Wednesday, November 29, 2023



Finally, a pickup truck that accommodates tight city streets and parking places.

If a full-size or even mid-size pickup is too big for your life-style and your budget, Hyundai has the truck for you with its compact Santa Cruz.

Sure, it’s not going to work for you if you’re running a construction business and do a lot of heavy duty hauling, but if you’re like most of us, what’s behind the cabin isn’t as important as what’s inside it.

And what’s inside the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a suite of features and conveniences that will make you forget you are actually behind the wheel of a truck, not a compact SUV or high class sedan.

The South Korean automaker ventured into the pickup truck segment by introducing the Santa Cruz as a 2022 model. It targeted buyers who traditionally shopped in the crossover SUV segment and are adventurous enough that they need the extra storage space an open bed would provide instead of the enclosed back of an SUV.

Even as a relatively newcomer, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz gets some tweaks and a new trim level with the XRT replacing what was formally dubbed SEL Premium. The 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT, which this review is based on, and the Limited and Night models kind of separate themselves from the base SE and SEL trims with upgraded powertrains and higher starting prices.

The SE and SEL come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 181 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque while the XRT, Night, and Limited versions get a 2.5L turbocharged 4-banger that boosts those numbers to 281/311, respectively.

The turbo gets a dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters in place of the standard automatic.

That and the extra standard features results in a jump in starting MSRPs of below $31,000 for the SE and SEL trims to over $38,000 for the higher end models.

Every Santa Cruz comes with LED headlights with high beam assist and tail lamps, an LED cargo light and safety features like blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, and forward collision avoidance assist.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, lockable bed storage compartment, a multi-functional tailgate with assisted open/close, rear bumper steps, power panoramic sunroof, front dual USB ports, rear-view camera, rear-seat heater ducts, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and Bluetooth connectivity also are all common features. 

With the XRT, you get Smart (adaptable) cruise control, dual climate control, an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 3-month subscription to Sirius-XM satellite radio, Hyundai’s Blue Link-plus Connected Car System, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. 

All-wheel drive is standard on the Night, XRT, and Limited models and optional to replace front-wheel drive on the SE and SEL.

Starting MSRP for the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT is $39,850. Adding the $1,335 freight charge and my test 2024 Hyundai Cruz XRT came in at $41,185.

What I liked about the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT:
The size is perfect for those wanting to get out of an SUV yet have a vehicle with some hauling capacity. Technology is plentiful. Its compact size makes it easy to handle, especially in an urban environment with cramped parking lots and narrow streets. The gear shifter is in the traditional spot on the console instead of a  button on the console/dash panel. The turbo engine on the XRT and Limited trims is worth stretching your budget for, not just for performance but for a higher towing capacity (5,000 pounds). Side steps make getting in and out a snap, though frankly the Santa Cruz isn’t all that high to begin with.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT: Overall, tech features are user friendly but I don’t understand why they eliminates a convenient knob to control audio volume. Finding the button to adjust the volume can detract from the driver’s attention. Voice guidance for navigation referred to little-used street names for Miami, where a street can have up to three or more names. Stick to numbers, Hyundai!

Would I buy the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT? Yes. Unless you are doing big hauling jobs, the Santa Cruz has the capability most people are going to need when it comes to runs to Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023



It you have ever taken a moment to look around you when idling at a busy intersection, it should come as no surprise to you that pickup trucks rate among the most popular vehicles on the road today

In fact, putting together numbers supplied by Car & Driver magazine, the top three vehicles in sales last year were pickup trucks with the Ford F-Series leading the way and the Chevrolet Silverado reclaiming the No. 2 spot from Ram, which checked in at No. 3.

That trend also sees to be continuing this year with those three in the same order. Throw in the GMC Sierra at No 8 and it’s no wonder you are likely to find yourself staring up at a truck bed as you wait for the light to change. And that’s just dealing with the full-size models.

Analysts say that brand loyalty is a big factor when it comes to buyers’ decisions on which pickup to buy, much more for trucks than the companies’ other products. A study by S&P Global Mobility, which compiles data from the auto industry, revealed that more than half of Chevy buyers (56.3 percent) were repeat customers, but that figure dipped to 47.9 percent when the Silverado was taken out of the equation.

The company showed similar results when the F-Series was not included in the data for Ford.

That may not be the best news for Chevy and the Silverado to gain ground in its race with Ford’s F-Series, but No. 2 in this context is not bad.

The 2024 Chevy Silverado is a very versatile pickup offering four different engine options, including a diesel, and a collection of cabin configurations that make it equally at home as a workhorse or family vehicle.

It comes in nine different trims with two or four doors and various bed sizes ranging from 5 feet, 8 inches to 8-feet depending on the cab configuration. The options are Regular Cab, Double Cab, or Crew Cab.

In addition to the 3.0-liter inline turbo 6-cylinder diesel, two V-8s (5.3L and 6.2L) and a 2.7L inline-4 now dubbed TurboMax are offered.

Don’t be put off by 4-cylinder engine. The Turbomax puts out more torque (430 pound-feet) than the 5.3L V8 (383 lb.-ft.) and is competitive with the 6.2L V8 (460 lb.-ft.). Horsepower is a competitive 310 hp in the TurboMax.

Fuel economy for all-wheel versions with the Turbomax is 17 miles-per-gallon city, 19 highway and 18 combined which is more efficient than either of the V8 AWD models. 

The TurboMax is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The V8s and diesel are paired with a 10-speed automatic.

My test vehicle for the week was the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss with the TurboMax engine and features from the LT trim.

Standard features include a slew of tech features from Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 system all operated on a 13.4-inch touchscreen. Yes, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and the radio is satellite capable via subscription.

Keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, dual zone climate control, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 120-volt power outlet in the cargo area are standard. 

Features catering to off-roading adventures on the LT Trail Boss included the 271 off-road package with 2-inch lift, skid plates, monotube shocks, hill descent control, and a heavy duty air filter.

Starting MSRP for the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss is $58,000. The radiant red tintcoat was the only option that added to that for a final total of $60,340 including the $1,895 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss: The cabin is quiet, comfortable, and roomy. The size is a pain in urban driving but a plus on the highway. Infotainment functions are easily accessible via the touchscreen. The ride may seem firm on longer hauls.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss: It needs a running board. I understand if you are doing a lot or trail riding (which is why you bought the Trail Boss, right?) you want as much ground clearance as you can get. But getting in and out of the cabin without a running board is a chore. (They are standard on the top-of-the-line High Country trim.) The ride can seem a bit rough of times, but then it is a truck.

Would I buy the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss? I’m not in need of a full-size pickup and but if you are it’s likely to come down to the Silverado (or its GMC sibling Sierra), a Ford F-150, or a Ram 1500. Choosing among them may come down to what you have had in the past.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023




The Corsair may be the smallest entry in the Lincoln’s all-SUV fleet, but latest sales figures show that it is punching well above its weight class.

According to figures reported by, the 2023 Lincoln Corsair jumped 28 percent for the third quarter with its 7,852 units sold, finishing second to the Lexus NX, which led the compact sales segment with a whopping 17,647 sold from July through September.

The 2023 Lincoln Corsair still shows a decline in yearly totals of slightly less than 14 percent, thanks mostly to a production halt to correct some software issues with its digital instrument cluster, according to

With 17,483 units sold, the 2023 Lincoln Corsair remains a solid fourth behind the NX, Buick Envision, and Volvo XC40 in the compact luxury SUV segment.

The Corsair debuted as a 2020 model to replace the MDX in the Lincoln lineup and has gone through a refreshing for 2023. (Kudos to Lincoln for abandoning the annoying trend toward alpha-numeric nomenclature among luxury automakers.)

The 2023 Lincoln Corsair was given styling tweaks that include a redesigned grille and new exterior lighting and wheels and, on the inside, a larger 13.2-inch touchscreen featuring Sync4 tech features and a 12.3-inch digital gauge display.

But the big update is the availability of Active Glide, the first hands-free driving system offered in the segment, according to the company.

“We want the drive experience to be even more effortless and personal,” Michael Sprague, North America director, Lincoln. said in a release, “and the new Corsair will deliver that with advanced technology and new features.”

The 2023 Lincoln Corsair comes in three trim levels with the Grand Touring trim coming as a plug-in hybrid. Base and Reserve trims get a 2.4-liter, turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. (The 2.3-liter turbo 4 has been dropped.)

An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard on the Base and Reserve trims while the Grand Touring PHEV comes with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Fuel mileage comes in at 21 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway, and 24 combined for all-wheel versions like my test Reserve trim.. Front-wheel drive models have numbers of 22/30/25, according to the government.

The 2023 Lincoln Corsair PHEV with its standard AWD earns numbers of 78 MPGe on electric driving and 33 mpg combined with the 2.5L 4-cylinder gas engine.

Here’s a huge bonus: the 2023 Lincoln Corsair runs on regular gas! 

Every Corsair gets the suite of features from Lincoln’s CoPilot360 2.1 system that includes auto high beams, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, dynamic brake support, intersection assist, and post-collision breaking, lane-keeping alert, blind-spot assist, driver alert, road edge detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-centering,  rear cross-traffic braking, and rear parking assist.

Included on my test vehicle were rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof with power shades, heated and ventilated driver and front passenger seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, wireless charging pad, a head-up display, active park assist, front parking aid, and rear parking sensors.

Options that boosted the starting MSRP ($45,75) to a final bottom line of $60,785 included 20-inch wheels instead of the standard 19s, premium leather seats, a roof rack,  and a Jet Package that adds special design touches to the exterior.  

What I liked about the 2023 Lincoln Corsair: It may be the smallest of the four SUVs that Lincoln offers, but it is big enough to handle routine chores like runs to Costco. The exterior is nicely done, and the inside is comfortable and appealing. The Reserve trim comes with a long list of standard features. It cruises smoothly and quietly. Second row seats can be adjusted to offer either more legroom or more cargo space.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Lincoln Corsair: Some tech features can be tricky to get to, though overall the infotainment functions are not overly complicated. Took a while to find the button to disable the guidance I no longer needed.

Would I buy the 2023 Lincoln Corsair? Most definitely. You can get the base trim for under $40,000 though the Reserve would be the preferred choice. Compact SUVs like the Corsair are a much better choice for urban environs over larger SUVs.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023



An aggressive Mercedes-Benz television ad campaign pushes its electric vehicles and plans to go all-electric by the end of this decade “where market conditions allow,” according to the Germany luxury automaker.

But if a bit of range anxiety is holding you back — or you often take trips that extend past the typical range of today’s all-electric models, Mercedes has the solution.

The plug-in version of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC offers the convenience of extended mileage when your battery is depleted with a gasoline engine taking over seamlessly.

And you still have the convenience and frugality of electric driving. The plug-in (or PHEV) goes about 48 miles before that gas engine kicks in which should cover most of your daily driving chores.

The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged gas engine pu
ts out 248 horsepower and  295 pound-feet of torque by itself. The electric motor is rated at 134 hp but an impressive 325 pound-feet of torque.

Combined horsepower and torque checks in at 381 hp and 479 lb.-ft, which scoots the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, according to the company.

That’s about a half-second slower than the gas-only GLE 450 4MATIC but over a second quicker than the base GLE 350 4MATIC with its 4-cylinder engine.

A 9-speed shiftable automatic is the standard transmission, earning the 2024 Mercedes GLE 450e 4MATIC an EPA rating of 58 MPGe or 24 miles-per-gallon operating with gasoline only. (Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive also is standard.)

The government estimates annual fuel cost at $1,700 and fuel savings of $1,250 over a 5-year period.

In addition to the hybrid drivetrain, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC benefits from all the updates the GLE lineup receives for 2024, including a new front bumper and grille, modified rear bumper, and restyled wheels for the exterior. Inside is the second generation of the company’s MBUX infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Standard features include dual-zone climate control, a 12.3-inch widescreen digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch widescreen touchscreen display with navigation, a center console touchpad to operate infotainment functions, “Hey, Mercedes” voice control, heated front seats with lumbar support, selectable ambient lighting, power sunroof, LED headlamps and taillamps, and safety features like Attention Assist, active brake assist, parking assist with surround view, and blind-spot assist.

That’s all covered by a starting MSRP of $69,500, but you’re not likely to get off that “cheap.” Want special paint like the cardinal red metallic on my test 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC? Add on another $1,750. A beige and black leather interior adds $1,650.

Other packages like Driver Assistance (active lane change assist, brake assist with cross traffic function, Pre-Safe Plus, etc.), Pinnacle Trim (premium Burmeister Sound, head-up display, heated/cooled front cupholders, etc.), a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch 10-spoke wheels, a power adjustable second row, soft close doors, and illuminated aluminum running boards ran the bottom line of my test model to $86,770 including the $1,150 destination and delivery fee.

What I liked about the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC: The plush, spacious cabin seats five comfortably and provides a quiet, smooth ride. Cargo space is generous though the optional third-row seat would seriously cut into the available 33.3 cubic feet. All-electric range is outstanding for a PHEV, and coaxed 60 miles on its test drive over the advertised 48. The surround view camera is invaluable when maneuvering in tight spaces.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC: The touchpad that can be used to adjust infotainment functions can be touched accidentally and make a switch you don’t really want. Steering wheel buttons are.suited for the the fingers of a 5-year-old. Fortunately, functions also work off the “Hey, Mercedes” voice command..

Would buy the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4MATIC? I would go for this over the fully electric vehicle (which isn’t offered on this vehicle) because of the gasoline engine to relieve range anxiety. The downside is that many of the desirable features come as options that run up the final total. That said, with the starting MSRP for the PHEV is the same as for the gas-powered V6 GLE 450 version, it pays to go with the former.

Thursday, November 2, 2023




The Ford Bronco Sport debuted as a 2021 model to give buyers a more affordable and compact option than its larger Bronco sibling that revived the nameplate the same year to end a 15-year production hiatus.

Initially offered in five trims including a First Edition model, the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport also gets a new trim level with Heritage and Heritage Limited models joining Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, and Badlands in the portfolio.

It is especially targeted for off-roading ventures but is comfortable in city environs as well.

Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, and Heritage models get a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine while the Heritage Limited, which this review is base on, and Badland versions get the optional 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine.

The larger engine boosts horsepower and torque to 250 hp and 275 pound-feet over the smaller’s 181/190 numbers so it’s worthwhile stretching your budget if you are able.

Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard.

The government puts fuel mileage at 21 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 23 combined for the 4-cylinder, which makes it only slightly thirstier than the smaller 3-banger (25/28/26).

The 2023 Ford Bronc Sport Heritage Limited has a nicely designed interior  with leather/synthetic leather upholstery and lots of standard convenience features.

These include Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of features like navigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert and lane-keeping assist, and the FordPass Connect system that adds remote start and recall notifications among other alerts.

Interior features include rubberized flooring and cargo floor (handy after adventures on muddy trails), cruise and audio controls, a 110-volt outlet, under-seat storage, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an 8-inch display screen with app links,, an illuminated entry system, and USB ports.

An easy fill capless fuel filler, LED foglights, rear liftgate glass with wiper, LED headlights and taillamps, unique side badging, bash plates and tow hooks, and a unique white front grille with distinctive red “Bronco” lettering are among other standard features.

Keyless entry and push-button start gets you under way quickly and smoothly, and paddle shifters give you the option of manual gear selection

Among “no charge” offerings on my test 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited were the Robin’s Egg Blue paint scheme, rear parking sensors, wireless charging pad, dual zone climate control, HD radio with 10 speakers, remote start, power and a power moonroof.

All told that rang the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited in at $46,400 including the $1,595 destination and delivery charge. That’s a pretty good jump from the under $30,000 starting price for the base trim.

What I liked about the 2023 Fort Bronco Sport Heritage Limited:
The 4-cylinder engine has plenty of pep for daily driving. The interior is roomy, and the infotainment functions are user-friendly. Overall, the vehicle is well-equipped, making it easy to avoid options that add to an already hefty starting MSRP. There is plenty of room for storage behind the backseat (32.5 cubic feet) and it more than doubles (65.2) with the second-row folded.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited: Fuel economy trails that of most of its competitors. The front seat offers plenty of legroom (42.4 inches) but the back is a bit snug (36.9 inches). It may have been the shoes I was wearing that caused it, but my foot had a tendency to slip off the accelerator pedal, which is on the small side.

Would I buy the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited? I’m not fond of the Robin’s Egg Blue exterior but North Carolina Tar Heels fans no doubt would love it. The off-road capability is wasted on me not because I don’t get little opportunity to hit the trail. This and the Everglades edition deserve a look if you are seeking off-pavement adventures. Production lives up to its “limited” moniker with under 2,000 in production so the Badlands model likely works out as the default model if off-roading is your primary desire.