Mazda’s CX-5 compact SUV has been the carmakers top seller as it’s just the right size that new car buyers want, has good utility, an affordable price and top safety scores. It’s also economical to drive. And if you need more interior room, Mazda answered that with their new CX-50 that is a bit larger and one we recently reviewed.
For 2023, CX-5 retains the Mazda family smooth, aerodynamic design. And it emphasizes this with its new Rhodium White Metallic paint that adorned the test car. This would be my color choice as it’s whiter than snow and exemplifies a people pleasing SUV.
CX-5 is offered in S, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo and Turbo Signature that we tested.
CX-5s interior too is pleasing to the eye and to the touch. Heated/cooled perforated Nappa leather front seats are nicely padded with just the right amount of lumbar support. And they’re not encumbering when wearing heavy winter coats.
Its 10.25-inch color display sits unobtrusively atop the center dash and serves a host of features that include Bose audio, rearview camera with overhead and frontal views, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HVAC selections, Travel Link with weather radar/forecasts, local gasoline prices and traffic reports. The latter comes compliments of Mazda connected services. Included too was a head-up display showing vehicle speed, posted speed limits and traffic signs.
HVAC controls are simple buttons that are easy to view and use. And below them is a neatly positioned wireless phone charger with receptacles for wired charging.
A burly gear selector for the 6-speed automatic transmission shares the console with the mode selector switch and rotary controller for the display. It too was simple to use although the latter should only be used when the car is not moving.
CX-5s gauge cluster has a combination of conventional analog gauges and a digital speedometer that also serves as a driver information display and mode display for Sport, Normal and Off-Road modes. In Off-Road the inner circle of the speedometer turns a gold color and in Sport, it turns red.
With a low 19-inch step-in, the heated back seats recline, are soft and supple and can seat two adults or three youngsters with decent leg room provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Head room though is ample.
Back in the spacious cargo area, and with the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 30.8 cubic feet of space that measures 37 inches deep, 44 wide and 29.5 high. Flip the split 40/20/40 seatbacks and cargo capacity expands to 59.3 cubic feet for 66 inches of cargo loading depth. A 29-inch lift over onto the cargo floor is low enough for easy loading of heavy, bulky items.
Beneath the cargo floor are two shallow bins to stow small items out of sight and they share the space with the spare tire.
With a ground clearance of 7.9 inches and Mazda’s intelligent AWD system that can send power to different wheels that need the extra traction, CX-5 can handle modest snow depths, but only refined off-roads.
As for Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus, the system can adjust engine power and braking to achieve stability in negotiating turns and corners. And it all happens without notice. The CX-5 can actually be tossed in the turns and it remains planted on Toyo 18-inch tires. And it parks easily with its tight 39.1-foot wall-wall turn circle.
The CX-5 does not lack for power, especially in Sport mode and when the turbo kicks in. The top trim levels come with a 2.5-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder that generates 227-hp and a robust 310 lb/ft of torque. Use 93-octance gas and those numbers increase to 256-hp and 320 lb/ft of torque. With that much grunt, there is some torque steer under full throttle runs. Coupled to the 6-speed auto transmission, EPA’s estimated fuel economy ratings come in at 22 city, 27-highway mpg. Of course, those numbers suffer with a heavy foot.
With a base price of $39,650 the Signature trim model came standard with a long list of safety features such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, smart city brake support, driver attention alert, traffic jam assist and many more.
On the nicety side, there’s a powered sunroof, heated power folding outside mirrors, rain sensing wipers and SiriusXM satellite radio to name a few.
The only extra cost options on the test car were for the Rhodium White paint ($595) and rear bumper guard ($135) that took the bottom line to $41,655 with delivery. CX-5 is competitively priced within a crowded compact SUV market. It also comes with the Governments top 5-star safety ratings of five stars for an overall safety score; five for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover. These are all impressive scores that are important safety considerations for today’s car buyers.
As all Mazda’s, CX-5 offers a 60 month/60K powertrain, 36 month/36K bumper-bumper warranties and 24-hour roadside assistance coverage.
t’s Motor Trend’s SUV of the year for 2022 as it bested 35 other comparable SUVs. J.D. Power also named it their best premium nameplate for its Vehicle Dependability Study.
What we speak of is the Genesis GV70 compact AWD SUV. This compact SUV has everything anyone would desire in a utility vehicle, and then some.
Genesis is Hyundai’s top-tier luxury brand such as Acura is to Honda and Lexus is to Toyota. And the GV70 is a stand-out in the compact market and destined to be a top seller for the company. Genesis also has their larger GV80 mid-size AWD SUV that we reviewed, and it too is a winner in several ultra-luxury categories.
The GV70 is sexy and chic looking outside and gorgeous inside. Its exterior profile gives it the appearance it’s moving 65 mph standing still. Its front end takes on the look of a Bentley and the back end, an Aston Martin. Pretty distinguished company I’d say.
With LED headlights and taillights, a sloping roofline with integrated roof spoiler, 4.5-inch rectangular tailpipes and neat alloy wheels, GV70 is an eye-grabber. It’s offered in Standard, Select, Advanced and Sport Prestige trim levels.
Each trim level can be had with either a 2.5 turbo inline 4-cylinder, or potent 3.5-liter turbocharged V6. We were privileged to have tested the Advanced trim model with the 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder that was loaded with every conceivable safety feature available today.
GV70s interior is a stand-out. The best we’ve seen on any comparable SUV. Atop the dash is an expansive 14.5-inch infotainment screen that’s operable by certain voice commands and controller. It serves the audio, navigation, rearview camera with overhead, frontal and revolving views and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. And depending on the weather, the screen background shows clouds for a cloudy day, dismal for rain and snowflakes for snowy days.
GV70s heated/cooled front seats have extended under thigh support and the front passenger seat reclines allowing the passenger to take a nap on long trips.
As a segment first, there’s an airbag that deploys between the front seats to protect the front passengers from hitting the console or one another.
The console mounted multi-media controller for the infotainment screen shares the console with a rotary gear selector below it that has a push button “P” in the middle for Park gear. That may take a little getting used to coming from a shift handle or a column shifter. But the acclimation period is short. One suggestion here for Genesis designers is that the controller should be smaller in circumference than the gear selector, as the shifter is a more important control.
Climate controls are digital with neat touch sensitive selections. And below them is a Drive Mode switch on the fore console that provides Snow, Comfort, Sport and Custom driving modes. When selecting a mode, the gauge outlines change color i.e... Comfort is white, Custom is orange, Snow is white, Sport is red.
There’s also a steering assist feature (warns when not keeping at least one hand lightly on the wheel) that keeps the SUV between the highway lines, and Remote Smart Parking Assist that uses the keyfob to remotely park the GV70 into tight spots from outside the vehicle.
Over on the 12.3-inch instrument cluster, that exhibits a 3D type effect, it contains a detailed driver information display showing various alerts such as when a vehicle in front pulls away from a stop light and the driver may be looking elsewhere and a car behind is about to toot a horn to get you moving. Plus, when activating the left and right turn signals, a camera displays in the gauge cluster to show the blind sides in case any vehicles or bicyclists sneak up there. A nice safety feature.
GV70s cargo area, that has a low 29.5-inch lift-over, was spacious with 28.9 cubic feet of cargo space that measures 38 inches deep, 40.5 wide and 28.5 high. Flip the rear seatbacks and space expands to 56.9 cubic feet for 68 inches of loading depth. Beneath the cargo floor is a bin for small item storage that shares the space with the space saver spare tire.
Operationally, GV70 drives heavenly on 19-inch Micheline tires. It’s a quiet rider with exceptional handling characteristics. GV70s electric power steering provided a good amount of road feel and sharp, tight turns exhibited no body lean. This SUV is tight. And it’s aided by the available electronic limited slip differential that sends torque to the wheel that needs extra traction.
Power wise, the 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder churns out a hot 300-hp and 311 lb/ft of torque. Coupled to the standard 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and auto start/stop engine technology, it rates EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 28-highway mpg. Acceleration was quick and the turbo kicked-in seamlessly with virtually no noticeable turbo lag. The combination has a tow capacity of 3,500 pounds.
The GV70 came with an exceptional list of standard safety features like lane keeping/following assist, blind spot collision avoidance/rear cross traffic collision avoidance assist, safe exit assist/advanced rear occupant alert, intelligent speed limit assist and more. For the amenity list it included panoramic sunroof, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, fingerprint recognition, high beam assist, power folding heated outside mirrors and lots more.
The options list began with Barossa Burgundy paint ($500); Select Package ($4,000) that adds a host of goodies like 19-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, Lexicon Premium audio and more; Advanced Package (($4,150) added leather seating, heated wheel, Surround View monitor, remote parking assist, parking distance warning/collision avoidance rear assist plus advanced rear occupant alert, fingerprint recognition and more that took the base price of $41,000 to $50,695 with delivery.
Genesis GV70 comes with a 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, 3/36K complimentary scheduled maintenance, 3/36K complimentary Genesis Service valet, 3-year complimentary Genesis Connected S Services, three months of complementary SiriusXM satellite radio, three years of complimentary annual Multimedia/Navigation updates, and lifetime complimentary traffic data via HD-plus Traffic radio.
The GV70 is truly the new benchmark for AWD compact SUVs.
Hyundai’s popular Kona compact crossover has been electrified. And when comparing its top EPA range of 258 miles on a full charge to Tesla’s Model 3 that tops out at 263 miles and Chevy’s Bolt at 259 miles, the Kona offers reasonable distance.
With that in mind, it’s best to say Kona is suited for around town driving as opposed to long trips. However, installing a home charging unit could help extend the miles that could be saved by not having to travel to a charging station that may not be close to your residence.
And here’s my beef with Kona or any EV we’ve tested so far. The closest Electrify American charging station to my home is only four miles away. But after three attempts at charging at one of the four charging stations there (that are backed up by a diesel generator behind them) and found them all occupied, it was a waste of time and battery power going back and forth to get an open charger. When I finally managed to get a charger, it was the slower 150 kW as others who got there before me wanted the faster 350kW chargers.
There is an Volta charger about 15 miles from me, but it requires a phone app where you must set up an online account along with your credit card information to use it. I’m not crazy about that idea. But the Electrify America chargers accept credit cards in addition to a smartphone scan app.
While on the subject of charging, it took 40 minutes to go from 38 percent to 75 percent for a charge of $6.45 to my Master Card. Much cheaper than petrol at today’s prices. But as I sat in the Kona waiting for the charge, I looked across the street and there’s a Sunoco gasoline station where I could have been in and out of there in five minutes and on my way home. The alternative, as said, is a home charger. And if you have a relative who is an electrician and won’t charge for his services, the only cost is for the wall charger.
As for the Kona itself, it’s offered in two trim levels of SEL and Limited, the latter of which we tested.
Kona’s exterior has a concept car look with its slit LED headlights that follow through to the back end with a similar slit of lights plus cluster lights on either side of the liftgate. The charge port is located in the front driver’s side fender and a home charging cable comes in a nylon pack.
Interior wise, Kona E sports a clean, upscale look with its 10.25-inch infotainment display that offers voice recognition and plays host to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity along with Blue Link that can be used for remote cabin pre-heating/cooling, remote locking, roadside assistance, checking battery levels and more. Flanking this screen is the 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster that serves double duty as a driver information display for a host of operating details such as the number of miles remaining in the battery.
Four neatly arranged push buttons activate the gear selector of P, N, D and R. They’re flush on the forward console and in front of it is a vertical phone charger.
HVAC controls too are a horizontal array of easy to view and use push buttons that keep with the interior’s overall styling theme, as do the heated/cooled front seats and heated telescopic steering wheel switches.
The leather front seats are nicely padded and comfy with some extended under thigh support. Back seats are similar with decent leg room provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Otherwise leg room is scant. The rear doors, however, open wide for easy ingress/egress.
Back in the cargo area, that has a low 26-inch lift over, there’s 19.2 cubic feet of space that measures 25 inches deep, 43 wide and 28.5 high. Flip the rear seatbacks and space expands to 45.8 cubic feet for 58 inches of cargo loading depth.
Beneath the cargo floor are four shallow bins for small item storage and beneath it is another shallow storage bin that holds a tire inflator kit in place of a spare tire.
Kona E gets its power from an 150kW electric motor to drive the front wheels. It provides 201-hp and 291 lb/ft of torque for EPA estimated 132/108 MPGe equivalent, and employs regenerative braking. Power is stored in a liquid -cooled 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Now here are some short comings. With the front seat and steering wheel heaters on, the battery depleted faster as it also did in Sport mode and when pushing the pedal too hard too often in Eco and Normal modes. I attempted to stay in Eco to conserve the battery.
I noticed too that the heater does not put out as much heat as a gasoline powered car does. Kona’s highest heater output is more tepid than hot. It’s an even temperature feel no matter how long the car is operated. Pity the folks in Buffalo last week who own EVs and got caught in the snow storm along with its power outages, and not being able to charge their batteries.
On the plus side, Kona’s full throttle acceleration pushes you back in the seat and does it even quicker and harder in Sport mode. When underway, all that is heard is a slight hum from the electric motor. And when in reverse and backing up, a faint beep-beep is heard, similar to some construction vehicles.
With its compact size, Kona E parks easily and tames sharp turns with ease and is a pleasure to drive and ride in. The only feature missing is AWD for us here in the Snowbelt.
With a long list of safety features such as forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping/lane following assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross traffic avoidance assist, safe exit warning, rain sensing wipers and more, the only extra cost option was for carpeted floor mats ($195) that took the base price of $42,500 to $43,940 with delivery. There’s also an available tax credit that could make the bottom-line a bit more attractive.
Kona EV received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations top 5-star safety score in its crash tests, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded it a top safety pick in 2022.
Kona E comes with Hyundai’s industry-best 5 year/60K new vehicle warranty; 10/100K powertrain; 10/100K electric battery warranty; 7/unlimited anti-perforation; 3/36K complimentary maintenance; and 5/unlimited roadside assistance. With all these you can’t go wrong with a Hyundai Kona E. And when more charging stations become available, the Kona EV will make a lot more sense.
As Toyota’s Corolla’s has been their popular selling compact sedan, the carmaker made a slick and smart move by transforming the Corolla into the Corolla Cross AWD crossover.
Realizing that sedans have been falling out of favor to crossovers and SUVs, this move gives car buyers what they want today.
Corolla Cross AWD (175.6 inches overall length) is positioned between their RAV4 (181) and C-HR (171) subcompact and is sure to be a top seller as was the Corolla sedan. And to spice up the Corolla Cross even further, it’s offered in hybrid form.
Trim wise it can be had in FWD or AWD and in base L, LE and XLE AWD that we tested.
Corolla Cross is snappy looking with its cladding on bumpers and around the wheel wells. It sits a bit higher than the sedan as has a respectable 8.1 inches of ground clearance that can negotiate measurable snow amounts, but only very mild off-road trails.
Despite the higher ground clearance, ingress/egress is a comfortably low 17.5 inches into a nicely functional interior with heated and supportive SoftTex seats up front.
An 8-inch infotainment display serves the XM radio and apps with connected services offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration along with Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi with subscription, rearview camera but navigation has to be linked with a smartphone app. The system can be set up with lock/unlock functions, roadside assistance, all with a phone or smartwatch. There’s also a wireless phone charger on the aft portion of the console.
The gauge cluster combines a digital speedometer with integrated driver information display for alerts, features and functions. It’s bright and colorful and grabs the eyes.
Rear seat leg and head room are marginal for two adults. Tall folks can be a bit cramped and the doors could open a little wider to ease ingress.
Back in the cargo area, that has a low 29-inch lift over to load items, is rated at 24.3 cubic feet with the seats up. It measures 32.5 inches deep, 43 wide and 28 high. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and cargo depth extends to 64 inches.
Beneath the cargo floor is a space saver spare tire plus multiple small bins for hidden item storage.
Shod with 18-inch Goodyear tires, Corolla Cross rides smoothly and quietly. It parks easily with its tight 35.4 curb-curb turning radius and it’s really fun to drive. Harsh roadways and tar strips are nicely dampened and because of its heavier (3,325 pounds) than the sedan’s curb weight, it settles nicely into tight turns and recovers easily.
Powered by a 2,0-liter inline 4-cylinder that produces 169-hp and 150 lb/ft of torque, it gets impressive EPA mileage estimates of 29 city, 32-highway mpg with a CVT automatic transmission. Acceleration is a linear explosion of power that rates a tow rating of 1,500 pounds. This is sufficient for a small utility trailer or 14-foot aluminum boat.
As the XLE trim model, it came standard with a host of safety features such as Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 Pre-Collision w/pedestrian detection, full-speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert w/steering assist, lane trading assist, automatic high beams, blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert and full braking assist.
Starting at a reasonable base price of $27,625, options included JBL audio, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Sirius radio package ($1,465), tilt/slide moonroof and back hatch door ($1,250), auto leveling adaptive front lighting ($615), carpeted floor/cargo mats ($249), roof cross bars ($299), that took the bottom line to $32,718 with delivery.
Added to this, Corolla Cross was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and received a full five-star overall safety crash rating by the National Traffic Safety Administration also known as NHTSA.
Toyota’s Corolla Cross is a winner as it combines utility, economy and safety, all at a reasonable price. Toyota just needs to advertise these accolades more for it to be their new top seller.
As Lexus’s LS 500 is their flagship luxury sedan, their completely new LX 600 is their new flagship and high-end SUV.
The LX borrows the LS 500’s luxurious interior and posh ride, and combines it with the off-road prowess of the now discontinued in the U.S. Toyota Land Cruiser, the rugged 4WD SUV that was the vehicle of choice on African safaris and featured in movies and TV on that country’s desert trails.
Lexus’s 2023 LX 600 is a top-tier, three-row SUV that has a huge array of features, functions and amenities that make it the ultimate on and off-road cruiser. But it’s puzzling who, but the very well-heeled, would take a six figure SUV off-road, or even get it dirty.
The LX 600 is a very sophisticated and somewhat complicated machine (a study of the 585-page owners’ manual is recommended) with its high-tech wizardry and adaptive air suspension that can lift the chassis up to 13 inches to clear the nasties, ford a stream or traverse deep snow.
For off-roading, its Under Vehicle View is a composite of camera vision captured in the past from the current vehicle position and under the vehicle and includes tire positions and so on, to be displayed. The vision is displayed in panoramic view, side clearance view or cornering view. And get this. The LX 600 can even keep drinks cold in its 12-inch deep, “Cool Box” console box.
From its razor-like grille that Lexus is noted for, to its across-the-tailgate taillight array, LX 600 is a bold and handsome looking SUV.
Its posh interior is also bold and handsome with its 19.3-inch touchscreen that serves driving modes, rearview camera with surround, frontal and revolving views, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G Wi-Fi and the selected Multi Terrain drive modes of Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow and Rock. There’s also selectable modes of Comfort, Custom, Normal, Sport S and Sport S Plus modes. Included too is a Turn Assist Function that assists cornering performance when driving through a tight corner. The 7-inch display below it handles HVAC, audio and other functions.
It’s surprising though that Lexus engineers didn’t make one larger display similar to Tesla’s or Subaru’s Outback, and possibly with split-screen view for all the features and functions it would serve.
LX is offered In LX 600, LX 600 Premium, LX 600 F Sport Handling, LX 600 Luxury and LX 60 Ultra Luxury.
We were privileged to test the LX 600 F Sport Handling version that boasted a beautiful interior with two-tone heated/cooled leather seats. Aside from the dual displays, the cockpit features a huge console with wireless phone charger, digital gauge cluster with embedded driver information display and brushed aluminum pedals.
A rotary switch on the vertical stack is for the Multi-Terrain Select system that offers High 4-wheel (H4), Low 4-wheel (4L) drive and Auto modes. The Auto mode uses road and driving conditions via sensors to automatically switch modes without driver intervention. There’s also a switch for the center lock differential for when the going gets extra tough.
LX 600’s Electric Power Steering provides a light steering effort at low speeds and when driving off-road, and full steering sensation at high speeds.
Like the Land Cruiser, LX 600 has a selectable speed Crawl Control mode in low range and a Downhill Assist Control mode for a stable descent by controlling brake pressure. It’s doubtful very many owners would need or use these nifty off-road type features. But they’re nice to have if needed.
Ingress into the heavily padded, heated/cooled back seat has a low 13-inch step-in to the running boards or 24 inches if stepping in directly. It can seat three in a squeeze as the transaxle hump in the middle is low.
Back in the cargo area, and with the third-row seat upright, there’s a mere 11 cubic feet of cargo space, or enough for a half-dozen grocery bags. It measures 9.5 inches deep, 50 wide and 34 high. Press two switches and the third-row powers down to expand cargo space to 64 cubic feet for 44.5 inches of depth. Need more space? Flip the second row and capacity increases to 71 cubic feet for 76 inches of cargo depth. Beneath the aft cargo floor is a narrow bin for some small item storage. A full-size spare sits below the floor as well.
To access the third row, the second row flips and tumbles forward against the front seats, but that seat is mainly for youngsters.
As a hefty SUV with a curb weight of 5,700 pounds, the standard 3.5-liter twin turbo V6 puts out a potent 409-hp and 479 lb/ft of torque that powers the LX 600 with gobs of grunt and enough to tow up to an impressive 8,000 pounds. Coupled to a smooth shifting 10-speed automatic transmission, the LX 600 earns EPA mileage estimates of 17 city, 22-highway mpg. A recent trip from Allentown to King of Prussia and back used only a quarter tank of fuel. I expected worse. But engage those twin turbo’s too often and those numbers dive. Despite its weight, the LX 600 was independently 0-60 clocked at a not bad 6.9 seconds.
As for ride on tall 22-inch, 10-inch wide Dunlop tires mounted on six lugs wheels, it’s smooth in Comfort mode. Switch to Sport or Sport S Plus and the suspension tightens up and handling becomes more acute and planted. In any mode, the LX rides quietly as do all Lexus vehicles. And a relatively tight 26 feet wall-wall turning radius makes parking exceptionally easy.
The standard safety feature list is lengthy and includes Lexus Safety Sense 2.5 Pre-Collision system w/pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert w/steering assist, blind spot monitor, intuitive parking assist w/rear cross traffic alert w/auto braking, and many more.
On the options list there’s Active Height Control ($1,300), premium Mark Levinson audio w/surround sound ($2,660), premium Manganese Luster paint ($595), roof cross bars ($450), carpeted cargo mat ($140 and wheel locks ($95) took the base price of – hold onto your wallet - $101,000 to $107,585 with delivery.
Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s on par with the Land Rover Defender, Lincoln Navigator and Mercedes GLS, SUVs.
LX 600 comes with a 4 year/50k mile basic, 6/70k powertrain, 6/Unlimited corrosion perforation warranties.
As said, the LX 600 is a sophisticated family SUV that combines luxurious accommodations with off-road prowess if and when it’s needed.
Mazda has done it again. Their CX-50 compact SUV is another new winner in their AWD stable of superb vehicles.
The 2023 CX-50 is based on Mazda’s CX-30 chassis and is a bit larger than Mazda’s CX-5 crossover. It differs in that it’s more off-road oriented with added ground clearance of 8.7 inches, firmer suspension and an AWD system that offers a separate off-road mode that helps prevent the drive wheel from spinning or slipping during off-road jaunts.
CX-50 is offered with two engine choices of a non-turbo and turbo so trim levels are designated as such. With standard trims it’s 2.5 S, 2.5 S Select, 2.5 S Preferred, 2.5 S Preferred Plus, 2.5 S Premium and 2.5 S Premium Plus. For turbo versions it’s 2.5 Turbo 2.5 Turbo Premium, 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus that we were privileged to test and 2.5 Turbo Meridian Edition.
Mazda’s CX-50 has a sleek design with touches of ruggedness such as faux front and rear air vents and black fender-bumper guards that promote it’s (mild) off-road prowess.
Mazda engineers always design upscale and snazzy, workable interiors. And the CX-50’s is no exception. The exterior Terracotta paint on our test car contrasted ever so nicely with the saddle brown leather seats that were adorned with a Terracotta stripe down the middle and with Terracotta stiping along all seam edges.
A 10.25-inch color display perches non-obtrusively atop the dash and serves the gamut of audio, rearview camera w/overhead and wide-angle views, weather report, weather radar, traffic reports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and much more. It’s controlled by a large rotary dial on the console.
Large HVAC controls are simple to use and view that make for eyes-on-the-road operation once acclimating to their position on the panel.
Below them is the robust gear selector for the standard 6-speed automatic transmission that’s flanked by the mode selector toggle switch for Sport, Normal, Off-Road modes. Sport mode increases engine rpms by 500 for more livelier throttle response and quicker acceleration.
CX-50s console box opens in clam shell style and the very front of it houses the wireless phone charger. To charge the phone the box top can be opened or the phone can be slipped in under the lip of the box lids.
Over on the gauge cluster, it offers large easy to view gauges and the speedometer doubles as a driver information display for alerts, features and functions such as selected modes. In Sport mode, the outer perimeter of the speedometer turns red, and for Off-Road, it changes to gold.
Upon a low 18.5-inch step in into the heated back seat that has wide opening doors for easy ingress/egress, the comfy seat can accommodate two adults with good leg and head room. A third passenger would have to be a youngster as a high transaxle hump limits leg room.
A spacious cargo area has a power liftgate and a low lift-over of 28 inches for easy loading of gear or luggage. With the back seats upright, there’s 31.4 cubic feet of space that measures 42 inches deep, 41.5 wide and 28 high. Flip the back seats by pulling a handle in the cargo area and cargo capacity expands to 56.3 cubic feet for 72 inches of loading depth. A full six feet. And there are two bins on either side of the cargo area for small item storage as the underfloor merely houses the space saver spare tire plus tools.
CX-50 gets it grunt from one of two engines. The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder produces 187-hp and 186 lb/ft of torque. On the Premium Plus trim model we tested, it came with a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 227-hp and an impressive 310 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 23 city, 29-highway mpg. Coupled to the 6-speed auto transmission, the combination carries a tow rating of up to 3,500 pounds.
There’s certainly no want for power. At full, even half throttle, acceleration is an explosion of pent-up torque. Of course if punching the throttle hard too often, gas mileage suffers. But the extra power is nice to have when needed and there’s virtually no discernible turbo lag.
With Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control system, handling is impressive. CX-50 remains planted and secure in sharp turns. The suspension nicely absorbs road imperfections and tar strips. Even on mild off-roads, the suspension maintains consistent control. The CX-50 also came with steering assist that maintains the SUV between the roadway lines. And it’s a quiet, smooth ride on Goodyear 20-inch all-season tires.
The Premium Plus model came with a very long list of standard safety features such as lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear smart brake support, blind spot prevention and more.
On the nicety side, there was rain sensing wipers, wiper de-ice, auto power folding mirrors and heated side mirrors and Mazda radar cruise control to mention a few.
For all this, the CX-50 carried a base price of $41,550 with the only extra cost option being the Polymetal Gray paint ($395) that took the bottom line with delivery to $43,170. This is about the going market price that puts the CX-50 in a crowded field of comparable SUVs and crossovers. But like other fine Mazda’s, there’s seems to be a model for almost everyone’s needs.
CX-50 comes with a 60 month/60K mile powertrain warranty, 36 month/36K mile bumper-bumper coverage plus 24-hour roadside assistance.
I’m not sold on electric cars and trucks. But after testing the Genesis GV60 all electric Performance model, it could influence a change of mind.
The Genesis GV60 is all new for 2023 and it’s the first all-electric luxury compact SUV from Genesis, which is Hyundai’s top-tier luxury brand as Lexus is to Toyota and Acura is to Honda, to reference a few. And to its manufacturing, the GV60 is made in Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama.
GV60 is offered in Advanced and Performance versions and both come standard with AWD. Just judging by the names, it’s obvious Performance offers more power.
Perhaps the most inspiring occurrence I had with the GV60 was when I parked at a shopping center in front of a Tesla sedan. I stayed in the SUV while my wife went into a grocery store for a couple items. As I sat there a gentleman and his wife approached their Tesla. When he saw the Genesis, he strolled over to give it a look and since I had the front windows open he asked me about it and said it looked really sharp. I then said it’s a Tesla fighter and he smiled and nodded his head in seeming approval.
And snazzy it is. From its front squint-like dual headlights to a sharply sloping roofline that ends at a rear spoiler to dual taillights, the GV60 is one slippery looking aerodynamic SUV. Add to that, the Performance model’s 21-inch alloy wheels take on a ninja knife blade array that are eye-grabbing by themselves.
This sexy exterior design follows through to the interior that sports dual 12.3-inch digital displays that appear to be one 28-inch long glass instrument panel. The left display serves the driver information screen, the right one the infotainment system that includes Bang & Olufsen audio, voice commands, navigation, HVAC selections, rearview camera with multiple views including left and right side views when activating the turn signals, plus image capture, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration, Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant, remote parking function, weather reports, battery charge/range remaining, maintenance schedule, local dealers, local charge stations and a myriad of other niceties. The GV60 is very sophisticated and requires serious study time with the owner’s manual as there’s lots to know and learn about the SUVs operational technologies.
Then there’s the Crystal Sphere gearshift ball on the seemingly floating console. Turn on the EV ignition and the crystal ball rotates to expose a gearshift of sorts. It’s an extremely unique design by talented and innovative Genesis engineers.
Heated/cooled perforated Nappa leather front seats offer extended under thigh support with sueded inserts. Plus, they recline that could come in handy while waiting for the GV60 to charge at a charging station. Faux suede also adorns door panels, ceiling and pillars. And get this. The front seats have a massage function that automatically activates after an hour of driving. How considerate is that?
A mode switch on the steering wheel offers Eco, Comfort, Sport and Hold-My- Position modes. The Sport mode is extra head-snapping quick over normal exhilarating full-power acceleration. There’s a sub-mode within Sport of Drift that’s activate by holding down both paddle shifters for three seconds. And Boost mode controls the motor for maximum performance and rapid acceleration. It’s activates for 10 seconds and generates loads of “G force” on the body. More than that is certainly not needed.
Unique too is the glove box that uses a pull-out drawer instead of a traditional flip down door. And the wireless phone charger allows the phone to be charged in a vertical position instead of horizontal like many chargers.
Back seats are nicely padded and can actually seat three adults as there is no center transaxle hump to interfere with leg room.
The GV60 has a cargo area and a frunk. Yup you read right. Open the hood and there’s a two-tier bin where an engine would be. The top bin is three inches deep while the bottom is four inches deep. Enough for two medium duffle bags or wet hip boots if you’re a fisherman. The cargo area itself has a low 28.5-inch lift-over, and it offers 29 cubic feet with the rear seats upright that measures 35.5 inches deep, 41 wide and 27 high. Flip the rear seatbacks and capacity increases to 57 cubic feet for 66 inches of loading depth. Under the rear seats is a power outlet that with GV60s Vehicle to Load feature, allows charging a laptop or another EV.
As for the powertrain, the GV60 Performance comes with two motors. A 99-hp motor drives the front wheels while a 215-hp motor drives the back ones for 446 lb/ft of torque. Punch the Boost button and it develops 483-hp and 516 lb/ft of torque for 10 seconds. GV60 has a range of 248 miles on a full charge but using Boost too often cuts those miles as it eats up more battery juice. GV60 can also tow up to 2,000 pounds.
Charging wise, I visited an Electrify America charger a couple miles from my residence. Genesis offers three years of complimentary, 30-minute fast charging sessions at an Electrify charger but it requires an owner’s app which I didn’t have. But when I pulled up there, three EVs were already plugged in including a Rivian pickup and three guys sitting on a curb. When I asked them why one charger was available they told me it was broke and the other three were awaiting a charge. So I returned early the next day and again three of the four chargers were occupied so I was left with the slower 150kw not the 350kw charger. Since I wanted to top off the battery, I spent 27 minutes waiting for a 92 percent charge that cost me $8.77. The cost of charging was considerably less than I’d pay for a fill-up across the street at a Sunoco gasoline station. But I could have been filled-up and out of the Sunoco in five minutes. Instead, I was sitting and waiting for a charge when I could be home painting my window shutters, cutting my lawn or writing this review. The GV60 carries MPGe mileage ratings of 97 city, 82-highway.
Hyundai is working on and will be introducing a faster charge cycle by pre-heating the battery. I presume it will apply to the GV60 as well.
Performance wise, it’s almost indescribable. Yes, you can go from one city stop sign to another in 4 seconds. Punch Boost and it’ll take 3 seconds.
Handling is superb. Steering is quick and precise and the GV60 parks easily or if you’re lazy, you can use the remote park function. And the GV60 rides heavenly.
Now for some of the high-tech features.
Genesis GV60 offers Facial Recognition that allows locking/unlocking the car by merely touching the handle and face the camera on the “B” pillar. The feature can accommodate two faces and can also set the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, side mirrors and infotainment settings. And it can do so in the dark. This is the first production car to offer this.
There’s also a Fingerprint Authentication System that allows the driver to start and drive the car without a key.
But that’s not all.
Active Sound Design provides three sounds of Futuristic, sporty E-Motor and soft G-Engine, all based on the sound of a gasoline engine and electric motor. In reverse gear a subtle beep, beep sounds similar to a tow motor and other construction vehicles. And in concert with all this, the audio system offers “Sounds of Nature” that replicate several outdoor scenes like waves rushing to shore, birds, singing, rain and others.
With a long list of every conceivable safety feature offered today, the GV60 carried a base price of $67,890 and after adding the only option, Matterhorn White paint ($1,500), the bottom line reflected $70,485 with delivery. GV60 also qualifies for a $7,500 tax credit.
To its credit, the GV60 was awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top Safety Pick Plus designation for its latest safety and driver assistance technologies.
As a relative newcomer to the car business, Genesis has made its mark both for its gasoline powered vehicles, and now its electrified ones. And it certainly is a Tesla fighter, plus it has more dealers for service when needed, which shouldn’t be very often.
With more carmakers introducing off-road oriented crossovers and SUVs to their existing lines, Honda has followed suit with their already popular Passport SUV as it’s now offered as an AWD TrailSport model.
The Passport TrailSport has styling changes that exude a more rugged look. Aside from special orange badging both on the exterior and interior, Trailsports’ track was increased by 10 mm for a wider stance and added stability when off the beaten paths. Added too were front/rear bumpers that resemble skid plates plus large 5-inch wide dual exhaust pipe extensions for a touch of sportiness.
Operationally, Honda’s standard torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system apportions 22 percent of torque to the rear wheels when the going gets sticky, and an 8.1-inch ground clearance helps when traversing mild off-roads and deep snow.
Other features include a heated windshield wiper plus a park feature to keep them from sticking during ice and snow conditions, power folding outside mirrors for when the trail narrows, and it’s shod with nine-inch wide off-road oriented Firestone tires.
TrailSport’s interior is exceptionally pleasing with its 8-inch infotainment system that offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto apps, premium audio system, navigation with three rear views including a hitch view that helps when backing up to a trailer.
Absent is a handle gear selector. Instead, the 9-speed automatic transmission is controlled by push buttons for Park, Neutral and Drive gears, but Reverse requires an upwards tug. Paddle shifters are included for drivers who want added control.
Flush mounted HVAC controls are nicely arranged and simple to view and use. Below them is a wireless phone charger on the forward console. And the spacious console box itself has a 13x7.5-inch sliding top that can serve as a work station.
A simple mode switch offers Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand modes and there’s a separate Eco mode switch but doesn’t include a Sport mode. More importantly, the TrailSport doesn’t have an AWD Lock mode for when traction gets difficult in snow and mud. My Honda Ridgeline pickup has a VTM 4-Lock mode so I’m surprised Honda didn’t include it on the TrailSport that’s intended as an off-trail SUV.
Over on the 7-inch digital gauge cluster, it displays a host of details including driver information for functions and alerts with the latter offering a bright orange “BRAKE” warning when an obstruction is sensed.
A 20-inch step-in into the heavily padded rear seats offer an abundance of leg and head room for two adults or three small youngsters.
With a 32-inch lift-over into the cargo area, the area is spacious and rated at 50.5 cubic feet with the rear seats upright that measures 43 inches deep, 48 wide and 31.5 high. Flip the rear seatbacks by pressing two buttons and space expands to 77.5 cubic feet for an impressive 76 inches of cargo loading depth. That’s slightly over six feet of space for a lot of gear, even a mountain bike with the front wheel removed and stacked atop the bike.
Beneath the cargo floor are two 7-inch deep bins for small items storage that shares the space with a space saver tire, jack and tools.
Passport TrailSport gets its grunt from a standard 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 280-hp and 262 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 24-highway mpg with the standard 9-speed automatic transmission. Included is remote start on the keyfob that’s nice to have on cold mornings.
The 3.5L is a quiet and proven engine and one that’s in my Ridgeline pickup as well as other Honda’s. So powered, it carries a tow rating of up to 5,000 pounds which is enough for a pop-up camper, a 14-foot boat or a utility trailer.
Ride wise, and like all Honda crossovers/SUVs and pickup, it’s car-like. With 18-inch Firestone tires, the ride is smooth even on back country bumpy, unimproved roads. It handles exceptionally secure and planted in hair-pin turns with negligible body lean.
TrailSport came loaded with a host of standard features including a moonroof. On the standard safety side, it has blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert, collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, tire pressure monitoring and considerably more. There was only one extra cost option and that was for Sonic Gray paint ($395) that took the base price of $42,470 to $44,090 with delivery.
TrailSport came with impressive top government 5-star safety ratings of five for an overall score; five for driver frontal crash, four for passenger; five each for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover.
If you don’t need a third-row seat and do some off-the-beaten path exploring for hunting, fishing, camping sites, Honda’s Passport TrailSport is not only a good-looking SUV, but a capable one as well.
Toyota’s full-size Tundra half-ton 4WD pickup has undergone a complete overhaul for 2022. It’s actually all-new as it has a myriad of enhancements that includes an aluminum-reinforced composite cargo bed that contributes to a lighter, stronger chassis, two new powertrains plus a hybrid, a coil spring rear suspension replacing leaf springs, a chiseled muscular look, and an available 14-inch touchscreen within a restyled interior, to name some of the major changes.
Tundra’s exterior has a new face with a bold, massive grille that takes on a Mack truck look. It’s enhanced with slim LED headlamps with functional air vents. Toyota added an aluminum hood and front door panels that combined with the composite bed, provides for a weight reduction and improved fuel economy.
Tundra’s back end features large vertical taillights and a massive chrome bumper bumped-down in the middle with a step. Speaking of which, there’s a pull-out step on the driver’s side of the bumper for accessing the bed. But here’s where Toyota designers fell short. While Chevy/GMC have their Pro Tailgate that flips out with a step that also does a few other tricks, and Ford has their pull-out bed-step from within the top of the tailgate, while Ram offers a split, two-piece opening tailgate, all of which are designed for easier bed access. As such, it seems Tundra should have had a variant for this totally new model.
Tundra is offered in Double Cab and tested CrewMax configuration. The former Regular Cab was discontinued mainly because truck buyers prefer one of the two just mentioned.
CrewMax cab comes with a 5.5 foot bed or 6.5 foot bed. Our test truck has the 5.5 footer with four moveable tie-down hooks and four permanent ones. The inner bed sides are bumper out to hold 2x4s or a sheet of plywood for two-tier loading. The tailgate, with a 34.5-inch load height, is dampened and can be opened remotely via the keyfob.
There are also special packages to enhance the Tundra. There’s TRD Sport Package and tested TRD Off-Road Package plus trim levels of SR, SR5, Limited (tested), Platinum, 1794 Edition, and TRD Pro Capstone.
As for the freshened interior, a tall 24.5-inch step-in requires a giant step as the truck had rock rails for serious off-roading and not a running board or step. But the rails could be used as a narrow step for toes only ingress.
The test truck came equipped with a huge and optional 14-inch center touchscreen whereas an 8-inch one is standard. It serves a host of functions that include audio, navigation, rearview camera with multiple views including a bed and 360-degree revolving view, HVAC selections and some voice control for navigation directions, climate selections, radio station changes plus it has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity.
HVAC controls are set in a horizontal array that are easy to use and below them are auxiliary switches for trailer control, external view selections and rear wheel lock for when the going gets extra tough.
There’s also a wireless phone charger at the base of the vertical stack and it shares the large console with a burly gear selector for the 10-speed automatic transmission. It shares the space with a slider switch for 2H, 4H, 4L 4WD modes. Next to it a dual mode selector for Drive modes of Eco, Normal and Sport modes, plus a separate switch for Tow-Haul trailer mode, one for MTS and another for DAC/Crawl mode.
The MTS stands for “Multi-Terrain Select” that offers added off-road modes of Mud, Rock, Dirt, Sand, Deep Snow, Mogul and Sand. The DAC/Crawl mode is a downhill assist control system that can set the speed of a downhill descent from 3-18 mph. Tundra has it all covered for serious trekking where the paved road stops.
Over on the 12.3-inch TFT digital gauge cluster, it sports a large driver information display within it for alerts, features, functions and MTS modes.
Heated/cooled front seats are substantially padded with extended under thigh support. They have a camo-like pattern on seat backs and bottoms for an outdoorsy touch.
Back seats offer gobs of leg and headroom for three adults but because of a high transaxle hump, it restricts middle seat leg room. The seatbacks flip up against the bulkhead exposing a full-width, 7-inch deep bin with removable plastic panel dividers to separate packages, gear or just a fully open bin for long items like hunting long guns or two-piece fishing rods.
Powertrain wise, there are two. The Tested iForce 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 generates 389-hp and 479 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 17 city, 22-highway mpg. Then there’s the hybrid version using the same iForce 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with a 288v Nickel-Metal Hydride battery stowed under the rear seat for 437-hp and 583 lb/ft of torque for EPA’s of 20 city, 24-highway mpg. Both engines use the same 10-speed automatic transmission.
The 3.5 V6 produced substantial power (especially when the twin turbo kicked in) for a tow rating of 11,170 pounds and a GVWR of 7,230. The TRD Off-Road carried an approach angle of 26.2 degrees and a departure angle of 24.2 degrees that along with a ground clearance of 11.2 inches, is capable of easily handling nasty off-roads and deep snow.
As for ride on 9-inch wide, Falken 20-inch tires, the sensation is more like a full-size SUV as its smooth and exceptionally quiet. Load the cargo bed with mulch and it rides even smoother shod with Fox coil-over shocks and coil springs. It’s a compliant ride as well when unloaded.
As the Limited trim model, it came with an exceptionally long list of standard items and most importantly Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5 Collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert w/steering assist, lane tracing assist, blind spot monitor and more.
Over on the options list, JBL premium audio ($565); Limited Premium package ($395); Limited Power package ($385); TRD Off-Road package ($3,085); special Supersonic red color ($425); heated steering wheel ($150); rock rails ($625); all-weather floor liners ($169); bed step ($399); wheel locks ($80); mini tie-downs ($45); bed mat $195); spare tire lock ($75) took the base price of $51,900 to $60,188 with delivery. Yes I know what you’re thinking. Nickel & diming. Well if you can live without some of these goodies, the bottom line can be shaved somewhat.
All in all, the Tundra caters to avid off-roaders or on-roaders who are also avid Toyota owners for their dependable quality and exceptional build.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but since I had the privilege of testing Volkswagen’s 4Motion (AWD) Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line, I’ve been seeing a lot of new Atlas’s on area roadways. Seems folks discovered the fine attributes of this attractive SUV.
For starters, Atlas Cross Sport R-Line has a suave, conservative yet sporty look with its sloping roofline and R-Line trim package that boasts a black-accented grille, stainless steel pedal caps and other special trim items for an extra touch of sporty toughness.
Atlas Cross Sport differs from the standard Atlas that we previously reviewed in 2021, as it doesn’t have a third-row seat. The Sport model is for folks who don’t need the extra seating. It’s also a bit longer (196 vs. 185 inches) when compared to VW’s Tiguan compact SUV, so it can be considered a midsize in comparison.
Atlas Cross Sport is offered in S, SE, SE w/Technology, SE w/Technology R Line, SEL, SEL R Line, SEL Premium and SEL Premium R Line we tested.
As Atlas Cross Sports’ exterior is conservative and sporty, so is its interior. A low 19-inch step-in settles you into comfy and supportive heated/cooled leather front seats where you’ll notice a racy flat-bottom steering wheel, a 10.25-inch touchscreen that serves a host of functions that includes a Fender audio system, rearview camera with overhead view, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink, Wi-Fi with App Connect, Park Assist and more.
Traditional HVAC controls are large and easy to view and use with selections displayable and selectable on the screen. Below them is a wireless smartphone charger.
The console houses a burly gear selector that controls the 8-speed automatic transmission that I’m a bit surprised, didn’t include paddle shifters. The shifter shares the console with the dual-function drive mode switch. By pressing the middle section of the rotary switch, it offers Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom modes. Rotate the outer ring switch for Snow, Normal, Off-Road Auto, and Off-Road Custom modes.
Atlas Cross Sport comes with Park Assist (parking steering assist) w/front-rear park distance control, hill hold/descent control, sunroof and more.
Over on the large digital gauge cluster, it contains a driver information display for alerts, features, functions and other operating information.
Heated back seats offer decent leg and head room and thanks to a low-profile transaxle hump, a short-legged person can be comfortably seated in the middle seat in three abreast fashion.
As for cargo space with a hands-free liftgate, and with the rear seats upright, there’s 40.3 cubic feet of space measuring 46.5 inches deep, 47 wide and 29 high. Flip the seatbacks and capacity expands to 77.8 cubic feet for 77 inches of loading depth.
While two powertrains are offered, the Atlas Cross Premium R Line comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 276-hp and 268 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 18 city, 24-highway mpg with engine start/stop technology. Coupled to the 8-speed trans, the V6 moves this 4,449-pound SUV with ease. It’s no speedster, but who needs to go from one stop light to another in 3 seconds?
As for ride and handling and shod with 9-inch wide, 21-inch tall premium Pirelli tires with coil springs in back, Atlas’ ride is smooth, exceptionally quiet, planted in tight turns and parks easily with its 40.52 foot turning diameter.
With an exhaustive list of standard items that includes lane assist/keep assist, emergency medical assist, forward collision warning w/autonomous emergency braking w/pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert and rain sensing wipers to list a few, there was but one extra cost item and that being red Aurora metallic paint ($395) that took the base price of $49,945 to $51, 535 with delivery.
To its credit, Atlas came with impressive government 5-star safety ratings of a full five overall stars; four for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
Volkswagen’s top line Atlas Cross deserves a serious look in comparison to the crowded field of SUVs offered today. It provides quality German engineering, Autobahn handling and top safety scores.