The Mercedes E450 is undoubtedly a rich, robust car with lots of goodies. It’s a very satisfying way to travel and there are all sorts of ways to upgrade and customize it taking it from $62,000 to $82,000. With the air suspension, rapid heating for the massaging, leather seats, increased cabin isolation via acoustic and heat absorbing glass, the air balance fragrance atomizer and a Burmester Surround Sound System, spending time in here is akin to a day at the spa. The hallmark characteristic of this E-Class are its beautifully, soft, sumptuous and dynamic drive that is just oozing with high-class refinement. The E450 has been designed to melt away stress and deliver a buttery smooth experience. It’s the strong/silent type with robust power and impeccable handling in the luxury sedan vein. So choose a massage program, up the fragrance level and heat up all the touch-points; the E450 embodies relaxing precision and is an absolute delight to drive.
The 2021 Pacifica will offer an advanced all-wheel drive system that preserves Chrysler’s coolest and most proprietary feature – Stow ‘n Go seating – the ability for the 2nd row seats to disappear into the floor. There’s also a new bougie Pinnacle model with standard all-wheel drive and a bunch of add on goodies such as the Premium and Safety Sphere Group and the Uconnect Theater Family Group which includes a new feature called the FamCam Interior Camera – a way for parents to keep tabs on the little ones, even in rear facing car seats. And the seatback video screens have always been a big hit right from the start. With a MSRP at $55,665, this isn’t your blue collar minivan, but it still does an excellent job of making family travel as easy and as enjoyable as can be and offers big time flexibility with a heaping dose of Chrysler cleverness.
A 702-horsepower 1500 designed to eat the outdoors for lunch. This is the new Ram TRX. When your truck comes standard with Launch Control, 35” tires, nearly 12” of ground clearance and a feature called Jump Detection you just know insanity will ensue. And that’s exactly what Ram delivers in this extreme version of an off-road truck. Ram has given this truck all the proper tools you’d ever need and they’re integrated with a modern touch that makes the TRX even cooler. From the many drive modes detailed beautifully up here to the TRX and Performance Pages on the big screen, this is the most comprehensive package of gauges, hero measurements, and driver assist features you’ll find anywhere. It’s all so brilliantly complete and exhaustive that it just adds to the feeling that there’s nothing this truck can’t do.
If I could have ANY truck I’ve ever tested over the past 23 years – and I’ve driven all of them – this would be it, hands-down. What RAM has done with the standard issue 1500 is already very impressive but this? This is nuts. The TRX is massive, looks completely apocalyptic, chews up the earth and spits it out without breaking a sweat, runs with an insanely powerful engine whose supercharger sounds just as insane, and yet possesses the most advanced, luxury and tech laden cabin in the truck segment. This is supremely modern and beyond spacious; the very epitome of having your cake and eating it too. Yes, the gas mileage is atrocious and at over $87,000 it’s basically relegated to rich guy fodder but this is the AMG S-Class of trucks, holding nothing back.
Nissan has designed their best-selling Rogue to meet the needs of today’s young families. This two-tone Blue/Black example with a smattering of options checks in at $40,060. That’s eye opening but keep in mind that the Rogue is not a compact SUV but rather a midsize. It’s been redesigned with newfound presence that’s evocative of something more rugged yet upscale…look closely and there’s a hat tip to Land Rover in the body. The cabin is special. This is a huge leap forward both in terms of its appearance and the features that Nissan has stockpiled in here. Now, it is nearly 40 grand so let’s not act like they’re giving the store away or anything but it is extremely well-equipped and contains all of the features I would want in my new car. This is smart, well-executed, sized right and brimming with goodies people will love. Count me in.
This is the nicest, most modern new Toyota cabin in a long time, but is it just a fancier RAV4 Hybrid? Fact is they do share the new Toyota platform like several other of their sedans and crossovers. This new Venza feels like a completely different vehicle; much more luxurious and upscale. And I’m really digging this Limited grade. With a starting price of $33,645 including delivery, the Venza slots in between the RAV4 and the Highlander occupying the space of a quasi-midsize 5-seater but in reality its interior dimensions are more compact. Going into my test week I can’t say I was really expecting too much – Toyota has been the target of my criticism of late – which is why I’m so surprised at how well they’ve executed the Venza’s return. It’s as smartly crafted and perfectly positioned as any model in their vast lineup.