Tuesday, November 30, 2021

2022 Ford 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



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.

Friday, November 12, 2021




At under $25,000 for the top trim, the Hyundai Venue is one of the best bargains available in the subcompact SUV segment today. It offers a full array of standard safety and convenience features at what is by today's standards is a very affordable price.

The 2021 Hyundai Venue comes in three trims: SE, an upgraded SEL, and top-of-the-line Denim Edition for this year with Limited scheduled to replace the latter on 2022 models. This review is based on the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition, which will be the last to carry that trim designation.

One of the best things the Venue, which debuted as a 2020 model, has going for it is a long list of standard features. Even the base SE comes with keyless entry, an 8-inch touchscreen display, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It also looks good on the outside and has lots of room for its class on the inside (though the rear legroom can get kind of tight depending on where the front seats are set). The cabin is not luxury class by any means, but neither does it have the kind of spartan, bare-bones look that many vehicles in this price range do.

Hard plastics? Sure, but the Denim upgrades the interior with a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, and distinct seating surfaces to give it a more upscale look.

A notable feature on the Denim trim is the inclusion of navigation in the 8-inch touchscreen. Sure, you can get turn-by-turn directions on your Smart phone, but do you really want to squint at your phone when you’re looking for a way out of rush-hour traffic or around an unexpected road block?

All Venues come with a 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Thus the emphasis is more on fuel economy (30 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, 31 combined) over performance. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel is not offered.

With 113 pound-feet of torque, the Venue takes 8.6 seconds to get from zero to 60 mph, according to the website zeroto60times.com. That’s not neck-snapping, course, but for most driving situations, especially in urban environments, the Venue gets around OK.

Like most smaller vehicles, it gives the impression of a much snappier performance when getting around town, and the smaller size (159.1 inches long, 69.7 wide) makes getting in and out of tight spaces a snap.

The drive mode selector is a knob on the console that lets you move in normal, sport, or snow  mode. You can feel a noticeable bump when turning it from normal to sport.

Cargo space behind the back row is about that of a trunk in a full-size sedan. Its 18.7 cubic feet is more than adequate for grocery store runs, and if it’s not, you can fold the second-row seats and get 31.9 cubic feet for your luggage or Home Depot runs.

Pricing for the 2021 Venue starts at $19,935 (including destination and delivery) for the SE trim. The SEL starts at $20,785, and the Denim Edition tops the list at $22,245. There are slight increases for 2022 models, but if that bothers you, there is little difference between 2021 and next year’s Venues as far as changes so you can go with the older version.

What I liked about the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition:
The plentiful techno features are very user-friendly. There are knobs to adjust both the radio and A/C controls, which is nice. Driving in Sport mode ups the performance. Safety features like Blind Spot Warning and Forward Collision Avoidance are standard. It also has an alert for when a vehicle in front of you at and intersection pulls away as well as a audio warning about cameras at upcoming intersections.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition: I would prefer a standard automatic over the CVT, though this is a fairly advanced CVT and has a Sport mode to increase performance. Road noise at higher speed infringes on audio volume.

Would I buy the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Editiion? Subcompacts are not among my favorite crossovers, but this one comes packed with lots of features that make for an enjoyable ride. I would have to consider it. The Denim Edition actually offers a slightly less expensive price with many of the same features as the SEL trim when the SEL Premium Package, reviewed on this site last August, is included.

Thursday, November 4, 2021



The 2022 Kia Carnival is yet another vehicle out of the South Korean automaker's assembly plant that merited a new name rather than simply being recognized as a “refreshing” of the model it replaces in the lineup.

Like the 2021 K5 when it took over for the longstanding Optima sedan, the 2022 Kia Carnival replaces the outgoing Sedona nameplate that enjoyed a two-decade run in the minivan segment.

Kia publicists prefer to call it the 2022 Kia Carnival MPV for “Multi-Purpose Vehicle” though with a minivan’s boxy shape, sliding side doors, and three-row seating it is going to take a while for the MPV moniker to catch on.

Kia itself says the 2022 Carnival stakes a claim “on the unoccupied space between SUV and family hauler.” Frankly, I didn’t even know there was a space between the SUV and the family hauler, but apparently the folks at Kia’s California Design Studio think there is one.

Whatever you call it, the 2022 Kia Carnival debuts as a solid competitor to sales leaders Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica in the minivan segment. It does all the right things you want in a minivan and in an attractive manner that will ease some of the “soccer mom” scorn usually associated with the class.

Its 3.5-liter, V6 engine pumps out a significant 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque that gives you a feeling of confidence when negotiating expressways and interstates as well as when merging into intersections. The website zeroto60times.com caught the Carnival SX that this review is based on at 7.0 seconds for its zero-to-60 mph test with the SX Prestige a couple of ticks slower at 7.2.

That engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and that combination checks in with fuel-mileage rating of 19 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. Towing capacity is listed at 3,500 pounds. The fuel numbers stack up favorably with its non-hybrid competitors, and the towing capacity is competitive among its rivals.

In addition to the SX and SX Prestige trims that sit at the top, the 2022 Kia Carnival also comes in LX (base) and EX trims. All 2022 Kia Carnival models are front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not offered.

Though the sliding side doors are a dead giveaway, the Carnival has a sleeker look about it than the typical minivan usually has. From the direct front or rear, it could easily be mistaken for one of the numerous crossovers on the road today.

LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard acdross the line, and the SX gets LED fog lights as well.

Inside the 2022 Kia Carnival SX is roomy and loaded with numerous infotainment functions to keep tech-savvy people happy. Among the standard features on the SX are navigation with a 12.3 touchscreen, USB chargers on all three rows, an intercom system for communication between front- and third-row riders, wireless phone charger, heated front seats, power sliding doors (operable either via the key fob or a gentle tug on the door handle), tri-zone climate control, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Seating capacity is up to eight passengers with the second-row sliding chairs removable for more storage space. You can get up to 145.1 cubic feet behind the first row, 86.9 behind the second, and 40.2 with all seats in place.

SX models also get at no charge a surround view monitor (invaluable when maneuvering in tight spaces), a dual screen rear-seat entertainment system, parking assist, driver’s seat lumbar support, and memory driver’s seat and outside mirror position. The SX also gets a roof rack and rides on standard black 19-inch wheels.

The 2022 Kia Carnival also is the first with the company’s new, more modern-looking, logo.

The LX starts at $32,295 when the $1,175 destination and delivery charge is added on. The SX starts at $42,295. My test vehicle had only one charge for an option, $495 for the silver paint, which ran the final bottom line to $42,770.

What I liked about the 2022 Kia Carnival SX:
At last, Kia has restored the knob to surf radio stations, making the infotainment system even more user friendly. The interior overall is roomy, especially when it comes to stowage area behind the back row seat. It drives and handles well for a minivan. Features include an Auto Hold function to keep you still when stopped at an intersection and the surround view camera and front and reara parking assist systems provide a comfortable feeling. Lots of safety features are included in the base price.

What I didn't like about the 2022 Kia Carnival SX: The storage box on the console could be bigger. Places to put odds and ends in general are somewhat limited throughout the cabin. It's not too difficult to get into the third row, but I wouldn't call it easy either. It's a low rider so be careful going over speed bumps.

Would I buy the 2022 Kia Carnival SX? As much scorn as the minivan segment might get, nobody yet has come up with a better vehicle for hauling families and all their stuff. The Carnival rates as one of the top newcomers in the segment so yes, if I was in the market for a minivan, I would give the 2022 Kia Carnival a long look and hope I could afford the SX.