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McLaren GT

When you’re offered seat time in a McLaren GT, take it. The 612 horsepower Supercar was very livable because of its translucent roof. It was very open and very fast — 0 to 60 mph— in 3.1 seconds. And comparably affordable, $217,155. The GT was low, and it was a long – 15 feet. It was all about speed. It had a carbon fiber structure and aluminum body panels underpinned its segment-leading light weight and outstanding dynamic agility. There was a proactive damping system that delivered a surprising comfortable ride, almost like a midsize sedan. A hydraulic steering system made for great handling. This car did not drive anything like it looked. It was quiet, rode smooth, it comfortable, even though it was a two-seater and there was plenty of room inside all round. Nappa leather trim features as standard but this can be upgraded to soft grain luxury leather or Alcantara®, depending on vehicle specification and customer preference. SuperFabric® trim for the rear luggage bay is another option, the innovative woven fabric infused with a layer of tiny, armored guard plates providing increased resistance to stains, cuts, nicks, and abrasions, as well as being breathable, easy to clean and quick to dry.

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Nothing cut-rate about 2022 Volkswagen Taos

DETROIT – Volkswagen has shifted its product lineup upstream without a lot of fanfare. Just look at the Taos. It is the brand’s entry level crossover but there is nothing cut-rate about it. We had the front-wheel-drive version, and it had a wheelbase of 105.9 inches; it was 72.5 inches wide and 64.4 inches tall. The point is that the Taos had heft and size. It just didn’t seem small. There was a sculpted hood and Volkswagen’s signature three-bar grille. It had a molded front bumper with side air intakes and large lower intakes that gave it a sporty face. LED headlights, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and taillights are standard across all trims.

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2022 Lexus GX 460

The Lexus GX 460’s toughest competition may come from its siblings; there are five crossovers and sport utilities that wear the Lexus badge. The GX 460 lay toward the top of the model lineup. It is nearly impossible to not identify because of its huge Spindle Grille. This is a tree-row sport utility. It was powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that made 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The GX 460 was not a gas sipper. It got 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg combined. Still, the vehicle was appreciated. It had a towing capacity of 6,500 lbs., great for boat hauling. Lexus said towing was aided by trailer sway control and vehicle stability control for straight-line tracking.

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2022 Lexus NX

Phoenix – Lexus intends to expand and diversify its customer base with the new NX. To that end the luxury brand has diversified the NX’s offerings. There are now four models, with four different engines, a new grille and it is a better-looking small crossover, which is no longer that small. They’ve refined the spindle grille and added full-width blade taillamps and LEXUS’ rear badging. At the front, the updated grille pattern and frame created a more integrated feel to the body of the vehicle. Made up of tall U-shaped blocks, the spindle grille is designed for a three-dimensional effect and creates a sense of depth while expressing a strong impression. Framed on top by the L-shaped daytime running lights, there were optional three-projector headlamps. In the rear, the Lexus logo was redesigned. The use of the L emblem has been replaced by a new, unified LEXUS logo located at the center of the vehicle. A full-width blade rear combination lamp and an L-shaped lamp on the rear fender are separated to make the expression unique to the NX. The light bar lamps are constantly illuminated at night to function as a taillight and illuminate the rear brand signature.

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2022 Audi A3/S3

Denver – Audi has redone its entry level sedans, the A3 and the S3. They are both all new. These sedans have been around since 2005 and neither seemed the worse for wear in terms of the time they’ve been on the market. But the entry level premium/luxury market is growing and getting crowded with more entries. So, Audi decided to put some polish on the sheet metal, throw in more pronounced creases and make the operative word for the 2022 Audi A3/S3 more.

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2021 Jaguar E-Pace 300 Sport

DETROIT – As Jaguar has scaled its way back into viability in the luxury market, it seems that a main part of its characteristic has been overlooked. Yes, the British brand is a luxury marque. But it is also and has always been a luxury performance brand. We had the 2021 E-Pace 300 Sport for four days. It was a small crossover that is the entry level into the Jaguar lineup. Recently refurbished, it had a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood that made 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This was more than enough oomph to move the vehicle with ease and with a lot of speed.

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2022 Toyota Tundra

SAN ANTONIO, TX — We came here to evaluate the 2022 Toyota Tundra. This full-size pickup truck was one of the few products the automaker has introduced in this market that just didn’t measure up. But we really can’t say that anymore. With any pickup, its worth can be measured by what is under tight hood. And the 2022 Toyota Tundra’s new powertrain is the ante that may make truck buyers look at it seriously. The basic engine is a twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that made 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. True truck buyers are obsessed with horsepower and torque. And the new Tundra’s 479 pound-feet of oomph put to the pavement kicks in at 2,400 RPM. Before we go any further, we need to say that the Tundra is all new. During a deep dive at the company’s Plan, TX, headquarters we were told that every part, big and small, had been changed on the 2022 version of the Tundra They’ve branded this engine i-Force. However, there is a second engine. The i-Force MAX, which has a hybrid component, makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. It too was mated a 10-speed automatic. We climbed into a 2022 Toyota Tundra SR5 TRD Sport. It was powered by the smaller V6 that made 389 horsepower. The interior was dominated by a 14.3-inch infotainment screen.

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2021 Land Rover Discovery R Dynamic S

In our view the most impressive thing about the Land Rover Discovery was under the hood. Our Discovery R Dynamic S had a 3.0-liter straight six that made 355 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. This combination got 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined. It still had the heft of a Land Rover, but this new edition was sleeker. Yes, it had the clamshell hood, but there were new LED headlights with daytime running lights with sweeping front and rear turn signals. At the rear, the New Discovery featured new LED lights, which were joined across the back by a new black panel.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic

Detroit - It sounds like a huge insult but the new Mercedes-Benz E450 is much better than the car it replaces. And the first place to start with this sedan is under the hood. The twin turbo V6 has been replaced with an inline 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. It made 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque at a ridiculously low 1,600 RPM. It was mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. But it gets better. The E450 was equipped with Mercedes’ EQ or electric boost system. In this case, it was a 48-volt hybrid with an electric motor that added up to 21 horsepower and 184 more pound-feet of torque to assist the turbo spool up.

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2022 Infiniti QX60

St Helena Ca - When it comes to the 2022 Infiniti QX60, it is not about horsepower, torque, or bulk. The three-row crossover is about understated refinement and elegance. Yes, it had a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 that made 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The combination got 20 mpg in the city, 25mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. Front wheel drive is the natural setup for the QX60, but we had an all-wheel drive model with paddle shifters, and it could tow up to 6,000 lbs. There was also a panoramic roof.

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2021 Nissan Rouge

The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a real piece of work. There were high points and low points. The interesting thing was the highs were up there and the lows were not that bad. Under the hood was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that made 181 horsepower and a matching 181 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. That was the low; full torque was not engaged at a low enough rpm to give the Rogue some real muscle from relatively slow speeds when needed. But what really caught our attention was the transmission. It was a continuously variable transmission that Nissan has branded Xtronic. The company has invested a lot of time and money ridding or, minimizing most of the things that prevent CVTs being embraced by the driving public.

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2021 Lexus RX 350 AWD F Sport

DETROIT – When you make one of the most popular luxury sport utilities on the planet, why change it before it is time? Thus, the product planers at Lexus did not do that much to alter the 2021 Lexus RX 350, or the 2022 version. Engineer’s added blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, and they added power folding auto diming side mirrors. They added and then made wireless charging optional, and they renamed the performance package the handling package. There were a couple of interior colors added to the palette, but our interior was a dulled red, which was not hard on the eyes. And the sheet metal was a gun metal grey. Lexus called it Nightfall Mica. It still befuddles us that people get paid a lot of cash to come up with these names. Anyway, the specs on the 2021 Lexus RX 350 AWD F Sport are impressive. It was powered by a 3.5-liter 295 horsepower V6 engine that made 267 pound-feet of torque. This engine is normally aspirated, it has been around for years, thus it is a tried and tested reliable set of pistons. The car had sport instruments. There was an odometer with a digital speedometer in the middle. The temperature and fuel gauges shared the same housing and the TFT screen was on the left.

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2022 Toyota GR 86

Toyota has retrofitted its GR 86. For the uninitiated, this is a world class 2+2 sports car. That may sound strange in a utility vehicle world, but the automaker is looking for incremental sales; perhaps as many as 13,000 annually. And they did this the only acceptable way with sports cars. Improvements were incremental. The engine was bumped up from 2.0-liters to 2.4 liters. That gave the 2022 GR 86 18 percent more horsepower and 11 percent more torque. That is 284 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The GR 86 keeps its horizontally opposed four cylinder or boxer engine; but engineers also tweaked the engine so that torque comes far earlier in the power curve, at 3,700 rpm versus 6,000 rpm on the previous model. The bore was increased to 94 mm from 86 mm for 20 percent more displacement. That bumped the engine up from 1,998 cc to 2,387 cc. Doesn’t sound like much but it translates into a better zero to 60 time from 7.0 to 6.1 seconds for the manual. Almost a second faster and that is significant. For the automatic the reduction was even more, it was 8.0 to 6.6 seconds.

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2022 Mitsubishi Cross & Outlander

living@thetimesweekly.com ANN ARBOR, MI – Mitsubishi is back. Or a more conservative view is that it is progressing nicely. We came to this college town just west of Detroit to get a look at the Outlander and the Eclipse Cross. Before we go any further, we are more than pleased to report that the automaker has refined the grilles on both crossovers. They look like a full piece rather than being horizontally cut in half. That alone to us was a major improvement. What Mitsubishi representatives told us was by summer they will have refreshed their product lineup and we will see a redesign of their flagship, the Mitsubishi Outlander.

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2021 Hyundai Venue

Small use to be a synonym for cheap but not anymore. We test drove the 2021 Hyundai Venue and were impressed. It was a subcompact crossover, it seems the category has grown, because of its performance and size. It was powered by 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that made 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a continuously variable transmission that had been engineered to simulate automatic shifts. This it did nicely.

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2021 Mazda MX-5

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 is an enthusiast’s throwback. It is a two-seat sports car in a real sense of the words. We had the MX-5 RF; the RF stood for retractable fastback. In other words, the roof retracted into the tonneau cover in a relatively quick 13 seconds, creating a roadster.

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Volkswagen ID.4

We have driven more all electric vehicles in the last three months than we have in a lifetime. What seemed like the distant future is now upon us. The latest wattage on four wheels we’ve evaluated was Volkswagen’s ID.4. We have no idea what that stands for. But we can share some truths. The ID.4 was quiet, but it was not silent. Road noises combined with wind noise provided that aural sense needed when driven. Trust us, absolute silence while driving can be dangerous. And we have been surprised that electric vehicles function like internal combustion powered cars. They are quick, steady on the road and they have the same equipment; Volkswagen’s ID.4 included.

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2021 Genesis GV80

Detroit – Genesis did it backwards. The luxury car-maker introduced first rate luxury sedans when it entered the U.S. market in 2015. The problem was the market was speedily shifting to crossovers. Although they never said it, but Genesis’ launch plan called for sedans before utility vehicles. Since we are talking years of development and billions of dollars to make its luxury car lineup happen, we did not see a sport utility until the 2020 model year. But the GV80 has been worth the wait. It was dominated by Genesis’ crest grille. There was a Parabolic line that ran along the side, accentuated by power lines above each wheel. The quad lamps, which flanked the grille, required sophisticated technology, that’s what Genesis wanted as its brand identification. The bottom line was that the headlamps were distinctive, garnering attention wherever we went. The Genesis GV80 had a unique face that turned heads. The quad lamp look, it was repeated in the rear, will come to define Genesis.

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2022 Infiniti QX55

It has been a while since we test drove an Infiniti. Thus, we forgot the identity of the brand: speed, quickness, and maneuverability. We had the 2022 QX55 crossover and were surprised on several levels. First, it was quick and fast. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that they got 268 horsepower out of and 280-pound feet of torque. To our surprise, this engine was mated to a continuously variable transmission. It had paddle shifters. Infiniti engineers mastered getting the transmission to move the QX55 almost instantly from driver input. The QX55 was fast; we pushed the peddle to the metal on one of the expressways here and found ourselves looking at 80 mph and the engine wasn’t even working hard. It had a MacPherson strut front suspension and an independent multilink rear suspension. In other words, it was set up for smooth riding at high speeds and comfortable transport at low speeds.

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2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

We just drove the future. The Chevrolet Bolt EUV is an electric vehicle but it goes a step further. In a phrase, it can drive itself -- sorta. Chevy calls it Super Cruise. It is a driver assistance feature to maintain your current lane. It works in conjunction with adaptive cruise control. And the system will alert the driver when he or she needs to take control. It works on compatible roads, meaning thoroughfares with painted lanes and medians, that separate opposing traffic. It uses a GPS system, map, a network of cameras and sensors that maintain control of steering. The adaptive cruise control maintains the gap between the vehicle you’re following. There is also a driver attention alert to make sure the driver stays alert. In other words, you can’t engage this system and then take a nap or sightsee. Chevrolet is careful to emphasize that Super Cruise is not a self-driving system.