2022 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER TEST DRIVE

Unlike Isuzu and Suzuki who pulled out of the US market years ago, Mitsubishi has somehow been able to hang on as a small Japanese automaker with vacillating interest in selling cars here. But now that they are part of the Renault Nissan alliance we should expect to see more competitive products in Mitsu showrooms starting with this Nissan Rogue-based, all-new 2022 Outlander. The 10-year old compact-sized Outlander Sport is still far and away Mitsu’s best-seller but it’s this bigger Outlander – which has nothing in common with the Sport – that wears the flagship mantle, even available as plug-in hybrid way before that sort of thing was fashionable. It’s done very well for Mitsubishi and for its next act it leans on Alliance partner Nissan for its bones and just about everything else. For all intents and purposes, this is the Nissan Rogue with cooler styling and a minuscule 3rd row. This fully loaded SEL Touring trim with all-wheel drive is priced about $1,500 less than the Rogue Platinum I tested and comes with a better warranty. And while the Rogue did away with its Slid-N-Recline 2nd row seat, the Outlander does both of those things. There’s more people space in here than before as this Outlander is 2” wider than the previous model. Though the engine is slightly larger than the 2020 model’s standard 4-cylinder motor, gas mileage remains the same at 26mpg though with a smaller driving range of 377 miles. But this Outlander’s story is really about improved quality, greater breadth of features and its newfound appeal. The design is a grand slam for Mitsu, here in the upcharge Diamond White paint looking tough yet elegant, sporty yet functional.

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2021 JAGUAR XF P300 TEST DRIVE

Raise your hand if you want a Jaguar sedan? Not many of you? Ok, so the XF is probably not your first choice when shopping the British brand but there’s something sneaky good going on with this top-of-the line R-Dynamic model that I think you should now. Yep; SUVs and EVs are the name of the game for the leaper these days BUT the slow-selling XF – we’re talking less than 100 per month – has been updated for 2021 with simplified choices: now just one engine with 2 tunes in the 4-door body-style. High-performance variants, wagons and diesels have left the building. But I’m going to give you some reasons why this updated XF – particularly this R-Dynamic model – shouldn’t completely be ignored. First off, with a starting MSRP of $45,145 including destination this is one the least expensive ways to get into a Jaguar. Secondly, just like their best-selling F-PACE, the XF has been given the once over this year with a thoroughly updated cabin almost identical to that found in the SUV. And lastly, despite that a 4—cylinder turbo is the only engine left on the menu, this XF P300 with the optional Dynamic Handling Package achieves sleeper status with its sinewy backroad moves. As it sits, this car is priced at $62,695. That gets you the 296 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque 2.0-liter turbo, all-wheel drive, 20” wheels, British Racing Green paint and just about every option Jaguar offers. But it’s the $1,350 Dynamic Handling Package you’ve got to have in order to get that friskiness you want. For about 8 grand less than a comparable Mercedes E-Class with more exclusivity, the XF is worth a look and hey, you can’t get 20” wheels or green paint on the Benz.

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2021 MERCEDES-BENZ S580 TEST DRIVE

What Mercedes has done here is crafted a luxury car for modern times where driving takes a back seat to feeling safe, secure and oh so spoiled. With a starting MSRP well into 6 figures, I’m fully aware that very few can afford this kind of sanctuary but for those of you who can peace and solitude are yours. The S-Class has seemingly forever been the benchmark luxury car; the centerpiece of Mercedes’ innovations and this all-new model continues those tenets in abundance. Its tech-forward cabin girds you with eye candy, the ride is luxury personified and safety, as always, is prioritized. The features are futuristic and extravagance is everywhere to be found. For example, this is a car that is able to suggest onboard fitness or wellness programs based upon vehicle and trip data, even factoring in your sleep quality and stress levels via your smartwatch. And 3D sound is so yesterday so the S-Class offers a 4D audio experience with bass resonators in the seats that can be individually controlled. The S-Class can be had in 3 lines, from least expensive to most there’s Luxury, AMG and Executive. This is the slightly more athletic-looking AMG Line in Emerald Green with 20” AMG wheels, all-season tires, the $6,700 audio system, the Warmth and Comfort Package, the 3D Technology Package, and the turning radius reducing rear axle steering for an as-tested price of $138,530.

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2021 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE L OVERLAND

Not long ago, before every manufacturer offered one, if your family drove an SUV it was likely either a Ford Explorer or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. And over the past 3 decades the Grand Cherokee has advanced to the position of the flagship Jeep, with some trim levels so powerful and opulent that their price tags can rise above $100,000. But never has there been a Grand Cherokee big enough for a 3rd row. Enter the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L with 7-passenger seating. This Overland model is slotted below the more bougie Summit and Summit Reserve trims. It’s very well-appointed with softer leather seating, massage programs, the upsized 10” infotainment screen, a 19-speaker audio system, night vision, head-up display, power-folding seats and quad-zone climate control. So this one won’t leave you wanting and comes in fully optioned at $63,915. About $40,000 gets you into the Grand Cherokee L with 6 trims available, all with optional 4-wheel drive except Summit Reserve where that is standard. Another option is a V8, but only on Overland and higher. A little more polish and a tweak here and there could make it great or perhaps that’s where the upcoming Grand Wagoner picks up the slack.

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2022 MINI COOPER S CONVERTIBLE TEST DRIVE

It’s funny when people try comparing MINIs to other cars because it just doesn’t work. With Fiat’s failed attempt at funky, MINI truly stands alone. And with the backing of BMW, their cars are both premium and fun-to-drive. Personalization is the name of the game at MINI and building the one that’s just right for you is an exciting endeavor and something that’s tough to find elsewhere for under 6-figures. So here I have the Cooper S Convertible with the 189 horsepower turbo decked out in the highest Iconic trim level replete with silver bonnet stripes and the MINI Yours soft top for an as-tested price of $40,850…….with blue-ish looking Enigmatic Black paint, these 18” MINI Yours British Spoke 2-tone wheels, my personal favorite interior – Satellite Grey in Chesterfield Leather, and this new Touchscreen Navigation Plus with wireless Apple CarPlay…sorry Android users. This one also comes standard with a heated steering wheel in a new design, heated seats, power folding mirrors, a head-up display, a Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System and a wind deflector. The one possible rub against this Iconic model that favors the base Classic trim is that you can’t get this one with a stick shift – the 7-speed dual clutch transmission is standard. But it works particularly well with this 2.0-liter turbo, with crisp shifts, steering wheel paddles, 3 driving modes, an additional 3mpgs and a quicker 0-to-60mph time of 6.7 seconds. There are some fun sounds here too adding to the sporty persona. And with summer-use tires clutching the road, snappy steering and a buttoned down suspension this is quintessential MINI driving.

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