Tuesday, March 29, 2022




The 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive sedan is a “hot take” on the German automaker’s fleet of M performance models that are at home on the track as well as country club drives.

How hot?

Consider the base 2022 BMW M3 checks in at max 480 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. The inline twin-turbo 6-cylinder in the 2022 BMW M3 Competition and Competition xDrive boosts those numbers to 510 and 650, respectively, for a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 3.4 seconds, according to the company.

I’ll leave the final judgment if that makes it the “ultimate driving machine” to others, but the M3 Competition makes a good case.

The 2022 BMW M3 comes in two trim levels, three if you treat the M3 Competition with rear-wheel drive and the M3 Competition iDrive with its all-wheel drive configuration as separate trims. This review is based on the latter.

A 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual gear selection is standard. Several drive modes are offered, and two different personal modes can be selected via red buttons also mounted at the steering wheel.

You can have two different groups of settings for the engine, shifts, chassis, brake, and traction control, allowing you to easily get from a setup for added performance to one more oriented toward comfort and efficiency via the buttons.

Efficiency is kind of a relative term here. EPA ratings for the 2022 BMW M3 Competition iDrive are 16 miles-per-gallon city, 22 highway, and only 18 combined, which according to the government translates to an extra $5,750 in fuel costs over a five-year period. Considering those numbers were probably determined before the recent hikes in gas prices, that figure no doubt has gone up considerably.

Standard features in the 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Harmon Kardon premium sound system, a leather-wrapped M Sport steering wheel, navigation system, multi-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights, and a sport exhaust system with quad tail pipes.

My test vehicle also came with such features as auto dimming mirrors, heated front seats, an anthracite headliner, and an active driving assist (forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot warning) system at no extra cost over the starting $76,900 MSRP.

But more likely you are not going to get out of the showroom at less than $80,000. Adding options quickly take the BMW M3 Competition iDrive into six figures.

Extras on my test vehicle included $8,150 for M Carbon Ceramic brakes (no doubt well worth it), $4,700 for a carbon exterior package, $4,500 for special exterior paint, $2,500 for the M Driver’s package (which includes track training), and $1,800 for an executive package that has such features as remote engine start, heated steering wheel, power trunk opener, head-up display, and gesture control to handle incoming calls, adjust audio volume, and activate the surround view camera.

Add all that up and throw in the $995 destination charge and the total for my tester came to $108,545.

Malcolm Forbes, the former publisher of the magazine founded by his father that bears their family name, bot it right when he said, “The difference between men and boys are the price of their toys.”

He could have been talking about the 2022 BMW M3 Competition iDrive sedan.

What I liked about the 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive: It looks stunning. Love the frozen dark gray color. and the interior is exquisite. Handling and acceleration is at the top of the chart. The ride itself is comfortable (once you get in — see below). Infotainment functions are plentiful and once you get the knack are not that difficult to operate. The trunk is 13.0 cubic feet, roomy for a two-door coupe.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive:
I've experienced birth only once in my life and don't really recall the details, but I have to think that it is very much like struggling to get out of the M3, especially on the driver's side. You twist and push yourself and eventually pop out the doorway. A flat-bottom steering wheel could help, but the thigh-high seat bolsters are the main issue. I miss the manual transmission, and I don’t understand the “why” for the zigzag path for the shifter on the console.

Would I buy the 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive? The base model M3 offers pretty much everything you need for daily use and I would go with that one. It also offers the fun of a manual transmission. If you are going to race on weekends, however, then the Competition xDrive with its all-wheel drive would the choice. Though I wouldn’t get them, you’ll likely want the M carbon bucket seats if you are going racing, too.

Thursday, March 17, 2022




Infiniti gave its QX50 a redesign for 2019 models, moving the luxury compact SUV into its second generation since replacing the EX in the 2014 model year.

For this year’s models, the Japanese automaker adds to the list of standard equipment for the 2022 Infiniti QX50 with such features as its ProPilot Assist system and Apple CarPlay and convenience items like a charge port for rear-seat riders, welcome lights on the rear door handles, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

The 2022 Infiniti QX50 comes in five trim levels, all powered by the variable-compression turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine pumping out 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The base trim is called Pure and is followed up the hierarchy by Luxe, Essential, Sensory, and Autograph models. Front-wheel drive is standard on all with all-wheel as an option on all trims.

AWD knocks a mile off EPA figures of 23 miles-per-gallon city, 29 highway, and 26 combined. Premium fuel is recommended for top operation.

Standard equipment on all models includes LED headlights and fog lights, Infiniti’s InTough dual-screen infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot, five USB connection ports, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and safety systems like a collection of air bags, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, adaptable cruise control, rear automatic braking, lane-departing warning and intervention, and the aforementioned ProPilot system that maintains a safe distance to a vehicle in front of you and helps keep your car within lane markings. Streaming audio via Bluetooth and voice recognition also is common to all trims.

In addition to that, standard features for the Pure trim that this review is based on include leatherette seats (leather is standard on other trims), 2-way power lumbar support vs. 4-way on upper models, manual tilt-and-telescoping steering column, dual-zone climate control, a six-speaker audio system, and the required rear-view monitor.

An appearance package replaces standard 19-inch wheels with 20-inchers and  adds to exterior appearance with black-and-dark chrome styling elements and to the interior with a graphite headliner.

Cargo space behind the second row is a generous 31.4 cubic feet, and if you fold those seats, you get a maximum 6.1 cubic feet, though you do lose a tad for models with a moonroof (not available on Pure).

The strength of the 2022 Infiniti QX50 lies in its interior. The cabin has a very high-class overall appearance and has room for five passengers and their stuff. Legroom in the front is 39.6 inches and in the second row 38.7. The contrast between white and dark interior colors is very pleasing to the eye.

The dual screen displays for infotainment features allows you to perform different functions without having to change screens. The display for navigation isn’t the biggest screen on the market, but serves its purpose and its scale is easily adjustable via a knob on the center console. Some reviewers call the system “complicated.” Believe me, if I can operate it with no problem, it’s not complicated.

With the $1,025 destination and delivery charge included, MSRP for the /FWD 2022 Infiniti QX50 Pure is just over the $40,000 mark at $40,375, a very competitive price in the luxury compact SUV segment.

The FWD Infiniti QX50 Luxe starts at $43,525, the FWD Essential at $47,975, the FWD Sensory at $52,675, and the Autograph, which is offered only with AWD, at $58,125. Add $2,000 for AWD.

What I liked about the 2022 Infiniti QX50 Pure: It is a great looking compact SUV both inside and out. The roomy interior is very upscale and features good cargo space. It has a quiet and comfortable ride. It comes under some criticism in some quarters, but the dual screen for operation of infotainment functions is a big plus in my book.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Infiniti QX50 Pure: I’m not a big fan of CVTs, though this one is an improvement over earlier versions. An 8-speed or 10-speed would be a nice alternative, especially since the CVT doesn’t provide that big a boost in fuel economy.

Would I buy the 2022 Infiniti QX50 Pure? I prefer the exterior styling in the QX55 that debuted for this year, but the QX50 is well worth a good look. It’s a bit more affordable than the QX55, which is in its favor.

Thursday, March 3, 2022



The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe is the South Korean automaker’s first venture in the pickup segment, though with its sleeker styling and compact box it likely is going to appeal to a different audience from the traditional truck shopper. Hyundai does’t even call it a truck, preferring to label it a “Sports Activity Vehicle.” 

It’s not meant for more rugged off-road excursions or heavy duty hauling, and towing capacity may not be up to handling mega-yachts, but it is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds (5,000 with all-wheel drive) with trailer brakes or 1,650 without the added brakes. 

You’re not likely to find a Santa Cruz at a construction site, but the longer it is on the market, the more it likely will be showing up Home Depot and Lowes lots.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz comes in four trim levels with the base SE and SEL coming with a 191-horsepower 2.5-liter 4 cylinder engine. The upgraded SEL Premium and Limited trims get a turbocharged version of that 2.5L 4-banger that ups horsepower to a robust 281 hp while delivering 311 pound-feet of torque. Torque in the 2.5L is 181 lb.-ft. 

The 2.5L is mated to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and the 2.5T is paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Limited also comes with standard steering wheel-mounted shifters for manual gear selection.

All-wheel drive is standard on SEL Premium and Limited models and optional on SE and SEL, which have standard front-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings are good for a compact truck with the 2.5L engine’s numbers at 21 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 23 combined with FWD and 21/27/23 with AWD.

The 2.5 turbo is only slightly thirstier at 19/27/22.

The Santa Cruz Limited, which this review is based on, comes with a long list of standard features that pretty much include anything your heart desires. They range routine items offered on all trims like LED taillights, automatic headlights, a roof-mounted rear cargo box light, privacy glass, a lockable under bed storage compartment, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, HD radio, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth communications, and keyless entry with push-button start to systems specific to the Limited. The latter include a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and traffic flow, dual automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, surround-view and blind view monitor, highway driving assist, and Smart (adaptable) Cruiss Control with Stop-and-Go.

You also get leather-trimmed seats with the Limited in place of the stain-and-odor resistant cloth seats in the other trims.

All trims also get a five-passenger crew cab.

The surround view camera is a great aid in parking, and there is a warning “ding” to let you know when the vehicle stopped ahead of you at an intersection is pulling away.

Of course, the Limited gets a heavier price tag than the SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. With the $1,185 destination and delivery included, MSRP for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited is $40,905. My test model came to $41,100 with $195 added on for carpeted floor mats.

FWD SE and SEL models start in the mid-$20,000 range and the SEL Premium is in the mid-$30,000 range.

What I liked about the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited:
The cabin is roomy and nicely appointed. The Limited has lots of standard features, and the infotainment functions are user-friendly. The ride is comfortable. The tonneau bed cover is easily opened. The turbo version is pricey but worth it for for the performance it delivers over the naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-banger. 

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited: I would like a knob to adjust radio volume and change radio stations. Back-seat legroom is on the tight side.

Would I buy the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited? Yes. Its sleeker profile and handling makes it seem more like an SUV both in looks and performance than a traditional pickup. Built on Hyundai’s compact SUV Tucson platform, it’s a very nimble performer. If the plus-$40,000 price tag (including destination and delivery) for the Limited puts you off, the SEL Premium trim offers a nice alternative with many of the same standard features as the Limited. It gives you a $4,040 break on starting MSRP, but you don’t get Smart Cruise Control.