This here is the Bronco Wildtrak – the most expensive Bronco – designed for high-speed, all-out dessert runs…a terrain type foreign to my area. Instead, I’ve got a freshly fallen 3” sleet bomb with some snow on top. This is the only Bronco which comes standard with the Sasquatch Package taking ground clearance to 11 ½” through long-travel Bilstein shocks and 35” mud tires mounted to 17” beadlock-capable wheels. There’s a higher final drive ratio delivering more torque to the ground and it also possesses a nearly 2” wider track. The Wildtrak also comes standard with the more powerful 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 rated at 315 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque on regular unleaded – 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque if you feed it premium. A 10-speed auto is the only available transmission on Wildtrak, rated at 17mpg. This one is also optioned with Dual Tops: a Carbonized Gray removable hard roof with a sound deadening headliner which was left at the shop and – the way it was delivered to me – with a retractable full soft top. Removing the standard fog lamps on this tester is the optional Ford Performance Heavy Duty front bumper which includes upgraded front steel bash plates. Other notable extras on this Bronco include leather-trimmed vinyl seats, a 2” hitch receiver for max towing of 3,500 pounds and the most lavishly equipped Lux Package which essentially turns this Bronco’s interior into that of a well-stocked Explorer’s.
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.
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.
Just as Ford is preparing to reveal the next-gen Ranger due in 2023, I’m running through the mud in this Cyber Orange Ranger Tremor and loving every minute of it. Following the off-road oriented Super Duty Tremor comes this Tremor package for the Ranger. It gives owners a truck with even more capability, taking it several notches beyond the FX4 Package. Powered by a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbo producing 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, the Tremor Off-Road Package is priced at $4,290 and is available on XLT and Lariat grades exclusively in the SuperCrew 4X4 configuration. A lifted suspension provides nearly another inch of ground clearance which combined with the new 32” Grabber tires improves the Ranger’s off-road metrics. FOX shocks with external reservoirs at the rear and hydraulic rebound stops keep things comfortable even over severe terrain. A steel front bash plate, skid plates, 2 new recovery hooks in the rear, a locking rear differential and a Terrain Management System round out the package. Even the traction control system has been recalibrated for improved acceleration while driving on loose surfaces. Now the price of this one is $48,755 – certainly not cheap – but it’s a fully loaded top of the line Tremor. A more plebeian XLT Tremor starts at $42,745. It can tow 7,500 pounds with the optional trailer tow package. This is one rugged truck with a soft side that satisfies on a number of fronts so if you’re in search of an off-road rig that still fits in your garage and is ready to go right out of the box, the Ranger Tremor would be my first choice. FOR TESTDRIVENOW CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES’ COMPLETE VIDEO REVIEW & TEST DRIVE OF THE 2021 FORD RANGER TREMOR, GO TO: https://testdrivenow.com/ford-ranger-tremor-test-drive/
The Q5 provides the sporty performance and fun-to-drive experience you expect from an Audi while also providing exceptional ride comfort. Audi’s vehicle lineup is vast with a dizzying array of choices that even I find difficult keeping up with. So have you ever considered why it is that the Q5 has separated itself from the pack to become the brand’s best-seller? Well, if you drive one it’s pretty easy to understand.
Audi recognizes it has a very good thing going on with the Q5 so now in addition to the standard and high-performance SQ5 models the brand with four rings has introduced Sportback and plug-in hybrid variants. But the Q I’m spending time with is the Q5 45 TFSI quattro. Translation? It’s the basic all-wheel drive Q5 with the 2.0-liter turbo which comes in 3 flavors: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige with prices ranging from near $45,000 to about $58,000. And this here is the Goldilocks model: the Premium Plus in upcharge Manhattan Gray metallic paint, with optional 20” wheels, Navigation package and Bang & Olufsen sound system for an as-tested MSRP of $53,040. It’s imported from Mexico but the drive most certainly speaks German.
Certain vehicles instantly make the perfect handshake and this is one of them. Getting in and out, finding your comfort zone, not having to think about where certain features are and having enough room to accomplish everyday tasks is what the Q5 is all about. Not too big, not too small, feature-laden but not over the top, it’s an SUV aimed to please. Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist is now standard on this Premium Plus trim and helps to destress the driver when sitting behind the wheel is reduced to monkey business. The Top view camera system is also now a standard feature on this trim and includes an off-screen activation switch. And the touchscreen navigation unit is user friendly with satellite mapping, intuitive controls and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also the head unit for the impressive 19 speaker surround sound system – a $950 option. Tri-zone climate control means no temperature wars, the panoramic sunroof adds elevated comfort to the slide and recline rear seats, and heated front seats with a heated steering wheel make winter a little more bearable. And there’s no need to mount your EZ-Pass on the windshield – with Audi’s Integrated Toll Module the transponder is built into the Q5’s rearview mirror. Other favorite features of mine include auto high beams, virtual cockpit plus with various, easy to change views and folding 2nd row seats that can be dropped with remote levers and then click reassuringly into place to create a nearly flat, expanded cargo area which can be accessed by a kick of the foot. And if you were wondering, the Q5 can tow 4,400 pounds – not bad.