Monday, February 26, 2024

2024 KIA EV9




Its name may bring back memories of old 1950s era science fiction movies, but the Kia EV9 (Plan EV9 from Outer Space staring Vampira, Bela Lugosi, and Tor Johnson and directed by Ed Wood) is much more than just a badly stretched punch line.

New for 2024, the Kia EV9 is spacious electric crossover SUV offering three rows of seating capable of accommodating six or seven passengers, an interior packed with family friendly features, and a decent-sized cargo area behind the third row.  At 197.4 inches in length, it’s a shade longer than Kia’s Telluride.

It is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and goes over 300 miles between charges when equipped with the long-range battery..

The 2024 Kia EV9 is offered in four trim levels starting with the base Light Short Range (230 miles) and Light Long Range trims. Wind and Land versions have standard all-wheel drive and a dual electric motor setup that increases horsepower to 379 from the 215 (Light Short Range) and 201 (Light Long Range trims).

This review is based on the top-of-the-line 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line trim that matches the 379 hp in Wind and Land trims and puts out 518 pound-feet of torque that Kia claims gives it a zero-to-60 mph clocking of under five seconds. 

Th GT-Line also puts the price tag at a starting point of $73,900 before extras and freight charges are added on, which is a significant jump from the other trims and approaches 3-row electric exotic SUVs from Tesla and Rivian.

My test 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line came with standard AWD and the long-range battery giving it the plus-300 miles of driving range. (A charge up 87 percent gave me a 275 range.)  

Standard comfort and convenience features included a 12.3-ineh panoramic touchscreen display with navigation and Meridian Premium Sound and a nice, clear display for the surround view camera.

Seats are covered with Syntex synthetic fabric and the front seats are heated and ventilated with the driver getting leg support. The second-row captain’s chairs also are heated and ventilated and move back and forth at the touch of a button to provide more legroom for third-row occupants.

Other interior standard features include a wireless phone charger, a memory setting for the driver’s seat, and a 36-month trial of the Kia Connect system for access to remote features such as lock/unlock, climate control, Find My Car, Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.

Among standard safety stems are blind-spot and collision warning assist, rear-cross traffic alert, navigation-based Smart cruise control on main highways, parking distance warning, and the usual collection of side, knee, and side-curtain airbags.

Engaging the turn signal also activates Kia’s blind-spot monitor in the instrument panel to alert out to what may be coming up from behind you.

Exterior features start with dual sunroofs (though the second row is fixed), a power liftgate, a second-row retractable storage console, roof rails, rear spoiler, and rear privacy glass.

In addition, the GT-Line gets exclusive features like 21-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display, special exterior and interior styling tweaks, increased towing power (up to 5,000 pounds, though that can affect range), parking collision assist, and Kia’s Remote Parking Assist 2 system (Youtube it).

My test 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line had as options a Second-Row Relaxation Package (power seats with leg support), Ocean Blue paint, carpeted floor mats, and carpeted cargo floor protector that ran the final total to $78,430 including the $1,495 freight charge.

With the EV9 Kia also introduces to us a new word. “Frunk”  is merging of the words “front” and “trunk.” It’s  a small compartment up front where a gasoline engine would be whee you canr stow small items, like maybe a couple DVDs of Plan 9.

What I liked about the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line AWD: The ride is smooth and, naturally, quiet. The cabin seats six comfortably and the third row doesn’t infringe that much on cargo space. It’s about the same size as the company’s full-size Telluride. Charging time is relatively quick, and the plus-300 mile range for the long range battery (standard in AWD models) is a plus. Tech features are plentiful and generally user-friendly except for the lack of knobs to tune the radio and a slow response to some touches.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line AWD:
The placement of the gear shift lever (which includes the starter button) is just weird. If the steering wheel is cranked in a certain direction, fat as it is the lever is actually hidden. The ride may be too quiet. You have to have to be careful around walkers because there is no engine noise to alert them of your presence.

Would buy the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line AWD? No. I’m still waiting for the charging infrastructure to catch up to electric vehicles. As the top-of-the-line model, this one has the added burden of a high MSRP and the entry level model, though considerably cheaper, doesn’t have nearly as much range.

Monday, February 19, 2024




Hyundai seems to have hit a hit a sweet spot in the plug-in version of its Tucson Plug-in SUV with only minor updates the last couple of years since introducing the PHEV model in the 2022 redesign,

The Plug-in (or PHEV) Tucson comes with a nice catalogue of standard features and actually provides a perkier ride than gas-only versions with the 1.6-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine-electric motor drivetrain delivering a combined 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

A 6-speed automatic transmission also instead of a CVT (continuously variable transmission) commonly found in hybrid drivetrains makes good use of that power in every day traffic. 

All-wheel drive also is standard on the Hyundai Tucson PHEV.

Naturally, in addition to the extra power with the PHEV, you also get a big boost in fuel economy. The 2024 Hyundai Plug-in offers 33 miles of electric-only driving and sips fuel at the rate of 35 miles-per-gallon of combined electric-gas operation, giving it a range of 420 between fill-ups and charges.

The government rates the gasoline versions with front-wheel drive at 25 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway, and 28 combined wit a total range of 333 miles.

Only two trim levels with the SEL serving as the base model carrying a starting price tag of $40,100 when the $1,375 destination and delivery charge is included. This review is based on the Limited trim that takes the Tucson PHEV into the mid-$40,000 range with a total of $46,825 including the freight charge.

Standard equipment includes a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights, and roof side rails.

Comfort and convenience features include push-button start, hands-free power liftgate, leather-trimmed seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual automatic temperature control with rear vents, heated and ventilated power front seats, heated rear seats, surround-view camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, parking assist, wireless device charging, a 10.25-inch instrument cluster, 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bose premium sound system, and Smart Cruise Control that is Hyundai’s upgraded adaptive cruise control system.

Safety technology includes frontal collision avoidance assist, blind spot collision assist, rear cross-traffic collision assist, front and rear parking distance warning, safe exit alert, and the usual collection of seat belts and airbags. Engaging the turn signal activate’s Hyundai’s blind-spot monitor that displays in the instrument panel what might be coming up from behind you. 

The driver’s seat also includes lumbar support and a memory function.

The cabin itself is roomy and if not premium level at least upscale and eye-pleasing. Front-seat riders get 41.4 inches of legroom and those in the second row get 39.5. Not sure what is gained, if anything, by it, but a push-button panel on the center console is used to select gears instead of a shift leaver.

Cargo space with all seats in place is 31.9 cubic feet. That is considerably less than what you get with gas-engine and HEV (standard hybrid) models because of the PHEV’s battery pack, but it expands to 66.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

All in all, the Hyundai Tucson PHEV gives you a comfortable way to ease into the so-called electrification revolution that the government seems to be forcing on us with no range worries or recharging woes that are inherent in all-electric vehicles.

What I liked about the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in:
The hybrid drivetrain provides a peppier performance than the standard gasoline version.The cabin is roomy and quiet. There’s a semi-premium feel about it. Cargo space is plentiful. Infotainment features are plentiful and user-friendly.with one quibble (see below). The transition from EV mode to the gas engine is seamless.

What I didn’t like about the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in: I would prefer knobs to adjust volume and surf the radio dial instead of having to push a button on the centerstack facing. The touch-style operation can be distracting for the driver to use. Only two trim levels are offered on the Plug-in.

Would I buy the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in? Yes. The Plug-in version offers the best of two worlds when it comes to the drivetrain with the capability of handling short hops via electric drive while offering a gas engine for longer excursions. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024



Though its roots go back to the late 1990s when Mercedes-Benz introduced its first SUV, dubbed the M and later adjusted to ML to alleviate a conflict with BMW’s M line, the GLS came into being as a 2017 model when it replaced the GL-Class that had served as Mercedes’ flagship SUV since its introduction in 2006.

In the alphabet soup that serves that fills the Mercedes-Benz automotive nomenclature chart, the “G” designates the GLS as an SUV, G coming from the German word gelandewagen for “off-road vehicle.”

The “S” makes it equivalent to the flagship “S-Class” sedan in company hierarchy, thus assuming the role as the German automaker’s flagship.SUV just a notch above the GLE (which is equivalent to the E-Class sedan). 

As for the “L,” it basically serves as window dressing..

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS is part of the third generation of the model and comes in three trims. The GLS450 is equipped with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine while the GLS580 gets a 4.0-liter turbo V8.

This review based on the beast of the lineup, the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 with a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 under the hood that boosts horsepower and torque to 603 and 627 pound-feet, respectively, over the 580’s 510/538, respectively.

A 9-speed automatic transmission,, air suspension,, and 4MATIC all-wheel drive are standard.

It is a thirsty beast drinking premium-grade fuel at the rate of 14 miles-per-gallon city, 18 highway, and 16 com. The government says you will spend $10,500 more in fuel costs over the average new vehicle in a span of five years. We can always trust the the government, right?

Packed with all of the latest tech features and with beau-coup room for up to seven riders as well as their stuff, the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 satiates the power-hungry and family needs in one slick-looking vehicle.

New for this year are a new front bumper, grille, and taillights and new 21-, 22-, and 23-inch wheel designs. Instead of the usual Mercedes logo above the grille the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 gets one recognizing its AMG status.

Mercedes upgraded tech features that operate either by the “Hey, Mercedes” voice-activated system (well, at least most of them do) or by swiping the 12.3-inch touchscreen display or the laptop-like pad on the center console.

All GLS trims get a surround-view camera as standard and especially considering the vehicle’s size, this is a welcome addition.

The list of standard features including in the hefty MSRP for the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 include navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a panoramic sunroof, 64-color ambient lightning, heated and ventilated front seats with massage function, 5-zone climate control, self-close doors, and a Burmester surround-sound system.

Standard safety features include active brake assist, blind-spot  and lane-keeping assist, and attention assist.

My test 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 came with 23-inch multi-spoke AMG wheels, carbon-fiber trim, and a dash cam that ran the final total up to $153,000, including the $1,150 destination and delivery fee, from the base MSRP of $145,580.

What I liked about the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63: There is plenty of room and plenty of power. Even third-row riders get comfort. Cargo capacity is good even with third-row seats in place. Its performance is more like you would expect from a midsize or even a compact SUV instead of a full-size model (except when it comes to tight parking lots). The surround-view camera system is an invaluable asset, particularly in tight conditions.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63:
The six-figure price tag is to be expected with the “S” and “AMG” designations but still is daunting. Infotainment features are plentiful but come with a fairly steep learning curve. I don’t care for the “swiping” technique for manually selecting functions on the touchscreen or console pad. Steering wheel buttons are tiny and seem to be designed with the fingers of a 5-year-old in mind.

Would I buy the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63? Too big for my taste, and the operation of the infotainment system can be maddening. Do you really need a six-figure SUV with zero-to-60 mph capability of around four seconds? 

Tuesday, February 6, 2024




Looking for a small luxury sport sedan that stands out from the crowd? The Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan may be just what you are seeking.

Introduced as a 2017 model when the company revived a nameplate from the 1960s and ’70s, the Alfa Romeo Giulia delivers captivating performance in an attractive, distinctive package and at a competitive price.

Still in its first generation, the Alfa Romeo Giulia gets  a mild refreshing for 2024 with new headlights and taillights, a new digital instrument panel that offers three different layout choices, and updated Alfa Connect services the company says “offer comfort and security and improved over-the-air update capability.”

The 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia also gets new trim levels with limited edition Competizione and 100th Anniversary Quadrifoglio models joining the Sprint, Ti, Lusso, Veloce, Estrema and Quadrifoglio editions from 2023.

This review is based on the Veloce trim, which is Italian for “swift, rapid” and hits the sweet spot between the base Sprint and high-performance Quadrifoglio models.(Quadrifoglio is Italian for four-leaf clover and harkens back to the company’s racing heritage from the 1920s; Google it.) 

A 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque is standard on all but the Quadrifoglia trim which sports a 2.9L, twin-turbo V6 that bumps those figures up to 505 and 443 respectively.

An 8-speed automatic transmission with huge paddle shifters mounted on the steering column is standard on all trims except the Ti, which doesn’t come with paddle shifters. Rear-wheel drive also is standard with all-wheel drive available as a $2,000 option.

My test 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce with rear-wheel drive had fuel economy numbers of 24 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 27 combined using premium grade fuel. AWD models get a mile or so less (23/31/26) and the V6 drinks fuel at the rate of 17 mpg city, 25 highway and 20 combined).

Inside, the 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce includes as standard equipment the 12.3 instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, heated front and rear seats, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, red-leather front sport seats, an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and 6-way power passenger seat, both with 4-way lumbar support.

Exterior features include 18-inch wheels shod with all-season performance tires, Brembo front brakes, a carbon-fiber drive shaft, dual exhaust tips, sport suspension, and LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights.

Standard safety features start with forward collision warning and continue with lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic dimming exterior mirrors, and a rear backup camera.

A starting MSRP of $44,420 covers all that. Options on my test vehicle starting with the Veloce package ($3,600), a Premium Interior Package ($2,225) that included the Harmon-Kardon premium sound system and leather dash and upper doors, and an Active Assist-Plus Package ($700) that included traffic sign information and recognition, lane-keep assist, and driver attention alert. Red leather sport seats, Alfa-Rossa Red exterior paint, and 19-inch wheels (replacing the standard 18s) ran the final total to $55,140 including the destination and delivery fee of $1,595.

What I liked about the 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce RWD: Performance matches the distinctive exterior styling. It’s a fun car to drive. Three drive modes (Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency) are offered. MSRP is competitive in the class and covers a long list of standard features. The optional sport seats are comfortable. Trunk space (13.4 cubic feet) is generous for the small luxury sedan segment and you can fold the back seats for more storage space.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce RWD:
Infotainment features are on the fussy side to operate and the touchscreen is kind of small especially when put up against other luxury models. It provides a small image for the backup camera. Tech features work off the touchscreen with some, but not all, also selectable via a dial on the center console. The backseat is a bit cramped. The firm ride may not be comfortable for all.

Would I buy the 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce RWD? The Italian styling has its appeal and at a fairly affordable price I would definitely give it a look. Just wish the operation of such simple actions like changing radio stations was simpler.

Thursday, February 1, 2024



When it comes to motor vehicles, America has a long established love affair of pickup trucks as evidenced by the fact that the top three sellers traditionally are pickups from Ford (F-Series), Chevrolet (Silverado), and Ram.

And those are full-size babies, not the cute little modified SUVs that some manufacturers have come out with in recent years. Real workhorses.with top-of-the-line models offering a combination of luxury, utility, and versatility that not even the ubiquitous SUV can beat.

Sitting at No. 4 in the pickup segment and No. 7 in overall vehicle sales, according to 2023 figures from Kelley Blue Book, is another domestic entry, the GMC Sierra 1500. It is essentially an upgraded version of the Chevy Silverado and is promoted as “Professional Grade” in its TV ad campaign.

The 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 offers buyers a myriad of choices when it comes to powertrain, drive configurations, cabin accommodations, bed size, colors (two new for 2024), wheels, and eight.different trims.

This review is based on the 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate that sits at the top oft the portfolio and carries the biggest price tag.

It comes with a  6.2-liter V8 gas engine as standard but my test vehicle was equipped with the optional inline 6-cylinder diesel that GMC has dubbed “TurboMax.” It is mated to an 10-speed automatic transmission also found on the gas-engine models.

As is typical with diesel engines, horsepower is somewhat modest but torque is off the chart. The inline-6 diesel on the 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is rated at 305 ponies (lowest among the four engine choices in the Sierra lineup) but delivers a top-of-the-chart 495 pound-feet of torque that gives it a max tow rating of 13,200 pounds in 2-wheel drive versions and 13,000 in 4WD models.

The diesel engine bests the gas-engine models by about a mile-per-gallon across the board in fuel economy with the 2024 GMS Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate earning numbers of 24 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway, and 24 combined.

As the name suggests, the 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate incorporates as standard all the best features of the other trims (Pro, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and AT4X) plus a few extras.

The latter include 22-inch wheels, a carbon-fiber bed, sunroof, 15-inch head-up display, and a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system.

Super Cruise, GMC’s hands-free driving system (clap, clap, clap), is available only on Denali and Denali Ultimate trims.

The 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is equipped with the latest in technology from GM starting with a 13.4-inch touchscreen to operate the company’s premium infotainment system. It features built-in Google compatibility, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also are standard.

Other standard features for the interior include keyless entry and push-button start, premium leather seats, dual-zone climate control, 16-way massage seats for front-riding passengers, heated front and outer rear seats, ventilated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Cargo area lighting, a spray-on bedliner, GMC’s multi-tier tailgate, and front recovery hooks are standard on the exterior.

Standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, front and rear pedestrian warning, front and rear park assist, rear cross-traffic braking, HD Surround Visionow,  following distance indicator, blind-spot alert, and lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning.

All that carries a hefty starting MSRP of $82,500 for the TurboMax version of 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate.

Super Cruise, sterling metallic exterior, and destination and delivery fee ($1,145) ran the final total for my test 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate to $85,540 including a credit of $1,000 for the diesel engine.

What I liked about the 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate:
Lots of versions lets you trim out this pickup in what seems like an infinite number of ways. The cabin is spacious and comfortable with plenty of rear legroom (43.4 inches). Ventilated seats are nice. The retractable running boards and grab handles make getting in and out a snap. Infotainment features are plentiful and user-friendly. The diesel engine provides plenty of torque. 

What I didn’t like about the 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate: The overall size is a big issue in mall parking lots, and it is difficult to see over the massive hood when finally finding a spot to pull into. The ride isn’t the smoothest, but then it is a truck.

Would I buy the 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate? This is an unfair question since I have never owned nor ever will buy a pickup truck, especially a full-sized model. Just too big for me. The price may make you go back to the Chevy Silverado, which is pretty much the same vehicle, and save a few bucks.