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2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys Review: The Ideal Jeep?

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 2:56pm

The Jeep Wrangler is one of our all-time favorite vehicles, though certainly not because it drives well. It never has, and, Iacocca willing, it never will. No, we love this stalwart 4×4 because of its single-minded focus on its rough-and-tumble mission, which imbues it with a rich character rare in today’s marketplace.

Of course, for all its boulder-taming capability, there are legions of Wrangler buyers who rarely use their Jeeps on much more than a two-track road, never mind Moab’s red rocks. For those folks, the ones who use their Wranglers every day, something like the Willys model you see here is close to ideal. With plenty of features and a nice package of baked-in off-road equipment, it’s perhaps the best balance of daily driver and factory trail machine in the lineup.

Our test Jeep started as a $33,570 Unlimited Sport, which was then slathered in $245 utilitarian-cool Sarge Green paint over black cloth upholstery. The Willys comes in both bare-bones and feature-laden models; this was the latter, with LED head- and fog lamps, rock rails, power windows and heated mirrors, all-weather floor mats, upgraded brakes, remote entry, a locking rear differential, gloss black exterior accents, leather on the steering wheel, and a few other bits at a reasonable initial buy-in of $39,565.

Even stopping there, such a Jeep Willys provides good all-weather and all-terrain ability while also taking the bite off its ragged edges. It gets special off-road shocks but doesn’t have the Rubicon’s disconnecting anti-roll bars or burly Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive system. The standard-issue Command-Trac setup is plenty capable, though, being able to lock into a 50/50 front/rear split and offering a low range with a 2.72:1 ratio (compared to the Rubicon’s 4.00:1). It also allows shifting from rear-drive to 4Hi mode at speeds of up to 55 mph.

But this Willys also stirred in a large can of comfort and convenience features, including the $995 Technology bundle, $4,190 Sun and Sound package (bigger central screen, navigation, the Sky sliding roof, premium audio, automatic climate control, removable rear quarter windows, and a ton more), $1,500 automatic transmission, the $995 Cold Weather Group, a couple of safety packages, a towing bundle, and a bunch of additional goodies.

The total price was $50,965, which seems like a lot—heck, it is a lot—but damned if this wasn’t the most livable Wrangler we’ve been in for some time. And given that Jeep Wranglers are among the very best new vehicles at holding their value, we say check all the boxes you want or can afford. You’re going to get a decent chunk of your money back when it’s time to move on.

We loved the Sky cloth top, the most versatile of the Wrangler’s many roof options, as it combines the finished look and most of the weatherproofing of a hardtop with a convertible-like experience. And even though we drove this Jeep during the last of Michigan’s wintry weather, we stayed plenty warm despite some single-digit temperatures. Quick-warming heated cloth seats and a heated steering wheel helped, too.

The smooth-shifting automatic was a forced upgrade with the no-charge 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood; the engine might be the only thing we’d change. With 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft, the four-cylinder has enough gusto to move a four-door Wrangler just fine. But the engine never lets you forget it’s working, with plenty of grumbling noise and turbo whooshing and the like, all of which only gets worse in 4Hi mode, when it has two more wheels to drive. And there’s a demonstrable difference in how much pedal input you need in order to maintain the same speed between rear- and four-wheel-drive modes. We’d likely stick with the standard V-6, which also allows you to select a six-speed manual—thus saving $1,500—if you’d like.

Of course, neither its options nor its engine much affect the Jeep Wrangler Willys’ on-road handling, which is like most any other Wrangler’s: ponderous, somewhat sloppy, and absolutely unathletic. But no one buys a Wrangler for the way it moves on pavement; they buy one because of the way it makes them feel and its potential to explore great expanses of terrain.

The Wrangler for that reason has long dominated a segment of one, and its vast customization options from the factory and via the aftermarket plays a huge role in its continued success. The Wrangler is about to face perhaps its most formidable challenge yet in the form of the new Ford Bronco, but with a broad, well-established lineup that includes models like the 2022 Wrangler Willys, the V-8powered 392, the plug-in 4xe hybrid, and more, Jeep appears well prepared for the fight to come.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys   Specifications PRICE $33,570/ $50,865 (base/as tested) LAYOUT Front-engine, rear-/4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.0L/270-hp/295-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 4,196 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 118.4 in L x W x H 188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in 0-60 MPH 7.5 sec (MT est) EPA FUEL ECON 21/24/22 mpg (city/hwy/comb) (est) ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 160/140 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87 lb/mile ON SALE Now

The post 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys Review: The Ideal Jeep? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Can the Ram 1500 TRX Still Be Cool Without 702 HP? We Think So

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 1:24pm

The 2021 Ram 150 TRX is an awesome truck—full stop. And we don’t mean that in the colloquial sense of awesome, we mean that in the literal sense—its astounding acceleration, cross-country abilities, and relative civility inside inspire awe—and earned it our Truck of the Year award. It’s a supertruck, the first of its kind, and a no-brainer for the title. No question that the TRX does more than any other truck in history effortlessly, and with few flaws.

But you know why we love it. You also know about our only major quibble: with great performance comes great thirst. The TRX delivers atrocious fuel economy, and no one should be surprised by that when you’ve got a 702-horsepower supercharged V-8 accelerating 6,350 pounds’ worth of off-road full-size pickup truck to 60 MPH in 4.1 seconds—making the Ram the quickest truck we’ve ever tested. It chugs gas, and the window sticker carries EPA estimates of 10 mpg in the city and just 14 on the highway.

Prodigious Thrust, Prodigious Thirst

That’s … not good. Maybe there is no getting around it; the Hellcat derivatives are the Crown Jewels of the Ram/Jeep/Dodge lineup. Had Ram downsized, hybridized, or dieselized the TRX at launch, it would’ve run the risk of the sharing newest Ford F-150 Raptor’s fate: showing up a few days late and a couple cylinders short. For better or worse, one-upmanship is a truck’s game, and Ram went all in.

So Ram launched a full-bore TRX, and regardless of how long it endures, the point has been made. Maybe there’s room to address the gap—more like a chasm, actually—between, say, a Ram 1500 Rebel and the formidable TRX.

Lose the Blower

It’s a chasm that, we think, Ram is going to bridge. And the cool way, too. Not just making the Rebel more capable, but instead offering a full-throated TRX chassis sporting one of the company’s non-supercharged engines. And on that front, it has a lot of choices. As we speculated previously, the Hemi 392 V-8 is the obvious choice—tons of power, great sound, a small but meaningful fuel economy increase (in the heavier Ram 2500 Power Wagon, for example), at a more affordable price point. And while we’ll generally steer anyone with the money and inclination towards the Hellcat variant of a model, the 392 is really good. (Especially in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392.)

The TRX packs the firepower and the long-travel suspension articulation to eats up the open desert like a methamphetamine-addled roadrunner, but not everyone lives near such a wide-open space. For slower or more technical work, say on either rocks or dirt roads, the TRX’s suspension would provide a benefit—but any of Ram’s V-8 options would provide the sort of torque you need to venture off-road.

It’s not like Ram 1500s with the even less-potent 5.7-liter V-8 are slouches, even. We’ve clocked the 395-hp versions of the 5.7 to the low sixes in the run to 60 mph, and that’s a four-wheel-drive crew cab, too. The question of whether, say, a 5.7 eTorque’s 410 lb-ft of torque would be “enough” for a TRX-Lite is more of a marketing question than a capability question.

The TRX Has Charms Beyond Its Power

But more importantly, while the Ram’s off-road chops and tough wide-body stance are wildly appealing, the thirst is not for everyone. We haven’t spent enough time in a TRX for the thrill of the outright thrust to wear off, but there are only so many on-ramps and backroads you can dig into that massive well of power for. After just a week, we wished the TRX came with an auxiliary fuel tank, or we owned a refinery. The lightest foot barely got us out of single-digit fuel economy, and what fun is that? Romp on it as you should, and you’ll watch the fuel needle swing.

This is a comfortable, capable truck, too. Full up with family and mall-crawling in the sprawl, there’s a pleasant compliance without nausea-inducing boatiness. It’s something owners are going to want to drive, and not just at an ORV area with a few gas stops along the way, but maybe all the way across the country to some legendary off-road playground like Moab. A trip like that in a TRX is going to be painful compared to, say, a Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel, which manages 28 mph highway—and can be had in rock-bashing Rubicon trim (although not in desert-running Mojave flavor). Some owners wouldn’t mind, but after a few days (and a few fill-ups) behind the wheel the fuel economy started to grate on us. This is something we’ll need to address when our long-term Ram TRX test truck arrives soon for a yearlong stay.

An EcoDiesel EcoFantasy

While we don’t think a TRX with the Ram 1500’s available EcoDiesel V-6 is likely due to its horsepower deficit (just 260 ponies makes for bad messaging) and cylinder count, the thought crossed our mind on every fill-up. After all, the turbo six is a torquey motor, offering up to 480 lb-ft for the 2020 model. In a regular 1500 4WD, the EcoDiesel manages 21/29/24 in EPA testing—and even more in its HFE fuel-economy special variant. Even given the penalty the TRX’s wider body, taller ride height, and knobby tires would exact, we don’t think it’d be impossible for an EcoDiesel to roughly double a TRX’s fuel economy.

Re-tuning the motor to, say, 300 horsepower and 500 lb-ft—if that’s possible, and we’re not saying it is—could give the marketing team enough ammunition to make it work. We love torque, and we love the EcoDiesel’s off-road performance and fuel economy in the regular 1500—and almost as much in the off-road-oriented Rebel as the diesel GMC Sierra AT4. Since Ram’s already decided the Rebel is finally a match for the torquey, efficient EcoDiesel, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

But an EcoDiesel TRX would probably be slow. As in, extremely slow—sort of the antithesis of what the TRX is all about. As much as torque and economy appeals to us, we can’t ignore that the fact that the Rebel EcoDiesel took 8.1 seconds to reach 60 mph in our testing. Even without a porky Hellcat motor aboard, the TRX is a heavier truck all around, with a beefier chassis. The heft wouldn’t do the EcoDiesel any favors, even if it made additional power. We can dream about an oil-burning TRX’s advantages, but the reality is the EcoDiesel, in its current iteration, almost certainly wouldn’t cut it—a 392 would be a better fit, if not as efficient.

Thinking About the Year Ahead

We love the TRX. For certain enthusiasts to whom compromise is a dirty word, the TRX’s supercar-like fuel economy goes with the territory. It’s a supertruck and you’ll never forget it. For the rest of us—those without supercar resources or a strict need for the excesses the TRX celebrates—the ownership proposition gives us pause, and makes us daydream about all that capability paired with a less extreme powerplant. We’re excited to spend a year with our long-term TRX and see if its performance makes up for its dismal fuel economy.

The post Can the Ram 1500 TRX Still Be Cool Without 702 HP? We Think So appeared first on MotorTrend.

Meet the Hypothetical 2022 Honda Civic Coupe

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 12:15pm

Honda’s 11th-generation Civic will only be sold as a four-door sedan or hatchback. The two-door coupe model, which was available on the outgoing Civic up until the 2020 model year, isn’t returning. This marks the first time ever that the U.S.-market Civic isn’t offered with a two-door body style.

So, what if the Honda Civic coupe had survived for 2022? We answered this hypothetical by having some fun with an image of the 2022 Civic sedan and Photoshop. Whereas prior Civic two-door models have sat on stubbier wheelbases than that of its four-door counterpart, we opted to keep our imagined 2022 Civic coupe on the same 107.7-inch wheelbase as the 2022 Civic sedan. We figured doing so might give our theoretical 11th-gen Civic coupe a slightly more rakish roofline.

Instead, we inadvertently made a smaller version of the previous-generation Honda Accord coupe (pictured below). With its squared-off headlights, snub nose, and cleaned-up flanks, the latest Civic takes on a mature, almost Accord-like appearance. No surprise, then, that shaving off the rear doors and cutting the roofline results in our would-be Civic coupe looking like a scaled-down 2013–2016 Accord coupe.

Our hypothetical Civic coupe is an impossibility for reasons beyond Honda’s clear decision to cancel the two-door model for its compact cars’ 11th generation. In a fit of Honda nostalgia, we made the roof pillars entirely too thin for a modern two-door car. No doubt, the B-pillar would surely need to be quite a bit thicker to pass muster with modern side-impact crash standards, while the C-pillar is all ate up with glass and precious little structural metal—hey, we can dream, right? The windshield surround, however, is untouched. Yes, Honda really managed to make it that thin on the production 2022 Civic sedan.

Without a two-door in its lineup, the 2022 Civic will offer up sportiness by way of the forthcoming four-door hatchback model, as well as the upcoming Si and Type R variants. Honda has all but confirmed that all three of those Civic iterations will offer a manual transmission (the sedan comes only with a continuously variable automatic transmission or CVT), ensuring that sportiness and practicality will continue to go hand in hand. We’ll miss the two-door, but hey, maybe this gives Honda an opening to bring back an edgier two-door Civic model such as the CRX or—now we’re really off our rockers—the Del Sol convertible.

The post Meet the Hypothetical 2022 Honda Civic Coupe appeared first on MotorTrend.

Volkswagen Turns Up the Golf GTI Clubsport to 45

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 11:15am

Volkswagen is at it again, and this time with a special edition of the Golf GTI Clubsport to commemorate 45 years of the iconic hatchback. The quickest GTI variant that we folks Stateside can only gawk at from afar, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is the latest in a storied line.

Essentially a spiffed-up version of the already hardcore GTI Clubsport, the Golf GTI Clubsport 45 adds a package of upgrades that reduce weight and elevate status. First up is an Akrapovič titanium sports exhaust system that improves flow and amplifies the exhaust note. The hot hatch gains 19-inch “Scottsdale” alloy wheels featuring a Tornado Red pinstripe around the rim and finished in high-gloss black paint. Other exterior updates include “45th Anniversary” badges on the side sill panels and a metallic black finish on the door mirror caps and rear spoiler.

On the inside, the sport seats feature GTI lettering on the backrests, and the steering wheel sports a “45” badge. Moreover, the interior also gets ArtVelours fabric on the door panels and a leatherette arm support. Based on the GTI, the Clubsport 45 carries over the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but it generates 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque—not-insignificant bump over the already excellent regular GTI.

The Clubsport 45 is the latest GTI anniversary model, which began with the MkIII 20th Anniversary Edition in 1996. Since then, Volkswagen made it a tradition to introduce special-edition Golfs every five years. For theMkVII GTI , the Clubsport and Clubsport S variants celebrated the 40th anniversary of the legendary hot hatch.

Touted as the pinnacle of the GTI range, the Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is available to order now in Europe, and sadly not to American consumers. As many of you know, this year, Volkswagen pulled the plug on the non-GTI Golf after nearly fifty years in the U.S., and while we are not getting the Clubsport 45 we will happily relish all the greatness of the Volkswagen GTI until the arrival of the 315-horsepower Golf R.

The post Volkswagen Turns Up the Golf GTI Clubsport to 45 appeared first on MotorTrend.

Road Trip! Our 2020 Subaru Outback Heads to Utah for a Top Gear America Shoot

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 7:00am

When you’re heading to Park City, Utah, and a hotel set amongst mountains and ski lifts, you need all-weather traction, ground clearance, and a sense of invincibility. So my own BMW X7 xDrive40i should be perfect. Well, it should be… but getting winter tires in the 22-inch X7 fitment at the end of the winter season proved impossible. However, thanks to our good friends at Tire Rack, MotorTrend’s long-term Subaru Outback test car was quickly outfitted with a new set of Michelin X-Ice Snows and I was heading northeast toward Park City.

The Outback is very definitely meant for a different audience than the X7 in size, in status, in price, and in luxury. And yet almost immediately I got along with Subaru’s SUV-like wagon perfectly. The ride is a little noisy on the extreme winter tires but could scarcely be more comfortable. The CVT automatic is as objectionable as all CVT gearboxes are (i.e., very) but the turbocharged flat-four delivers plenty of power and just enough character to remind you of its unusual configuration, and more than anything the Outback feels comfortable in its own skin. In a world where heavyweight SUVs are always desperately trying to fool you into thinking they’re sporty, the Outback’s utility, ease of use, and easygoing dynamics are refreshing and compelling. It’s certainly a more immediately intuitive car to gently ease along the highway than the X7.

In the snow it’s even better. In fact, it’s hard to believe quite how much grip and traction the Michelins and the Subaru’s AWD system grant the driver. For normal driving in teeming snow on heavily trafficked routes, that means a real sense of confidence. Later, on some remote tracks and access roads, I had loads of fun with the traction control off and the flat-four working at maximum effort to swing the tail around like an old Impreza WRC car. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the Outback really does thrive in the snow. Hardly the last word in precision and sharpness, it nevertheless remains consistent and lovely and adjustable under power.

As the Outback was my workhorse for a Top Gear America shoot it had to handle quite a few disciplines. The day after the fun in the deep snow it served as the pool car for familiarization laps of Utah Motorsports Campus, near Salt Lake City. The tires—wildly unsuitable for track driving—howled in protest, the engine was pinned at peak power by the CVT, and the stability control would not fully disengage to allow the car to slide fluently, and yet the Outback was a hoot.

I won’t pretend it’s a track car by any means, but the brakes survived and it gamely ate up corner curbing and resisted understeer pretty heroically for a car that probably never saw a racetrack in its entire development cycle. In short, the Subaru Outback did everything I asked of it, no matter how extreme, and felt like it might run for 1,000 years.

More on Our Long-Term 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT:

The post Road Trip! Our 2020 Subaru Outback Heads to Utah for a Top Gear America Shoot appeared first on MotorTrend.

2020 Kia Soul Yearlong Review: The Verdict

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 6:30pm

Lost in the hoopla of awarding the Chevrolet Corvette MotorTrend‘s 2020 Car of the Year was that one of the other podium finishers was the Kia Soul. Although the Soul’s status might come as a surprise to some, those who have been paying attention to the vehicle’s progress through each generation know Kia has been hard at work refining it into a best-in-class vehicle.

This studious effort by Kia became even more apparent after spending over a year with a Soul in our test fleet. It’s more apparent than ever that the Soul is a well-built, spacious, comfortable hatchback that cleverly walks the fence between car and SUV, all the while providing an engaging driving experience. In fact, the Soul sits at No. 2 on our vehicle ranking list of best subcompact SUVs, just below the Subaru Crosstrek. (The Soul straddles the dividing line between hatchback and SUV, and we’ve wavered on where to put it based on EPA classifications, Kia’s own labels, and common sense.)

Our long-term Kia Soul EX served the majority of its time with us during pandemic lockdowns, yet we still managed to clock more than 17,000 miles on its odometer. The Soul proved a trusty errand runner through the notoriously frustrating traffic and pock-marked streets of Los Angeles, and it served as a weekend family runabout to the beach and mountains. It even did some long-distance highway hauling in the hands of Top Gear America executive producer, Levi Rugg, as he visited filming sets in various far-off places. After his trips to remote filming locations in Arizona and Nevada, he said the Soul was perfectly suitable for 400-plus-mile drives and never hesitated to blow icy A/C even when Arizona’s temperatures exceeded 110 degrees Fahrenheit. He also enjoyed interacting with the 10.3-inch infotainment screen but wished he could dim it separately from the rest of the dash lighting.

Soul Full of Style

The Soul has always been known for its upright, boxy sheetmetal, but this latest version features more mature, refined styling that, when viewed from the side profile, is reminiscent of the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. The thin, wraparound headlights and tapered all-black daylight opening seen in the profile have helped the Soul evolve into a more handsome vehicle—distancing itself from its nerdy, cute-ute origins. This current Soul is a far cry from the econobox first generation that made its debut in 2010.

Practicality is a Soul strong point, and one need not dig deep to discover the many cleverly designed parts that make the Soul so easy to operate. The key fob features a lock button that sits at a different angle than the other buttons, making it easy to lock the car by feel alone. The non-power-assisted liftgate is light and easy to open or shut with just one hand. The boosted steering makes parallel parking maneuvers and low-speed parking lot drills easy to execute, and at super-slow speeds, you can turn the steering wheel with just the palm of your hand. The manual parking brake lever, found between the front seats, is rare among new cars, and unlike electric parking brakes, you never have to wonder whether it’s set. Lastly, two struts keep the hood open, negating the need for a wiggly prop when you need to access the engine bay.

The Soul visited the dealership twice during its time in our fleet. Both visits were for manufacturer-recommended maintenance, which included the familiar oil and filter change, tire rotation, and multipoint inspection. During the second visit at 15,000 miles, the cabin air filter was also replaced for a charge of $60.

Soul Mate

Despite its quirky, utilitarian appearance, the Soul consistently proved fun to drive and handled better than expected. Capable steering complements a competent chassis and encourages precise lane changes, zippy on-ramp speeds, and the occasional detour to a local curvy road for kicks and giggles. Suffice to say the Soul doesn’t need to handle as well as it does, yet its overall composure and agility are a welcome addition that adds an endearing level of enjoyment to the driving experience.

2020 Soul EX models—like our long-term car—come standard with 17-inch wheels, but we opted instead for 18-inch wheels with low-ish-profile tires. The short sidewalls have an adverse effect on ride comfort and cabin noise and we often wondered whether the available smaller wheel/tire combination would make for a better, more livable choice in terms of ride quality. We even contemplated how much better the ride could be by swapping on a set of 16-inch wheels and tires from the lower-spec Soul S. L.A.’s freeways are smooth and flat, but many of its potholed residential roads appear carpet-bombed, and the low-profile tires showed no forgiveness on those. Of course, downsizing the wheels and tires would likely diminish the aforementioned handling, but it might be a trade worth taking. The good news is that those 16-inch wheels are also offered with attractively styled wheels.

Overall, the Soul’s 147 hp 2.0-liter I-4, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that rarely reminds you it’s a CVT, helpful sightlines for parking, and great ingress and egress all contribute to a vehicle that eases the tasks of everyday life. This third-generation Soul proved its appeal via practicality, personality, and surprising driving dynamics. Combine all that with unique sheetmetal, and the Soul is evidence one need not spend a fortune to drive something distinctive.

Read more about our long-term 2020 Kia Soul EX test vehicle: POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2020 Kia Soul EX DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD ENGINE TYPE I-4, alum block/head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 122.0 cu in/1,999 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 12.5:1 POWER (SAE NET) 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm REDLINE 6,750 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 20.3 lb/hp TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 5.72:1/2.20:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs STEERING RATIO 13.3:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.4 BRAKES, F; R 11.0-in vented disc; 10.3-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum TIRES 235/45R18 94Y M+S Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2 DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 102.4 in TRACK, F/R 62.0/62.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 165.2 x 70.9 x 63.0 in TURNING CIRCLE 34.8 ft CURB WEIGHT 2,981 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 61/39% SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 39.4/39.5 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.1/38.8 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.5/54.7 in CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 62.1/23.4 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 3.2 sec 0-40 4.6 0-50 6.4 0-60 8.6 0-70 11.5 0-80 15.2 0-90 19.8 0-100  — PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.5 QUARTER MILE 16.7 sec @ 83.8 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 116 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,750 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $23,685 PRICE AS TESTED $25,755 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 yrs/100,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 14.3 gal REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 23.5/36.2/27.9 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 27/33/30 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 125/102 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.66 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular Our Car SERVICE LIFE 14 mo / 17,485 mi BASE PRICE $23,685 OPTIONS EX Designer Collection ($1,500: 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, leatherette seats), Platinum Gold paint ($345), carpeted floor mats ($130), cargo tray ($95) PRICE AS TESTED $25,755 AVG ECON/CO2 26.4 mpg / 0.73 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS None MAINTENANCE COST $198.19 (2- oil change, inspection, tire rotation; 1- in-cabin air filter) NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $17,700 (69%) RECALLS None *IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years

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2022 Honda Civic Sedan Fuel Economy Inches Up, Tops 40 MPG

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 5:30pm

Honda has released early estimates on fuel economy for its all-new Civic sedan lineup. The mild increase in the four-door Civic‘s miles per gallon (mpg) will likely not have a substantial impact on customers’ savings at the fuel pump, but improved fuel efficiency is an improvement nonetheless.

2022 Civic 2.0L Fuel Economy

The 2022 Civic sedan is available with two engines. Beginning with the base model Honda Civic LX, which is powered by a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder rated at 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque, the city, highway, and combined mpg figures rise by 1, 2, and 2 mpg to 31/40/35 mpg.

Opt for the Civic Sport trim equipped with the same 2.0-liter engine, and those figures drop slightly to  30/37/33 mpg. The Sport’s efficiency only rises by 1 mpg in the city and on the combined rating relative to its direct predecessor.

2022 Civic 1.5L Turbo Fuel Economy

Move up the Civic ladder to the Civic EX nabs the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. As with the 2.0-liter engine, this turbo carries over from the previous-generation model, albeit with some extra oomph. Even so, Honda estimates the turbo’s fuel economy at 33 city, 42 highway, and 36 mpg combined, an increase of  1 mpg in the city. The top-of-the-line Civic Touring also is fitted with the 1.5-liter turbo, but its ratings drop to 31/38/34 mpg, though it enjoys the exact same mpg improvement over its predecessor as the Sport model does.

Based on these early estimates, the 2022 Honda Civic LX promises to deliver the best fuel economy. The LX, Sport, EX, and Touring all come equipped with a continuously variable transmission, which Honda revised to improve fuel efficiency for the 2022 model year, and all enjoy small bumps in their mpg figures as a result. Want a stick-shift 2022 Civic? You’ll need to wait for the upcoming hatchback model, as well as the sportier Si and Type R variants.

2022 Honda Civic Sedan Fuel Economy (city/hwy/comb.)
  • Civic LX 2.0L: 31/40/35 mpg
  • Civic Sport 2.0L: 30/37/33 mpg
  • Civic EX 1.5L Turbo: 33/42/36 mpg
  • Civic Touring 1.5L Turbo: 31/38/34 mpg

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Stick It Out: 11th-Gen Civic Si, Type R, and Hatch Set to Get Manual Gearbox

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 3:15pm

Believe it or not, a new Honda Civic is a very big deal. Over the last 50 years, Honda has sold millions of Civics and the 10th-generation was arguably the best of the lot. Efficient, great to drive, and offered with a number of trims (some of which came with a manual box), it was a truly driver-focused compact car. Luckily for those of us who enjoy driving, it looks like the 11th-generation is simply picking up where its predecessor left off.

The Civic sedan will no longer be offered with a manual—regardless of trim or engine option. A revised version of the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) found in the outgoing Civic will serve as the only transmission option if you want a Civic in this traditional three-box body style. However, if you decide to spring for the forthcoming Civic hatch, you’ll likely also get the option of a six-speed manual gearbox.

Like the Civic hatch that came before it, the 11th-generation model will likely offer a stick shift with the Sport trim, which will likely continue to include the compact car’s available 180-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter I-4. This might not seem like a lot of grunt, but consider the last Civic hatch we tested weighed in at a svelte 2,937 pounds—that’s a solid power-to-weight ratio, and we suspect the new hatch won’t weigh much more than the old one.

If you need even more spunk, then you might want to hold out for the 11th-gen Civic Si sedan and Type R trims. With those high-performance compacts lurking ever closer, and the eventual Civic hatch with a manual surely just a few corners away, we’re more than pleased to report that Honda is still serving enthusiasts. Now, Honda, give us those manuals.

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Jeep Wrangler 4xe PHEV Gets 2.0-Inch Lift Kit and More From JPP

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 2:10pm

What’s a Jeep Wrangler without plentiful accessories? While Jeep Performance Parts (JPP)—created in 2012 and offered through Mopar—has hundreds of heavily tested factory-backed parts, accessories, and products for the entire Wrangler model line, it recently announced two new products specific to the plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid Wrangler 4xe, which offers an electric driving range of up to 21 miles before its turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 needs to come into play.

The first 4xe-specific addition is a Jeep Performance Parts 2.0-inch lift kit. Why does the 4xe necessitate its own 2.0-inch lift when JPP already has such a kit for the Wrangler? We figure it’s because of the added weight of the 4xe’s electric bits (battery pack, motors, wiring) that add at least 500 pounds to the SUV’s curb weight. The JPP lift kit—technically an industry-first for a plug-in hybrid—includes four springs, four Fox shocks, front lower control arms, front and rear stabilizer links, front and rear bump stops, and all the necessary hardware to fit it to your Wrangler 4xe. It all comes bundled neatly in a neat JPP wooden crate that can hang around the homestead for years to come. The kit runs about $1,495.

The second 4xe-specific product is a 240-volt electric charger for at-home use. This Level 2 home charger, available in hardwired or plug-in versions, will charge the Wrangler 4xe’s battery pack more than five times faster (about 2 hours instead of 12 hours) than the 120-volt cord that comes with the plug-in hybrid SUV. This means 4xe owners will have more time for adventuring and less time spent waiting for their SUV’s battery to charge. The 25-foot charging cable nestles nicely inside the wall unit. Since the important parts are sealed, it’s safe for outdoor installation, too. It’s made in America and backed by a three-year warranty. Customers can choose from Mopar or Jeep branding, depending on preference. The hardwired charger costs $621.50, and the plug-in version runs $647.90.

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The Volkswagen ID6 Is the VW Atlas of EVs

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 1:10pm

The ID4 is Volkswagen’s first crack at a battery-electric SUV. It’s reasonably spacious, comfortable, easy to live with, and packs a decent driving range, too. But some families need an SUV that can seat more than just five. Meet the ID6, the ID4’s bigger sibling.

VW recently revealed the ID6 for the Chinese market. Alas, the brand’s keeping mum on whether it’s going to sell the ID6 in the United States. Nevertheless, we think it makes a lot of sense for VW to bring the ID6 to our shores. For starters, Americans love SUVs. Plus, there’s the fact that VW wants to expand its market share in the U.S. In other words, the ID6 seems made for our market.

The ID6 is built on the now-familiar MEB platform. In China, the three-row EV will be sold in two different variants: the ID6 and the ID6 Crozz. Casting a shadow 11.6 inches longer than that of the ID4, the ID6 features seating for seven—two more than the ID4. It also features the larger 12.0-inch infotainment setup that’s optional on the compact ID4. As you’d expect, the ID6 also comes with VW’s suite of driver assist technology (IQ Drive in Volkswagen speak).

VW will offer two battery pack options for both ID6 models: a smaller 58-kWh unit and an available 77-kWh pack, the latter of which afford the ID6 a claimed NEDC-rated driving range of up to 365 miles. The NEDC cycle is typically more liberal than that of the EPA’s. As such, we’d guess a U.S.-spec ID6 might sport an EPA-rated driving range closer to 300 miles.

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Aston Martin DB6 Sells for Over $250K After Collecting Dust for 30 Years

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 12:05pm

It turns out some of the coolest classic cars aren’t just hidden in barns. Take this 1970 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage that spent approximately three decades sitting in a garage and sold for approximately $258,000 at RM Sotheby’s online-only Open Roads, April auction.

Despite its somewhat ragged condition, this DB6 still retains its original engine and red-over-black exterior and interior color combination. The powerplant parked under this car’s hood is no ordinary DB6 unit, either. This DB6 is reportedly one of just 71 factory-built Vantage models, which turned up the wick on the sports car’s 4.0-liter I-6 engine, boosting power from 282 hp to 325. And that’s on top of the fact this particular DB6 is a later Mk II model, which means its five-speed gearbox benefits from a heftier clutch and its three-spoke steering wheel connects to a standard power-assist setup.

Admittedly, this tired-looking DB6 is not pretty. But remove the dirt, dust, and grime spattered about its body and interior, and this classic Aston might just be one of the most original DB6 Vantages out there. That alone arguably justifies dropping more than a quarter-million dollars to own it.

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How the 2021 Volkswagen ID4 AWD Will Differ From the Euro GTX

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 11:01am

Volkswagen is trying to move on from its controversial past and bet its future on electric vehicles for the masses. It started with the Volkswagen ID3 hatchback for the European market, followed by the slightly larger 2021 Volkswagen ID4 SUV better suited for North America.

Now that we’ve gotten our first look at the all-wheel-drive 2021 Volkswagen ID4 GTX, launching this summer for Europe, we also have some clarity on the upcoming ID4 AWD for the U.S. market.

VW GTX Performance Sub-Brand Name Is for Europe Only

Adding a model with AWD and performance is a logical next step for the ID family, Volkswagen Brand’s R&D Board Member Thomas said in a roundtable with media. It is the first model of the new performance-oriented GTX sub-brand in Europe—reviving the GTX name for electric vehicles, with styling cues that future GTX models will adopt. And it is the first all-wheel-drive model in the ID family of electric vehicles. The ID family will continue to grow with the larger ID6 shown at the Shanghai auto show and an ID5 in the works.

The GTX augments the rear permanently excited synchronous motor with a second asynchronous motor up front to offer all-wheel drive and greater performance. An intelligent control system decides where the torque is distributed, tapping the front motor when needed. Horsepower goes from 201 to 295, and top speed increases from 99 mph to a capped 112 mph.

The GTX name will not be used in North America, where it is simply the 2021 VW ID4 AWD. The specs of the ID4 AWD are largely the same as the ID4 GTX, Ulbrich told us.

2021 VW ID4 AWD Coming to U.S. This Fall

The ID4 with AWD will be available in the U.S. this fall on both the Pro and Pro S trim levels, and Volkswagen already has received orders. One difference: the U.S. does not get Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), which pairs control of the electronically adjustable adaptive dampers with drive mode. Ulbrich says the North American version will be tuned to be as dynamic as its European counterpart, but the marketing emphasis will be on its all-wheel-drive capabilities, more so than on its performance.

The ID4 GTX is expected to do 0-62 mph in 6.2 seconds, VW officials claim. On our first drive of the 2021 VW ID4, albeit a prototype, we found the small electric vehicle to be impressive. And when we tested the 2021 Volkswagen ID4, it hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds.

2021 VW ID4 AWD Pricing and Range

The 201-hp, 229-lb-ft ID4 starts at $41,490 and has a range of 250 miles. Adding AWD ups the starting price on the base model by $3,680 to $45,170. Pro S AWD starts at $49,370.The ID4 GTX has an estimated range of 298 miles on the European WLTP test cycle, and comparing apples to apples, the regular ID4 has a range of 323 miles per WLTP. So, while we don’t have an EPA rating for the AWD model, it will be slightly less given its increased weight.

More Electric Vehicle Platforms to Come for VW

Volkswagen is on tear with plans to introduce 20 EVs through 2025 as it attempts to erase memories of its diesel scandal. Many of the forthcoming vehicles use VW’s MEB architecture, meaning they were styled from the ground up as electric vehicles. And Ulbrich says the ID4 will be profitable by the end of its lifecycle.

The Volkswagen Group also has the PPE platform for luxury and larger electric vehicles, such as the Audi A6 E-Tron. The automaker is also already working on an electric platform called SSP (Scalable Systems Platform) that will bring increased range and advanced tech. The SSP platform will eventually replace many of the vehicles on the current electric platforms, including the vehicle currently known as Project Trinity. But we can expect a mix of cars and crossovers, starting with a sedan for Audi expected to be unveiled in 2024.

VW hopes to offer vehicles with a range of about 435 miles in the next two or three years, Ulbrich says. The automaker is working on improving existing technology but also solid-state battery cells with the potential for greater range.

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It’s Gettin’ Chippy Out There: Ford’s Semiconductor Shortage Worsens

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 9:57am

A pandemic couldn’t stop the onslaught of electric vehicles coming—in some cases the crisis accelerated it. But that’s not the only headline-grabbing “disruption” in the auto industry. No, the real disruptor these days is the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage—and the prognosis is not good, which can mean customers will be waiting even longer for hot new products.

The computer chip shortage and its impact on production will get worse before it gets better, Ford CEO Jim Farley told investors on a call to discuss the company’s first-quarter earnings.

A few months ago, Ford executives thought the shortage (which is forcing automakers around the world to temporarily stop making vehicles) would be on the rebound within months and lost production would be made up in the second half of the year. Partially finished vehicles on lots awaiting chips to install missing components would be completed and delivered to waiting customers during a time of tight inventories. Everything would work out.


Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better

Nope. “There are more whitewater moments ahead for us that we have to navigate,” Farley says. The second quarter will be even worse than the first and Ford could lose 700,000 units of production or half what normally would be built. That is on top of the 22,000 partially finished vehicles that can’t be delivered to waiting customers. Even the second half of the year will likely see a 10-percent reduction in output. The shortage could cost $2.5 billion, the loss of 1.1 million vehicles—up from early projections of as little as 200,000—and the fear is it will stretch into 2022.

The timing is bad: Farley says Ford’s lineup has never been hotter. “It feels like we’ll be chasing demand for quite some time,” the CEO says, and then gave a litany of vehicles he says are sold out, including the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, the 2021 Ford Bronco, the updated Ford F-150, and the Ford Super Duty pickup trucks. We won’t take him completely literally, but we get the point: inventory is tight.

Japanese Chip Supplier Rebounding After Fire

There is some hope on the horizon for those anxious to get a Mach-E or on a waiting list for a Bronco (which has been delayed). The global shortage was exacerbated by a fire in March at Renesas Electronics, a supplier in Japan, which makes two-thirds of the chips that go into Ford vehicles via about nine key suppliers. A single vehicle could have hundreds of semiconductors which are used in everything from power steering, brakes and driver assistance systems to infotainment setups. But Renesas is expected to be back to full production by July.

And Ford executives have realized they cannot take supply of critical items such as chips, silicon and battery cells for granted. More vital components and systems need to be brought in-house instead of relying on the supply chain. This week Ford said it was establishing a battery cell research and development center as a step to manufacturing its own batteries for electric vehicles.

Ford’s Over-The-Air Updates

On a more positive note, Ford did its first major over-the-air update for Mach-E and F-150 customers, and later this year some customers will get an OTA update to activate BlueCruise, Ford’s Level 2 hands-free driving-assist system, that is coming for Mach-E and F-150 models with the Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package.

And the executive team has no intention of hitting the brake pedal when it comes to electric vehicles. Ford plans to invest $29 billion toward electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025 with $22 billion of that earmarked for EVs. General Motors is spending $29 billion to launch 30 new EVs globally by the end of 2025.

Excellent First Quarter Earnings for Ford

The distressing chip situation was not enough to dampen Ford’s best first quarter since 2011. The automaker earned $3.3 billion in the first three months of the year on revenue of $36.2 billion. Double-digit profit margins, a second strong quarter in Europe, and Lincoln’s profits in China all contributed. Average transaction prices are $1,900 above the industry average, says chief financial officer John Lawler.

But the chip shortage could lower total earnings for 2021 by $2.5 billion.

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2021 VW ID4 vs. Honda CR-V Hybrid Comparison Test: Close Fight

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 8:00am

Our choice of vehicles for this SUV comparison test is bound to raise eyebrows. Shouldn’t we compare the new battery-powered 2021 Volkswagen ID4 with another electric car? That’s how our industry has been doing things, but the time is rapidly approaching when Jane and John Consumer will routinely consider electric as an alternative to internal combustion power. It’s time to start treating electric vehicles like mainstream cars, so let’s compare the ID4 with one of the best eco-friendly crossovers on the market, the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid.

Why the Honda? Well, the ID4 is nearly identical to the CR-V Hybrid in dimensions, performance, and—for the moment, at least—price. The limited-run ID4 1st Edition trim is basically the top-of-the-line Pro S with the optional Gradient package, plus some unique trim and a $2,000 discount. Factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit, and our tester prices out to $37,960—just $40 more than the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring with optional Platinum White Pearl paint.

Besides, the ID4 might not compare well against some of the flashier EVs on the market because it doesn’t have the spleen-flattening acceleration, bladder-busting range, or reimagined interior of a dual-motor Tesla. (That stuff is coming.) Yes, the ID4 is futuristic, but it’s not just an expensive toy for well-heeled techno-mavens. The ID4 is meant to be a day-in-day-out eco-friendly utility vehicle, just like the CR-V Hybrid.

Electric VW vs. Electrified Honda

As we write this, only 2 percent of Americans drive electric cars, so we’re going to ask the remaining 98 percent to take a couple of things as read. First, let’s pretend range anxiety doesn’t exist. The ID4’s 250-mile range (its EPA-rated figure and, based on our experience, a reliable real-world number) is barely half of what the Honda can do, but remember EV owners can plug in at night and have a full “tank” every morning. Long-distance travel in an electric car is now a possibility, if an inconvenient one.

Once you get over that one basic difference—plug versus pump—the ID4 and CR-V start to overlap in more ways than you might imagine. And picking the best between them proved difficult. Executive summary: The Honda is a bit more utilitarian and practical, and the Volkswagen is a bit more futuristic and fun.

Styling, Outside and In

Kudos to VW for designing its vehicle of the future accordingly. The ID4’s clean styling, with its flush door handles and low stance, makes the CR-V look downright dowdy. Inside, the ID4 doubles down on its car-of-the-future vibe. In place of the staid and sensible gauges VW has used for years, the ID4 has a small pod attached to its steering wheel that houses a minimalist instrument panel, with speed, range, adaptive cruise status, and next-turn directions displayed on a small screen. Attached to it like Van Gogh’s remaining ear is the shifter: Twist for drive or reverse, press the button for park. At center-dash is the infotainment and climate screen. There’s a small button on the steering column marked “Engine Start” (old habits die hard, apparently), but in normal operation you’ll never use it; with the key fob on your person, you unlock the ID4 by squeezing the door handle and start it by getting in and stepping on the brake. Putting the car in park and getting out shuts it off.

By comparison, the CR-V’s interior seems almost quaint, its faux wood trim a throwback to the 2020s. The Honda’s digital instrument cluster looks massive compared to the VW’s. Not that we disliked it; after the VW’s sci-fi interior, it was nice to get back to the period-piece Honda and find all the controls more or less where we expect them. Aside from its perennially annoying touchscreen stereo, the CR-V is as user-friendly as can be.

Powertrains Compared

The driving experience is remarkably similar. EVs feel very different to drive than typical internal combustion vehicles, but the CR-V Hybrid is not typical. Honda’s EarthDreams hybrid system uses an engine to generate electricity (with a small battery buffer) and an electric motor to drive the wheels. The engine seamlessly connects to drive the wheels directly under certain steady-state or light acceleration conditions above 40 mph. This all means the CR-V Hybrid delivers the same smooth, linear, shift-free acceleration as the ID4.

Regenerative braking is another interesting similarity. The Honda uses steering wheel paddles to select up to four levels of regen, making it easy to control your speed (and juice up the battery) on long downhill drives. The ID4 has a single “B” mode that, despite our predictions of inadequacy, was the Goldilocks setting, slowing the car significantly but never jarringly. In fact, it required barely any conscious adaptation on our part.

You won’t feel the Honda’s engine, but you’ll sure as hell hear it. The engine either drones or moans, and if you should ask the CR-V Hybrid to do anything extraordinarily challenging—like, say, drive up a hill—the 2.0-liter screams as if it’s being tortured. A fast run through curvy roads had us clamoring for the ID4’s relative silence. We say “relative” because the ID4, like the Honda, admits plenty of wind noise at highway speeds. Stranger still is how much sound the ID4 driver hears from surrounding cars, ambient noise the Honda’s shouty engine drowns out.

Neither car is particularly quick. The ID4 we drove features a single 201-hp motor mounted to the rear axle, and our test team clocked it to 60 in 7.4 seconds, a perfectly fine performance for an everyday SUV. Despite having slightly more power and 939 fewer pounds to haul around, the CR-V trailed the Volkswagen to 60 by 0.1 second. EVs often feel like they run out of steam at higher speeds, but here it was the CR-V that struggled with top-end acceleration. Passing on a two-laner feels dicier in the CR-V than in the ID4.

Still, both powertrains delivered on their promises: If we kept to the speed limits at all times, the ID4 would exceed its 250-mile range, and the CR-V would come respectably close to its 38-mpg EPA combined rating.

How They Drive

Both crossovers ride relatively comfortably on smooth asphalt but start bouncing around on bumpy roads. The CR-V has a not entirely unpleasant pogo-stick quality while the ID4 jiggles its passengers at an accelerated frequency, which we assume is a result of stiff shocks trying to control the inertia of the heavy battery pack under the car’s floor.

That heavy battery proved to be both boon and bane on our twisty mountain test route. The ID4 feels like the sports car of this duo, with strong grip and magnificent stability thanks to its low center of gravity. But with weight comes inertia, and one particularly nasty mid-corner bump sent the ID4 into oscillations its dampers had trouble reining in. The less-capable Honda sailed through the same corner with far less drama.

We had hoped that the ID4’s rear-drive layout would allow for a little tail-out action (because isn’t that what every family wants from their crossover?), and while we could feel the chassis trying to rotate, the stability control wouldn’t let it—and there’s no way to shut the system off. Still, on broad, fast curves, the ID4 feels steady and confident, just what we expect from a German car.

With notably lower levels of power and grip, the CR-V Hybrid struggled (and ultimately failed) to close the gap between itself and the rapidly disappearing Volkswagen. Though body lean is well controlled, there is quite a bit of vertical body travel, which makes for some rather interesting moments when one side of the road rises and the other falls. Our knuckles may have been a bit paler than usual on some of the trickier bits of road.

That said, despite its bouncy ride and limited grip, the Honda displays an underlying competence. Some CUVs cover their eyes and surrender to understeer when driven too fast, but the CR-V Hybrid tries its hardest with the limited resources it has. Driving it fast was its own perverse sort of pleasure, the kind of rule-breaking satisfaction one gets when cutting class or sneaking into a second movie

Let’s Talk Practicality

We’ll assume most sport-utility buyers care more about utility than sport, and here is where the Honda has an edge. Passenger ingress is marginally easier; the VW may look lower to the ground, but that big battery pack raises the floor to a similar height as the CR-V’s. Both back seats are comfortable, but the Honda feels a little more spacious, with 2.8 inches more legroom plus toe space under the front seats that the ID4 lacks. But for those who get claustrophobic, the ID4’s panoramic glass roof provides more relief than the Honda’s small single-pane sunroof.

The CR-V’s cargo bay at first glance looks like an airplane hangar compared to the ID4’s trunk, but break out the tape measure (which you do all the time, right?), and you’ll find the ID4’s cargo opening is about the same height and slightly wider. The ID4 conceals some of its cargo space under a removable false floor, which provides a flat surface when the seats are folded down, but the VW’s rakish roof is the real problem—the CR-V’s closer-to-vertical tailgate provides more space. The Honda’s load floor is lower, as well, and we like the handles that let you drop the rear seatbacks from inside the cargo bay.

We must talk about stereos. The Volkswagen’s infotainment system is designed to work like a tablet, and although it can be confusing at first, it’s fairly straightforward to use once you understand its logic. The touchscreen also handles climate controls, adding a layer of complication over the CR-V, but the Honda’s stereo and navigation system still frustrates us. It takes several button presses to move between common functions, and the voice recognition system strikes us as both patronizing and deliberately obtuse. Sound quality from the Honda’s stereo was better, though, particularly at higher volumes.

The Winner, but Only by a Smidge

The object of our comparison tests is to pick a definitive winner, and here we struggle, not because the Volkswagen ID4 and Honda CR-V Hybrid are so different but because they are so similar. We were surprised to learn these two divergent SUVs have so many strengths (and a few weaknesses) in common.

The ID4 looks better looking and is more fun to drive, but its rear-drive layout is a potential detriment to those who live where it rains and snows. That fact, plus the CR-V’s roomier back seat and upright cargo bay—and the fact that it delivers all-wheel drive for the price of the RWD VW—makes the Honda the winner in this comparison test, by the narrowest of margins. VW was able to create an electric SUV nearly as good as, and in many ways better than, one of the best gasoline-fueled SUVs on the market, which is an impressive feat. The ID4 has what it takes to go up against conventional SUVs, right out of the gate.

Volkswagen ID4 Pros:
  • Futuristic, functional cabin
  • Everyday practicality
  • Delivers the dynamics we expect from VW
Volkswagen ID4 Cons:
  • Busy ride on rough roads
  • Rear-wheel drive hobbles it in the snow
  • Intimidating stereo
Honda CR-V Pros:
  • Remarkable fuel economy for an SUV
  • Generous back seat and cargo space
  • Enjoyable to drive fast in its own strange way
Honda CR-V Cons:
  • Noisy engine
  • Apathetic acceleration
  • Difficult-to-navigate infotainment system
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring AWD 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Rear-motor, RWD ENGINE TYPE I-4, alum block/head, plus AC permanent-magnet electric motor AC permanent-magnet electric motor VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl NA DISPLACEMENT 121.6 cu in/1,993 cc NA COMPRESSION RATIO 13.5:1 NA POWER (SAE NET) 143 hp @ 6,200 rpm (gas)/181 hp (elec)/212 hp (comb) 201 hp TORQUE (SAE NET) 129 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm (gas)/232 lb-ft (elec) 229 lb-ft REDLINE Not indicated Not indicated WEIGHT TO POWER 17.5 lb/hp 23.2 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic 1-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.89:1/9.55:1 (elec), 3.13:1 (gas, 40-45 mph+) 4.39:1/12.99:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 12.3:1 15.9:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.3 3.3 BRAKES, F; R 12.6-in vented disc; 12.2-in disc, ABS 13.4-in vented disc; 11.0-in drum, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 19-in cast aluminum 8.0 x 20-in; 9.0 x 20-in, cast aluminum TIRES 235/55R19 101H (M+S) Continental CrossContact LX Sport 235/50R20 104T; 255/45R20 105T Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S (M+S) DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 104.7 in 108.9 in TRACK, F/R 62.9/63.5 in 62.5/61.6 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.1 x 73.0 x 66.5 in 180.5 x 72.9 x 64.4 in GROUND CLEARANCE 8.2 in 7.2 in (mfr est) APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 18.9/26.0 deg 17.5/21.2 deg TURNING CIRCLE 37.4 ft 33.6 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,720 lb 4,659 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 58/42% 47/53% TOWING CAPACITY Not recommended 2,200 lb SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 38.0/39.1 in 41.1/38.4 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.3/40.4 in 41.4/37.6 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.9/55.6 in 57.5/55.9 in CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 68.7/33.2 cu ft 64.2/30.3 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.9 sec 2.6 sec 0-40 4.1 3.8 0-50 5.6 5.4 0-60 7.5 7.4 0-70 10.0 10.0 0-80 13.4 13.3 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.9 4.0 QUARTER MILE 16.0 sec @ 86.3 mph 15.9 sec @ 86.3 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 115 ft 119 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.81 g (avg) 0.83 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.0 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) 27.4 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $37,525 $45,190* PRICE AS TESTED $37,920 $45,190* AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles BATTERY WARRANTY 8 yrs/100,000 miles (includes hybrid sys) 8 yrs/100,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 14.0 gal + 1.4 kWh 77 kWh EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 40/35/38 mpg 104/89/97 mpg-e EPA EST RANGE 532 miles 250 miles ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 84/96 kW-hrs/100 miles 32/38 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.52 lb/mile 0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle) RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular 240-volt electricity *Before applicable federal and local tax credits.

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2022 Honda Civic Sedan Interior Review: The Civic Goes Understated

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 9:15pm

If it wasn’t painfully obvious from our glowing breakdown of the all-new 2022 Honda Civic, we’re stoked about Honda’s new compact superstar. The 11th-generation Civic’s conscious stylistic shift away from the origami edges of the outgoing car to this new, sleekened profile is a welcome move, particularly on the inside. We crawled around in the new Civic as part of the debut proceedings, and we reckon the fresh threads will be one of the redesigned car’s strongest selling points; based on how fabulous the outgoing car was to drive, that’s saying a lot. Here’s what to expect when you get your first in-person peek of the cabin.

We suspect ardent Honda nerds may find the new horizontal, pared-down environment vaguely familiar. If you do, good eye—the new cabin pulls inspiration from the stylish and very adorable Honda e (yup, lowercase) subcompact EV hatch that hums around streets abroad. Really, the 2022 Civic’s interior space is a clean blend of the Honda e’s modernist vibe, the outgoing 10th-gen Civic’s populist appeal, and the current Accord’s handsome, reserved lines.

It looks great, but don’t expect any dramatic leaps forward in luxury or materials. The current Civic’s mix of hard- and soft-touch plastics are some of the best in the segment. If you took no umbrage with the current/outgoing car, the new Civic just repackages similar stuff in a more visually appealing package. Our hands-on experience was limited to the mid-level Sport and top-level Touring, and there was little difference in materials between the two aside from the requisite leather-wrapped touchpoints and some textured trim plates. Speaking of trim, one of the standout pieces is the neat hexagonal honeycomb mesh stretching across the center of the dash in an unbroken line. It’s slightly recessed, and looks sharp in person. Aside from the modern visual motif, the grate hides the air-vents, the direction of each controlled by a short joystick positioned at each vent.

The center console is not dramatically different than the prior car, but it appears lower and less intrusive than the 10th-gen Civic’s console, which created a somewhat divided design between driver and passenger. The CVT’s shifter is a carryover, but it’s repositioned closer to the driver on the left side of the console. At least on the Sport and the Touring, a new textured trim plate is premium-ish and fingerprint resistant, ensuring some surfaces won’t look gross-‘n-greasy after only light use.

The HVAC controls sit beneath the honeycomb grille, comprising a set of three backlit knobs for the traditional mode, fan speed, and temperature functions. Beneath that, there’s the requisite storage tray for devices that features Qi wireless charging on the Touring trim. Move back down the center console behind the shifter, and a drive mode selector toggles either Normal or Eco modes on the LX and EX, and an additional Sport mode for the Sport and Touring trims.

The new Civic’s infotainment sees one of the biggest boosts. The standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is sizable and quick to operate, and the same goes for the Touring’s 9.0-inch screen. Rejoice—there are physical knobs for the volume and tuning control regardless of the screen size, so no more awkward touch sliders.

A physical “home” button is present too, as is standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and below each infotainment screen—regardless of size—is a 0.8-inch cushioned ledge that serves as a finger rest, eliminating the need to hold the top of the screen and use your thumb. Audiophiles should also take note of the Civic Touring’s 12-speaker Bose sound system, the first name-brand sound system ever offered in a Civic.

The digitization continues with the driver’s display. On every trim other than Touring, a 7.0-inch color display features a fully digital speedometer and tachometer on the left with the standard suite of data and info scrawl, complimented by a physical speedo on the right. The Touring wears an exclusive—we’re seeing a recurring theme here—all-digital 10.2-inch gauge cluster, the first ever fitted to a Civic.

If you’re familiar with other digital gauge clusters from companies like Audi and Mercedes, navigating the Civic’s will be a breeze. All the familiar hallmarks are there, including a configurable layout between traditional circular gauge displays or a set of tach/speedo bars pushed to the outside. Pertinent infotainment and driver assist info sits in the center, just above a cutesy little easter egg in the form of a virtual Civic sedan; viewed from behind, the tiny Civic’s taillights, headlights, and indicators all activate in tandem with the lighting systems on the actual car.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to poke around the rear seat space, but it appeared to be similarly outfitted to the 10th-generation Civic. We’ll keep an ear to the ground for more in-depth information on what your rear-seat passengers can expect on the subject of device charging and A/C vents, if any.

So, if you’re in the market for a new compact sedan, get excited. From our limited time spent inside the 2022 Honda Civic sedan, we’re highly impressed with the new, modernist design and stylish new trim. Look for more info on the new car’s availability and pricing closer to the car’s production launch later this year.

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2022 Honda Civic Type R: What We Know About the Hot Hatch

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 9:15pm

There’s no denying the current Honda Civic Type R is a tough act to follow. Having won multiple comparison tests and an astonishing 4th–place finish in our 2018 Best Driver’s Car competition, the Type R is a front-drive performance miracle that audaciously takes all comers—no matter the opponents’ specs or price point. So how could the hot hatchback possibly get any better? With the reveal of the 2022 Honda Civic Prototype, we have reason to believe Honda will pull off another performance magic trick with the 11th-gen-Civic-based Type R. Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming 2022 Honda Civic Type R.

2022 Honda Civic Type R: A New Platform

The 11th-generation Honda Civic rides on a new platform evolved from the outgoing Civic’s bones. This new global Civic platform is stiffer than its predecessor, and that extra rigidity will benefit all Civic models—including the Type R. Having a stiffer chassis should raise the performance limits of the upcoming Honda Civic Type R, as a strong basis for the suspension to do its work is critical. The Type R will again be offered as a hatchback only, and along with all other Civic Hatchback models, is currently produced at Honda’s plant in Swindon, U.K., which is set to close in 2021. However, Honda has said hatchback production will be saved and move to its Indiana plant in the U.S.

The 11th-generation Civic is nearly the same size as the outgoing car but has a slightly longer wheelbase and wider rear track. Honda says the standard 2022 Civic will receive suspension upgrades to give it more sophisticated (yet still sporty) ride and handling characteristics. In line with the 2022 Honda Civic Prototype’s more mature overall vibe, we expect the new Civic Type R to grow up slightly as well, possibly offering an even more refined ride. For 2020, the Civic Type R received an upgraded adaptive suspension that can adjust its dampers more than 20 times per second, dramatically improving the car’s ride quality on the street. At the same time, suspension geometry was altered, bushings were stiffened, and ball joints were upgraded with lower-friction parts, resulting in a car with sharper turn-in, less body roll, and more lateral grip—all at no cost to its daily drivability.

2022 Honda Civic Type R: Engine, Transmission, and Specs

Honda has been mum on engine details for the 11th-gen Civic family, but the automaker has committed to offering a six-speed manual transmission on its sporty models, including the hatchback, Si sedan, and Type R. Beyond that, however, we don’t know much about the next-gen Type R’s drivetrain. We’re big fans of the current model’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, which makes 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, so an upgraded version of that engine would be just fine by us. If Honda does go that route and retain the Type R’s front-wheel-drive layout, we think bumping up to 320 hp would be a reasonable increase without overwhelming the front tires.

But there is one rumor that suggests the next Civic Type R could go in a completely different direction. A story from Japanese publication Best Car suggests the new Type R could adopt a hybrid all-wheel-drive system like the one used in the Acura NSX. That kind of hardware would make possible a total output of 400 hp, along with rear-axle torque vectoring. It would also place the Type R in a different performance category and likely raise its price significantly. Honda won’t comment on the report being that it’s pure speculation, and we think a performance hybrid strategy would go against the Type R’s purist ethos as it adds weight and complexity. If anything, we’d bet on the 2022 Honda Civic Type R losing weight—something it can’t do by adding electric motors and an extra battery.

2022 Honda Civic Type R: Styling

Despite how well it drives, there are many who just can’t get behind the Honda Civic Type R simply because of how it looks. The styling of the current car can be described as boy racer-chic, with its large rear wing, vent-laden front and rear bumpers, and bright red Honda badges. Its interior isn’t any more mature, packed with red accents and faux carbon-fiber trim. Aesthetically, the car is busy, to say the least.

To detractors of the outgoing Type R’s looks, we say get over it—or go drive the thing. However, if you’ve been hoping for a subtler approach for the hot hatch’s next iteration, you’re in luck. The 2022 Honda Civic Prototype not only previews the 11th-gen Civic sedan, it also features styling cues that we’ll see on hatchback models, including the Type R. The concept boasts clean lines and a sporty stance without resorting to the huge fake vents and crazed surfacing that afflict even non-Type-R 10th-gen Civics. Inside, the new Civic adopts a similarly toned-down design with a simplified center stack and free-standing central touchscreen. The instrument cluster is also tidier now that it’s all digital. You can expect this more subdued and upscale look to carry over when the 2022 Civic finally gets the Type R treatment.

2022 Honda Civic Type R: Pricing and Availability

The 2022 Honda Civic sedan is set for a late spring 2021 launch. Based on that timing, we could see the hatchback by summer and the Type R as early as next fall. As for pricing, that will depend on which path Honda chooses for the Type R. A hybrid AWD variant could push the model’s price tag well beyond $40,000. If Honda decides to stick with FWD, on the other hand, pricing should increase only slightly, keeping it in the $38,000-40,000 range. That’s the price point where we think the Civic Type R is most strongly positioned, and where it shines as a performance bargain.

Illustrations by Abimelec Arellano

Update: This post was originally published on November 18, 2020.

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GM’s Ultium Charge 360 Aims to Make EV Ownership Easier

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 3:11pm

General Motors wants to make it easier to charge the raft of new electric vehicles it has coming, and Ultium Charge 360 is the umbrella for a number of initiatives it has planned, including apps and services integrated into a growing charging network, which ought to improve the overall EV ownership experience. GM CEO Mary Barra has said from the outset that a seamless customer experience and the elimination of range anxiety are keys to the adoption of electric vehicles.

Charged Up

Ultium Charge 360 aims to improve the at-home and public charging experience, GM’s chief EV officer Travis Hester said. GM is working with third parties to improve its overall charging network, signing agreements with seven major charging providers, including Blink Charging, ChargePoint, EV Connect, EVgo, FLO, Greenlots, and SemaConnect for an easy, ideally single-click experience. The automaker will continue to forge agreements with more providers, too.

The first GM and EVgo sites are live in Washington, California, and Florida, just nine months after a commitment to add more than 2,700 fast chargers by the end of 2025 was first announced. Each site is capable of delivering up to 350 kW and features an average of four chargers per site. GM and EVgo are on track to have approximately 500 fast-charging stalls live by the end of 2021.

Apps to Plug and Play

Apps will help drivers find charging stations and simplify payment. Through their GM vehicle’s mobile app, these EV customers will soon be able to easily see real-time information from nearly 60,000 charging plugs throughout the United States and Canada, find stations along a route, and initiate and pay for charging using an app that links accounts, which will allow customers to simply click a button and start charging.

Hester said GM launched a new app two weeks ago. The company upgraded the interface for 1 million customers who should be able to access new features and capabilities. Over the next 18 months, these users will benefit from a software update every four weeks. Plus, another major upgrade is coming in September.

There are also charging accessories and installation services. GM covers Level 2 home installation with the purchase of a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt or Bolt EUV. There are also products in the works for the 2022 GMC Hummer EV full-size electric pickup truck coming this fall.

EV Specialists at GM Dealerships

GM will also have trained specialists at a number of its dealerships starting this summer. These individuals will help consumers purchase electric vehicles and understand how to use these battery-powered machines.

“This is the start of something significant,” Hester said

The auto industry as a whole is accelerating the push to electric vehicles. GM specifically is spending $27 billion to launch 30 electric vehicles globally by the end of 2025 and has pulled ahead some of its key launches to help meet that deadline. The automaker would like to stop selling new vehicles with combustion engines by 2025 as it transitions to an all-electric fleet of vehicles.

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2021 Aston Martin V12 Speedster Buyers Can and Should Get the Special DBR1 Package

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 2:35pm

Every so often, Aston Martin likes to honor its fantastic Le Mans-winning 1950s DBR1 racer—something that we enthusiastically endorse. The 2021 Aston Martin V12 Speedster is the latest canvas for such deserving DBR1 hero-worship, itself a limited-run of very special V-12-powered cars. The DBR1 specification will be optional for any or all buyers within the ’21 Speedster’s 88-unit run.

The carbon-fiber-bodied Speedster is pretty neat even without the DBR1 fixings. For something without a windshield (and, for that matter, no fancy airflow management tech like the McLaren Elva), it has a lot of firepower. The 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 under its sinister hood pumps out 700 hp and can propel the Aston to 198 mph. Oh, this experience starts at $950,000. Those are serious numbers.

More to the point, the Speedster is already fairly bespoke. It is being built in limited numbers by the company’s Q by Aston Martin service. For the right sum, we’re fairly certain they’ll paint and trim your Speedster however you’d like. But you might, instead, choose the DBR1 specification finished in the iconic and unforgettable Aston Martin Racing Green tone.

The rest of the specification is impressive. The exterior also features white and silver accents, while the interior is done up with Conker saddle leather set off with green textiles. As you might want a helmet in a topless, windshield-less rocket like this, Aston Martin thoughtfully proves two custom green ones, which rest under “transparent windows” in the headrest cowls behind each seat.

Get your order in soon if you want one, in DBR1 spec or not. Aston says deliveries begin mid-year, and since the vehicle spends 50 hours in the paint booth alone, if you’re impatient you may want to have your order in early. How much will the DBR1 specification add to the bottom line? If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it—but daydreaming is thankfully free.

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Volkswagen ID4 GTX First Look: Not a Plymouth, Definitely a Spicier EV

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 1:29pm

The Volkswagen ID4 wants to be an everyday SUV for everyday drivers first, and an electric vehicle second. One thing the ID4 doesn’t have currently that most of its SUV competitors do is all-wheel drive. This changes with the sporty ID4 GTX variant—at least in Europe. While VW has no plans to bring the GTX name to the United States, its latest ID4 trim is said to preview the upcoming U.S.-spec ID4 AWD, which we think will—sadly—ditch some of the GTX’s sporty styling details.

The ID4 you can buy right now relies on a lone 201-hp motor that powers the rear wheels and afford an EPA-rated driving range of 250 miles—a figure we were able to meet or slightly exceed in normal driving during our own testing. For now, however, we Yanks receive nothing like the GTX treatment, which looks inspired by the Golf GTI hot hatch thanks to its sporty accents and redesigned fascias.

Aesthetically, the GTX is set apart by a black roof and rear spoiler, while the “frame bar” (the swoopy, distinct pillar that arcs above the side glass) is done up in anthracite. The “honeycomb” daytime running lights also echo a similar setup on the 2022 Golf GTI. The interior of the GTX takes on a classy look with different material colors for more contrast. This includes red stitching and various panels that are now trimmed in a dark blue shade.

We’re not likely to get any of that on the consumer-grade ID4 AWD, but the mechanical aspects should be similar. The ID4 GTX gets an additional front-axle motor, which works with the rear unit to produce a peak 299 horses in total and go from 0-62 mph time of 6.2 seconds. Our ID4 AWD could, conceivably, be a little slower if a different powertrain calibration is fitted. That said, we’ve already reported the ID4 AWD should deliver 302 hp, so perhaps it will match its overseas cousin in a drag race.

Whatever the numbers, the GTX is being marketed as a performance version of the ID4, unlike what we expect VW to do with the ID4 AWD. That said, perhaps some of the GTX’s unique styling might make it stateside in an R-Line trim. We’ll know more once we have full details on our home-market ID4 AWD. Until then, we can just look on as the ID4 GTX goes on sale in Europe this summer.

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2021 Lincoln Corsair 2.3T AWD Reserve Review: Luxury Over Sportiness

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 12:00pm

There is something to be said about a luxury SUV that is not trying to impress everyone at the expense of its intrinsic nature. As of late, automakers have put a significant degree of effort into making luxury SUVs sportier in the name of appealing to a wide demographic. Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are among the trendsetters of this recent phenomenon. As cool as they may be, a luxury SUV’s main objectives are relaxation, comfort, and luxury, not breaking records at the Nürburgring. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a generous amount of horsepower.)

And then we have the Lincoln Corsair. This compact SUV prioritizes luxury over sportiness and does so with grace.

A 2021 Lincoln Corsair 2.3T AWD Reserve in Flight Blue landed in our short-term test fleet, and we did a deep dive into some of the tech features. The smallest offering in Lincoln’s lineup motivated us to take a spur-of-the-moment drive to the friendly beach town of Coronado Island in San Diego. Along the way, we learned that the Lincoln Corsair has a terrific adaptive cruise control system, which allowed us to relax through long stretches on the highway.

The Little Joys in Life

Walk up to the Corsair with the key fob on you and the little Lincoln will courteously turn on its exterior lights. The proximity key allows you to unlock the vehicle by grabbing any of the door handles, a welcome convenience. Once you find a comfortable seating position and fire up the engine, a chime recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reminds you to buckle up. The Corsair’s alert system has three levels of information chimes: non-critical, soft-warning, and hard-warning. It provides distinctive musical alerts for approximately 25 vehicle features.

Knowing we’d have about a two-hour drive, we wanted to pamper ourselves to the fullest extent. Before jetting off to the beach, we activated the driver’s seat massager and set it to “full recovery” with high intensity. You have a choice of five massage styles; our other favorite was “relax recovery.” We added in some ventilation and felt like we were living large.

Although we ultimately managed to establish a connection, we discovered Android Auto was often finicky in the Corsair—an issue that may have been caused by a worn USB cable. The default tone settings on the 14-speaker Revel audio system were discordant, so we adjusted the levels for a euphonious listening experience. Your author prefers less treble and midrange and a dash or two of bass. Think of it as the audio equivalent of a deliciously balanced cocktail.

Out of curiosity, we pressed the push-to-talk button under our left thumb on the steering wheel. The prompt activated Google Assistant, voiced by Kiki Baessell. We asked random questions, to which we got some interesting answers. Our favorite was when we asked, “What is on your mind?” Google Assistant responded with, “I was just thinking about how nice it can be to unplug. Sometimes it’s better to connect with people rather than Wi-Fi.”

Stress-Free Cruising

The Lincoln’s adaptive cruise control proved most useful on freeways where traffic was flowing at a constant speed, although it works surprisingly well in the city and suburban driving, too. Once you become familiar with the system, you’ll discover using it is straightforward. Normal, Adaptive, and Intelligent are the three cruise control choices. For this drive, we settled on Adaptive, which allows you to maintain a speed that’s a certain number of mph above or below the limit. Adaptive cruise control features traffic jam assist, including stop-and-go, as well as speed limit recognition and lane centering. It allows you to set your speed and following distance, and then brakes and accelerates the Corsair in accordance with the flow of traffic.

We liked how seamless it is to activate the cruise control system via the steering-wheel buttons. Lincoln thought of a clever way to hide the cruise control adjustment buttons, which only illuminate when you press the main control button. We set the desired speed, following distance, and activated the steering assist.

Generally speaking, adaptive cruise control slows down the Corsair when it detects another vehicle close in front of you and returns to the set speed when the path ahead is clear. The responsiveness of the acceleration and braking in heavy traffic is very impressive, and the steering assist does an excellent job of keeping the Corsair centered within its lane. If the vehicle comes to a complete stop, the system shuts off, and you need to accelerate to reactivate it. A screen on the right side of the digital instrument cluster displays your speed and indicates whether cruise control is active or not.

In sum, Lincoln’s cruise control system is shockingly good. As effective as adaptive cruise control is, though, you are still responsible for driving. That means keeping your hands on the wheel at all times and anticipating sudden stops that will require you to step on the brake pedal.

Luxury, Comfort, and More

The Corsair cabin boasts high-quality leather, a floating center console, 24-way power-adjustable front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a panoramic sunroof, and more. The interior has a clutter-free design and a clean layout, and the two-tone color scheme and wood trim across the dashboard are nice touches.

Some of the neat details include a “piano key” push-button gear selector, physical knobs for volume and tuning, door-mounted seat controls, and the aforementioned push-to-talk button on the steering wheel. Lincoln has a few hidden tricks within the center stack. If you press down on the menu button, it brings up a climate control menu on the touchscreen. Another button with a small square gives you the option to switch the infotainment display to a minimalist “calm screen” or completely turn it off. Above the gear selector is a button with a car icon that takes you to the driver assistance settings.

True to Its Name

Our test vehicle came priced at $57,680 with options, including 24-way adjustable seats, technology package, and adaptive suspension. For as low-key as the Corsair 2.3T AWD Reserve looks, it packs quite a punch. Beneath the hood, a turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4 develops 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, sending it to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Lincoln Corsair Reserve is a baby Navigator that spoils you with comfort and luxury on a smaller scale. On the outside, its restrained styling downplays the luxuries afforded by the well-designed interior. The Corsair Reserve rides smoothly and is sneakily quick. It certainly lives up to the Lincoln name.

2021 Lincoln Corsair (2.3T AWD) BASE PRICE $48,745 LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.3L/295-hp/310-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 3,850 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 106.7 in L x W x H 180.6 x 76.2 x 64.1 in 0-60 MPH 6.5 sec (MT est) EPA FUEL ECON 21/28/24 mpg ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 160/120 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.82 lb/mile ON SALE Now

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