Lexus makes some very desirable vehicles but has been criticized over its trackpad user interface. Starting with the 2022 NX, it all changes. The new Lexus Interface (no there’s no fancy name) eliminates the touchpad, it’s touchscreen only. It’s also adds casual voice recognition commands plus imbeds Amazon Music and Apple Music right into the system. And the NX will have phone-as-key technology that can be shared with up to 7 users.
Published 07/30/21
Affordable cars can be some of the most difficult vehicles for automotive engineers to produce. The Nissan Kicks is budget done right. Fast? No sir. Opulent? No ma’am. But it’s stylish, comfortable, fuel efficient and comes with plenty of active electronic safety tech. The 2021 models gets some updates and for those that can’t afford a luxury ride (or simply don’t want to) it’s a solid choice. Cross shop Kia Soul, Hyundai Venue and Toyota CH-R.
Published 07/29/21
The 2021 Ford Bronco is an exceptionally done SUV with tech to help it conquer the trails. Tom Voelk heads out with Ford Off-Roadeo instructor Jonny Van Wagoner to see how Trail Turn Assist, One Pedal Drive and Trail Control make things easier when navigating the tough stuff. And Bronco’s sway bar disconnect has a trick that off-roader will appreciate.
Published 07/28/21
The 2021 Bronco 2 and 4 door is finally arriving at Ford dealerships. At the Texas Off-Roadeo just outside of Austin, Tom Voelk drives it both on and off road. On pavement, he gets behind the wheel of an Outer Banks model. On the Off-Roadeo “Ghost Pepper” course, he pushes a base 2-door with the Sasquatch package of and down steep rocks. There’s a lot packed into this video. Tom attended a manufacturer’s event for this experience, opinions are his own.
Published 07/26/21
Many automotive enthusiasts feel sports cars simply must have a manual transmission and the Porsche 718 GT4 comes standard with a very good six-speed. But the quickest way around a track is with the 7-speed dual-clutch Doppelkupplung gearbox. You may know it as the legendary PDK with eye-blink gear swaps. At least there’s no argument that the naturally aspirated 4-liter flat-6 Boxer engine making 414 horsepower sounds like a symphony.
Published 07/15/21
There are a lot ways to look at plug-in hybrids. Audi’s Q5 55 TFSI e (AKA plug-in hybrid) appears to be the Goldilocks choice in so many ways. It’s nearly as powerful as the SQ5 performance model. And after tax credits, it can cost the same as the gas-only Q5 55. And for those who worry about electric range, it offers the luxury of switching to gasoline for those unexpected cross country road trips. Tom Voelk takes a look at a 2021 mid-level Premium Plus model.
Published 07/12/21
It’s no secret that 3-row SUVs and crossovers have replaced family vans in driveways throughout America. Nissan finally has a solid competitor with the 5th generation 2022 Pathfinder. Everything has been rethought and improved including the transmission. Yes, the CVT is gone! Mated to the 3.5-liter V6 is a ZF 9-speed gearbox. But the best part for buyers is how Nissan offers up features and tech on affordable models, no need to buy the top trim to get a bird’s eye camera view system.
Published 07/08/21
The Lexus NX crossover has been a popular luxury choice since it’s debut in 2014. The all-new 2022 version that’s available in four models brings a number of firsts- It ditches the unloved trackpad for a new touchscreen interface that was designed in-house. There’s a new high performance plug-in hybrid model, the NX 450h+. Plus, there’s something missing (and something added) on the tailgate. Tom Voelk visits the Lexus studio in Plano, TX to give you a first-hand preview of the new NX.
Published 07/07/21
Chevrolet’s truck-based full-sized Tahoe SUV gets GM’s inline-6 Duramax turbo diesel engine. The result? Loads of torque off the line, a refined engine note and the fuel economy of some unibody crossovers. With the ability to tow up to 8,200 pounds, it might convince a lot buyers to go diesel. And the High Country is Chevy’s best Tahoe interior yet. Not everything is perfect though. Tom Voelk checks out a top trim 4WD High Country.
Published 07/05/21
The 670 horsepower Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is the quickest SUV to come out of Stuttgart. Charge it up and it can tread lightly on the planet by running solely on electric power. Fast, efficient, practical, luxurious and sporty, this plug-in V8 hybrid is the only vehicle you’ll never need. Just bring a lot of wallet. Tom Voelk checks out a well-equipped Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe and finds it to be the best sounding hybrid money can buy.
Published 07/02/21
The first thing you need to know about the 2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe is that it delivers true Ultimate Driving Machine fun. Plus, it’s a true two-door coupe, none of that four-door coupe BS. And yes, it has the controversial schnoz, but even if you don’t like it, remember, it’s not seen from the driver’s seat. And really, don’t judge until you see it in person. Tom Voelk checks out a well-equipped M440i that puts a grin on his face as wide as the polarizing twin kidney grille.
Published 06/30/21
Kia calls the new 2022 Carnival an MPV. You’ll probably call it a minivan. Or maybe it’s a family MVP the way it carries people and cargo with ease. Seating 7 or 8 depending on model, this roomy V6-powered machine gets SUV looks to attract new buyers. It’s also the first Kia to wear the brand’s all-new logo. Tom Voelk checks out the top dog SX Prestige model with mid-row VIP seating, but wonders if the next model down is the one people will really want. And remember, in the US, it used to be...
Published 06/10/21
ID.4 is Volkswagen’s first dedicated electric vehicle and it has a lot going for it. The range is competitive, the features are compelling and it’s roomy for family and cargo. Is this the EV to get? How fast does it charge? Is it fun to drive? Tom Voelk has the answers after driving a fully optioned First Edition model (which is similar to a rear-wheel drive Pro S Gradient model) to see if everything that VW claims is truth in advertising.
Published 06/04/21
Hyundai has always sold a lot of Tucsons but the smaller size of the two-row SUV probably kept a lot of buyers away. The 2022 model solves the space issue and goes on to add a city’s worth of style inside and out. And if that’s not enough, for the first time it’s available as a standard hybrid plus a plug-in hybrid with an estimated all-electric range of 32 miles. In short, it’s much more competitive against Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
Published 06/02/21
It’s easy to forget that Acura’s MDX was the first crossover to sport three rows of seating. Four generations later, the market is thick with competitors. So Honda’s premium division gave it a double wishbone front suspension, a new architecture with body rigidity improved by an impressive 32% and a lot more luxury in the cabin. The result is a much better MDX. Tom Voelk looks at an Advance model that comes standard with true torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.
Published 05/31/21
Nothing sells like power and the Mazda3 with the turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder should be popular with people that like cars. Mazda is shedding it's rowdy side for a more refined image. It's no Mazdaspeed3, probably a good thing. Standard AWD tames torque steer and the suspension keeps things fun without any harshness. Tom Voelk checks out a loaded Premium Plus model. It's a step up from Civic, Corolla, Forte and Sentra and an alternative to GTI. Maybe even Audi A3, BMW 2-Series and Mercedes...
Published 05/26/21
5G is much more than just a faster way for smartphones to download music and movies. It will usher in new automotive technology that will make your car smarter, safer and more entertaining. Tom Voelk travels to the Qualcomm 5G Automotive Lab in San Diego, CA and talks to Sheri Willey, Director of Product Management to get an idea of what the coming 5G revolution means. For the full video, click here: https://bit.ly/3ynofxA #QualcommPartner
Published 05/25/21
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport has the tough rugged look people want these days. But can it do tough rugged Bronco things? Since the Sport is based on the same architecture as the Escape, some might think it’s a poser or soft-roader. So Tom Voelk decided to take a First Edition model (which is pretty much the same as a loaded Badlands) to the trails to see what it’s got. But since it will spend most of its days on pavement, he concentrates on that too. Plus, Easter Eggs!
Published 05/12/21
Nothing sells like power and the Mazda3 with the turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder should be very popular with people that like cars. Mazda is shedding it's rowdy side for a more refined performance image. This is no Mazdaspeed3 and that's probably a good thing. Standard all-wheel drive tames torque steer and the suspension keeps things fun without any harshness.,Tom Voelk checks out a fully loaded Premium Plus model. It's a step up from Civic, Corolla, Forte and Sentra and an alternative to...
Published 05/07/21
Want to make your life really, really, really, really easy? The 4th generation 2021 Toyota Sienna will help. It’s roomy, quiet, comfortable, packs more storage space than most apartments and can average up to 36 miles per gallon. That means fewer trips to the gas station. Tom Voelk checks out a top-trim Platinum model with front-wheel drive (AWD is optional). It’s a vehicle that has it all except for the rugged SUV look.
Published 04/29/21
Hyundai has finally revealed the production Santa Cruz sports adventure vehicle at an event in Tucson, Arizona. Smaller than a Honda Ridgeline, it’s built to get the urban crowd out to wilderness fun. Designed in California and built in the US, it will be available with two powertrains with front or all-wheel drive. Tom Voelk saw the production vehicle in the flesh and talked the Hyundai staff about its newest machine. No photography was allowed, handout video provided by Hyundai only.
Published 04/26/21
Looking for a useful SUV crossover but don’t want the hiking boot look? Infiniti brings fastback design to its new 2022 QX55. It gives up a small amount of practicality to its fraternal twin QX50 but its sleeker profile is happy to help with the chores. The raked rear end joins similar silhouettes from Audi, BMW and Mercedes, just remember that Infiniti did it first with the FX35/45. Tom Voelk checks out a top trim Sensory model with standard all-wheel drive.
Published 04/25/21
Few cars offer enthusiast-grade driving dynamics with family practicality. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N-Line does. Then the designers throw in concept car styling to sweeten the deal. THEN the deal gets even sweeter with an MSRP of $34,305. Yes, that’s with shipping and pretty much loaded. And the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque so fun is always on tap. And it has launch control! Tom Voelk drives one in Hampton Gray with summer performance tires.
Published 04/12/21
Buick has transformed itself into an all-SUV brand in the United States and the 2021 Envision is all-new. It’s a two-row crossover positioned between luxury models like Audi Q5 and mainstream vehicle like Toyota RAV4. Available with a electronically controlled twin-clutch all-wheel drive system that directs power not just front to back, but also between left and right rear wheels, it arrives just in time for Seattle snow. Tom Voelk checks out the system and everything else about the Envision.
Published 04/09/21
The 2021 Polestar 2 is the first fully electric car from the young brand. A product of Volvo and Geely, it’s a powerful all-wheel hatchback with a loads of Swedish style. And it’s the first car with Android Automotive OS which will change the way you think about interacting with your car. Tom Voelk checks out the range to find out if it’s a true 233 miles. And yeah, there’s a little bit of comparison with Tesla Model 3, but the focus here is on the Polestar.
Published 03/26/21