Wednesday, January 26, 2022




Several years ago I heard a Kia exec explain that the company entered the U.S. with cheaper entry-level vehicles in the early 1990s in order to get a foothold on the market.

But with sales lagging in the latter years of the decade to barely half what they once were, mostly because of quality issues, the company was forced to either leave the U.S. market or upgrade its product.

It chose the latter, and though not the only one, the Kia Telluride is a great example of what the fruits of those labors have brought the South Korean automaker.

Already, the 2022 Kia Telluride has reaped awards from such automotive authorities as Motortrend (SUV of the Year), U.S. News & World Report (No. 1 in Midsize SUVs), (Top-Rated” recognition), and Motorweek (Criver’s Choice Award), to single out just a few.

When the Telluride was introduced for 2020, judges for the North American International Auto Show (Detroit) named it their North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and Texas auto writers dubbed it “SUV of Texas” at their annual Texas Truck Rodeo, one of the most prestigious competitions in the industry.

Not bad for a company that had to declare bankruptcy in 1997 before fellow countryman Hyundai came to its rescue.

But let’s get back to the Telluride.

Kia made few changes to the debut 2020 Telluride for 2021. It added a “Nightfall” Edition for a more aggressive appearance, upgraded the towing harness, and added remote engine start to the key fob along with a couple of exterior colors.

The 2022 Kia Telluride adds the new company emblem to all trims and lower trims get some tweaks that include more standard features like a 10.25-inch touchscreen that includes navigation and voice recognition, which was already included with EX and SX models.

The Telluride is offered in four trims — base LX, EX, S, and SX. This review is based on the top-of-the-line SX trim that carries a starring MSRP of  $44,590 with AWD, which are numbers you once would not have associated with Kia.

Included in that are such niceties as the 10..25-inch monitor with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charger, power driver and front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, side curtains on the rear windows for privacy, 20-inch black forged alloy wheels, rear fixed glass sunroof, LED headlights and fog lights, surround view and blind-spot monitor, Harmon/Kardon premium sound system, second-row captain’s chairs, and safety features like lane-keeping and lane-following assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision avoidance, and parking distance warning.

Like the other trims, the 2022 Kia Telluride SX comes with a 3.8-liter  V6 engine that is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine puts out 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel propulsion available. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds with either configuration.

With FWD, EPA fuel ratings are 20 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 13 combined. AWD knocks those numbers down to 19/24/21. That’s close to average for the midsize SUV class.

My test vehicle came with a couple of option packages that were nice additions. The SX Premium package adds a head-up display, upgraded Nappa leather seat trim, premium cloth headliner and sun visors, heated and ventilated second-row seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers for an extra $2,300.

Other options were a towing package ($795) and carpeted floor mats ($210), making the final bottom line $47,895 including the $1,225 freight and handling charge.

Other trims run from $34,015 for the LX, $36,515 for the S, and $39,015 for the EX. AWD adds $1,900 to each. 

What I liked about the 2022 Kia Telluride SX:
Little things often can mean a lot. There are numerous buttons and knobs, including one to adjust volume and one to surf the radio, to operate the user-friendly infotainment functions. The interior is very roomy and has a premium feel about it. Cargo space and third-row legroom are good. The list of standard features has been expanded and is quite lengthy.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Kia Telluride SX: Nothing really to note here, though a bit more punch for the top-of-the-line SX trim’s engine might be nice.

Would I buy the 2022 Kia Telluride SX? Yes. If a 7-passenger SUV is on your wish list, you definitely need to check out the Telluride. The base LX trim comes with bench seating for the second row and offers 8-passenger capacity. Other trims get captain’s chairs for the second row to reduce capacity.

Sunday, January 16, 2022



In addition to giving the Tucson’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine a slight power boost for this year, Hyundai also is out with hybrid versions that further up the performance of the South Korean automaker’s top-selling model.

The powertrain in the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid mates a 180-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder gas engine with a 44.2 kilowatt electric motor for a combined 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, a boost of 39 hp and 83 lb.-ft. over the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in gas-fueled Tucsons.

According to the website, the Tucson Hybrid with standard all-wheel drive knocks nearly two seconds off the 8.8 seconds clocking of gas models.


The Hybrid’s 60 time of 7.1 seconds won’t exactly snap your neck, but it does mean a livelier — and more enjoyable — driving experience around town, especially with a standard 6-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT.

The power boost is appreciated, but it may come at a cost of extra mileage. EPA figures for the standard Hybrid Limited are 37 miles-per-gallon city, 36 highway, numbers that fall short of the 40-mph figures some of its competitors offer.

Still, that is a pretty good improvement over the combined city/highway mileage figure of 26 mpg for the standard Tucson Limited. The base Blue model has straight numbers of 38 mph city or highway.

Hyundai offers the hybrid drivetrain in plugin or the usual hybrid form. AWD is standard, and three trim levels are there for your choosing — base Blue, SEL Convenience, and the top-of-the-line Limited. This review is based on the Limited trim of the standard Hybrid.

Standard equipment for each are similar to corresponding trims in the non-hybrid Tucson. For the Hybrid Limited, that means features such as a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights and daytime running lights, leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, rain-sensing wipers, Smart cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a surround-view monitor are all included in the starting MSRP of $37,650.

Standard safety systems include forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping and lane-following assist (you get a little “ding” when the car in front of you pulls away from the intersection), driver attention warning, and blind-spot collision warning.

Infotainment functions are plentiful and operate off a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation. The 10.25-inch instrument cluster features Hyundai’s blind spot view monitor system that when activated by the turn signals shows what vehicle may be coming up behind you on your right or left via an image in either your speedometer and tachometer displays.

The final bottom line on my test Tucson was not available on the spec sheet, but the only items not included in the starting MSRP were floor mats ($169 on the standard Tucson Limited) and a freight charge of $1,245 (according to Hyundai’s media website).

What I liked about the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited: What I wrote about the Limited with a gas engine holds true for the Limited Hybrid since they are virtually identical vehicles save for the powertrain. The exterior styling of both models is sharp. The wheels look really cool, 3and the interior also has a premium feel about it. It is roomy and comfortable. There is good legroom room in the rear seats (41.3 inches). The touchscreen for infotainment functions on the Limited is the largest of the Tucson trims and includes an easily read map for navigation. The list of standard safety features is very extensive. Specific to the Hybrid, there is no annoying whine as you come to a stop, and the hybrid drivetrain has more punch than the conventional 4-banger.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited:
The infotainment system is not complicated, but I still would like knobs to make adjustments for some functions. You need to press buttons to adjust volume and stations on the radio, for instance, and touch-sensitive buttons often can be touched by mistake.

Would I buy the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited? Yes. Considering the Hybrid Limited’s starting MSRP is very close to that of the standard Tucson Limited, I would go for the Hybrid for the extra power. I would not go for the Plug-in, however. I just think they are too much of a hassle to deal with on a regular basis unless you have a dedicated charging outlet at home, which I do not.

Monday, January 10, 2022



I’m not sure if he was the first to say it but astronomer/scientist/author/etc. Carl Sagan once observed that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but I have two incidents that would challenge that notion.

One was several years ago when a friend of mine was interviewing golfer Orville Moody for a story he was doing about a local tournament. Naturally, the subject of Moody’s victory in the 1969 U.S.Open came up and at a pause in the conversation, my friend blurted out, “Was that your biggest win?”

As soon as his words were out, my friend wanted them back.

You see, not only was the 1969 U.S. Open Moody’s biggest victory on the PGA Tour, it was the journeyman pro’s only victory in 266 Tour events.

I serve as my second example. I had just experienced some time in the latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class and came away impressed, so impressed that I called a Mercedes PR rep and asked him, “Why an S-Class when you have the E-Class to attract luxury shoppers?”

In my defense, the E-Class debuted in 1953 and does predate the S-Class by a couple of generations. Also, and more to the point here, this was near the beginning my career writing auto reviews and I had yet to have any time in the S-Class. Once I had gotten behind the wheel of one, I soon saw the extra goodies, including ground-breaking tech features, that come with  the top-of-the-line offering from the German automaker.

Thus I could later understand the PR rep’s somewhat stunned silence at my question. Fortunately, he didn’t deny me access to any more Mercedes models for such an impertinent inquiry.

Still, I still think that you can find just about everything and anything you might want in a premium luxury sedan in the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and save some pretty big bucks over the S-Class.

It is offered in coupe, cabriolet, or station wagon form and there are even AMG versions available as well.

The E-Class comes in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive 4MATIC configurations staring with a turbo 4-cylinder engine in the E350. That engine puts out 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

This review is based on the 2022 Mercedes E450 4MATIC that features an inline turbo-charged 6-cylinder engine that gets a boost from a mild hybrid system for a total of 362 hp and 369 lb.-ft.

AMG versions up those numbers to 429/384, respectively, in E53 models and 603/627, respectively in the V8-powered E63 S.

A 9-speed automatic transmission is common throughout the E-Class portfolio.

The E350 4MATIC drinks premium fuel at the rate of 23 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway, and 25 combined, which isn’t bad considering the webside puts it zero-to-60 clocking at 4.4 seconds.

While all those numbers are pretty impressive, the E-Class really is about more in comfort than it is in sporty performance.

There is where it really stands out with lots of premium leather and soft surfaces throughout the expansive cabin. Heated front seats are standard throughout the lineup, and you can get ventilated and massaging front seats in option packages.

Wind and road noise are hardly noticeable, and the 12.3-inch display for standard navigation is easy on the eyes. Dual-zone automatic climate control also is included as standard.

The numerous techno functions in the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) may operate off voice commands and some buttons, but most of the systems operate off an annoying touchpad on the console. Very much like a touchpad on a laptop, it not only can it be overly sensitive and activate commands at will, it also can be distracting to operate.

Pricing for the E-Class starts in the mid-$50K range and tops out at over $100,000 for the AMG 63 S sedan and wagon. My test 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 4MATIC came with a starting price of $62,750 with option pacages running that up to $73,350 including the $1,050 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 4MATIC: The roomy interior is particularly classy with lots of soft surfaces and leather, and it is loaded with safety features. The cushy ride is very comfortable, and the inline-6 engine has good punch even when driving in Eco mode. It is also not as thirsty as one might expect.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 4MATIC:
The touchpad for performing many of the infotainment functions is maddening. If I could find the guy who came up with this I would cut off the fingers of his right hand. It can be distracting for the driver to operate. The trunk is on the small side for its class.

Would I buy tme 2022 Mercedes-Benz E450 4MATIC? Frankly, the touchpad system for infotainment features gives me pause, but there is so much else to like about this car it would be foolish not to take a long look if you are shopping for a luxury sedan.