If BMW doesn’t sell more models than any other automaker then it’s pretty darn close. There are a dizzying array of body-styles and variants from which to choose but it’s this one here, the X3, that outsells them all. And now into in the 5th year of its 3rd generation, the 2022 X3 receives some notable updates.
The difference between a 248 horsepower X3 and one with 382 horsepower is the main reason this M40i model is the one to have. It’s not the range-topping X3M mind you but honestly, if it’s a quick, sporty, fun-to-drive SUV you’re looking for this M40i is more than adequate. All-wheel drive is standard for a starting MSRP of $58,795, about $12,000 more than an X3 xDrive30i. Yes, that’s a hefty premium and if you’re more into the show and less into the go the M40i’s performance upgrades will be lost on you but for those who get excited by a launch controlled 4.4 second 0-to-60mph time, sophisticated handling and racy sounds this is the one you’ll want. And the 3.0-liter turbo-6 gets a boost this year from a 48-volt battery that adds 11 horsepower of electric drive, contributing to the stellar acceleration. This setup also supports regen braking which helps to smooth out and extend the duration of the engine start/stop function when paused in traffic. With the M Sport Differential, real leather seating, the Premium Package and heated rear seats MSRP is $64,290 or an $876 per month lease. With phenomenal performance, the X3 M40i is the small SUV calling all drivers.
So you’re shopping for a small SUV, I see. Maybe a CR-V? RAV4? Rogue? Well, if you’re like me and tend to zig when others zag, perhaps an Eclipse Cross should be on your list. They sell in minuscule numbers as compared to the class leaders and with the updates this year Mitsu has made it more competitive. Introduced for the 2018 model year it never really caught on, mainly because it’s butting heads with some mammoths of the small SUV segment and for a small time player in this market you’ve got to do something really special to garner attention, and that apparently didn’t happen. So for 2022 it grows by over 5” in length, increasing cargo capacity to bring it more in line with its rivals. Inside there’s now a power passenger seat – which doesn’t sound like much until you realize how hard they are to come across – and a redesigned infotainment system that no longer uses a touchpad and that has a screen that’s closer to the driver. With the vehicle’s added length comes a revised suspension with retuned shocks and springs for improved ride control. And lastly, the rear end has been restyled to remove bar bisecting the window. The 1.5-liter turbo-4 and CVT carryover. So how does 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque sound? Actually, not so bad as the Eclipse Cross presents as sportier than the rest of the herd… Mitsu’s most distinguishing trait. It rides firmer, sounds racier and handles more spiritedly than you might expect making this a good choice for those who don’t follow the herd.
The Tiguan and Atlas now have a little brother. The 2022 Taos is a subcompact SUV though one that’s smartly packaged to maintain sizable interior proportions. Now, I’ve been running this little guy all over the place this week – through the mountains of New England, taking it on day trips, etc. and it’s clear: VW has yet another winner in their growing SUV stable.
The Taos is one of the most pleasant surprises to come across my test drive schedule this year. It performs far above its $33,000 as-tested price by exceeding expectations in nearly every area. The drive is spot-on VW with dynamic characteristics on par with the Golf. The Audi-like tech features have me double checking the sticker price and all of the intangibles just click; it looks good as you approach it, it’s accommodating to its passengers and the size is perfect for day trips and running errands. I’ve averaged over 32mpg on regular to boot though VW recommends using 91 octane to achieve the engine’s full power. If you don’t need the Tiguan’s bigger cargo area the Taos is a no-brainer. Even so, with the 2nd row seats folded flat and locked in place the Taos’ max cargo volume is nearly identical to that of the Tiguan’s. Where the Tiguan gains an advantage is cargo volume behind the 2nd row. And what if I told you this one actually has more rear seat legroom? I also love the shopping bag hooks back here which can each hold 5 pounds. Unlike in the Tiguan and Atlas there’s no R-Line available here so this SEL trim serves as the highest Taos example and everything you see here – other than the floor mats – comes standard for $33,185; that’s quite the attractive price when you consider all that the Taos is. The only notable option my tester doesn’t have is the $1,200 panoramic sunroof. And if you were thinking of adding a hitch the Taos is not designed for towing a trailer. But this SUV is a real delight. VW should sell a ton of these and it’s easy to see why.
The 2018 model year was significant for VW here in the States. That’s when they introduced the 1-2 punch of Atlas and this next-generation Tiguan that have quickly become the brand’s best-sellers with each of them individually outselling all of VW’s cars combined. And now for the 2022 model year, the Tiguan has been refreshed with updated styling and broader availability of tech and safety features.
You know what you don’t see much of in this small SUV segment? A 3rd row of seating. And you won’t find one in my Tiguan either…VW reserves it for the front-wheel drive model. But here I have the top trim SEL R-Line which comes standard with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, priced at $37,790. It’s incredibly easy to build this one as there are virtually no options and only 4 paint choices: white, black, blue and this charismatic gray. If this lavishly equipped Tiguan is too rich for your blood, the base S trim starts at $10k less. And this R-Line looks sharp, sporting a new front end with redesigned LEDs and this cool light line that runs through the grille. Out back, the Tiguan name now lives more prominently below the VW logo. And then you get the R-Line badges, specific bumpers, body-color side sills and newly designed 20” wheels. It just goes to show that a little nip and tuck can work wonders in freshening one’s appearance.
And then inside, this noisette leather looks very Audi-like – and by the way I had to look it up; noisette means a small piece of lean meat. New for 2022 are these touch-sensitive controls in the center stack which can also be summoned by voice commands triggered by simply saying “Hello Volkswagen” and then saying things such as I’m hot or my feet are cold. There are also steering wheel touch controls, 15 colors of ambient light choices and this redesigned navigation system which can be updated automatically with a paid subscription. Combined with this upsized Digital Cockpit Pro with 3 views, the Audi vibes are palpable …just don’t look for the satellite mapping here.
VW’s have their own distinctive driving persona and the Tiguan is no exception with great forward visibility including adaptive front lighting, a comfortable but Euro-tuned suspension with handling agility and an all-around driver connectedness. And IQ.DRIVE is VW’s name for their driver-assistance systems which include Park Assist, Road Sign Display, auto high beams and this overhead view camera which displays sideways…that I don’t care for and I can’t figure out how to change it. But the Adaptive Cruise Control system with Stop & Go and Lane Assist is not one of the better semi-autonomous setups on the market, reacting a little slowly, clumsy in its steering and offering very little hands-off time.
But I like this…VW has kept it fresh and feeling like the German-chic, sportier small SUV choice with bountiful spaciousness to boot.
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.