2021 JAGUAR E-PACE 300 SPORT TEST DRIVE
Did you know that you can buy a brand new Jaguar SUV for as little as $42,000? I bet you didn’t. It’s this one here…the E-PACE. Based on its minuscule sales it’s been largely ignored with shoppers choosing the bigger and much more expensive F-PACE at a ratio of nearly 4 to 1. But it’s been refreshed this year and looks especially sharp as this Caldera Red E-PACE 300 Sport.
for what may be its final refresh the body receives a nip and tuck for a more assertive stance, the chassis has been updated, aiming to deliver enhanced dynamics and comfort, and the cabin gets an infusion of fresh tech and a more premium touch. Previously called the R-Dynamic this here is the range-topping 300 Sport model riding atop optional 21” gloss black wheels framing optional red brake calipers. With the black badges leaping off of the solid red paint, this little guy grabs its share of attention for sure. So what is the 300 Sport and why would you choose it over the lesser 2 trims? Well, mainly it comes down to the P300 engine which is a 296 horsepower mild-hybrid turbo-4 producing 295 pound-feet of torque. That’s 50 more horses, nearly a half second quicker to 60mph and 1mpg more fuel efficient in city driving than the P250 engine. And then equally as important are the Adaptive and Configurable Dynamics with Comfort and Dynamic settings that adjust the ride stiffness automatically or to suit your chosen preference. There’s also torque vectoring on the rear wheels so this all-wheel drive system works from front to back as well as side to side for more responsive handling. And then goodies like a head-up display, sport seats and soft leather touch-points make this the E-Pace to have. The starting MSRP is $51,000 with this fully stocked and accessorized tester checking in at nearly $60 grand. Is that a lot when compared to its competitors? Well, it depends on who you think they are. A similarly spec’d BMW X4 xDrive30i is almost identically priced with similar metrics though it’s rear-wheel based and considerably longer with more cargo volume. If you look at an X2 xDrive28i which is even larger inside, much more fuel efficient and not that much slower than the E-Pace, it’s about $15,000 less.
2022 GENESIS GV70 TEST DRIVE
Chances are you don’t know where your nearest Genesis dealer is and if you’re a casual car shopper you may not even know what Genesis is. Think of them as the best kept secret in the luxury car segment and this GV70 SUV is the epitome of why. So stop the excuses because if you don’t you’ll miss out on one of their buried treasures like this new GV70; an SUV that checks all of the boxes other than high price. The base 2.5T model starts at $42,000 while this more powerful 3.5T begins at about $54,000. That scores you a 375 horsepower twin-turbo V6 and plenty of additional goodies. Mine is fully loaded with the Sport Advanced and Sport Prestige packages totaling nearly $10,000 in optional equipment. Highlights include these Nappa leather seats with suede inserts in this stunning Ultramarine Blue, crazy-looking 21” wheels wearing Michelin all-seasons, carbon fiber trim, a digital gauge cluster with a 3D appearance, a brilliant head-up display, and Remote Smart Parking Assist – a nice get for those of us with tight garages. This GV70 is beyond loaded; you name it and it’s in here with the only glaring omission being the absence of wireless phone projection…a company problem. So whether you’re the driver, riding shotgun or being chauffeured in the rear, your comfort and convenience is completely covered. And though this is considered a small SUV, the sizing feels perfect…not too big, not too small with cargo and passenger dimensions right in the sweet spot. The GV70 is Genesis landing their strongest punch to date, practically daring you to ignore them. 2022 Genesis GV70 AWD 3.5T Sport Prestige
2021 HONDA RIDGELINE TEST DRIVE
What the Ridgeline does better than any other truck is provide a car-like experience. It’s as quiet and as smooth in here as a Honda Pilot. It’s also wider with more space than other trucks in this segment and the bed is bigger with added cleverness. And despite its modest ground clearance the all-wheel drive system is top-notch and can take you farther than you’d think. The seats are comfy and the V6 is slightly more fuel efficient than a Tacoma’s. But the rest of it leaves me either wanting more stuff or a much lower sticker price. With a starting MSRP of $37,655 including destination Honda is using the Sport to goad shoppers into a higher trim level. A Ridgeline you’d actually want is, at the very least the RTL trim and most likely the RTL-E. So some quick shopping advice; take that $2,800 Honda charges for this uninspired HPD Package and put it towards a trim upgrade…going from the Sport to the RTL costs $2,980 so it’s practically a wash…and then you’d at least have something worth owning.
2021 FORD BRONCO SPORT TEST DRIVE
Think of the Bronco Sport as the Escape’s country cousin. Built South of the Border upon a unibody, front-wheel drive platform that’s significantly shorter than the Escape’s but about 3” taller, the Bronco Sport is equipped with standard 4-wheel drive and carries a starting MSRP of just over $28,000. Ford has given the trim levels cool names like Big Bend and Outer Banks but it’s this Badlands model that they deem the pinnacle of off-road performance. So if you want the more powerful engine, the better 4-wheel drive system, the differential lock, more drive modes, all-terrain tires, off-road tuned suspension, an extra inch of lift and more aggressive off-road geometry, then this is the only model for you. $34,315 is where the pricing starts and this one with the amenity-laden Badlands Package and Co-Pilot360 Assist + driver tech checks in at $37,705; slightly less than a loaded Jeep Compass Trailhawk which serves a similar purpose in life and about $12,000 less than a comparable Bronco Badlands.
The best part of the Badlands is that it kicks butt off-road while providing a really, sophisticated, softly-sprung ride on-road. And the cabin’s quietness adds to the sense of it being more substantial than the price would indicate. The turbo’s strong too and Ford has made it sound good from in here. I’m less impressed with the heavy dose of Escape interior bits which felt old and less-than right out of the gate when it was last redesigned. But all told the Sport makes for an excellent, more affordable companion to its bigger brother. And those who choose this Badlands model are getting one tough little SUV.
2021 SUBARU CROSSTREK SPORT TEST DRIVE
2021 SUBARU CROSSTREK SPORT TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. For my money, this is the best Subaru you can buy. And I’ve held that opinion since it was first called the XV Crosstrek back in 2013. You can think of it as a bite-sized Outback. And now you can have one in Sport trim with a more powerful engine.