Friday, 19 April 2024

For families shopping for an SUV that will serve their needs, the Toyota Highlander has long been on the list of vehicles to consider, in part because it can hold up to 8 passengers and lots of cargo.

This three-row midsize SUV isn’t the class-leader in all areas (some rivals are more luxurious, and have more third-row space, for example), but collectively it delivers an excellent experience that has led to it being a top seller in the segment for many years.

A full redesign of the Highlander hasn’t happened since 2020, but there was a change in the engine offerings starting with the 2023 model, which carried over to 2024. The new engine is a turbo 4-cylinder instead of the V6 offering that had been offered prior. And the new Highlander features an updated tech system that delivers an excellent user experience.

There are a ton of major vehicles in this segment — including Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and more. Read on to see how the Highlander holds up in this very popular and competitive category of three-row family haulers.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS
Sunday, 11 February 2024 16:42

2024 Acura MDX: 5 Things To Know

In the midsize luxury SUV category, there are many strong choices that are worth considering, so each entry in this category must present its own unique character.

I recently tested one of those options, the 2024 Acura MDX, which has a lot to offer to the SUV buyer — even against strong competition from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Cadillac and other key luxury players.

Between its athletic drive quality, striking design and affordable nature compared to most luxury rivals, it’s an SUV that should strike a sweet spot for many car buyers.

Read on for 5 key things to know if you’re considering the 2024 Acura MDX for your next vehicle.

1. Unique, bold Acura design   

Though the look of the 2024 MDX carries over from the most recent redesign in 2022, it remains one of the standout exterior designs in the segment.

The front end features a muscular-looking grille and unique lighting design that won’t be confused with any of its luxury rivals, the rear features a dual exhaust setup, and the overall design is sleek and eye-catching.

19-inch wheels are standard, but you can upgrade to 21-inch wheels. You also get a panoramic sunroof and power liftgate.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Mazda has slowly been revamping the design language of its SUV lineup for the past several years, and those changes have now reached the top of the ladder and its largest offering.

Their previous three-row SUV was the CX-9, but now it’s been replaced for the 2024 model year by a brand new entry called the CX-90 — a three-row SUV that seats 6 to 8 passengers depending on configuration, and comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Competing with category heavyweights such as the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade and Toyota Grand Highlander, it’s got a tough array of opponents.

But for drivers who love to drive and want a ride that’s both family-friendly plus sporty and fun to drive, Mazda has long been a leader in this segment, and the CX-90 holds up tremendously well even in this tough atmosphere.

Mazda also has the benefit of offering some of the more luxurious vehicles you’ll find from a non-luxury brand.

I tested the 2024 Mazda CX-90 3.3 Turbo Premium Plus model, and I’m back with a full report on how this new offering measures up in the SUV landscape.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Competing successfully in the compact SUV segment is arguably one of the most difficult things to do in today’s automotive world.

With so many vehicles that sell in large volumes every year as this category continues to grow in popularity — including Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Chevy Equinox and Hyundai Tucson — it’s tough to break through.

One model that was successful at doing so, and continues to fight for the top spots on the sales charts every single year, is the Nissan Rogue. Last redesigned in 2021, and seeing only minor changes for the 2023 model, Nissan’s entry in this category has been a pleasant surprise for the automaker — in fact, the Rogue is the brand’s best-selling vehicle in its entire lineup.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of the 2023 Nissan Rogue, and I’m back with a full report on how the latest version of the family-friendly Rogue measures up vs. stiff competition.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

The interest in Hyundai’s SUVs has seen a resurgence in recent years due to some high-profile new models including the popular Palisade, but the brand’s SUV history started way back in 2001 with the introduction of the Santa Fe SUV.

Still around decades later, the Santa Fe is now considered the midsize SUV offering from Hyundai — slotting in between the smaller Tucson and the larger Palisade — and remains a stout competitor in a massive sea of crossovers that dwarves what was available two decades ago.

I recently spent some time beyond the wheel of a 2023 Santa Fe Calligraphy model, the final year of the current look before an anticipated 2024 redesign,  and I’m back with a full report on how this family 5-seater measures up in this busy SUV landscape.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

As the number of SUVs continues to expand in a seemingly exponential manner, it’s sometimes difficult to classify where certain vehicles compete.

One vehicle battling in a unique area that fends off competitors on multiple sides is the 2023 Buick Enclave, one of the most intriguing three-row midsize SUV offerings from the U.S. Big Three automakers.

An upscale offering from GM, the Enclave is high-brow enough to battle with names such as Volvo and Acura, but it’s simultaneously fending off competitors from brands like Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Ford, which are traditionally not viewed as luxury offerings.

It’s an introduction to the world of the more upscale SUV, without fully diving into the luxury lifestyle to keep pricing more realistic.

The 2023 Enclave sees little changes from the 2022 model, which underwent some major design and tech transformations that are carried over.

Buick’s goal with the Enclave is to deliver a strong overall vehicle — impressing through its design, tech, safety features and drive quality — that will pull potential buyers from either the lower-end or higher-end options into the seat of the Enclave.

With extensive cargo room, a smooth driving experience, and truly impressive technology offerings, it does that to a great extent.

Read on for a full breakdown on how the 2023 Enclave compares to its many competitors in this very popular vehicle segment.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

BMW has a variety of popular models, but even for this sports-car focused brand, SUVs are increasingly stealing the spotlight.

Case in point: The BMW X3 — a compact luxury SUV offering — is now the brand’s best-selling model in the U.S. with over 75,000 vehicles sold in 2021.

That’s a tremendous success considering the strong competition in this sector from brands including Genesis, Benz, Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln and more.

I recently tested the 2022 BMW X3, which features design upgrades as well as tech improvements, and I’m back with a full report.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

With SUVs now the dominant vehicle in the automotive landscape, and bigger is better being the motto for many buyers — especially those with larger families — it’s no surprise that 3-row SUVS that can seat larger numbers of people comfortably remain in high demand.

In this busy segment, each automaker has their own approach to reach their customer base. For Mazda, a small but formidable brand competing in the segment with their CX-9 model, the emphasis is no different than the rest of their lineup — power and drive quality.

Just like smaller Mazda rides, the level of get-up-and-go in the power plant here is more than you’ll find in most competitors. And that’s by design.

I recently spent some time in a 2022 Mazda CX-9, and I’m back with a full report on how it stacks up in a crowded SUV category loaded with very strong vehicle options.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Straddling the line between more modest SUVs and the luxury world, the Buick Envision finds itself in an interesting position in this vast SUV landscape.

For the 2021 model year, Buick has redesigned this midsize, five-passenger SUV, aiming at those who want something a bit fancier, but without going full luxury in terms of design and price tag — something between a Toyota RAV4 and a Audi Q5.

The Envision sits in the middle of the Buick SUV lineup, between the smaller Encore and larger Enclave. Among the highlights of the redesign are an improved infotainment system, a boost in the number of safety features included, and an updated engine.

I recently spent time in a 2021 Envision, and here is a full report.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

The subcompact crossover market is quite saturated these days — which competitors including Honda’s HR-V, the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Venue, Mazda CX-30 and Jeep Renegade, among many others.

But Subaru, a brand that doesn’t top sales charts but has fiercely loyal followers, has perhaps the best offering in this segment — the Subaru Crosstrek, which gets a strong design upgrade, more powerful engine option and safety/tech upgrades for 2021. I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2021 Crosstrek Sport, and I’m back with a full report on a vehicle that spices up its segment.

LOOKS

The exterior of the redesigned 2021 Crosstrek stands out from the competition, both in terms of its sleek look and unique colors offered. Subaru has never gone the way every other automaker has with its designs, and this is no exception.

The vehicle features a redesigned front fascia that includes a new bumper cover and grille, new wheel design, and new color options such as Plasma Yellow Pearl and Horizon Blue Pearl. I had a test vehicle with the yellow pearl color and it looked very sharp and unique on the roadways.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS
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