Tag Archives: luxury SUV

2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label

Navigator a big luxury liner with massaging seats, power & more ….

Lincoln’s long luxurious Navigator feels a lot like cruising a highway in your family room, if your family room is loaded with tech and massaging chairs.

If like mine, yours is not so equipped then for a wee bit more than I paid for my home 30 years ago, a Lincoln Navigator Black Label may be just what you need, especially if you regularly transport seven people.

Navigator is a high-end luxury land yacht along the lines of Jeep’s new Grand Wagoneer with a price to match and an equally quiet and plush interior. My, oh my, cattle must go into apoplexy when either passes their pasture.

The Lincoln touts a perforated Venetian leather interior, black here, with “Brandy” stitching on the seats, dash and steering wheel. I’d call the color brown and the piping around the seats’ edges matches. Navigator’s seats are wonderfully shaped, but if you need to adjust Any aspect, there’s a button for that. Plus both row one and two feature a massaging function that is quite nice.

First, a bevy of buttons on the door allow all seat features to be adjusted, including raising and lowering the headrest. There’s power lumbar, side bolsters, lower cushions and all just require a tap or two on the massive 12-inch info screen to adjust. Once that’s accomplished and saved for the driver and up to two others, you might as well click on the first of two long flat buttons on the door above those seat controls to set your masseuse in motion. Ahhh!)

There are five massaging patterns and four are equally impressive, including Circular, Relax, Recovery and Rolling. The Pulse function is just OK. All feature three strength levels so you can really ratchet them up to whatever level you need for comfort or to stay away on a long drive. I recommend Relax and Rolling as they work up and down your back and across your bottom in a pleasant motion.

Running boards are powered, so neatly fold up and down, allowing easy boarding.

Now if such luxury would happen to relax you too much, to the point of the driver dozing on a long highway jaunt, well ActiveGlide to the rescue. This is Lincoln’s new semi-autonomous driving mode that is activated like smart (or otherwise) cruise control. Once on, it will center the SUV in its highway lane and you can put your hands on your lap. Now most of these systems insist the driver keep a hand touching the wheel. Not this one, mostly.

I drove roughly 10 miles at times on a weekend outing to Green Bay without touching the wheel. ActiveGlide works on about 120,000 miles of well-marked highways, think mostly interstates. The catch is that occasionally, when highway side markings disappear or are obscured, the system clicks off and asks you to restore your hands to the wheel. You must stay alert.

The system also monitors your eyes as it drives via a camera behind the power tilt/telescope steering wheel. If you happen to enjoy talking to a front seat companion and turn your head for very long, or heaven forbid you do doze, the system will beep to alert you to again pay attention to the road.

Other than the occasional cutting out, the system worked well. Although it also beeped from time to time to tell me to put my hands on the wheel when they weren’t BOTH at the 10 and 2 positions.

Watch the video: Mark Savage reviews the behemoth class 2022 Lincoln Navigator – YouTube

There’s more tech to talk about, but let’s get to the ride and drive particulars.

Navigator is roughly the size of a Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon, and a bit shorter than the Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer.

Ride is similar to those in that this being a body-on-frame truck the ride is trucky. Oh, it’s pretty smooth mostly, but over uneven roads there’s bounce that you wouldn’t get in a car or crossover. Occasionally our washboard roads created a little rock and roll motion, not disturbing, but riders noticed.

Power is good from the refined twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that makes an impressive 440 horsepower and delivers 510 pound-feet of torque. An Excite drive mode makes the truck jump away from a stop, but remember that’ll suck more precious gasoline. But enjoy a Bezos blastoff if you can afford it.

Other drive modes adjusted via the console knob include Normal, Normal 4×4, Slippery, Deep Conditions (snow and mud), and Conserve, the opposite of Excite.

The power is applied via a silky 10-speed automatic, and Navigator is happy to drink regular fuel. In fact, I was impressed to get 18.9 mpg in about 85% highway driving. It registered just 12 mpg or so in city trips. The EPA says to expect 16 mpg city and 22 highway.

Handling? Shoot, this is a big SUV, so steering is on the lazy side and there’s some body lean in turns. But the turn-in is decent for parking lot action, making Navigator easy to slip into a grocery lot parking stall.

Back to the quiet luxury interior, what really sets Navigator apart from much of the competition, save the new Grand Wagoneer.

Standard are three-level heated and cooled seats and real wood trim that is impressive looking and features a snazzy modern-looking pattern of squares that interconnect. The pattern is on both the dash and console top.

Again, that info screen is enormous and easy to use, being a touchscreen. No fumbling around here. Climate controls include temp toggles on the console and then there’s the push-button transmission buttons at the center stack’s lower edge. Easy to just punch these, so less confusing than the recently tested GMC Terrain where half the buttons were push and the others pull. I’d still prefer a shift knob or rotary dial, but at least this one makes sense and you’ll get used to it.

Overhead is a giant twin-pane sunroof and shade, plus rear seat passengers get buttons to open or shut the shade at their pleasure. Kids love this. Second row folks also get a giant console between the captain’s chairs for other controls, including the massage features. There are no side window sun shades though.

Climbing aboard is easy with automatic power deployed running boards and then big boarding handles at each entrance, naturally leather-wrapped and brandy stitched. The second row seats will fold flat and also have a power button on the door frame to release them and allow them to slide forward. The exiting passenger, or entering one can then push or pull the seats forward for easier access. However, these seats are heavy, so require some muscle to push back into place and latch.

Oodles of room when rows 2 and 3 are folded flat. Need to carry lumber?

Third row and second row seats can be powered down from inside the power hatch on the driver’s side, but only the third row can be powered back up. The third row seats also split 2/3 and 1/3, a benefit when traveling and carrying five people and luggage.

When both rows are folded down the Navigator offers a massive 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space. It also tows up to 8,300 pounds of trailer and boat, etc.

All the usual safety equipment is here and the Chrome Caviar (really?) Dark Gray Metallic test vehicle added two packages, one for $625 adds the massaging second row captain’s chairs and the other at $1,750 adds the metallic gray paint, suede-like headliner, the fancier Venetian leather seats and Active Glide.

Fancy wood trim and spiffy jewel like speaker covers here too!

There’s no getting around the price here, which starts at $104,775, including delivery, for this Black Label (Mabel, wasn’t that a beer?) edition. With options this hit $107,050. My house cost less and has three sinks and two toilets! Maybe in a future model!

Anyway, for the penny-pinching luxury large SUV buyers, a rear-drive Standard edition lists at $78,330, with AWD adding $3,000. A mid-level Reserve model is $94,155 for the AWD model.

What’s the monthly loan payment? If you have to ask, you can’t afford to navigate the deal. If you can, this is a top-shelf 3-row luxury liner any family could enjoy!

FAST STATS: 2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label

Hits: Plush, huge 3-row SUV with good smooth power, mostly comfy ride and AWD. Plus, massaging seats rows 1 and 2, power retractable running boards, 12-inch info screen, giant sunroof, heat/cooled seats, power third row seats, power-down second row, wireless charger, power fold/slide second row, and quiet interior. Good safety gear.

Misses: Ride can be a bit bouncy, ActiveGlide semi-autonomous driving system cuts out occasionally and asks for hands on the wheel intermittently, second row seats quite heavy and difficult to push back into place after lowering.

Made in: Louisville, Ky.

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, 440 hp/510 torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 5,884 lbs.

Wheelbase: 122.5 in.

Length: 210.0 in.

Cargo: 20.9-103.3 cu.ft.

Tow: 8,300 lbs.

MPG: 16/22

MPG: 18.9 (tested)

Base Price: $104,775 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $101,767

Major Options:

Equipment group 800A (black Venetian perforated leather seats w/Brandy stitching, suede-like headliner, carpet/suede floor mats, Co-Pilot 2.0, ActiveGlide, Chrome Caviar Gray paint), $1,750

Second row captain’s chairs w/massage, $625

Test vehicle: $107,050

Sources: Lincoln, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Obsidian 4×4

Grand is the key word in Jeep’s new full-size luxury SUV …

Jeep’s new Grand Wagoneer, its first GW since 1991 is simply too much, and that applies to price, screens, and luxury features.

Of course, that’s exactly the market Jeep is going after with the Grand, over-the-top high-end luxury.

So I’ll warn you right now, prepare to be amazed, both by what comes on this Grand Wagoneer Obsidian edition, and its sticker. We’ll start there because once you know it, that’s all you’re going to think about. It’s all people wanted to ask me about once they knew.

This model breaches the 6-digit mark.

That’s right, as equipped the test SUV listed at $109,025, including a $2,000 delivery fee, and it only ships here from Warren, Mich. OK, now that you have that $100+ grand figure firmly planted in your gray matter, I’ll try to explain at least the major add-ons and luxury features you get in the Obsidian model, the third of four trim levels.

First, know that obsidian (if you’re not a geologist) is a black glass-like rock formed by melting lava from a volcano. Here it signifies that both exterior and interior are blacked out in nearly every way imaginable, creating a giant blocky black behemoth look that conjures Darth Vader. Ironically light sabers are about the only option not offered.

Before going all Obsidian on us, a Grand Wagoneer first adds Jeep’s 6.4-liter HEMI V8 for power vs. the 5.7-liter V8 in the standard Wagoneer. That means you get 471 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque, up 79 horses and 51 lb.-ft. of torque from the smaller V8. It prefers premium petrol too, and naturally sucks fuel like a teenager crushing pizza at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I got just 12.5 miles per gallon in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving. The EPA rates the GW at 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. I had managed 15.3 mpg with the earlier Wagoneer and its “little” V8.

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the Grandest Wagoneer yet – YouTube

RELATED: See Paul’s car spot on the original Grand Wagoneer:
https://savageonwheels.com/2022/03/18/car-spot-it-set-the-bar-for-luxo-suv/

The other major performance upgrade is the addition of a Quadra-Lift air suspension system with semi-active damping and five ride-height settings controlled via a toggle on the massive console. This suspension also provides 3.6 inches of additional lift, so when you wish to go mudding with your $100 grand vehicle you’ll have 10 inches worth of ground clearance. Note too Jeep says this fords two feet of water, not surprising when you ride on 22-inch wheels.

A whole lotta leather in this richly appointed high-end interior!

Other upgrades include more supple leather, more screens, more chrome by the windows, real walnut interior trim and a black roof. But this being the Obsidian model much of that is pushed aside to black out the window trim and supplant the snazzy wood interior trim with a black vertically striped aluminum on the doors and dash and much of the console’s top. Piano black gloss trim atop the console too and the black (of course) soft leather seats feature gray stitching, as does the steering wheel’s leather cover and console’s leather sides. This looks sharp, but wood looks ritzier.

This also adds a 10-inch touchscreen in the passenger-side dash with a filter to avoid the driver being able to see it and get distracted. But a passenger can access the hundreds of functions hidden within the 12-inch touchscreen the driver Can see. Oh, and there’s a smaller one below that, which can be electrically folded back to reveal a wireless phone charger and numerous power outlets.

Two screens here, one for info and the other for massaging seats and other options.

All screens feature multiple functions and layers, too much to use easily while driving. I also couldn’t add favorite channels to the pre-sets, which was annoying. Another drawback that some other makes have conquered, is the touch points for heated seats and steering wheel all reset to off whenever the ignition is turned off, a concern when running errands and you’re in and out of the vehicle frequently.

Jeep proudly points out there are five screens here now with nearly 75 inches of screen width. This one also adds a rear-seat entertainment package for $1,995 that puts 10.1-inch screens on the back of the front seats for the row-two captain’s chair occupants to watch their favorite shows and movies. Amazon Fire TV is part of that package.

More screens in back, plus dual-panel panoramic sunroof.

In case one feels more entertainment is needed, the stereo in Obsidian is upgraded to a McIntosh premium audio system with 23 speakers. Overkill? Hard to argue with the symphony hall quality of the interior sound.

For penny pinchers the Obsidian package adds $5,000 to the overall price and includes all that black trim, inside and out, the fancy stereo, cooled second row seats, snazzy black accented 22-inch wheels, and a cooler between the seats inside the console. It was absolutely frigid, so nice for soft drinks, or sushi!

Roomy third-row seat in Grand Wagoneer.

Funny, the Diamond Black Crystal Pearl paint job is not part of the Obsidian package. That paint scheme costs $595.

Additional here was a $3,595 convenience group that includes an advanced security system (needed on a $100,000 vehicle), night vision to see people and animals, a rear seat camera monitor, semiautonomous driving system and intersection collision warning system. That “FamCam” is targeted at parents wanting to see what the rear seat occupants are doing, possibly a win on a long road trip. Also could discourage early teens from getting “too familiar” in the back seat.

A $995 heavy-duty trailering package that adds a bunch of trailering aids and heavy-duty engine cooling allows this model to tow up to 9,850 pounds of boat, camper or whatever.

Did we mention the cooler between the front seats?

Speaking of weight, the Grand Wagoneer Obsidian crosses the scales at a whopping 6,400 lbs. itself. Imagine gas mileage if a trailer were attached!

Mentioned the black leather interior a bit earlier, but I neglected to say the seats are nicely supportive and heated and cooled in the first two rows. But the front row also features massaging functions. Waterfall is my favorite massage pattern, but rock climb is good too. There are three others and three massage pressure levels for each too. Folks usually ooh and aah when they try these, but the message functions is mainly to stimulate a little blood flow to the extremities on a long drive. The message is not so relaxing as to make a driver drowsy. Controls for these are on the lower of the two center screens.

Seems I’ve barely touched on the driving characteristics, but they are the same as the Wagoneer reviewed a few months back. Power is strong and ride fairly smooth with a bit of a trucklike feel (this is based on the RAM pickup platform). But the revised independent rear suspension makes this comfy in most regards.

It’s big, but parking wasn’t a big issue and there’s a 360 camera to help too.

Handling? This is a big beast that holds the road well because it also has 4WD with five settings for mud, snow, etc. There is some body lean in tight turns and parking is a challenge just because of the truck’s size. Having said that, a longer L version is coming by this summer as a 2023 model, but the Grand Wagoneer is already roughly a foot longer than the Grand Cherokee L, Jeep’s other new 3-row ute.

Naturally this Jeep could go off road, ford streams and traverse deep snow, but let’s be realistic, at $100,000+ it likely won’t be put to such tests often.

Briefly, other things to know about the GW.

This one would seat 7 with captain’s chairs in row 2, plus a giant console with screen. If you order a bench seat for row 2, the vehicle could seat 8. A power hatch in back allows you to step under it and press power buttons to lower the third and second row seats.

Two screens for the driver and there’s a third screen right in front of the passenger.

Overhead is a giant two-panel sunroof, plus a smaller sunroof over the third row. There are power adjustable pedals below the dash and a power tilt/telescope steering wheel too.

In addition to the safety equipment in the option packages above, a full lineup of safety gear is here. And for ease of climbing aboard the Titanic, er, Grand Wagoneer, power retractable running boards fold down to aid short folks getting inside, then fold flush to the Jeep’s sides after doors are closed.

There’s more, but we’re pushing it now.

Part of the MORE is power fold-down running boards.

Just consider that a Series I GW starts at $90,440 with delivery, a Series II at $95,440 and this Obsidian at $101,845. A Series III pushes that to $104,845. For the record a less loaded base Wagoneer starts about $30,000 less, and well equipped can be had for about $15,000 less.

FAST STATS: 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Obsidian 4×4

Hits: Plush, huge Jeep with off-road capability, five drive modes, powerful V8 with major tow ability, will carry up to 8 passengers. Giant sunroof plus smaller one for row 3, power hatch, the usual safety equipment and 4WD. Quiet interior with oodles of upgraded leather, heated/cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled second row seats. Power adjustable pedals and steering wheel, comfy seats, giant touchscreen.  PLUS console cooler, massaging front seats, air suspension, 23-speaker stereo, giant touchscreen, screen for front passenger, entertainment screens for second row seats, and power retractable running boards.

Misses: So luxurious it likely will never be taken seriously off-road. Screen and electronic controls, such as heated seats, all reset after ignition is off. Hard to engage seat climate buttons when wearing gloves, or not. All screens too many layers to use easily while driving, horrible fuel economy and simply too overly complex in general.

Made in: Warren, Mich.

Engine: 6.4-liter HEMI V8, 471 hp/455 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 6,400 lbs.

Wheelbase: 123 in.

Length: 214.7 in.

Cargo: 27.4-70.9-94.2 cu.ft.

Tow: 9,850 lbs.

MPG: 13/18

MPG: 12.5 (tested)

Base Price: $96,845 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $97,333

Posh second row captain’s chairs, screens and sunroofs.

Major Options:

Diamond black crystal pearl paint, $595

Rear-seat entertainment group (10.1-inch rear entertainment screens, Amazon Fire TV), $1,995

Custom preferred package 23T (Obsidian appearance package, cooled rear seats, cargo cover, tinted glass, piano black exterior accents, adjustable roof rail crossbars, McIntosh audio system w/23 speakers, front passenger screen, 22-inch tinted polished wheels w/black inserts, front console cooler, black interior accents), $5,000

Convenience group (advanced security alert, night vision w/pedestrian & animal detection, rear seat monitoring camera, intersection collision assist, active driving assist), $3,595

Heavy-duty trailer tow package (trailer brake control, trailer hitch line-up assist, trailer hitch zoom, removable rear tow hook, black tow hooks, heavy-duty cooling), $995

Test vehicle: $109,025

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2022 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD

8 people can ride in style in this upscale Calligraphy model …

Think stylish vehicles and you’d be wise these days to first turn your attention to Hyundai or Kia. The two South Korean carmakers have been breaking the staid auto world’s styling molds for several years now.

Case in point, the tested Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy, an 8-person SUV and family hauler that looks and feels way ritzier than it is. The grille, the lights, the interior, all are standout lookers and clothed in a Sierra Burgundy (think dark metallic red wine) the test SUV looked out of place in my 1950s subdivision. Even its color was trendsetting, or make that trend breaking.

In a world of gray, white and black vehicles (those are the three top-selling “colors” now) the dark red Palisade looked special. People pointed at it like I was hauling a Kardashian to the Oscars for crying out loud.

Really there’s not a lot new to talk about here. I praised the original 2020 Palisade after taking a trip to Louisville and back in it. Comfort, quiet, the snazzy interior and solid power from its 3.8-liter V6 all impressed. Now it gains a bevy of safety equipment as standard and this Calligraphy model is the top trim, so loaded with oodles of whiz-bangs that might be optional on other makes at this price.

So there are the looks, maybe too bold for some, but they can have their gray blend-in mobiles. I like the grille and snazzy lights front and rear. Happy with that V6 too as it delivers a strong 291 horses and smoothly via an 8-speed automatic with Shiftronic, which allows a driver to override the automatic with manual shifts, no clutch of course.

Handling is fairly quick too, making it extremely easy to control on the highway and ride is composed without being plush or floaty. A long wheelbase helps that.

AWD is $1,700 extra on all trim levels, but certainly makes sense in our sloppy Wisconsin climate.

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2022 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD – YouTube

Note too there are five drive modes, Comfort, Eco, Sport, Snow and Smart, which is said to learn your driving style and adjust the shifts to fit your needs and wants. Sport does enliven the acceleration a bit and firms steering too. Yet Comfort was fine 95% of the time; I mostly engaged Sport when zipping onto a freeway.

Did a lot of freeway driving in this too, probably 70% which made the trip computer predict I was getting 20.2 mpg, while in reality it was 19.5. That’s in the Palisade’s wheelhouse of 19 mpg city and 24 highway for the AWD version. The front-drive model earns 26 mpg on the highway. That could be important as gas prices head to the stratosphere.

But for family hauling Palisade is certainly competitive with other large SUVs and minivans on the gas mileage front.

It also has an advantage on many because it will haul eight passengers if you opt for the center row bench seat, no extra charge. Go with the more comfy captain’s chairs and it’ll haul seven adults. That’s right, there’s plenty of legroom in the third row and the one-touch second row seats slide forward easily to let a grownup crawl aboard with minimal grunting and groaning. Second row seats can be positioned to create reasonable foot and legroom for both second and third-row occupants. Bonus!

The third row of seats has adequate room and the second and third row fold flat too.

Granted storage behind that third row is not spacious, but will hold eight bags of groceries. Smartly Hyundai offers power third-row and second-row fold downs via buttons inside the rear hatch. So if you’re loading a lot of goods it’s simple to press a couple buttons and lower the seats for cargo hauling.

This interior is stellar in nearly all ways, and certainly from a quietness and styling standpoint. The tester was decked out in light gray (nearly white) Nappa leather with a bit of quilting pattern on the seatbacks and a sophisticated light tan to gray fake wood trim on the doors and dash. The wood is in strips with satin chrome trim between each layer. Classy!

Overhead is a soft gray simulated suede headliner that helps soak up any excess noise that somehow manages to creep into the cockpit. Trim on the console is a satin chrome herringbone pattern while the dash’s top is black and overhead is a power sunroof up front and power sun shade over a larger stationary roof for the rear two rows of seats.

Standard here is a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and 360-degree backup camera along with wireless charger in the console and 10.25-inch infotainment screen that’s simple to use.

Fantastic dash design with large easy-to-use buttons and screen.

In fact, the Hyundai dash is so well designed it’s easy to figure out from the moment you sit in Palisade, no fumbling for knobs that aren’t there or hunting for vague icons that don’t let you know where to find the heat or radio. This is how interiors should function and Hyundai interior designers deserve a big pay increase.

Buttons are all large and logically laid out and the radio tuning is intuitive. No electrical engineering degree is required, a benefit for us less schooled, or old-school, drivers.

Need more? Well, the Calligraphy model comes with a snazzy Harmon Kardon stereo system including attractive satin chrome covered door speakers that look like a jeweler designed them. Sound is good and tuning is easy.

Beautiful design with wood grains atop the door and diamond-pattern leather too.

Flip a turn signal lever and cameras light up in round screens on the instrument panel, one for left turns, one for right, showing you the road and blind-spot behind you in that lane to avoid fender benders and curb scrapes.

Safety equipment is plentiful too, along with lane-keeping assist, forward collision avoidance, driver attention warning, smart cruise control and such, Hyundai adds blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, turn signals in the side mirrors and safe exit assist. This later item is becoming a norm now and alerts a person when a door is unlatched but oncoming traffic could be a danger. Still best to look over your shoulder, but this may help avoid losing a door when the driver or passenger is distracted. Cool too that the lane departure system can be turned off to avoid unwanted beeps as you dodge construction and pot holes.

Also standard on Calligraphy is a perforated leather wrap on the steering wheel, 20-inch wheels, puddle lamps and that fancy satin chrome trim. Standard on most models too is a power hatch, along with remote start and the excellent one-touch second row seats that quickly fold and slide forward for third-row entry.

For techies, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here, along with USB ports for the first two rows of seats.

Seats are quite comfy in most regards in all rows. The third row has a bit of a raised floor so that puts your legs at a slightly elevated angle. My only complaint is the power driver’s seat, which has a long lower cushion, meaning it hits the back of short driver’s knees and could be tiring on a long drive. Before buying, check that out if you’re 5-6, or shorter.

Finally let’s revisit Palisade’s value Palisade. First, a well-equipped minivan will cost you $50,000 these days, give or take a grand. Some SUVs will start there and work their way up to $60 grand or more.

This top-level test vehicle started at $49,615, including delivery, and added just floor mats (which should be standard on all vehicles now) for $215 to end up at $49,830.

If you’re budget is more mainstream and your doodad desires are in check, consider the base SE model at $34,575 with delivery and front-wheel drive. But the engine and mechanicals are the same as Calligraphy. An SEL model at $36,925 adds the captain’s chairs instead of 8-person seating, heated seats, power driver’s seat, remote start and three zone climate controls, so may be the best value.

The $46,815 Limited moves upscale with twin sunroofs, Nappa leather, an HUD and 360-camera, power-down third row seats, wireless charger, heated second row seats and the bigger info screen. Remember, adding AWD is an option for all trims, but so far no hybrid model is available.

Snazzy taillights on the Palisade.

Remember too that Kia’s Telluride is a kissin’ cousin to the Palisade and offers stunning styling too. Other competitors include Ford’s Explorer, Toyota’s Highlander, Honda’s Pilot, VW’s Atlas, and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L (that means Long).

Palisade will haul any family in style in that $35,000 to $40,000 range, and if you can manage the Limited or Calligraphy it’s a luxury ride to be sure.

FAST STATS: 2022 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD

Hits: Sharp looking SUV, good power, ride and handling, plus AWD and 5 drive modes. Loaded with Harmon Kardon stereo, super center stack/console design, big screen, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled front seats, heated second row seats, turn-signal cameras, power hatch, useful third row seat, wireless charger, lane departure can be turned off.

Great looking headlight design too!

Misses: Driver’s lower seat cushion is long, hits back of short driver’s knees. No hybrid model yet.

Made in: Ulsan, So. Korea

Engine: 3.8-liter V6, 291hp/262 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/Shiftronic

Weight: 4,127 lbs.

Wheelbase: 114.2 in.

Length: 196.1 in.

Cargo: 18-86.4 cu.ft.

Tow: 5,000 lbs.

MPG: 19/24

MPG: 19.5 (tested)

Base Price: $49,615 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $47,319

Major Options: Carpeted floor mats, $215

Test vehicle: $49,830

Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

Car Spot: It set the bar for luxo SUV

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is still grand

I’m a huge Jeep guy. I’ve driven and/or owned them for over 30 years. My love affair began when I was fresh out of school TV news reporter in Cedar Rapids, IA and I drove was a 1977 Cherokee Chief (SJ). The other TV stations only had passenger cars so if there was any snow on the ground or any reason to go off-road (sometimes I made them up) they were left behind. My love affair was solidified because my dad worked for American Motors who bought Jeep in 1970 and besides Hornets, Javelins, Matadors, and Gremlins, there were Jeeps in the driveway. The one I remember most was a Grand Wagoneer similar to the one pictured below.

Photo: Jeep

AMC decided to take the Grand Waggy (as it’s affectionately known by fans) and open an entirely new market, luxury SUV’s. So they took this aging platform that had been around since the 60s and loaded it up. It was introduced in 1984. Most examples were powered by AMC’s 360 V-8 and later 401 a 5.9-liter V-8 good for 140 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, power everything including the rear tailgate window, leather all around, and carpeting you could bury your toes in. The asking price for all of this was just under $19,000. Just think what that buys you now. Pretty much a tin can with wheels. Nobody in the market had anything like this and its sales were solid but all this fun came to an end after Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987 and discontinued the Grand Waggy in 1991.

This 1987 lives at the Automobile Gallery in Green Bay, WI, and is run by friend Darrel Burnett. It was purchased by founder William “Red” Lewis. It is beyond mint-like most of the cars Red bought and are displayed in the museum. There is not a spot of rust on it and the interior looks just like the day Red took delivery.

Today, even with the intro of the new Grand Wagoneer, it remains in a class of one and is being rediscovered by a new generation of fans. You can find these all over places like BaT ranging in prices from the mid-20s to 50 ish. Some are commanding crazy six-figure pricing at the auctions.

RELATED VIDEO: See my first impression of the new Grand Wagoneer.

I got the bug after seeing this example. I tried to buy it off Darrel but Darrell politely declined. He told me others have asked too. I started doing some research and found that by buying an affordable one you can later sell it without losing money.

RELATED POST: See the other classic Jeep at the museum.

Ah but found it’s probably not a good daily driver. It gets crappy gas mpg, around 10, and the carbureted engine is sometimes finicky. Because of that many are converted to fuel injection. Still, with all of its quirkiness, I want one of these badly. Dealbreaker is my wife who won’t drive a car without all the safety stuff they have on vehicles now.

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer may have demonstrated the extreme profitability of the luxo-truck concept, but with a few exceptions, it remains in a class of one. Unduplicated even decades later, it is now being rediscovered by a new generation of fans seeking a classic respite from the same/same people movers sitting on dealer lots across the country.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots. Have a great weekend.

2022 Lexus LX 600 debuts

Upscale moves more upscale, but remains trail worthy …

In case you’re an affluent couple (think $320,000+ annual income) the luxury sport-utility market just got an upscale upgrade from Lexus.

The LX 600, the longtime Lexus luxury yacht, er SUV, has been remade for 2022 and is now rolling into dealerships. Lexus tells us they are moving the LX up a couple notches by modernizing its technology, cutting its weight, delivering a more fuel-efficient twin-turbo engine and offering a variety of seating options.

And yes, they are piling on the luxury features while going with five trim levels, including an F Sport model. All may stun you in a variety of ways, not least of which is pricing.

The new LX 600 will be the brand’s flagship model (trucks are more popular than cars) and they hope sales will respond to garner Toyota’s luxury make more market share in a growing segment where about 2 million units were sold in 2020. The market, Lexus reports, is growing about 2.5% a year and they hope to see the LX’s portion more than double from its current 3,500 units a year to about 9,000. Some of those, they are sure, will come from its former Land Cruiser buyers as the Cruiser has been discontinued. But don’t fret, all LX models will have full off-roading capability.

We’ll hope to get a new LX 600 sometime this summer for a test drive, but here are some of the highlights of the new model, which Lexus reassures will be reliably off-road worthy.

This is what the Ultra Luxury interior looks like. Mmmm, comfy!

Consider this for the 2022 model:

  • It will be 441 pounds lighter as it now features aluminum fenders, doors, hood and roof, that last bit a first for Toyota.
  • The trusty 5.7-liter V8 goes bye-bye to be replaced by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with way more torque and coupled with a fuel-saving 10-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage improves from roughly 14 mpg to 19 mpg with that engine and the substantial weight loss.
  • A 12.3-inch info screen will be featured above a 9-incher for all your electronic and entertainment needs.
  • Trims will be the Standard model for about $86,000, the Premium for $95 grand, the Luxury for $103 grand and Ultra Luxury for $126 grand. Then there is the F Sport in the middle, and like other F Sport trim models will feature improved handling and offer a sportier vibe and appearance. Starting price will be roughly $101,000. Affluent indeed!
  • The third row seats will power down flat now. Before they didn’t quite lay flat. Power for those seats starts with the Premium model, which Lexus expects to be its top seller. That will have heated and cooled front seats and heated steering wheel, plus heated outboard seats in row two.
  • F Sport (the Lexus Hero Vehicle) will get a different grille, sport-tuned suspension, semi-aniline leather seats, 22-inch wheels and cool Hadori aluminum trim, an exclusive to F Sport.
  • Luxury models will also have their own 22-inch wheels, soft-close doors, rear manual sun shades and a 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
  • Ultra Luxury models will only have four seats to create a “chauffer” type experience that emphasizes second row comfort with massaging seats and a passenger-side fold up ottoman. Some of this was previously offered on the former flagship model, the LS sedan. Leather here will be diamond patterned and the second row captain’s chairs will recline 48 degrees. Active height control will be standard too, as will a rear seat entertainment system, plus everything that comes on the lower trim lines.
  • A special Appearance Package for the Premium and Luxury trims will offer a matte gray grille, dark gray roof rails and 18-inch matte gray alloy wheels along with black bumper trim. For the record 20-inch wheels are standard with 22-inchers available on most trims.
  • Expect to see a multi-racial advertising campaign starting in April that will target younger buyers as the average age for the LX now is 56, a year younger than the average for the Luxury SUV market.
  • Competitors include the Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, all new or having been revamped in the past year.

This update comes from a Zoom meeting with Lexus representatives speaking to the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

More details to come once we get our hands on one of these to test drive, but one can imagine the LX 600 will be quiet and comfy with enough bells and whistles to justify its price.

Photos are courtesy of Lexus

2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II

Giant Wagoneer moves Jeep WAY upscale …

Jeep’s massive new Wagoneer is its latest attempt at a halo vehicle, an upscale mount to lure hoity toity suburbanites looking for their third or fourth SUV to put in their 4-stall garage. Makes sense, profits are huge at this end of the market, just ask ALL the manufacturers.

But there were so many glitches and oddities that disturbed me with Jeep’s new Wagoneer (its last version sold in 1991) that I’m sure to be branded a Jeep heretic, a non-believer, a crabby old timer who probably didn’t suck down enough prune juice at breakfast.

I’m sorry if that’s what you think. I like many Jeeps and Wagoneer has many selling points. But it also has too many things that don’t make sense.

Incredibly Jeep also thinks so highly of its Wagoneer and, heaven help us, the even more upscale Grand Wagoneer, that it forgot to label this one a Jeep. That’s right, the only places you’ll find the Jeep brand name is inside the headlight fixtures and on the lower portion of the windshield.

That said, the Wagoneer name is spread across the hood and rear hatch, so it appears Jeep is making Wagoneer their upscale brand, like Lexus is to Toyota, Acura is to Honda, etc.

This latest rolling land fortress puts up impressive numbers though.

First, it is 214.7 inches long, rides on a 123-inch wheelbase, 22-inch tires, and weighs more than 5,900 pounds. That translates into a full-size SUV capable of hauling eight people, or just seven if one opts for captain’s chairs in row two instead of a bench. Unlike many 3-row SUVs though, there is ample room in row three for adults, while still leaving decent cargo room behind that third row.

This bad boy is Big with a capital B, front to rear and side to side.

On the power front Jeep opts for its 392-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8, no sissified turbo V6 for this man handler. It’s got plenty of grunt and will tow up to 10.000 pounds.

I hesitate to say this, but you CAN get more power with the Grand Wagoneer that packs a throbbing 471-horse 6.4-liter V8. Of course you’ll pay more and as the Wagoneer earns just a 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway rating from the EPA, imagine your fuel bill for the Grand now that we’re beyond $4 a gallon. I paid $68 for a ¾ tankful in a week’s drive (before gas prices skyrocketed), which came to 15.3 mpg vs. 16 on the trip computer. About half was highway driving.

Watch the video: Mark reviews the new super-big Jeep Wagoneer – YouTube

Ok, so gas mileage is my first bugaboo, and the low number comes despite Wagoneer having an eTorque 48-volt mild hybrid system with cylinder deactivation and variable cam timing to improve gas mileage. Seems a regular hybrid system would be called for in such a big beast, but so far that’s not offered.

Off-road ability is good. Wagoneer will ford 2 feet of water, but it’s not Trail-Rated, at least yet. There are five traction settings adjusted by a toggle on the console. Those include Auto, which is the default, Sport (in a Jeep?), Sand/Mud, Rock, and Snow.

Here’s my bugaboo though. We had snow during my test drive and I drove 20+ miles in that setting, which provided good grip. But after a stop for several hours I came back out and engaged Wagoneer’s Snow mode again (the Jeep resets automatically to Auto each time the ignition is turned off) and after 5 minutes the system flashed a dash light warning that 4WD was disabled and it remained that way for the rest of my 20-mile drive. Hmmm! Disabled just as I needed it. Not helpful. For the record, the next day after the car had rested overnight the system worked fine. Glitch?

Add this glitch to that. Same night, and while the heat settings were all in the 70-degree range, and the dual system set to Auto, after 10 minutes there was no heat. After futzing with the info screen for several minutes to adjust where the heat was to come from – vents, and turning the fan all the way up, just five settings, I finally got heat to move. A few minutes later I shifted it back to Auto, but still no fan action. Next day, it was fine. Hmmm, glitch No. 2!

No Jeep labeling back here, this is just a Wagoneer … a new luxury brand?

Let’s move on to looks. I like the Wagoneer’s nose as it features the usual 7-slot Jeep grille, but from the side and rear the Wagoneer looks like a block of steel that was cut into a rectangle and put on wheels. Yawn!

For those who like bling and who appreciate their, and Jeep’s American heritage, designers place small chrome US flags on both front doors next to the Wagoneer logo. I had one veteran question the taste of using the flag on a non-military vehicle. You be the judge.

Here’s that U.S. flag emblem, another Wagoneer badge, plus a much-needed running board.

Inside there’s no arguing the comfort and room. This feels like your great uncle’s leather-chair filled den on wheels. Head and legroom are generous throughout, that square roofline helping give tall folks oodles of noggin space. Seats are well formed and comfy and both the front and second row seats are heated, as is the steering wheel. Bravo! Front seats also are cooled.

No denying this is a leathery luxury interior, with all the fixins!

Sadly, like most new vehicles that are controlled through a giant touchscreen, and buttons surrounding said screen, the heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel and those for the passenger, along with whatever drive mode you’ve selected, all need to be reset after every engine shutdown. First-world problem to be sure, but in my 5-year-old Subaru, and in many cars with manual seat-heat buttons they stay on the setting you place them in so when you turn the vehicle back on they do NOT need to be reset. In an $83 grand truck (yes, that’s the price) I’d expect the electronics to be smart enough to remember previous settings.

Big touchscreen? Oh yeah! Virtually all functions, even heated seats, go through it.

Not aiming this rant solely at the Wagoneer, but at many high-end info screen controlled vehicles. Also it’s hard to turn these heated items on if you are wearing gloves, the most likely time you’ll need to turn them on.

One final rant, or two, on the electronics, the seats sometimes turn themselves off, assuming you’ve warmed. However, in sub-zero temps seats are Not always so warm after 10-15 minutes. Likewise defrosters should never turn themselves off. Those of us in northern climes need these on all winter, no defaults to off please. Oh, and the five-pane instrument panel screen is way too much info and way too hard to adjust to the way a driver may like it. Interior designers need to know that folks live in cold climates and need buttons to work when a person is wearing gloves and that most of us don’t have time to program our basic instrument panel like we’re working on a 25-inch monitor.

On the plus side there is plenty more though. That screen is huge, there’s a giant sunroof overhead and a second smaller one with manual shade over the third row. The stereo is a 950-watt McIntosh with 19 speakers and 3D surround system, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.  Inside this black leather-lined, fake gray wood-trimmed interior is quiet as your uncle’s den too. Wind and tire noise are minimal.

There’s a third-row seat with plenty of room.

The hatch is powered and sometimes opens when you just walk by it, and there are even power adjusted pedals to help us shorties get the accelerator to where we like it. A power tilt/telescope steering wheel is standard too as is all the electronic safety equipment we’ve come to expect, like emergency braking, a 360-degree camera, blind-spot warning, smart cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Oh, on that, the Wagoneer also chimed at me to “Put Hands On Wheel,” but they already were, just a smidge above the 10 and 2 positions. Hmmm, glitch No. 3!

There is a wireless phone charger here, along with manual side window sun shades for the second row, plus the second row seats slide forward to create more third-row passenger room or cargo space. Wagoneer has 8 USB ports standard, or 11 if you buy the rear-seat entertainment package for $2,195.

Need cargo space, not seat space? Fold row three down flat. Bingo!

That leads us to cost, and again, Wagoneer is intended for the upper echelon buyer. This Series II model starts at $72,995 including $2,000 for delivery (Wow!) and $3,000 for 4-wheel drive. Jeep added $9,930 is options, but didn’t specified for what in its pricing info.

Total was $82,925, country club membership not included. A rear-drive Series I model (not available at this posting) is to start at $59,995 including delivery. A Series III model with air suspension, HUD and Quadra-Trac II AWD lists at $78,995.

That’s not out of line with the likes of GMC’s Yukon Denali, Lincoln’s Navigator or Cadillac’s Escalade. All are mammoth and so luxurious that it’s unlikely any will ever go off-roading. But isn’t that what a Jeep is for?

FAST STATS: 2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4×4

Hits: A Jeep on steroids, off-road capability, five drive modes, solid V8 power with huge tow ability, will carry up to 8 passengers. Giant sunroof plus smaller one for row 3, power hatch, the usual safety equipment and 4WD, naturally. Super quiet interior with oodles of leather, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second row seats. Power adjustable pedals and steering wheel, comfy seats, giant touchscreen. 

Big console and row two folks get controls too!

Misses: Huge and so luxurious it likely will never go off-road. Screen and electronic controls, such as heated seats, all reset after ignition is off. Bummer! AWD function disabled itself during a snowstorm, apparently a mistimed glitch. Hard to engage seat climate buttons when wearing gloves and they turn themselves off when they shouldn’t. 5-panel electronic instrument screen way too complex to use while driving, overly complex in general.

Made in: Warren, Mich.

Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8, 392 hp/404 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,960 lbs.

Wheelbase: 123 in.

Length: 214.7 in.

Cargo: 27.4-70.8-116.7 cu.ft.

Even the tow hooks are giant!

Tow: 10,000 lbs.

MPG: 15/20

MPG: 15.3 (tested)/16.0 (computer)

Base Price: $72,995 (includes delivery and AWD)

Invoice: $71,875

Major Options:

Not fully listed by Jeep, but total $9,930

Test vehicle: $82,925

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e

Smooth plug-in hybrid adds power, better fuel economy to SUV

Luxury and power are as ubiquitous as peanut butter and chocolate. BMW knows that and blends the two with just a smidge of social consciousness in its latest X5 mid-size SUV/crossover.

Its full name is X5 xDrive45e.

What that means is that the power now comes from a plug-in hybrid system that combines a mild 48-volt hybrid’s electric power with a silky 3.0-liter inline-6 with twin turbos. Power is 389 horsepower and it’s as smooth and seamless as any engine or hybrid system on the market.

Jamming the accelerator still delivers a velvety romp up to triple digit speeds, but now with the hybrid’s electric power you can toddle around town for 30 miles using only the electric power. Or you can toggle between Sport, Hybrid, Electric or Adaptive on the console and use or conserve your electric charge.

I switched to Sport as I was heading onto the freeway knowing I’d need that electric power when I got downtown, and let’s face it, if you’re going to be cutting your car’s emissions doing so in a more congested urban area makes the most sense.

The plug-in works like all others I’ve driven. Pull the plug and charger from the compartment under the hatch’s floor and plug into a standard 120-volt outlet in the garage. You get about one mile of charge per hour of plug-in time. So, overnight I ended up with 15 more miles. That means I can use no gas running to the grocery, Target or wherever in the neighborhood. Plug in again and the next day I’m likely at a full charge for a longer drive.

Combined with the gas power I got 28.3 mpg and this is rated from 20 mpg gas-only, up to 50 mpge on electric.

Typical plug-in hybrid outlet on the driver’s side.

Forget about the hybrid system, which is easy to do while driving, and the X5 remains one of the top mid-size luxury SUVs. It’s big and feels it at 5,646 pounds. But this is a BMW, so it handles well, turns into corners with a fair amount of precision and is easy to keep in its lane on the freeway.

Most surprising was the excellent ride, but then it does feature an air suspension system that once you’ve ridden on it you’ll wish it were on every SUV in the market. Trust me, I’ve had nice SUVs in the past, but few coddle like this one.

Watch Mark’s video review: X5 xDrive45e review by Mark Savage – YouTube

Of course that xDrive moniker means the BMW has AWD so is great in sleet, slush and snow. And the $650 M Sport brake package gives it excellent stopping power plus the calipers are a snazzy blue, which was a nice accent to the Arctic Gray Metallic ($550 extra) paint scheme. That’s dark gray with a hint of blue sparkle in it.

Boosting the X5’s looks is the M Sport package itself that adds $5,500 to the sticker, an already stout $66,395. For that you get all sorts of trim and appearance upgrades including Shadowline exterior trim, aluminum tetragon interior trim, high-gloss Shadowline roof rails, Vernasca leather seat trim, an M steering wheel and M Star-spoke bi-color wheels and an aero kit to smooth out airflow over the boxy body.

The other major add-on is the Executive Package, which from its name lets you know who may not be able to afford this. At $4,050 it adds a huge panoramic Sky Lounge sunroof and shade, rear manual side sunshades, 4-zone climate control, a head-up display, wireless phone charger, Harmon Kardon surround sound system with gesture control (not what you think!) a WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth and Icon adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight. Those are fancy headlights, but sadly do not shoot out real (Austin Powers style) l-a-s-e-r-s.

By the way, gesture control means a driver can rotate a finger (not just that one) clockwise in front of the infotainment screen and it will turn up radio volume, or the other way to crank down the sound. While on the stereo, the big 12.3-inch touchscreen also includes eight radio memory buttons under the screen, getting back to old-school channel selection. Bingo!

Two-tone black and white leather looks sharp here.

The X5’s interior is, as you’d expect, a snazzy leather stronghold with white leather seats in the test vehicle, plus white lower trim on the doors and dash, the tops of which are black. That Vernasca leather is real leather but with a stamped artificial grain and artificial coatings that makes for easy cleaning.

There’s also a spectacular jewel-like metal trim (tetragon shaped and part of the M Sport package) that graces the dash and console, with a metal clad cubby door able to retract over much of the console to reveal the wireless charger and cup holders. Satin chrome trim also accents the leather-clad steering wheel and the door releases.

Love the jewel look of the satin chrome trim on the dash and center stack.

Seats are comfy, as they should be. But BMW enhances its power controls here with $750 multi-contour seats, meaning they have multiple lumbar and side bolster adjustments. Plus the lower seat cushion can be extended to aid long-legged drivers. Seat memory buttons are included too.

But here’s the thing. To add heated front and rear seats costs $350 extra and $250 more for the steering wheel and armrests to be heated. I’d expect heated seats and wheel to be standard at this high-end luxury pricing, and the armrests, well, whatever. You should probably be driving, not resting arms. Just sayin’! Oh, and no cooled seats here. Funny, most $50 grand vehicles offer those as standard now.

Another view of the snazzy stack. A lot of buttons here too!

As for safety equipment, the X5 includes what you’d expect, plus adds a Drivers Assist Pro package with extended traffic jam assistant and active driving assistant, semi-autonomous aids. I find these often are too intrusive and push the vehicle hard toward the lane’s center often when not wanted, as in a work zone with lanes that shift and also when other cars sag into your lane and you try to dodge them this pushes you back toward the other car. Couldn’t turn this one off altogether either.

Add to that a cruise control system that was much more complicated than others I’ve tested. Yikes, push a button and set a speed. That should do it, even on these smart cruise systems.

A few other points to ponder.

First, the X5 is not just beauty it’s also beast enough to tow 7,200 pounds, so trailering is very possible. Note you’ll pay $550 extra for the trailer hitch.

And cargo space is fine at 33.9 cubic feet behind the second row seat, or 71.2 cubic feet if that seat is folded flat. A release under the power hatch allows quick rear seat folding too. A third row seat is available on some X5 trim levels, but it appears that only offers room for small kids in row three. As is, this one will haul five adults comfortably.

Underneath the test ute added 21-inch M wheels with performance tires for $950. Certainly the tires aided grip, but to me these looked a bit outsized for the X5. That’s a personal taste thing as the 19-inchers that are standard would do just fine.

Finally, the test vehicle hit a Rockefeller-like $81,695 after adding 10 options. A base (if you can call it that) xDrive40i starts at about $60 grand and includes AWD and a fine 335-horse 3.0-liter I6 twin turbo.

Move up to the M50i version and the price jumps to $83,795, but you get a monster V8 pumping 523 horsepower and you can thumb your nose at the environment, and nearly everyone else as you rocket away from a stoplight.

FAST STATS: 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e

Hits: Excellent power, ride, handling plus AWD and plug-in electric to aid emissions and mpg. Four drive choices, panoramic sunroof, heated wheel/armrest and front/rear seats, wide touchscreen, multiple seat adjustments, 8 stereo memory buttons.

Cool wheels and blue calipers!

Misses: Heated seats and wheel cost extra, no cooled seats, complicated cruise control ties into semi-autonomous driving system.

Made in: Spartanburg, S.C.

Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo I6, 389 hp

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,646 lbs.

Wheelbase: 117.1 in.

Length: 194.3 in.

Cargo: 33.9-71.2 cu.ft.

Tow: 7,200 lbs.

MPG: 20/50 (w/electric)

MPG: 28.3 (tested)

Base Price: $66,395 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $62,315

Options:

Arctic Gray Metallic paint, $550

Drivers Assist Pro pkg. (extended traffic jam assistant, active driving assistant pro), $1,700

M Sport pkg. (See story), $5,500

Executive package (panoramic Sky Lounge LED roof, rear manual side sunshades, glass controls, 4-zone climate control, Icon adaptive LED w/Laserlight, head-up display, Harmon Kardon surround sound system, wireless charging, gesture control, WiFi hotspot, enhanced USB & Bluetooth), $4,050

21-inch M wheel with performance, $950

M Sport brakes w/blue calipers, $650

Trailer hitch, $550

Front/rear heated seats, $350

Heated front armrests/steering wheel, $250

Multi-contour seats, $750

Test vehicle: $81,695

Sources: BMW, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance

Acura doctors up its MDX , prescribing excellence …

 Rare that an automaker skips making one of its best-sellers for a year, but Acura did that – sort of – with its popular MDX luxury sport-ute to ensure its 2022 MDX was a winner. It is.

            To be accurate, Acura didn’t skip a whole year of selling, just brought out the 2022 early, in February. It’s a looker and a strong performer.

            What changed?

            The exterior was restyled, picking up what Acura calls its Diamond Pentagon grille from the RDX model. It appears to be exploding out of the Acura’s nose, giving it a distinct visual to be sure. The rest is nipped and tucked for a more modern look with squinty headlights and thin taillights that flow from the accent line along its shoulders. Then there’s chrome around the windows and a chrome accent stripe on each side and across the lower tail.

            But MDX (Doctor X?) also becomes longer, lower and wider with great visual proportions plus 2.4 inches of increased third-row seat legroom, making it almost useable by adults. The chassis has been stiffened, which helps with suspension tuning, and there’s a new double wishbone front suspension too that helps its ride and handling. A revised multi-link rear suspension also aids the total package.

            An aluminum hood and front fenders cut a little weight too and inside there’s both wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play now, along with our good friend, Alexa, to answer all questions, as best she can. She couldn’t immediately identify the driver, but you can train the system to know your voice and therefore respond to you personally.

            Acura delivers a pleasant, luxury oriented SUV that also feels sportier than most big utes while packing plenty of power, although gas mileage is nothing special. All MDX models are gasoline-only for now. Previously a hybrid was offered, but none is currently.

            See Mark’s video review: https://youtu.be/6tY0vgIDUms

            All those underbody changes have helped give the tested MDX SH-AWD Advance model a well-controlled ride that is more pleasant than many light-duty truck-based SUVs. This handles big bumps and cracked streets well. Ride is fairly firm, but never harsh and the sound-deadening here helps occupants feel isolated from the roughest of roads.

            Then there’s the returning 3.5-liter 290-horsepower V6 that gives the MDX the grunt it needs for clamoring to highway speeds, or pull up to 5,000 lbs. A new 10-speed automatic (up from 9) shifts smoothly and seems well mated to the V6.

Four drive modes, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Snow are controlled via a Dynamic Mode knob on the center stack. Normal and Comfort are so similar you’ll like choose one and leave it alone. Supposedly Normal firms the steering effort some, and I suppose it does, but not enough to matter. Each mode also slightly changes the instrument panel gauges (red gauge rings for Sport) and alters the engine’s sound and the interior’s lighting. The V6 delivers a throaty growl when called on to rip up to highway speeds, otherwise it’s quiet and civil. Sport of course accentuates the growl and firms the steering and ride considerably. That will probably work best in southern climes or out West where roads are generally smooth blacktop.

            That SH-AWD moniker in the SUV’s title means it includes Acura’s Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive system that shifts power to the wheels with the most grip. That’s handy here in winter, but also the torque vectoring it allows to the wheels even in the dry means there’s less push in corners. That aids the MDX’s handling and gives it a sportier feel than one might expect in an SUV that’s nearly 200 inches long.

            Base and Tech models come as front-drive, but the AWD system is available for an extra $2,000. Which provides our segue to pricing.

            These MDX models are luxury vehicles to be sure, so not surprising that the base lists at $47,925 with front-drive while the Tech model starts at $52,625. The A-Spec lists at $58,125 and the tested Advance at $61,675, with delivery. Both upscale models come with AWD standard.

            A performance Type S model is due later this year and will pack a turbo V6 creating355 horsepower. It is projected to start about $65,000.

            While most luxury utes deliver strong performance what may set one apart from the other is interior design and feel. On most such points the Acura scores well.

            I’ve mentioned the quiet, and it’s amazing. But the soft leather seats and trim coddle occupants. The tested Phantom Violet Pearl (looks black except in bright sun, then the violet sparkles in the deep paint job), featured black leather seats with gray stitching and similar door trim. The dash is black leather with black stitching.

            Open pore wood trim gussies up the door panels, as does satin chrome trim, also found on the steering wheel hub and dash.

The interior looks fine, although very gray, yet all the controls are easy to use.

            Everything works well here and controls are easy to see and understand. There are toggles for the dual climate controls, simple buttons and roller wheels for adjustments on the power tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub, and that big knob for drive mode tuning.

            But there’s a touch pad to adjust the 12.3-inch info screen. Size is good, but that pad is best used when the vehicle is not in motion, either parked, or at a stoplight. It’s not as jumpy as some pads I’ve tested, and the firmer you tap or slide your finger on the pad the better it responds. But still, a touchscreen would be preferable.

Logical layout and easy buttons make for a comfy dash and center stack design.

            Seating is comfortable with good head and legroom in the first two rows. Row three will hold a small adult, but they won’t want to go cross country back there. Row three is best for children who are just beyond car seat requirements. Access to the seat is simple.

            Front seats are well shaped for good support, plus both seats offer power controls to extend or contract the lower cushion, lumbar or side bolsters. Massaging seats will be offered later. Front seats are heated and cooled while second row seats are heated and a heated steering wheel is standard on the Advance model.

            There also are parking sensors, a head-up speedometer display that is simply adjusted to suit the driver’s needs, and overhead is a giant panoramic sunroof with power sun screen. Manual screens can be raised on the second row’s side windows.

Door panel controls also look sharp and function well.

            All the usual electronic safety devices are here too, from blind-spot warning to automatic braking, a 360-degree camera, and smart cruise and lane control.

            Row three seats are easily folded down to increase storage space, which could be needed on a trip as there’s just 16.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row. Although there is a good bit of storage under the MDX’s cargo floor too. The power hatch can be activated via fob, an interior button or by waving a leg by the rear parking sensors.

            Negatives? Really much the same as most large luxury SUVs, big A-pillars that when coupled with large side mirrors can obscure the front to side sightlines. Also that third row remains cramped, just less so than before, and gas mileage numbers aren’t impressive.

            I got 21.6 mpg in about 70% highway driving while the EPA says to expect 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Front-drive models get 1 mpg better.

            But there’s a lot to like here and many features, some of which are optional on a few of the competing models. So if you’re in the market for luxury and a large SUV be sure to price each with the exact features you require. While the Acura may start at a little higher price than some, it is competitively priced once standard features are considered.

FAST STATS: 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance

Hits: Sharp-looking 3-row SUV, good power, sporty handling, nice ride and AWD for grip. Quiet luxury interior, power seat support adjustment, 4 drive modes, big info screen, heated wheel, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, motion-activated hatch, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, Alexa standard too.

Snazzy taillights add a classy touch to the SUV’s tail too.

Misses: Big A-pillars, limited third row foot/knee room, no touchscreen, just touch pad on console for info screen adjustment. MPG not impressive.

Made in: East Liberty, Ohio

Pentagon-shaped grilles seem to all be the rage!

Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 290 hp

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 4,565 lbs.

Wheelbase: 113.8 in.

Length: 198.4 in.

Cargo: 16.3/39.1/95.0 cu.ft.

Tow: 5,000 lbs.

MPG: 19/25

MPG: 21.6 (tested)

Base Price: $61,675 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options: None

Test vehicle: $61,675

Sources: Acura, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum 4×4

Expedition Max redefines big luxury truck …

There’s big, and then there’s Max. In this case Max is Ford’s new Expedition Max, as if the original Expedition weren’t large enough. Apparently it was not.

The Max is nearly a full foot longer than the original’s 210 inches and this special Burgundy Velvet Metallic ($395) test SUV was the Platinum edition with 4-wheel-drive, the tippy top of Ford’s SUV lineup.

And let’s get this out of the way right up front, it’s priced like the Platinum edition it is, starting at $81,505 with delivery and checking in at $84,065 as equipped. That’s way up there and competes well with its cousin, the Lincoln Navigator, which with 4WD lists at $76,185. Note too that Navigator’s twin-turbo V6 creates 450 horsepower, while the tested Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivers a healthy 400 hp. Continue reading 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum 4×4

2020 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD

Armada a big boat full of performance, luxury … 

In some ways you’d think Nissan would own the large SUV market.

Its small Rogue is extremely popular as is its mid-size SUV, the Pathfinder. Consider too that Nissan’s large SUV boasts the most power in its class and is one of the lower priced big people haulers on the market.

But, when I mention the Nissan Armada, do you think of a top-tier large SUV? Continue reading 2020 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD