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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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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2022 SUBARU OUTBACK WILDERNESS

This is the coolest thing Subaru has done in a long, long time. They’ve taken their very versatile but somewhat dorky-looking wagon and it turned it into jacked-up adventure SUV with a personality. This is the new 2022 Outback Wilderness.
Subaru is a lot of things but cool generally isn’t one of them. So this new Wilderness model is a breath of fresh air. The Outback is a very versatile wagon but the Wilderness takes it to a SEMA-like, concept car level and leverages the brand’s excellent all-wheel drive system in a more exciting way. With off-road vehicles super-hot, every automaker wants a Jeep to sell, so to speak, and this is now Subaru’s. It slots in at the top of the Outback’s 7 trim offerings and receives the most powerful engine – the 2.4-liter turbo-4 producing 260 horsepower and a healthy 277 pound-feet of torque – considerably more twisting force than a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. The Indiana-built Outback Wilderness has a starting MSRP of $38,120 including destination and checks in here at $39,965 with the only package available, adding a moonroof, this large multimedia screen with navigation and Reverse Automatic Braking which stops the car to avoid a rear collision……but there’s an unfortunate conclusion to the Outback Wilderness story so, GO TO TESTDRIVENOW.com for TESTDRIVENOW CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES’ complete video review and test drive.

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2022 KIA CARNIVAL TEST DRIVE

We all know the stigma that minivans carry and for some that’s simply enough to deter a purchase even though deep down we know they’re more comfortable and versatile than SUVs. So Kia decided to design one that flips the script on what’s cool and what isn’t. This is the first-ever 2022 Carnival MPV. The Carnival does distinguish itself mainly in its SUV-like styling. And the other aspect that’s been throwing people off is this new KIA badge, making its debut on the Carnival. No one has any clue what it is and for some reason even the mysterious logo has attracted lots of attention. I like it and so does everyone else that sees it. Until now the Pacifica had cool design firmly in its back pocket but now the Honda Odyssey is really the only one left out of the cool kids’ club. If you take the Carnival all the way to the top like this one you’re looking at a $47,770 MSRP or a $582/month lease. That’s cheaper than a range-topping, front-wheel drive Odyssey and Sienna and about the same as a Pacifica. It’s powered by a 290 horsepower V6 and an 8-speed auto. So what are the Carnival’s shortcomings versus the few other available minivans?

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2022 NISSAN PATHFINDER SL TEST DRIVE

I do love the new styling; the rugged look is back; and the 3rd row access is really brilliant. In a segment dominated by the Highlander and Explorer with others like the Pilot, Atlas, Telluride and Palisade also raking in the sales, the Pathfinder has a lot of work to do to climb back into the 3-row fray. And it’s safe to say this redesigned model is poised to rejoin those heavy hitters. It’s got the look, the size, the tech and the price to bring families back to a storied nameplate with 35 years of heritage. Two- or 4-wheel drive, V6 power, 7- or 8-passenger seating, prices ranging from under $35,000 to just over $49,000 – these are the foundations of just about every SUV in this segment. And now that the Pathfinder has swapped out its CVT for a geared transmission, increased interior volume, dialed up its off-road credentials and significantly raised its tech level and cabin appeal – it should definitely make it onto your shopping list.

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