Thursday, March 28, 2024



BMW began getting serious about electrifying its fleet of luxury vehicles a decade ago introducing the i3 hatchback as its first mass-produced zero-emission model. Last year the German automaker topped out its portfolio of sedan-configured EVs with the 2023 BMW i7.

A big, powerful brute packed with a multitude of tech features and creature comforts (massage anyone?), the BMW i7 came in only one trim level for 2023.

The xDrive60,, which serves as the basis for this review, offered all-wheel drive and dual electric motors that produce 536 horsepower and a neck-snapping 549 pound-feet of torque that moves its 5,917-pound body weight from zero-to-60 mph in 4.2 seconds (according to

Two other trims, a base model eDrive50, and a lineup leading M70 xDrive, have been added for 2024. The former matches the xDrive60 in torque with horsepower slightly reduced to 449.

The M70 xDrive ups horsepower and torque numbers to 650 and 748, respectively, cutting zero-to-60 time down to 3.5 seconds while offering up to 295 miles of driving range.

The government says the 2024 BMW i7 xDrive60 has a driving range of 298 miles when shod with 20-inch wheels, 317 with 19-inchers, and 307 with 21-inch wheels.

Charging times vary, of course, depending on the source. Fast-charging at a public outlet got my test BMW i7 from under 40 percent charge to 80 percent (238 miles) in 28 minutes, which was enough time to walk across the lot and get a cup of coffee and finish it before it got cold.

As the flagship sedan in the BMW lineup, the i7 xDrive60 comes with a long list of standard or no extra cost features. They include comfort and convenient functions like premium leather seats, a 3-spoke heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and push-button start, panoramic sunroof, BMW’s Live Cockpit Pro seat of features like navigation, head-up display, and digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

Other standard features include full LED headlights, parking assist and Back-up Assistant, and soft-close automatic doors.

Adding to the starting MSRP of $119,300 for my test BMW i7 xDrive60 with 21-inch wheels were several options and packages that resulted in a hefty amount to the final bottom line but added to the vehicle’s overall panache. 

The most expensive of these were rear-seat lounge seating ($7,250), an Executive Package ($6,550), Alcantara headliner ($5,450), a Bowers and Wilkins Sound System ($4,800), and a Driving Assistance Pro Package ($2,100). A massage function for the rear seats added $600 and an M Sport Package tacked on $1,300.

There is more that ran the final total to $156,595, including the $995 destination charge.

What I liked about the BMW i7: The interior is roomy and impressive. Seats are comfortable, and the ride, as you would expect, is quiet. It is quite agile for its size, and acceleration is smooth with monstrous horsepower and torque to move its nearly three-ton girth. If you what a quick getaway, launch control gives you 10 seconds of extra oomph.
What I didn’t like about the BMW i7:
The i7 is one of the EVs without an AM band radio because the electric motors can interfere with AM reception. Some manufacturers have figured out a way to make them work but apparently BMW is not among them. If you lease, better go for 3 years because it will take you that long to go through all the technology. Somehow BMW has even made setting climate functions manually a task. Pricing takes your breath away.

Would I buy the BMW i7? No. Not until the infrastructure is upgraded. What would be a pleasant vehicle to take on a road trip is turned into a hassle finding charging outlets that would be convenient and would actually work.

Friday, March 22, 2024



Hyundai brought its Ioniq 6 all-electric sedan to market as a 2023 model and has made no significant changes to the 2024 version, which to me is an indication designers and engineers did it right the first time.

Extended range, a long list of standard features, user-friendly tech features, and distinctive but not overly funky looks are just some of the things working in the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6’s favor.

The 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 offers the choice of rear- or all-wheel driver, a standard or long-range battery, a smooth, quiet ride (depending on road surfaces), a generous driving range, and fairly fast charging times by today’s standards.

Like its predecessor, the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 comes in three trims with the base RWD SE Standard Range (240 miles) carrying the advantage of a starting price under $40,000. Its single electric motor checks out at 249 horsepower.

Upping the range and power on SE and SEL trims with RWD takes you into the mid-$40,000 range, but the all-wheel drive SE and SELs still stay under $50,000 as a starting price. The RWD SE with 18-inch wheels and long-range battery has an advertised ranage of 361 miles.

RWD SEL models with 18-inch wheels boast a range of 305 miles, and AWD SELs with 18-inch wheels are listed as delivering 316 miles of range.

The top-of-the-line Limited trim for the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 ventures into the plus-$50,000 level for both RWD and AWD models. My test 2024 AWD Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited Long Range had a starting MSRP of $53,650.

The good news with such a long list of standard features the only extra cost was carpet mats and freight and handling, making the total $54,975.

Those features include 20-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, LED headlights and taillights, LED daytime running lights, proximity key and push-button start, a surround-view monitor, blind-spot alert, Smart (adaptive) cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, Hyundai’s H-Tex synthetic seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual climate control, wireless device charging, rain-sensing windshield wipers, Bose Premium audio, Hyundai’s BlueLink services, and a 12-3-inch screen for infotainment features that include navigation.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth services also are standard.

Standard safety features include forward collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, parking distance warning, and driver attention warning. Also included is a Blind Spot monitor in the instrument panel that when activated by your turn signal gives you a view of what is coming up behind you on the side  

Horsepower and torque numbers for the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited with AWD and dual electric motors are 320 and a healthy 446,, respectively, but range for AWD models is trimmed to a more modest 270 miles.

Eco mode increases range a bit and Sport mode knocks off a couple of miles. Frankly I’m suspicious of the claim of 361 miles for the SE with RWD and 18-inch wheels, but my testimony wouldn’t hold up in court.

The display on my test Ioniq 6 Limited (AWD and 20-inch wheels) showed a range of 270 miles on a charge of just over 90 percent, which is impressive.

The Ioniq 6 went on sale just over a year ago, topped the 1,000 in sales last July and hit over 2,000 last December. But they have dropped to under 1,000 in each of the first two months of this year, so it might be a good time to act if you’re interested in a functional, good-looking, and top-performing EV.

What I liked about the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited: Styling hasn’t changed from the 2023 model and has a futuristic look without being overly funky. The red exterior color has a nice deep hue. Acceleration is smooth and throttle response immediate. Range on a full charge is impressive and recharging times are fairly quick. MSRP covers a wide range of standard feature on the Limited trim. 

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 storage space is a snug 11.2 cubic feet but a front space (frunk) offers another 0.5 cubic feet.

Would I buy the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited? Not until the infrastructure catches up and charging is more like a stop at a gas station instead of a long drawn hassle of seeking charging outlets that are working.

Monday, March 18, 2024



Though speculation in recent years about the future of the BMW Z4 would lead you to believe the sporty little roadster is on its last legs (wheels?) the reports of its immediate demise may be a bit premature.

As far back as 2016 an item in lamented its impeding demise with the headline “Say Goodbye to the BMW Z4 – Imperfect but loveable” (sic).

True, a production hiatus of about three years followed that report, but the German automaker brought back the Z4 for 2019, though regrettably it did so without a manual transmission that many of its potential customers would have appreciated.

The first year of its comeback it was offered in only one trim sDrive30i with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine delivering 255 horsepower. An M40i model with a 3.0-liter turbo 6-cylinder bumping horsepower up to 382 and torque to 389 pound-feet was introduced for 2020, and those are the choices that remain today.

This review is based on the 2023 BMW Z4 M40i, but no major changes were made for 2024, which is unlike plans for 2025 when BMW will bring back a manual transmission for M40i models. It will be part of a $3,500 package that also includes other upgrades to make the Z4 more track friendly.

As it is, an 8-speed automatic is the only transmission offered on 2023 M40i Z4s. It includes sport and manual modes with gears switched via steering wheel-mounted paddles. (Sorry, but that’s just not the same as working a clutch.)

With the larger engine the Z4 M40i delivers a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 3.5 seconds (according to, a 1.6-second improvement over the 4-banger, while drinking premium at the rate of 23 miles-per-gallon city, 31 highway, and 26 combined.

Though it seats only two, the BMW Z4 is fairly roomy for a roadster and offers a compliant ride. Seat bolsters hold you in place but don’t get in the way of entering or exiting the vehicle.

Creature comforts include dual-zone temperature control, heated seats with lumbar support, and a heated steering wheel. A wind deflector provides protection from excessive buffeting when the top is lowered, which, by the way, is rapidly accomplished with the push of an overhead button.

Tech features include wireless charging, a wifi hotspot,  keyless entry and push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and BMW’s Live Cockpit system that includes navigation.

BMW’s Dynamic (adaptable) Cruise Control, a rollover protection system, and LED headlights also are among standard features includied it the $65,300  starting MSRP for the 2023 BMW Z4 M40i.

My test vehicle added a Driving Assistance Package (blind-spot detection and lane-departure warning), a Shadowine Package (adaptive full LED headlights, black mirror caps, and extra styling touches), and a Premium Package (remote engine start and parking assistant).

The ivory white Vernasca leather interior and special Thundernight medallic paint (a purple shade sure to appeal to an LSU fan) and some other extras (like wireless charging and a Harmon Kardon surround sound system) ran the final total to $73,620 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

More packages also are available.

Perhaps that will help stem a slowing sales trend that saw the last two years check in at under 2,000 units each for the Z4. But it needs to be quick. A more recent report from is that the company has extended production of the Z4 just until March of 2026.

What I liked about the 2024 BMW Z4:
It’s a fun car to drive, surefooted around corners and packing punch. As expected, the trunk is small (9.9 cubic feet), but you don’t lose any space when the top is lowered. Speaking of lowering the top, it’s a simple, quick operation and can be done at a low (very low) speed. The ride isn’t all that noisy when the top is up.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 BMW Z4: Operating infotainment features isn’t overly complicated but takes some getting used to. Thick pillars bracing the windshield give you some blind spots looking forward. Cupholders are inside the interior storage bin making for an awkward reach, especially for the driver. No manual transmission is available until 2025 models.

Would I buy the 2024 BMW Z4? For sure. If you are of a certain age (read: old) this is the kind of vehicle you thought of when someone said “sports car.” This modern day version from Germany still has the same fun in its DNA as the older Brit models Triumph and MG and without the maintenance headaches.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024




Introduced as a 2012 model to replace the Sport version of the iconic Outback SUV, the subcompact Crosstrek continues to be a stellar seller for the Japanese automaker Subaru, challenging the Forester and Outback the company’s No. 1 spot.

Over the last three years, the Crosstrek has occupied the No. 1 (2022), No. 2 (2023), and No. 3 (2021 place in Subaru’s yearly sales in swapping positions with the Forester and Outback.

Overall, those three dominate the company’s sales over its largest SUV, the three-row Ascent that hit the U.S. market in the fall of 2018. Each of the top three hold more than double the sales numbers of the fourth-place Ascent, a trend that continues through the first two months of this year.

The redesign that moved the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek into its third generation didn’t change its appearance or size much. Fractions of an inch were shaved off the length down to 176.4 inches and the width to 70.9. A couple of inches were knocked off the height (63 inches), but the wheelbase is a tad longer at 105.1 inches.

But there is a new trim level that Subaru dubs Wilderness at the top of the portfolio to go with the Base, Premium, Sport, and Limited models, and the manual transmission has been dropped from the drivetrain offerings.

Subaru’s Eyesight Technology, a safety systems that monitors traffic and provides assistance such as a full-on emergency stop, is now standard for the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, and infotainment systems have been updated.

This review is based on the Sport trim of the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek and features a 2.5-liter Boxer engine (a Subaru trait) mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that boosts horsepower to 182 and torque to 178 pound-feet over the 152/145, respectively, in the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine standard in Base and Premium trims.

Along with Premium and Limited trims, the CVT in Sport models includes eight pre-set modes that the driver can access manually via steering-wheel paddle shifters.

There’s not much in the way of peppy performance even in the larger engine, but fuel mileage is rated at 26 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 29 combined. That’s pretty close to the 27/34/29 figures for the 2.0L 4-banger.

Among comfort and convenience features on the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport are Subaru’s StarLink services with an 11.6-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, a wireless phone charger, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and push-button start.

In addition to the EyeSight Driver assist program, safety features include adaptable control with lane-centering assist, brake assist, and the usual collection of airbags and seatbelts.

Blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert comes in a $1,190 option package that also features a power moonroof and 10-way power driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar support.

Roof rails, a retractable cargo cover, automatic LED headlights with automatic high beam, and LED fog lights also are among standard features. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport rides on 18-inch alloy wheels.

Starting MSRP for the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport is $28,995, which is $5,000 more than the starting point for the Base model that carries over from 2023. My test 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport that included the one option package came to $32,210 including the $1,295 destination and delivery fee.

What I liked about the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport:
The interior is roomy and comfortable. What the 2.5L, 4-cylinder Boxer engine lacks in oomph it makes up for in fuel efficiency. Tech features are plentiful. The touchscreen looks imposing but really is quite user-friendly. It even has knobs to adjust audio volume and surf the radio dial. The Crosstrek isn’t ready to take on the Rubicon Trail, but with a ground clearance of 9.3 inches and extra body cladding in Wilderness trim it has some off-roading chops. Being a Subaru, all-wheel drive is standard.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport: The manual transmission available on some earlier models has been discontinued in favor of a CVT. Ugh. Even with the 2.5L engine the low power shows up when looking for a little more punch for passing at highway speeds. I can live without the touches of gold trim. A power liftgate would be a nice addition.

Would I buy the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport? Models with the 2.5L engine definitely are worth a look. It is a very functional SUV and the price level is appealing.