Tag Archives: Honda CR-V

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line

VW’s handsome compact crossover an efficient high-value drive …

Volkswagen was once the automotive love child of my Boomer generation, but time changes things and VW has become one of the back markers in the U.S. auto market, although not worldwide.

Lately it has turned much of its attention to electric vehicles, the ID.4 crossover/SUV tested last December is a prime example. These are well thought out and executed vehicles, yet VW has not abandoned gas-only powered models just yet, in fact it revamped its popular compact crossover, the Tiguan for 2022.

What Tiguan has going for it is efficiency, handsome looks and handling that puts many other crossovers and small SUVs to shame. That, is a key feature that remains from the second gen 2018 Tiguan that I reviewed, and thank goodness.

Some crossovers still make do with lazy steering, but that’s not in VW’s DNA. This tester being the top-level SEL R-Line model with standard AWD (4 Motion VW calls it) was a blast to drive and I ran it around a variety of winding roads where it excelled.

Tires have grown from 18 to 20-inchers, these being Pirellis and they eagerly grip the road and combined with the AWD the light and nimble Tiguan feels downright sporty and stuck to the pavement.

Plenty of power here too with the returning 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 generating 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. There is a slight hesitation when the aluminum-clad accelerator pedal is tromped, but after that little hiccup Tiguan jumps to highway speeds with ease.

Ride is mostly well controlled with an independent suspension at all corners, but it can get a bit choppy on particularly uneven Midwest secondary roads and city streets. Thankfully the cockpit is well insulated so not much road noise is transmitted to the interior, making it feel more refined than a few competitors.

VW also delivers a variety of drive modes to make Tiguan more useful in snow and muck. There are Snow, Off-Road Automatic and Off-Road Custom settings along with the more standard Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom modes all engaged via a dial and button combo on the console. The key to more fun motion is Sport because it pumps up the engine performance and shifts from the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic to give Tiguan a more aggressive launch.

The Off-Road modes can help when winter arrives or if pulling a light boat trailer or camper into a state park camp site or along a dirt road. Tiguan will pull up to 1,500 pounds.

New this year are outward tweaks including LED headlights and taillights along with a more refined nose that makes Tiguan appear tailored and svelte as opposed to the popular Thor-inspired musclebound look many crossovers and SUVs favor.

Inside VW added digital gauges in this refresh and the dash and screens are well laid out and easy to use, even while driving. Not all crossovers can make that claim.

The 10-inch touchscreen for info and radio is just the right size and two inches larger than in lower trim levels. Sadly the infotainment screen takes quite a while to engage when the vehicle is first started.

Below that screen are touchpad type climate controls where a driver slides a finger along the controls to raise or lower temperatures or fan speeds. I’m not a huge fan, but it worked fine, although not sure how great it would work in winter when a driver is wearing gloves.

Miraculously VW also sees fit to equip the SEL R-Line with heated and cooled front seats, a win for budget-minded crossover buyers in the northern climes where both can be needed within a week’s changeable weather.

A flat-bottom wheel is welcome in the new Tiguan.

Other interior pluses include a flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel, a wireless charger under the center stack and a big sunroof with shade.

Seats? Well, that’s a derriere downside as these are quite hard, front and rear so that after about an hour’s drive your bum will start to ache, unless your tushie is more padded than mine. A younger, and fit, passenger agreed that these were among the hardest seats she had ridden in.

The driver’s seat is powered though, including a power lumbar to help provide lower back comfort and the second row seats are quite roomy, allowing for taller passengers to easily fit. Likewise the storage room behind row two seats is generous and there’s a power hatch in back for easy access. Rear seats fold down nearly flat and while there were manual release levers in the cargo area I could not get them to unlatch the rear seat backs.

Despite that flat-bottom wheel I also found tight knee space under the steering column so exiting the Tiguan required some care to not bang a knee. This is primarily a problem for shorter drivers as they, like me, will have the seat a little further forward for comfortable pedal pushing.

Outside the test crossover was a beautiful Atlantic Blue Metallic, a dark sparkling blue, while the interior was gray perforated leather for the seats, while lower trim levels offer cloth or a fake leather seats. The dash was black on top but the lower 2/3 was gray to match the seating. Same with the doors and trim, but a black and gray stripped insert that sort of looked like wood is used as door and dash trim.

This SEL model also packs a fine 480-watt Fender audio system.

VW includes a good selection of safety equipment including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane assist (mild corrections) and smart cruise control among others.

Gas mileage is good for a compact crossover with an EPA rating of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. I beat that with mostly highway driving that netted 30.8 mpg.

Pricing is a happy surprise too as the base front-drive Tiguan S with the smaller info screen and cloth interior lists at $27,785, including delivery.

There’s also an SE at $31,415, this trim adding the power hatch, dual-zone climate controls, fake leather seats, wireless charging, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping and smart cruise control, making it a preferred choice while still economical.

The SE R-Line Black model jumps up to $34,245 but adds the panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, 15-color ambient lighting and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Adding AWD to any model except the tested SEL costs $1,500.

The tested SEL R-Line lists at $37,790 with delivery and this one added no options. The highest trim level includes a heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera, road sign recognition system, automatic high beams and a self-parking system, plus the items mentioned earlier.

Note too that the front-drive models come standard with a third row seat, but experience shows this is quite tight so only useful for small children and for short duration rides. No third row is available in the AWD models such as the tester.

Tiguan is certainly a high-value compact crossover that competes well with the market leaders such as Toyota’s RAV-4 and Honda’s CR-V. For ride and handling the other good choices are Mazda’s CX-5 and Subaru’s Forester, although they offer a bit less cargo room. The new Mazda CX-50, which is 5 inches longer than the CX-5, should be considered if increased interior space is vital.

FAST STATS: 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line

Hits: Handsome styling, nimble handling, good power and AWD. Large easy to use screen, digital climate controls, heated/cooled front seats, various drive modes, big sunroof w/shade, wireless charger, power hatch.

Misses: Hard seats,tight knee space to steering column for short drivers, info screen slow to start, some acceleration hesitation and choppy ride on uneven roads.

Made in: Puebla, Mexico

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 184 horsepower/221 torque

Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic w/Sport

Weight: 3,856 lbs.

Length: 186.1 in.

Wheelbase: 109.9 in.

Cargo: 37.6-73.4 cu.ft.

Tow: 1,500 lbs.

MPG: 21/28

MPG:  30.8 (tested)

Base Price: $37,790 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $37,122

Major Options: None

Test vehicle: $37,790

Sources: Volkswagen, kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Wilderness trim moves Forester further off road …

I’m not sure it’s ever totally fair to test a vehicle in Wisconsin in January, but then we all DO have to drive here in winter and Subaru designs its cars for our climate with full-time AWD.

So I guess I shouldn’t feel too sorry for the new Forester Wilderness that I hustled around mucky streets for a week during one of our patented January cold spells, several nights plunging below zero. To be honest, the Forester mostly coped fine with the big chill, but the weather put a chill on its gas mileage.

First, let’s focus on the Wilderness trim level, a new moniker for Forester and the Wilderness name is creeping across the outdoorsy-inspired Subaru lineup. Its point, not surprisingly, is to make said Subaru more off-road worthy, while also spiffing up the interior and exterior to lure young buyers to the brand, in case all the dog-loving and national parks-loving promos aren’t enough.

The Wilderness logo easily distinguishes this model.

I get it, and this white test crossover was spiffy looking. First, Subaru has restyled the Forester’s nose so it looks more muscular to fit into the increasingly macho compact crossover market. Second, it offers a full half-inch more ground clearance than other Foresters at 9.2 inches, making it a better trail-slogging vehicle.

There’s plenty more, which we’ll discuss, but visually it’s the Wilderness badges on the front doors, tail, and floor mats plus the cool anodized copper trim that is gonna tickle your iris. There’s a little copper everywhere, inside and out, just enough to please, not overwhelm. The exterior features copper accents on the now stronger black roof rail supports and the Forester name is emblazoned in copper on the black rocker panels. Plenty of black trim along with cladding over the wheel wells and bumpers, and an anti-glare matte black hood decal too.

A lot of black cladding on the Wilderness nose, plus a matte insert atop the hood.

Inside, the steering wheel hub’s lower spoke is copper as is the gear shift knob and X-Mode dial. Subaru also trims its durable StarTex water-resistant seats, along with the dash and doors in copper stitching. Wilderness logos grace the front seat backs too. All cool!

That’s just for looks. Wilderness is pretty much a loaded Forester. On the performance side that includes R17 Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires for better grip in off-road slop, plus a beefed up X-Mode function with two settings for Snow and Dirt, or Mud and Deep Snow. Again, traction and trail performance step to the fore.

Copper trim on the wheel and shifter and X-Mode knob accent the interior.

Other goodies standard on Forester Wilderness include a 180-degree front view monitor, power tailgate, snazzy Harman Kardon stereo and 8-inch touchscreen that seems just the right size here while many screens have grown to overpower their interiors.

EyeSight, Subaru’s driver safety system with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, blind-spot warning and such is standard too, and Wilderness adds lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking. Nothing more need be added to all that.

Performance remains solid, which is why Forester is so popular among compact crossovers as it leans a little more heavily on its SUVness.

In addition to the dual-function X-Mode of course there’s full-time AWD that shifts power to the wheels currently with the most grip, no matter if on slippery side streets or mucky trails. It’s a comfort in winter driving as the car corners with more sure-footedness than many other crossovers, and mostly at a lower price.

Handling is light and nimble, making Forester a fun drive in town and parking lots, while also being easy to handle if off-roading. Ride is improved over earlier versions, but still a bit firm as are other small crossovers.

Power, while improving with each iteration, is still Forester’s weak spot. The 2.5-liter Boxer 4 cylinder delivers 182 horses with a torque rating of 176. That’s fine for cruising and low-speed off-roading. But accelerating to highway speeds, or when it’s colder than an iceberg in the Arctic, is labored and noisy. That’s a combo of the engine and an 8-speed CVT.

Braking is fine, but know that if you upgrade to the Premium or higher trim levels the front disc brakes are larger than in other models.

Inside, Forester is comfy with supportive seats, a fine dash layout and Wilderness gets snazzy brushed aluminum pedals.

Brushed aluminum pedals here, and another logo!

Standard here are two-level heated seats, that fine stereo and touchscreen, which are easy to understand and use, and a big sunroof, a win for outdoors-loving folks who want to let in extra sunlight.

The test Forester’s black seats and dash look good too with the copper trim and I liked the feel and durability of the fake leather seats.

What I missed was a heated steering wheel, which would have been nice on the sub-zero mornings and should be standard on a Wilderness. I also found it hard to adjust the climate control’s fan speed while wearing gloves.

But Forester’s interior is roomy with plenty of head and legroom front and rear, easy rear-seat access and good storage space under that power hatch. Interesting too that Forester now has a 51.3-inch cargo opening in back, the biggest in the segment, so wonderful for loading wide loads. Oh, and now there’s one-touch rear seat lowering from inside the hatch too.

Gas mileage normally has been good with Forester. I last got 25.9 mpg in a drive 3 years ago. But with the cold weather and the car groaning to gain power in the cold this time I managed just 19.6 mpg. Disappointing to be sure, especially since the EPA rates this at 25 mpg city and 28 highway.

I’m also disappointed that Subaru still doesn’t offer a hybrid model, which most competitors do. That would help mpg considerably, not to mention buoy Subaru’s mantra of helping and protecting the environment. Subaru is way late to the hybrid game, and I should note that I’ve owned two Subies, including a Forester and an Outback.

Pricing remains a Forester strong point though, with the base model starting at $26,320 with delivery, and remember that includes AWD. There are six trim levels with Touring being the top dog at $35,295. This Wilderness started at $33,945, with delivery, and only added an aluminum engine under guard for $220 to settle at $34,165. That’s well below the average new crossover price.

Forester is a nimble drive and better off-road than many compact crossovers, but it also butts heads with the likes of Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V, big sellers. Wilderness trim gives it an edge for snazzy looks though.

FAST STATS: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Hits: Sporty looking inside and out in Wilderness trim, light and nimble handling, AWD, 2 off-road settings, comfy 2-level heated seats, good radio/info screen, nice stereo, big sunroof, EyeSight system standard, and power hatch.

Misses: Noisy acceleration, modest power, no heated steering wheel, no hybrid available, and poor mpg (mostly weather related).

Here’s a closer look at the copper gear shift lever and ring on the X-Mode knob on Forester’s console.

Made in: Japan

Engine: 2.5-liter Boxer 4, 182 hp/176 torque

Transmission: Lineartronic CVT 8-speed automatic

Weight: 3,620 lbs.

Length: 182.7 in.

Wheelbase: 104.9 in.

Cargo: 28.9 cu. ft. (74.2 cu.ft., rear seats down)

MPG: 25/28

MPG: 19.6 (tested)

Base Price: $33,945 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $31,863

Major Options:

Aluminum engine under guard, $220

Test vehicle: $34,165

Sources: Subaru, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4GT AWC

New Outlander Sport a simple, effective, high-value crossover …

            Mitsubishi’s new Outlander Sport crossover is simple, yet effective.

By that I mean it’s nothing fancy, but it’s a solid family hauler with four-wheel-drive, enough safety equipment to satisfy most folks and a sporty new nose to refresh its looks so it doesn’t look like the styling fairy has passed it by. Continue reading 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4GT AWC

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

Mazda CX-5 delivers looks, power and sports sedan handling …

Mazda may have dumped its zoom-zoom tagline, but the Japanese car maker hasn’t eliminated it from its vehicles, witness the CX-5 compact crossover.

While most car makers are happy to offer decent power, meh handling and a useful interior, Mazda doubles down on excellent power, sports sedan handling and ride, plus AWD, luxury interior and an exterior that garners attention. Continue reading 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

Larger Sportage maintains styling edge …2017 Kia Sportage

Kia has upgraded and enlarged its Sportage small sport-ute to keep it competitive with the likes of Subaru’s Forester, Honda’s CR-V, Ford’s Escape and Toyota’s RAV4.

This is an extremely competitive market with many good products, but Kia maintains its strong styling edge and then lengthens Sportage’s wheelbase from 103.9 inches to 105.1 to give it an even better ride than before. It’s right up there with the top small utes now for comfort.

I tested a beautiful “Burnished Copper” Sportage SX AWD, the top-level model. The color reminds me of my family’s handsome 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S that was decked out in “Aztec Gold.” Great to see some gold tones return to automotive color lineups.

2017 Kia SportageRide and power are Sportage’s strengths. While the longer wheelbase and re-tuned suspension give it a well-controlled ride with no harsh moments, the power is impressive. The SX model features a high-revving turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 with an impressive 241 horsepower and 260 ft.-lbs. of torque. Same engine is used in Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport. Continue reading 2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

2016 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD

Restyled Toyota RAV4 gets even better …Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, crossover, hybrid

Toyota has restyled its popular RAV4 crossover to give it a sleeker more modern look while maintaining its solid underpinnings.

Like most Toyota offerings, RAV4 doesn’t change much from year to year, it simply remains a good reliable machine that does what you’d expect of a small crossover. The engine remains the same as it has for years, a 2.5-liter I4 with variable valve timing and dual-overhead cam layout.

Price keeps creeping up, but it’s still extremely competitive with its main competition, the likes of Honda’s CR-V, Subaru’s Forester and Ford’s Escape.

rav2Compared with the RAV4 I’d driven three years ago, the 2016 seemed more tightly built and despite the same powerplant, felt as if it had more oomph and the interior was made of nicer materials.

While the 176-horse engine is no race horse in standard or Eco mode (nothing is racy in Eco mode), the metallic black currant (dark red nearly maroon) crossover was lively in Sport mode. You punch a button to engage that, plus there are paddle shifters behind the wheel if you want to use those to impact shift points. But Sport mode holds the gears in the six-speed automatic longer than the normal mode and quickens acceleration. Good to use when entering a highway, for instance. Continue reading 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD

Braking News: Motor Trend magazine’s 2015 Car of the Year

Winner announced this morning on Fox

motor trend According to Motor Trend this is the vehicle that best represents exceptional value, superiority in its class and most significant development on the 2015 new car scene. In all there were 42 contenders and as you can see from this image you might be scratching your head like me when MT picked the 2015 Volkswagen Golf as the winner. Really? The winner is chosen in the following criteria: 

Advancement in Design
Quality execution of exterior and interior styling; innovation in vehicle packaging; good selection and use of materials.

Continue reading Braking News: Motor Trend magazine’s 2015 Car of the Year

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion

Tiguan shows VW still struggling in U.S.

Ever since Volkswagen lost its way in the U.S. market, about the time it phased out the old Beetle, it has been struggling to regain its footing.

vw1Nowhere is that struggle more evident than its small sport-utility offering, the Tiguan. VW’s small ute was restyled and remade a year ago and certainly showed improvement. It feels lighter and more fun to drive. The steering is among the sportiest of all small utes. Plus it offers a 200-horse 2.0-liter, I4 with a turbo. That SHOULD make it rock.

But there were issues with the silver mid-line SE 4Motion that I tested.

Mainly its engine and 6-speed automatic DSG transmission with the clutchless manual Tiptronic system did not work smoothly. Certainly the engine has the ponies. Flatten the gas pedal and it’ll jump to highway speeds like a champ.

But most of us drive in that 30-45 mph range a lot as we trundle to and from work. In that bracket the transmission gets balky, especially from 35-40 mph. It feels as if it’s holding the engine back, the car hesitates and transmission noise increases. I found myself languishing as I pulled away from stoplights and getting frustrated as the ute bogged as I approached 40 mph on suburban 4-lane roads. Some shifts even felt a bit jerky at times.

Tiguan also requires premium fuel to boost that turbo, yet the ute gets modest gas mileage. I got just 22.1 mpg while the EPA rates this at 20 mpg city and 26 highway. Consider, for instance, its competitor, the Mazda CX-5 with its efficient SkyActiv engine that boasts 24 mpg city and 30 highway. I got 27.3 mpg in the Mazda. That’s a big difference. Continue reading 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion

2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4×4

Inexpensive new Patriot fills roll as soft-roader

jeep-patriot-latitudeI like the Jeep Patriot for what it is, an inexpensive sport-utility truck that’s available with four-wheel-drive.

In that, it’s simple and straight forward and has a much Jeepier look than its twin, the Jeep Compass. Let’s get this out of the way up front. Compass and Patriot are the same mechanically, but Patriot looks square and boxy like a Jeep, or the old Cherokee, and Compass is more rounded. Word on the street is that women buy the Compass in larger numbers and the Patriot is a guy buy.

The best line I’ve heard calls both soft-roaders, as they are less likely to be taken out in the muck than a Wrangler, with its high ground clearance and big off-roading tires. Indeed, these Jeeps are most likely to turn up roughing it at a soccer match or Pick N Save lot. Jeep will tell you both can be equipped to be Trail Rated and go off-road, but in reality, these are mainly Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V competitors.

And there, Patriot competes on price. The base front-drive Sport model starts at a modest $15,995, while the upscale Limited 4×4 lists at $25,895. I drove a “rugged brown” (metallic bronze) Patriot Latitude 4×4, which begins at $23,395. With options and a whopping $995 delivery charge mine was $26,055. That’s still moderate for a compact 4-wheeler. Note that the Compass is priced a bit higher. Continue reading 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4×4

2013 Honda CR-V

Upon further review … solid, but bulbous and not as refined as expected

Every once in a while I get to test a vehicle twice in a single year. It’s rare, but this week I had the 2013 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L with navigation, just one model year newer than the CR-V I had tested early last spring.honda-cr-v-exterior-side

It confirmed my thoughts and observations, which cheers me that I didn’t miss the mark earlier. The good news, for the driver, is that this one was a pleasant Mountain Air (turquoise blue) color vs. the blah gray of the earlier model.

But, and I apologize if you feel you’ve heard some of this before, the CR-V remains a solid compact sport-utility vehicle with 5 more horses than the previous generation and a more rounded look. In fact, several friends and observers called the Honda’s rear-end ugly and too bulbous. It’s not attractive, but then few utes really are much more than boxes on wheels. Continue reading 2013 Honda CR-V