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.
A 702-horsepower 1500 designed to eat the outdoors for lunch. This is the new Ram TRX. When your truck comes standard with Launch Control, 35” tires, nearly 12” of ground clearance and a feature called Jump Detection you just know insanity will ensue. And that’s exactly what Ram delivers in this extreme version of an off-road truck. Ram has given this truck all the proper tools you’d ever need and they’re integrated with a modern touch that makes the TRX even cooler. From the many drive modes detailed beautifully up here to the TRX and Performance Pages on the big screen, this is the most comprehensive package of gauges, hero measurements, and driver assist features you’ll find anywhere. It’s all so brilliantly complete and exhaustive that it just adds to the feeling that there’s nothing this truck can’t do.
If I could have ANY truck I’ve ever tested over the past 23 years – and I’ve driven all of them – this would be it, hands-down. What RAM has done with the standard issue 1500 is already very impressive but this? This is nuts. The TRX is massive, looks completely apocalyptic, chews up the earth and spits it out without breaking a sweat, runs with an insanely powerful engine whose supercharger sounds just as insane, and yet possesses the most advanced, luxury and tech laden cabin in the truck segment. This is supremely modern and beyond spacious; the very epitome of having your cake and eating it too. Yes, the gas mileage is atrocious and at over $87,000 it’s basically relegated to rich guy fodder but this is the AMG S-Class of trucks, holding nothing back.
Denali is to the city as AT4 is to the wilderness. It’s another GMC sub brand that is being spread throughout their entire lineup and here on the Yukon includes all-terrain tires, skid plates, a more off-road friendly front fascia, an off-road driving mode, hill decent control and of course 4-wheel drive with an auto setting and low range. Couple those attributes with the optional air suspension with an extra 2” of lift and a limited slip differential and the Yukon cuts through deep snow like a hot knife through butter. Pricing starts at around $66,000 and when you load it to the roof with all kinds of goodies – including the optional panoramic – you end up here at $75,960. With the Traction Select System and wheel-specific 4-wheel drive, the Yukon AT4 feels like the beast you expect it to be but with the polish of a luxury SUV on-road. AT4 is a cool idea and will no doubt continue to bear fruit for GMC throughout their entire lineup.
The Mazda3 has the hot hatch look but until now it was all for show. Introducing the 2021 2.5 Turbo with standard all-wheel drive providing the oomph this car desperately needs. A car I’ve previously been ambivalent about has been given renewed life with a turbocharged engine. Feed it premium gas and it’ll reward you with 250 horsepower. That’s a huge 72% gain compared with the non-turbo 3 and it peaks much sooner. The top trim Premium Plus model which adds real leather, navigation, a 360 degree camera with real button, traffic sign recognition, and myriad other driver assistance features. Plus, you get the front air dam, gloss black roof spoiler and larger tail pipes. As tested, you’re looking at $34,820. The cost of the turbo and all-wheel drive adds about $3,000. Mix in all-wheel drive and big torque output and suddenly the 3 is a very entertaining drive with plenty of hot hatch spunk and a loveably safe toassability. Where Mazda comes in strong is in the driver assist arena where auto high beams, Traffic Jam Assist, driver attention monitor and rear cross traffic alert. The new turbo 3 hatch is the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel of a Mazda in some time and with this engine in the new CX-30 Mazda will really be making hay.
Acura has absolutely nailed it. I’ve got a week with this range-topping MDX Advance Package in gorgeous Performance Red Pearl with standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, priced at $62,175. The headline-grabbing trait is, without a doubt, how awesomely the MDX drives. So if you appreciate precise, effortless handling and a supple ride even in your family 3-row then this is definitely the one for you. So this model goes full peacock, showing off everything the new MDX has to offer such as premium leather, 16-way sport seats, 27 different ambient lighting schemes replete with cool names, 20” wheels, a large and informative head-up display, a 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D premium audio system with 4 speakers in the headliner, and a surround-view camera system with a conveniently located activation button on the end of the wiper stalk. Great in the snow as well as in the curves, this MDX is a driver’s SUV with family capabilities at a smart price.