Wednesday, January 24, 2024



Chrysler came up with the concept of the minivan for family transportation — especially those families with three or more children — 40 years ago and I would argue that nobody has come up with anything better since.

SUV? Nope. SUVs with three row seating can accommodate seven or eight passengers but even many full-size models lack the rear cargo room to haul all the stuff that come with larger families.

Station wagon? Third-row seating (if even offered) infringes on cargo space.

Sedan? You’re kidding, right?

No, the often-scorned minivan still rules the road when it comes to a vehicle combining both passenger and cargo space in a practical format, and for that we have to thank Chrysler.

The company launched the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan as 1984 models, and though neither is around today their progeny survives. Dodge survives as a brand but Plymouth left the automotive scene about the same time the 21st Century arrived.

Carrying the torch now for Chrysler now is the Pacifica, which began life as sort of a combination SUV, wagon, and minivan in 2004. Now the Pacifica is unquestionably a minivan with sliding rear doors and three rows of seating. 

In addition to its longstanding status in the minivan segment, the Pacifica also is the first its class to offer a hybrid gas-electric drivetrain and still is the only plug-in minivan on the market.

The Toyota Sienna comes as a standard gas-electric hybrid configuration (HEV) but as a plug-in the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV offers the advantage — and safety — of a gas engine to take over when in the battery is down. The Chrysler Pacific Plug-in can go up to 33 miles on electric power only, giving it a rating of 82 MPGe rating. Using the gas engine it earns a rating of 30 miles-per-gallon combined city and highway.

This review is based on the 2023 Chrysler Pacific plug-in, but no major changes are in line for 2024. Chrysler did some tinkering with the trim lineup, replacing the Touring L and Limited trims with Select and Road Tripper models and Hybrid S and Hybrid S Premium packages added to the line.

The Pinnacle still sits at the top and served as my test Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in.

It is wonderfully equipped with such standard features as heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging pad, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a dual pane panoramic sunroof, built-in Amazaon Fire TV, a Harmon-Kardon premium sound system, an interior camera to keep track of what is going on in the seats behind you, second- and third-row window shades, and a suede headliner.

Standard exterior features include 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, hands-free sliding rear doors and lift gate, and LED headlights.

Safety features include front and rear parking assist system, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, full-speed frontal collision warning, pedestrian emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning.

The second-row features easy slide seats but the plug-in doesn’t get the stow-and-go feature so popular on gas-only models that allow the second and third row seats to be stowed under the floor. Nor is the plug-in available with all-wheel drive.

MSRP for the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Pinnacle starts at $60,345 and my test vehicle topped out at $62,435 when the charge for the , which is close to the fathom blue exterior paint and $1,595 for destination are added in. That’s just short of  the starting point of $62,820 for the 2024 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle.

What I liked about the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in:
The interior is spacious with upscale materials throughout. There is good room in the back for all the stuff a family might want to bring for a road trip. All-around visibility is good and the gas-electric drivetrain eliminates the range anxiety that comes with all-electric vehicles. Available all-wheel drive is nice, too. Getting in and out is a snap and the Pinnacle trim has loads of standard features. Front seats are heated and ventilated. The drive itself is quite capable, and it is easy to maneuver in parking lots. The power opening/closing of the side doors 

What I didn’t like about the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in: The hybrid drivetrain comes at a steep price. There’s a big jump in staring MSRP from the gas-only version to the hybrid version. Chrysler does not recommend towing with the Pacific Plug-in, and all-wheel drive is not offered.

Would I buy the Chryslter Pacifica Plug-in? Not at this stage of my life, but for family transportation, it can’t be beat. The Plug-in is expensive but offers a lot. Empty nesters still might want to consider it if the grandkids visit often.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

2024 JAGUAR F-TYPE P575 R75


Please allow me a little personal note here, but I would like to send a big “thank you” to my press fleet manager at Prestige for sending the Jaguar F-Type Convertible my way for one last go around before Jaguar yanks it out of production.

It has been a favorite of mine since its introduction a decade ago as a so-called “spiritual successor” to the company’s legendary E-Type roadster of the 1960s and early ’70s.

The F-Type debuted as convertible with a coupe version soon to follow. Reviews were generally favorable for the first two-seater from the famed British marque in over 40 years and have remained so.

Oh, the cabin was small (still is) and storage space is at a premium, especially with the convertible and performance was sporty. It didn’t exactly smoke rivals like Porsche and Audi, but it was competitive enough and was fun to drive.

And it had that distinct Jaguar touch when it came to styling. A common complaint I often hear about today’s luxury models is that it is hard to tell them apart. Not so with the sleek Jaguar profile.

Sadly, Jaguar announced some time ago that the 2024 would be the last year for the F-Type as the company prepares to electrify all of its fleet of vehicles by next year with the launch of thee new electric cars.

If there is to be a bright side to the F-Type’s passing it is that Jaguar will not sully the roadster’s reputation by equipping it with an all-electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Looking at you, Ford Mustang Mach-E.) 

A throaty, confident exhaust tone from the dual quad exhausts, missing from EVs, is a prominent part of the package.

As noted earlier, Jaguar offers the F-Type in both coupe and convertible form and is marking this final year year with commemorative upgrades in the R75 Edition (a bow to the company’s 75th anniversary) and  ZP  editions.

This review is based on the 2024 Jaguar F-Type P575 R75 Convertible with all-wheel drive and a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine tuned to 575 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. That’s a big step up from the 444 hp and 428 lb.-ft. from the base V8 standard in the F-Type P540 and fuel mileage doesn’t take that big a hit.

Numbers for the 2024 Jaguar F-Type P575 R75 (AWD) are 16 miles-per-gallon city, 24 highway, and 18 combined. For the P450 (RWD) they are 17/24/19.

An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear selection is standard throughout the F-Type lineup.

The ride itself is on the firm side as you might expect from a sports roadster. Also as a sports roadster cargo space is minimal, especially on the convertible. You’ll have to pack lightly for overnight road trips and forget Costco runs.

Getting into the 2024 Jaguar F-Type P575 R75 is a bit of a chore, especially the the roof closed, but once inside it is surprisingly roomy for a 2-seater.

Legroom is a generous 42.8 inches and the seats are both heated and cooled and have enough wiggle room that finding a comfortable driving position isn’t all that difficult unless you happen to play center on an NBA team. Cargo space for the convertible is minuscule

Two-zone climate control is standard and can be adjusted manually via large knobs below the touchscreen. Jaguar was once a laggard when it came to tech features with items like navigation maps on the small side when compared to other luxury makes, but that isn’t the case any more.

The nav screen on the 2024 Jaguar F-Type P575 R75 doesn’t match up to the huge size that prevails in luxury models, but at 10-inches is adequate enough. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and connecting my Samsung photo was seamless.

Convertible versions of the F-Type P450 start in the low $80,000 range with the special editions venturing into the $90,000 bracket.

My test 2024 Jaguar F-Type P575 R75, the big boy of the F-Type family, listed a starting price of $115,000 with extras like an extended leather upgrade, Giola green exterior, Windsor leather performance seats, floor mats and destination and delivery charges ran the total to $119,875.

What I liked about the 2024 Jaguar F-Type R75 Convertible:
It has a distinctive look and air about it. You don’t be confusing it with any other luxury European exports for sure. Performance is exhilarating. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Tech features are plentiful and not all that complicated. There are large knobs to adjust the temperature and blower on the climate control system and a smaller one for audio volume.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Jaguar F-Type R75 Convertible: It’s kind of a chore to get in and out with the top up, and trunk space is laughable. But the main thing I don’t like about the 2024 Jaguar F-Type Convertible is that this is its last year.

Would I buy the 2024 Jaguar F-Type R75 Convertible? Definitely.  I’ve just go to find the right lotto ticket.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024




The Impreza has been a staple in the Subaru fleet for over three decades now and undergoes significant changes as it enters its sixth generation this year.

The 2024 Subaru Impreza no longer is offered in Premium and Limited trim levels as fifth-generation Imprezas were, and the sedan configuration has been discontinued.

The 2024 Subaru Impreza is sold only has a hatchback and a new RS trim sits at the top of the portfolio and boasts a more powerful engine than found in Base and Sport Imprezas.

No, the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS doesn’t measure up to the performance-oriented WRX STI that bowed out after the 2021 model year, but with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine it boosts horsepower to 182 ponies and torque at 178 pound-feet over the 152/145, respectively, of the 2.0L 4-banger in the Base and Sport trims.

That extra power, while not the overwhelming punch the late WRX STI delivered (310/290), comes at a nominal cost in fuel economy. The 2024 Subaru Impreza RS earns numbers of 26 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 29 combined) while the smaller engine in Base and Sport Imprezas are rated at 27/34/30, according to the EPA.

With the manual discontinued, a CVT (continuously variable transmission) is the only gearbox offered.

The interior of the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS is roomy and comfortable. Narly 43 inches of legroom is available up front and 36.5 inches in the back. Rear cargo room is a generous 20.4 cubic feet with second-row seats in place and more than doubles to 56 cubic feet with the second row seats folded.

Standard features that come on all trims include Subaru’s Eyesight Driver Assist Technology (adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning and keeping assist), wired integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Assist, auto stop/start system, dual-zone climate control, and electronic parking brake.

In addition to those features, the RS also gets features from Sport models that include an 8-speed manual mode with paddle shifters to operate the CVT, push-button start, LED fog lights, Subaru’s Starlink system for infotainment functions,  premium cloth upholstery, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The 2024 Subaru Impreza RS also adds as standard such features as blind-spot detection with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, an all-weather package that includes heated front seats, carpeted floor mats, leather-wrapped shift lever and steering wheel, and wireless phone charging.

Starting MSRP for the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS is $28,975 including the  $1,090 destination and delivery fee.

My test 2024 Subaru Impreza RS featured an option package that included a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power-adjustable lumbar support, Harmon-Karden premium audio system with 10 speakers, and a power moonroof that ran the final total to $31,045.

The 2024 Subaru Impreza Base model starts at under $25,000 and the Sport at just over $26,000.

What I liked about the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS:
The 11.6-inch touchscreen looks imposing at first glance but is user-friendly. Seats are comfortable, and the interior is roomy. Gas mileage is decent. Standard all-wheel is a segment exclusive. Auto Hold when engaged keeps you from creeping forward at intersections when you’re stopped at a light. (Just wish you didn’t have to reset it every time you start up.) The bigger engine in the RS delivers more satisfying performance than other Base and Sport trims.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS: I’m not a big fan of CVTs. Too bad the manual has been discontinued.

Would I buy the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS?
 I’m not a big fan of hatchbacks either (may as well stretch your horizons and go for the similarly priced Subaru Crosstrek), but the Impreza deserves a test drive if you’re shopping in the segment. 


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

2024 BMW X6 M60i



If your idea a a coupe is a two-door vehicle slightly smaller than a sedan and somewhat limited passenger and cargo capacity, BMW has a message for you.
The German automaker refers to its 2024 X6, which you and I no doubt would call an SUV, as a “Sports Activity Coupe” or SAC. The 2024 X5, which also seats five passengers and has four doors like the X6, it calls a “Sports Activity Vehicle” or SAV.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to catch on, but I’ve been wrong before. (In college I once earned praise and a good grade from my professor for questioning the future of cable TV because there already were three free over-the-air commercial networks. And how did that turn out?)

The 2024 BMW X6 and the X5 are both built on the same platform and share some common features, but there are differences that justify the difference in classification as SAC and SAV.

The most apparent is that the 2024 BMW X6 has a sloping roofline that gives it a sleeker profile but intrudes on passenger headroom and rear cargo space while the 2024 BMS X5 has a boxier shape and offers three-row seating and more room in the back for storage.

You could argue, I guess, that the X5 is more about substance and the X6 about style, though there is overlapping for both. The X5 looks good, and even with the second-row seats in place, the 2024 BMW X6 still functions as a typical SUV with considerably more hauling capacity than a full-size sedan.

Folding those seats increases capacity from 27.4 cubic feet to 59.6 cubic feet, still less than the X5 (33.9 and 72.3 cubic feet) but adequate for routine tasks..

The 2024 BMW X6 comes in two trim levels with M-related upgrades that start under the hood. The base 2024 BMW X6 M40i has the same turbocharged, inline 6-cylinder engine  (375 horsepower, 398 pound-feet of torque) that serves X5 models. The 2024 BMW X6 M60i, which this review is based on, ups those numbers to 523/553, respectively, with is turbo V8.

The difference is seen in performance. The inline-6 gives the 2024 BMW X6 M40i a zero-to-60 time of 5.2 seconds compared to 4.2 seconds for the BMW X6 M60i, according to the company.

Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that automatically shifts to the lowest gear when the left paddle shifter on the steering wheel is pulled for one second.

All-wheel drive is standard on both trims as are 20-inch wheels. Larger wheels (21-inch and 22-inch) are optional. EPA fuel mileage figures for the 2024 BMW X6 M60i are 17 miles-per-gallon city, 22 highway, and 19 combined using premium fuel, of course.

The interior of the 2024 BMW X6 M60i features premium touches throughout with large displays (12.3 and 14.9 inches) for driver information and infotainment functions dominating the front dash.

Tech features can be operated via touching the larger screen, using the dial on the console to make your selection, or by gesture or voice control if you have gone for those options. Yes, of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are among standard tech features.

New for 2024 is a Highway Assistant that is part of an optional Driving Assistance Professional Package and allows the driver the luxury of hands-free driving on limited access highways at speeds up to 85 miles-per-hour.

Frankly, I think  such a system infringes a bit on BMW’s proclamation of offering buyers the “ultimate driving machine.” Are you really driving without your hands on the wheel? 

That package tacks on $2,100 to what is already a hefty starting MSRP of $93,600 for the 2024 BMW X6 M60i. The X6 M40i starts at $72,500, 

In addition to a destination and handling charge of $995, my test 2024 BMW X6 M60i had several optional features than jumped the total up to $111,995. 

They included the Driver Assistant Package mentioned earlier, a Dynamic Handling Package (Active M Suspension Pro and Active Roll Suspension), an M Sport Professional Package (design features inside and out), an Executive Package (gesture control), a Climate Comfort Package (4-zone climate control, heated seats, heated front arm rests), 22-inch wheels, Bowes and Wilkins Premium Sound), and a leather dash board and carbon fiber trim.

What I liked about the 2024 BMW X6 M60i: Performance is breathtaking, and the high-quality interior and sexy exterior oozes class. BMW has loaded up the X6 with all kinds of technology though there is a drawback to that (see below). Both the instrument and infotainment screens are large and provide a clear view. All-wheel drive is standard. 

What I didn’t like about the 2024 BMW X6 M60i:
Tech can be overwhelming as the operation of the infotainment systems has a steep learning curve. The cool profile from the sloping roofline comes at a cost of headroom for second-row passengers and room for larger cargo items. There’s a hefty price jump from the base M40i trim to the more powerful M60i, and options quickly boost the final total to six-figures.

Would I buy the 2024 BMW X6 M60i? Too much for my taste, not to mention my budget. You must be really hungry for more power to put down the kind of money the M60i package costs over the M40i.