2022 KIA STINGER GT2 TEST DRIVE

For its first and apparently last refresh, the 2022 Stinger receives updated styling, better electronics and more safety tech. With the highest starting MSRP of any Kia model at $37,135, the Stinger is Kia’s halo car and expectedly sells in very small numbers; about 1,200 per month. It was introduced to take on the stalwart German sport sedans; Kia flexing their engineering muscles showing that they too can go fast and handle a curvy road. But the Stinger doesn’t fit into Kia’s Plan S which aims to transition the Korean brand to electric mobility by 2025. So it’s expected that the Stinger will disappear sometime next year meaning if you want one don’t linger. The biggest news for this 2022 model actually revolves around the base GT-Line’s new, more powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. But I’m back in the saddle of the most potent Stinger; the GT2 with its 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 now producing 368 horsepower – that’s 3 more than before but I can’t say that I noticed. With 376 pound-feet of torque and a launch control feature, this car will get after 60mph in less than 5 seconds. And when you go full GT2 Kia adds in a number of key performance features, most notably an electronically controlled suspension that maximizes comfort and is connected to the 4 drive modes for either a relaxed or firmer feel. This stellar Ceramic Silver paint is a $495 option and is worth every penny nicely playing off of the red Brembo brake calipers. And the more aggressively styled exhaust tips elevate the Stinger’s presence. The rear seats are spacious, comfortable and heated but the large tunnel really makes this a 4-seater. And because it’s a hatchback there’s way more room in here than in a typical sports sedan. Drop the rear seats and now you’re ready for bigscreen TV duty. The hatch also opens automatically, hands-free, just by standing near it with the key fob on you. The Stinger is a great looking car, it’s engaging to drive and luxuriously appointed for pennies on the dollar. So if this turns out to be its swan song it’s going out with a win.

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2021 FORD RANGER TREMOR TEST DRIVE

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/

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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.

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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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2021 MERCEDES-BENZ S580 TEST DRIVE

What Mercedes has done here is crafted a luxury car for modern times where driving takes a back seat to feeling safe, secure and oh so spoiled. With a starting MSRP well into 6 figures, I’m fully aware that very few can afford this kind of sanctuary but for those of you who can peace and solitude are yours. The S-Class has seemingly forever been the benchmark luxury car; the centerpiece of Mercedes’ innovations and this all-new model continues those tenets in abundance. Its tech-forward cabin girds you with eye candy, the ride is luxury personified and safety, as always, is prioritized. The features are futuristic and extravagance is everywhere to be found. For example, this is a car that is able to suggest onboard fitness or wellness programs based upon vehicle and trip data, even factoring in your sleep quality and stress levels via your smartwatch. And 3D sound is so yesterday so the S-Class offers a 4D audio experience with bass resonators in the seats that can be individually controlled. The S-Class can be had in 3 lines, from least expensive to most there’s Luxury, AMG and Executive. This is the slightly more athletic-looking AMG Line in Emerald Green with 20” AMG wheels, all-season tires, the $6,700 audio system, the Warmth and Comfort Package, the 3D Technology Package, and the turning radius reducing rear axle steering for an as-tested price of $138,530.

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