Wednesday, March 15, 2023




After diving full scale into the electric vehicle segment with the 2022 EQS sedan, Mercedes takes its first all-electric crossover utility to the U.S. up to a new level of luxury with the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV.

It comes in three spectacular versions with the EQS 450+ followed by the EQS 450 4MATIC and the top-of-the-line EQS 580 4MATIC, which this review is based on.

The EQS 450+ comes with a single electric motor rated at 355 horsepower and 419 pound of torque delivering a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 6.5 seconds. Range is pegged at 305 miles with a full charge.

The all-wheel-drive EQS 450 4MATIC gets the same horsepower from its dual electric motors while upping torque to 590 pound-feet and cutting zero-to-60 time to 5.5 seconds. Range is 285 miles.

The 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV packs the biggest punch with its dual motors rated at 536 hp and 633 lb.-ft, moving its 3-ton plus bulk from zero-to-60 mph in an estimated 4.5 seconds, according to the company. Like the 450 4MATIC, range for the EQS 580 SUV is 285 miles.

The EQS 580 rides on 21-inch wheels, the others on standard 20-inchers.

It is on the inside that the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC blows away rivals.

Dominated by the 56-inch glass Hyperscreen that stretches across the front panels and features displays for the instrument cluster, touchscreen for infotainment functions, and a portrait display for the front-seat passenger, the cabin is filled with premium materials with lots of soft surfacds. Stitched white leather and wood trim complete the package.

Among standard features are heated and ventilated leather seats with “comfort” front headrests, a Burmeister premium sound system, dual panoramic sunroof, wireless Smartphone charging, keyless start and active parking assist.

A Driver’s Assist Package includes active distance assist, lane-keeping and blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control and Mercedes’ Pre-Safe Plus and Pre-Safe Impulse Side systems that prepare the vehicle for potential collision situations not only in front and behind you but also to the sides.

I can’t think of any reason why you would want to allow anyone else behind the wheel, but if say your spouse is a regular driver, a fingerprint scanner allows someone to scan their fingerprint and all their personal preferences will be set.

Optional features include an Executive Package for rear-seat riders with Comfort head rests, MBUX tablet, wireless charging, heated seats, and rear-side airbags.

Also available are 4- or 5-zone climate control, an MBUX rear-seat entertainment system, front multicontour seats with massage and rapid heating, and a third row of seats to increase capacity to seven occupants.

An optional Winter Package for those in colder climes adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a heated windshield and windshield washer system that heats up the washer fluid bottle and lines to prevent freezing.

As the top model in the EQS SUV portfolio, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV carries a price tag to match its status. Starting MSRP is $125,590 not including the $1150 destination and delivery charge.

That puts it right at the high end of the luxury electric SUV segment with the Tesla Model X and well above its next direct competitor the BMW iX xDrive50i.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ has a starting price of $104,400 while the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4MATIC starts at $107,400.

What I liked about the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV:
While the exterior has the typical Mercedes distinctive looks, the interior is particularly stunning. The comfortable and quiet cabin as a futuristic look without being funky. Range is excellent, and acceleration is brisk. Caro space is generous behind the second row.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV: The learning curve to all the tech features is on the steep side. Some hard-wired knobs would be welcome, but I guess Mercedes engineers go for appearance over convenience. Fortunately, many functions can be activated by using the “Hey, Mercedes” voice system. The headrest pillows can be a bit distracting as the one on driver’s side would unintentionally and frequently just brush the back of my head.

Would I buy the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV? Frankly, all this luxury 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.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio



With its distinctive Italian styling and lively performance, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio offers an attractive alternative for those shopping in the compact luxury SUV market.

It is especially appealing to those who want to get away from the “cookie-cutter” design that prevails in the very competitive segment dominated in 2022 by Tesla’s Model Y and imports from Germany.

Introduced as a 2018 model, Alfa Romeo has added a couple of new trims for 2023 in limited edition Estrema and Lusso models, but we are dealing here with the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio that is offered in Sprint, Ti, Veloce, and Quadrifoglio versions. Veloce replaces the discontinued Stelvio Ti Sport that was part of the lineup for the first four years.

The 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which this review is based on, ups the ante in performance with a twin-turbo 2.6-liter V6 replacing the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the other trims, boosting horsepower and torque to 505 hp and 443 pound-feet. Numbers for the 4-banger are a respectable 280/305, respectively.

Zero-to-60 mph times for the V6 are in the sub-4.0 second range, or about twice as quick as those for 4-cylinder models.

All models get an 8-speed automatic transmission with available oversize paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. All-wheel drive is standard on all but the base Sprint trim, which has it as an option to standard rear-wheel drive.

The V6 in the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a bit thirstier than the 4-cylinder Stelvio models with EPA figures of 17 miles-per-gallon city, 23 highway, and 19 combined compared to 22/28/24 for AWD 4-cylinder engine. Premium grade fuel is recommended for both engines.

Exterior features on the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio include unique front and rear fascias, Brembo performance brakes, dual quad exhaust stems, and a 4-leaf clover logo on the side panel that pays homage to Alfa Romeo’s racing heritage. “Quadrifoglio” is Italian for 4-leave clover. A hands-free liftgate also is included.

Standard interior features include heated front and rear seats, 8-way power adjustable front passenger and driver’s seats with 4-way power lumbar support, a carbon fiber steering wheel and carbon fiber trim, and a 14-speaker, Harmon Kardon audio system.

Front-seat passengers get a generous 40.1 inches of legroom, but riders in the second row must make do with almost 10 inches less. Cargo space is only 18.5 cubic feet unless the second-row seats are lowered, then it’s tripled to 56.5 cubic feet.

Among standard tech features are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wireless charging system. An 8.8-inch display screen includes navigation.

Safety systems include full-speed frontal collision warning, blind-spot and cross-path detection, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control with full stop.

My test 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio also included as options Driver’s Assist Package, dual-panel sunroof, and dynamic dual exhaust. The spectacular green exterior paint came with a price tag of $2200, which if memory serves as the most I’ve ever seen for a special paint in over 20 years of reviews.

All that and the $1,595 destination and delivery fee ran the final price up to $92,790 from the starting MSRP of $84,650.

Other Stelvio trims run from the mid-$40K range to just over $50,000.

What I liked about the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD: Exterior styling is appealing and distinctive. Performance is top notch. This is an SUV that definitely stands out like Sophia Loren in a room full of Rosie O’Donnell look-alikes. The Verdi (green) Montreal exterior on my test vehicle drew lots of positive attention in my stint.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD:
Infotainment features have a steep learning curve. The screen itself is on the small side, especially when compared to some of those on competitors. Rear-seat legroom is tight (31.9 inches). Cargo capacity is more in line with full-size sedan instead of typical SUV.

Would I buy the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD? Love the look, but the Quadrifoglio’s MSRP is at the highest end of a segment filled with lots of quality choices. The Ti trim may be a more dollar-wise choice. It also offers all-wheel drive as standard and at a considerably more competitive price, but the Quadrifoglio packs a bigger punch.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023




Introduced as a 2005 model giving buyers a smaller option in their SUV shopping than the rapidly growing older brother Santa Fe, the Hyundai Tucson was fully redesigned for 2022 with a new sportier-looking XRT trim making its debut.

An exclusive front and rear fascia, body side molding and standard sidesteps, a standard roof rack with cross rails and 19-inch, black alloy wheels distinguish the 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT from SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited trims.

All gas-engine Tucsons are equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It is also is available as a standard hybrid (HEV) or plug-in (PHEV) vehicle that delivers not only better fuel mileage but more in the way of horsepower and torque as well.

The 2.5L engine in the 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT is rated at 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque which is not going to deliver snap-your-neck performance, but seems adequate to handle normal conditions around town and expressways.

The website clocked the Tucson at 7.1 seconds with front-wheel drive and a slower 8.8 seconds when equipped with optional all-wheel driver. Fuel mileage checks in at a respectable 24 miles-per-gallon city, 29 highway, and 26 combined in AWD configuration using recommended regular fuel.

Hyundai has gifted all Tucsons with a nice array of standard features and safety systems. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT lists forward collision avoidance warning (in case your spouse is not riding along), lane-keeping and lane-following assist, blind-spot detection, and a tire monitoring systems that pinpoints individual wheels among standard safety features.

Also included in the $33,350 starting MSRP for the 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT AWD are LED daytime running lights, headlights and taillights, rear privacy glass, dual automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, hands-free power liftgate, 3 years of Hyundai’s Blue Link Services, Smart (adaptive) cruise control, and parking guidance for the rearview monitor.

Infotainment functions work off an 8-inch touchscreen that is very user-friendly and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though only the top-of-the-line Limited trim gets standard navigation. Wireless device charging also is standard.

The interior is especially room for the compact SUV class with just over 41 inches of legroom in both the first and second rows and cargo capacity of 38.7 cubic feet with second row seats in place.

The only extra on my test 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT was $195 for carpeted floor mats. That plus $1,295 for destination and delivery put my test vehicle at $34,840.

The base 2022 Hyundai Tucson SE with FWD starts at only $25,800 while gasoline versions top out at $36,800 for the Limited AWD before extras and freight charges are added on.

The Tucson is a carryover model with 2023 prices ranging from $26,700 for the base SE with FWD to $37,460 for the Limited AWD.

What I liked about the 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT:
The exterior is very distinctive without being overly funky. The interior is roomy and comfortable, and the storage area behind the second row is spacious. Numerous safety and easy-to-operate tech features are standard. A more traditional gear-shift lever with a leather-wrapped knob replaces the push-button shifter common throughout the Hyundai fleet.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT: Not so much a complaint but an observation. A running board isn’t really necessary as the cabin doesn’t sit that high up. In fact you might dirty up your pants leg as you step directly to the ground when you exit because the back of your pants leg typically brushes it.

Would I buy the 2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT? Yes. Hybrid and plug-in versions are worth a look as well. They not only deliver better fuel mileage but also offer more in the way of horsepower and torque. You can keep going with the 1.4L gasoline engine when you run out of electric juice. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023




Infiniti introduces a new model for its second-generation QX50 SUV. A new Sport trim replaces the Essential trim that had debuted at the top of portfolio in the 2019 makeover but quickly gave way to Sensory and Autograph models in recent years.

You might think that the 2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport that sits between entry level Pure and Luxe trims on one side and Sensory and Autograph on the upper realms is performance-oriented, but you would think wrong.

The differences between Sport and other models are largely cosmetic with the former getting a unique front fascia, 20-inch dark-painted and machine-finished wheels and gloss black exterior trim pieces. Inside the Infiniti QX50 Sport gets semi-aniline, leather-appointed seating, and a Bose Premium Audio System with 12 speakers as standard.

The differences are made more striking since most other trims for the 2023 QX50 are largely unchanged in looks or features.

All Infiniti QX50 models come with a 2.0-liter, inline turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That’s not the quickest combination around and zero-to-60 mph times fall in the mid six-second range. Unfortunately, fuel mileage offers no real compensation.

With standard front-wheel drive, the 2023 QX50 Sport delivers 23 miles-per-gallon city, 29 highway, and 26 combined and available all-wheel drive shaves a mile off each number.

Though Infiniti trumpets the variable compression engine and CVT as delivering “impressive fuel economy figures” fuel mileage, those figures don’t stand out from the competition it is class.

So what does the 2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport have going for it?

For a start, there is a nicely appointed, roomy cabin that features semi-aniline leather seats, a Bose premium sound system, dual climate control, power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, and a panoramic moonroof with a power sunshade.

The 2019 redesign earned recognition of one of the year’s 10 best automotive interiors from Ward’s Auto, and the 2023 models build on that ambiance. There’s an overall feeling of understated luxury that wafts over you as you sit in the vehicle. It’s kind of like the feel you get being in a 5-star rated hotel suite as opposed to a double room at a Motel 6.

Infotainment features work off Infiniti’s dual-screen setup and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a wi-fi hotspot, navigation, and, as mentioned earlier, Bose premium sound.

Standard safety systems include blind-spot warning and intervention, Forward Collision Warning and Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, lane-departure warning and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking.

Driver assistant standard systems include an Around-View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, front and rear parking sensors, Pro-Pilot Assist, and adaptive cruise control.

LED headlights, foglights, and taillights are standard, and it rides on 19-inch wheels.

All that is included in the starting MSRP of $50,500 for the 2023 Infiniti QX50 Sport. A couple of extras (Infiniti illuminated kick plates and Welcome Lighting with the Infiniti logo) ran the total for my test vehicle to $52,815 including destination charges of $1,195.

What I liked about the 2023 Infiniti QX50:
The classy cabin is roomy and quiet on the highway. Critics often deride the dual screen setup to operate the infotainment system, but I like it very much. You don’t have to clear the screen of one function (navigation, for example) to operate another (say, audio). It also has lots of standard safety features. Cargo space is good.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Infiniti QX50: The CVT detracts from the performance potential and doesn’t deliver the kind of fuel economy you might expect of it.

Would I buy the 2023 Infiniti QX50? Yes. It as a classy interior and appealing exterior, and pricing is very competitive. I’m hoping a 9- or 10-speed automatic is in the future to replace the CVT, but would live with it if I have to.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023




It probably comes as no surprise to you that the sales leader in electric vehicles in 2022 was Tesla, which accounted for 65 percent of EVs sold in the U.S., according to the website

But the runner-up may take some guessing.

I’ll save you time. It’s Ford.

The Blue Oval company reported sales of 61,575 electric vehicles last year to nose out South Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia for the No. 2 spot. The only other domestic manufacturer with an EV in the Top 10 was Chevrolet with the Bolt.

The bulk of Ford’s success can be attributed to its misnamed Mustang Mach-E SUV, which is not anywhere close in styling to the iconic Mustang coupe and whoever came up with that idea should be horse-whipped (OK. Not literally).

But I digress.

The Mach-E just missed the 40,000 mark with sales, reaching 39,458 in 2022, That trend continued this January with sales up to 2,626 vehicles, a 10.8 percent jump over January 2022 numbers.

Since being introduced in late 2019 as a 2021 model, the Mustang Mach-E has not changed much, so little that my press fleet manager said the 2021 model was able to stand as a valid test vehicle for the latest edition.

The 2023 Mustang Mach-E comes in four trim levels with the First Edition model from 2021 dropped for obvious reasons after selling out. Select and Premium trims are offered with a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive while California Route 1 and GT models come with all-wheel drive only.

The GT trim, which serves as the basis for this review, adds specific styling touches and offers a bit more in the way of performance. But as with just about any EV on the market today, torque numbers on all Mach-Es are healthy and 0-to-60 mph times range from 5.8 (RWD) and 5.2 (AWD) seconds for Select models to 3.8 seconds for the GT trim.

Mustang Mach-E Select models come with a Standard Range battery pack that provides up to a driving range of 224 miles AWD or 247 RWD while the Premium is available with the Extended Range power pack to boost range to 290 AWD, an increase of 13 miles over previous models, or 306 RWD.

California Route 1 models with standard AWD and Extended Range Battery offer the longest driving range at 312 miles. The GT, which boosts horsepower to 480 and torque to 600 pound-feet, has a range of 270 miles.

There is also a GT Performance trim that matches GT horsepower numbers but increases torque to 634 pound-feet at a cost of 10 miles of driving range.

Ford has done a nice job of outfitting the Mustang Mach-E with enough tech tech and high-quality interior materials to give it a luxury feel. The huge touchscreen that dominates the dash serves a platform to operate all the infotainment features looks impressive but can be frustrating to work in real life. Thank goodness for voice recognition!

The 15.5-inch touchscreen includes navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All Mustang Mach-E models get Ford’s Co-Pilot Assist that includes adaptive cruise control and safety features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-centering.

To finish with some good news: Ford announced in late January it was increasing production of the Mustang Mach-E while also reducing prices from $600 up to $5,900 depending on the trim.

MSRPs line up thusly (savings in parentheses): Select RWD Standard Range $45,995 ($900); Select AWD $48,995 ($600); Premium Standard RWD $50,995 ($3,600);  Premium AWD Standard Range $53,995 ($3,680); California Route 1 Extended Range $57,995 ($3,980); GT Exended Range $63,995 ($5,900).

Extra for Extended Range Battery was cut from $8,600 to $7,000, but adding the GT Performance Package to the GT trim stays the same at $6,000.

What I liked about the Ford Mustang Mach-E: Even the base model offers enough range to ease any anxiety about running out of power unexpectedly, and you can get over 300 miles on some battery packs. The interior is roomy and nicely done. Its brisk acceleration is one area whee the Mach-E lives up to Mustang standards. 

What I didn’t like about the ford Mustang Mach-E: Infotainment features all work off a huge, tablet/iPad-like monitor that seems to have impressed many critics but can be very distracting to operate. Some functions seemed slow to respond to touches and others are buried under obscure mode menus. Recharging the battery at a Level 2 station was impressively quick up to 80 percent but slowed to a crawl after that.

Would I buy the Ford Mustang Mach-E? I personally am not interested in buying or leasing an all-electric vehicle until charging stations are as ubiquitous as gas pumps so I’ll pass. But Ford has cut pricing up to $5,900 depending on model to make it a more appealing buy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023




After a late 2021 debut, Hyundai’s all-electric Ioniq 5 compact crossover SUV has spent the last year or so collecting awards the way Tom Brady used to pick up Super Bowl MVP trophies.
And not just for automotive’s electrified segment.

Recognition has come from such authoritative sources as Kelley Blue Book, which dubbed the Ioniq 5 a “watershed vehicle” for the company in naming it its “Best New Model” and “Best EV Buy” of the year.

Esquire called the Ioniq 5 “one of the most delightfully distinctive everyman cars on the road today” in bestowing it with “Car of the Year” honors, and Car & Driver said the Ioniq 5 “is an attractive proposition for buyers who desire the performance, range, and charging speeds of far more expensive EVs at an accessible price” in selecting it as its “EV of the Year.”

Finally, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 took home the “World Electric Car and World Car Design” categories at the World Car Awards announced at last fall’s New York Auto Show, and the year wound up with giving the Ioniq 5 its “People’s Car Award” in December.

All that came after the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 picked up six awards in its debut year of 2021.

One might quibble about the “accessible price” comment from Car & Driver considering the standard range base SE trim starts at $41,450 for 2023 models and AWD versions of the top-of-the-line Limited trim starts at over $56,000, which is pretty much the price range for the cheapest Tesla available, the Model 3.

But the numbers for 2022 models run slightly less, and there is little difference between the two years so do your bargaining.

My first experience with the 2022 Hyundai Ionic 5 was a a brief ride-and-drive last summer, and my driving partner and I were both greatly impressed. I had a longer time behind the wheel last fall.

Since then, the Ioniq 5 closed out the year with sales of 22,982 vehicles, which placed it ninth among the Hyundai models for 2022. January 2023 sales were at 1,548, according to the South Korean automaker, which was a huge jump over the first month of 2022 when the Ioniq 5 was just starting its first full year in showrooms.

That January report was well over half the total of 2,911 the company reported for the last two months of 2022 combined.

A full review of the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 can be found under “October” in my director for 2022, but here is a summary with one caveat. The styling has kind of grown on me and maybe not as funky as I once thought it:

What I liked about the 2022 Ioniq 5 Limited:
As is typical of EVs, the immediate torque response (446 pound-feet on AWD models, 256 lb.-ft. with RWD) makes driving a fun experience. The max driving range is over 300 miles on a full charge on RWD models and increased to 266 miles for 2023, up from 256, for AWD models. Tech features are easy enough to catch onto. I like the way the door handles pop out when you approach the car while with the key fob in your pocket or purse and then retract after you get in, leaving a clean exterior.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Ioniq 5 Limited: Both exterior and interior styling in general can be a bi funky for possibly older buyers, but that may be an age thing. Hatchbacks generally appeal more to younger consumers. It’s minor, but gears are selected by turning a knob that sticks out from the steering column and the gear sequence has D (drive) at the top spot where R (reverse) would instinctively be found. You’ll typically find reverse at the head of your console’s gear shift, for example.

Would I buy the 2022 Ioniq 5 Limited? Again, I’m waiting for the infrastructure to catch up to provide more options for charging before I buy an EV even though the Ioniq 5 does have faster charging capability than many other EVs. But the range is good, and you can use the money you save on buy $4 or more gas to rent a car for longer trips.