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.
2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD Review By Car Critic Steve Hammes. Curiosity for the performance minded or a serious luxury competitor? Now in its 3rd model year, the Stelvio receives a mild freshening for 2020 focusing improvements on the tech side. Though the Quadrofoglio is THE Stelvio to have, it’s understandably too much money for most but that’s OK because if you’re a road less traveled kind of person the mainstream Stelvio models still offer something pleasing and unique to drive. But the Stelvio remains more a curiosity for the performance minded than a serious luxury competitor.