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.
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.
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.
2022 SUBARU BRZ TEST DRIVE
The BRZ is a forthright, real-wheel drive sports car – the kind that’s pictured on the endangered species list, 6-speed manual and all. It sits knee-high to a grasshopper, weighs less than a battery from a Hummer EV and doesn’t require a trust fund to acquire. Priced from under $30,000 the BRZ is the kind of car every frugal-minded driving enthusiast would love to have in their stable. I’m not sure you’d want it as your only ride but for those special times when you’re driving not just to get somewhere but rather for the drive itself, the BRZ is a very satisfying choice. What you need to know is that this BRZ is a major step forward. The central tenets of the car are the same but this one’s just a lot better. How so? Unlike the previous BRZ, this one actually feels fast and that’s huge because the old car certainly did not. And then there’s the cabin – a complete afterthought before – this BRZ presents as uncomplicated but not bargain basement. For $30 grand this is as pure as driving excitement gets – the anti-crossover SUV if you will. Its purpose is still singular, just taken to the next level of appeal. Including destination the MSRP of this car is $31,455. It doesn’t look like much and that’s perhaps the BRZ’s biggest letdown – I could use some more visual pop for sure – but this is a darn good car for people who still care about driving.
2022 VOLKSWAGEN TAOS TEST DRIVE
The Tiguan and Atlas now have a little brother. The 2022 Taos is a subcompact SUV though one that’s smartly packaged to maintain sizable interior proportions. Now, I’ve been running this little guy all over the place this week – through the mountains of New England, taking it on day trips, etc. and it’s clear: VW has yet another winner in their growing SUV stable.
The Taos is one of the most pleasant surprises to come across my test drive schedule this year. It performs far above its $33,000 as-tested price by exceeding expectations in nearly every area. The drive is spot-on VW with dynamic characteristics on par with the Golf. The Audi-like tech features have me double checking the sticker price and all of the intangibles just click; it looks good as you approach it, it’s accommodating to its passengers and the size is perfect for day trips and running errands. I’ve averaged over 32mpg on regular to boot though VW recommends using 91 octane to achieve the engine’s full power. If you don’t need the Tiguan’s bigger cargo area the Taos is a no-brainer. Even so, with the 2nd row seats folded flat and locked in place the Taos’ max cargo volume is nearly identical to that of the Tiguan’s. Where the Tiguan gains an advantage is cargo volume behind the 2nd row. And what if I told you this one actually has more rear seat legroom? I also love the shopping bag hooks back here which can each hold 5 pounds. Unlike in the Tiguan and Atlas there’s no R-Line available here so this SEL trim serves as the highest Taos example and everything you see here – other than the floor mats – comes standard for $33,185; that’s quite the attractive price when you consider all that the Taos is. The only notable option my tester doesn’t have is the $1,200 panoramic sunroof. And if you were thinking of adding a hitch the Taos is not designed for towing a trailer. But this SUV is a real delight. VW should sell a ton of these and it’s easy to see why.