Thursday, July 27, 2023




We hear all the time about how sedan sales are on the wane, a notion that is reinforced by the number of SUVs and pickup trucks stacked up at a stoplight compared to the number of traditional sedans sitting idling.

But seemingly bucking that trend is Hyundai’s compact four-door Elantra sedan.

Through the first six months of 2023 the Elantra not only has shown an increase of 53 percent in sales over the previous year. Its number of 74,738 in sales is exceeded only by the compact Tucson SUV’s 100,591 in the South Korean automaker’s portfolio so far this year. And the Tucson is showing only 20 percent growth over 2022 numbers.

Offered in a variety of configurations and powertrains, the Elantra sits No. 3 in the small car market according to behind only traditional leaders Corolla from Toyota and Civic from Honda.

Redesigned in 2021 and with a facelift scheduled for 2024. the 2023 Hyundai Elantra has an attractive exterior and roomy interior with a nice array of technological features that are user-friendly, though sometimes a bit slow to react to touch commands.

The 2023 Hyundai Elantra is offered in three main trim levels — SE, SEL, and Limited — each featuring a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that Hyundai dubs Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The engine checks in a a mild 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque 

The SE and SEL carry base MSRPs under $25,000 while the Limited is tagged at $26,500.

But the offerings don’t stop there. For those desiring more in the way of performance there are the N Line, which gets a turbocharged 1.4L inline-4 engine rated at 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and an all-out N model with a 2.0L turbo-4 that produces a whopping 286 hp and 189 lb.-ft. of torque, pretty hefty numbers for a vehicle of this size.

If you desires are at the other end of the spectrum, there are two hybrid (HEV) versions each with a 1.6L engine hitched to an electric motor that gets a combined 139 hp and 195-lb.-ft. of torque.

The 2023 Hyundai Elantra Blue HEV carries a starting MSRP under $25,000 while the 2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV, available only in top-of-the-line Limited trim and is the subject of this review, flirts with the $30,000 mark with a base MSRP of $29,150 before the $1,115 destination and delivery charge puts it over.

Both the Blue HEV and the HEV Limited are hooked up to a 6-speed Double-Clutch (automatic) transmission.

Fuel milage numbers for both Hybrid drivetrains are outstanding. The EPA puts them at 53 miles-per-gallon city, 56 highway, and 54 combined for the Blue HEV and 49/52/50 for the HEV Limited.

If that’s not enough to swing you, the big advantage as that as HEVs you don’t have to plug in either the Blue or Limited model to charge up the battery. And you can go over 500 miles between fill-ups.

The big difference between the Blue HEV and Limited is in the standard equipment. The 2023 Hyundai Elantra Limited HEV rides on 17-inch wheels vs. 16-inchers and gets such niceties as LED headlights, a power driver’s driver’s seat with lumbar support, Bose premium sound system, a 10.25-inch screen with navigation, voice-command system for infotainment features, a leather shift knob, and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The 2023 Hyundai Elantra Limited HEV also has extra safety features like a forward collision avoidance system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, and a parking distance warning.

All Elantras come with blind-spot collision assist, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, and safe-exit assist. Highway Driving Assist is standard on Limited trims on both hybrid and non-hybrid models.

All trims also come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

All-in-all, the 2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV Limited is a compelling vehicle. Don’t be put off by the hybrid powertrain. Just move the console shifter a notch to the left for Sport mode for a more lively performance.

What I liked about the 2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV Limited:
It is roomy and packed with lots of standard features. Tech features are user-friendly as well. The hybrid drivetrain offers outstanding range and the 6-speed double-clutch transmission replaces the CVT found in gas-only SE, SEL, and Limited trims and makes for a better driving experience than you customarily expect from a hybrid. No need to plug in for charging as the battery is continuously being charged as you drive is a huge plus in my book.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV Limited: It definitely is not quiet on expressways. Road and wind noise make enjoying the radio virtually impossible and hinders casual conversation at higher speeds. 

Would I buy the 2023 Hyundai Elantra HEV Limited? In a heartbeat. It definitely should be on your list if you are looking for a smart, economical compact sedan. The Elantra HEV Limited is the most expensive of the Elantra offerings, but the savings in fuel costs should quickly pay off, especially if you put a lot of miles on it.

Friday, July 21, 2023




Mercedes-Benz continues expanding its all-electric fleet with EQE sedan and EQE SUV models joining the lineup this year.

Along with the SUV version of the EQS, which also debuts as a 2023 model following the introduction of the EQS sedan in 2022, the German automaker now offers all-electric power in a half-dozen vehicles in its bold plan to end production of combustion engines by 2030.

Vroom, vroom replaced by a silent whoosh, whoosh. No wonder the younger generation reportedly doesn’t have the passion for automobiles in the DNA of many older folks.

We are dealing today with the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV, the company’s second all-electric SUV. Like the EQS SUV, it is offered in three versions (EQE 350+, EQE 350 4MATIC, and EQE 500 4MATIC) with three trim levels (Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle).

Serving as the base and the subject of this review is the 2023 EQE 450+ with Premium trim and rear-wheel drive; It has a starting base MSRP of $77,900 that includes as standard features like navigation, a parking package with surround view camera, heated front seats, a Burmeister sound system, 64-color selectable ambient lighting, and a power tilt-and-sliding panoramic roof.

The EQE 350 4MATIC carries the same starting price. EQE 350 models with Exclusive Packages check in at $80,000 and starting MSRP for Pinnacle models is $83,450.

EQE 500 4MATIC models carry starting MSRPs of $89,500 (Premium), $91,600 (Exclusive), and $95,450 (Pinnacle).

Standard on my test EQE 450+ SUV were LED headlights, blind-spot warning, active lane-keeping assist, active brake assist, Attention Assist, and a wireless Smart Phone charger.

You may choose from three different drive modes (Eco, Comfort, or Sport) or set up individual settings to your taste. One minor quibble here is that my test model automatically shifted back to Comfort when restarting after the power was turned off.

No matter the setting, the 2023 EQE 350+ delivers a torque-oriented performance. The single electric motor in the EQE 350+ is rated at an ordinary 288 horsepower but a healthy 415 pound-feet of torque resulting in a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 6.3 seconds, according to the company.

Those numbers increase to 288/564 horsepower and torque, respectively, for the dual motor E350 4MATIC and 402/633 for the EQE 500 4MATIC with zero-to-60 mph performances of 6.2 seconds and 4.6, respectively.

The EQE 350+ holds the advantage in range with a listed 279 miles to 253 and 269 miles Mercedes claims for the EQE 350 4MATIC and EQE 500 4MATIC models.

DC fast-charging times are as quick to 17-80 percent capacity as 32 minutes, according to the company

Speaking of charging times, despite discounts or even free-charging outlets for Mercedes EVs, it would behoove you to install an upgraded DC fast-charging system at your home rather than depend on public facilities.

I say that after my frustrating experience trying to charge the 2023 EQE 350+. Mercedes currently has an agreement with a company that shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty but whose corporate name rhymes with “Rectify America.”

Of seven outlets at two different sites, only one was in working order of the two days I visited. Fortunately, I was next-in-line on the second day, but two other drivers went away delayed and disappointed. AC charging at home can take
up to 10.75 hours, according to Mercedes.

To wrap up, my test EQE 350+ also included several options and packages that added such niceties as 21-inch multi-spoke wheels with back accents, 10-degree rear axle steering, and more that ran the final bottom line to $91,720 including the $1,150 destination and delivery fee.

What I liked about the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ SUV: The ride is smooth and, of course, quiet. Acceleration is breathtaking. As you would expect from Mercedes, the cabin is filled with premium materials. 

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+
SUV: Buttons that can be used to operate many tech features are so small they seem to be designed for a 5-year-old’s fingers. The infotainment system itself is overwhelming, and there is no AM band on the radio. The radio also is muted when the vehicle is shifted to reverse apparently on the theory that you can see better when it’s quiet. Cargo space is kind of limited for an SUV at only 14 cubic feet behind the second row. 

Would I buy the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ SUV? I’m still holding out until charging points become as common as gas stations, which means I’m probably not ever going to go all-electric. But if you have other transportation options for longer trips and don’t need or care about off-roading capability, the 2023 EQE 350+ is a good choice.

Friday, July 14, 2023




Offered in four trims including the limited production First Edition model, the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a slightly smaller version of the company’s flagship Range Rover full-size SUV with a slightly more economical price tag.

And it still has that sophisticated British air that gives you a feeling of driving not just a fully off-road capable SUV but a piece of history as well as an urge to stop in somewhere for a cuppa and scones.

The 2023 Land Rover Range Rover comes in P360 SE (mild hybrid 3.0 turbocharged inline-6), P400 SE Dynamic (upgraded mild hybrid turbo 3.0L inline-6), P440e plugin hybrid along with the P530 First Edition (4.4L twin-turbo V8). This review is based on the 2023 Range Rover Sport First Edition.

No matter the engine, all 2023 Range Rover Sport models get an 8-speed automatic transmission and, of course, are all-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case.

The V8 in the First Edition trim is rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque which is quite a jump from the 335/369 in the base model and 395/406 in the upgraded inline-6 in the P400 SE trim. The plugin version falls short in horsepower (434) but offers a significant boost in torque to 619 lb.-ft.

Not surprisingly, the V8 engine is the thirstiest of the bunch with mileage ratings of 16 miles-per-gallon city, 21 highway, and 18 combined using premium fuel to the 19/24/21 ratings for the V6s.

Standard equipment on the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport First Edition includes comfort and convenience features like a power rear liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, four-zone climate control, a sliding panoramic moonroof with power sun blind, heated and ventilated front seats with power massage, heated and ventilated second-row seats, keyless entry with push-button start, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlan and Android Auto, and a Meridian surround sound system.

My test vehicle also included a Meridian Signature Sound System as a $4,550 option, which to me is a bit of an overkill. You must really like your tunes to put out that much. A full non-leather upgrade also was among options.

The 2023 Range Rover Sport First Edition rides on 23-inch alloy wheels and a full-size spare is available for $560.

The starting MSRP for the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover First Edition is $121,000. Tack on $1,475 for destination and delivery and the options and final MSRP for my test vehicle came to $132,575.

The base P360 SE lists at $83,000 before extras. Tea and crumpets are not offered.

What I liked about the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport:
It is very roomy and comfortable with lots of features, including heated and ventilated seats with a massage function for the front. The cabin has a high premium feel, and visibility is excellent. The front cupholders can be removed to reveal a hidden stowage compartment in the console. Several powertrain choices are offered, and an all-electric version is coming in 2024.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Rover Range Rover Sport: The infotainment system is slow to respond to commands both voice and touch. The system overall takes some getting used to. With the V8, you have to ease into pressuring the accelerator to avoid a jerky throttle response. 

Would I buy the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport? Definitely would consider it if it were within my budget. The thing is, though less expensive than the larger Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport still checks in at the high end of the luxury midsize SUV segment.

Thursday, July 6, 2023



The Subaru Crosstrek moves into its third generation with a new trim added to 2024 models to boost its off-roading capabilities.

At 9.3 inches, the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness sits a little more than a half-inch higher than the 8.7-inch ground clearance for other Crosstrek trims, and the continuously variable transmission has been revised to give it a little more climbing capability.

Shown at the New York Auto Show in early April, the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness trim won’t go on sale until this fall when it joins Base, Premium, Sport, and Limited models in dealer showrooms.

Thus this review is based on the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium model which comes with a 2.0-liter Boxer engine, so-named because the horizontal pistons mimic the jabs of a boxer when the engine is running.

The Base model gets the same engine as the Premium while the other trims — Sport, Limited, and Wilderness — get a 2.5-liter 4-banger that ups horsepower and torque to 182 ponies and 178 pound-feet, respectively, over the 152/145 in the smaller engines.

All engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission and Premium, Sport, and Limited models get paddle shifters to simulate an 8-speed manual transmission.

Speaking of a manual transmission, it has been discontinued on Subaru Crosstrek models across the board. But all Crosstreks feature one of two X-Mode systems for driving on slippery surfaces and steep inclines.

As is the custom with Subaru, all Crosstreks also feature the company’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.

While its power numbers are not that great, my experience showed the 2.0L engine in the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium to be anything but pokey. It wouldn’t be my first pick for a drag race, but around town it seemed fine. I had no issues keeping up with the traffic flow on South Florida’s notorious expressways.

You might have a bigger issue with gas mileage. The 2.0L engine has little advantage over the larger engine with numbers of 27 miles-per-gallon city, 34 highway, and 29 combined compared to 26/33/29 for the 2.5L.

Where the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium trim excels is in the features it offers without breaking the bank. 

Standard items on the my test Premium trim included keyless entry and push-button start, Eyesight Driver Assist Technology (adaptive cruise control with lane centering; pre-collision braking and throttle management; lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist), auto start/stop, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and foglights, X-Mode with Hill Descent Control, 17-inch alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, roof rails, and an 11.6-inch screen to operate infotainment features on Subaru’s Multi-media Plus system. 

Throw in a couple of options that included an all-weather package, power moonroof and blind-spot detection, lane-change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert and the final total still came short of the $30,000 mark at $29,685 including the $1,259 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium:
The cabin is roomy and comfortable. The engine outperforms its subpar power numbers. The Premium trim offers keyless entry and push-button start along with dual-zone climate control. All-wheel drive is a nice bonus even if you don’t live in a climate that gets snow. (Ever been in a Florida rainstorm?) Power windows are auto up/down. Didn’t realize how much I missed auto up until I switched to a vehicle without that feature.  Fuel economy is competitive in the segment. In addition to touchscreen, the audio and climate control systems also work off knobs/buttons. A nicely equipped model still checks in at under $30K.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium: I would prefer an 8-speed transmission or even a manual (discontinued) over the CVT. There is a bit of a learning curve with the touchscreen to get you into the proper mode for the function you are seeking. 

Would I buy the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium? In a heartbeat. This is an ideally priced vehicle that looks sharp and is very functional, roomy, and comfortable.