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.
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 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.
2021 CADILLAC ESCALADE TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES.
GM’s extra-large, body-on-frame SUVs have all recently undergone comprehensive transformations but this one is the headliner. It’s America’s aspirational SUV and has been for over 20 years. I’ve driven all of them, but this 5th generation Escalade is by far the most ambitious evolution. Bigger, techier, and far more sophisticated, this is the Escalade at the pinnacle of success. It’s a 6-figure, ostentatious symbol of over-the-top American living where 16mpg matters not and supersized is a way of life. But this one also sweats the details with attention paid to even the minutest particulars.
2020 MAZDA MX-5 MIATA RF QUICK TAKES TESTDRIVENOW.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring is offered in a soft top as well as in a RF – retractable fastback – configuration. The MX-5 RF can open or close its roof in a remarkable 13 seconds; providing the look and feel of both a sporty coupe and an iconic convertible. It’s now available in Mazda’s new Polymetal Gray exterior color.