2021 AUDI Q5 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.
2022 HONDA CIVIC TEST DRIVE
The Honda Civic is an automotive icon; a nameplate instantly identifiable by even the most casual car person. And though the introduction of this next generation model doesn’t garner the attention it once did, those who continue to eschew SUVs will delight in its offerings. I’ve spent the entire week getting very familiar with this one and here are the 5 things you need to know before shopping the new 2022 Civic Sedan.
2022 GENESIS GV70 TEST DRIVE
Chances are you don’t know where your nearest Genesis dealer is and if you’re a casual car shopper you may not even know what Genesis is. Think of them as the best kept secret in the luxury car segment and this GV70 SUV is the epitome of why. So stop the excuses because if you don’t you’ll miss out on one of their buried treasures like this new GV70; an SUV that checks all of the boxes other than high price. The base 2.5T model starts at $42,000 while this more powerful 3.5T begins at about $54,000. That scores you a 375 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and plenty of additional goodies. Mine is fully loaded with the Sport Advanced and Sport Prestige packages totaling nearly $10,000 in optional equipment. Highlights include these Nappa leather seats with suede inserts in this stunning Ultramarine Blue, crazy-looking 21” wheels wearing Michelin all-seasons, carbon fiber trim, a digital gauge cluster with a 3D appearance, a brilliant head-up display, and Remote Smart Parking Assist – a nice get for those of us with tight garages. This GV70 is beyond loaded; you name it and it’s in here with the only glaring omission being the absence of wireless phone projection…a company problem. So whether you’re the driver, riding shotgun or being chauffeured in the rear, your comfort and convenience is completely covered. And though this is considered a small SUV, the sizing feels perfect…not too big, not too small with cargo and passenger dimensions right in the sweet spot. The GV70 is Genesis landing their strongest punch to date, practically daring you to ignore them. 2022 Genesis GV70 AWD 3.5T Sport Prestige
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.
2021 CHRYSLER PACIFICA TEST 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.