Steve’s Top Picks

2021 VOLKSWAGEN ID.4 TEST DRIVE

The ID.4 is ready for primetime and is the genesis of VW’s all-electric intentions. The ID sub-brand is VW’s name for a family of electric cars that, at least in here in the U.S., is expected to spawn 2 new models over the next 3 years. It’s built upon a dedicated electric vehicle platform that VW calls Modular Electric Drive which essentially gives them one basis for every EV going forward. It closely possesses the passenger volume of VW’s Tiguan just in a smaller wrapper benefitting from the highly efficient EV packaging. It feels wide inside with adult-friendly and nicely sculpted rear seats and a foot-activated hatch that opens to more standard cargo room than VW’s new Taos compact SUV. With an agreeable lift over height, split fold rear seats, an adjustable cargo floor that can be lowered for a little more space or left as is to stow the charge cable, the ID.4 presents itself as a versatile errand companion with which owners will quickly connect. The car I have is the ID.4 1st Edition and it’s priced at $45,190 including destination…but before you run down to your VW dealer you should know that it’s already sold out. However, you can still build and reserve the ID.4 Pro online which is priced at $4,000 less. And if it’s an all-wheel drive ID.4 you’re after, those are coming later this year with a $3,680 premium attached. You can lease an ID.4 for $379/month and all trims qualify for the $7,500 Federal tax credit. The ID.4 is an impressive effort by VW and has proven to be worth the wait.

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2021 BMW M3 COMPETITION TEST DRIVE

This is the next generation M3 Competition – a big bucks car that delivers the legendary M3 driving experience you covet just in a larger, more complete luxury sedan package. The drive is everything I thought it would be and more. I knew the ride would be firm, the power prodigious and the Steptronic transmission quicker than quick but the “more” part of this comes from the wide dynamic range. With all systems in comfort and the exhaust hushed, this is a compliant everyday cruiser. The wide performance tires make some noise otherwise the cabin is pretty quiet and at the other end the M3 is a handling machine with so much grip you’d think this was the upcoming all-wheel drive model. Speed builds so rapidly and the car is so tractable that it’s almost too good in the sense that driving it safely on public roads can feel a little mundane. It’s just crying out for a racetrack.

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2021 TOYOTA SIENNA LIMITED TEST DRIVE

If you’re shopping for a new minivan you’ve picked a good time. First of all, there are only 4 models from which to choose so that makes life simpler but more importantly they’ve all been recently refreshed or completely redesigned with the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica midway through their product cycles and the Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna the all-new vans on the block. So minus the Pacifica’s ace in the hole with its more creative seating configurations – the personal importance of which only you can decide — Can the Sienna bump itself to the top of the class? From its provocative new styling that now presents as even more premium and handsome than the Pacifica’s to its Lexus-infused aura I, and everyone I’ve been transporting this week have been raving about the Sienna’s sophistication and family-friendly personality. I won’t bury the lede. This Sienna is arguably the best minivan of all-time.

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ACURA NSX 2020 TEST DRIVE

When I think back to the thousands of car I’ve tested over the past 23 years, there’s a shortlist of those that have left an indelible impression; the ones I’ve placed in my fantasy garage and the NSX is one of them. This is no doubt a supercar but it’s arguably the most practical supercar you can buy. 0-to-60mph in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 191 is enthralling and this powertrain just keeps pulling. And the way Acura has programmed the traction and stability control systems to scrub out unwanted wheel spin and keep the NSX pointed straight is very impressive. Loaded with all of the options including the extensive use of carbon fiber both inside and out, this car totals $191,995. Too bad you can’t get the Acura as a convertible…something all of its competitors offer. For me, this is a dream car.

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2021 CHRYSLER PACIFICA TEST DRIVE

The 2021 Pacifica will offer an advanced all-wheel drive system that preserves Chrysler’s coolest and most proprietary feature – Stow ‘n Go seating – the ability for the 2nd row seats to disappear into the floor. There’s also a new bougie Pinnacle model with standard all-wheel drive and a bunch of add on goodies such as the Premium and Safety Sphere Group and the Uconnect Theater Family Group which includes a new feature called the FamCam Interior Camera – a way for parents to keep tabs on the little ones, even in rear facing car seats. And the seatback video screens have always been a big hit right from the start. With a MSRP at $55,665, this isn’t your blue collar minivan, but it still does an excellent job of making family travel as easy and as enjoyable as can be and offers big time flexibility with a heaping dose of Chrysler cleverness.

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