Wednesday, September 13, 2023

2023 FORD F-150 RAPTOR R


As if the 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque in the standard Ford F-150 Raptor isn’t enough, Ford has blessed us with an “R” version that takes those figures up to a breathtaking 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet for those hungering for sports car-like performance.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R zips from zero-to-60 miles per hour in a rapid 3.6 seconds with the capability of crushing anything that might have the misfortune of getting in its way.

When I was growing up I never figured a pickup truck might be my vehicle of choice for a drag race but here we are.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R’s supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine is adopted from the Mustang Shelby GT500 and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. A 2-speed transfer case for off-roading adventures is activated via a convenient panel of buttons on the lower dash.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R rides on standard 37-inch wheels shod with all-terrain tires and, like the Raptor itself, is available only with a five-passenger SuperCrew cabin.

It comes with a wide range of creature comforts such as heated second-row seats, FordPass Connect with 4G wifi telematics, Sync4 infotainment system with a 12-inch touchscreen, leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and push-button start, Raptor branded floor mats, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a distinct Raptor centerstack, a terrain management system, and and adaptive cruise control for highway.

Trail control, a system that allows you to select a specific speed for off-road ventures, also is standard. With this vehicle, you are at home off the road as well as the race track or drag strip.

Safety features include Ford’s Advancetrac system for stability control, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and pre-collision assist with emergency braking and pedestrian detection.

My test 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R also came with a package of features that included leather seat surfaces, power-adjustable pedals, power-sliding rear window with privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats, LED box lighting, and more.

Pricing was not included on the spec sheet since this particular vehicle is not for sale, but the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is going to cost you a lot more than the standard Raptor. 

Starting MSRP for the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is $109,145, or around $30,000 more more than the EcoBoost-powered F-150 Raptors. Even the most expensive electric F-150 Lightning, the Platinum trim, is about $17,000 less.    

Speaking of less, it should be pointed out that despite the overall power boost in the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R, towing capacity starts at 8,200, well below the 14,000-15,000 available on some standard V8 F-150s. Maximum payload is listed at 1,400 pounds, also well short of F-150s equipped with a slightly larger beds than the Raptor’s 5.5-foot b

What I liked about the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R:
With its deep bass exhaust tones and rapid throttle response, it’s like driving a 1960s’ Muscle Car on steroids. The ride is surprisingly smooth and comfortable even with all-terrain tires and a firm suspension designed for off-road use. Infotainment features in the Sync 4 system are user-friendly and include knobs for adjusting the radio and temperature control. The full-size running boards ease the way to get in and out of both rows of seating in the spacious Super Cab cabin. A surround-view camera view takes some of the angst of maneuvering in tight quarters. The auto hold system, activated via the Features menu on the touchscreen, prevents creeping at intersections.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R: Negotiating narrow streets and jam-packed mall parking lots call for attentive handling. It’s a thirsty beast as the computer showed my mileage hovering at just over 11-mpg. Fortunately, a 36-gallon fuel tank extends the range.

Would I buy the 2023 Ford F-150Raptor R? Not for me personally but for someone with a big budget for more challenging off-road excursions it has to be at the top of the wish list.

Monday, September 4, 2023




The 2023 Miami International Auto Show opened Labor Day weekend in Miami Beach without the participation of German manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche and several other popular makes, most notably Honda, Acura, and Volvo.

But still several noteworthy, vehicles representing 17 brands are shown in 13 displays not including a group of exotics and a collection of old-time favorites. Attendees also have the opportunity to get a taste of all-electric vehicles with rides at two different special tracks. 

The South Florida-based Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA) singled out a trio of compelling award winners with its selection of the 2024 Nissan Nismo as “Star of the Show,” the Dark Horse version of the 2024 Ford Mustang as “Performance Car of the Show,” and the 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV as the “Electric Vehicle of the Show.”



The judges also cited three others — Hyundai Ioniq 6, Kia EV9, and Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road — for Honorable Mention honors.

The performance version of the Nissan Z sports car that won SAMA’s “Star of the Show” honors at the 2021 Miami show, the Nissan Z Nismo was making its auto show debut in Miami and will on sale this fall. 

Spokesman Dimitri Arnaoutis called it the “halo vehicle” of the Z lineup that is track ready “right of the box” with model-specific details to the bodywork and performance upgrades like better downforce for “greater stability at high speeds and track performance.”

Media members also got a preview of the upgraded 2024 Jeep Wrangler that was making its first appearance in Miami after its debut at last spring’s New York Auto Show.

“Miami this has always been a Top 10 market us” said Scott Tallon, director Jeep Product North America.


There are a number of capability enhancements among the entire range of Jeep vehicles, he said, including enhancing technology, safety features, and even refinement.

“Some of those touches you don’t necessarily associate with Wrangler,” Tallon said, “but to modernize it and bring it to that next level we have touched nearly ever aspect of this vehicle. But, as I said, capability is  at its core so let’s start there.”

Key is a new full-float rear axle that Tallon said opens the way for “easier modifications for our customers, more capability, and more  towing. Our customers have been telling us for years that when they hit the trails they want to be able to take more gear with them. Now they have these little popup trailers, dirt bikes, whatever.

“Previously the Wrangler could only handle 3500 pounds. Now towing has been increased to 5,000 pounds.”

There also has been an 8,000-pound factory-installed winch at the front, which is “something they have been asking for for a long, long time,” Tallon said.

Hyundai also has revealed refreshed Elantra and Sonata sedans on the Miami floor as well as the Miami Auto Show’s “show car” the Hyundai Ioniq 6 EV.

The Miami International Auto Show continues through Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Miami Beach Convention Center. For more information visit

Thursday, August 31, 2023



Four years after adding upgrades to enhance off-roading capability on its mid-size Colorado pickup, Chevrolet has made the Bison package available in ZR2 models of the 2023 Silverado 1500 pickup.

Working with the off-road aftermarket manufacturer. American Expedition Vehicles, Chevy enhanced the 2023 Chevrolet Bison 1500 ZR2 with extra rocker protection, unique skid plates, a custom front bumper and other features like special AEV wheels shod with 33-inch mud terrain tires  for those seeking more challenging off-pavement ventures.

And it’s just as comfortable in urban environs and handling all the tasks usually associated with full-size pickup trucks. Available only in Crew Cab configuration, it seats five comfortably with up to nearly 45 inches of legroom in the second row.

Leather seats are standard, and there are plenty of infotainment features in the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make tech nerds happy. Navigation, dual-zone climate control, and OnStar communications are also included.

Other standard features included a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat, a 2-speed transfer case, a trailering package, keyless entry and push-button start, and LED headlamps, fog lights, daytime running lights, and taillights.

The cargo area features LED lighting, a dozen cargo tie-downs in the bed area, and a power lock and release tailgate.

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front and rear pedestrian warning, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, blind-spot alert, HD surround vision, and rear cross-traffic braking.

Powering the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 is a 6.2-liter V8 engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and pumping out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

Fuel economy is a meager14 miles-per-gallon city, 17 highway, and 15 combined using recommended premium fuel, but a less thirsty diesel model is coming for 2024.

Base MSRP for the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado1500 ZR2 is $71,500 with optional packages that include the Bison update, a technology package (rear camera mirror, adaptive cruise control, and head-up display) and other stand alone options, like a hard rear tonneau cover, Chevy’s multi-flex liftgate that can be adjusted to provide a work space for a laptop or paperwork, a power sunroof, and power telescoping steering column, ran the total for my test 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 to $86,295 including the $1,895 destination charge.

What I liked about the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison:
The V8 engine packs plenty of punch and is great for getting quickly away from stoplights and highway cruising. The cabin is huge and has lots of spaces to store items, including the second-row seatbacks. The infotainment system is user-friendly enough.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison: Full running boards to ease entering and exiting likely would get more use than the steel rock rails that are included among the off-roading upgrades on the Bison trim. It’s a thirsty beast with the EPA estimating an extra $10,250 in fuel costs over a 5-year period. You can’t shift the gear lever until the driver’s seat belt is fastened, which is going a bit too far in my view. Finding parking spaces in  many lots is a pain with a vehicle this size.

Would I buy the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison? Full-sized pickups are not for me, and you have to be a serious off-roader to spend the extra $7,895 over the ZR2’s hefty $71,500 MSRP to get all the features in the Bison package.

Monday, August 28, 2023



Mercedes-Benz has set an ambitious goal of going “all electric” with its vehicle fleet by the end of this decade with the caveat of “where market conditions” allow, which a cynic (ahem!) might suggest gives the Germans an out should buyers prove to be reluctant to participate in this automotive revolution.

According to a news release from the company, it will launch three new electric-only architectures in 2025 to add a mixture of medium and full-size passenger cars, AMG models, and light commercial vehicles to its fleet.

You don’t have to wait, of course, as Mercedes currently offers a fleet of EVs that include a compact SUV (EQB), a midsize crossover SUV and sedan (EQE), and a full-size crossover SUV and sedan (EQS).

When it comes to sedans vs. SUVs, the electric versions seem to be following the overall trend with SUVs gaining market share while sedans continue on a slow but inexorable slide.

The Mercedes EQS 580 SUV is outselling the EQS 580 Sedan even though the sedan had a year’s head start after debuting a year earlier.

Through the first six months of this year (only quarterly sales are available), Mercedes sold 5,373 EQS SUVs compared to 4,655 EQS sedans, according to numbers from the website

Likewise with the EQE, the SUV version outsold the Sedan by a margin of 2,528 to 2,066 even though the Sedan had a one-month jump over the SUV, which didn’t get to showrooms until April of this year.

Electric vehicles overall, which would include EQB and EQE models, accounted for 15 percent of Mercedes’ sales in the second quarter, according to the company.

As I wrote last spring, the 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV takes luxury and performance to the extreme. dual electric motors provide enough punch for a pleasing driving performance with the 536 horsepower and 633 pound-feet of torque moving its 6,228 pounds from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

The 56-inch glass Hyperscreen that stretches across the front dash houses a wealth of tech features that lets you do everything from adjust the radio to reset the hue of the ambient lightning and more.

Alas, buttons to operate those functions are on the small side, especially those on the steering wheel. It takes tiny fingers to focus in on exactly what you are trying to adjust. Also, if you go to the touchscreen, finger prints could cloud the view, especially when sunlight is pouring into the cabin.

Comfort and convenience features include navigation, wireless Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Burmester premium surround sound system, heated and ventilated front seats, power second-row seats, and keyless go and entry with push-button start.

Standard safety features include active blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist, parking assist with a surround view system, high beam headlight assist, brake assist, and Attention Assist (it even alerts you if the camera doesn’t have a clear view of the driver’s eyes).

The 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV starts at $125,950. Options like heated rear seats, a black micro-fiber headliner, an acoustic comfort package, and a package of features like multi-contour front seats with massage function, and four-zone climate control ran the final total of my test vehicle to $138,940 including the $1,150 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV: The exterior has the typical Mercedes distinctive looks and the interior is particularly stunning. The Hyperscreen display gives the dash a futuristic look without being funky. The cabin is comfortable and quiet. Range is excellent, and acceleration is brisk. Cargo space is generous.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV:
The learning curve to all the tech features is on the steep side. Some hard-wired knobs would be welcome in place of the tiny buttons, but Mercedes designers apparently go for appearance over convenience. Never did find out how to change the navigation screen from the “satellite view” to the standard map. Fortunately, many functions can be activated by using the “Hey, Mercedes” voice system. If you go for talk or sports radio, you’re on the losing side because there is no AM band.

Would I buy the 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV? Frankly, the technology is a bit overwhelming and so is the six-figure price tag. But if it is in your budget, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t check it out.

Friday, August 18, 2023



High-octane performance is not usually what you expect from SUVs, even luxury makes, but there are exceptions.

Not surprisingly, a prime example of an SUV that is all about horsepower and torque comes from Germany. The 2023 BMW X4 M Competition model that the company bills as a Sports Activity Coupe and most others call an SUV sports a 503-horsepower, turbocharged inline-6 engine that produces a whopping 479 pound-feet of torque.

With standard all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2023 BMW X4 M Competition sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, a clocking posted by for 2022 and confirmed by Car & Driver for this year’s edition.

That’s pretty impressive activity for a vehicle that checks in at 4,555 pounds and seats five in a roomy, luxurious, technology-packed interior.

With a firm sport suspension designed to improve cornering capability, a sloping profile, and standard 21-inch wheels, the 2023 BMW X4 M Competition seems more suited to the race track than off-road challenges and daily commutes.

It is a thirsty beast with mileage rated at 15 miles-per-gallon city, 20 highway, and 17 combined using premium grade fuel, according to the EPA, though more conservative driving techniques may improve those numbers. Car & Driver reported 26 mpg it its 75-mile highway test.

BMW unveiled the performance versions of its standard X4 SUV in 2020 with the X4 M and X4 M Competition. The manufacturer gave them refreshed exterior and interior styling in 2022 but made few changes for the 2023 X4 M Competition.

It offers lots of standard features in a high-class interior that include 14-way power adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, selectable interior ambient lighting, power rear liftgate, heated front seats, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment functions, Harman Karon premium sound system, and Apple CarPlay and Android/Auto.

The sloping roofline gives it a sleeker profile than the X3 SUV it is based on and doesn’t intrude on rear-seat passengers (unless perhaps you typically give rides to NBA centers and power forwards), though cargo capacity is considerably less than what the X3 offers.

With all seats in place, the 2023 BMW X4 M Competition offers 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space. The X3 M expands that to 28.7 cubic feet.

The X4 M Competition adds the 21-inch wheels instead of 20s, a performance exhaust system, and upgraded leather upholstery. 

Options include a Driver Assistance Package that includes adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist. Blind-spot warning can be activated via vehicle settings on the touchscreen.

An Executive Package adds heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, head-up display, wireless charging pad, and parking assist.

Unfortunately, the Monroney spec sheet was not available for my test vehicle for the week, but pricing starts at $84,395. The base 2023 BMW X4 M starts at $78,895.

What I liked about the 2023 BMW X4 M Competition: Performance is outstanding. Overall it’s a fun vehicle to drive. Infotainment features are plentiful and fairly user-friendly. Climate control functions, for instance, work off of hard buttons.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 BMW Competition: The ride can be very firm for those with sensitive backside, and the looks — especially the green color — is polarizing. I didn’t go for it, though it did draw compliments  from some passers-by. The shifter has a weird zig-zag pattern. Cargo capacity is closer to what you get from a large sedan instead of an SUV. 

Would I buy the 2023 BMW X4 M Competition? Not in this color. 


Sunday, August 13, 2023




Two decades after unveiling the 2003 Cadillac CTS-V and nearly a quarter-century since jumping into the SUV pool, Cadillac has brought high performance capability to its signature Escalade.

The result is a full-size work horse with the DNA of a 1960s-era Muscle Car. It is capable of towing up to of 7,000 pounds, and its spacious interior has a cargo capacity of 121 cubic feet behind the first row, 72.9 behind the second, and 25.5 with all three rows in place.

Yet the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series still retains the same ostentatiousness and boldness that made it a pop culture icon right after its launch as a 1999 model.

Imagine, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series sprints from zero-to-60 mph IN 4.4 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 12.74 seconds at 100 mph, according to the company’s initial testing. That’s like a 300-plus pound defensive tackle posting a 4.4-second 40-yard dash time.

The downside to all that power: Equipped with all-wheel drive and a 10-speed automatic transmission, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series is a thirsty beast with EPA fuel mileage ratings of 11 miles-per-gallon city, 16 highway, and 13 combined. And premium fuel is required.

By comparison, the 6.2L V8 in the standard AWD Escalade is rated at 14/18/16, and the V6 is a comparative fuel-sipper at 20/26/22. But it’s going to take you at least a couple of extra seconds to reach 60 mph in either of those models.

In addition to the massive power upgrade, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series gets unique front and rear fascias, quad dual exhausts, Brembo brakes with red calipers, unique 22-inch wheels, semi-Aniline leather seats eather interior trim, and V-Series badging on the front doors, liftgate, and throughout the interior.

Cadillac’s Super Cruise hands-free driving assistance system also is available.

Other standard features include air-ride adaptive suspension, 16-inch screen for infotainment features (including navigation), Apple CarPlay and Andorid Auto, power panoramic sunroof, tri-zone climate control, rear camera mirror, wireless device charging, keyless entry with push-button start, adaptive cruise control, hands-free power liftgate, power folding second- and third-row seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and power running boards with perimeter lighting.

Safety features include enhanced emergency braking, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert,  blind-spot alert, HD surround vision, and enhanced auto parking assist.

My test 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series for the week came with options that included the Super Cruise for an extra $2,500 and a radiant red exterior paint for $1,250. The refrigerator/freezer in the console added another $700.

All in all, the options added $4,375 to an already hefty base MSRP of $149,195. With the $1,895 freight charge, the total came to $155,465.

If all this power and performance doesn’t suit you, an all-electric Escalade is coming as a 2025 model available in late 2024. Cadillac says it is expected to be priced from around $130,000 and will have estimated range of 450 miles.

What I liked about the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series:
There is beaucoup power from the huge supercharged V8. The exhaust notes have the full-throated tone of a full-fledged Muscle Car. The roomy interior offers massive storage room when the third-row seats are folded and adequate space when those seats are in place. Infotainment features are plentiful and user-friendly. You can either use the touchscreen or the rotator knob on the console to select functions. The console storage bin works as a  refrigerator/freezer at the push of a button. Third-row seats have enough legroom (34.9 inches) to accommodate adults (though three would be a tight squeeze) and there is ease access to the far back row.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series: Not surprisingly, that big, powerful engine is very thirsty, and premium fuel is required. The overall size can limit your option
s in mall parking lots. 

Would I buy the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series? Too big for me, and very expensive as well. But if you want to make an impression, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series is a great choice.