Wednesday, 25 May 2022
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

The luxury SUV battlefield features some of the fiercest competition you’ll find in today’s automotive landscape. A luxury vehicle really needs to shine to stand out in a field that features Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and other well-respected brands.

But some brands can still take the heat. With its RDX model, Acura had pulled off what many thought they could not — continuing to sell at numbers that rival and even top some luxury competitors.

It’s not resting on its laurels either, as for 2022 RDX gets a sportier design, an upgraded and more insulated interior that all five passengers will enjoy, and an improved suspension and ride quality.

I recently got behind the wheel of the latest RDX, and I’m back with a full report on how it fares vs. the luxury competition.

LOOK

Eye-pleasing changes have been made to achieve a bold and sporty front end design of the 2022 RDX, from the grille to the lighting setup to adding larger air intakes. 

My test vehicle featured an attractive Apex Blue Pearl paint job, but a wide variety of colors from white to violet to black are also offered. The panoramic moonroof is a very nice feature that luxury buyers have come to expect, and the RDX features Jewel Eye LED headlights and LED tail lights. 

When a vehicle has been around for 50 years, like the Honda Civic can boast, it obviously has some good things going for it.

But even a popular model like the Civic needs to change now and then, and for 2022 the Honda Civic has undergone its latest reimagining — the 11th overall generation of the vehicle.

The results have paid off, with this compact ride being selected as the 2022 North American Car of the Year.

The redesigned Civic — which comes in sedan and hatchback versions — encompasses an upscale and roomy interior design, a sharper looking exterior, and the inclusion of additional safety features to bring the vehicle into the modern era of high-tech cars.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2022 Honda Civic, and I’m back with a full report.

There’s no shortage of luxury SUVs available today; in fact they seem to be growing in number.

But if you want one with a body-on-frame, trucklike construction that will let you get out of the city and into the great outdoors, the number of options is significantly smaller in the luxury realm.

One option that’s been around for many years is the Lexus GX 460, a 4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger luxury SUV that aims to please both on-road and off-road.

It would seem to be a strike against the GX 460 that it hasn’t seen a full refresh since the 2010 model, literally an eternity in car years. Surprisingly though, it holds up quite well despite its old age — though some buyers may be swayed by more modern-looking competitors in the luxury realm.

One bright spot for 2022 is the new Black Line Special Edition — which brings a fresh new design approach to the GX lineup.

I recently spent some time in a 2022 GX 460, and I”m back with a full review.

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.

Big pickups have long dominated U.S. auto sales — from the Ford F-150 to the Ram 1500 and Chevy Silverado.

And while those types of vehicles will likely never stop being dominant, in recent years trucks have been trending smaller. First we got a large contingent of midsize trucks introduced over the past decade by multiple automakers, and now we’re getting something unimaginable a decade ago: The introduction of compact trucks that are quite popular.

Now, to be clear, Hyundai doesn’t call the Santa Cruz a compact truck. They call it a “Sport Adventure Vehicle” — painting it as a mix between an SUV and a pickup.

But let’s be honest, it fits most people’s definition of a truck simply by having an open bed in the back, so that’s how most of us will refer to it.

This smaller size is popular for many reasons. For one thing, it’s more maneuverable and easier to park than a larger truck. And it’s still useful despite the smaller size — I had people tell me they would have plenty of room to throw their bikes in the back of the truck and drive their family out to where they want to ride. (Trucks don’t only need to be about hauling rocks, dirt and gravel)

This vehicle recalls past attempts at this style of vehicle — such as the Subaru Baja and the Ford Explorer Sport Trac — but improves on those vehicles quite a bit.

I recently spent some time driving a 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz and I’m back with a full report.

Long a favorite of off-roaders who prefer rugged vehicles and sticking with the traditional, truck-based, body-on-frame style of SUV, the Toyota 4Runner is back again for 2022.

With its last major refresh over a decade ago, the 2022 version of the 4Runner is likely the last hurrah for this rendition before a new version is unveiled for 2023.

I recently spent some time driving a 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport, a new trim level added to the 4Runner lineup this year, and I’m back with a full report on how it looks, drives and performs.

Bentley Motors has announced the luxury brand's financial results for 2021, complementing its record sales performance during the same 12-month period. Operating profits rose to €389 million, which was €369 million more than in 2020.

Turnover last year reached €2.845 billion, while an increased level of personalisation and a model mix dominated by Speed, Mulliner and Hybrid models resulted in the average revenue per luxury car rising by eight per cent over 2020. This contributed to an impressive return on sales of 13.7 per cent.

Bentley had already announced that it had delivered 14,659 extraordinary cars in 2021, a 31 per cent increase on the previous record year of 2020. Furthermore, there was a steady increase of customer interest in new models resulting in an order bank at record levels at the start of 2022.

The figures are also a vindication of customer appreciation of the freshest model line-up in the luxury segment and of Bentley’s ground-breaking Beyond100 strategy, to be end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030. The initiative has been underpinned by a ten-year investment programme at the Crewe factory, a €3 billion sum representing the biggest transformation and investment programme in Bentley’s history. The company plans to build one new electric model each year for five years from 2025 onwards, as the entire model range undergoes electrification.

Commenting on the figures, Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors, said: “These results were achieved against a continued backdrop of economic uncertainty. They represent a major achievement for everybody involved at Bentley Motors, as we push forward with our Beyond100 programme to reinvent our entire product range in the build-up to carbon neutrality by 2030.”

Jan-Henrik Lafrentz, Member of the Board for Finance and IT, Bentley Motors, added: “Brand strength has been key to Bentley’s financial performance in 2021, with new models such as Bentayga Hybrid helping to drive profit to a record €389 million. Increasing demand for our hybridised models, supported by €3 billion of sustainable investment in our Crewe factory, will ensure we remain the benchmark manufacturer in sustainable luxury mobility.” 

Past 10-year performance:

Year

Retails

Turnover (€)

Operating (€)

2021

14,659

2,845 million

389 million

2020

11,206

2,049 million

20 million

2019

11,006

2,092 million

65 million

2018

10,494

1,548 million

-288 million

2017

11,089

1,843 million

55 million

2016

11,023

2,031.1 million

112.1 million

2015

10,100

1,935.9 million

110.4 million

2014

11,020

1,746.4 million

170 million*

2013

10,120

1,678.7 million

167.7 million

2012

8,510

1,453.2 million

100.5 million

*Previous record operating result.

— Press release courtesy of Bentley

 

 

 

Hyundai’s been on a roll lately with some strong additions to its SUV lineup, and now they have turned their eyes to their existing SUVs that were due for a refresh to match their modernized design standards.

Among the latest vehicles to get a brand new look is the compact Hyundai Tucson SUV, and as an added bonus a sharp new trim level has been added called the N Line.

Competing in a segment packed with strong vehicles, from Ford’s Bronco Sport to Asian rivals Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4, Hyundai has to come out strong to compete in this popular class of SUVs.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2022 Tucson N Line model, and I’m back with a full report.

As the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote many moons ago, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. Which is why it’s always good to have a strong backup plan in place. 

In the case of the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck, a fully refreshed model had been teased for release early in 2022 — featuring exterior and interior styling upgrades, updated infotainment system, among other changes. 

But due to production delays caused by ongoing supply chain issues, the arrival of these new Sierras has been delayed until later in 2022. So Plan B — continuing to offer a GMC Sierra 1500 Limited model carried over from the 2021 version — has become the reality for the short-term.

I recently drove the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Limited, specifically one equipped with the AT4 off-road package, and I’m back with a full report on what it offers to buyers who aren’t willing to wait for the new version of the Sierra. 

Omolle, a global manufacturer and distributer of connected fitness products based in Seoul, South Korea, is launching a limited release of its new product, Mativ, an interactive AI workout mat.

The Mativ smart mat is paired with a wrist band and embedded sensors that can be used for a variety of activities including High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Pilates, strength training and yoga. The mat’s technology includes video content of instructor-led workouts; real-time feedback such as calorie burn, voice motivation, suggestions and ranking; and provides a virtual community for users to connect with other users, influencers and instructors.

Connected fitness is the most rapidly growing segment of the fitness industry with a predicted average annual growth of 31.2 percent, reaching nearly $6 billion by 2025. Omolle’s vision is to disrupt the connected fitness industry by providing affordable, accessible and intuitively connected fitness equipment to a large audience.

“How people exercise has been forever changed in the past few years and has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Omolle CEO Minki Kang, about the fitness trend toward connected, remote training. “I saw a clear gap in the marketplace in the area of affordable, connected fitness equipment, and our Mativ smart mat is an example of how people can continue to stay in shape on their own terms without spending thousands of dollars to do so.”

The Mativ mat costs $299, and the monthly subscription is $9.99 for content/connectivity. For more information on Mativ, or to pre-order, visit www.mativfitness.com.

Omolle, established in 2018, started to develop fitness content services as a member of Born2Global Center, a South Korean-based government agency that supports startups. The Seoul-based company quickly realized there was an underserved fitness market segment and set out to fulfill it. Omolle’s technological expertise is recognized worldwide, and the company has applied for 50 different patents, trademarks, and designs, both in Korea and abroad. Thirteen patents and other intellectual property rights have already been registered. Omolle was also selected for the Amazon Launchpad program.

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