Thursday, June 29, 2023




Ford resurrected the Maverick nameplate last year but not as a two-door coupe it put out in the early 1970s to compete against the import compacts that were just emerging in the U.S., but rather a small pickup to fill out the company’s truck fleet.

Though not a threat to unseat the perennial top-selling full-size F-Series in the Ford stable, the Maverick is holding its own against other compact pickups, including its older company sibling Ranger and Japanese imports.

With a hybrid drivetrain as standard, the 2023 Ford Maverick enjoys a huge advantage over its competitors in fuel efficiency. Though the company is a little more generous in its numbers, the government (EPA) places the Maverick at 40 miles-per-gallon around town, 33 highway, and 37 combined using regular octane gasoline. (Ford claims 42 for the city.)

An optional 2.0-liter turbo 4-banger trims those numbers to 23/30/25 for FWD models and 22/28/24 for AWD versions while upping power to 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid gets a combined 162 hp and 155 lb.-ft. from a combination of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 94 kW electric motor.

That may not be all that impressive but the hybrid didn’t seem to suffer much from a lack of power during my week of mostly around town driving.

Not including models equipped with the Tremor off-road packages Ford added this year, the 2023 Ford Maverick comes in three trim levels starting with the base XL and continuing up the food chain with the XLT and top-of-the-line Lariat.

All check in with starting MSRPs of under $30,000, though adding the Tremor Off-Road Package ($2,295) or Tremor Appearance Package ($1,495) puts the Lariat over $30,000. 

Ford did not include pricing on the spec sheet for the XLT model it delivered to my house, but with a starting price of nearly $26,000 and extras like Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features (pre-collision assist with automatic braking, blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, and auto high-beam assist) and a spray-in bedliner it likely flirted with the $30,000 mark.

The 2023 Ford Maverick comes with a five-passenger SuperCrew Cab on all trims. Hybrid models get a continuously variable transmission while the available 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder is mated to an 8-speed manual transmission.

A 4.5-foot cargo box is standard on all trims with a maximum payload of 1,500 pounds for either drivetrain. Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds though adding a Tow Package to models with the 2.0L Ecoboost engine doubles that to heftier 4,000 pounds.

The cabin is roomy (42.8 inches of front legroom, 35.9 in the second row) and comfortable enough and the overall ambiance leans toward utilitarian over luxury. It would be unfair to label it “spartan.”

Standard features on the 2023 Ford Maverick XLT include LED headlamps, cruise control, manual single-zone climate control, a rotary gear selector mounted on the center console, 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment features, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the FordPass Connect system to connect to the Internet.

For features like navigation, adaptive cruise control, and push-button start you must add options to the 2023 Ford Maverick XLT or upgrade to the top-of-the-line Lariat trim.

What I liked about the 2023 Ford Maverick XLT:
The hybrid drivetrain provides excellent fuel mileage without the need to plug in as well as delivering a pretty nice kick in the way of acceleration. User-friendly infotainment features include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and wifi connectivity. The interior is roomy and comfortable with lots of storage options, including an under-the-seat space in the second row. Pricing overall is friendly enough.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Ford Maverick XLT: The hybrid drivetrain is mated to a CVT. Be nice to have an 8-speed transmission like models with the optional 2.5-liter Ecoboost engine. Might get a little better response in the way of performance. Many attractive features (like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning) add to cost as options.

Would I buy the 2023 Ford Maverick XLT? If you are looking for a pickup truck but are put off by the size and pricing of full-size models, the Maverick is a great choice. It is big enough to handle many tasks the average homeowner confronts while retaining the ability to fit easily into most mall parking spaces. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023



A year after introducing the Ioniq 5, Hyundai has brought a sedan version of the all-electric SUV to market that has a sexier profile than the boxy crossover with the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6.

The two share a platform and battery packs and have similar powertrains and comfortable, functional interiors filled with plentiful user-friendly technology.  Some analysts see it as competition for Tesla’s Model 3, pretty heady company for the South Korean automaker.

The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 doesn’t have quite the hauling capacity with only 11.6 cubic feet of rear storage space to the 27.2 cubic feet in the Ioniq 5 has with all seats in place. But the Ioniq 6 boasts increased driving range with three trim levels offering well over 300 miles between charges.

In fact, Hyundai claims of a range of 361 miles for the rear-wheel-drive SE trim and 316 for the all-wheel version trim. The best rating for the Ioniq 5 is 303 miles when equipped with the larger battery. 

Standard range models for the Ioniq 6 and the Ioniq 5 are 240 and 220 miles, respectively, so it pays to go for the upgraded trims with the higher capacity batteries whichever trim you choose.

The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited trim that served as my ride for the week came with all-wheel drive, limiting range to a still generous 270 miles. You can coax a few more miles out of by driving in Eco mode and not suffer much in the way of performance.

Of course, the opposite applies as well. Selecting Sport mode for extended times is going to shave a few miles off maximum range.

Not that you are likely to spend a lot of time in Sport mode. With 320 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque at your right foot, the 2023 AWD Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited seems quicker than the 5.1-second, zero-to-60 mph clocking the company claims. In fact, caught it at 4.7 seconds so there you go.

Performance isn’t the only thing the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 has going for it. It also has a striking appearance. With four doors, it is considered a sedan but the sloping roofline gives it the seek profile of a sporty coupe.

All trims (SE, SEL, Limited) come with safety features like blind-spot collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and driver attention warning while Limited trims add a surround view monitor and blind-spot view monitor that is activated by your turn signals, flashing an image of what is coming up behind you in your instrument panel.

Other standard comfort and convenience features in the 2023 Hyundai Limited’s roomy cabin (42.3 inches of legroom up front, 39.2 in the second row) include a proximity key with push-button start, Smart cruise control and parking assist, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual automatic climate control with rear vents, wireless device charging, Bose premium audio, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited rides on 20-inch alloy wheels and features LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights, and a wide sunroof. Seating surfaces are covered by Hyundai’s H-Tex synthetic leather. Both front seats on the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited are power-adjustable 8 ways.

With such a long list of standard features, the only extra added to starting MSRP of $56,100 for the AWD Ioniq 6 Limited were $210 for floor mats and $1,115 for freight charges, bringing the final total to $57,425.

The SE with the Standard Range battery and single 111 kilowatt motor starts at $41,600. SE and SEL trims with RWD and the 168 kW battery pack start at  $45,500 and $47,700, respectively, with AWD adding $3,500.

The RWD Ioniq 6 Limited starts at $52,600.

What I liked about the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited: Styling overall has a futuristic look without being overly funky. Acceleration is smooth and immediate. You blink and you’re up to 40 mph before you realize it. Increased range also gives Ioniq 6 the edge over Ioniq 5.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited:
The setup for selecting gears is a little weird. You turn a knob at the end of a stalk sticking out from the steering column. All-wheel drive models lose about 35 miles of range in comparable trims. Rear cargo space is coupe-like.

Would I buy the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited? As I said in my review on the Ioniq 5 (February 2023) I’m still waiting for infrastructure to catch up to the EV world before going all-in on an electric vehicle. The Ioniq 6 has good range, however, to ease fears in that department  and if you are looking for something with a sportier the profile than the Ioniq 5 it is a good choice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023



The E-Class has long been a staple in the Mercedes-Benz lineup though the midsize luxury car didn’t actually gain that “E” designation until the mid-1990s when the German automaker simplified its model nomenclature to the familiar alpha-numeric format we know today.

Though popularly recognized as a luxury sedans, the E-Class also has included coupe, wagon, and convertible models in the portfolio. More recently, an all-electric four-door E-Class has been added to the sedan (EQE) and SUV (EQE SUV) form.

Any configuration of the E-Class is a solid choice if you are shopping in the  luxury segment, but if you want to add a little fun to your driving experience I recommend a look at the droptop version.

The 2023 Mercedes AMG E53 Cabriolet, the subject car for this review, has a bit of sports car in its DNA, as you might suspect from the AMG designation.

Its powerful inline 6-cylinder engine pumps out 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque to all four-wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission, giving it a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 4.4 seconds.

That’s a boost of 67 horsepower and 15 pound-feet and a 1.0-second quicker zero-to-60 mph time over the E450 Cabriolet. Electric hybrid assist also can add  up to 21 hp to the AMG E53 Cabriolet’s numbers.

Fuel mileage mileage numbers are fairly decent as well with the government tagging them at 20 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway, and 23 combined. That’s using premium-grade fuel, of course.

Mercedes refreshed the E-Class for 2021 and made no significant changes for 2023 after dropping the optional twin-turbo 607-horsepower V8 (E 63) from the 2022 lineup.

Premium Nappa leather is now offered as standard, and new colors include the emerald green metallic exterior on my test vehicle that seemed to alternate between a rich, dark green and black depending on how the light hit it.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Burmeister Premium audio are among standard comfort and convenience features as well as dual-zone climate control and lumbar support for the front seats.

Safety features included in the starting $92,500 MSRP include blind-spot warning, Active Brake Assist, a surround-view camera system, active park assist, and roll bars. (I don’t want to even think about needing the latter.)

LED daytime running lights, headlights, and taillights also are standard. 

Options on my test 2023 AMG E53 included a $1,700 Driver Assistant Package that included lane-keeping assist, lane-change assist, rear-end collision protection, and active steering assist.

Other options included a massage function for the front seats, an AMG Performance Exhaust system, 20-inch 5-spoke wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, and a Warmth and Comfort Package that added rapid-heating to the front seats.

All that and the $1,150 destination and delivery charge ran the final total to and even $99,000. You’ll be happy to know I’m sure that the Nappa leather-wrapped AMG steering wheel, summer tires, and black soft top all were included in the base MSRP.

What I liked about the 2023 Mercedes AMG E53 Cabriolet: Performance, as is the case with AMG models, is especially satisfying and fuel mileage is pretty good as well. The interior oozes class. Raising and lowering the top is a simple, quick operation and can be accomplished while moving at low speed. The ride is well-insulated and quiet with the top up. Front seats automatically slide up (and then back) to provide access to the two rear seats. Infotainment features function via the touchscreen or by using a dial on the center console to save getting finger prints all over the 12.3-inch touchscreen display.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mercedes AMG E53 Cabriolet:.
Cargo space is tight and further compromised with the top lowered. The ride is on the stiff side but not overly uncomfortable. Rear vision is somewhat restricted when the top is in place. Steering wheel buttons for menu controls seem to be designed for a child they are so tiny.

Would I buy the 2023 Mercedes AMG E53 Cabriolet? Frankly, I would buy just about any convertible but the E5 does stand out from the crowd. Its combination of luxury and performance is tough to beat.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023



How we buy cars and what cars we buy are going through a radical change as manufacturers ramp up production of electrified vehicles and online sources that allow you virtually to car shop with your smartphone continue to grow.

That was the message Michael Darrow delivered to members of the Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA) at a special luncheon last week in Miami.

Darrow is president and CEO of TrueCar, an automotive digital marketplace founded just over 18 years ago in Delaware that last year launched an upgraded service dubbed “TrueCar+” in Tampa, Florida.

TrueCar+ allows consumers will be able to research prospective vehicles, confirm their choice, and complete their car purchase with a dealer, even arrange financing and delivery from the convenience of home.

The service has since expanded throughout Florida and into five other states in the Southeast (Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia) as well as a few of other national markets (Colorado, Ohio, and Texas).

“We had dealers from all over the country seeing this and saying, ‘Hey, we’d like to participate’ so it’s kind of gotten random how it’s broken out,” Darrow said.

Dealers are interested, Darrow said, because they view TrueCar not as a competitor but as a way to increase their business. As opposed to some other popular online sales services that maintain their own fleets of vehicles for sale, TrueCar+ connects shoppers with an actual dealership for the final details. 

After a buyer finds a vehicle he or she wants, either new or used, he or she has the option of actually visiting the dealership for a first-hand look or completing the purchase online.

“I don’t think dealers are going to be going anywhere,” Darrow said. “They’re going to be part of this. The dealers who are working with us don’t see us as a threat to them. They see it as a way to extend their business.”

TrueCar+ extends a dealer’s sales reach beyond the local area.

Darrow has more than four decades of experience in the automotive industry, starting out in the 1980s at Chrysler which at the time was run by automotive icon Lee Iacocca. He spent three years at Chrysler before moving on to Nissan, where he spent 17 years. In 2000 in joined, a national online automotive review site, and has spent the last seven years with TrueCar.

He thinks the industry needs to adapt to the way people will be doing their car shopping in the future.

“We think that by 2025 that 40 percent of vehicle sales will be online,” he said.

And more of those purchases will be an electric vehicle. Darrow threw out some interesting numbers from a recent survey his company did of 1,200 consumers — 600 nationally and 600 in Florida. More than half of the national respondents — 52 percent — said they are somewhat or extremely likely to consider an EV for their next purchase.

“In Florida, 60 percent of Florida residents, ahead of the national average, said they would be somewhat or extremely likely to consider an electric vehicle,” he said.

A major reason for that is that Florida residents have had more exposure to an EV. Nationally, 47 percent of the survey respondents said they have actually driven an electric vehicle.

“It’s 64 percent here in Florida,” Darrow said “All of our data shows us if someone has driven an EV, ridden in an EV, experienced an EV, that they are 50 percent more likely than someone who hasn’t to buy one as their next choice.”

More than half (52 percent) of consumers want TrueCar to help them find a vehicle and 65 percent buy within a week, Darrow said.

“So not only what we are selling is changing,” Darrow aid, “what’s changing is how people want to buy things.”

For more information or to check out what vehicles TrueCar+ currently lists,


Thursday, June 8, 2023




The plugin version of the Mitsubishi Outlander SUV has been around since coming to the U.S. for 2018 after its unveiling at the Paris Auto Show six years earlier, but a significant redesign makes the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a much-more compelling option for those shopping for a compact SUV.

The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a roomy, comfortable vehicle with an attractive exterior, a refined and upgraded interior that has the ambiance of a luxury level vehicle, and a powertrain that delivers a snappy, fuel-efficient performance.

As the first Mitsubishi vehicle produced since the Japanese automaker became part of the Nissan-Renault alliance that was formed in 1999, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV shares its platform with the Nissan Rogue. It also inherits the Rogue’s sophistication and refined looks.

With a combination of a gasoline engine and two electric motors, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV also offers the ultimate cure for range-anxiety of fully electric vehicles with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gas engine taking over powering chores when the 38-mile battery range is reached.

No need to hit the rental car market for those long family summer vacation trips. The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is very much up with an advertised range of 420 miles between fill-ups and charges.

The combined gas engine-double electric motor setup (one for the front wheels, one for the year) puts out 248 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque while earning a rating of 64 MPGe. That’s a considerable jump from the 181 hp and 181 lb.-ft. you get from the standard gas Outlander with its 2.5-liter 4-banger.

Mileage for gas-only operation is a only 26 miles-per-gallon for the Outlander PHEV, but that is similar to the 27 mpg rating for the all-wheel drive gas-powered Outlander.

The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes in three basic trim levels all featuring the same engine-electric motor setup and Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive system it dubs Super All-Wheel Control or S-AWC.

The ES serves as the base trim and includes as standard such safety features as forward collision warning, blind-spot alert, and lane-departure warning and prevention. Up the line is the SE trim and the SEL and 40th Anniversary trims top out the portfolio.

The SE also is offered as SE w/Tech Package while the SEL also gets extra equipment in either Touring or Premium packages.

This review is based on the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL trim with the Premium Package that added such features as a power panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, synthetic leather door inserts with quilting, Semi-Aniline leather seating  (replacing standard leather), a head-up display, driver and front passenger massage system, and a Bose Premium Sound Systems.

That is all in addition to what is an impressive list of standard equipment included in the starting MSRP of $45,445.

Among that list are a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, 3                     -zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a navigation system with smartphone link, wireless phone charging, a multi-view camera system, remote keyless entry, and push-button start, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

You can select from one of seven drive modes (Eco, Normal, Power, Tarmac, Gravel, Snow, and Mud) and push a button on the console for all-electric and one-deal driving.

Standard exterior features on the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL include LED headlights, fog lights, taillights and daytime running lights, silver roof rails, and 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Outlander PHEV recently earned a “Top Safety Pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In addition to the forward collision warning and blind-spot and lane-keeping systems mentioned earlier, safety features include adaptive cruise control, a driver alert system, rear cross traffic alert, and the usual collection of seatbelts and airbags.

My test 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL with the Premium package and a couple of other stand-alone options topped out at $50,880 including the $1,365 destination and delivery charge.

The base ES trim carries a starting MSRP of $39,845 and the SE starts at $42,145. The 40th Anniversary trim sits at the top of the pricing with a starting MSRP of $49,995.

What I liked about the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL: The interior has a premium feel about it with leather seats and soft leather surfaces throughout and is packed with lots of user-friendly tech features. The extra power from the hybrid drivetrain enhances throttle response. Handling also is excellent. Lots of safety features are included as standard.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL: Third-row seats are pretty useless. Legroom (and headroom) at the far back is compromised by location for the battery pack. Fortunately, the seats do fold flat to open up more cargo room (over 30 cubic feet behind the second row). I would prefer a 10- or 8-speed automatic transmission over the CVT but performance doesn’t seem to suffer much.

Would I buy the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL?:’s an ideal size for someone wanting to move up from a sedan. If you don’t need the third row, you can simply keep it folded into the floor and not even realize it’s there.