Wednesday, March 29, 2023



Tesla may still be the sales leader among electric vehicles, but its dominance of the EV segment has been on a slight decline since hitting a 79.4 percent market share in 2020.

Elon Musk’s company slipped to 68.2 percent in 2021 and 65.4 percent last year as more affordable EV models from Ford, Hyundai, and others began to hit showrooms, according to data tracking from Experian Automotive.

But Tesla also is facing more competition from high-end luxury manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz. The German automaker introduced the sedan versions of its flagship EQS EV last year and added an SUV model of the EQS EV for 2023.

They haven’t stopped there, however, with the arrival of EQE EVs this year.

Also available in EQE 350+, EQE 350 4MATIC, and EQE 500 4MATIC form, this review is based on the 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE which, as you might suspect from the magic letters AMG, takes performance of the EQE sedan up to a new level.

The dual electric motors at the front and rear axles that drive the 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE Sedan come with standard 617 horsepower and 701 pound-feet of torque and top out at 677/738, respectively, for brief periods via the optional Dynamic Plus Package, or roughly twice the power available from the base EQE 350+.

According to company timers, that gives the Mercedes AMG EQE sedan a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.4/3.2 seconds.

As the Mercedes EQS models take cues from the flagship S Sedan, so the EQE is an electrified version of the company’s popular E Sedan. The 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE, however, adds special AMG styling touches like a distinctive AMG-specific front grille, an AMG steering wheel, and AMG badges and logos scattered throughout the entire vehicle.

AMG Sound Experience provides the opportunity to adjust audio mode to your preferences and high performance compound brakes are standard with the AMG high-performance ceramic compound braking system available as an option.

Other standard features included the company’s MBUX multimedia infotainment system that operates off a 12.3-inch tablet screen and includes navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless Smart phone charging, multi-contour front seats with a massage function, a heated steering wheel, power tilt-and-sliding panoramic moonroof, Burmeister premium sound, and a rear spoiler.

Standard safety features include a driver assistance package, active blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, and active parking assist. Digital LED headlights also feature adaptive high-beam assist.

A starting MSRP of $106,900 covered all that.

My test 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE came with several options that included the ceramic composite braking system, a Napple leather-wrapped AMG Performance steering wheel, 21-inch black AMG Y-spoke wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, a black microfiber headliner, an AMG Night Package (front and rear bumpers and side-sill inserts with dark chrome accents and black window trim) and a Winter Package (heated windshield washer system, heated windshield, and heated rear seats).

All that ran the final bottom line to $123,390. According to the Monroney spec sheet that accompanied the vehicle, there is no charge for destination and delivery. How about that for a break?

What I liked about the 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE: Great horsepower and unbelievable torque provides a lively driving experience. Lots of room in a very comfortable and quiet cabin. Getting over 300 miles (with the AMG Dynamic-Plus Package) from a full charge eases range anxiety fears. Its smaller size than EQS gives the EQE AMG more agility in tight quarters. Standard rear-axle steering (limited) also aids maneuverability.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE:
There’s no AM band for the radio. You would think German engineers of all people would figure out a way to keep the electric powertrain from interfering with AM reception, but nope. Rear visibility is restricted. Tech features can be overwhelming to operate. There are buttons for some functions, which helps, but they seemed to be designed for the small fingers of 5-year-olds. Adding a few hard-wired knobs might help simplify things.

Would I buy the 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE? I’m still on the reluctant side when it comes to buying electric vehicles because of infrastructure limitations for charging, but this one is tempting. The price tag is on the high side, however. Are 3-second zero-to-60 times really worth all that money? 

Friday, March 24, 2023




After a production hiatus that lasted for just over two decades, Land Rover brought back the Defender model for 2020, giving it the customary off-roading capability the company is known for while also delivering a refined performance for on-road ventures..

The 2023 Land Rover Defender is offered in a myriad of versions and trim packages with three different body styles (Defender 90, Defender 110, and Defender 130) and three different engines (4-, 6-, and 8-cylinders) all paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with a dual-speed transfer box.

To keep things from getting confusing, we will deal here with what showed up in my driveway recently, which was the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition model.

With an electric motor giving it a slight boost and giving it MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle) status, the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition gets a substantial 390 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque from the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, which moves it from a standing start to 60 mph in a quick for-the-class 6.3 seconds, according to the company.

Fuel mileage is a modest 17 miles-per-gall on city, 21 highway, and 19-combined, which pretty much is in line with the large luxury SUV segment.

Being in South Florida, I didn’t have the opportunity for off-road testing. Expressway ramps just don’t present much of a challenge. A few years ago Land Rover came in preview a new model and had to build its own off-road course with custom-built earth mounds. They flattened them when they were done.

The First Edition model is available in three special colors (Full White, Sedona Red, and Carpathian Grey) to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary in 2023.

With a length of 211 inches — almost 14 inches longer than last year’s biggest Defenders — the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition can fit in three rows of seating to accommodate eight passengers, though I wouldn’t want to spend much time in the far back row where legroom is cut over six inches over the first two rows.

The interior itself leans more to the functional side as the overall ambiance may fall a bit short of its more luxurious competitors, but the cabin is comfortable enough and an upgrade over most off-road capable vehicles.

Comfort and convenience features run the usual gamut for luxury vehicles. They include  a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, premium leather seats with premium textile inserts, heated and cooled front seats with power lumbar support, a power adjustable, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, four-zone climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and an 11.4-inch screen for infotainment functions.

Standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, a 3D surround view camera, blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, a rear traffic monitor, and emergency collision notification.

That’s all covered by a starting MSRP of $84,700 for the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition.

My test vehicle came with an optional Towing Pack, Cold Climate Pack, and stand-alone options like 22-inch, five-spoke wheels, 60-40 pass-through rear seats, and a 22-inch spare wheel mount on the rear cargo access door.

All that and the $1,475 destination and delivery fee ran the final bottom line to $92,725, which puts the 130 Final Edition at the high end of the Defender’s pricing spectrum, though V8 models start in the six-figure range. 

Pricing for the 4-cylinder models start in the $50,000 range.

What I liked about the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition: Though known for its exceptional off-road capability, the Defender also is very comfortable on paved surfaces. The ride is quiet and it handles well, and the cabin is spacious. The inline 6-cylinder engine packs a good punch. The surround view camera is a nice standard feature.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition:
I find the white side panels at the C pillar as an odd styling touch. They kind of look like somebody has left the Monroney label on the windows. The mild hybrid, inline 6-cylinder engine is a bit on the thirsty side. Cargo space is limited when all three rows of seating are in place. You can get a workout opening the cargo door.

Would I buy the 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 First Edition? If you’re interested in going off-road in style, the Defender is a solid choice. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023




After diving full scale into the electric vehicle segment with the 2022 EQS sedan, Mercedes takes its first all-electric crossover utility to the U.S. up to a new level of luxury with the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV.

It comes in three spectacular versions with the EQS 450+ followed by the EQS 450 4MATIC and the top-of-the-line EQS 580 4MATIC, which this review is based on.

The EQS 450+ comes with a single electric motor rated at 355 horsepower and 419 pound of torque delivering a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 6.5 seconds. Range is pegged at 305 miles with a full charge.

The all-wheel-drive EQS 450 4MATIC gets the same horsepower from its dual electric motors while upping torque to 590 pound-feet and cutting zero-to-60 time to 5.5 seconds. Range is 285 miles.

The 2023 Mercedes EQS 580 SUV packs the biggest punch with its dual motors rated at 536 hp and 633 lb.-ft, moving its 3-ton plus bulk from zero-to-60 mph in an estimated 4.5 seconds, according to the company. Like the 450 4MATIC, range for the EQS 580 SUV is 285 miles.

The EQS 580 rides on 21-inch wheels, the others on standard 20-inchers.

It is on the inside that the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC blows away rivals.

Dominated by the 56-inch glass Hyperscreen that stretches across the front panels and features displays for the instrument cluster, touchscreen for infotainment functions, and a portrait display for the front-seat passenger, the cabin is filled with premium materials with lots of soft surfacds. Stitched white leather and wood trim complete the package.

Among standard features are heated and ventilated leather seats with “comfort” front headrests, a Burmeister premium sound system, dual panoramic sunroof, wireless Smartphone charging, keyless start and active parking assist.

A Driver’s Assist Package includes active distance assist, lane-keeping and blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control and Mercedes’ Pre-Safe Plus and Pre-Safe Impulse Side systems that prepare the vehicle for potential collision situations not only in front and behind you but also to the sides.

I can’t think of any reason why you would want to allow anyone else behind the wheel, but if say your spouse is a regular driver, a fingerprint scanner allows someone to scan their fingerprint and all their personal preferences will be set.

Optional features include an Executive Package for rear-seat riders with Comfort head rests, MBUX tablet, wireless charging, heated seats, and rear-side airbags.

Also available are 4- or 5-zone climate control, an MBUX rear-seat entertainment system, front multicontour seats with massage and rapid heating, and a third row of seats to increase capacity to seven occupants.

An optional Winter Package for those in colder climes adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a heated windshield and windshield washer system that heats up the washer fluid bottle and lines to prevent freezing.

As the top model in the EQS SUV portfolio, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV carries a price tag to match its status. Starting MSRP is $125,950 not including the $1150 destination and delivery charge.

That puts it right at the high end of the luxury electric SUV segment with the Tesla Model X and well above its next direct competitor the BMW iX xDrive50i.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ has a starting price of $104,400 while the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4MATIC starts at $107,400.

What I liked about the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV:
While the exterior has the typical Mercedes distinctive looks, the interior is particularly stunning. The comfortable and quiet cabin as a futuristic look without being funky. Range is excellent, and acceleration is brisk. Cargo space is generous behind the second row.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV: The learning curve to all the tech features is on the steep side. Some hard-wired knobs would be welcome, but I guess Mercedes engineers go for appearance over convenience. Fortunately, many functions can be activated by using the “Hey, Mercedes” voice system. The headrest pillows can be a bit distracting as the one on driver’s side would unintentionally and frequently just brush the back of my head.

Would I buy the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC SUV? Frankly, all this luxury is a bit overwhelming and so is the six-figure price tag. But if it is in your budget, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t check it out.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio



With its distinctive Italian styling and lively performance, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio offers an attractive alternative for those shopping in the compact luxury SUV market.

It is especially appealing to those who want to get away from the “cookie-cutter” design that prevails in the very competitive segment dominated in 2022 by Tesla’s Model Y and imports from Germany.

Introduced as a 2018 model, Alfa Romeo has added a couple of new trims for 2023 in limited edition Estrema and Lusso models, but we are dealing here with the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio that is offered in Sprint, Ti, Veloce, and Quadrifoglio versions. Veloce replaces the discontinued Stelvio Ti Sport that was part of the lineup for the first four years.

The 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which this review is based on, ups the ante in performance with a twin-turbo 2.6-liter V6 replacing the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the other trims, boosting horsepower and torque to 505 hp and 443 pound-feet. Numbers for the 4-banger are a respectable 280/305, respectively.

Zero-to-60 mph times for the V6 are in the sub-4.0 second range, or about twice as quick as those for 4-cylinder models.

All models get an 8-speed automatic transmission with available oversize paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. All-wheel drive is standard on all but the base Sprint trim, which has it as an option to standard rear-wheel drive.

The V6 in the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a bit thirstier than the 4-cylinder Stelvio models with EPA figures of 17 miles-per-gallon city, 23 highway, and 19 combined compared to 22/28/24 for AWD 4-cylinder engine. Premium grade fuel is recommended for both engines.

Exterior features on the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio include unique front and rear fascias, Brembo performance brakes, dual quad exhaust stems, and a 4-leaf clover logo on the side panel that pays homage to Alfa Romeo’s racing heritage. “Quadrifoglio” is Italian for 4-leave clover. A hands-free liftgate also is included.

Standard interior features include heated front and rear seats, 8-way power adjustable front passenger and driver’s seats with 4-way power lumbar support, a carbon fiber steering wheel and carbon fiber trim, and a 14-speaker, Harmon Kardon audio system.

Front-seat passengers get a generous 40.1 inches of legroom, but riders in the second row must make do with almost 10 inches less. Cargo space is only 18.5 cubic feet unless the second-row seats are lowered, then it’s tripled to 56.5 cubic feet.

Among standard tech features are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wireless charging system. An 8.8-inch display screen includes navigation.

Safety systems include full-speed frontal collision warning, blind-spot and cross-path detection, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control with full stop.

My test 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio also included as options Driver’s Assist Package, dual-panel sunroof, and dynamic dual exhaust. The spectacular green exterior paint came with a price tag of $2200, which if memory serves as the most I’ve ever seen for a special paint in over 20 years of reviews.

All that and the $1,595 destination and delivery fee ran the final price up to $92,790 from the starting MSRP of $84,650.

Other Stelvio trims run from the mid-$40K range to just over $50,000.

What I liked about the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD: Exterior styling is appealing and distinctive. Performance is top notch. This is an SUV that definitely stands out like Sophia Loren in a room full of Rosie O’Donnell look-alikes. The Verdi (green) Montreal exterior on my test vehicle drew lots of positive attention in my stint.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD:
Infotainment features have a steep learning curve. The screen itself is on the small side, especially when compared to some of those on competitors. Rear-seat legroom is tight (31.9 inches). Cargo capacity is more in line with full-size sedan instead of typical SUV.

Would I buy the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD? Love the look, but the Quadrifoglio’s MSRP is at the highest end of a segment filled with lots of quality choices. The Ti trim may be a more dollar-wise choice. It also offers all-wheel drive as standard and at a considerably more competitive price, but the Quadrifoglio packs a bigger punch.