Friday, December 31, 2021

2022 KIA STINGER

 


KIA GIVES BASE MODEL STINGER GT-LINE MAJOR HORSEPOWER BOOST FOR 2022


I know of no data that will back this up but it has been my experience over the last 20 years that automakers pay more attention to updating the higher trims on their models than they do on their entry level vehicles, though many of the features introduced on the top trim eventually trickle their way down through the lineup.

Kia, however, seems to be taking a different approach with the newest Stinger.

While upper trims with their V6 engines get a slight power bump to 368 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, the base GT-Line trim of the 2022 Kia Stinger now gets a much more potent turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under its hood.


It is rated at 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, a boost of 45 hp and 51 lb.-ft. over the 2.0L turbo-4 of the previous generation. That cuts about a second off the zero-to-60 mph time with a clocking of 5.2 seconds according to the South Korean automaker.

Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy remains at a steady at 22 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway, and 25 combined in rear-wheel-drive configuration such as the Stinger this review is based on. With all-wheel drive (standard on upper GT1 and GT2 trims) the numbers are 21/29/24.


Using recommended premium fuel, those figures virtually match the numbers for 2021 models (22/29/25 RWD) and 21/29/24 AWD).

And the GT-Line is well-equipped for a base model with driver-assist technology that includes blind-spot and lane-keeping assist along with SMART cruise control as well as features like leather seat trim with heated front seats, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, Bluetooth wireless technology, wireless phone charger, Smart key with push-button start, and LED headlights and tail lamps.


The cabin is roomy and has a nice feel about it. It may not match European imports when it comes to luxury, but it’s close enough and you’re talking about a vehicle with a starting line of less than $40,000. Legroom in the rear is an adequate 36.4 inches.

The 2022 Kia Stinger also gets new alloy wheels, distinctive LED exterior lighting, and a new exhaust quad exhaust design to distinguish it from its predecessor.


Steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for manual gear selection also are offered on all Stinger models.

Standard tech features include a 10.25-inch screen with navigation, a major improvement over the standard 7-inch and optional  8-inch screens offered in GT-Line models in 2021. The rearview camera has dynamic guidelines, a much-appreciated feature.

A 6-speaker sound system may be upgraded to Harmon Kardon premium system, and a power adjustable front passenger seat and sunroof also are options. The 12-way power driver’s seat includes 4-way lumbar support.

Though referred to as a “sport” sedan, the Kia Stinger is in actuality a hatchback with a large cargo area of 23.3 cubic feet. Stowage in the center console also is generous.

My test RWD 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line carried a starting MSRP of $36,090. Add-ons that included a 15-speaker premium sound system, power adjustable front passenger seat, and sunroof plus the $1,045 destination and delivery charge ran the bottom line to $39,715.

GT1 and GT2 models have MSRPs running from $43,690 to $53,490.

What I liked about the 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line: It has a premium look and feel about it, both inside and out, and the sloping profile gives it a stylish, coupe-like appearance. The 2.5L engine responds nicely, especially when operating in Sport Mode. Infotainment features are user-friendly. There is even a knob to surf the radio, and the display screen for navigation is a good-sized 10.25 inches. The hatchback configuration gives it lots of cargo space. You can switch off the Stop/Start function with the push of a button on the console as well as turn on the “Auto Hold” function when idling at an intersection.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line: A power lift gate would be a nice addition for the big rear deck lid. Rear-seat passengers lose a little bit of headroom because of that sloping roofline, and I suspect a taller occupant in the driver’s seat also might find the headliner a little close.

Would I buy the 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line? Yes, especially if you don’t care about the cachet a European brand might give you. There has been some speculation that Kia may discontinue production of the Stinger sometime in 2022. Sales through the first 11 months of 2021 were up slightly (8.13 percent) but the total number was only 12,599 (numbers from goodcarbadcar.net).



Friday, December 24, 2021

2022 INFINITI QX60



INFINITI BRINGS BACK QX60 AFTER GIVING IT 

A VERY WELCOME MAKEOVER FOR 2022 


After lanquishing among its high-class competitors for nearly a decade, the Infiniti QX60 is back after a year’s production hiatus with a fresher appearance and impressive interior upgrades that make it worthy of its role as a “luxury” midsize SUV.

The 2022 Infiniti QX60 comes with an engine that is more than capable of handling its heft smoothly and confidently and in a style fitting for the most pickiest of its critics.

It comes in four well-quipped trim levels and is available with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel. Pure models start at under $50,000 while Luxe and Sensory trims begin at under $60,000.



The top-of-the-line Autograph that this review is based on carries a starting MSRP of $63,250 with AWD, but has a long list of standard features that only $625 for options and $1,025 in destination charges were added to bring the total for my test vehicle to $64,970.

All QX60s come with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, giving it a towing capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. That engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission that — we say “thankfully” — replaces the CVT of first-generation models.



Fuel economy checks in a 21 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 23 combined for FWD models and 20/25/22 for those with AWD using premium fuel.

Even the base Pure trim includes such standard features as LED headlamps and taillights, power panoramic moonroof, rear privacy glass, power liftgate, 8-way power driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar support, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, a 9-speaker audio system, Infiniti Intouch infotainment functions with a 12-3-inch touchscreen and console controller, push-button start, Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth, and safety systems like forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot and lane-departure warning.



The Autograph (whose autograph I neglected to find out) includes all that and adds such standard features as a head-up display, the company’s ProPilot System with navigation, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full-speed Intelligent (adaptable) cruise control with Stop-and-hold function, remote engine start, lane-departure prevention, driver attention alert, 

A luxurious interior that is spacious, comfortable, and refined greets those who step inside. There is generous use of upscale Aniline leather throughout the cabin, and seats and the dash panel feature quilted leather accents. Autograph models get second-row Captain’s chairs separated by a removable center console.


The XQ60 fulfills its role as an SUV with 14.5 feet of cargo space behind the third row and up to 41.6 cubic feet with the third completely folded. (It splits 60/40.)

In a review earlier this month, I sang the praises of Infiniti’s newest SUV, the QX55 and still hold to that opinion. The 2022 QX60 matches it in class and adds the convenience of three-row seating.

What I liked about the 2022 Infiniti sQX60 Autograph:
The impressive, redesigned cabin includes a myriad of convenience and safety features, including the company’s CoPilot360 system. Touches like quilted padding on seats and the dash add a luxurious touch to the interior. A 9-speed automatic transmission replaces the former CVT and combined with the nearly 300 horsepower engine provides a responsive driving experience. Front seats are ventilated as well as heated and come with a massage function. 

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Infinity QX60 Autograph:
Regretfully, critics of the dual screen that separated navigation and audio functions in past models have won out and the QX60 has only one screen to handle infotainment functions. This means if you have up the map display you have to close it and call up the audio screen to tune the radio. There is also no knob to surf the radio dial, and the arrow button to tune stations requires a very firm touch. (The rotary knob on the console only scans presets.) The third row can be extremely snug depending on how second-row riders adjust their seats 

Would I buy the 2022 Infiniti QX60: Yes, though I would recommend a look at a lesser trim like Luxe or Sensory, which would save you several thousand dollars while still including much of the good stuff. Luxe and Sensory models are well-equipped and have the same drivetrain as the top-of-the-line Autograph trim.



Monday, December 13, 2021

2022 FORD MUSTANG CONVERTIBLE


GREAT TIMING! FORD MUSTANG DROPTOP ARRIVES AT PEAK CONVERTIBLE SEASON



Back last September I had the opportunity to drive the Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s first all-electric vehicle. I gave it good marks for its range of up to 270 miles on a full charge and its overall performance.

But I didn’t really consider it a Mustang.

With 266 horsepower and 313 pound-feet of torque in rear-wheel-drive configuration or 428 with all-wheel, the Mach-3 has the kind of performance one expects from a vehicle bearing the Pony car label.

But other than that it is a Mustang only in the sense that Rosie O’Donnell and Sophia Loren are both women.

The Mach-E’s exterior profile and cabin scream SUV, not Mustang fastback coupe.

Or convertible, the subject of this review.



The timing of the arrival of the 2022 Ford Mustang Convertible in my driveway recently couldn’t have been more perfect. Snow may be threatening in other climes, but in South Florida, December is ideal convertible weather. Temperatures aren’t so hot that you get baked when waiting at stop lights, nor is the humidity as stifling as it can be in August.

The 2022 Mustang is part of the sixth generation of the quintessential Pony Car that debuted in 2015 and is pretty much the same as the 2021 model. Most changes involve styling tweaks and a slight reduction in horsepower and torque in the 5.0-liter V8 engine (down 10 of each).



At the top of the portfolio are the GT and Mach 1 trims with their V8  power. — 450 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque in the GT, 470/420, respectively in the Mach 1. (The supercharged Shelby GT500 Fastback is in a class by itself at 760 hp.)

But for the less power hungry, Ecoboost and Ecoboost Premium models come a pretty healthy 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-banger as standard. They rate at 330 hp and 350 lb.-ft. while drinking regular fuel at a less thirsty pace.



EPA figures for the Ecoboost Convertible with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission are 19 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway,, and 22 combined. a nice jump over the 15/23/18 for the 2021 V8 Convertible.

No, you won’t get the full effect of the deep base tones of the V8 Mustang (take that, EVs!) but you can also set the Ecoboost model’s dual exhaust to whatever level suits your ears (Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Track).



The interior of the 2022 Ford Mustang Convertible is much more upscale than the spartan features of older models and overall is very impressive. Dual zone climate control is standard, and front seats are both heated and cooled. (Don’t worry too much about those in the back; those seats are so cramped you aren’t going to be taking many extra riders along).

You’ll find plenty of technological features in the Sync3 infotainment system,  and the Ford CoPilot360 suite of tech functions adds adaptive cruise control, lane-centering, blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist, active park assist to other safety features.

Base pricing for the 2022 Mustang Convertible runs the gamut from just under $30,000 (2.3L Ecoboost with 6-speed manual) through the $30K ranges to over $40K for GT trims and over $50K for the Mach 1. The Shelby GT500 Fastback starts at just over $70,000.

My test vehicle, the 2022 Ford Mustang Convertible Premium trim started with a base price of $37,725, but then totaled out at $50,330 with options and destination charges ($1,195) added.

Biggest items among the options were $6,150 for the 2.3L High Performance package, $2,500 for Equipment Group 201A (Premium trim, adaptable cruise control, voice-activated navigation, premier floor mats), and $1,595 for the 10-speed automatic transmission (complete with paddle shifters).

Oh by the way, if this is peak convertible season where you are, just come to South Florida and rent one. Sometimes it seems that every other car you pass while driving on U.S. 1 in the Keys is a Mustang droptop. 

What I liked about the 2022 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible Premium: The ride with the soft top up is surprisingly quiet. Infotainment features are plentiful and user friendly. The cabin’s interior has been given a nice upgrade in appearance, showing that a Muscle Car doesn’t have to be cold and spartan. Ford’s Co-Pilot360 technology is now standard.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible Premium: The backseat is good for storage only, and with a trunk of 11.4 cubic feet you’re going to need it on occasion. (Still, that’s not bad trunk space for a convertible, by the way.)

Would I buy the 2022 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible Premium? Without question, yes. The turbo-4 engine doesn’t have the big punch of the GT’s V8 power, but still is a lively performer with a considerably less thirsty engine.



Friday, December 3, 2021

2022 INFINITI QX55



INFINITI OUT WITH NEW SPORTIER, SLEEKER CROSSOVER WITH INTRODUCTION OF QX55


The 2022 Infiniti QX55 is a new crossover SUV that, as the name suggests, is based on the Japanese automaker’s best-selling QX50 compact SUV.

It shares the same underpinnings and engine as the QX50 and the interior is similar, but the QX55 has a sportier look with a slopping roofline and other exterior design touches. It  comes with standard all-wheel drive.

At 186.3 inches, the QX55 is slightly longer than the QX50 and is a couple of inches taller at 66 inches, but the wheelbase (110.2 inches) and width (74.9) are the same.



When it comes to first impressions, the QX55 is the one that will draw more head-snapping second looks with its bold exterior design and a muscular stance featuring 20-inch wheels. Infiniti refers to it as a “crossover coupe” in style.

It is offered in three trims — Luxe, Essential, and Sensory — starting at $46,500 and topping out at $57,050 before extras are added on. All come with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission that can be set in Standard, Sport, or Eco mode. Settings also can be tailored to Personal mode, and simulated gear changes can be made via paddle shifters. 




The engine is rated a 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque while delivering fuel economy ratings of 22 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway, and 25 combined using premium fuel. The fuel mileage fits in with its competitors, though others may offer more get-up-and-go with optional engine choices.

Nevertheless, in a week that featured a good bit of interstate driving the QX55 did not suffer any when it came to performance.



All trims are nicely equipped when it comes to standard features like LED headlights with high-beam assist, LED taillights, moonroof, power liftgate, 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto, USB connections, Bluetooth hands-free phone, keyless entry and push-button start, a wi-fi hotspot, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Standard safety systems across the line include blind-spot and lane-departure warning, automatic collision notification and emergency call, and the usual collection of air bags.

The Essential trim, which served as my test vehicle, also included leather upholstery in place of the leatherette on the Luxe, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, memory seating for two drivers, cooled front seats, Infiniti Intouch services with navigation, dual-zone climate control (the Sensor offers tri-zone), and an around-view monitor.



My test vehicle also came with a couple of nice options, the main one being the ProAssist Package that added Intelligent (adaptable) cruise control and upgraded blind-spot and lane-keeping systems.

The premium paint was extra, but — Hallelujah! — the carpeted floor mats were not!

Along with the $1,025 destination charge, that ran the bottom line to $54,120.

What I liked about the 2022 Infiniti QX55 Essential:
With its sleek profile and minimal use of bling, QX55 is a great looking SUV. and sportier than its QX50 stablemate. The Essential tr
im is packed with many standard premium features, though Intelligent (adaptable) cruise control comes in a package with a couple of other features. I like the two-screen setup for infotainment and other functions that allows you to fiddle with the navigation map or radio without putting one or the other down.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Infiniti QX55 Essential: The sloping roofline comes at a cost of some rear headspace (36.9 inches compared to 39.1 in the 2021 QX50, and you won’t be able to stack stuff up quite as high in the rear cargo space. There is 26.9 cubic feet of storage capacity behind the second row compared to 31.4 in the QX50. I would like a knob to surf the radio dial instead of pushing on a button to change stations and perhaps a 10-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT.

Would I buy 2022 Infiniti QX55 Essential? In a heartbeat. Unless you need a three-row SUV, this is a great choice in the luxury segment.



Tuesday, November 30, 2021

2022 Ford Maverick



FORD INTRODUCES A PICKUP FOR NON-TRUCK PEOPLE WITH NEW COMPACT MAVERICK

The 2022 Ford Maverick revives an old Ford nameplate but is a new —- and very much different — vehicle from its predecessor.

The 1970s’ Maverick was a compact sedan designed to challenge the imports beginning to arrive from Japan.

The 2022 Ford Maverick is a compact pickup truck that essentially is a truck for people who never really gave serious consideration to buying a pickup but always had the thought in the back of their mind.



It is the smallest of the company’s lineup of trucks and the first to offer a hybrid drivetrain as standard. The combination of a 2.5-liter gas engine and electric motor is mated to a continuously variable transmission and offers fuel mileage of up to 40 miles-per-gallon which, Ford tells us, makes it the most fuel-efficient truck on the market today.

Want more horsepower than the 191 ponies and 155 pound-feet of torque the hybrid offers?



An Ecoboost 2.0-lit 4-cylinder gas engine also is available. Matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission, it produces 250 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque and delivers up to 4,000 pounds of towing capacity when equipped with the optional 4K Towing Package. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available.

EPA mileage figures are for the 2.0L are 23 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway, 26 combined for front-wheel drive, 22/29/25 for AWD models.



Perhaps the remarkable thing about the Maverick is a starting MSRP of under $20,000 for the base XL trim that this review is based on. That’s before any options and the destination delivery fee are added on, but even then you would be hard-pressed to find a better bargain.

In addition to the the XL trim, the Maverick also features an upgraded XLT model starting at $22,280 and a top-of-the-line Lariat trim for $25,490.



Standard equipment on the XL includes a locked tailgate, LED automatic on/off headlamps, a second-row bench seat with under-seat storage, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a rotary dial gear shift with normal, tow/haul, slippery, eco, and sport drive modes for standard models and normal, tow/haul, slippery, mud/ruts, and sand modes for those with the optional F4 off-road package.

Bluetooth phone communications, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto also are included on the XL, and audio functions work off an 8-inch touchscreen.

But the XL model is pretty much basic when it comes to other convenience features. The driver’s window, for example, is one-touch up but not one-touchdown and the AC/heater is one-zone.

The Maverick is available only with a Crew Cab which features good space and is easy to get in and out of. The interior emphasizes function and simplicity. It made me think back to the pickups back in the day before they became fancy SUVs with cargo beds and luxury car price tags. 

No, you won’t find much in the way of fancy add-ons or plush materials in the XL, but upper trims offer more in the way of extras to upgrade the interior.

Exact pricing on my test XL was not listed on the spec sheet, but on the list of equipment in addition to the standard features were the 2.0L engine and 8-speed automatic, floor liners, rear-seat bins, manual rear sliding window, and Ford co-Pilot360 (blind-spot alert, pre-collision assist, rear park assist, and lane-keeping system).

The 4.5 foot bed also featured a spray-in bedliner.

By the way, if you were wondering about the color of my test vehicle in the pictures, I would call it some shade of blue. Ford calls it Area 51. Go figure.

What I liked about the 2022 Ford Maverick XL: The size is ideal for those who want a vehicle for runs to the local Lowe's or Home Depot and other such chores. You get both hauling capability and an easy vehicle to drive. Performance from the Ecoboost (turbocharged) 2.0L engine has lots of punch and more than doubles owing capacity to 4,000 pounds over the standard hybrid. The no-frills cabin isn't fancy by any means but is still very functional and comfortable. Infotainment functions are user friendly..

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Ford Maverick XL: The console could use a bigger storage bin. This is the first vehicle I’ve driven in quite a wheel that had steel wheels instead of alloy. The upgrades in upholstery and alloy wheels make the jump to the XLT trim worth the extra $2,255 in MSRP.

Would I buy the 2022 Ford Maverick XL? I would buy the Maverick, but I would splurge to get the XLT trim for the extras it offers. An upgraded interior likely would ease the spartan-like feel of the XL model.



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

2022 MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS CONVERTIBLE


MINI GETS A REFRESHING, BUT STILL VERY MUCH REMAINS A MINI IN ALL ASPECTS

Just as the word “dated” began to appear in reviews of the iconic Mini in recent years, the 2022 Mini Cooper Convertible arrives refreshed and updated but still with the sassy attitude that has been an integral part of its DNA for just over six decades.

While still retaining its distinctive overall outer appearance, the 2022 Mini gets new bumpers front and rear, a revised grille and new wheel designs, and three new colors — Island Blue, Rooftop Grey and Zesty Yellow.



The traditional circular display for infotainment functions still dominates the interior, but several upgrades are given to the seats along with other tweaks.

The convertible is offered in three trims starting with the base S and followed by the more performance-tuned Cooper S. The top-of-the-line John Cooper Works trim that served as my test model tops off the portfolio.



The John Cooper Works and Cooper S both come with a 2.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine though the John Cooper Works is tuned for a significant boost to 228 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque over the 189/206, respectively, for the Cooper S. The base Cooper trim comes with a 1.5-liter 3- cylinder rated at 134/162, respectively.

The John Cooper Works model does not come with the manual transmission that is available on the other trims, but gets an 8-speed Sport Automatic as standard. 



That power train scoots it from a zero-to-60 mph in 6.3 seconds, a half-second quicker than the Cooper S, according to the company clockers. Fuel economy for the setup in the John Cooper Works is reported at 24 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 28 combined using premium fuel.

As might be expected (demanded?) of a vehicle in the $40,000 range (more on that later) the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible comes with a nice collection of tech and safety features.



Among standard comfort and safety features are Active Driving Assist with Forward Collision, Pedestrian Detection and Lane-Keeping Assist, an active rollover protection system, automatic modes for headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, an 8.8-inch touchscreen to activate infotainment functions, 6-speaker audio system, Bluetooth Connectivity, rear park assist, JCW sport suspension, and a multi-function, leather-wrapped steering wheel.


Mini has always prided itself on giving buyers several options to personalize their vehicles, and the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works is no exception. My test JCW included two packages that added $6,000 to the bottom line.

The Iconic trim package included a heat front seats, dual zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button start, red exterior mirror caps,  Piano Black exterior trim, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a Harmon Kardon premium sound system, and performance summer tires.

The Touchscreen Navigation Plus package added navigation, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, (but not Android Auto, at least according to the spec sheet), and some other features.




Most tech stuff is out of parent company BMW’s stable, but generally a bit more intuitive to operate. The circular display screen, however, does result in a lot of wasted space on the display, but it is a Mini signature design. They aren’t likely to give that up any time soon.


In all the bottom line for my test 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible came to $45,750 including the $850 destination charge. As with some other Mini models, that’s a $500 increase over most 2021 prices.

What I liked about the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible: It is fun to drive (and would be more fun with a manual transmission) and has a sophisticated interior with lots of tech features. Raising and lowering the soft top is a snap, and there even is a pause if you just want the exposure of a sunroof without a full retraction. You can also raise or lower it at low speed. You can still see the head-up display even if you are wearing polarized sunglasses. The front sport seats are supportive and comfortable, and front-seat riders have plenty of room. 


What I didn’t like about the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible: The view in the rear view mirror is restricted when the top is lowered because it doesn’t fold flat enough. You don’t see what is behind you until the following vehicle is very close, and even then you get only about the top half. Truck space is very negligible. Yes, this is a subcompact convertible so you can’t expect much, but this one won’t even fit a beach umbrella. Publicists claim the Mini seats four adults, but anyone who wants to ride in the back needs to compromise, like say amputate their legs.

Would I buy the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible? I am a big fan of convertibles, but the Mini wouldn’t be my first choice. It’s a fun car,  though, and would work as a second vehicle or for daily commutes to work. If that is a bit out of what you would want to spend for a second car, the Cooper S starts at just over $7,000 less.