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 JAGUAR F-PACE SVR TEST DRIVE

This is the only Jaguar that sells in an appreciable number. Not this super high-performing SVR trim, mind you, which sits here at over $97,000 but the F-PACE in general which resides in the popular mid-size SUV segment and starts at a relatively attainable $51,145 including destination. And just like every gas-powered vehicle in Jaguar’s current lineup, it’s only here for 4 more years as the full electrification of the brand begins in 2025. So if you’ve got lots of money, may I suggest you tuck one of these away while it’s still available because nothing beats a Jag with a supercharged V8. The stance, the color, the wheels, the sound – this is Jaguar at its modern best exceeding expectations as to what a crazy fast SUV can be. Even if a sport-ute that can cut down 60mph in in a mere 3.8 seconds isn’t really your thing, I promise just one drive of the F-PACE SVR can go a long way to changing your mind. The drive is 550 horsepower of supercharged awesomeness with bellowing pipes and neck-snapping acceleration and despite the 4,500 pounds it has to manage the handling and steering feel is impeccable for an SUV. This is truly a great drive; the kind you crave to do again and again. And the balance here between ride comfort and its dynamic characteristics is spot on. So there really isn’t anything would change here about the driving experience. Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations has gotten this exactly right and it’s cheaper and faster than the comparable Range Rover Sport. So get it before it’s gone.

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2022 NISSAN FRONTIER TEST DRIVE

2022 NISSAN FRONTIER TEST DRIVE
The last time Nissan redesigned the Frontier YouTube was just getting ready to launch and the first iPhone was still 2 years away. That’s the type of product cadence that would make even Toyota jealous. I’ve always been a fan of this truck so I’m very curious to see what Nissan has been cooking up over the past 2 decades. So no surprise, here in the new Frontier; the cabin’s design and tech level have been significantly enhanced and the new powertrain – which in an peculiar move was actually introduced on the old Frontier for the 2020 model year – adds a 9-speed auto in addition to a more efficient, smaller displacement V6 that makes more horsepower. Stick shifts and 4-cylinders are gone but just about everything else concerning the Frontier’s resume looks very familiar. There’s still the King Cab model with the small rear doors and a 6’ bed or the full 4-door Crew Cab with the 5’ bed or optional 6’ bed on midlevel SV trims. And this PRO-4X remains the top dog Frontier but this time around you can get it without the 4 – in other words it’s now also available in 2-wheel drive. The wheelbase is the same, towing capacity of 6,270 pounds is about the same and max payload of 1,230 pounds has increased by 4 bags of Quikrete. It is 5” longer, 2” wider and 1” shorter in height, the bed is deeper, there are now 2 front two hooks, and 18” wheels have been shelved in favor of 16” and 17” sizes exclusively. In Baja Storm with red accents it looks great – like a baby Titan. The PRO-4X is the most aggressively styled model and is the most capable in terms of off-road adventures with all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential for times when you get stuck and 3 steel skid plates to protect the family jewels. And then on the comfort and convenience front the 2 available PRO packages add in such niceties as a bass-rich, Fender premium audio system, a moonroof, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, an around view monitor, wireless charger, remote start, a spray-on bedliner, 4 tie-down cleats, and LED bed lighting. On the tech front, another optional package sprinkles in high beam assist, blind spot warning, intelligent cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and other assistance features leading to an as-tested price of $44,710. For a fun comparison, that’s $15,000 more than the last Frontier SV I tested about a decade ago. https://testdrivenow.com/2022-nissan-frontier/

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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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