2022 INFINITI QX55 TEST DRIVE

The just revealed 2022 QX55 – a coupe-styled derivative of the QX50. The Germans started a trend of offering their SUVs in both traditional and coupe-like body styles and now Infiniti is trying it here. The formula creates a longer, lower body for aesthetic appeal in exchange for some rear headroom and luggage volume…and always at a price premium; a tradeoff that trendsetters are thrilled to take. The QX55 is offered in 3 trim levels starting at $47,525; about 3 grand more than a comparable QX50. But unlike its less fashionable sibling, every QX55 comes standard with all-wheel drive and 20” wheels. This top-of-the-line Sensory trim with higher quality leather, a foot-activated liftgate, ProPILOT ASSIST driver assistance tech, head-up display and fancier LED headlights starts at about $58,000 and comes in here at $60,830 with a smattering of options. Exceptionally comfortable front seats, eye-catching Monaco Red interior, and Nissan’s innovative variable compression turbocharged engine round out the highlights.
So I’ve vacillated this week between admiration for the QX55’s design, particularly in this Slate Gray upcharge paint, appreciation for the innovative, go get ‘em turbo engine, and a very welcoming and eye pleasing cabin and my uneasiness with the over $60,00 asking price for what in some ways already seems like a model in a need of an update. I would put the QX55 in the high tier like it but don’t love it category. Regardless, I think owners will be happy with their choice.

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2021 AUDI Q5 TEST DRIVE

The Q5 provides the sporty performance and fun-to-drive experience you expect from an Audi while also providing exceptional ride comfort. Audi’s vehicle lineup is vast with a dizzying array of choices that even I find difficult keeping up with. So have you ever considered why it is that the Q5 has separated itself from the pack to become the brand’s best-seller? Well, if you drive one it’s pretty easy to understand.
Audi recognizes it has a very good thing going on with the Q5 so now in addition to the standard and high-performance SQ5 models the brand with four rings has introduced Sportback and plug-in hybrid variants. But the Q I’m spending time with is the Q5 45 TFSI quattro. Translation? It’s the basic all-wheel drive Q5 with the 2.0-liter turbo which comes in 3 flavors: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige with prices ranging from near $45,000 to about $58,000. And this here is the Goldilocks model: the Premium Plus in upcharge Manhattan Gray metallic paint, with optional 20” wheels, Navigation package and Bang & Olufsen sound system for an as-tested MSRP of $53,040. It’s imported from Mexico but the drive most certainly speaks German.
Certain vehicles instantly make the perfect handshake and this is one of them. Getting in and out, finding your comfort zone, not having to think about where certain features are and having enough room to accomplish everyday tasks is what the Q5 is all about. Not too big, not too small, feature-laden but not over the top, it’s an SUV aimed to please. Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist is now standard on this Premium Plus trim and helps to destress the driver when sitting behind the wheel is reduced to monkey business. The Top view camera system is also now a standard feature on this trim and includes an off-screen activation switch. And the touchscreen navigation unit is user friendly with satellite mapping, intuitive controls and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also the head unit for the impressive 19 speaker surround sound system – a $950 option. Tri-zone climate control means no temperature wars, the panoramic sunroof adds elevated comfort to the slide and recline rear seats, and heated front seats with a heated steering wheel make winter a little more bearable. And there’s no need to mount your EZ-Pass on the windshield – with Audi’s Integrated Toll Module the transponder is built into the Q5’s rearview mirror. Other favorite features of mine include auto high beams, virtual cockpit plus with various, easy to change views and folding 2nd row seats that can be dropped with remote levers and then click reassuringly into place to create a nearly flat, expanded cargo area which can be accessed by a kick of the foot. And if you were wondering, the Q5 can tow 4,400 pounds – not bad.

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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 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

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2022 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN TEST DRIVE

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.

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