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2021 JAGUAR E-PACE 300 SPORT TEST DRIVE

Did you know that you can buy a brand new Jaguar SUV for as little as $42,000? I bet you didn’t. It’s this one here…the E-PACE. Based on its minuscule sales it’s been largely ignored with shoppers choosing the bigger and much more expensive F-PACE at a ratio of nearly 4 to 1. But it’s been refreshed this year and looks especially sharp as this Caldera Red E-PACE 300 Sport.
for what may be its final refresh the body receives a nip and tuck for a more assertive stance, the chassis has been updated, aiming to deliver enhanced dynamics and comfort, and the cabin gets an infusion of fresh tech and a more premium touch. Previously called the R-Dynamic this here is the range-topping 300 Sport model riding atop optional 21” gloss black wheels framing optional red brake calipers. With the black badges leaping off of the solid red paint, this little guy grabs its share of attention for sure. So what is the 300 Sport and why would you choose it over the lesser 2 trims? Well, mainly it comes down to the P300 engine which is a 296 horsepower mild-hybrid turbo-4 producing 295 pound-feet of torque. That’s 50 more horses, nearly a half second quicker to 60mph and 1mpg more fuel efficient in city driving than the P250 engine. And then equally as important are the Adaptive and Configurable Dynamics with Comfort and Dynamic settings that adjust the ride stiffness automatically or to suit your chosen preference. There’s also torque vectoring on the rear wheels so this all-wheel drive system works from front to back as well as side to side for more responsive handling. And then goodies like a head-up display, sport seats and soft leather touch-points make this the E-Pace to have. The starting MSRP is $51,000 with this fully stocked and accessorized tester checking in at nearly $60 grand. Is that a lot when compared to its competitors? Well, it depends on who you think they are. A similarly spec’d BMW X4 xDrive30i is almost identically priced with similar metrics though it’s rear-wheel based and considerably longer with more cargo volume. If you look at an X2 xDrive28i which is even larger inside, much more fuel efficient and not that much slower than the E-Pace, it’s about $15,000 less.

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2022 INFINITI QX60 TEST DRIVE

Once a rival to Lexus, Infiniti has been mired in old product and meandering business plans for years. The recently introduced QX50 didn’t set the world on fire as they had hoped so this new QX60 better click and it will. This is a solid evolution of what made the 1st one so popular; now smarter, more premium and better packaged for greater convenience. A base, front-drive QX60 Pure is priced at just under $48,000 and leases for $671 per month but we don’t do much base around here so my tester is an all-wheel drive QX60 Autograph; a metaphor referencing its personalized style. And this is a beautiful reimagining of the body with a judicious use of chrome and this gorgeous Moonbow Blue paint. It’s less curvy and more muscular now with a pronounced front end design proclaiming affluence. The footprint is nearly identical to before but this one is wider with a little more ground clearance though inside the 2nd and 3rd row legroom has decreased while cargo volume behind the 3rd row has increased by 2 cubic feet. There’s also a nifty underfloor storage box back here and of course, the tailgate can be foot activated. The 3rd row seats don’t power fold but they do get a power assist when raising them. And in general the configurable seat action is a QX60 strong suit. To access the 3rd row, just press this button at the base of the seat and the rest of the movement is done for you. And because the 2nd row captain’s chairs slide and recline and the 3rd row seats also recline, as long as everyone is courteous there’s enough room for 6 in here without any whining from the kids. And when it’s time to get out, there’s another one-touch button for that. So very family friendly though other than a couple of mixed-type USB ports there’s no entertainment features or screens back here…not even as an option.
Extremely limited in availability, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 can be ordered in Pure, Luxe, Sensory and Autograph trims in either front- or all-wheel drive with up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity including trailer sway control and a transmission oil cooler. I’m not sure it’ll be the savior the brand needs but it’s certainly the best SUV Infiniti offers and will no doubt resume its reign as their sales leader.

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2022 BMW M240i TEST DRIVE

This here is a nearly $60,000 car; a small, all-wheel drive purple sports coupe just trying to make its way in an SUV-obsessed world. But, for those in the know – and you’re about to become one of them – this is the performance bargain of your sports car dreams. It’s the all-new BMW 2 Series and it’s beyond good…it’s addicting.
What was originally known as the 1 Series Coupe upon its arrival in 2008 became the 2 Series Coupe in 2014. And now for its second act, this 2022 redesign introduces sexy new styling, a dash of additional horsepower, stickier handling and a modern interior…oh, and this new color Thundernight Metallic…a $550 option that gets all the stares. This week, I’m skipping over the base 230i model and jumping right into the current top trim; the M240i xDrive. The former – a 4-cylinder rear-wheel setup – starts at under $40,000 making it the least expensive way to get into a BMW car while the latter- this all-wheel drive turbo-6 – starts at about $10 grand more. Now, my last spin in one of these came in 2017 in the small but mighty M2, a version expected to be reintroduced next year. As for this one, it’s quicker, significantly more fuel efficient and about the same price as that M2 so I can only imagine BMW has grand plans for its resurrection. Nevertheless this here is likely enough M for most. Though it’s 3.5” longer about 2.5” wider and a little over 200 pounds heavier than before, this is undoubtedly still a driver’s car with a low slung body, subcompact dimensions and a willingness to please as an Ultimate Driving Machine should. It’s arguably the purest form of BMW ethos in their lineup. Now, it is a shame you can’t currently get one like this without xDrive and with a stick shift but a rear-drive M240i will follow shortly. As for the manual it looks like you’ll have to wait for the M2 for that. As the 3 Series has matured beyond just a sports sedan the 2 Series has become the driver’s repository for attainable German driving enjoyment.

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2022 CHEVROLET TAHOE RST TEST DRIVE

Chevy has revived this new generation SUV reintroducing the big 6.2 V8. This is the 2022 Tahoe RST and the drive is phenomenal. If you want the 6.2 it’s optionally available on the 3 trims just below High Country; RST, Z71 and Premier leaving just the LS and LT out of the party. And it really makes the most sense here on the RST considering this is the sporty model with its numerous blackout treatments, 22” wheels and Victory Red accents on the Jet Black leather seats. A richer sounding cat-back upgrade is available as are Brembo front brakes but they’re not cheap…choosing those options add nearly $5,800 to the price. Chevy bundles the 6.2 V8, dual tip exhaust and Magnetic Ride Control in what they call the Sport Performance Package priced at $3,815. The MRC system reads the road every millisecond to deliver real-time damping and more precise body control – it’s an absolute must-have on any Tahoe, providing an exceptionally smooth and luxurious ride. Even without the air suspension on my last Tahoe High Country tester, this Magnetic Ride Control RST is off the charts good at graceful, big SUV motoring. It’s almost hard to believe how great this drives. Not only is the 6.2 powerful but it’s also refined and smooth…and thirsty, unfortunately. But the centerpiece of the RST’s luxury level drive is Magnetic Ride Control…holy smokes. Even on 22s the ride is buttery smooth and never sloppy or truck-like. Whether you’re taking a long trip with it…which I’ve done, or driving around town, this is very Range Rover-like in its vault-like quietness and supreme ride quality. Exceptional in every way.

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2021 LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 TEST DRIVE

While everyone continues to go goo-goo gaga over the elusive Ford Bronco I, myself, would take a Defender any day of the week. Check their resumes and you’ll find the off-road metrics to be very similar. But this Defender is exponentially more polished and prestigious; satisfying on multiple levels, both on- and off-road. And this is the Defender the hardcore 4X4 crowd most desires. Pricing for the newly offered base 2022 Defender 90 starts at $49,050 including destination – erasing the previous model year’s premium over the 4-door model. It’s 17” shorter so changing directions in a tight spot is child’s play; the turning circle is reduced by 5’ as compared to that of the 110. The shrunken wheelbase also improves the ramp breakover angle by 3 degrees. Otherwise off-road dimensions between the 2-door and 4-door models are nearly identical.
If you’re truly going to use your Defender for frequent off-roading then this shorter 90 model will hold the greatest appeal because it’s easier to maneuver and has a higher breakover angle so you’d be less likely to get high-centered. But there are also a lot of tradeoffs to choosing the 2-door with the obvious one being access to the rear seats. This 2021 First Edition has none of them which makes it feel a little plain, with the only options being a tow hitch receiver and the off-road tires. MSRP of this one is $66,475 which means very little because it’s sold out. So for the 2022 model year there are 8 Defender 90 trims ranging from just under $50,000 all the way to a V8-powered Carpathian Edition for more than twice that.
With its toy-like looks, supreme drivability and off-road awesomeness, the Defender 90 is as solid as it gets.

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