2022 INFINITI QX55 FIRST LOOK

2022 INFINITI QX55 FIRST LOOK BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES.
When it arrived 3 years ago, the QX50 small SUV was supposed to be the centerpiece of an Infiniti revival. Instead, sales have been extremely disappointing and now parent company Nissan is planning on steering the brand away from its luxury aspirations and more towards, what their COO has described, as a Nissan-plus brand.  That brings us to the just revealed 2022 QX55 – a coupe-styled derivative of the QX50.  The pair fleshes out the small end of Infiniti’s trifecta of SUVs and share much in common.  The new 55 is powered by the brand’s innovative variable compression turbocharged 4-cylinder producing the same 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.  And no surprise, the CVT remains as the only transmission.  The biggest difference between the two is that this one comes with all-wheel drive and 20” wheels as standard.  Bolder in its design, the QX55 is for the owner who is willing to sacrifice some cargo room for greater style.  Other than a reduction in luggage volume, the 2 are nearly identical dimensionally.  Available in Luxe, Essential, and Sensory trim levels, details regarding pricing and fuel economy will be announced closer to launch in the spring of 2021. 

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2021 BMW 540i TEST DRIVE

Before SUVs dominated the automotive landscape, executive sedans like the 5 Series were the chariots of choice for white collar workers climbing the ladder of success.  And even though they’re not as popular as they once were, this new 540i serves as a reminder that the segment is still alive and well. 
The 5 Series is a technological tour de force, as long as you go all in on the option packages.  And this one has some really great cutting edge features including some new stuff that even I haven’t seen before, most of it related to driving assistance.  Like the graphical depiction of surrounding vehicles while driving on the highway to help with lane changes.  Speaking of which, this one can do that for you while using adaptive cruise control by simply tapping the turn signal…hands free.  And the extended traffic jam assistant can even do the mundane stop and go driving for you during your commute without constantly needing to grab the steering wheel.  And I also love how the head-up display integrates your smartphone’s mapping directions so no matter which navigation system you’re using the 540i has got you covered.  

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2021 TOYOTA SIENNA FIRST LOOK

Toyota’s infamously long product cadence has caused the Sienna to slide all the way to the 4th spot in minivan sales. That may not sound bad until you realize there are only 5 of them on the market. But going on sale this November is an all-new 2021 Sienna Toyota hopes can challenge the segment-leading Chrysler Pacifica. How will it accomplish this? Well, though they no longer own the market with it the Sienna continues to offer all-wheel drive – a big plus in the snowbelt – but here’s the headline: all models will be hybrids. Not a plug-in like the Pacifica, mind you, but a battery-motor- engine deal nevertheless. 245 horsepower and 36mpg is the hook Toyota hopes can reel you in. with this new model strategy. It’s an all-new vehicle from the ground up, elevating the Swagger Wagon look with a fresh design and new features Toyota says make this the most sophisticated, versatile and enjoyable Sienna ever. Engineers focused on reducing noises in the frequencies where conversation takes place, while also mitigating the feeling that you’re driving a bus by using what they call the Bridge Console, ergonomically positioned high with lots of storage, helping to alleviate stress and boost driver comfort. And then there are a host of other convenience features that have become minivan staples such as kick open and close sliding doors, sliding 2nd row captain’s chairs, modern connectivity but not wireless phone projection, Driver Easy Speak, and a vacuum. Above and beyond good stuff like a digital rearview mirror, head-up display, bird’s eye view camera and a refrigerator give the Sienna some distinction. Pricing for the very base FWD Sienna LE with its 8 passenger seating and stowable middle seat starts at $35,635 including delivery while a 7-seat AWD Platinum checks in at $51,635.

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2021 SUBARU CROSSTREK SPORT TEST DRIVE

2021 SUBARU CROSSTREK SPORT TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. For my money, this is the best Subaru you can buy. And I’ve held that opinion since it was first called the XV Crosstrek back in 2013. You can think of it as a bite-sized Outback. And now you can have one in Sport trim with a more powerful engine.

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2021 DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT

2021 DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT FIRST LOOK BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
The 2021 model year will see Dodge’s lineup reduced to 3 models; a coupe, a sedan and an SUV. But for the first time – and perhaps the last – each one can be ordered as a Hellcat. Though a Journey Hellcat would have been fun, the Durango is the next in line to receive the brand’s outrageous supercharged HEMI V8. As one of the few remaining sanctuaries for 8-cylinder muscle, when Dodge refreshes one of their core models you can bet there’re going to be bigger engines and more horsepower on the menu. So to accompany the more aggressive styling and updated cockpit every Durango receives this year, there’s a new king of the hill model that reaches beyond the already potent SRT 392. This Hellcat, which produces 710 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque from its 6.2-liter engine, puts down a 0-to-60mph time of 3.5 seconds via Launch Control and Launch Assist. That’s faster than a BWM X6 M! Its quarter-mile time is an equally crazy 11.5 seconds. And how about a top speed of 180 mph while still capable of towing 8,700 pounds? It sticks to the road with more downforce thanks in part to its new rear spoiler and has greater stability turning into corners afforded by the Hellcat-tuned suspension. Reservations open in November with pricing set at $82,490 including destination.

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