight for taller riders. Still, we got three adults in the back seat and only the middle rider complained of the big transmission hump at the floor’s center.

No one complained about noise inside the Benz, thanks to acoustic glass, a $150 option. This interior is quiet enough for easy conversation, even at highway speeds.

Cargo room is good too as the Benz has a deep trunk (with a power lid). I think it’ll hold more than the 12.6 cubic foot rating Mercedes places on it. Below the floor is a lot of hidden cargo space too, something you won’t find in any hybrid or electric sedans. Speaking of which, neither is available in the C Series yet, although there’s a mild hybrid system here like some other akes are using.

The hybrid battery smooths the Stop/Start function, plus the electric motor between the engine and transmission (Integral Starter Generator in Mercedes terms), allows the sedan to cruise without using gas at highway speeds. That extends gas mileage. The EPA rates this at 33 mpg highway and 23 city. I managed 26.0 in a fairly even mix and the C 300 prefers premium petrol.

A few other points to ponder, Mercedes adds a wireless charger, but it costs $200 extra and it’s tucked deep inside the center console, so not easy to see or simply use. Good news though, the car warns you if you’ve left your phone once the ignition is turned off.

I also confused the gear shift stalk on the steering column’s right (very old school) with a wiper stalk. That’s on the left combined with the light function. Took a few days to remember not to tap the gear shift when I wanted to clear the windshield though.

Maybe I should have first used the Ask Mercedes (like Siri) function. It talks to you whenever you want. Just ask it questions although it often says it can’t help. You can, however, tell it to do things like adjust the heat, radio, and maybe I could have sought wiper assistance.

Standard safety equipment here is a bit slim too, including blind-spot assist, attention assist (kept saying the camera wasn’t working), and a rearview camera (standard on all vehicles now). But much of the rest is included in two pricey packages. The driver assistance option costing $1,950 includes active assists for distance, steering, lane change, lane keeping, evasive steering, emergency stop, speed limit and cross-traffic, along with route-based speed adaptation. Similar items are often standard on even lower cost vehicles. I’m thinking Toyota, Honda and Hyundai/Kia.

Another $950 package adds parking pilot with a cool surround view camera and the Parktronic parking sensor system.

A Burmester surround sound system adds $650, which as these things go isn’t a bad price. Cost for premium sound in other makes can run up to $3,500 extra.

Finally a $3,050 AMG Line with Night package adds blacked out body trim, sport pedals, fake leather dash, but also tunes the suspension and steering to contribute to this model’s sporty feel. The package also drills holes in the disc brakes for faster cooling in case you’ll be racing on weekends. Likewise it also adds a lower nose splitter and rear diffuser.

All those add-ons are nice, but sadly they pushed the C 300 to beyond $60 grand. If you can keep this shy of $50,000 it’s in the correct pricing segment for entry-level luxury.

FAST STATS: 2022 Mercedes Benz C 300 4Matic Sedan

Hits: Sporty feel, quiet and gorgeous interior, composed ride and AWD grip. Panoramic sunroofs, heated seats and wheel, cool dash with large info screen, wireless charger, super comfy supportive seats, power trunk lid and multiple drive modes.

Misses: Cost, haptic touch controls and touchscreen do not respond to a gloved hand, wireless charger awkward to access, no cooled seats, seat controls a bit funky to adjust, no separate control for rear sunroof, shifter stalk can be confused for a wiper adjustment initially.

Made in: Bremen, Germany, & South Africa

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 255 hp/295 torque

Transmission: 9speed automatic

Weight: 4,044 lbs.*

Wheelbase: 112.8 in.

Length: 187 in.

Cargo: 12.6 cu.ft.

MPG: 23/33

MPG (tested): 26.0

Base Price: $46,600 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

AMG Power Red/Black leather interior, $1,620

19-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels w/black accents, $600

Illuminated door sills, $150

Panoramic roof, $1000

Heated steering wheel, $250

Satellite radio w/free trial, $350

Advanced USB package, $300

Acoustic glass, $150

Enhanced ambient lighting, $250

Inductive wireless charging, $200

Digital lighting pkg. (projection headlights), $1,100

Multimedia pkg. (nav., augmented video for nav., head-up display), $1,700

Sound pkg. (Burmester 3D surround sound, online music streaming, Sounds personalization), $650

AMG Line w/Night pkg. (AMG body styling, brushed alum. sport pedals, MB-Tex dash, AMG floormats, sport suspension, sport steering, perforated front disc brakes w/MB calipers, high-gloss black elements including front splitter, grille trim, rear diffuser, side mirrors & window trim), $3,050

Driver assistance pkg. (active assists of distance, steering, lane change, lane keeping, evasive steering, emergency stop, speed limit and cross-traffic + route-based speed adaptation), $1,950

DA3 pkg. (parking pilot w/surround view, Parktronic w/active park assist surround view system), $950

Test vehicle: $60,870

Sources: Mercedes-Benz, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

*Car and Driver

#Mercedes-Benz

2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

Plug-in hybrid smooths Wrangler power, boosts mpg …

Jeeps come in all sizes these days and with multiple powerplant choices, the latest of which provided the grunt for the tested 4-door Wrangler Rubicon.

Here the power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 with plug-in hybrid system using a couple electric motors to help boost gas mileage and smooth out acceleration. Jeep calls the hybrid a 4-by-E, emphasizing its legendary 4-wheeling system. I’ve tested 4xe (Jeep’s alphanumeric abbreviation) previously and found it quite effective and efficient.

It extends gas mileage and it’s easy to plug in, even to an old-school 110/120 garage outlet. A charge overnight nets 20 to 25 miles of electric range. If you have a 240-outlet it takes less than 3 hours for a full charge.

The white (only color that doesn’t cost $495 extra) Rubicon arrived just prior to our Christmas meat locker chill down and a full charge was closer to 20 miles, but still, that helps make around-town driving more efficient. Sadly I was limited by the cold on how much charging I could do with another car in the garage. So I mostly ran on gas, leaving me with disappointing mpg, but then again it was below zero for several days, always a hamper on mpg.

What I like about the 4xe is that it runs on hybrid power, a blend of gas and electric, by default. Or press a button on the left dash for all electric, or to Save Electric. One imagines that when playing off-road one might use electric power to smooth acceleration AND avoid emissions in the wilderness, keeping it cleaner for other outdoors lovers.

In addition, running on Save-E allows the engine and brakes to help regenerate some electric power to the batteries. So, for instance, driving around town I went from 10% power to 25%, giving me a couple more miles of electric range that I could kick in when wanted.

Aside from the 4xe system this Wrangler is all Jeep, meaning it’s mostly utilitarian inside, yet not Spartan. There’s a 4WD shift lever to engage for better traction in snow, which was needed and proved helpful, or into low-range settings for mudding and splashing about. One can argue how many folks sinking nearly $70 grand into a Jeep will do that, but by golly one certainly can. In fact, it’ll ford 30 inches of water, if asked.

The little turbo I4 here sounds like it’s working pretty hard and can get rather groany, but power seems fine and definitely smoother when the battery power is helping give it an electric assist from a stop. There’s a lot of road noise too thank to its big off-road tires and the canvass roof overhead.

Watch Mark’s video: 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe review by Mark Savage and Paul Daniel – YouTube

I’d certainly prefer a solid top in winter, but this tester featured Jeep’s amazing Sky One-Touch power top that folds the canvas middle section of the roof back to let in the great outdoors when temps and monsoons allow. This unique feature doesn’t come cheap, a $4,145 option, but includes a rear window defroster and wiper, plus removable rear quarter windows.

Note that the doors are still removable on the Wrangler, but with this special roof the windshield will no longer fold down, a minor point to most of us.

Cool too that Jeep adds four auxiliary buttons below its center stack-mounted info screen and power window controls. That way one can add light bars and other accessories that can easily be programmed to work with a switch.

When off-roading one also can increase suspension travel by disconnecting the sway bar with a button on the stack.

For those of us keeping our SUVs between the highway’s white lines, the Rubicon 4xe is simple to control. The steering is extremely light (good for off-roading), but sufficiently vague to require some extra care when navigating quick turns and corners. The first inch of steering wheel input doesn’t really affect steering direction much.

Ride is generally pretty good, better and quieter than the Bronco I tested last year. But it’s Jeepy due to its two solid axles, so there is some bounce. Yet that is what many of its buyers claim to want as it provides a more exhilarating daily driving experience. Older drivers may prefer to add a cushion to the seats.

Yes, the seats and steering wheel are heated!

Speaking of which, the provided seats are plenty comfy and supportive, at least in front, for daily driving. There’s room for three adults in the rear seat too, although it helps if they are all on speaking terms. Headroom is generous, and limitless if the roof is retracted. Also, cargo room behind the second row seat is ample and the tested Jeep included all-weather floor and cargo mats for $170.

The Rubicon was not without its comfort perks either as heated front seats and a heated steering wheel were part of a $1,195 winter package that also added remote start, a Wisconsin and northern tier favorite. Seats were leather too and the dash was trimmed in a soft material, all black but trimmed in bright blue, the color most car makers use to signify electric battery-aided models. The leather adds $1,995 to the price tag.

That center stack may look intimidating, but it’s pretty simple to use.

While the info screen is modest at 8.4 inches it’s easy to read and use thanks to the UConnect system and large volume and tuning knobs. I had no problem adjusting the screen and its functions, plus it’s not overwhelming like the mega-screens in some SUVs.

Happy news too for off-roaders, there are grab handles all over the place, on A-pillars, dash, etc. Of course for us vertically challenged folks you’ll need one or more of those to enter the high-riding Wrangler as it has no running boards. Yet regular Jeep entry will help build upper body strength.

There are speakers in the solid bar overhead.

I couldn’t find a wireless charger here, but there are plenty of power plugs available. Note too that sun visors are a cheap hard plastic.

Pricing seems to put this in the luxury category when I always envision Wranglers, whether two- or four-door, primarily for serious off-roaders who will cake their wheels in mud.

A base Willys 4xe Sahara model starts at $57,500 including delivery and the upscale High Altitude lists at $63,235. Naturally off-roading is possible with any Wrangler, but the base for the Rubicon 4xe is $60,190 with delivery. The many options on the test SUV pushed this to $69,385, which might stir inhibitions about bouncing it off trees, bushes and rocks.

If not, well, more power to ya! But remember to plug-in every chance you get.

FAST STATS: 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

Hits: Off-road capability, plug-in hybrid, Jeepy looks. Room for five, good storage, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, sway bar disconnect for off-roading and good ground clearance. Light handling, plentiful grab handles, 4 auxiliary buttons, power folding top.

Misses: Pricey, vague steering, bumpy ride, tire noise, noisy engine, no running boards, no wireless charger, low mpg when only using gas.

Nothing says Jeep like the seven-bar grille!

Made in: Toledo, Ohio

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, plug-in hybrid, 375 hp/470 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,318 lbs.*

Wheelbase: 118.4 in.

Length: 188.4 in.

Cargo: 27.7-67.4 cu.ft.

Tow: 3,500 lbs.

MPG: 49 electric-gas/20 gas only

Electric range: 25 miles

MPG: 16.7 (tested, prefers premium)

Base Price: $60,190 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $59,752

Major Options:

Leather seats, wrapped panel bezels, $1,995

Preferred pkg. 29V (Cold weather group, heated front seats, remote-start, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel), $1,195

Trailer tow/heavy-duty electrical group, $995

All-weather mats, $170

Sky One-Touch power top (removable rear quarter windows, rear window defroster, rear wiper/washer, storage bag), $4,145

Integrated off-road camera, $695

Test vehicle: $69,385

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

*=Car and Driver stats

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD

New hybrid is larger, more efficient, family-priced SUV …

Kia’s Sportage just keeps getting bigger and better, and now with a hybrid power system it’s more efficient and still can boast of family-friendly pricing.

That’s a lot!

But Kia and its twin cousin Hyundai have always been about value, generous feature content, top-notch warranties, and more recently about styling. The tested Sportage Hybrid EX AWD checks all of those boxes.

First, it was lengthened by 7.1 inches and its wheelbase stretched by 3.4 inches for this 2023 model. That translates into a better ride and oodles more passenger room in the rear seat and bonkers crazy large cargo space under the power hatch.

EX is the mid-level trim and probably the best deal for pricing and features. It’s loaded, including such goodies as heated outside mirrors, heated front seats and steering wheel, roof rails, a wireless charger and rear USB ports, a navigation system and twin 12.3-inch screen, plus all the safety equipment one now takes for granted, and a touch more.

Outside its profile is ubiquitous SUV, but its nose sets it apart with radical, yet stylish, arrow-shaped wild child headlight surrounds and a bold nose that some may consider a bit much, but when you see all the luxury makes packing garish monster grilles and logos the Kia seems to be whistling the same tune.

Yet it’s the solid performance and excellent fuel economy netted by the hybrid system that make Sportage a must-compare small to mid-size SUV. Worthy competitors are Hyundai’s Tucson, Honda’s CR-V, Mazda’s CX-5, Ford’s Escape, and Toyota’s RAV4.

Kia goes with a tiny 1.6-liter turbo I4 coupled with a hybrid system for power. That nets 227 horsepower that’s smoothly delivered via a 6-speed automatic transmission. No CVT here to slow up acceleration, instead the 6-speed gets right to it and gives the Sportage good low-end power for quick getaways.

Naturally there are several drive modes, including Snow, which locks the center differential and could come in handy in Wisconsin. Of course AWD is standard on this and the SX-Prestige trims of Sportage while the entry-level LX is front-drive, but offers AWD for about $1,800 more.

The hybrid system uses regenerative braking and coasting to repower the batteries to help give the car more oomph from a start and boost gas mileage. The AWD Sportage is rated 38 mpg city and highway because of that system and I got 32.2 mpg in about 60% highway and 40% city driving. Weather was cold and sloppy wet snow for a couple days.

Note a plug-in hybrid model also is available and delivers 34 miles of electric range on a charge. Power is also greater with 261 horsepower on tap.

Ride in this standard hybrid is pleasantly controlled and the lengthened wheelbase certainly plays a roll. Handling is easy too with moderate feedback from the steering, yet the Sportage is easy to control on the highway and I plowed through some blizzard conditions with this one and it never got squirrelly in the fresh snow. There’s slight body lean in tight turns at speed, like most utes.

My only concern kicked in between 45 and about 50 mph when there was a buzz or high-pitched hum that stirred in the cabin. Not sure of its origin, but did not seem to be road noise or wind-related.

Inside, the handsome dark metallic Vesta Blue Sportage looked more upscale than its price tag would insinuate. The dash and door panel tops were soft dark blue material with a cream colored lower section and the synthetic leather seats were also cream. Door armrests and the center armrest/storage box were that Navy blue to give this a sporty two-tone look.

A gray trim spread across the dash and doors too and Sportage’s center console was gloss black and included a wireless charger at its front. Satin chrome door releases and air vents  perked up the interior, giving it a bit of a jeweled look.

The driver’s instrument panel is a 12.3-inch digital number that blends into the 12.3-inch touchscreen that includes navigation and most of the other info screens and radio. It’s all easy to use, but the climate and radio buttons that basically toggle back and forth below the screen are touch-sensitive and mostly wouldn’t engage when I was wearing gloves. Not sure if all carmakers now design their interiors in SoCal, but here in the upper Midwest we wear gloves for 3-4 months every winter. It would be nice to not to have to remove them to adjust the heat and radio.

This is surprising too because Kia and Hyundai usually are better at interior controls than this.

Note too that when the Sportage starts it does not default the info screen to a home page so you can select from the 10 or so screen choices. It goes to one saying which driver (1 or 2) is driving so you know whose settings are installed. Odd!

One more thing. On a snowy day with the wipers and defrosters needing to do their thing the windows kept fogging with the climate controls on automatic. We had three people aboard and I kept switching back to the A/C mode to take the moisture from the air. Odd that the automatic climate didn’t do that for me. First world problem, but still!

Happily the interior is comfy with powered seats up front along with heated seats and a heated steering wheel too. While some Kia seats have been harder than I like these were fine and well-shaped. One minor complaint, while the heated seats and wheel buttons wisely were located on the console, they default to off, so each time you start the car you must remember to re-engage them. Many vehicles now remember such settings and pick up where they left off once the car is restarted.

Certainly the lengthened Sportage is extremely roomy inside, so it’s comfy for four adults and a fifth could fit in back, especially if none are too wide, or are young kids. And cargo room is phenomenal for this size SUV at nearly 40 cubic feet behind the second row. Fold those split seats down and it grows to nearly 74 cu.ft. Wow!

Overhead is a panoramic sunroof, but that’s part of the $1,500 EX Premium package that also includes LED lights inside, the power hatch and twin illuminated vanity mirrors. That later item is mostly standard now throughout the car world.

Add in the $155 floor mats and this EX that started at $32,285 with delivery grew to just $33,860. That’s a bargain for family transport this comfy and efficient. A base front-drive LX starts at $28,505, but the $30,385 AWD model will likely be a better choice in Wisconsin.

Move to the SX-Prestige and you’re looking at $37,485 for a loaded model. Then there’s that 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and the same for its batteries. Remember too that the average new car price is now $45 grand, so these are value-oriented models to be sure.

Consider too that the Sportage EX comes with forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian recognition, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, a driver attention warning, auto high beams, lead vehicle in motion alert, and reverse parking sensors along with cross-traffic alert, blind-spot assist and safe exit warning.

One bell and whistle it could do without is the annoying “Check Rear Seat” chime that sounds to warn you may be leaving a child in the rear seat. Really!

I suppose we’ll have to live with the bells and chimes until the cars all drive themselves completely. Then there may be an alarm to warn us when it’s time to exit the vehicle and if it’s safe to do so. Futurama is here!

FAST STATS: 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD

Hits: Interesting looks, good acceleration that seems less like a hybrid, good ride and handling plus AWD standard. Lengthened model offers good passenger and cargo room, includes heated front seats and steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, big info screen, four drive modes, wireless charger, power hatch, and solid safety equipment.

Misses: Climate/radio touch buttons below screen don’t work when wearing gloves, auto climate didn’t do well defrosting windows with three people in car, “Check Rear Seat” chime annoying, info screen doesn’t default to Home and heated seats and wheel default to off. Annoying buzz between 45-50 mph.

Made in: Gwangju, So. Korea

Cool light styling and nose trim too!

Engine: 1.6-liter turbo I4 hybrid, 227 hp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Weight: 3,896 lbs.

Wheelbase: 108.5 in.

Length: 183.5in.

Cargo: 39.5-73.7 cu.ft.

Tow: 2,000 lbs.

MPG: 38/38

MPG (tested): 32.2

Base Price: $32,285 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $31,666

Major Options:

Carpeted floor mats, $155

EX Premium pkg. (panoramic sunroof, LED interior lights, hands-free hatch, dual illuminated vanity mirrors), $1,500

Test vehicle: $33,860

Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Kia

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB300 4Matic

EV puts a spark in new electric EQB wagon, er, crossover …

Automakers are doing buyers no favors with their insistence on introducing nonsensical alphabet soup when “naming” their vehicles.

German automakers are among the leaders in blending alphanumerics and the latest electric-powered wagon, er crossover, is a prime example, the Mercedes-Benz EQB300. Rolls right off the tongue, no?

To understand this is an electric vehicle one must know that Mercedes is now labeling its EVs as EQs, got it? So this is an electric B series, as in the GLB, which is the gas-powered wagon of the same design. Danke Herr Mercedes.

Know too that for 2023 Mercedes offers three EQBs, the 250, the 300, and 350. At least those ascending numbers are easy to figure in that each signifies more standard features and power that the one below it. The upper two also feature AWD, known to Mercedes as 4Matic, as standard. The base EQB250 is front-drive with just 188 horsepower from its single electric motor.

The 300 and 350 each pack dual electrics to power the front and rear wheels.

The 300 boasts 225 horsepower, while the 350 delivers 288 horses and, according to Mercedes, they will do 0 to 60 mph in 7 and 6 seconds, respectively.

I can attest that the EQB300 is a hoot that’ll scoot. Power delivered via the single-speed transmission is silky smooth and instantaneous. There was even a bit of chirp to the 18-inch tires, and secure traction once we got a little slop on the roads thanks to that AWD. But I can’t emphasize enough the fun of tromping the accelerator and being pushed back into the well-shaped black suede and leather seats, neatly trimmed in red stitching.

The car feels light too, despite its 4,718 pounds, but some of that is due to the low center of gravity it possesses with its heavy battery load cradled in the chassis. Handling is quick and precise. I liken the feel to that of a MINI.

Ride too is well-controlled and comfy as the Benz rides on a 111.3-inch wheelbase and uses McPherson struts and a wishbone arrangement for the front suspension and multi-link in back. Eyeballing the EQB’s petite countenance I expected a harsher ride, but this was pleasant if not plush.

Watch Mark’s video: 2022 Mercedes EQB Suv review by Mark Savage – YouTube

On the practical front there’s a 243-mile range if fully charged and I got 60 miles of range in an overnight charge on my ancient 110/120-volt garage outlet. Bravo! For plug-in hybrids it’s usually just 25-30 miles on such a charge. The Benz is a winner on fast charging and reportedly will do a 10% to 80% charge in 31 minutes on a fast charging system, when you can find one.

To my mind this one is practical for city and moderate travel, say to Madison and back.

For the record the higher powered EQB350 offers just 227 miles of full charge range. Electric range, as with gas engines’ mpg, is reduced substantially the more power their powerplants deliver.

The EQB300 is rated at 104 MPGe in city driving and 98 on the highway, again, you’re expending more power at higher speeds.

But this short wagon is smartly arranged and will haul four people in comfort or two and a load of cargo. In fact, even with the rear seat in place it’ll carry 22 cubic feet of goods, which is more than most mid-size sedans. Power up the hatch and drop those rear seats and that grows to 62 cu.ft., plus loading is easy as this vehicle isn’t a high rider, sort of like a MINI Countryman. Mercedes offers an optional third row, but no, please don’t.

A third-row seat is optional, but please don’t! Good cargo space without it!

As boxy and utilitarian as the exterior is, EQB’s interior is unexpectedly snazzy. There are those previously mentioned sharp seats, and they are well contoured and heated ($500 extra). But the dash is downright flashy with three round brushed metal air vents mid-dash and two more, one on each end of the dash for great looks, and air flow.

The dash and doors feature a diamond-patterned metallic trim and the door pulls and releases are a brushed metal. A fine red lighted piping frames the console, door panels and dash trim too. Sharp, and it complements the red stitching on the seats, dash and steering wheel, which wisely features a flat bottom, just $360 extra.

Overhead are dual sunroofs ($1,500 option), the front being larger than the rear. Seat power controls are located on the door panels too, so easy to reach and adjust.

The digital instrument panel blends into the info screen mid-dash, both just a smidge over 10 inches. And that touchscreen is easy to use and understand, although there’s still a touchpad on the console if you prefer that method. I don’t. It’s redundant.

I do though like that the climate controls are all toggles under the touchscreen, so are easy to adjust on the fly, as are the heated seat buttons mounted by the power seat control panels on the doors. Smart!

In case the default Comfort drive setting is not sufficient for the driver, three other modes are offered, Eco, Snow and Sport. In Sport the EQB nearly takes flight as the acceleration is so frenetic. I liked it, and that too is a toggle, which is simple to use even when wearing gloves. Hey, it’s Wisconsin!

Handsome door panels and easy seat adjustments here!

Naturally the safety systems are standard and prolific, including active brake assist, park assist, high-beam assist, driver attention assist (not touchy at all), blind-spot assist, stability control, and a rearview camera.

What’s missing? No wireless charger, heated steering wheel or cooled seats, and I’d lose that touchpad on the console.

Price is a bit steep too considering the vehicle size and middling looks. The base EQB250 starts at $53,400, the 300 at $57,545, and the 350 model at $61,200. Again those are all 2023 prices with delivery. The test EQB was a 2022, so slightly less, listing at $55,550 with delivery.

Add in the options and it hit $61,650, and that included $800 in unspecified credits. Maybe Mercedes felt bad it was adding $250 for the charging cable and $750 for the gray paint. I mean how else does one charge the vehicle without a cable? And sorry, gray paint is extra?.

The big add-on was the AMG night package that includes an AMG diamond black grille, and high-gloss black elements on the grille, window trim, and outside mirrors. Cost is a strong $2,890. Never mind!

But if smooth power, sporty handling and comfy ride are high on the shopping list for your first EV, you’ll do well to consider an EQB.

FAST STATS: 2022 Mercedes Benz EQB 300 4Matic

Hits: Super quick, excellent handling, controlled ride and AWD. Dual sunroofs, heated seats, cool dash and seat styling, climate control toggles, seat controls on door, quick overnight charging on 110/120 line, easy touchscreen and 4 drive modes.

Misses: Price, overall range, no wireless charger, no cooled seats or heated wheel. Touchpad on console is unnecessary backup system.

Aero-style wheels with star spokes and an MB emblem!

Made in: Hungary

Motors: Dual electric, 225 hp/288 torque

Transmission: Single-speed automatic

Range: 243 miles

Weight: 4,718 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.3 in.

Length: 184.4 in.

Cargo: 22-62.0 cu.ft.

MPGe: 104/98

Base Price: $55,550 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Mountain gray metallic paint, $750

Charging cable, $250

AMG sport steering wheel, $360

Augmented video, $350

Panoramic roof, $1,500

Speed limit assist, $300

Heated front seats, $500

AMG night pkg. (AMG body styling, AMG diamond black grille, high-gloss black elements on grille, window trim and exterior mirrors), $2,890

Credits: -$800

Test vehicle: $61,650

Sources: Mercedes-Benz, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Mercedes-Benz

2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge AWD Ultimate: Bright Theme

Plug-in hybrid XC90 long on luxury, power, efficiency …

Apparently it’s time for me to adjust my thinking on where luxury SUV prices begin and end, especially end.

Volvo, long the bastion of safe, solid wagons has made the transition to SUVs easily as it already knew how to make big family-haulers and so a taller version with AWD wasn’t a huge stretch.

Lucky for our eyeballs, it also got away from its box-on-wheels styling to create handsome SUVs with some distinction to their nose and tail. Yes, the logo is large up front, but the grille not as retina crushing as most and its T-shaped headlight add some zest, likewise its tall vertical taillights.

Now it adds hybrid power to its large luxury SUV lineup, the XC90, everything from a mild-hybrid 48-volt system that aids in smoothing out the now requisite stop-start function to a plug-in hybrid. The tested XC90 Recharge AWD Ultimate (almost top tier) Bright themed 7-seater was just that, a PHEV. That’s a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for the non-initial literate.

The good news for any plug-in, excuse me, PHEV, is that the midsize SUV can run on electric power for the first 20-30 miles, or as a driver chooses. That means around town where the SUV is most likely to gulp high-octane petrol it can be both more fuel efficient and non-polluting.

A gorgeous dark metallic blue XC90 arrived in my drive with about 25 miles of electric range while 36 is the predicted maximum plug-in range when fully charged. Sadly, this one didn’t have an adapter that fit my garage’s ancient 110/120 volt outlet, so I couldn’t add to its range. Still, there was enough to learn that the power delivery is smooth and pretty seamless when it kicked over to the gas-powered unit.

In all XC90s that’s a turbocharged I4 linked to a silky 8-speed automatic. With electric power supplementing the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), that makes 455 horses with a torque rating of 523. On its own the ICE makes 312 horses and in mid-level B6 models that’s 295 horses. Entry-level B5 models boast 247 horses, still not shabby.

Watch Mark’s video: 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge AWD Ultimate review by Mark Savage and Paul Daniel – YouTube

So power is generous and will kick the XC90 to highway speeds in a hurry. A quick trip to the northern Chicago burbs and back was comfy and smooth. The interior is quiet, the ride mostly well-controlled now and handling predictable and easy. Cruising at 75 on the freeway is where the XC90 excels.

An optional $1,800 air suspension also improved ride quality quite a bit.

Another plus, AWD is standard, so when the highway got a bit slippery the Volvo remained sure-footed, like a soccer player shod in his or her grippiest sneakers.

The test XC90 was the Bright themed version, a Dark version is also available. That means this one had chrome exterior trim, including the grille, roof rails and window trim. Guess what the Dark edition features? Yes, blackened chrome grille, etc.

Inside, Volvo has mastered the look of luxury and elegant simplicity with a strong Swedish accent.

In this model fine gray wool blend seats were substituted for the usual leather. Sheer a sheep, don’t skin a bovine.

This looked and felt divine on a cold day as it wasn’t as chill as leather. Yet the seats and steering wheel where heated, although controlled through the info screen. Second row seats also are heated, but not the third, which is (like most third rows) tight for anyone older than 13, mainly short of knee room.

Volvo’s seats are well padded and shaped too, with excellent side bolsters and naturally a bevy of power adjustments for the driver including three areas, lumbar, back and leg cushions. You do this with a button on the seat’s side, but see the changes registered on the infotainment screen. There are three memory settings for the driver’s seat too.

Oddly this high-end Volvo still does not have a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, but it did have a monster panoramic sunroof. Manual sun shades grace the side windows.

Other niceties include lights over the rear doors and on exterior door handles. There’s also a mighty 1,400-watt Bower & Wilkins stereo with 19 speakers that will blast loud enough to wake the dead or any hungover New Year’s revelers. It runs $3,200.

Three rows of seats allow for large family hauling, or toting lots of gear!

Volvo also includes an SOS system among its bevy of electronic safety devices. Prime is Volvo’s Pilot Assist program that helps make this a semi-autonomous driver and includes the likes of lane departure warning with a tug to center the Volvo in its lane, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert that detects pedestrians, automatic braking for said obstacles and collision avoidance.

Volvo continues with its 9-inch vertical info screen, but adds a new 12-inch wide digital instrument panel that’s easy to read. The info screen is certainly readable too, but one must press the home button and then slide the screen about to find other functions a driver may want. It’s hard to use while driving, but not that tough to figure out when parked, so adjust it before you head out on the road.

Panoramic sunroofs let a lot of light into the Volvo XC90.

Other stylish trim inside includes black wood accents on the doors and dash with satin chrome door releases and shiny chrome around the screen that’s trimmed in gloss black. The console-mounted shifter also features an Orrefors crystal shift knob, something more high-end makes seem to be employing. There’s a spiffy elegance to it all.

In back under the power hatch is modest cargo space when the third-row seats are in place, but fold those down and storage room increases to 65.8 cubic feet, or lower rows 2 and 3 and that hits 85.7 cu.ft. Note too that the XC90 will tow up to 5,000 pounds, so a fishing boat and trailer or a couple trailered snowmobiles will be no problem.

When coupled with the plug-in electric power the Volvo is estimated to get 58 MPGe in the city and 55 highway, but once that is used up you’re back to the mid-20 mpg range. I got 27 mpg in about 70% highway driving, and that’s not bad for a 7-person AWD SUV or van. That’s also the EPA estimate for the XC90.

Pricing cuts a wide swath, starting at $57,000 for the base Core model with its lesser content, lower power, no leather interior and a 4,000-pound tow rating. A Recharge PHEV model starts at $73,000 and the tested Ultimate lists at $80,495, including delivery. With the added fancy stereo and air suspension this one hit $85,495.

One imagines a full-electric XC90 must be in the works now that the mild hybrid system is in place on lower levels and the PHEV is the top trim. For now, this will satisfy a family’s hybrid luxury SUV needs, while looking great inside, and handsome outside.

FAST STATS: 2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge AWD Ultimate: Bright theme

Hits: Good looks, excellent electric power, precise handling and full-time AWD. Big sunroof, heated wheel and front and second row seats, big touchscreen, quality stereo, a stylish luxury interior, plus a full bevy of safety equipment.

Misses: Touchscreen (beyond main screen) is distracting to use while driving and no power tilt/telescope steering wheel.

Made in: Gothenburg, Sweden

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4 w/plug-in electric motor, 455 hp/523 torque

Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic, automatic

Weight: 5,194 lbs.

Wheelbase: 117.5 in.

Length: 195.0 in.

Range: 36 miles per plug-in

Cargo: 15.8/65.5/85.7cu.ft.

Tow: 5,000 lbs.

MPGe: 58/55

MPG: 27 (gas only)

Base Price: $80,495 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $80,261

Major Options:

4-corner air suspension, $1,800

Bowers & Wilkins premium sound, $3,200

Test vehicle: $85,495

Sources: Volvo, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Volvo

2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

Trust me, Santa wants this new luxo-liner for his sleigh …

Stumped about what to get me (or anyone) as a gift for the holidays? Look no further than the new bauble-laden Genesis luxury sedan, the G90. Santa may want to trade in his sleigh!

G90 is simply a show stopper, maybe a traffic stopper too as several pedestrians inquired about its origins. Easy to understand the confusion as it doesn’t look at all like its two main competitors, the pricier BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S Class. They’re sharp, but the elegance of the G90’s lines, its horizontal twin headlight and taillight design that marks all Genesis luxury rides, exudes class. The Genesis logo looking much like that of Bentley and Aston Martin also can befuddle.

Yet there’s so much to gush about, even beyond looks.

A summary? G90’s ride is sublime, the power potent, the handling responsive, the braking superb. Inside, I simply don’t recall a finer interior, ever. That’s a pretty strong gush!

Start with power and you will not be disappointed.

The tested top-level G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD model packs a silky 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with an electric supercharger. Output is 409 horses and 405 pound-feet of torque. The slightly lower tier 3.5T model without the supercharging creates 375 horses, still generous.

I could say the G90 blasts to 75 or so mph in a blink, but really it’s so smooth and quiet that you barely notice that triple digits are appearing on the giant digital instrument screen. An 8-speed automatic handles all that power and puts it to all four wheels as this is AWD, good for traction and steady grip.

Handling is quick, easy and smooth too, aided by rear-wheel steering to help the car corner efficiently and with little disturbance to driver or passengers. I’ve used the slot-car metaphor before, but it’s again apt.

Eco, Comfort, and Sport drive modes allow the power, handling, and suspension to adjust to the driver’s whims. Comfort is fine, while Sport firms wheel tension and pumps up the power driver’s seat’s side bolsters air bladders to accommodate the more spirited handling.

There’s air in the suspension system too. It cushions tushies and coddles passengers thanks to its multi-chamber configuration. Ah! Amazing how comforting this can be without wallowing. Such refined control!

Braking is smooth and steady and exceptional. Four-wheel discs of course, with 14.2-inchers up front and 13.6-inchers in back.

Watch Mark’s review: 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

All this and we haven’t even gotten to the spectacular interior that is bathed in supple brown quilted Nappa leather stitched in a diamond pattern and as comfy as your grandfather’s recliner. Speaking of which, the powered rear seats both recline partially (enough for a snooze), and the rear passenger’s side seat has a small footrest that powers up for added comfort in dreamland. Headrests in back are basically fluffy suede pillows. I’d like one for my couch.

The roof’s headliner is a contrasting brown suede and the dash and door tops a dark brown (nearly black) soft leather-like material. Dash and door trim is a camo-like pattern that looks sort of like wood with a bit of inlay design. Trim around the trim is a thin chrome while all buttons, toggles and knobs are satin chrome. Classy!

Quiet? Yep, the cockpit is as quiet as Marcel Marceau arguing with himself. That is to say it’s perfect for listening to the incredible Bang & Olufsen 3D premium audio system, easily the best I’ve heard yet in a vehicle. Then again, there are 26 speakers.

Other premium touches. Start with two sunroofs overhead, one normal size and a smaller one in back, with its own power sunshade. The rear side door windows also host power sunshades and there’s another for the rear window, which either the driver or rear passengers can deploy.

Back seat folks have oodles of controls on a fold-down armrest that features its own digital control screen for heated and cooled rear seats, radio and climate controls. That’s right, both front and rear seats are heated and cooled and, get this, will deliver a stimulating massage, which is good for comfort and for keeping a driver awake on a long haul. A variety of massage speeds are offered via one button control on the front doors for the highfalutin front seaters.

Hyundai/Kia/Genesis designers are excellent at designing interiors and controls so they wisely put the 3-level seat heating/cooling on console buttons. Many makes now insist on embedding these essential functions in a multi-level info screen. Only the heated steering wheel is on the wide, but thin screen here, along with a button to spray a scented air freshener. The test car wasn’t loaded, but that’s ok, I know what the North Woods smells like.

Can this dreamy luxury liner get any better?

Well, there’s more, much more.

Staring with what Genesis calls its Mood Curator, settings that allow for various comfort modes (Vitality, Delight, Care, and Comfort). Engage these and the car presets music, scent, lighting, side sun shades and massaging features. There are nature sounds that can be emitted by the sound system too. I like the rainy forest as the crunch of the snowshoes in winter mode can be a bit much after a few minutes.

The G90 works on your emotional space too with its 3D surround system that can reenact the sound characteristics of famous theaters and other interesting environments. Hmm, would like this at home!

How about cutting the emotional stress of closing my own door?

Yes, the G90’s doors will open and close automatically. Press a button on the door (ala Tesla) and it unlatches and opens about a foot, then you must push the rather heavy door the rest of the way. But, press that button once you’re in the car, or another button on the console, and the door shuts itself. Genesis calls it the Easyclose system. Think of it as a power hatch/trunk for doors.

Outside door handles are flush when the car is locked, but like a Tesla, pop out for passengers to raise for entry. Posh!

Then there are the expected pluses from a luxury sedan, the wireless charger easily reached in the console where your phone inserts nearly vertically.

Safety equipment? You get the full load standard, no add-ons, so smart cruise, lane-keeping, blind-spot, collision avoidance, even something called Remote Smart Parking to squeeze the lengthy luxury liner into a tight spot.

The only misses here are the price and mpg, and neither are surprising.

In fact, the base 3.5T model’s $89,495 sticker with delivery only seems high if you haven’t priced the main competition, BMW’s 7 Series or Mercedes’ S Class. The Genesis G90 starts $5,000 less than the BMW and $13,000 less than the Benz. Where I come from that’s real money.

Of course, this AWD version with the e-supercharger pushes that envelope higher to $99,795 and the test car was $101,295 after adding just its snazzy semi-gloss Verbier (a town in Switzerland) White paint. It’s sort of glossy and sort of matte, but with a pearl base that could make Martha Stewart blush.

Even the wheels are fabulously styled!

Either of the German makes will hit $115,000 to $120k for their high-horse and AWD versions. Save your cash for a Danube cruise.

Time and experience tell me a luxury vehicle buyer rarely considers mpg ratings, and this one is a middler at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, still beating non-hybrid SUVs. I managed 20.5 mpg in about 60% city and 40% highway driving. Preferred fuel is premium, natch!

A few other points to consider. You can download a Digital Key app to your smartphone to allow you to go keyless, avoiding fob-in-pocket syndrome. There’s also a fingerprint authentication system on the console. That allows you to quickly be identified as the driver and recall your driver profile settings, such as seats, mirrors and radio presets. The memory button on the door also allows this.

Everything is artfully and beautifully packed into the G90, and standard, except the kitchen sink. But give Genesis a year, they may offer that as an option!

Think this looks a bit like a Bentley or Aston Martin logo? It does!

FAST STATS: 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

Hits: Elegant looks, excellent power, responsive handling, stellar ride, multi-drive modes, AWD and rear-wheel steering. Stylish, quiet leather interior, with heated/cooled seats, heated wheel, two sunroofs, wireless charger, full load of safety equipment, massaging front and rear seats, reclining rear seats, rear pillow headrests, 26 speaker-B&O system, push-button power doors, big digital instrument panel and info screens, side and rear window shades.

Misses: Price and mpg.

Made in: Ulsan, So. Korea

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo, e-supercharged, V6, 409 hp/ 405 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,861 lbs.

Wheelbase: 125.2 in.

Length: 207.7 in.

Cargo: 10.6 cu.ft.

MPG: 17/24

MPG: 20.5 (tested)

Base Price: $99,795 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $94,861

Major Options: Verbier white paint, $1,500

Test vehicle: $101,295

Sources: Genesis, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Genesis

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD

Crossover version another solid, reliable Corolla …

Many automotive brands have their own version of the golden goose, the go-to model moniker that virtually assures success due to long-term image and reputation.

Ford has Mustang and F-150, while Toyota has Camry and Corolla. For nearly 50 years now in the U.S. market, Corolla has been synonymous with quality, reliability and value. Flashy? No, but a family sedan that’ll last close to forever.

Not surprisingly, Toyota now slaps the Corolla name on its new small crossover, just a smidge up from its much cuter and zippier C-HR. Not just a naming thing though as the new Corolla Cross rides on the same platform as Toyota’s Corolla sedan and wisely opts for its optional, horsier engine for power.

Don’t get too excited though, the 2.0-liter I4 delivers just 169 horsepower with a torque rating of 150, yet linked to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) the Corolla Cross displays adequate power, however with a steady groan during acceleration. Ignore that, as many of us would, because the rest of the small crossover is pure family comfort and value.

Handling is light and easy, ride is compliant and actually better than many larger crossovers and SUVs. A family of four will fit here and not be jostled severely on crumbling Midwest roads. Nope, Corolla Cross is a steady and above average performer like its sedan namesake.

Plus, and if you’re a crossover or SUV fan this is perfect, the tested XLE model had AWD to provide good traction in winter slop, of which we had a bit when I first got the car. No need to engage it, this is AWD, not 4WD like a Jeep or many SUVs. The AWD model also incorporates a multi-link rear suspension in place of the former torsion beam.

All this, plus more, at a base price of $28,840, including delivery, for this top-level trim. Go front-wheel drive and base level L model and the price drops to $23,410. Add AWD and the L lists at $24,960 for a 2022 model. Prices are rising a bit for 2023 and there’s a wait still on the Corolla Cross, depending on what you order.

A mid-level LE model with AWD runs $27,310 and may be the best value.

Watch Mark’s video: 22 Toyota Corolla Cross review by Mark Savage – YouTube

The test car added quite a bit of extras to hit $33,550, but that’s still a value considering the average cost for a new car or crossover now is about $45,000. The big ticket here was the audio system upgrade at $1,465, adding a JBL sound system with 9 speakers, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa capability. The power sunroof and power hatch also added $1,250 to the sticker.

All the rest of the options were minor, including $299 for roof rack rails, which one might want if taking this on camping outings with a family and need a spot for a tent and other outdoor gear.

Standard though on the XLE is the larger 8-inch info screen as a 7-incher is standard on the L model. The screen includes both a volume and radio tuning knob too, much easier than toggles and on-touchscreen buttons that often don’t function if the user is wearing gloves. Just sayin,’ winter in Wisconsin!

XLE also includes two major safety upgrades, the blind-spot monitoring system and cross-traffic alert viewed through the rear-view camera screen. But Toyota is one of the leaders in packing safety equipment onboard as standard via its Safety Sense 2.0 system, even on the L model. The safety system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and assist, smart cruise control, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beam headlights.

XLE also includes a wireless phone charger at the bottom of the center stack, but be sure to press the button there to turn it on or you’ll get no charge. Two USB ports are standard too, as are softer dash and door coverings.

That said, the plastic door and dash feel pretty good, but are indeed a textured hard plastic. Yet that’s what I expect at this price.

While the Corolla Cross exterior styling is pretty middle of the road, the interior looks sharp without being gimmicky. The seats are a two-tone tan and brown Softex (leatherette) and the dash and door tops are black. Trim around the screen and console is gloss black and trim around those and the dash is a satin silver. Handsome, yet simple.

Seats are well shaped to provide hip and lower back support and the XLE includes a power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, an option on lower trims. The front seats also are heated. Bingo!

Headroom is more generous in the Cross than in the sedan as is rear legroom, so for growing families of four this provides some extra comfort. All the dash controls are easy to see, use, and reach and as with Subarus, the sightlines to the sides are improved by adding a vent window with a view between the A pillar and side mirrors.

Cargo space is generous in back, more than 25 cubic feet, and overhead are solid visors with extenders, something many higher priced vehicles no longer offer.

I drove the Corolla Cross during a chilly early winter week with off-and-on snow, but still was a bit disappointed in its gas mileage. Rated at 29 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, I got just 25.9 mpg in about an even mix of the two. I was expecting more like what the trip computer indicated at about 28.5 mpg.

For the record I had managed 33.7 mpg in a Corolla hatchback a few years ago and it featured the same engine and weighed just about 100 pounds less. Driving a hybrid Corolla sedan last year netted 65.6 mpg, which is tremendous. Know too that Toyota has introduced a hybrid version of the Corolla Cross for 2023, which may be the best value going!

As for competition, well, this is a super crowded market with the likes of Subaru’s Crosstrek, Kia’s Seltos, Hyundai’s Venue and Kona, VW’s Taos, Nissan’s Kicks and Rogue Sport, Mazda’s CX-3 and Honda’s HR-V as major competitors. Drive them all and decide, but ask about availability before you even head to the dealership!

FAST STATS: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD

Hits: Easy handling, decent ride, AWD, good interior room and cargo space, plus power hatch. Value pricing, solid safety equipment, heated front seats, sunroof, wireless charger, 8-inch screen w/volume & tuning knobs, visors w/extenders. A hybrid now available.

Misses: Growly engine and down on power, anticipated better mpg, tinny sounding stereo.

Made in: Huntsville, Ala.

Engine: 2.0-liter I4, 169 horsepower/150 torque

Transmission: CVT automatic

Weight: 3,170 lbs.

Length: 175.6 in.

Wheelbase: 103.9 in.

Cargo: 25.5 cu.ft.

MPG: 29/32

MPG: 25.9 (tested)

Base Price: $28,840 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $27,278

Major Option: Power sunroof, $1,250

Audio Plus (8-in. touchscreen, 9 JBL speakers, Sirius XM 3-mon., security alarm, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay/Amazon Alexa compatible), $1,465

Auto-leveling front lights, $615

Carpet floor mats/cargo mat, $249

Frameless HomeLink mirror, $175

Door sill protectors, $179

Roof rack crossbars, $299

Rear bumper protector, $79

Activity mount, $399

Test vehicle: $33,550

Sources: Toyota kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Toyota

#Corolla

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe

Electric hybrid adds cost, but boosts fuel efficiency, smooths power …

When Jeep launched the Grand Cherokee 30 years ago it was among the first luxury sport-utility vehicles on the market that still was affordable (not a Rover) and capable of off-roading.

Jeep continues to make its Grand Cherokee as off-road worthy as anything, including its more rugged looking Wrangler, but the price now peaks at Range Rover levels.

Yet kudos to Jeep for adding hybrid power to its latest Grand Cherokee even though that’s what nudges the price up. This plug-in hybrid, the 4xe, is exactly what makes sense as the go-between from gas to electric power.

Here’s the deal.

On this mid-size SUV Jeep couples a hybrid system with a small 2.0-liter turbo I4 so that an overnight charge on a normal home 120V power line nets 25 to 27 miles of electrical juice. That means that an average user who drives to and from work, or to run necessary daily errands, can run on electricity most of the time. By the way, the power is awesome smooth in the Jeep and when was the last time someone called a Jeep smooth?

In a 230-mile week of driving I evenly split my electric vs. gas powered driving, recharging with the driver’s side front quarter panel plug-in, each evening.

That meant each morning I had a 100% charge and most days I didn’t need more than that. Two trips to the other side of town during the week meant half of each trip was on the juice, while the other half was gas-powered. The results? My combined average was 37.1 mpg, while gas alone (sadly Premium is recommended) averaged just 18.2 mpg, showing the difference hybrid electric power can make. The vehicle also senses when 4WD is not needed and turns it off when not needed.

Cool too that Jeep allows the driver to select (via dash buttons) hybrid power, electric only, or save-E, which mostly runs the Grand Cherokee on gas, saving the electric charge for when you most need it, say in town, or when slopping around field or forest.

See Mark’s video: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe review by Mark Savage – YouTube

Yes, there are still plenty of off-roading choices here, five to be exact. A console toggle allows the driver to select Rock, Sand/Mud, Snow, Auto, or Sport drive modes. Sport seems silly to me on an SUV and here it firms up the steering something fierce, not pleasant at all.

The others will engage the proper 4-wheeling system for the circumstances and if you’re rock-crawling becomes a habit there’s a button to unhook the front sway bar to create more wheel articulation. Note too, the Grand Cherokee has a maximum ground clearance of 10.9 inches, which is a lot. Plus, another toggle on the console allows the driver to hike up the haunches and lift the Jeep to its maximum height, or lower it for easy exits. This Jeep also will ford two feet of water safely.

There’s ample power here as the turbo I4 and hybrid electric motor provide a combined 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque so there’s a tow rating of 6,000 pounds. All is smooth and silky when electric is the power source, but when the Jeep switches to the gas engine, which is seamless, well, the little turbo groans considerably as it seems to be trying to bench press the vehicle’s full 5,500 lbs. Acceleration can be noisy with the tiny turbo.

Folks wanting constant smooth power application probably should opt for one of the gas-only powered Grand Cherokees that feature a V6 or V8. You’ll also save money up front, but more on that in a sec.

A blue tow hook, 4xe logo and jeep logo add color to the tail.

Handling is typical of a mid-size SUV, easy steering with modest feedback and a little body lean in tight turns. It’s all quite controllable and easy to maintain within a lane. Of course there’s all the usual safety equipment such as lane departure, blind-spot warning and parking sensors.

Ride is mostly good too, especially on the highway, but as with most trucks/utes gets jiggly on bumpy city streets as pot holes and expansion joints create some rock and roll, but then it’s a Jeep, right?

That’s not to say it isn’t luxurious. The Diamond Black Crystal Pearl ($395 extra) test SUV looked upscale, the ride is mostly well controlled, and the interior leathery.

Check out the blue tow hooks, hood stripe and blue-outlined Jeep logo here.

I like the little blue styling cues on the exterior, to subtly insinuate this is a hybrid. Apparently bright green and blue do that these days on hybrids and electrics. This one slapped blue trim on all the Jeep logos, the front and rear tow hooks, the rear hatch’s Trailhawk logo and a blue Trailhawk adhesive stripe on the hood, which also featured a flat black hood sticker.

Inside, the Grand Cherokee looks fresh and modern, a big step up from its predecessor.

More blue trim inside with the seat piping and stitching on the console.

Enough black leather here to frighten any herd of cattle, but with a tasteful blue (again) stitching to spruce it up. Seat edges were leather but the main seat surfaces a suede material. Classy.

Shiny black fake wood trim accents the dash and doors and is trimmed in satin chrome. The look is keen, but the reflection off that and the gloss black console surface can be blinding on sunny days now that we’ve passed the equinox and the sun rides at lower angles.

Seats are powered plus heated and cooled in front, with the outer rear seats also heated. I found the butt pockets rather snug in the front seats, but the rears (seats that is) were better. The steering wheel also is heated. One odd problem I found when trying to buckle up each trip, and that’s the seatbelt is hard to pull between the seat and door, a bit of a tight squeeze.

No problem with the digital equipment here though, a big center info screen and digital driver instrument panel. Some numbers on the driver display were a bit small, but the info screen was great and easy to use, plus includes adjacent volume and tuning knobs for the radio, a fine Alpine sound system in the Trailhawk. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard too.

A few things you won’t find on the Trailhawk were surprising though. There’s no sunroof, no wireless phone charger and no running boards. At this top-end pricing I’d expect all three. In the Jeep’s defense, there are oodles of plug-ins available for charging.

There was no passenger-side info screen in the test vehicle, but that’s ok, it’s an option as on Jeep’s Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

The digital instrument panel gives you a lot of info, but numbers are small.

Tire noise is considerable with the beefy R18 All-Terrain tires, which would be good for off-roading, but hum like an annoying tone-deaf 5-year-old who loves Disney tunes, even at low speeds.

In back is a power hatch hiding a load of cargo space, so a family of five can vacation, camp, haul, etc. while taking along all the sundries needed for comfort. Second-row seats split and fold flat and the SUV’s plug-in charger can be stowed neatly in a bag under the cargo floor.

Did I mention this is pricey?

Yes, and that was a bit of a shock (sorry) for this hybrid electric model. A base 2023 model (now at dealers) lists at $60,260, while a Trailhawk version starts at $65,455. Move up to an Overland and it’s $69,225, a Summit goes for $72,990, and the premium of premiums, the Summit Reserve starts at $77,470. All prices including delivery. For the record, a $7,500 tax credit may apply to the hybrid models, but check it before you buy.

There’s a lot of space under that power hatch, but only two rows of seats.

The tested 2022 model listed at $64,280 and only added the special color to hit $64,675. By the way, white is the only paint color that doesn’t cost extra on the Grand Cherokee, although other colors are mostly $395, so not a huge add-on.

While I’m all in on plug-in hybrids until our electric infrastructure grows considerably, I should point out that Jeep really charges for the privilege. For instance, a base V6 powered Grand Cherokee, the Laredo, lists at $40,120, but of course has fewer standard features and no 4WD.

Move up to the equivalent Trailhawk gas-only model and the sticker is $56,030. Between are Altitude and Limited models in the mid-$40,000 range.

So choose wisely, especially if your budget already is being stretched. The good news for all 4xe plug-in hybrids, you’ll pay less to power them weekly, and they run as smooth as a luxury sedan, just taller and with way bigger tires!

FAST STATS: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe

Hits: Off-road capability, five drive modes, plug-in hybrid boosted gas mileage, and good looks. Roomy luxury interior, power hatch, heated/cooled front seats, heated outer rear seats, heated steering wheel, Alpine stereo, good safety equipment. Sway bar disconnect for off-roading and good ground clearance with toggle to raise truck.

Misses: Pricey, tire noise, groany underpowered gas engine, no sunroof, no running boards, no wireless charger, reflective trim, ride can get jiggly, tight seat butt pockets and front seat belts hard to pull through between door and seat.

Made in: Detroit, Mich.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, plug-in hybrid, 375 hp/470 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,521 lbs.

Wheelbase: 116.7 in.

Length: 193.5 in.

Cargo: 37.7-70.8 cu.ft.

Tow: 6,000 lbs.

MPG: 23/combo gas/electric

Fuel: Premium recommended

Electric range: 25 mph

MPG: 18.2 gas/37.1 combined (tested)

Base Price: $64,280 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $62,667

Major Options:

Diamond black crystal pearl paint, $395

Test vehicle: $64,675

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Jeep

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD

EV6 a great-looking, performing Electric car …

Superlatives sometimes ring hollow, and years of writing car reviews has proven to me it’s a lot harder to go gaga over a new vehicle and not sound like I’m on the car company payroll than it is to whine and moan about a vehicle that falls flat.

But here goes anyway.

Kia’s EV6 GT-Line AWD gets nearly everything right to entice buyers who may be leaning toward an EV, as in electric vehicle. The EV6 looks fabulous with its slim lights and sleek nose, handsome sporty profile and muscular haunches that could, at a younger age, stir frisky thoughts.

While many electrics look like overstuffed perogi, the EV6 looks trim and sporty, even more so than its cousin, the nearly as fantabulous Hyundai Ioniq 5 tested last week, or the lovely Genesis GV60 tested earlier this summer, all electrics

Thankfully Kia starts with bold futuristic styling, but on the more practical side, the interior is well thought out and beautifully executed, fast charging is possible, the drive is spirited and range is the best of the electrics I’ve tested this fall.

Kia’s EV6 GT-Line AWD could be the best electric car I’ve driven yet as it scores on the main points, looks, power, drivability, range and charging efficiency. I’ve already drooled over the looks, but power?

Yes, like all EVs the acceleration from its torquey twin electric motors (one front, one rear) is impressive. The AWD model boasts 320 horsepower and a torque rating of 446 delivered via three drive modes that allow a driver to go with Eco to save juice, Normal for peppy takeoffs, and Sport for kicking the booty of most non-Porsches. Remember too, it’s AWD, so traction is good in the wet and winter slop.

EV6 drops its battery packs between the front and rear wheels just below the vehicle’s floor so the center of gravity is low and well spread out. Cornering is sporty although steering feedback could be more precise. Sport mode helps that some yet there is some push in high-speed turns due to that battery weight. After a few days behind the wheel that becomes less noticeable.

Ride is firmer than in the longer-wheelbase Ioniq 5, so can become a bit thumpy on really rough roads. But control is good so in normal or highway drives it’s pleasant enough, certainly better than any SUV or large crossover.

Inside, this brilliant Runway Red (bright metallic red) Kia delivers a clean yet stylish dash and seating. A highlight is the twin 12.3-inch screens that are linked as one, so visually pristine. Functionality is good too, swipe the screen for a full menu of options.

Seats are a black suede-like material trimmed in white vegan leather. In fact, the seat material is made of recycled plastic, but one would never know it to see it as the material feels like suede. The black door panels include white armrests and satin chrome door releases, again fresh and modern. That satin chrome is used elsewhere for trim too, including the flat-bottomed steering wheel’s hub and lower section.

The dash is enlivened by a gray textured trim that insinuates modernity and then there’s the huge flat console that sticks up from between the seats like an aircraft carrier deck, yet not connecting to the dash. Under it is a large cubby perfect for a purse and there are plastic side hooks there to snag small plastic grocery bags. Smart interior design.

Atop the black gloss console is a rotating satin chrome gear shift dial (I’d prefer a lever, but I’m getting old), plus at the front edge buttons for the standard heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. Excellent, no screen tapping and sliding to search for these basic functions!

A wireless charger is embedded atop the console too, along with dual cup holders and a small covered storage box. Extra plugs are on the floor up near the firewall and each seat back includes a plug for rear-seat gamery.

Rear outer seats are heated and all seats are comfy with good hip and lower back support. The driver’s seat is powered, naturally.

Overhead EV6 features a small sunroof that powers open and includes a shade, plus the GT-Line adds a Meridian surround sound system with 14 speakers. Nice.

A minor interior complaint, the steering wheel (for me) partially blocks the speedometer located on the far left of the digital instrument screen. However, the GT-Line comes with a heads-up display, which cures that. It may remain a problem in the lower Light and Wind trims.

In back is a power hatch and oodles of cargo space, although a touch less than the Ioniq 5 had when the rear seats are lowered.

What about the electrics, the charging and battery range?

Oh that!

It’s excellent too in that the 77.4 kWh lithium ion battery pack accepts fast charging at 800 volts, so a 10% to 80% charge can happen in about 18 minutes. That’s great when traveling, plus the range is rated at 274 miles, but my full charge registered 278. Kia seems to underestimate ranges so you’re pleasantly surprised by the real deal.

This IS the real deal because I just have a 120Vt outlet in my garage and still got about a 20% charge overnight. For practical purposes that meant I could run errands around town, about 30 miles, then plug in before dinner and was back to a full charge in the morning. The Ioniq 5 would not do that, despite being able, like the Kia, to do a quick charge from a high-volt charger. Not clear on why the Ioniq was so resistant to a 120V charge.

Currently (get it?), Kia also supplies buyers with a card for 1000 kWh of free charging over three years at Electrify America outlets across the country. That’s said to be worth about $3,000, so free juice for a road trip, if you can find an Electrify America charging station en route. There’s but one in our area, in West Allis.

Naturally EV6 is chock full of safety equipment such as smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic, lane-keeping, parking sensors and such. Most of these not only warn you, but help maneuver the car to avoid accidents. Oh, and there’s a 360-degree camera.

Cost remains a concern, at least for the top-shelf GT-Line. List price is $57,115 with delivery. Just the suede seats were added here for $295 to bring the total to $57,410. Note that 2023 models run about $1,000 more.

If economy is more your style, for 2023 the entry-level EV6 is the Wind trim, starting at $49,795 for front-wheel-drive and $53,695 for AWD. The lower cost Light trim was dropped for 2023. The rear-drive Wind trim features a single electric motor creating 225 horsepower, but with a range is 310 miles, so roughly that of a Tesla Model Y.

Wind also adds gloss-black lower front fascia, the power hatch, vegan leather seat trim, cooled front seats and the Meridian sound system. Another plus, for campers, there is a vehicle-to-load (V2L) external power port so a person can charge another electric device, or run a lamp or computer at a remote camping site, etc.

GT-Line basically loads everything aboard. Its second motor delivers that extra 362 hp, plus there are automatic pop-out door handles, body colored wheel arches, the sunroof, flat-bottomed wheel, suede and vegan leather seat trim, rear parking sensors, Highway Driving Assist 2 (a partially autonomous driving system with automatic lane changing), HUD, 360-degree camera, an enhanced version of the forward-collision avoidance system, and deluxe scuff plates.

Other stuff you might care to know:

  • EV6 offers Smartwatch connectivity so you can start it and more from your watch.
  • A heat pump uses waste heat from the coolant system to keep the battery warm in cold weather, like in Wisconsin. That avoids the cold sucking down your battery power in winter. Kia claims at 20 degrees the battery is at 80% of what it would be in mid-70 degree summer weather. Bingo!
  • Paddle shifters on the steering wheel provide four levels of regenerative braking to let you drive with one pedal, the accelerator. I liked the most severe level in that it slows the vehicle quickly and regenerates battery power best. After a day of driving, you find you’re rarely using your brake pedal, except in an emergency.
  • The AWD model weighs about 250 pounds more than the RWD models.
  • Yes, there’s a tiny frunk in front, so you can hide valuables, etc.
  • The digital screens are glare resistant, a major positive.
  • Last amazing fact, the 114.2-inch wheelbase is the same as for Kia’s Telluride mid-size SUV, which explains why there’s so much room and why ride quality is as good as it is.

This is the top performing electric of the year, and there’s not much year left. Plus, while some electrics aren’t sold in Wisconsin, the EV6 is.

Note too that some electrics are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and some states also offer incentives. Wisconsin does not. However, Wisconsin adds a surcharge of $75 for hybrids and $100 for EVs to make up for lost gas tax revenue from electrics.

FAST STATS: 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD

Hits: Refined futuristic styling inside and out, excellent acceleration + 3 drive modes, easy handling, and AWD. Clean stylish dash, big dual screens, heated/cooled supportive front seats, heated outside rear seats, flat-bottom wheel, HUD, opening sunroof, solid safety systems, Meridian stereo w/14 speakers, wireless phone charger, power hatch. Fast charging and sufficient overnight charge on 120 outlet, nearly 280-mile range.

Misses: Heavy feel in turns, firm ride, rotating shift dial, steering wheel partially blocks speedometer portion of screen, GT-Line is costly.

Made in: Hwasung, So. Korea (builds starting in 2025 in new Georgia plant)

Power: 2 168kW electric motors w/77.4 kWh battery, 320 hp/446 torque

Transmission: 1-speed reduction gear

Weight: 4,500 lbs. (est.)

Wheelbase: 114.2 in.

Length: 184.8 in.

Cargo: 27.7-53.5 cu.ft.

Tow: 2,300 lbs.

MPGe: 116/94

Range: 274 mi/278 observed

Base Price: $57,115 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $56,637

Major Options:

GT-Line suede seats, $295

Test vehicle: $57,410

Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Kia

#EV

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited AWD

First Hyundai electric is charged with looks, performance ….

Rarely does someone follow me into a parking lot to ask about the vehicle I’m test driving, but electric cars are different.

Still new in the public’s consciousness, some are simply so visually striking that they raise even more questions than range, charge time, and cost.

“What IS that car?” asked the smiling woman leaning out of her mid-size SUV’s window.

The high-tech looker in question was Hyundai’s new Ioniq5, what looks to be the love child of a Back To The Future DeLorean and a Volkswagen Golf. This techy two-tone metallic matte gray and silver car is both sleek and boxy with a smooth angular nose and boxy fancy taillights, something Hyundai calls parametric pixel LED lighting. Say that five times fast!

One nationally noted auto writer called this Minecraft design. It’s apt.

This is Hyundai’s first mainstream electric model and it’s a winner in looks, form and function. For the record, its kissin’ cousin, the Kia EV6, will be tested next week and its high-class cousin, the Genesis GV60 was tested this summer.

Watch the Genesis GV60 video: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t&ei=UTF-8&p=you+tube+savageonwheels+genesis#id=3&vid=35dd5871182584b96eb2712233f0c19e&action=click

The Ioniq5 in this color scheme, called Shooting Star, costs $1,000 extra and is a mix of family hatchback, crossover and sports sedan. How so?

It features a power hatch, AWD, plus it’ll kick bootie when accelerating from a stoplight.

Power comes from two 165 kW electric motors, one each to drive the front and rear axles so there’s plenty of AWD grip, plus a heaping helping of power, a hefty 320 horsepower and 446 prodigious pound-feet of torque to be exact. It’ll rock, although not quite so much as the 429- to 483-horse Genesis GV60. But then it costs considerably more.

Sleek nose, not the blunt looks of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volvo C40, or VW iD.4.

Highway entry ramps are Ionic 5’s playground, although truth be told, most EVs are neck stretchers. Car and Driver magazine says this Hyundai will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Some sources claim even less. Power is a devil in tails.

Three drive modes help too and are engaged smartly via a button on the steering wheel hub. Convenient! Eco will help extend battery range, as will turning off the climate controls. Normal is plenty quick and Sport turns the Iconiq 5 into a hushed racer.

Drivability beyond neck flexing?

This tail with its sort of pixel-like taillights seems to get a lot of attention.

The Hyundai feels pretty heavy, but at 4,663 pounds actually weighs less than a new gas-powered Ford Mustang. Still, that heavy after-a-meal feeling is due to Ioniq 5’s low center of gravity that makes the car feel electromagnetically stuck to the road. It’s not, but that’s probably coming.

There is push in turns due to that weight, but the Ioniq5 is stable and easy to control and tame a lane. Ride is fabulous because the mid-size car actually has a stretched 118.1-inch wheelbase, a full 4 inches longer than its big SUV cousin, the Palisade. Longer is better as it smooths the ride to luxury levels.

Plus there’s that AWD for winter traction.

Watch Mark’s review video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XZZLnY6Ges&feature=youtu.be

If you’re just beginning to wrap your head around electron-pumping power plants you likely have two or three current (sorry) questions, like range, charging time, and price?

First know this, it all depends.

I had the Ioniq 5 just before chilly fall weather set it. Cold or heat can adversely affect lithium-ion battery range.

The EPA says to expect 258 miles of range, but when I used the sole Electrify America chargers in Milwaukee (West Allis really) a 100% charge left me with 278 miles, better than expected.

I needed a 48% charge at that point to hit a full 100% and it took me 48 minutes, so a minute a percent. However, only a 150kW charger (350kW is best) was available and functioning. If I had been able to use the 350kW charger it likely would have taken 10-12 minutes to top off my charge. For my 48 minutes of battery charge I paid $15, so probably about half what I would have spent for most of a week’s worth of gas as I hadn’t driven my usual 200+ miles yet.

Consider this too, the Hyundai system is designed to optimize ultra-fast charging. So a 350kW/800V charge is preferred and Hyundai says moving the needle from 10% to 80% on such a charger will take just 18 minutes. That’s competitive with the fastest charging competitors.

However, I have just a standard 120V outlet in my garage and the Ioniq 5 barely added 3-4% on that in an overnight charge. Spending upward of $1,000 on installing a 240V line and charging station would enhance that, as one evening I plugged in the car at 60% and its screen said it would be 40 hours to a full charge. Not cool!

Some electrics take to the 120V and 240V charges better. For instance, I charged a Volvo C40 overnight just a few weeks earlier in my garage and got about 20% charge. So, if an electric gets say 2.5 miles per kWh, then that would get net about 50 miles, plenty for a day’s city driving and it allows a driver to mostly top-off the charge each night.

Folks were wild about the Ioniq 5’s wheel design!

That said, the Ioniq 5 got about 3 miles per kWh on average and as high as 4.5 at times.

Enough on range and charging, what’s an Ioniq 5 cost?

It depends, ranging from $41,245 to about $57,000. The base SE Standard Range with two-wheel-drive, one 225-horse electric motor and boasting an even more generous 303-mile range is at the low end, while the tested top-flight Limited with AWD starts at $55,725, including delivery. The test car cost $56,920.

Remember, some electrics will be eligible for federal tax credits up to $7,500, but that gets tricky and needs clarification from the government and dealer before you commit to a purchase. More on that in future stories as the credit fog lifts.

Some government rebates/credits depend on where the vehicle is made. This early-build Ioniq 5 was assembled in South Korea, but Hyundai may begin building them in the States sooner than later.

Yes, there’s a flat-bottom wheel and cool dark red piping on the seats.

Just a bit more as you may be curious about the Ioniq 5’s interior.

It’s clean, modern and techy without being Tesla-ish. There’s a real steering wheel, for instance, and dual 12.3-inch screens surrounded in an iPad-like white trim, very clean. Most functions go through the info screen, including heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel along with all radio activity.

Wide, modern, clean, and low is the dash and gauge design.

The interior is two-tone gray, dark over light, with perforated plant-based leather-like seats with dark red piping as an accent. Seating is powered and nicely contoured with a power footrest for the driver so he/she can recline and relax while the car charges. Just sayin’!

Rear seats also partially recline in this roomy interior. That’s aided by the front seat backs being 30% thinner than most, creating more rear seat knee room. Truck space is generous.

Matte silver trim enlivens the dash and door handles and window controls and optically the door pull/armrests blend into the door panel. Clever!

The dual-screen is cleanly trimmed in white, much like an iPad.

Below the big digital screen are buttons for the radio, map, navigation, and such, yet no Home button. That’s found by pressing one of the other buttons and then tapping the Home icon on the screen. One screen tells you your estimated charge and mileage that remains.

Hyundai delivers a panoramic sunroof and power shade, but the roof is solid so won’t open, same as a Tesla. There’s a fine Bose sound system and wireless phone charger too and SmartSense, the Hyundai safety system with forward collision avoidance, lane keeping assist, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, etc. It covers the whole gamut including smart cruise control.

The panoramic sunroof really brightens the light-colored interior.

There’s push-button start and the shifting is controlled via a stalk to the wheel’s right. You rotate its end for Drive or Reverse, sort of like Volkswagen’s ID.4 system, but this is in a more intuitive location.

This Limited model also comes with a fancy HUD but I couldn’t figure out how to adjust its height, so as a short driver had to stretch a bit to see it at times. There is a white line atop the HUD display and occasionally when I turned a corner it looked like something was darting across the street, but it was just that line.

The Limited also includes a sliding console (universal island) that can move 5.5 inches for or aft, nice feature to make a driver comfy as to where the cup holders or tall armrest is located. Between those two is a big opening where a woman (or man) could lay a purse. That panoramic roof, a 360-degree camera, the Bose sound system and Remote Smart Parking also come standard on Limited.

The power hatch makes loading the cargo area easy.

There’s so much to mention with Ioniq 5 that I’m sure to have left a bit out. But one thing Hyundai likes to tout is the ability to plug accessories, such as a light/radio/TV/laptop, when camping. If the car has at least 15% charge you can run these extras to make an outdoor experience more indoorsy. Hmmm!

Bottom line, Ioniq 5 was Car and Driver’s electric vehicle of the year for 2022 and I agree, from styling to functionality it is tops, so far. Now we’re all just waiting for the nation’s infrastructure to catch up.

FAST STATS: 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited AWD

Hits: Techy styling inside and out, excellent acceleration + 3 drive modes, easy handling, comfy ride, and AWD. Clean stylish dash, big dual screens, heated/cooled and supportive front seats w/reclining feature, HUD, panoramic sunroof w/shade, solid safety systems, Bose stereo, wireless phone charger.

Misses: Range limited to 256 miles, heavy feel in turns, sunroof doesn’t open, charger plug-in is next to passenger’s side taillight, still costly.

Can’t get enough of this snazzy taillight design.

Made in: Ulsan, So. Korea (builds starting in 2025 in a new plant in Georgia)

Power: 2 165kW electric motors w/74 kWh battery, 320 hp/446 torque

Transmission: 1-speed reduction gear

Weight: 4,663 lbs.

Wheelbase: 118.1 in.

Length: 182.5 in.

Cargo: 27.2-59.3 cu.ft.

MPGe: 110/87

Range: 256 mi/278 observed

Base Price: $55,725 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $55,725

Major Options:

Shooting Star (2-tone silver) paint, $1,000

Carpeted floor mats, $195

Test vehicle: $56,920

Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Hyundai

#Hyundai Ioniq 5