Monday, November 21, 2022




Mercedes-Benz keeps expanding its all-electric fleet with a new introductory sub-compact model based on the gas-powered GLB SUV as the latest newcomer.

It comes in two versions, the EQB300 and the EQB350, the former providing a bit more in the way of range and the latter more in the way of power and performance. Both come with Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system as standard. This review is based on the EQB350.

As you might expect from the German automaker, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 features premium materials throughout the cabin, though standard features fall short of those on SUVs higher on the German automaker’s food chain.

Standard features include the usual luxury niceties like dual zone automatic climate control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights and tail lamps, lumbar support for the power driver’s seat, sensors to aid in parking, a panoramic sunroof, and power rear liftgate.

What’s kind of interesting (in a negative kind of way) is that though push-button start is included, a proximity key that allows you to open the doors when approaching the vehicle while in possession of the key fob is not. You have to push a button on the fob to unlock the doors.

Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but kind of puzzling.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are among included tech systems, and the “Hey, Mercedes” voice command system makes for easier operation considering what a pain it is to use the touchpad on the console to perforrm a simple task like changing a radio station when driving alone. It’s a bit on the sensitive side and you may get a query asking for what function you desire when you haven’t asked for anything, but you can cancel it by voice as well. (Note to self: “eff off” doesn’t work.)

Standard safety features start with the usual blind-spot and lane-keeping systems as well as the company’s Driver Attention Assist system that detects when fatigue might be setting in.

A surround-view camera would be a nice addition instead of only a graphic diagram that shows where obstacles might be lurking on the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle, but the 2022 Mercedes EQB350 is not a particularly large SUV and visibility around it is good, so it’s not a huge omission.

Five-passenger capacity is standard, though an optional third row expands capacity to seven. Mercedes, however, notes that the far back row is limited to people less than 5 feet, 4 inches tall. A third row also will infringe over the generous 23.5 cubic feet of cargo space on 2-row models.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 offers driving range of up to 260 miles on a full charge, and to ease fears of running out of juice prematurely the navigation systems provides maps to the closest charging outlets.

Mercedes claims that a fast-charging outlet will give the EQB250 up to 80 percent capacity in about half-an-hour. That’s about twice as long as filling up at your standard corner gas station usually takes, but should get you out for less than $20.

Starting MSRP for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 is $58,050. Destination and delivery and options (heated front seats and speed limit assist) ran the bottom line on my test EQB350 to $60,100.

What I liked about the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4MATIC: Performance is a big selling point with 384 pound-feet of torque, nearly 100 lb.-ft. more than the EQB300. Range is good as well, but it seems to come down at an alarming pace even in Eco mode. The premium interior is roomy and comfortable.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4MATIC:
 There is no AM radio as components on some EVs, apparently like those from Mercedes, interfere with reception on the AM band. The infotainment system overall is on the fussy side, mostly because of the “touchpad” operation. It’s very easy to accidentally change radio stations when reaching across the center console to make an adjustment. It may be an electric vehicle but it’s not a quiet one on the highway as road noise from the tires seemed excessive. Having to reset to your desired driving mode (Comfort, Sport, Eco) when you re-start the vehicle is kind of a pain. Why not pick up at the previous setting?

Would I buy the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4MATIC? If you have read any of my earlier reviews on EVs (bless you!), you already know the answer to this. No, I wouldn’t. That’s not because of the vehicle but because of the lack of infrastructure to charge the battery. We are getting more charging stations every day, it seems, but upkeep seems to be lacking. Nothing more frustrating than to pull up at one and find out it isn’t working. (Or even to three and find two out of order.)

Monday, November 14, 2022




Since joining the fleet of Cadillac’s fleet of XT-designated SUVs for 2020, the XT6 has picked up a couple of extra features in ensuing years as it fights on in the large and very challenging midsize luxury SUV segment.

Over the past couple years, Cadillac has introduced a turbo 4-cylinder engine  model to go with the V6 that debuted in the XT6, added a new trim level to serve as the base, made wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto part of its tech systems, made blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert standard features, and updated the top-of-the-line Sport trim with Brembo Performance Brakes.

New this year, buyers of the 2023 Cadillac XT6 have the option of adding Cadillac’s Super Cruise system that provides a hands-free driving experience on more than 400,000 miles of compatible roads and highways.

The 2023 Cadillac XT6 comes in three trim levels starting with the 4-cylinder Luxury trim that was introduced for 2021 and followed by the V6 Premium Luxury and Sport models. This review is based on the Sport trim that carries a starting MSRP of $61,490 including the $1,395 destination and delivery charge. The base Luxury trim starts at under $50,000.

The 2023 Cadillac XT6 Sport comes with all-wheel-drive, though you must remember to select AWD among drive options to take advantage of it. AWD is an option on FWD Luxury and Premium Luxury models.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine in the XT6 Sport is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear selection. It is delivers 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque and has fuel economy ratings of 18 miles-per-gallon, 25 highway, and 21 combined using premium fuel.

The 2023 XT6 does have a distinctive Cadillac appearance with the bold front fascia featuring the familiar brand logo prominently in the new bold front grille. LED headlamps are standard.

At 198.5 inches long, the 2023 Cadillac XT6 is big enough to accommodate three rows of seating, though choosing available captain’s chairs for the second row reduces capacity from seven to six passengers.

The interior features lots of leather, heated and ventilated seats for the front row and heated seats for the second, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, heated steering wheel, a sunroof with a power shade, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, and the company’s CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system for operation of tech features that include navigation.

You don’t have to touch the touchscreen to operate many of the tech features and systems like climate control as Cadillac has put a dial on the console to let you spin through the options on the screen. There are also hard buttons to perform many functions as well.

In addition to blind spot and cross-traffic alert mentioned earlier, standard safety systems on the 2023 Cadillac XT6 include lane change alert, forward collision alert, and a following distance indicator.

Options on my test 2023 Cadillac XT6 Sport included a Platinum package (upgraded leather seating, a Modena leather-wrapped steering wheel with a French-stitched leather-wrapped horn pad cover, and premium floor mats), a Technology package (HD surround vision, automatic parking assist with braking, head-up display, rear camera mirror, rear pedestrian alert), and a Driver Assist package (reverse automatic braking, enhanced emergency braking, auto seat-belt tightening.

Among stand-alone extras were the Super Cruise hands-free driving system, and a cargo security shade. It has an initial cost of $2,500 and a subscription service is required after three years.

All that ran the final bottom line to $75,515, which is competitive in its segment and less than many similarly equipped rivals.

What I liked about the 2023 Cadillac XT6 Sport: It has plenty of passenger room with good legroom in the first two rows, though, as with many three-row SUVs, I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time in the far back. Fuel economy is decent for the class. The 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder in the Luxury trim likely could use more punch but the 3.6L turbo V6 in Sport and Premium Luxury trim delivers adequate acceleration There are lots of standard features that are fairly intuitive to operate. The power folding third row comes with buttons at both the rear cargo area and just inside the doors to the second row.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Cadillac XT6 Sport:
As with many three-row SUVs, storage space behind the third row when the seats are in place is limited. The 8-inch display for the navigation map has a dated appearance. You pay extra for many desirable features like adaptive cruise control and a rear camera mirror that can boost the final price by around 25 percent.

Would I buy the 2023 Cadillac XT6 Sport? If you are a Cadillac fan, need a three-row SUV,  and want to avoid the splashy Escalade, the XT6 is a good option. Otherwise, I would go f or the XT5 or even the XT4.

Saturday, October 29, 2022



Hyundai has embarked on an ambitious program with a goal of selling a million “electrified” models worldwide as soon as the year 2025 to fulfill the public’s growing demand for more eco-friendly vehicles.

Loren Wong, Assistant Manager for Product Planning for Hyundai North America, made that point last month in a visit Miami last month to talk about the South Korean automaker’s plans.

“Today’s consumer is lot more demanding and has many more transportation options to choose from,” he said. “State, city, and municipalities are making greater demands for more environmental friendly and economical transportation solutions.

“At Hyundai we ave embraced this challenge and are ready for the future.”

Cox Automotive, a global conglomerate that tracks industry trends, recenty reported that electrified vehicles, which includes standard gas-electric hybrids (HEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), or cars with all-electric drivetrains (EVs), are the fastest growing segment in automotive sales through the first half of this year.

That translates to a market share of about 12 percent, Wong said,  and that demand doesn’t figure to slacken.

“About one in three people,” he said. “are considering an electrified vehicle for their next vehicle purchase.”

At the heart of Hyundai’s electrified lineup is the all-electric 2022 Ioniq 5, a small hatchback the company began easing into U.S. markets late last year. It is offered in four trims with a range of over 300 miles in rear-wheel-drive configuration to ease fears of range anxiety, the No. 1 concern most people have when it comes to electric vehicles.

All-wheel-drive models don’t get quite that much on a full charge but still offer a respectable 256 miles of driving range.

Even with the reduced range, AWD models have been a popular choice for Ioniq 5 buyers.

“Surprisingly more than half of our Ioniq 5 sales have been for the all-wheel drive Ioniq 5s,” Wong said. “Range is a little less at little over 250 miles but a lot of customers like that tradeoff with increased driving performance for the all-wheel-drive model, which has 320 horsepower versus  225 for the rear-wheel-drive model. And you also get that peace of mind of all-wheel drive traction.”

This review is based on the top-of-the-line of the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited trim with AWD which comes fully packed. It carries a base MSRP of $54,500, which is a pretty good hunk of change, but you can save nearly $4,000 by going with RWD. SEL trim, which also has an extensive list of standard equipment, starts at $49,750 with AWD and $46,250.with RWD.

SE models start at $44,000 for RWD models and $47,500 with AWD.  Also available is an SE Standard Range model that starts at just under $40,000 but doesn’t offered AWD and has a more modest driving range of 220 miles on a full charge.

Designers have given the 2022 Ioniq 5 somewhat of a futuristic look both inside and out, which some may not find to their tastes. It does stand out, and the Limited has lots of friendly features when it comes to comfort and convenience.

Handles remain flush to the sides both front and rear doors until activated by the approach of the key fob, making for a clean exterior side surface. With a wheelbase of 118.1 inches and 182.5-inch length, there is good passenger room.

Infotainment systems on the Limited trim work off a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlan connectivity. Smart cruise control with automatic stop/start technology, a Bose premium audio system, a head-up display, surround view camera, and leatherette trimmed heated and ventilated seats are among features that often are not offered or are available only as options on typical econo hatchbacks.

Push-button start is included, and the 2022 Ioniq 5 Limited rides on 20-inch alloy wheels with a very distinctive design.

In addition to the excellent maximum driving range that the larger battery pack provides for SE, SEL, and Limited models, the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 also has the capability to shorten charging times, another common concern for potential EV buyers.

Built on the company’s E-GMP platform (Electrification Global Modular Platform), the Ioniq 5 can reach from 10 to 80 percent capacity in about 18 minutes when connected to a fast-charger, Hyundai’s Wong said.

Hyundai also has a partnership with Electrify America, which has charging stations throughout the country, that will provide Hyundai owners with two years of free 30-minute charging sessions.

“That 30 minutes should be sufficient for these customers to get where they need to go when connected to a DC fast-charger,” Wong said.

What I liked abou
t 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. Tech features are easy enough to catch onto. I like the way the door handles pop out when you approach the car while with he 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 are be a bit too funky for me and possibly older buyers (a neighbor mocked its look), but that may be an age thing. Hatchbacks generally appeal more to younger consumers. It’s a minor thing but gears are selected by turning a knob that sticks out from the steering column and the gear sequece 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 faster 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.

Friday, October 21, 2022



Just in its second model year, the 2023 Infiniti QX55 comes with more features as standard, which makes it an underrated but attractive alternative for shoppers in the compact luxury SUV segment.

It retains a more rakish profile than its stablemate QX50 with the sleeker styling giving it a coupe-like image. Like the QX50, the 2023 QX55 has a turbocharged 4-cylinder though Infiniti has tinkered with it a bit to make it more responsive, a tough challenge when the only transmission offered is a CVT.

All QX55s are all-wheel drive and seat five passengers. Fuel consumption is at a rate of 22 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway, and 25 combined, which is about the same for AWD QX50 models.

As mentioned earlier, the 2023 Infiniti QX55 is loaded with lots of standard features. It is offered in only three trims with the Luxe model serving as the base and the Sensory topping the lineup. In between is the Essential, which this review is based on.

Standard equipment on the 2023 Infiniti QX55 Essential includes the usual luxury features like a power moonroof, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, leather seating, power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, intelligent key and push button start, rear power liftgate, Infiniti’s Intouch display system with dual screens, Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Navigation with premium traffic map.

In addition, the features that were in the optional ProAssist Package a year ago are now included in the starting MSRP of $54,250. They include Cube Design LED headlights, an adaptive front lighting system, intelligent cruise control, blind-spot intervention, and lane-departure prevention.

Additional safety systems include the company’s ProPilot Assist system, high beam assist, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, and rear-cross traffic alert.

If all that is included on the Essential trim, you might logically wonder what extra features come with the Sensory models for an extra $3,000.

Glad you asked. The answer is maybe not enough to justify the extra cost. Upgraded brakes, a motion-activated liftgate, upgraded leather seating surfaces, 4-way power lumbar for the front passenger, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, extended interior ambient lightning, black wood interior accents, and a head-up display for the driver are the edges for the Sensory over the Essential.

That doesn’t look worth $3,000 to me but perhaps your budget can take it.

The bottom line on my test 2023 Infiniti QX55 Essential came to $56,580 with destination and delivery charge ($1,195) and two stand-alone options (an illuminated kick plate for $485 and welcome lighting with the Infiniti logo for $650) included.

That’s a bit more than the 2023 Infiniti QX50 Sensory AWD will set you back, but is competitive in the segment.

What I liked about the 2023 Infiniti QX55 Essential: There is a long list of standard equipment that includes an around-view monitor. The user-friendly infotainment features include full navigation with traffic info. I like the dual screen operation that allows you to leave map for navigation on the upper screen  while you fiddle with other functions on the lower. It has plenty of punch for normal driving and cruises nicely. Cargo room is generous (26.9 cubic feet behind the second row, 54.2 with that row folded).

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Infiniti QX55 Essential:
The navigation screen while not tiny is a on the small size especially when compared to some of the bigger screens in today’s luxury models. It gives off  a dated feel. It’s  a comfortable ride, but not a very quiet one. I would prefer a 10-speed transmission over the CVT.

Would I buy the 2023 Infiniti QX55 Essential? Yes. The CVT is not a deal breaker for me. There isn’t the usual groan as with older CVTs, and it has simulated shift points for manual-like operations via paddle shifters.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022


The Ford Bronco Raaptor, SAMA’s choice for “star” of the Miami Auto Show.
The 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor, SAMA’s pick for Star of the Miami Auto Show.


The Miami International Auto Show opened last weekend and continues through Sunday (Oct. 23) at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

As shows go, the Miami even has been ranked below the big guys (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Detroit) and pretty much ahead of the rest of the shows. It is considered a consumer-driven show with no high-pressure sales tactics but few dramatic reveals of new models.

Such is the case this year. The lineup of vehicles is still without many of the European luxury brands that once again skipping the event, which is a shame because it seems like every other car you see on the road in the South Florida area is either a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW with an occasional Porsche thrown in.

The Germans apparently are looking at other avenues to garner exposure for their models as they are skipping other shows as well.

The Miami show does have kind of a neat attraction with indoor tracks to give the public rides in electric vehicles. Camp Jeep also is back to give riders a taste of an off-roading experience.

The show opened with a pretty slimmed down press day. Only a couple of model reveals were on the schedule. In that past, introductory press conferences used to run into the afternoon, but last Saturday’s wrapped up well before lunch.

Dodge and Nissan took advantage of the opening to showcase a one new model and a updated version of one of its traditional models.

For Dodge, it was the reveal of the 2023 Dodge Hornet, a performance-driven compact SUV that comes in two versions. The Dodge Hornet GT comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque resulting in a zero-to-60 in the mid-to-low six second level, said Fernando Fernandez, Dodge Hornet brand manager who made the presentation.

Going up the performance ladder, Fernandez said, is the Dodge Hornet R/T trim which features a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine to power the front wheels and a completely independent electric motor to power the rear wheels in the all-wheel-drive configuration.

Overall the package can deliver north of 285 horsepower with an even bigger jump in torque to 383 pound-feet, Fernandez said.

The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT will hit showrooms later this year while the R/T version will be available early next year. Pricing has yet to be firmed up but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of $30,000.

At the Nissan booth, the Japanese automaker unveiled the 2023 Nissan Versa for its first showing.

“The 2023 Versa is completely refreshed inside and out,” Bill Miller of Nissan’s marketing team said in his presentation. 

It starts with a new front fascia featuring a reimagined grille and continues with each trim level — S, SV and SR — getting distinctive upgrades and features. The SR gets a new 8-inch color touchscreen display on the interior, Miller said.

“We’re really happy to incorporate that into the SR trim on the Versa,” Miller said. “And then we have a number of items that were previously in a package on the SR that now come standard, like heated seats and intelligent cruise control.”

There’s  reason people really see value in a Versa, Miller said.
“We’re really proud of this vehicle,” he said, “and it’s a really important part of our lineup.”
Pricing has yet to be finalized, he said, “but I can guarantee that we will continue to deliver the best value in this segment.”

The Dodge and Nissan models aside, the official Show car of the 2022 Miami International Auto Show is the all-electric Ford F-150 pickup, and Star of the Show as selected by a panel of judges of the Southern Automotive Media Association is the Ford Bronco Raptor, a traditional gas-power SUV oriented toward off-roaders. SAMA has traditionally selected a Star of the Show since its founding in 2007.

This year it also singled out four vehicles for runner-up recognition starting with the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 as first runner-up, the Lightning for second runner-up, and the Cadillac Lyriq and Toyota GR Corolla to share third-runner up honors.

Friday, October 14, 2022




With updated exterior features, a plush roomy interior filled with user-friendly tech features, and a muscular, twin-turbocharged V6 to propel its hefty weight, the refreshed Lincoln Navigator sits at the top of the company’s all-SUV portfolio for 2022.

Available in three trim levels and in short or long wheelbase form, the 2022 Lincoln Navigator offers buyers an appealing choice for those shopping in the full-size luxury SUV segment.

The updates for 2022 place the Lincoln Navigator among the leaders of a select but competitive segment the features imports from Germany and Japan as well as fellow countrymen Cadillac and Jeep.

All trims of the 2022 Lincoln Navigator — Base, Reserve, and Black Label — are powered by a 3.5-liter, twin turbo V6 engine that is rated at 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque and mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

That’s enough power to move its nearly 6,000-pounds curb weight from zero-to-60 in 5.6 seconds while offering towing capacity of over 8,000 pounds for the 4x4 Black Label trim that this review is based on.

Fuel efficiency ratings are competitive as well — 17 city, 23 highway for 4X2 models, 16/22 for 4X4 using premium fuel. Keep in mind that these are not vehicles for the fuel-conscious.

Drivers have the choice of several different drive modes with adjustments for sportier performance (which Lincoln dubs Excite), better fuel economy (which Lincoln calls it Conserve), and hazardous conditions like snow, mud, or slick surfaces. 

While all that is impressive, the really “wow” factor emerges with the 2022 Lincoln Navigator’s interior. The Black Label comes in four design themes each featuring variants of the plush leather throughout the cabin.

The Chalet Theme of my test vehicle had alpine leather seats with Lincoln Star perforation, an alpine suede headliner, and a .two-tone back and white color scheme that was particularly eye-catching. Other themes are Central Park, Invitation, and Yacht Club, each with distinctive touches.

Standard equipment includes all the bells and whistles you expect (demand) of the luxury class. Special carpeting, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, tri-zone climate control, etc. are all included.

Tech features start with a 13.2-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash for operation of infotainment features in the Sync4 System, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and voice command recognition.

Safety features include the usual, like blind-spot warning, Intelligent Cruise Control with stop-and-go, lane-centering assist, and speed sign recognition, and a surround view camera — a must for a vehicle of this size.

Lincoln’s Active Glide hands-free driving system also makes it debut on the Navigator’s Reserve and Black Label trims, though you still need to pay attention to what is going on on the road ahead of you. It is activated via the Intelligent Cruise Control system by punching a button on the steering wheel.

One of the big attractions for the 2022 Lincoln Navigator is its size. With a length of 210 inches for the standard model and 221 for the Navigator L space is extensive in all three rows. Even the back row riders get a minimum of 36.1 inches of legroom that is extended to 40.9 inches with the second-row seats pulled forward.

But as the OCD-afflicted detective (well, ex-detective) Monk used to say in the old USA television series of that name, that size is a blessing — and a curse. Just search for a space in a crowd mall parking lot and you’ll see what I mean about a “curse.”

The 2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label edition carries a starting price of $108,330 before any extras are added on. The Reserve trim, which is probably the most popular, starts at $91,250. The Base, which is well equipped, starts at $79,330. Those price tags are pretty common in the segment.
What I liked about the 2022 Lincoln Navigator:
The cabin is spacious and filled with premium quality materials in an attractive two-tone color scheme. Lots of soft touch areas throughout. The grab handles and retractable running boards make getting in and out a snap. Rear storage is adequate for most tasks and extremely generous with the ateird-row seats folded flat. Tech features are easy to operate via the new 13.2-inch touchscreen or duplicate buttons for some functions.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Lincoln Navigator: Maneuverability in mall parking lots and high-rise parking facilities isn’t the easiest. A week of driving in both urban and rural environments produced fuel mileage numbers a bit shy of the 16/22 mpg advertised, but not by a significant margin.

Would I buy the 2022 Lincoln Navigator? I’m not personally in the market for a full-size SUV, even one as nicely done as the Navigator. But if you need an SUV of this size and shop in the luxury segment, you should add this to your list of “must-see” options.