2022 ACURA MDX FIRST LOOK BY CAR CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. A new MDX is coming and it’s a big deal. Why? For one, it’s the best-selling luxury 3-row SUV of all-time so this is a vehicle people are obviously interested in and 2) for Acura as a brand, the MDX and its smaller sibling the RDX do all of the heavy lifting in terms of sales. So in executing this next generation model Acura must be careful but not overly conservative. What you’re looking at here is a near-production ready prototype of the all-new model that goes on sale early next year. Acura now considers the MDX its flagship model and labels it the most premium, performance-focused and technologically sophisticated SUV in the brand’s history. Wider than before with a 3” longer wheelbase, this MDX debuts an all-new light truck platform that Acura states is built for athletic handling, refined ride comfort, exceptional cabin quietness AND one that’s capable of supporting the brand’s vaunted Type S treatment due later next summer. The standard engine will be the familiar 3.5-liter V6 while the MDX Type S will gets its own powerplant; a 3.0-liter turbo V6 producing 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, distributing its power via a 10-speed automatic and Acura’s brilliant, next-gen super-handling all-wheel drive system. This MDX also debuts a new double wishbone front suspension, known for its sporty handling.
The wider body enables more legroom in all 3 rows and more headroom for 3rd row occupants while bolstered sport seats with 9 massage modes and 27 different lighting schemes dazzle up front! The cockpit has gone digital and the RDX’s touchpad interface makes its way over to the MDX, featuring Acura’s largest ever center display. And in-car audio continues to blossom with an available 25 speaker, 1000 watt, 22 channel ELS Studio 3D sound system.
2021 HONDA RIDGELINE FIRST LOOK BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
I’ve always wanted a Ridgeline; it’s a great lifestyles truck that’s as smart and versatile as they come, but like many of you, its soft, mini-van-like styling has kept me from pulling the trigger. Honda realizes that so to broaden its appeal they’ve toughened up its appearance. Going on sale early next year, the 2021 Ridgeline features all-new sheet metal from the A-pillars forward, with a power dome hood, more upright grille, brighter LED headlights and a prominent skid plate. Out back, the new bumper flaunts more aggressive exhaust outlets. And butching it up even more are rugged-looking 18” wheels and a wider stance. But if that’s still not enough testosterone for you the new Honda Performance Development package sports these bronze-colored wheels, unique grille, black fender flares and special graphics. And it’s available on all trims. Last year, the 9-speed auto became standard on all Ridgelines and is paired to a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with an available torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. A unibody truck with car-like ride and handling yet capable off-road, the 2021 Ridgeline’s pricing will be announced closer to launch.
2021 KIA SORENTO FIRST LOOK BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. A 3-row family vehicle, the Sorento is offered with optional 2nd row captain’s chairs for either 6- or 7-passenger seating. Kia says the redesigned model provides more interior flexibility with improved legroom and cargo room. The platform it’s built upon is lighter and stronger, affording improved driving dynamics, including acceleration and ride and handling. An available full digital gauge cluster, Connected Routing for real-time navigation that can predict upcoming traffic, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration, and enhanced voice controls highlight the tech improvements. A new feature called Last Mile Navigation even provides walking directions to the driver’s final destination if the vehicle is parked within a 1.2 mile radius and the Find My Car feature uses the Sorento’s cameras to capture pictures of the car and its surroundings which are then accessible via the UVO app. All very cool stuff. And the depth of new driver assistance features is off the charts…if you get into an accident with this Sorento you’ll have no one to blame but the man in the mirror.
About the powertrain options; it starts with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired to a traditional 8-speed automatic making 191 horsepower, then a turbocharged version of that motor hooked up to a 8-speed dual clutch transmission producing 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Moving up, there’s a front-wheel drive only, gas-electric hybrid rated at 37mpg in mixed driving and finally an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid with an estimated 30 mile all-electric range. Kia’s optional all-wheel drive system uses torque-vectoring and a center-locking differential to give added power to the rear wheels when needed.
The X-Line SX-Prestige gets the off-road look with exclusive bumpers, unique 20” wheels and bridge-type roof rack to complement its 1” increase in ride height, standard all-wheel drive and hill decent control. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date near the end of 2020.
Jeep continues to expand the Wrangler’s portfolio by adding a plug-in hybrid for the 2021 model year. The 4-door Wrangler 4xe adds yet another powertrain choice to the various gas and diesel offerings.
And this one is a torque monster – something off-roaders crave – producing 470 pound-feet from its electrified powertrain. Recharge the 400-volt battery pack situated below the rear seats and the 4Xe provides up to 25 miles of pure electric driving. Want to preserve that quiet, zero-emission propulsion for the trail? Select the E-Save drive mode and bottle it up for later use. Otherwise, once all of the juice has been squeezed, the 4xe runs as a typical gas-electric hybrid, leaning on its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo to produce a combined 375 horsepower working through an 8-speed auto with an integrated electric motor. Jeep estimates that the 4xe’s gas mileage will be the same as that of a Toyota Prius. The full-time 4-wheel drive transfer case provides all of the options you want; including 2WD and automatic 4-wheel drive settings to compliment the usual 4H and 4L modes. And if you think this is a fragile Jeep you can’t take deep into enemy territory, think again. All high-voltage bits are sealed and waterproof so it can ford the same 30” of water and underneath you’ll see the same Dana 44 axles and skid plates while the Rubicon has an electronic sway-bar disconnect and nearly 11” of ground clearance. Base 4xe and Sahara models are also offered and we’ll know more about pricing as the 4xe’s December on-sale date grows closer.
2021 Ford F150 Review By TestDriveNow Car Critic Steve Hammes. The all-new F-150 arrives this fall and here’s your first look at Ford’s most important model. Though it doesn’t look radically different, Ford says every body panel has been redesigned. There’s a wider stance and 11 – yes 11 – different grille options. And to save fuel through improved aerodynamics, there are active grill shutters and an automatic deploying air dam. But the sexy news surrounds the new optional, range –topping powertrain – a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 boosted by 47 horsepower electric motor making it full hybrid. Integrated into the 10-speed automatic transmission, Ford is targeting a 700 mile driving range and 12,000 pounds max towing. The battery is packaged underneath the truck so passenger and cargo volume is unencumbered. Ford refers to it as PowerBoost and it’s available on every trim level from XL to Limited. And the electrifying news doesn’t stop there. A new feature Ford calls Pro Power Onboard turns gas and hybrid F-150s into a portable generator capable of powering 28 refrigerators or running an entire job site worth of tools. We’ve all been there…the truck as an office. Ford’s solution? The optional Interior Work Surface creates a an ideal space for signing documents or eating takeout. And if your lunch break isn’t over yet, the Max Recline Seats become a sweet place to grab a couple of ZZZs. The tailgate wars continue with Ford’s Tailagte Work Surface which includes integrated rulers, a mobile device holder and more. On the tech side, the all-new F-150 is North America’s first full-size pickup with standard over-the-air updates. These updates are bumper-to-bumper, and can include all-new functions and additional features throughout the life of the truck. And then there’s SYNC4 with twice the computing power of the previous gen system. And that includes wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto. And some real semi-autonomous driving is coming, too. Active Drive Assist is a hands-free experience that works on divided highways much like Caddy’s Super Cruise. It’ll be late availability but customers can add it later via an over the air update and pay for it then. With 3 V6s, a V8, a diesel and a Hybrid, 3 cab styles and 3 bed lengths, Ford’s F-150 looks to be a ground breaker. Look for it this fall with specs and pricing to be released closer to launch.