Frank Washington

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2021 Lexus UX 200

Detroit – The Lexus UX 200 may be the least recognized but most accomplished of the luxury brand’s crossovers and sport utilities. Of course, it had the brand’s spindle grille, but it was small. That was okay. Our UX 200 was chock full of creature comforts. It had heated and cooled front seats along with a heated steering wheel. They could be linked to the climate controls. In other words, they came on automatically. When it is in the low teens early in the morning that made a difference. The UX 200 was powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that made 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a 10-speed direct shift continuously variable transmission. At low speeds it seemed like a normal transmission. But press on the accelerator and it had that drone of a CVT. The point is that the horsepower to weight, 3,307 lbs., and torque ratio worked. Our UX never seemed underpowered.

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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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