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The best cars we’ve reviewed (so far) ranked!

Welcome to the start of our ever-expanding home base of car reviews, where we file the best cars we’ve driven so far in order. Don’t think of this as an outright competition to see what is the definitive best vehicle out of a few classes. We’ve got more than that, anyway. Best EVs, best sports cars, best compacts, best trucks, and more! Think of this as all our existing car reviews coming together to help you decide on what are some hot ticket choices to look out for on the new or used car market. 

Check out the linked subheadings for full reviews with specs and pricing, and check back occasionally as we continue to grow our portfolio of car reviews!

(Editor’s Note: Updated 3/1/2024 with pickup trucks and EVs category!)

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Best EVS

1. Audi Q8 e-tron – A proper take on urban luxury EVs, even if it’s not a spec sheet winner

What’s hot?

  • Proper luxury car interior with all the accouterments
  • Serene ride and NVH

What’s not?

  • Some minor Audi MMI glitches
  • A tough sell with a high price and okay-ish range

Is it too late for the legacy automakers to topple the startup giants? Will no one eclipse them in terms of price, production output, or range? Ah, screw it. Let ’em have it when automakers like Audi still know how to build a damn good car and damn good features. The Q8 e-tron may not take home any victories in Top Trumps or bar stool drag racing, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed, because what Audi has delivered is a sublime urban EV for those who’ll heed its offerings. Ride quality is plush, even on such big wheels, and the interior is well-built and well-equipped, with enough screen to satiate the especially tech-indulgent without appearing cheap or gaudy.

The Q8 e-tron is a fine automobile. We just wish it could be an easier sell so more folks can bask in what it gets right. But we get it. What it gets wrong are things that wouldn’t be the fault of any sensible buyer should they say turn the e-tron down. With a price that starts at $74,400, it’s already an uphill battle. And with a range of only 285 miles, it’s tough to convince folks to fork over the dough for one of these instead of the comparable Tesla or a cheaper Mach-E. But give it a chance and let it thrive in the urban environments it was made for, and you may see that the numbers game isn’t the point of the e-tron. The point is to just be a great product.

2. Chevrolet Blazer EV – That one SUV from the Barbie movie is actually quite a stunner

What’s hot?

  • Sharp and sporty like its looks
  • Quiet and refined

What’s not?

  • Range lags behind key rivals, including fellow Ultium-based EVs
  • Oh boy, yet another expensive electric SUV

Hey there, Barbie! Let’s go party! And party indeed, as the Blazer EV is actually quite the charming and likable EV, with polarizing styling that contrasts with the sea of egg-shaped lunchboxes that also occupy the pantheon of electric SUVs. But for that price, you get a highly configurable package, with trim levels to match anyone’s wants, and drivetrains that offer front, all, or rear-wheel drive. Can’t think of another vehicle where you can pick either three. The Blazer also matches its sharp looks with dynamics that don’t fall on its face in the twisties and acceleration that earn the top trim its SS badge. And if you like cockpit-like interiors, the Blazer certainly fits the bill with a digital dash and infotainment setup that vaguely reminds us of a C8 Corvette and Alpha-platform Camaro blended together.

If we had to complain, there’s that sorry excuse for a frunk that’s easily trumped by rivals in its class. Range is only okay and doesn’t set any new records, with the most frugal trims seeking out 324 miles. Oh, and there are the embarrassing software issues that plagued early cars enough to cause a stop-sale. Ironically, not long after winning a round of praise and awards from all who’ve driven it. Oh, Chevy.

3. Mercedes-Benz eSprinter – Electrified mobility for businesses and tradesmen

What’s hot?

  • Fairly quick and responsive at low speeds
  • Still perfectly capable of around-town work

What’s not?

  • Uncomfortable seats
  • No dual-motor variants as of yet

Not much to say here, is there? It’s an electric cargo van with plenty of space for products or tools, enough pep for stoplight drags, and just enough range to accomplish a day of work and still have some to spare. The Mercedes eSprinter is exactly as advertised: a nicely made, well-appointed, electrified take on work vans intended for urban environments. And you know what? That’s a-okay with us. The interior is standard Sprinter, with an attractively-designed and functional infotainment system and seats that are less than optimal but get the job done. Hey, you’re getting paid to work, not lounge!

Aside from wanting more comfortable seats, a 42-minute max charge speed to 80% is only okay, there are currently no dual-motor variants available as of yet, and the payload takes a significant hit versus any gas or diesel Sprinter. Gardeners and Geek Squad folks will be fine. But no trying to smuggle kei cars in the back, you hear me?

Best plug-in hybrids

1. Mazda CX-90 PHEV – Bridging the gap between family crossovers of the past and future

What’s hot?

  • Commendable EV range for such a massive thing
  • Mazda edges closer and closer to the luxury car kingdom

What’s not?

  • Not the most cavernous three-row SUV
  • Rotary dial infotainment controls only

Mazda has been on a not-so-secret upward spiral toward faux luxury car stardom for some time now. From smooth, sporty driving dynamics to interiors with actually pleasant build quality and aesthetic design, the Zoom-Zoom brand has been making quite the name for itself. The CX-90 three-row crossover cements its status as a serious brand worth more than just one mere damn, and the plug-in hybrid variant acts as a wonderfully executed bridge between family cars of the past and present. 26 miles of EV range? Not bad! 24 mpg in the city? Heck yeah! 369 pound-feet of yoinking power? Now, you got me flustered. And these are just the specs. We haven’t even started with the gorgeous, airy, wood-lined interior that can shame the Germans or the sporty dynamics that can actually put the “sports” in sports utility vehicle.

Okay, so a big lunk like this will never score the range or MPGe of smaller plug-in crossovers. And its towing capacity and average mpg took a hit versus the Bimmer-flattering inline-six. Oh, and touchscreens be damned because the Mazda’s infotainment is controlled via a rotary dial only, which will definitely not resonate with anyone who hasn’t come from an older BMW. But if you can live with those nitpicks, you’ll still be left with one of the most compelling products to come, not just from Mazda but from any automaker in recent memory.

2. Alfa Romeo Tonale – A commuter a way only the Italians can

What’s hot?

  • A family crossover that’s actually a drop-dead stunner
  • Commendable performance and handling

What’s not?

  • Dodge Hornets are cheaper if you don’t mind the styling differences
  • Dodge Hornets have an ICE-only powertrain if you don’t care for plug-ins

Nothing says car enthusiast like anything sporty from Italy. Nothing says drab and dreary appliance like a compact crossover. Combine the two, and you might just have the recipe for a fun little urban runabout, as Stellantis has proven with the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Although ICE variants exist elsewhere, we Yanks get a bold, powerful plug-in powertrain as our sole option. It pairs a spunky little 1.3-liter turbo four boosted to high hell with an electric motor to yield over 30 miles of handy EV range and produce 285 horsepower and 347 pound-feet, which, last time I checked, is a lot more than your average compact crossover.

Sadly, it also costs a lot more than most compact crossovers and is lined up squarely against competent, similarly powerful rivals like the RAV4 Prime. Those who are a fan of spunky Italian dynamics but are willing to forgo the spunky styling can also step down to the cheaper Hornet, which produces more torque, has a similar EV range, and offers a significantly cheaper ICE powertrain. Still, flawed or not, there’s a lot to love about the Alfa Toe Nail, and there’s something to be admired when offered a fun, stylish alternative to the usual crop of cookie-cutter family cars on the market.

3. Dodge Hornet R/T – I’m like the guy right above me but with less swagger

What’s hot?

  • Fun and fast for lil’ crossover!
  • Usable EV range

What’s not?

  • Why is there no Regular-Ass Prius mode?
  • Minor electronic annoyances

“I do everything the guy above does, but better,” says the Dodge Hornet R/T, probably. Psst, it’s not better, but it is just ever so slightly different.

Not much to say here that hasn’t already been said about the Tonale. I don’t think we can say anything until we score an all-ICE Hornet GT to sample. But here it is, the Americanized take on Italy’s dandy little compact crossover, complete with the same KONI two-valve shocks, vividly red Brembos, and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season 4 tires. The car receives the same plug-in powerplant in R/T trim, albeit with an extra motor to help it yield 288 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of faux hot hatch fury. It costs a few grand less for a comparable Hornet R/T versus a Tonale, too. What’s not to love?

Well, it’s still a Tonale. This means it still suffers from the typical Italian (or perhaps just Stellantis) electronic hiccups that make it difficult to recommend, from awkward lane centering and intermittently dysfunctional safety sensors. It may also be too small for some families, and asking for the R/T skyrockets the price tag fairly quickly. But if you can live with all of it, the Hornet is still a lovable, fun-to-drive alternative in an otherwise ho-hum segment of effective yet uninteresting cars.

Best hybrids

1. Toyota Prius – shockingly fun but still lovably practical

What’s hot?

  • New powertrains are punchy
  • Easiest 50-mpg solution on the new car market

What’s not?

  • Some interior ergonomic quirks
  • Still viable in today’s world of plug-ins, EVs, and upscale economy cars?

Go ahead. Laugh. But you won’t be laughing for long when a $30 or $40 fill-up nowadays buys you well over 500 miles of range, not including the short bits of EV cruising you can manage behind the wheel of the current-gen Toyota Prius. Did I make fun of Priuses before? Of course! Do I still do? On occasion. Do I love them, though? You bet your ass.

City slickers, you can’t beat 50-plus mpg and all-electric parking lot creeping in a car with the forward and side visibility of a fishbowl (the rear is a different story) and a footprint small enough to fit in nearly any parking space. There’s an abundance of nifty safety and convenience tech to make you feel as though you’re in a more substantial vehicle, and the new chassis and powertrain result in a Prius that’s a bit of a hoot to fling around.

The question remains if the Prius is still the obvious solution when compact family sedans and crossovers are now as efficient as ever while sitting at a slightly lower price point and offering comparable, if not better, practicality and ergonomics. Not to mention the growing waves of affordable EVs and plug-ins if efficiency is really your absolute top priority. But if a middle ground between them all is what you’re eyeing, then the new Prius remains a fantastic, well-rounded entry, even if it’s not necessarily the best.

Best luxury sports sedans

1. Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance – A final bastion for V8 sports sedans

What’s hot?

  • N/A V8 rear-drive sports sedan? For real?
  • Typical Lexus premium vibes, inside and out

What’s not?

  • Not a true IS F replacement
  • Could go for more low-end torque

If you can’t find an ounce of love for something like this, you’re either not human or one of those stereotypical Tesla fans we were warned about on social media. The Lexus IS 500 was a last hurrah we didn’t expect, but we couldn’t be happier it exists, even if it’s for a moment. Lexus delivers a compact executive sedan with rear-drive, go-fast suspension and braking hardware, and a monstrous, free-breathing V8 pushing 472 ponies! What a day to be alive! And in typical Lexus fashion, it oozes style and quality inside and out, from the way it drives and handles to the materials and tech. 

Sure. It’s not a true IS F successor in the same vein as the RC F coupe. The platform is quite old, dated, and small by car industry standards. But perhaps we shouldn’t complain about its age and shortcomings. For less money than a BMW M3, here’s a final bastion for naturally-aspirated V8 sport sedans with more charm and character than a current M3 will ever have.

2. Genesis G70 – A bonafide sports sedan to challenge the Germans

What’s hot?

  • Actually fast, fun, and engaging across all trim levels
  • Oozes style and quality at a strong price point

What’s not?

  • Fuel economy pales in comparison to German I4 and I6 engines
  • No hotted-up M, AMG, or F rival (yet)

I’ve driven and ridden in a small handful of Korean cars over the years, each getting more and more alluring the newer they got. Now, the icing on the cake, the Genesis G70 cements a notion in my head that’s been parroted by auto journalists since the Sonata got good: South Korea will take over the world. Good. Let them. Because they can build a damn fine sports sedan.

The latest G70, the only Genesis product I’ve yet to sample, sports a buttery smooth 8-speed auto directing power from either a 300-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbo four, or a 365-horsepower, 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. You can get it dipped in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive sauce, and V6 cars can be sprinkled with a serving of electronic suspension and limited-slip diff. Sounds like a good time, yeah? But thankfully, Genesis knew not to sully the car’s luxury mission with an overly “sporty” setup, so it remains posh, refined, and quiet, perfectly balanced for wannabe touring car champs and yuppies alike.

No, there’s no super-hot M3 killer yet. And no, the fuel economy is good but not great, as BMW’s crop of turbo engines beg to differ. By like, a lot. Backseat space can be a bit tight, and interior design, while impeccably well-built, may not offer enough flair and pizazz as one might like. But these minor nitpicks shouldn’t stop you from considering the G70, especially when you get the chance to experience all that it gets oh-so right.

Best luxury SUVs/crossovers

1. Acura MDX Type S – Quick and cushy

What’s hot?

  • Genuinely fun to drive
  • A cushy, coddling cruiser for the whole family

What’s not?

  • Not as sporty as it could be, especially in the face of German rivals
  • Curse these touchpad infotainment controllers

We love a good, unsensible dose of automotive debauchery. Manic vehicles with fire-breathing engines or cyberpunk-esque EVs with more gimmicks than goodwill. Are they useful? Not always. But they sure are fun. Yet, here stands the Acura MDX Type S as the near-perfect Goldilocks’ choice of crossovers. A cavernous interior invites occupants to revel in plush leather seating accented with real wood and metal accouterments, controlled via logically arranged hard buttons to show that physical switchgear ain’t going out of style just yet! And once you take control, you’re rewarded with a lovably pleasant driving experience, defined by a powerful and silky V6, well-tuned automatic transmission, and supple suspension that’s still competent in the canyons and freeway on-ramps. Sometimes, it’s good to enjoy the middle ground.

Of course, it’s not without faults. The most glaring of which is that infernal touchpad infotainment controller, which will apparently bow out in favor of a better system in future Acuras. Good riddance. And of course, people eying the Type S badge hoping for a true M or AMG fighter may be disappointed. It’s not that car. It’s fun and engaging. Really fun, actually. But it’s not that car. In a day where clout-chasing is king, the MDX Type S reigns itself in and stays true to its family crossover roots without being afraid to have just a little senseless fun every once in a while.

Best hot hatches and sports compacts

1. Acura Integra Type S – The surprise knockout

What’s hot?

  • Chassis, brakes, engine, and pretty much everything else by the gods
  • Easily daily-drivable for thousands of miles on end

What’s not?

  • Exhaust is too quiet for how raucous it can be
  • Expensive for its class

Oh, Integra Type S, my beloved. How incredible you are clubbing GR Corollas and Golf Rs over the head with the sheer force of your awesomeness. The gods bestowed upon you suspension soft enough for tattered highway commutes yet taught enough for unflappable canyon cornering prowess. You’ve been granted a rev-happy powerhouse of a turbo four-banger with a Bimmer-rivaling 320 ponies channeled through a manual whose shifts hit crisp like ice water with a mint. And you carry yourself with civility and politeness when it’s time to calm down for the long journeys home. 

Could you tell I’m obsessed? The Acura Integra Type S is an easy winner and a rockstar in its segment, delivering Civic Type R attitude in a slightly more comfortable and mature package. Perhaps the only reason we leave here at Number 1 is because we haven’t yet tested a real Type R, which sports more supportive bucket seats and a whimsically cool wing for several thousand dollars less, trumping any value proposition the Acura had. Until then, the Acura will stay our king of the sport compact hill. 

2. Hyundai Elantra N – Shattering Korean car stereotypes

What’s hot?

  • Rip-snorting lil’ WTCC car for the road, even with the dual-clutch
  • Premium interior and performance at a stellar price point

What’s not?

  • Bucket seats are a pain on road trips
  • Ugly duckling

“Am I the only one who understands the complexity of this ambitious automotive masterpiece? This car isn’t stupid! You’re stupid!” – Billy, probably.

Hyundai’s N division has proven to be a massive disruptor in the performance car world, building comparison test winners and headline stealers since the Veloster N in 2019. The Elantra N carries forward much of the same spirit and hardware, routing 276 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbo-four through your choice of a good ol’ six-speed stick or a snappy 8-speed dual-clutch. 

Brakes rock. Adaptive suspension rocks. The selection of drive modes that all make a meaningful difference rock. Everything rocks. And, best of all, the Elantra N goes about its performance biz with genuine chassis feel and an eager, soulful playfulness seldom found in European sports sedans. Couple that with its strong value proposition, and you have an affordable halo car that poses a serious threat to our current sports compact king. 

3. Volkswagen Golf R – The mature grown-up’s hot hatch

What’s hot?

  • Sports sedan performance with all-wheel-drive versatility 
  • Mature, elegant bodywork with hatchback practicality

What’s not?

  • Controversial infotainment system is a tad bit of a learning curve
  • On the steeper side of the pricing fence

The Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R is a divisive product, as praiseworthy as it was a source of ire among auto journos for a variety of reasons. But one thing is for certain, and it’s that no one can really hate on the fiery powerhouse that is the EA888 four-cylinder, pushing 315 ponies in Golf R trim, a sliver more than its Audi S3 cousin. It also features a trick Haldex all-wheel-drive system with Drift Mode for sideways action and Volkswagen’s baby-PDK DSG dual-clutch. 

That said, the mighty Golf R has some Achilles heels. It’s not the fiercest, most playful thing in the toybox, trading the antics of something like a Focus RS or Type R for a more upscale and serious demeanor befitting its German heritage, which may or may not resonate more with certain buyers. Its heftier price tag may also push some buyers away, as well, sitting comfortably above the likes of Elantra Ns, GR Corollas, and its not-too-dissimilar, front-drive GTI sibling. Oh, and that love-it-or-hate-it infotainment. Sheesh. At least they’re bringing buttons back.

Best affordable sports cars

1. Subaru BRZ – Jack of all trades, master of many

What’s hot?

  • A palette-cleansing trendsetter of what proper driver feedback should be
  • 2.4-liter engine staves off most desires for extra power… most

What’s not?

  • GR86 is more playful for slightly less money
  • Lame engine and exhaust sounds

Here comes the little Subaru BRZ trying to prove it has everything you need and nothing you don’t. 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet from its 2.4-liter flat-four quells most complaints about the last car being gutless, bolstered by short gears and a svelte 2,800-pound weight. There’s a supple ride, CarPlay, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate, and options for banging sound system and scalding heated seats. 

Sure, it’s not perfect. Far from it, actually. The flat-four in stock form makes some pretty gruff, uninspired engine and exhaust noises. Space and practicality will never rival that of a hot hatch. And then there are those pesky RTV shards and daunting oiling pressure woes that have forums in a frenzy for permanent fixes. Still, if you want a track-capable, confidence-inspiring, infinitely tunable plaything that’s at home on the daily drive as it is high up in the canyons, few cars come close.

Best luxury sports cars

1. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – “Budget supercar” is no hyperbole

Black Corvette C8 at Joshua Tree National Park
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

What’s hot?

  • Faux supercar performance for a fraction of the price
  • Impressively practical

What’s not?

  • The usual supercar headaches in traffic and urban settings
  • Some stylistic quirks and nitpicks

Value is important when choosing a car. And I don’t think the value gets much stronger than the C8 Corvette Stingray. You’re telling me I can snag a base one for between $60,000 to $70,000 and still have the time of my life? Hell. Yeah. And before you snark at me and say no one gets the base model, know that me and Gabe’s tester absolutely was. No Nappa leather. No Z51 pack. No aero kit. Just the C8 ‘Vette in its most pure form.

Even with none of the extra fancy thingamajigs like MagneRide, auxiliary coolers, and Pilot Sport 4S tires, which I’m sure would have been transformative in the LA canyons and on SoCal freeways where we tested, we were still blown away at the base Corvette’s unfathomably serene ride and handling balance. It can haul all our camera gear for the LA Auto Show in the frunk, stow a body, uh, extra luggage in the rear, comfortably soak up all the expansion joints and potholes California had to throw at us, and still be an engaging ripper in the canyons.

Sure, it could be a little sharper. It could be a little lighter. It could be a little more connected. My advice? Don’t drive a 718 Cayman GTS before this. But I suppose for the money, this thing is a tough act to follow. A really tough act to follow.

2. Lotus Emira – A driving enthusiast’s dream come true

What’s hot?

  • Shocking ride and handling balance, even with Sports suspension setup
  • One helluva’ V6

What’s not?

  • Somewhat baulky manual shifter when cold
  • Not long for this cruel world

I can’t say it any better than Peter, so I’ll slip in a little excerpt.

“The 2024 Lotus Emira First Edition is a very special sports car for this day and age. It one-ups everyone else by making the most of old steering technology. This blissful steering then combines with a wonderfully communicative chassis, manual gear shift, rousing supercharged engine, and overall brilliant driving dynamics to make it a true top-level driver’s car.”

The Emira looks like so many other sports cars and supercars out there, but beneath the skin, it’s a rare breed like few others, if any at all. So it’s not the most practical or efficient thing on this list, nor is it that strong of a value in the presence of Porsche. It’s not even long for this world, slated for replacement by 2027. But when it comes to a pure driving experience, you can’t argue with some good ol’ analog fun, or as Rob Crespo and I call it, “oldfashionedasfuck.” And you know what? That’s exactly how the fanboys want it. And it’s how Colin Chapman would want it.

3. Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo – A true grand tourer with sports car chops

What’s hot?

  • Near supercar fast!
  • Sports car reflexes don’t hurt its cross-country comfort

What’s not?

  • Annoyingly long in parking situations
  • Priced smack dab in the middle of some serious rivals

God, no one does a driver’s car like the Italians. And yes, this portly, (possibly) two-ton, leather-clad, land yacht is a driver’s car. From its hellaciously fun Nettuno twin-turbo V6 to the trick Skyhook adaptive suspension with air springs. I didn’t quite know what to expect with the GranTurismo Trofeo. I kind of expected it to be a bulky, lazy touring car with tons of cross-country cred, as a car of its class should have. But I’m happy to report it can also straddle the line between touring car and sports car shockingly well, with quick, intuitive steering and a well-tuned all-wheel drive system that never lets the threat of understeer rear its ugly head in the tightest of Malibu canyons.

Sadly, its occasional electronic quirks, which range from meh to motherfu-, ahem, excuse me. It’s Stellantis-ness makes itself apparent. Not that it feels cheap. It sure as hell does not! It just has hiccups. And it better not feel cheap, not at nearly $230,000 as-tested! That’s a touch cheaper than GTs from more prestigious nameplates, but it places the GranTurmismo right in the middle of key rivals like the Mercedes SL, Porsche 911 Turbo, and even Maserati’s own MC20 supercar.

Best pickup trucks

1. Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison – A serious contender in factory-fresh prerunners

What’s hot?

  • A bonafide adventurer with otherworldly suspension!
  • Plush, well-appointed interior

What’s not?

  • Steeply priced
  • Limited to crew cab with short bed only

Huzzah! Chevy’s baby Ford Raptor before Ford brought their own baby Raptor stateside. The ZR2 Bison is a phenomenally capable, lovably riotous off-roader that defies the weak and feeble stereotypes of smaller mid-size trucks. Not that today’s crop of mid-sizers are what anyone would call small, especially the Bison and its hulking 35-inch rubber. Like the new batch of Colorados, the interior is reasonably spacious, modern, and well-appointed, even including ventilated seats, which is a thoughtful addition for desert rats on Chevy’s behalf. The turbo four-banger plucked and retuned from base-model Silverados proves strong and more than up to the task of rocketing this Tonka truck cosplayer down sand dunes with ease, and the Multimatic suspension is every bit as capable and impressive as you’d expect from this company.

If you can live with the presumably abysmal fuel economy and the questionable styling, then this is a worthy rival to any fast Ford on the trail or in the open desert. Just mind the steep price tag, because ticking the Bison box on your build sheet will skyrocket the already pricey ZR2 to right around $60,000. You could buy Raptors for not that much more not long ago.

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EVs Explained range no text
EVs Explained

The secret to electric car range estimates—and why Tesla always scores big

Welcome to yet another lesson on what’s perhaps the biggest selling point on today’s crop of electric cars: EV range. Yes, everyone would love to have an EV that can keep pace with, if not outlast, their gasser companions on the open road, but what some may not know is that those big ol’ range numbers people use in their games of Top Trumps come from tests. Different tests. Not every EV is held to the same standard and, therefore, can produce wildly varying range numbers in real-world scenarios, oftentimes as a bid to earn the bigger number just to say they can.

Gasp! You mean an automaker can willingly choose a method of range testing if it means being able to advertise that they can wave a bigger stick, even if the product doesn’t necessarily yield the same results in practice? That’s obscene! They would never choose a less honest route just to fluff up their brand image, would they?

Ha! Well, yes. Yes, they can. And they have. Many electric cars have been recorded not to hit their original estimates, and only a few are noted to match or exceed. Tesla and, recently, Lucid have been accused of being the worst offenders in magazine range comparisons, and there’s angst out there regarding it. Enough for me to pen up this EVs Explained piece just to tell you all about the wonderfully riveting world of EV range testing. Don’t get too restless. Like an old compliance car, I won’t take you too far.

A white 2023 Kia Niro EV is seen driving through the city.
Image credit: Kia

One size fits some

Varying EV range tests have been a thing for some time. Such methodologies include America’s EPA, Europe’s Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), Europe’s now-obsolete and unrealistically optimistic New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), and the controversially unrealistic China Light Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC).

On a recent press launch, I had the opportunity to discuss such varying test methods with Edmunds test editor, Reese Counts, who commented on his Mach-E long-term loaner’s range. And although it didn’t quite hit its EPA estimates, as he commented that almost no electric car does, he does enjoy that it was a very “real” range estimate and didn’t leave him feeling as though a buyer would be conned. As a youngin’ in this field, I asked him what he meant.

Each agency has slightly different testing practices, which already yield different numbers on just the window stickers alone. In America, automakers have a choice of two routes within the EPA’s own set of rules. Because of this, it’s become a clear trend for certain cars from certain brands to come closer to their estimates than others, while others are seemingly blatant lies, except they’re not actual lies. They’re just tested under optimal conditions that favor them. Frequently, it seems these test results can be too optimistic, as seen in some of these big-name magazine range tests, where some cars consistently leave egregious gaps, sometimes as big as 100 miles or more, between their as-tested range and their advertised estimate, like the Tesla Model 3 or Lucid Air in Motor Trend’s recent test.

Mustang Mach E in the snow
Image credit: Ford

“They don’t bullshit you,” summarizes Counts regarding automakers with comparatively uninspired range claims for cars that can at least come close in the hands of normal drivers on real roads. Then he recounts cars that willingly choose alternate tests to bolster the range numbers as yet another example of “overselling but underdelivering.”

“Their numbers rarely line up with each other and can also differ from real-world ranges because each organization has its own specific test procedures,” explains Jeremy Laukkonen in a tech explainer for Lifewire. Enough content exists on the internet to explain at least some of those in greater detail, but I’ll summarize them with key highlights as best as I can.

EPA vs. WLTP vs. CLTC range testing

Basically, all EV range tests involve strapping a car down to a dynamometer or dyno, a “rolling road” as they’re sometimes referred to and basically function as a treadmill for cars. The vehicles are then charged to full, left overnight, and run through various cycles to simulate city and highway driving until the batteries can’t power the car. The vehicle is then recharged and run again and again for many tests. EPA and WLTP function similarly but have a few slight twists to them to make their estimates vary.

There’s enough nuance and small details to spin each agency’s test methods off into their own article… which we may actually do at some point. But for now, here are quick, digestible breakdowns of each one.

For greater detail, please consult your doctor (this breakdown by InsideEVs) to see which EV range testing method is right for you (less of a load of crap, in your opinion).

EPA

EPA gives the automakers a choice of a “two-cycle” or “five-cycle” range test, which essentially just dictates how many times the car goes through testing cycles. More on those cycles in a bit, as those are what give us the bigger and smaller gaps in real-world range numbers. City test cycles are conducted for a hair over 11 minutes at a time with a top speed of 56 mph and an average speed of just over 21 mph. Highway test cycles are run for a bit over 10 minutes at an average speed of 48 mpg and a top speed of 60 mph. The combined range figure is estimated by weighing together the city and highway numbers, with city driving accounting for 55% of the score and highway driving for 45%. To further simulate the range-dropping factors of real-world environments, the range is then multiplied by 0.7 to lower it.

In 2008, the EPA added three more cycles an automaker can test for that would better indicate range in real-world conditions, including a 95-degree hot weather test with air-conditioning on, a 20-degree cold weather test, and a high-speed test. Again, the results of using these extra cycles are detailed in a section below, but first, let’s see how they do things across the pond.

WLTP

Like EPA, WLTP uses cycles to test vehicles, but they’re also broken down further into classes based on max speed and power-to-weight ratios. The higher the vehicle’s performance, the higher the test speeds, hence why a Model S Plaid won’t be held to entirely the same standard as, say, a Renault Twizy. A WLTP test will be broken down into Low, Medium, High, and Extra High sub-cycles and run for 30 minutes over 14.4 miles at an average speed of 31 mph and a top speed of over 81.

Unlike the EPA range tests, the lab temperature is static at 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and they do not add the 0.7 real-world multiplier to lower the final range numbers. This is partly why EPA numbers are typically lower than their WLTP counterparts. For instance, the combined range of the most frugal Mustang Mach-E in America is rated at 300 miles. Compare that European Mach-E estimates of up to 372. Want another? The refreshed Tesla Model 3 Highland Long Range has a range of 305 to 341 miles, depending on wheel choice, but WLTP estimates peg it between 390 and 421.

Ah yes, the Long Range’s range is indeed long.

CLTC

This is a China-exclusive measure that isn’t necessarily relevant to Western EV buyers unless you enjoy speculating and eyebrow-raising. Criticized as “pushing an EV down a hill in a vacuum,” this methodology has been panned for the same reason as the now-defunct NEDC by producing highly optimistic range figures that may not be anywhere near indicative of what a real-world owner may experience. Unless they apparently push their car down a hill in a vacuum.

This CLTC test is conducted at a constant cruise of 25 mph until the battery goes kaput and is then adjusted for weather, terrain, and other factors via data compiled from real Chinese drivers across its many regions. While yes, this very much plays into an electric car’s inherent lows-speed efficiency and is not quite representative of what Western-driven cars will see, it’s important to remember that this is a Chinese test for Chinese market cars, so EVs are held to a different standard for their own driving environments, which are often dense, slow, and without too much intercity travel on massive high-speed highways.

Two-cycle vs five-cycle range testing

EPA test cycles
Image credit: fueleconomy.gov

Okay. So, different regions in the world conduct varying range tests and score different figures. Alrighty then, but what about the rampant talk of some brands like Tesla and even Lucid having massive disparities between lab-brewed estimates and real-world numbers?

As Counts explained to me when talking Mach-E numbers, this widdles down to the number of test cycles an automaker chooses to use.

As mentioned, the EPA offers a simple way to test for city and highway ranges with a city and highway cycle. Most automakers opt for this two-cycle test, while a few, particularly smaller startups, opt for the five-cycle test, which, as you can imagine, tests the car over more cycles. As detailed in another InsideEVs piece, it’s not that these companies are conning anyone or cheating a system. They’re just using the options available to them to gain an advantage. Such an advantage yields them a higher number that, therefore, looks better to the press and consumers and puts these startups or anyone else who uses the five-cyle option on a pedestal.

Why is this? Simple.

More cycles let EV makers take advantage of a car’s low-speed efficiency since they’re obviously exerting less energy to move at slower speeds and are bolstered by goodies like regenerative braking. The additional test cycles reportedly also include “high-speed” or aggressive driving, hot weather with air conditioning, and cold weather tests, all of which are done at a low enough speed to work in an electric car’s favor. Cool beans, except when magazines and owners conduct their own independent tests, typically on highways and at far higher speeds than the EPA’s lab experiments. This means the range disparity is, well, to say “noticeable” would be an understatement. Still, this practice of extra low-speed tests is allowed by the EPA and is totally legal, even if it’s not exactly aligned with other automakers’ decisions and doesn’t perfectly convey real-world range results on American roads.

“Such variance. Much wow.”

In case this article, its more detailed source material, and the embedded videos haven’t engrained this into your head by now, there is a mindboggling, brain-jerking, head-spinning array of variance and inconsistencies involved in EV range testing and, by extension, MPGe testing. Not only do global agencies use different methods, but there are also different cycles and sub-cycles within these methods that all yield different results for different cars. On top of that, it doesn’t help that electric vehicles are politically and societally forced to be one of the fastest evolving niches of cars on the road today, with vehicles from several years ago being nearly unrecognizable from a technical perspective from electric cars produced today.

“EVs are one of the fastest-changing areas that we deal with in our laboratory just in terms of how fast this technology is moving,” says engineer, Jarrod Brown, in CNBC’s look at EPA EV testing. “If you look at a vehicle that we had in here even five years ago, a 2016 or 2017 electric vehicle looks almost completely different internally from what we’re seeing in vehicles coming in 2024.”

When testing for range and efficiency, automakers have different ways of recording data for certification, and their cars can all use power differently. One car may not allocate the same energy to running HVAC systems as another, or they may intake and exert electricity to propel the car differently, and so on.

“Every manufacturer kind of has their own way of reporting data on where the power is coming into and going out of the vehicle,” Brown continues regarding the complexity of EV power distribution. “How it’s moving around between the motors and the batteries, or if it’s doing things like regenerative braking, or strategies about how power goes to the heating and cooling system versus how to keep the battery at the right temperature.”

The EPA system, with its many cycles, strives and often succeeds to at least come closest to what consumers can see on their commutes. But this level of added complexity and nonstop evolution may have the current ways of lining up their rulers all tripped up and out of spec. Many critics agree that modern EVs have well outgrown their archaic methods and that a new wave of standardization must come in order to bring realism and uniformity to electric car efficient measuring.

And if the word is true, change is indeed coming. One popular suggested method is providing city and highway range estimates like how the EPA already does for MPG and MPGe instead of weighing together the two for an average number. That way, consumers know what their best and worst-case scenarios are and don’t take a singular number as the definitive range their cars will always achieve.

Class dismissed

Did I lose you yet? Summary time!

The world has its many ways to measure range, all of which controversially lack a resemblance to real-world range tests, an issue which can be attributed to a variety of reasons, such as different test lengths and speeds, varying methods of averaging out final numbers, or even a lack of air resistance being in a lab strapped to a giant automotive treadmill. Europe currently has WLTP, China has CLTC, and America has the EPA, the latter of which offers a two and five-cycle test for automakers to run their EVs through.

Tesla EVs Explained range
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A two-cycle test is a fairly basic test with cycles to simulate city and highway driving. The longer optional five-cycle test introduces high-speed, air-con, and cold tests conducted at fairly low-ish speeds, which works in favor of EV manufacturers since electric cars are incredibly efficient in urban use and deliver the best mileage at slower speeds. This, along with a final range number that favors 55% city and 45% highway driving, makes the five-cycle incredibly alluring to startups like Tesla and Lucid, who claim the biggest numbers in the game yet tend to show the biggest disparity in real-world range come independent tests, which are often done at higher speeds over mostly highway. And while it doesn’t deliver the prettiest, most headline-worthy figures, other automakers opt for the simpler two-cycle test as it yields the more realistic final number that is then more likely to be met by actual owners or at least have come close to.

So go forth and stay educated! And remember this one big takeaway: Like gas mileage, EV range can vary greatly. Everything from weather, road conditions, speed, and HVAC usage can affect your range, and, like these many different magazines, your own electric car’s range may be different from what any agency or even another owner gets. Your driving style may yield a 10-mile range disparity or a 100-mile one. Who knows? Just know that whatever car you buy, whether from some big-name legacy automaker or a fancy-schmancy startup, take those window sticker estimates with a grain of salt.

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A motor court driveway full of vehicles overlayed with the text "Acceleramota presents: The best car deals of the day"
Deals

The 30 best lease deals and car sales of March 2024

Among our favorite pastimes at Acceleramota is mindlessly scrolling through car deals and sharing the best ones to help people like you (or myself) save money. Ask my wife. The only way I can muster the strength to get out of bed is to find the most cursed Facebook Marketplace listing that morning, and from the laughter-induced dopamine rush, I emerge. But, in genuine pursuit of the best lease deals and finance offers, nothing beats CarGurus. Our marketplace of choice for new and used cars, CarGurus will connect you directly with a local dealer to redeem these sweet, sweet car lease deals and sales you’ll find on cars from all the top auto brands, including Kia, Mazda, Jeep, Chevrolet, Honda, and more!

Quick notes before I set you loose! As some dealers recently signed up with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to apply EV tax credits at the point of sale, keep an eye out for these models. Purchasing one from the right dealer could add even more savings – up to $7,500. That said, if you lease, any electric car, including plug-in hybrids like the Mazda CX-90, is eligible. In my experience leasing an Alfa Romeo Tonale, dealers are happy to pass on the savings. And when you’re in the market for a luxury vehicle, leasing can make more sense than buying anyway. Especially when you can write it off on your taxes.

And don’t forget: If you think you can score a better lease deal than what’s advertised here, you probably can! Dealer-specific lease offers can sometimes beat out what’s advertised by the manufacturer depending on inventory and regional trends. So, if you suspect you can score an even hotter lease deal, then by all means, contact your local dealers, which you can still do through consumer sites like CarGurus.

Skip to featured manufacturers:

Hyundai deals and finance offers

2024 Hyundai Elantra | $199 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Expires 2/29/2024

Image credit: Hyundai

One of the most affordable cars on the market, the Hyundai Elantra is in a class all its own. The 2024 version sees leaps in both tech ad style. The modern and streamlined shape makes it perfectly stylish for everyday and long-haul journeys. This compact sedan also allows you to turn your phone into a key. Create a digital key to share with loved ones so they can unlock doors without your assistance. Integrating technology seamlessly into our vehicles and lives is all we’ve dreamed of.

2024 Hyundai Kona | $232 per month for 36 Months ($4,012 due at signing)

Image credit: Hyundai

The Kona is on the smaller side of SUVs, yet it manages all weather conditions with confidence and skill. Don’t let size be a deterrent; this is a safe and featureful vehicle. The Kona’s all-wheel drive maintains a firm grip on the slickest of streets, making it a great pick for locations with ever-changing forecasts.

Mazda deals and finance offers

2024 Mazda CX-30 | $276 per month for 33 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Expires 2/29/2024

Image credit: Mazda

Elegance was certainly in the minds of the designers for the Mazda CX-30. It quite literally is a work of art. Light and shadow are perfectly captured as this vehicle moves at all speeds; a constantly shifting S-curve dances along the doors. But it is also there as you admire the car from different angles, even at a standstill. It’s a beautiful illusion. The CX-30 is also one of the safest and most affordable vehicles on this list, with a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alfa Romeo deals and finance offers

2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia | $520 per month for 42 Months ($5,500 due at signing)

Expires 2/29/2024

Image credit: Alfa Romeo

An Italian with luxury and performance, no, not that car maker. We stan the other famous brand, Alfa Romeo, ’round these parts. The Giulia is no exception; the quality and horsepower we’ve come to love from this renowned manufacturer are well on display. With its roots deep in motorsports, why wouldn’t it produce a car with the most powerful standard turbo engine in its class? The Quadrifoglio isn’t just a good luck charm. It’s a status symbol.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | $379 per month for 27 Months ($5,275 due at signing)

Expires 2/29/2024

#image_title

Another beautiful Alfa Romeo makes the list. When I saw this at the 2023 New York International Auto Show, I gasped. It’s actually breathtaking. And as you would expect from Alfa Romeo, the Tonale handles like a dream. Our founder, Gabe Carey, also agrees with the sheer brilliance of the Tonale’s performance and appearance. We here at Acceleramota, would rather be in an Alfa than a Ferarri. Sorry, not sorry.

Honda deals and finance offers

2024 Honda Accord | $279 per month for 36 Months ($3,669 due at signing)

Expires 2/29/2024

2024 Honda Accord driving quickly around a corner on a public road
Image credit: Honda

Built for everyday driving, the Honda Accord is a popular mid-size sedan for a good reason. Responsive steering, braking, and a comfortable ride are all reasons why you’ll find this model at the top of many lists. While this deal is only for the LX base trim, you’re getting the basics like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a slew of driver-assistance features.

2024 Honda CR-V | $319 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Expires 2/29/2024

Image credit: Honda

The CR-V is a top-seller car for Honda. This sporty hybrid is rugged, yet still sleek and efficient. It’s a distinctive style for sure, less angular and Gundam-esque than Toyota’s design language. You don’t need to be heading out for a weekend of camping to truly get the most out of this vehicle. So many of the features make everyday life easier, like the hands-free access power tailgate. Imagine loading in groceries and having the ease of the door just opening with a wave of the foot. What a time to be alive.

Nissan deals and finance offers

2024 Nissan Altima SV | $289 per month for 36 Months ($3,349 due at signing)

Image credit: Nissan

Manufacturers are getting better with safety and technology, and Nissan is at the forefront. The very reliable Altima is right there. The intelligent all-wheel drive system remains vigilant on the state of the road and can react quickly. A feature like this is so important for driving in busy areas or long commutes. America loves this car for a very good reason.

2024 Nissan Sentra | $269 per month for 36 Months ($3,059 due at signing)

Image credit: Nissan

If you’re looking for efficiency, the Sentra is an excellent option. The 2024 version enhances every drive you take with cutting-edge technology, a dynamic style, agile performance, and a luxurious inside and out. Make your commute a little more comfortable with smooth handling and intelligent climate control.

Toyota deals and finance offers

2024 Toyota RAV4 LE | $399 per month for 36 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Toyota

The RAV4 was made for the outdoors but handles just as beautifully in the ‘burbs or city. A darling vehicle for Toyota, the RAV4 is prepared to take you and your family anywhere. This compact crossover SUV is prepared to navigate trails with ease just as smoothly as it cruises the highway.

2024 Toyota Camry | $329 per month for 36 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Toyota

There is a very good reason the Toyota Camry is America’s best-selling midsize sedan. It’s everything you look for in a vehicle: style, performance, and safety. This sleek, smooth car has been a US fan favorite for 21 years, and the 2024 version keeps that tradition alive and well.

Kia deals and finance offers

2024 Kia Carnival | $409 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Expires 3/04/2024

Image credit: Kia

It’s like they always say, there ain’t no carnival like a Kia Carnival. This eight-passenger minivan features a spacious interior, cutting-edge safety tech, CarPlay, Android Auto, and of course, it wouldn’t be a minivan without power sliding doors. Bear in mind that this deal only applies to the most basic LX trim.

2023 Kia EV6 | $359 per month for 36 Months ($4,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Kia

Heart set on an electric SUV? The Kia EV6 is a stylish midsize option with decent cargo along with sharp steering and handling. Its performance is impressive too – you’re looking at Kia’s most powerful production model, complete with 576 horsepower. Go from 0-60 in only 3.4 seconds at a big discount. While this price is exclusive to the rear-wheel drive Wind model, check with your dealer because there may be incentives on other trims including the all-wheel drive version.

2023 Kia Forte | $209 per month for 24 Months ($2,799 due at signing)

Image credit: Kia

The Kia Forte is a sophisticated little sedan with above-average utility and great value for the money. With a long list of available amenities, this comfy ride is an affordable dream for commutes and trips. The Forte offers excellent value when paired with good performance from the GT trim, high fuel efficiency, and a comprehensive warranty.

Subaru deals and finance offers

2024 Subaru Outback | $305 per month for 36 Months ($3,055 due at signing)

Image credit: Subaru

TikTok’s favorite manufacturer, Subaru, has rizz. The Outback is an excellent SUV and, for years, has outranked others in this category. Subaru boasts that 97% of Outbacks purchased in the last decade are still on the road today, so this is a very good investment to make. Those engineers are doing something very right, the Outback has become the definition of reliable and durable.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek | $299 per month for 36 Months ($2,549 due at signing)

Image credit: Subaru

A compact SUV paired with Subaru’s legendary Asymmetrical All-Wheel Drive traction makes this a killer pick for those on the go and off to the forest. The 2024 Crosstrek goes hard. This is the safest version of the vehicle that’s ever been on the market. Subaru upgraded their EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, as well as other detection sensors, to alert at a moment’s notice. Very smart to have in low visibility areas. They have also improved their Starlink connection for extra safety, which could be handy in dark, isolated woods.

2024 Subaru Impreza | $269 per month for 36 Months ($2,569 due at signing)

Image credit: Subaru

The 2024 Impreza is the ultimate all-weather vehicle, packed with cutting-edge technology, premium engineering, and a versatile sleek hatchback style. For this reason, the Impreza was selected as a SmartChoice winner for High Retained Value for two consecutive years by experts at IntelliChoice.

Chevy finance deals and offers

2023 Chevy Bolt EV | $299 per month for 36 Months (up to $6,639 due at signing)

2023 Chevy Bolt parked in front of attached garage
Image credit: Chevrolet

For the longest time, the Chevy Bolt EV compact hatchback was the EV price defender’s greatest weapon against their adversaries. Not only is it affordable, but it squeezes a lot of power into a compact package. Making considerably more horsepower and torque than the Chevy Sonic it supplanted, the standard Bolt EV can zip from 0-60 in just 6.5 seconds while carrying five passengers up to 259 miles at a time.

2024 Chevy Camaro LT1 | $279 per month for 24 Months (up to $6,689 due at signing)

2023 Camaro (silver) and 2023 Camaro (red) facing opposite directions
Image credit: Chevrolet

Few things scream American more than a V8, but alas, 2023 marked the beginning of the end for big block, high-displacement engines. So, why not make the most of it by leasing one of the last great muscle cars, the Chevy Camaro? Get ’em while they’re hot… and going out of production. The LT1 trim, as the name suggests, shares its 6.2-liter LT1 V8 small block engine with the Corvette C7, making 455 horses and 455 lb-ft of torque. Ain’t nothing wrong with that! Although current Chevy lessees can get away with putting $5,189 down, you will have to plunk down a sizable chunk of change if you’re new to the brand.

Dodge lease deals and finance offers

2023 Dodge Charger | $776 per month for 48 Months ($5,352 due at signing)

Image credit: Dodge

We are a bit biased here, but this is a good-looking car. This might also be sentimental, with the production of the Charger coming to an end, but it’s still a stunning piece of ingenuity. Dodge is releasing six packages, inspired by some of the make’s most iconic looks. Either on the racetrack or just cruising on the highway the horsepower will have a special place in history and our hearts. Probably a good idea to grab one now.

2023 Dodge Challenger | $666 per month for 48 Months ($4,986 due at signing)

Image credit: Dodge

Past and present, the Dodge Challenger is a stunner. Even in its modern iteration, there is something beautifully timeless about it. Dodge knows how to make pretty perfect muscle cars. Another make getting sent to the junkyard in the sky, the 2023 Dodge Challenger is a glorious send-off version. The incredible horsepower and speed is something to behold for years to come. Instant cool points here.

Volkswagen lease deals and finance offers

2024 Volkswagen Tiguan | $299 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Expires 3/04/2024

Image credit: Volkswagen

Its spacious cabin comfortably holds up to seven people. It comes standard with heated front seats, and right now, lessees in select regions can take home the S model with 4Motion all-wheel drive for $299 per month – that’s like half the price of a monthly parking spot in NYC!

2024 Volkswagen Jetta | $299 per month for 36 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Expires 3/04/2024

Image credit: Volkswagen

An American fan-favorite, the VW Jetta is a modern sedan that is actually cool. Volkswagen doesn’t overlook any detail in this update. All materials were carefully selected to make the interior as cozy as possible, like a home away from home. This is especially true with a state-of-the-art digital cockpit, for an intuitive user experience. Clear, concise driving information helps you get safely and efficiently anywhere. We get why this is a hit.

Ford lease deals and finance offers

2023 Ford Escape | $349 per month for 48 Months ($3,347 due at signing)

Expires 4/02/2024

2023 Ford Escape side profile (red)
Image credit: Ford

While the Ford Escape might not be the most exciting car on the road, sometimes you just need an affordable, reliable daily to get you from point A to point B without spending half your salary on fuel. And that’s exactly what the Escape is: a practical, front-wheel drive family hauler with the option of all-wheel drive across trim levels. But even without any upgrades, the 2023 Escape includes all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from modern vehicles, including a touchscreen infotainment system, a backup camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system.

2023 Ford Explorer | $559 per month for 39 Months ($4,395 due at signing)

Image credit: Ford

“Built Ford tough,” is a very true statement, and no vehicle exemplifies this better than the Explorer. This SUV was made to work, as it can tow up to 5,600 lbs. The Class IV Trailer Tow Package makes bringing your camper or boat along on your wilderness vacation quite simple. You don’t need to love the great outdoors to get the most out of the Explorer, but it doesn’t hurt. With Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Technology, stay completely in control no matter where you roam.

Volvo lease deals and finance offers

2024 Volvo V60 Cross Country | $609 per month for 36 months ($3,985 due at signing)

Image credit: Volvo

A roomy, hardy, and reliable wagon built for all adventures. The Volvo V60 Cross Country can literally weather all storms and road conditions. Regenerative braking with this mild hybrid means that energy gets stored in the  48V battery, and this helps cut fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions.  With all-wheel drive, an off-road mode, and high ground clearance, this is everything outdoorsy people search for in a car.

2024 Volvo S60 | $455 per month for 36 Months ($3,775 due at signing)

Image credit: Volvo

Volvo’s mild hybrids save fuel without sacrificing performance in the process, their S60 is a beautiful example of this. The S60’s smooth takeoffs and gentle acceleration tackle the streets of cities and bumpy highways with ease. If you didn’t love driving before, you will after experiencing this car.

Mercedes lease deals and finance offers

2023 Mercedes S-Class | $1,619 per month for 36 Months ($11,033 due at signing)

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It’s ok to be posh, no judgment here. Every year the S-Class evolves into a more intuitive and advanced vehicle, and that’s exactly what embodies the Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The sportiness of this sedan and its very recognizable grille not only help it stand out in the mix but also make it unmistakably an S-Class. This is kind of a beauty and brains situation and it gets our thumbs up.

Porsche lease deals and finance offers

2024 Porsche Taycan | $1,149 per month for 39 Months ($9,809 due at signing)

Image credit: Porsche

Unlike VW, its more affordable sibling, it’s not cheap to own a Porsche, and the Taycan is no exception. Despite its $90,900 starting price, the base model Taycan might not keep up with the Tesla Model S in a straight line, but its two-speed transmission on the rear axle, superb handling and suspension system, and sportier interior make it a great family cruiser that’s still plenty capable on a track.

2024 Porsche Macan | $849 per month for 39 Months ($8,649 due at signing)

Image credit: Porsche

One might expect the 2024 Porsche Macan to cost an ungodly amount, but it’s quite reasonable. The Macan is Porsche’s other bread-and-butter sports ute behind the Cayenne and will soon be their second EV alongside the Taycan sedan. Porsche was able to create this Macan with a strong emphasis on the brand’s signature driving dynamics and steering feel. They ate with this model, and you’ll definitely turn heads cruising in it.

Best car subscription deals

Finn | $200 off first month

Promo code: FINN11XACCELERAMOTA200

Image credit: Finn

Finn is completely changing the process of what it’s like to shop for cars. In fact, we called it the best car subscription you’ll find in 2023. Browse its selection online of an ever-growing catalog of different makes and models, select your subscription term length, and then confirm your order. Your car will be delivered right to you if you live in the Northeast. And right now, we have an exclusive discount to save $200 on the first month of your subscription. Just use the code FINN11XACCELERAMOTA200.

Car accessories, merch, and collectibles

RevMatch | 15% off ANY coffee bag

Promo Code REDLINE15

Image credit: RevMatch

Don’t go falling asleep at the wheel. RevMatch has a wide selection of small-batch, craft-roasted coffee to help you start your engines (wake up in the morning). Right now, you can use the promo code REDLINE15 to receive 15% off everything on the site.

Acceleramota Merch | 20% off

Promo code: INSTANTTORQUE20

We’ve finally launched our merch store! And, starting off, we have a selection of T-shirts, crewneck sweatshirts, and hats to choose from. Be sure to use our promo code INSTANTTORQUE20 for 20% off your order for a limited time.

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Image credit: Rob Wilkinson / AiM / APEX Pro / Garmin
Buying GuidesDealsSaturday Morning Car Tune!

These lap timers will help you become a better track driver

Attending track days is one of the most fun and fulfilling ways to express one’s automotive enthusiasm. What’s not to love? You’re in a safe and controlled environment where you can drive at way higher speeds than pretty much any other place on paved earth. This enables ample opportunity to truly enjoy what your car was designed and/or modified for, sharpen your driving skills, and even become a safer motorist along the way.

Then, there’s the bit about track driving that’s even more fun, and incredibly addictive: Setting and gradually dropping lap times. Changing your line, turning in earlier or later, refining your acceleration and braking; the process of setting and achieving goals to go faster is a fun one, and along with it comes a hearty sense of pride and accomplishment. It may not be the most financially healthy activity for car nuts, but hey, it sure beats hard drug use!

One tool that’s of massive help along the way by giving you all the information you need to go faster is a good GPS-based digital lap timer. 

Guidance from a qualified instructor is another top method, and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked as part of the learning experience. A lap timer that records data is a strong accompaniment—analyzing and digesting this data post-track session expedites the learning process and paints a very detailed picture of what it takes to get faster. Let’s go over three popular digital lap timers and discuss their various positives and negatives. We won’t rate them, but rather to help you figure out which is best for your budget and learning style.

Skip to product:

Image credit: Peter Nelson

For the most digestible data and video on the spot: Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer

Garmin Catalyst lap timer
Image credit: Garmin

What’s hot?

  • Includes video
  • Simple, fool-proof setup
  • Very easy to digest data post-session
  • Logical software
  • Stays plugged into a 12v outlet or USB, so won’t lose power on track

What’s not?

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t allow as deep of a dive into data as other systems
  • Requires earbuds or another improved hearing method

Kicking off this list is a comprehensive system by Garmin. I call it a system because using it requires a bit of setup time. Inside its fairly hefty box lives a bunch of wires, connectors, plugs, and various electronic doohickies, plus the sturdy Garmin tablet itself that’s the brain of the whole operation. Read the directions and allow ample time to properly piece it all together—don’t do it 10 minutes before you head out on track—and you’re golden. In fact, it’s a good idea to turn it on the night before, connect to Wi-Fi, and ensure all software is up-to-date.

Once the Catalyst is all set up and running, it’s so incredibly pleasant to use: Select the track you’re at, and it’ll automatically start and stop recording both lap times and video. While filming laps and displaying lap times, it has a delta timer that shows how much faster or slower you are compared to your best-recorded lap. It also utilizes its various sensors and GPS to record accurate data covering acceleration/deceleration, speed, your precise location on track, and so on.  Then, the footage it puts together includes a very handy data overlay for even easier data digestion, which you can review as soon as the session is over.

Image credit: Peter Nelson. Note the camera mounted to the center of the windshield, and the tablet attached via its suction cup high off to the side.

Post-session, pulling the tablet off its mount and tapping around to look at different laps, examine speed, acceleration/deceleration, and track position, as well as learning where opportunities to improve lie, is incredibly easy. It’s as easy as surfing the world-wide-web on an iPad. Plus, the layout/interface is incredibly logical, so it takes no time at all to get used to.

The Catalyst also makes suggestions on how to cut time, but does so based on your own performance—it’s not going to compare you to Lewis Hamilton. Then, by dividing the track up into different sectors, it puts together an optimal lap of all your best ones; think of it as essentially a Best Of compilation. It’s a fun challenge to try and replicate—or better yet, improve upon—this lap in a future session.

Here’s an example of what the recorded video looks like.

One downside is that its spoken instruction (that’s right, it’s got that too) is awfully quiet. The optional earbuds are a must if you’re on track with most track day organizations, as they require you to run with the windows down for safety reasons. These simple suggestions are definitely worth listening to as well. They include stuff like “brake later next lap,” “turn in earlier next lap,” and so on.

After discussing the Garmin Catalyst at length, with almost all positive remarks, here’s the catch: It’s an expensive system. It’s knocking on the door of one thousand American dollars, which isn’t exactly pocket change for most folks. In fact, that’s more than a set of good track tires in many common sizes. Though, for its ease-of-use, video, and coaching aspects, and easy data digestion, it could prove to be a very wise investment in your lapping education.

The OG for extra-deep data potential: AiM Sportline Solo 2 DL GPS Lap Timer and Dash Logger

Image credit: AiM

What’s hot?

  • The best display
  • Easy to fire up and start recording
  • Mid-tier price
  • Excellent application integration
  • Programmable lights

What’s not?

  • Potentially too much data for some folks
  • Expensive to integrate a camera
  • Slight learning curve, though all of the units in this list have that to some degree

The AiM Solo 2 DL is the oldest of the bunch, but that’s by no means a knock against it. This capable device has a lot going for it.

First and foremost is setting it up: it’s so easy to turn the DL on and begin recording once you’re underway on your warm-up lap. Like the Catalyst and APEX Pro, it utilizes GPS to figure out where you’re at and suggest which track you’d like to select from its massive database, which saves precious seconds while prepping to head out on track.

Also like the other two, its GPS is quite accurate: In my experience, all three record lap times that are within a hundredth of a second of any track’s conventional transponder-based timing system.

But where AiM’s product beats the others is its crystal-clear backlit screen: I consider it the easiest to quickly look at and understand, especially on very sunny days and other harsh lighting conditions. Not only that, but it also has a very clear delta timer. However, like the Catalyst’s, this feature can be hazardous at times, as it often motivates folks to really push braking zones and hang out on the ragged edge of the grip.

Image credit: Peter Nelson

Like the APEX Pro below (which I’ll get to shortly), the Solo 2 DL has a system of lights, but here you can program them to mean different things. For instance, the DL part of its name means data logger, specifically its ability to pull data from the OBD2 port and log it with the data it produces itself (G readings, location on track, etc.) You can program the lights to serve as a shift light, meaning it’s pulling this data from the ECU in real time—though, this requires some work with a PC and its desktop application to set up. They can also be programmed to convey predictive lap timing, though this function I’m not as familiar with.

Mounting up the Solo 2 DL is easy with a suction cup mount or a more permanent solution, though, like the Catalyst, there are some wires to run for OBD2 data integration. You can also choose to wire its power into a 12v circuit somewhere with the right wiring option. This is so you never have to worry about recharging, which is convenient for purpose-built track steeds.

Between the Catalyst, APEX Pro, and Solo 2 DL, only the latter two are able to pull and integrate vehicle OBD2 data. This means that folks who like to dig deep into this kind of stuff are better off with one of the two. 

And speaking of digging into data, AiM’s software makes for a very, very thorough experience. You can review sessions on your phone, but its full potential is best enjoyed with the brand’s desktop application. Seriously, you can spend hours and hours examining everything it produces.

For diving a little deeper into data: APEX Pro Gen II Lap Time Optimizer

Image credit: Apex Pro

What’s hot?

  • No wires means easy portability and setup
  • Convenient app-based program makes post-session review a snap
  • Much less expensive than other systems
  • Good battery life

What’s not?

  • Has a learning curve (though it isn’t steep)
  • Additions cost extra
  • Some folks might not like the system of lights

Where the Garmin Catalyst has a bunch of wires to run and a camera to set up, the Apex Pro Gen II is as easy as magnetically attaching a little box with lights to a glued-down post or suction cup mount. It’s also a good idea to keep your phone strapped down somehow, like with a quality Ram Mount.

No, really, it’s that simple, and a big part of the APEX Pro’s appeal. All you do is turn the unit on, open up your phone’s app and connect it, calibrate the unit’s position, and then hit “Drive.” It’s just a few taps and is as quick and easy to get used to as the Catalyst.

When the session’s done, you’ve got a list of laps on the APEX Pro app and a bunch of data. These include speed, track position, acceleration/deceleration G, and more, which help you see where you could improve, where you did well, and so on. It doesn’t make suggestions like the Catalyst, but the company has a lot of useful resources to help you figure out a good plan of attack for the next session. It also utilizes its GPS sensor to record your lap on a track map, which makes zeroing in on and analyzing certain sectors a cinch. Finally, having the ability to page through various graphs containing pertinent data points is very useful; once again, it takes a little bit of education to learn how to read these. My favorite is examining the lateral vs. longitudinal G scatter plot—it’s a simple x and y axis, so it’s easy to take a quick look to see how much of the lap you were on the edge of grip, and didn’t leave any G force on the table.

See that little thing on top of the dash? That’s it!

Instead of the APEX Pro giving you real-time verbal suggestions on track, it does so with a system of lights. These can indicate many things, from leaving speed on the table to being off the right line (especially in regards to your speed) and more. For example: All green lights: You’re golden. Almost all green lights: You’re doing well, but you’re leaving speed on the table. Once again, reading over the instructions is required.

Finally, you can export your data and analyze it even further in certain desktop applications, which is great for those who’d really like to get into the weeds with numbers and pinpoint where there’s time to shave.

One downside to the Apex Pro is it takes time to figure out its way of doing things. Though, once you’re there, you’ll have no problem quickly diving deep into analysis. Another is needing to purchase accessories or subscribe through your OS’ app store for more features. If you’d like to include OBD2 data (a super helpful data addition), you’ll have to buy the company’s dongle. If you’d like expanded features like recording via your phone’s camera, that’s an added subscription. Still, it’s a great overall system that’s quite comprehensive and easy to use, and quite a bit lower in price than the Garmin Catalyst.

Check out the lights in action!

Go forth and analyze

You can’t go wrong with any of the above digital lap timing units, it just comes down to your learning preference, what you want features-wise, and what your budget looks like. They’re all sturdily constructed, so you can toss ‘em around a bit like other track equipment. Though, I wouldn’t use any of them to chock your wheels in the paddock. Video is certainly a useful accompaniment, which the Catalyst does best as its camera is a default accessory to its function. The APEX Pro requires a subscription but does it well enough, and the AiM requires its expensive SmartyCam to put two and two together here.

I should point out that the Racelogic Performance Box Touch, Racelogic VBOX Sport, and RaceBox Performance Meter Box are also well-regarded options, but I don’t have any familiarity with them personally.

GRIDLIFE Laguna 2023
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Regardless of which option you go with, make sure you spend time reading through its instructions, do a little perusing through any applicable Facebook groups and/or forums, and ensure it’s set up properly before heading out on track. Then, head out there and enjoy setting and achieving all your lap time goals!

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King of the Hammers
EventsFeaturesSaturday Morning Car Tune!

Finding glory in the chaos at King of the Hammers

Twice over the past 10 days, I ventured out into the desert north of Los Angeles to once again visit King of the Hammers, the off-road rage fest that descends on Johnson Valley OHV Area every February. Now in its 17th year, KoH leans more closely to Burning Man with a healthy dose of Mad Max fever dream thrown in, and growing attendance this year topped out at an estimated six-figure count.

I received invitations from Optima Batteries to check out the Optima Oasis, an unexpected installation of solar and hydrogen-powered electric vehicle chargers built out to encourage EV acceptance among the marauding four-wheeler crowd. And Ford promised a few experiences that I knew I simply couldn’t pass up.

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

But the racing also caught my eye more than ever this year, after I spent the first weeks of last year in Saudi Arabia covering the Dakar Rally and then this past November pre-running much of the Baja 1000 racecourse. King of the Hammers presents a different challenge in every class, from the high-speed trophy trucks to race-prepped side-by-sides, King of the Motos, homebuilt “Every Man Challenge” entrants, and of course, the million-dollar-plus specialty builds known as Ultra4 cars.

But I should be right at home, right? After all, I did drive the course with Ford’s arch nemesis

(link opens in same tab)

Day 1 at KoH

This year, newsworthy Southern California weather forecasts predicted heavy rain, and even some snow, for Johnson Valley over the KoH dates. So, for my first day in the desert, I packed accordingly, cramming all my recovery gear into an Audi Q8 e-Tron that I planned to drive out and charge up at the Optima Oasis. In went the Yankum rope, a pair of soft shackles, six different Maxtrax recover boards that I figured I might be able to test on heavy, mid-size, and lightweight off-road vehicles alike, and, of course, my automatic tire deflators and compressor bag for airing down and back up.

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

I’ll have a more detailed story about Audi’s performance driving 135 miles out to Johnson Valley coming soon here on Acceleramota, but to cut out a bit of nail-biting drama, high winds and thousands of vertical feet of elevation climb left me hypermiling behind semi trucks to save range for much of the drive. So when I pulled into the dirt, I made a bee-line straight to a Level 2 charger and plugged the Audi in for the rest of the day.

The Audi wouldn’t have fit in particularly well among the group of Ford Raptor enthusiasts that I then joined for a quick trail run to catch some more remote viewing spots of the trophy trucks racing. I climbed into a friend’s suspension-swapped Ford F-150, with the Coyote V8 instead of the factory Raptor’s twin-turbo V6. Surrounded by Broncos from the 1970s to the modern era, more brand-spanking-new Raptors and Raptor Rs, plus even an early production Ranger Raptor that Ford reps brought along for some fun, we jetted out into the vast expanse of Johnson Valley.

The modded F-150 ran well, keeping up pace even though the leaders never pushed particularly hard. But the Bronco Raptors and F-150 Raptor Rs on their 37-inch tires clearly rode more smoothly over some of the rougher portions. Catching sight of the classics barrelling through sagebrush and mud pits put a smile on everyone’s faces. After a couple of stops to watch young racer and social media personality, Christopher Polvoorde, blast by in a Mason Motorsports-built “Raptor” trophy truck at an entirely different level of speed, leading twice but in second place occasionally, too, we turned back to Hammertown to catch the finish line.

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

On the way, the F-150 caught sections of whoops a bit too aggressively, and soon enough, warning lights blared and steam started blistering out of the hood. Turns out the coolant line to the heater core had sheared right off, I figure because the Raptor might get different engine mounts that can handle a more hardcore beating. We fiddled for a bit but decided to get back to home base to scrounge up parts and more antifreeze rather than risk overheating again while crawling back.

And that’s how I ended up catching a ride with Tanner Foust on the way back to watch Polvoorde take first place in his first year driving his own Mason trophy truck. At the finish line, I chatted up the 23-year-old, who I met last year at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (and who I beat in a karting race while there, for those keeping score—whenever you beat a pro at anything, it’s always best practice to bring it up at every single opportunity). To my surprise, Polvoorde looked fresh after a hard few hours of racing. Had recent rainstorms smoothed out the course, as I’d experienced in Baja a few months ago? Not so much, apparently.

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

“King of the Hammers definitely threw a challenge at us this year, I mean, way different than Baja,” Polvoorde said. “The course was chewed up, I can tell you it was blowing my mind how rough it got. Even the first lap when we went out, I was like, ‘Holy cow, there’s some big holes.’ And then by the second time we came through, I was like, ‘Okay, let’s calm her down, slow her down.’”

“At Baja, we get a lot more variety,” he remembered. “Here just kind of beats you up for two, three hours and then spits you out… I used that to my advantage, I knew we weren’t getting the best time splits, and then I knew right here at the end it was pretty sandy. So with the four-wheel-drive, I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re just gonna pull up and put enough time on ‘em.’”

After a bit more celebrations that certainly involved zero beverages, we borrowed a hose clamp from Polvoorde’s team truck and headed back out to try and fix the F-150 before the sun went down. Playing mechanic’s helper, I struggled to pull off a stubborn clip—which, of course, popped right off easily in someone else’s hands—then we topped up the coolant, tightened down the borrowed hose clamp, and fired up that Coyote. Just a few drops of pink poured out of the jury-rigged connection at idle, so we slow-cruised back to the Optima Oasis, thinking that was a better bet than leaving a truck unattended all night in the desert. Next, I checked on the Audi, and after averaging 12 miles of range added per hour of charging, felt confident enough to blast home in the dark.

Returning to the desert

Four days later, and this time piloting a 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor, I blasted back out to Johnson Valley and arrived well after 11 PM. The next morning, feeling refreshed as a newborn baby (read: screaming, angry, and starving), I got to experience something much closer to Polvoorde’s job in the trophy truck. That Bronco Raptor simply rips, the perfect vehicle for exploring KoH, able to keep up with side-by-sides thanks to long-travel Fox dampers and all those 418 horsepowers—only with air conditioning, heated seats, and Apple CarPlay for keeping the OnX Offroad app pulled up on the big screen.

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Once again, I brought my Maxtrax and recovery gear, just in case the weather prophets actually turned out correct for once. Guess again, since a bright blue sky and dry breeze graced the entirety of Johnson Valley, as usual. I spent some more time playing around with a Rivian and checking out the Optima Oasis charging setup, then went out to enjoy the Braptor at top speed. Jumping, roaring, sliding sideways, and repeatedly redlining up a sandy hillclimb, I may have pushed a little too hard—not that the Braptor minded, only because the Maxtrax mount popped off at some point.

Pulling a 180, I retraced my steps using OnX and—miracle of miracles—actually found one of the boards sitting at the center of a little brush clearing surrounded by 96,000 acres of godforsaken dirt. The other, it would seem, is lost to the elements (or, more likely, somebody spotted it and took home a souvenir). 

With dry sand and no precipitation looking likely, I never needed to test a recovery board in a truly dire situation, but a helpful Toyota Corolla Cross owner offered to let me try out the new Maxtrax Lite by using the board to dig a little hole, then dipping a tire in until it spun. Sure enough, the lighter plastic held up just fine, and the little hybrid just walked right up and out of the makeshift hole.

A ride in the real deal

On the very opposite end of the spectrum from a Toyota commuter car stuck in some sand. I next ventured out with Ford to catch a ride in a full-blown factory Bronco DR racecar. Baja legend Curt Leduc played wheelman for about 20 minutes of all gas and almost no brakes other than to avoid a few dirt bikers and those damned wayward side-by-sides. 

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Once warmed up, the DR’s Multimatic suspension gobbles up terrain without disrupting chassis balance almost at all. I always find race suspension a little firm, and in this case, that impression arose again at first, but eventually, we settled into a rhythm, and with the unrestricted Coyote V8 absolutely barking, massive tires freewheeling in the air aplenty, Leduc showed me just how different a real racer is compared to a stock Bronco Raptor or suspension-swapped F-150. 

I even got an early ride in that Ranger Raptor on the way out and back to meet Leduc. Lighter, with a longer wheelbase supporting a less radical suspension and tire combo than the Bronco Raptor, the Ranger served perfectly as my glorified desert chauffeur. And Ford’s rep told me the truck actually rolled off the production line, so we can expect real media reviews sometime in the next couple of months… For now, this top-spec Ranger finally arriving in the US later this year might just take over my top slot of potential new trucks to actually buy.

Just kidding, I’ll never own a new car, but if I ever do, this might be the one.

Absolute chaos at Chocolate Thunder

Now’s as good a time as any to reveal that no matter how much everyone shit-talks side-by-sides, including me, there’s no doubt that nothing on the market can match these purpose-built carts in terms of sheer off-road pace for the money. I wanted to catch another chance to borrow a Can-Am Maverick R or a Polaris Rzr Pro R to test a bit out at KoH, too. But communication once again proved impossible, as seemingly everyone at Johnson Valley arrived with Starlink this year and completely overwhelmed any hope of wi-fi reception through satellites.

As night fell at KoH, I certainly appreciated my Braptor’s enclosed cabin and climate control system. Temps started to drop quickly and the party began to crank up. From Hammertown, everybody kept turning to check out the bright lights and bumping music emanating from the epic obstacle known as Chocolate Thunder. I fueled up on tacos and White Claws, changed into full cold-weather gear, including a face mask, and grimly faced the prospect of my first overnight at King of the Hammers. Time to get the full alt-right Coachella experience.

Drunk teenagers probably named the Hammers back in the day—there’s an easily distinguished theme to Backdoor, Chocolate Thunder, and Her Problem—but now the crowd at KoH varies from teens to full-grown adults addled by days of chugging beers (not Bud Light, I assure you) and the dehydration of spending all day watching desert racing.

But I quickly discovered that nothing compares to the nightlife.

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

At Chocolate Thunder for about four hours, as amateurs drove their insane rock-crawling rigs through a screaming mass of people, I witnessed one fistfight, two cars roll over, and one car driving fully over another. Beverages flowed, the occasional smell of skunk overwhelming the gasoline-powered campfires dotting the hill, and music echoing from various speaker setups varied from early-2000s hip hop to modern pop-country. Handheld fireworks launching amid the scrum lit up the entire valley, when the light pods and bars on every truck didn’t quite reveal every last nook and cranny. Flat tires, dirt bikers being pushed up the hill, and stuck trucks danced on by groups of 10 and 20 revelers—somehow, I saw nobody get flattened. 

The gnarliest moment came when an entire box of fireworks exploded on the ground, spectators diving to the sides to avoid any carnage. Meanwhile, the amateurs showed their amateur status, struggling to climb up Chocolate Thunder as the engine screamed and tires squealed, scrabbling on the rocks, spraying up sand and gravel. No wonder racers at King of the Hammers talk about pre-running being little more than shakedowns for the vehicles rather than sighting lines. The whole desert changes every night in the chaos!

I mentioned to Polvoorde how rowdy KoH gets at night and how many more people stayed out at Hammertown than I remembered from years past. 

“It’s pretty crazy,” he agreed. “Every year, it’s like how much bigger can it get? The lakebed is just filling up more and more, and then you see things like what Optima’s doing, building the Oasis where we have just this massive camp outside of Hammertown. It always blows my mind. But once you come here and experience it, it’s one of those things where you’re like I have to keep coming back ‘cus there’s something different every single day, and it kind of never disappoints.”

A rubberband cart takes on the Ultra4 racers

As if to unwittingly prove my point about side-by-sides, this year, I purposefully decided to make my schedule line up so that I could catch the Ultra4 cars running the rock race in the 4400 class. I caught the start line, then jetted up toward Backdoor in the Braptor just in time to watch the frontrunners pull through, jumping off six-foot shelves easier than I step off the stoop of my apartment. But right up there with the likes of Casey Currie, Loren Healey, and the Gomez Brothers sat Kyle Chaney, a Can-Am driver in a Maverick X3 riding on 37-inch tires.

Apparently, the 4400 class rules changed this year to make 37s the absolute minimum tire size, mostly to prevent budget side-by-sides from running against the world’s most extreme seven-figure off-roading vehicles. Because how embarrassing would it be if some guy in a Can-Am won the top race at King of the Hammers while dealing with both top-speed desert trails and obstacles like torn-up Chocolate Thunder alike?

Yep, you guessed it. Kyle Chaney did just that—or at least, we thought he did since he crossed the finish line first after starting well off the front. But then, on adjusted time, Raul Gomez actually took home the top spot and nudged Chaney down to second. Not bad for a side-by-side, though, and not even one of Can-Am’s top-of-the-line Maverick Rs since that innovative finger-knuckle design limits max tire sizing.

I actually watched Chaney go up Chocolate Thunder, a wild choice of lines always standing out compared to his competition. The morning after, some spectators clearly in recovery, the cheers for every truck ripping through sounded just as strong—to my ringing ears and searing eyeballs anyway. Three full days at King of the Hammers will do that, turns out, and some people stick around for 10 days or more!

King of the Hammers
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

The insane night culture that I caught for the first time this year will never fade from memory, even if I caught very little on camera. Maybe that’s for the best, though, in the vein of plausible deniability. Every year, I wonder whether I’ll take the time to do King of the Hammers again next year. This time around, the answer looks more solidly in the yes column than ever before.

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Best Racing Sim Wheels feature photo
Buying GuidesDeals

Here are some great racing sim wheels to get your gaming setup rolling!

Hello, and welcome to our first community-curated buyer’s guide! This first one ain’t much, but it’s honest work. And we hope fellow consumers, enthusiasts, and gaming junkies can probably find something to love here. After all, you guys chose them. So thank you to our readers, social followers, and close friends who helped us piece this together with their insight. Now presenting (and in no particular order) our round-up of the best racing sim wheels according to you, the people!

Scroll on through, and happy shopping.

Moza R5 – for PC

Moza R5
Image credit: Moza, Amazon

What’s hot?

  • Sleek design with swappable quick-disconnect wheel akin to real race cars
  • Tough steel and aluminum construction vs commonplace plastic
  • Customizable and configurable buttons
  • Acclaimed direct drive and force feedback system

What’s not?

  • PC only
  • More expensive than Logitech offerings

Arguably the best thing on this list. And it’s not even the fanciest, schmanciest thing Moza sells. The R5 is touted as an excellent PC offering for those who fancy any sort of serious, tense racing, from iRacing to Forza Motorsport lobbies and even DiRT. The aluminum direct drive system and tunable force feedback of the R5 allow gamers to have as realistic and immersive an experience as possible without totally breaking the bank, although Moza’s systems aren’t that cheap, to begin with. But if you’ve got extra coin burning a hole in your pocket, we can’t argue with the most critically acclaimed item on this list. Shop around their store, and maybe you can find a quick-disconnect wheel in a cooler style you’d prefer.

Logitech G923 – for PC, Xbox, PlayStation

Logitech-G923
Image credit: Logitech, Amazon

What’s hot?

  • Choice of Playstation or Xbox configurations for this one model
  • Amazon bundles for manual shifters and headsets
  • Built-in launch control feature
  • Strong value

What’s not?

  • Logitech manual shifters feel very cheap and plasticky
  • Very few but notable quality control and performance hiccups

Not a bad value for what’s ultimately an “intermediate” racing sim wheel. The G923 sits as a slightly more feature-ladden iteration for the common and popular Logitech wheel lineup, featuring fun tidbits like shift lights, launch control, and Logitech’s TRUEFORCE feedback system that can adjust steering wheel based on in-game surface, cornering load, and weather changes. It’s a hot pick that’s seemingly often sold out on Amazon, given its enticing shifter and headset bundles and the fact it can be had in Playstation or Xbox configurations, although there have been mild QA concerns, according to Amazon shoppers.

Logitech G920 – for PC, Xbox

Logitech G920
Image credit: Logitech, Amazon

What’s hot?

  • Stellar price point
  • Logically-laid out buttons
  • Helical gears reduce vibration, backlash, and noise.
  • Dual-motor force feedback provides commendable steering feel

What’s not?

  • Awkward pedal spacing for big feet
  • Bargain bin price means fairly basic build quality and mounting

The G920 and its PlayStation-oriented G29 twin are Logitech’s bread-and-butter go-tos for budget pros and casual gamers alike. Its compact, plasticky construction, while it may look quite cheap at first, keeps costs down to a stellar price point and makes it easy to mount to nearly any setup. A dual-motor, helical-gear system reportedly provides surprisingly decent steering feel over a variety of in-game traction conditions and with minimal backlash or noise, making it my friends’ choice for many games, from Assetto Corsa and Forza Motorsports to Forza Horizon and BeamNG.drive. Just mind the tight pedal spacing if you’re a big fella’.

Logitech G29 – for PC, PlayStation

Logitech-G29
Image credit: Logitech, Amazon

What’s hot?

  • Great starting price
  • Logically-arranged buttons for PlayStation
  • Vivid contrast with red and blue accents
  • Same helical gears and dual-motor setup as G920

What’s not?

  • Same pedal spacing issues as G920
  • Same cheap feel for some parts of its construction

Gran Turismo fans, enter the G920’s PlayStation counterpart. Not much differentiates the two other than one being optimized for Xbox and the other for PlayStation. Both sport roughly the same features, roughly the same design, and just about the same price point, not accounting for any ongoing Amazon deals. Like the G920, it rocks an F1-like two-and-a-half turns from lock to lock, paddle shifters, and the ability to accept Logitech’s chintzy yet effective manual shifter add-on. Again, not the the fanciest thing on this list, but it’s an excellent do-it-all bargain. As one reader put it best, “A Logitech will suit your purposes just fine and provide a fun, engaging experience without being overwhelming.”

Thrustmaster TS-XW – for PC, Xbox

Thrustmaster TS-XW
Image credit: Thrustmaster, Amazon

What’s hot?

  • Superbly accurate steering rack with great feedback
  • Swappable wheels like some higher-end brands
  • Trick cooling system for belt drive for prolonged racing sessions
  • Compatible with all Thrustmaster add-ons, including gated shifters

What’s not?

  • Steep price tag encroaches on entry-level direct drive wheels
  • Optimized for Xbox and may need modification for PC

Careful, Icarus. Flying awfully close to the direct-drive sun, I see. But I guess it’s not a bad place to be when the wheel is this damn good, and it better be for that hefty price! A dual-belt system raises questions over why there is no gear or direct drive, but the community has spoken and frequently sings its praises for strong force feedback and top-notch steering feel. Like the Moza sim wheels, there’s also the ability to swap quick-disconnect wheels for designs of your choice, such as this bundle’s Sparco wheel. There’s also an appreciable degree of modularity akin to Logitech, allowing users to tack on Thrustmaster’s wide array of add-ons, like their drool-worthy gated shifter.

FAQS

Direct drive vs. belt drive vs. gear

It’s a matter of price point and quality. Belt drives can be made phenomenally, as Thrustmaster proved, but are generally low-cost servo motors that can dampen steering feel and accuracy. Gear drives are often more tactile and direct but costlier and open the door to possible vibrations and backlash. Direct drives typically offer the best feedback and accuracy but at the cost of, well, a literally higher cost. Some companies can do the cheaper stuff better than others, but direct drive systems often stand at the pinnacle of a brand’s lineup, serving as their flagships aimed at pro gamers and e-sports professionals.

Are all sim wheels compatible with every console or platform?

Sometimes. Some systems, like Logitech’s G923, have configurable variants compatible with PC and both major consoles. Others in Logitech’s lineup are made specifically for a console. And models like the Moza R5 are PC exclusives. Some wheels may crossover but may require slight modification to do so and aren’t guaranteed to have all their buttons and controls mesh perfectly with a platform’s system. When searching for a wheel, do yourself a favor and spend the extra minute to double-check and see if the wheel you want is truly compatible with your platform or if it can be modified to be so.

Can I use a sim wheel for more casual games like Forza Horizon or Need for Speed?

If my ambitious friends and certain nutcases on Instagram are anything to go off of, the answer is yes. You can use a sim wheel to play anything you want. I’ve seen people play Counterstrike on a sim wheel. You can do anything with whatever setup. Games like Forza Horizon even have settings in their menus to help you tailor your game to be more accommodating to sim wheels.

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Toyota Prius lineup
Buying GuidesFeaturesNew Car ReviewsQuick Take Reviews

These are the best plug-in hybrids we’ve driven for 2024

Electric vehicles are a solid choice for buyers looking to cut their carbon footprint and stop paying for gas, but they’re not the best electrified vehicle choice for everyone. Plug-in hybrids help bridge the gap, offering electric range with the security of a gas engine when there is no option to charge. They’re slightly more expensive than regular hybrids, but they offer a fantastic compromise for people who aren’t ready to make the jump to full electric. Heck, the site’s founder even owns one!

That said, we’ve rounded up our favorite PHEVs for 2024 here, but if you want to see our monster list of best cars, head here. The models on this list offer great tech, upscale interiors, and solid performance. Care to take a look at the best plug-ins the market has to offer? Perfect. Then let’s get rolling.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Quarter View
Image: Chrysler
  • Starting price: $51,095
  • Horsepower: 260 hp
  • Torque: 262 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 30 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 82 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 16 kWh
  • EV range: 32 miles 

Laugh all you want at minivans, but the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is genuinely one for the books. Interestingly, it used to be the only hybrid van on the block, but that changed when Toyota introduced the latest Sienna. But Chrysler beats it out with plug-in functionality and a surprisingly stout 32-mile range estimate. On top of that, it returns 82 MPGe and up to 30 mpg with its gas powertrain. The Pacifica Hybrid also brings comfortable minivan handling and confident-but-numb steering. 

Though aging, especially compared to its more recently updated rivals, the Pacifica Hybrid’s interior offers fantastic comfort and solid space for people and gear. Leather upholstery and heated front seats come standard, and the second-row captain’s chairs bring good padding and support. Chrysler uses Stellantis’ Uconnect infotainment system, which is easily one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces on the market. Even if it’s not the newest system to date, it rewards buyers with rapid touch response and a brainless-to-navigate layout that even our new editor-in-chief can attest to, having experienced many modern Stellantis/FCA vehicles. It runs flawlessly on the standard 10.1-inch touchscreen and brings wireless smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, USB inputs, and six speakers. 

Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV

Hyundai Santa Fe plug-in Front Quarter View
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Migl
  • Starting price: $42,410
  • Horsepower: 261 hp
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 33 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 76 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 13.8 kWh
  • EV range: 32 miles

The Hyundai Santa Fe was an all-new model in 2021 and gained a frugal plug-in hybrid powertrain last year. While not a performance vehicle by any stretch of the imagination, the Santa Fe Hybrid offers brisk acceleration and reasonably athletic handling. At the same time, it maintains easy-going ride quality and offers a quiet cabin. 

With the recent overhaul, Hyundai moved the Santa Fe in a more premium direction, giving it an upscale interior with excellent materials quality and handsome design. Hyundai’s infotainment tech is less complicated than many other brands’ systems, and it runs smoothly on the Santa Fe PHEV’s standard 10.25-inch touchscreen. Other standard tech includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, wireless charging, and HD radio.

Hyundai Tucson PHEV

Hyundai Tucson PHEV front quarter view
Image: Hyundai
  • Starting Price: $38,475
  • Horsepower: 261 hp
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 35 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 80 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 13.8 kWh
  • Range: 33 miles

The Hyundai Tucson was recently overhauled, which brought sharp style, updated hybrid functionality, and better tech. This SUV offers a smooth ride, solid acceleration, and a refined hybrid system that smoothly hands off between gas and electric components. All-wheel drive comes standard, and Hyundai opted for a six-speed automatic over a CVT here, which significantly improves drivability. At the same time, the SUV returns up to 80 MPGe combined and 38 mpg in gas mode. 

Regardless of trim, the Tucson offers a spacious, upscale interior with solid materials quality. There’s good head and legroom in both rows of seats, and passengers in the front enjoy comfortable buckets with good padding and support. An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing wireless smartphone mirroring. Wireless charging, SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth, and dual-zone automatic climate controls are also standard. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV front quarter view
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Migl
  • Starting Price: $60,490
  • Horsepower: 375 hp
  • Torque: 470 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 23 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 56 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 17.3 kWh
  • Range: 26 miles

The Grand Cherokee 4xe was launched by Jeep following the success of the plug-in hybrid Wrangler. The SUV offers a decent all-electric range with energetic acceleration, though the transition between gas and electric powertrain elements can sometimes be awkward. Four-wheel drive is standard, and a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission helps the powertrain maintain smooth, quiet operation. And, okay, so it’s not the most efficient of this gathering at only 23 mpg and 56 mpge combined, but it sure packs a healthy wallop of power and torque, great for off-the-line jumps and highway passes.

The Grand Cherokee offers comfortable seating for up to five people. Jeep offers a range of upscale features, including leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, massaging seats, and a heated steering wheel. An 8.4-inch touchscreen comes standard, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six speakers, and a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Jeep Wrangler Willys 4xe PHEV on rocks
Image: Stellantis
  • Price: $60,360
  • Horsepower: 375 hp
  • Torque: 470 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 20 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 49 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 17.3 kWh
  • Range: 22 miles

Surprised that this made it? Come on, now. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe has become America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, and its powertrain delivers good acceleration with a reasonable all-electric range. However, like the Grand Cherokee, the Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain sometimes stumbles in the handoff between the electric motors and gas components. The Wrangler can also be a handful to manage on the highway, as its off-road suspension makes it feel busy and sometimes unsettled at higher speeds.

It must be noted that while the Wrangler 4xe is the least efficient member of this club, it may as well be a Prius among standard Wranglers, eking out a healthy 20 mpg and 49 mpge combined. Hey, after all, it’s still a big ol’ Wrangler, sculpted by a wind tunnel if the wind tunnel was out of service. But try going to Moab in a Corolla Cross.

The new Wrangler is much more luxurious and plusher than its predecessors, but this is still a rugged off-road SUV we’re talking about. Jeep did a good job at balancing materials quality throughout the Wrangler’s cabin, as there’s a mix of low-rent and upscale materials throughout. The SUV comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen running Uconnect infotainment software. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, along with eight speakers and Bluetooth. Higher trim levels get a larger 8.4-inch screen and navigation.

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV rolling shot
Image: Toyota
  • Price: $32,975
  • Horsepower: 220 hp
  • Torque: 139 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 48 to 52 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 114 to 127 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 13.6 kWh
  • Range: 39 to 44 miles

Toyota redesigned the Prius and its Prime plug-in variant back in 2023, giving it a striking appearance overhaul that made it surprisingly attractive from a design standpoint. It doesn’t just look better, it’s also more engaging to drive, with more power and far better acceleration than the previous generation.

The plug-in powertrain provides solid acceleration and refined operation, and there are up to 44 miles of all-electric range on tap in the most efficient models (it varies on the wheel/tire package). Regardless of trim level and tires, Prius fans are in for one of the most efficient plug-ins by a vast margin and one of the most improved generations of Prius, period. And no better is that reflected than its cabin.

The Prius Prime’s interior feels more upscale and premium than in years past. Toyota implemented heavy updates to the infotainment system, making it easier to use and more intuitive. Front-seat space and comfort are both top-notch, but folks in the back seat may find a shortage of headroom because of the car’s sloping roof. An 8-inch touchscreen comes standard, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and Amazon Alexa functionality. 

Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 PHEV

Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV
Image: Volvo
  • Price: $57,900
  • Horsepower: 455 hp
  • Torque: 523 lb-ft.
  • MPG combined: 28 MPG
  • MPGe combined: 63 MPGe
  • Battery capacity: 18.8kWh
  • Range: 35 miles

The Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 PHEV blends Volvo’s safety and luxury aesthetic with an advanced plug-in powertrain and great tech. The SUV delivers up to 35 miles of all-electric range, and acceleration isn’t wimpy by any measure. At the same time, the XC60 maintains a comfortable ride, though it’s not as athletic as some rivals. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends all that delicious, fiery power to all four wheels, and the stout powertrain operates smoothly in most situations.

Oh, did anyone mention this thing pushes 523 pound-feet? The Grand Cherokee 4xe sprints, but this is definitely a hard charger, with magazine-tested zero-to-60 runs in the low-four-second range and quarter-mile sprints in the high-twelves. For reference, that’s Mustang GT territory. But you’d never know from a mere glance at its opulent innards.

Volvo’s austere Scandinavian design gives the XC60 a calming, serene feel, and the materials are top-notch, no matter where you look. The front seats are supportive and generously padded, complementing a spacious back seating area that comfortably accommodates adults. Volvo moved to Google-based infotainment, which operates well on the 9-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

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The Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Model 2 and Tesla CyberTruck
News

Every new Tesla (supposedly) coming in 2024, 2025, and beyond

(Editor’s note: updated 2/8/2024)

Tesla, the American automaker owned by electronic musician Grimes’ on-again-of-again “situationship” Elon Musk, continues to be one of the most popular and ubiquitous electric vehicles on the road. Despite the bad press surrounding the erstwhile richest man in the world’s stewardship over X (formerly known as Twitter), the enthusiasm for new (and used) Tesla electric vehicles remains high – and not just among Musk fanboys, as one might assume.

Elon Musk greets his fans at an event.
Elon Musk in happier times. Credit: AP/Andrej Sokolow

Since becoming one of the pioneering electric-only car companies, Tesla has had its fair share of controversies, blow-ups (both literal and figurative), and general bad vibes. The quintessential example of the adage “no such thing as bad press,” Tesla’s engineers are known for setting the pace within the industry (for better or worse) and the end result has been consistently impressive – with sales to match.

Chart credit: Statista

The Tesla landscape in 2023

If you’re thinking about going all-in on Mr. Musk’s latest mystery machines, some patience might pay off in the long run. Tesla continues to cut the MSRP for its cars, with further reductions expected following yet another earnings miss and waning investor confidence. Otherwise, you can find a used Tesla for less than the price of a base Nissan Altima, especially the Model 3.

For some bleak outsider comedy, the transcripts from the earnings call are out there – and they feature moments like this one that prove Elon totally knows what pennies are and also definitely watched Game of Thrones.

It’s like Game of Thrones but pennies. I mean, first approximation, if you’ve got a $40,000 car, and roughly 10,000 items in that car, that means each thing, on average, costs $4. So, in order to get the cost down, say, by 10%, you have to get $0.40 out of each part on average. It is a game of pennies.

Elon Musk – Tesla Q3 2023 Earnings Call

What’s next for Tesla in 2024 and beyond?

Now that we’ve got that all out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff. As mentioned above, Tesla continues to innovate in the electric vehicle space. The American automaker’s upcoming roadmap includes a production fleet of Tesla Semi trucks, a refreshed Roadster 2.0, the diminutive Model 2 (or Baby), and, of course, the elephant-colored chunk of metal in the room – the Cybertruck.

Four of Tesla's upcoming electric vehicles, the Tesla Semi, The Tesla Roadster 2.0, the Tesla Model 2, and the Tesla Cybertruck.
Clockwise from top left: Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Model 2, and Tesla Cybertruck (image: Acceleramota)

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start with the long-promised reboot of the electric car that put Tesla on the map: the Roadster.

Cybertruck (SURPRISINGLY, IT’S FINALLY HERE)

Let me start this section with an apology.

If you follow me on Twitter or know me IRL, you’ve probably heard me make fun of the Cybertruck. Maybe you’ve seen me make fun of the way it looks, or the door panels don’t align, or how it couldn’t jump a small curb in “off-road mode”, or how its basic design flaws were costing the company untold millions. You definitely would’ve seen me make fun of the time he revealed the Cybertruck to investors by smashing its supposedly unbreakable window with a rock.

Welp. Against many people’s negative outlook, the Cybertruck is finally here for U.S. orders in 2024. And that’s despite the testing hiccups that have occurred over this truck’s gestation period. The prototypes were breaking down like crazy, and the model year was pushed to 2025. It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence that Elon Musk is saying things like “[Tesla] dug our own grave with the Cybertruck” on investor calls.

So yeah, there’s been a lot to make fun of with the Telsa Cybertruck, but this past week Elon completely redeemed himself. Oh no, I’m still joking, all he did was shoot it with a danged Tommy Gun – surely this will make the Cybertruck the #1 choice of getaway vehicle for old-timey scofflaws, rascals, and ne’er-do-wells.

There isn’t really much else to say about the Tesla Cybertruck that hasn’t already been said. At the moment of writing, Tesla is claiming a production run that’ll start in 2024, but even long-time fans are starting to lose faith. As a recent post on r/RealTesla (the Subreddit for Tesla drivers who haven’t “drank the Elon-Ade”) calls out:

While I have little faith in humanity left, surely nobody is going to actually buy a CyberTruck, right?

I just can’t imagine the shame.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be “that guy”?

Would you confuse all the smirking attention for admiration? I can’t get my head around the mental gymnastics it would take to buy, own and drive one.

Additionally, can you imagine the type of person who would buy one? Like, just think about it for a second. It’s horrible!

u/St3fanz on r/RealTesla
Concept art of the stainless steel Tesla Cybertruck on a desert somewhere.
Image credit: Tesla

Tesla Cybertruck Info:

  • MSRP: $60,990 (Rear-Wheel Drive), $79,990 (All-Wheel Drive), $99,990 (Cyberbeast)
  • 0 to 60 mph: 6.5 seconds (single motor), 4.1 seconds (dual motor), 2.6 seconds (Cyberbeast)
  • Top speed: 130 mph
  • Weight: 6,843 pounds
  • Towing: 7,500 lbs (Rear-Wheel Drive) 11,000 lbs, (All-Wheel Drive), 11,000 lbs Cyberbeast)
  • Battery capacity: 123 kWh
  • Range: 250 mi (Rear-Wheel Drive), 340 mi (All-Wheel Drive), 320 mi (Cyberbeast)
  • Seating: 5 adults
  • Cargo volume: 120.9 cubic feet

Roadster 2.0 (maybe?)

When the original Tesla Roadster was announced for production in 2008, the upstart carmaker’s first release boasted some eye-popping stats. The sleek, futuristic design felt right for the advanced electric motor hidden within that could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Throughout its lifespan, the Roadster has seen MSRPs for competitive models balloon, making the 2009 edition’s $98,000 price tag seem quaint in comparison. The original run of Tesla Roadsters ended in 2012 despite the 2010 model being Elon’s daily driver of choice. Since getting blasted off into literal space on the back of a goddamn rocket, the O.G. Tesla hasn’t made many headlines, so a refresh shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Elon's red Tesla Roadster which was mounted to the Falcon Heavy Rocket and shot into outer space. You can see the earth placidly behind the car.
“Elon’s Roadster” mounted on the Falcon Heavy Rocket (Credit: Wikipedia)

While official details are hard to find, it’s clear that the new model of the Tesla Roadster will pick up where version one left off. It will be sleek, it will be stylish, it will be full of next-level tech, it will be fast, and you’d better believe your ass that it is going to be expensive. The Tesla Roadster is not an entry-level electric vehicle and we can’t wait to see how it compares to the original. Unfortunately, for now, all we can do is poke around the internet for some concept art and dream of yet another high-performance vehicle we simply cannot afford.

Concept art of the Tesla Roadster 2.0
Image credit: Tesla

Tesla Roadster 2.0 info:

  • Expected model year: 2026
  • Expected MSRP: $200,000 (Founder’s edition: $250,000)
  • Expected 0 to 60 mph: 1.9 seconds
  • Expected top speed: 250mph (403 kmh)
  • Expected battery capacity: 200 kWh
  • Expected battery range: 620 mi (998km)

Tesla Model 2 (Q/C)

When it comes to more practical electric vehicles in the works from Tesla, the Model 2 absolutely has the Cybertruck beat – but basically every EV available has the Cybertruck beat. Sometimes referred to as the Model Q or the Model C by the Tesla nerds who hopefully won’t find this article and “punish” me by clicking on it angrily (and repeatedly), the Tesla Model 2 promises to be a smaller, more futuristic hatchback.

Tesla Model 2 teaser rendering
Image credit: Tesla

Taking design cues from both the popular Model Y and (apparently) [sigh] The Cybertruck, the Model 2’s real headline will be its price. In early teases about the new model, it appears the automaker is targeting a $25,000 MSRP for the base-level edition. Very little is known about the Tesla Model 2/Q/C, but we’ll be sure to update this page as soon as more information becomes available.

Tesla Model 2/Q/C Specs

  • Expected model year: 2025
  • Expected MSRP: $25,000
  • Expected 0 to 60: 5 seconds
  • Expected top speed: 120mph (193 kmh)
  • Expected battery capacity: 75 kWh
  • Expected battery range: 279 miles (single motor)

Tesla Semi

Concept art of the "New Tesla Semi" semi truck.
Tesla Semi concept art (Credit: Tesla)

The Tesla Semi truck was called “badass” when the company announced it way back in 2017 and while the aggressively futuristic freight vehicle has impressed in the abstract, the rollout has been a bit of a mess. Musk’s notoriously dodgy PR is at least partially to blame for the confusion, according to my new favorite website Freight Waves,

Trucks in the United States are allowed to weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds, including the tractor, the trailer and everything you’re fitting inside. Electric trucks, like the Semi, are allowed to weigh 82,000 pounds. Companies typically want to haul as much as they can in a single truck, so getting close to that 80,000-pound limit is ideal.

However, Tesla, which did not respond to a press inquiry, has not released information on how much the truck actually weighs.

That limits what the Semi is able to haul, and for how long. Right now, snack and beverage behemoth PepsiCo is the only company to have received its Tesla Semis. It has three dozen electric big rigs servicing two California warehouses.

From one base in Modesto, California, 15 Tesla Semis are hauling Frito-Lay products up to 425 miles, according to a 2022 Reuters article. That means potato chips and other snack foods — a (literally) low-lift task. From another base in Sacramento, California, 31 Tesla Semis are hauling loads of soda. It’s a much heavier load, but these trips are around 100 miles, per Reuters. 

That would make the Tesla Semi a less versatile truck than a traditional option, where you know what it weighs and how long a distance it can handle. When communicating to a commercial audience, it’s crucial to include those details.

Rachel Premack – Freight Waves

Most recently, the Tesla Semis that have been put into use had a major safety recall after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered the electric trucks could “fail to move into the park position when the parking brake is activated,” which is kind of an important thing for a 30,000+ lb truck to be able to do.

New Tesla electric semi trucks parked at the Pepsi plant in Sacramento.
Image credit: PepsiCo
  • Expected model year: 2025
  • Expected MSRP: $250,000+
  • Expected battery capacity: 950 kWh
  • Expected 0 to 60: 20 seconds
  • Expected maximum gross combined weight: 82,000 lbs
  • Expected battery range: 300-500 mi

FAQs

So, there we have it, every new vehicle Tesla claims will be released in the next few years. We’ll keep this page updated when more details come in, but candidly I would not be surprised if at least one of these models fails to materialize before 2030. Maybe I’m being a pessimist, but then I look at the Cybertruck and I know deep in my soul I am right.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Roadster 2.0?

The Second-Generation Tesla Roadster was teased in 2017, but hard details are difficult to find. At the time of publication, the Tesla Roadster 2.0 is rumored to be part of the 2026 model year.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Model 2/Q/C?

While Tesla has been teasing it for a while now, details about the hatchback Tesla Model 2 (also known as the Model Q or Model C) are scarce. This entry-level electric vehicle will have an MSRP of around $25,000 and could be part of the 2026 model year.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Semi Truck?

A fleet of Tesla Semi Trucks was delivered to PepsiCo in Sacramento, CA late last year, but the production model has not yet surfaced. Based on the relative lack of updates, we’re anticipating more information in 2024 and beyond.

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Hyundai Ioniq 5 Quarter View
Best CarsFeaturesNew Car ReviewsQuick Take Reviews

These are the best EVs we’ve driven for 2024

The number of new electric models is exploding, but like gas vehicles, some are great and others leave something to be desired. We’ve had a chance to drive several of the year’s best EVs and have come up with a list of the best electric models we’ve driven so far this year! Do any of these fine science projects on wheels tickle your fancy?

We’ll update this list as the year goes on and we get our hands on newer vehicles, but let’s get rolling to see our current favorites.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Ioniq 5 charging
Image: Hyundai

Starting price: $41,650

Horsepower: 168 to 320 hp

Torque: 258 to 446 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 99 to 114 mpge

Battery Capacity: 58 to 77.4 kWh

Range: 220 to 303 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Top Safety Pick +

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 combines retro-futuristic styling with advanced driver aids and smooth, silent acceleration. It operates on an 800V electrical architecture, enabling blazing-fast charging, and it can travel up to 303 miles on a charge in its most generous configuration. While all-wheel drive is available, the most efficient and longest-range models are those with rear-wheel drive. The Ioniq 5 has a smooth ride and refined operation, and while it’s not the most powerful or exciting EV on the market, it’s certainly tuned for comfort and delivers on that promise.

Hyundai’s tech isn’t as fancy or flashy as others, but it gets the job done and makes interacting with the vehicle a pleasure. The EV comes standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, HD radio, SiriusXM, and more. Additionally, the Ioniq 5 earned a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS in 2023.

Kia EV6

Kia EV6 rear quarter on display
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Migl

Starting price: $42,600

Horsepower: 167 to 576 hp

Torque: 258 to 545 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 83 to 117 mpge

Battery Capacity: 58 to 77.4 kWh

Range: 218 to 310 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? No

The Kia EV6 shares a platform and much of its underlying technology with the Hyundai Ioniq 5, though it presents unique styling and a hotter performance variant in the EV6 GT. The 800V architecture it features enables a 10 to 80 percent charge in as few as 18 minutes using the fastest chargers available. All configurations offer healthy acceleration, but the EV6 GT’s prowess rivals that of some supercars. At the same time, the SUV has engaging handling and can hold its own in corners. It’s a little tightly wound, but most will find the ride quality agreeable. 

Psst. To any speed junkies here, note it’s the only Korean EV available with that hotted-up, sports car-fighting powertrain option. Or at least it is until Hyundai drops the Ioniq 5 N on our shores. But until then, it’s an EV6 GT or bust!

Like Hyundai, Kia focuses on functionality over flashiness in its infotainment systems. It also offers two 12.3-inch screens, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 14 speakers, wireless charging, navigation, and more. It earned a Top Safety Pick in 2022, but the IIHS hasn’t yet smashed it in the newer, tougher side-crash tests.

Ford F-150 Lightning

F-150 Lightning in the dirt
Image: Ford

Starting price: $49,995

Horsepower: 452 to 580 hp

Torque: 775 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 66 to 70 mpge

Battery Capacity: 98 to 131 kWh

Range: 230 to 320 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? No

Ford wasn’t the first to market with an electric pickup, but it hit the market hard with the F-150 Lightning — a normal-looking, full-sized truck that is surprisingly capable and demonstrates decent range. Though it has raised prices and struggled to keep up with demand, Ford configured the truck to be as familiar as possible for everyday buyers, and the Lightning delivers on that goal. It offers fantastic interior space and comfort and plenty of available tech – including BlueCruise hands-free driving. Though its range extends to 320 miles, towing and hauling heavy loads has an outsized impact on the distance it can travel, but 66 to 70 mpge combined is still pretty darn good for what it is.

Ford’s excellent Sync infotainment system runs on a 12-inch touchscreen, and the truck comes standard with a 12-inch digital gauge cluster. Buyers can upgrade to a massive 15.5-inch display, and other options include wireless charging, HD radio, and SiriusXM radio. Though it missed out on a Top Safety Pick, the Lightning comes standard with a load of advanced safety kit, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane keep assist, and more.

All said and done, it’s a fairly well-equipped and heavy-hitting product, even if it can get egregiously priced near the top of its trim levels. And sure. Although, it’s clearly not ideally sized for urban environments, don’t let a little girth deter you from an otherwise compelling product, especially if utility is a huge plus for you.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes EQS quarter view
Image: Mercedes-Benz

Starting price: $104,400

Horsepower: 355 to 649 hp (751 hp w/ boost)

Torque: 417 to 700 lb-ft. (752 lb-ft. w/ boost)

Combined MPGe: 76-96 mpge

Battery Capacity: 108.4 kWh

Range: 280 to 352 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

The Mercedes-Benz EQS is a flagship electric sedan from the luxury brand that offers futuristic tech, striking style, and an available AMG variant with breathtaking performance. No matter the powertrain choice, the car carries itself with authority and composure. It remains comfortable over various road surfaces and is surprisingly capable in the corners. At the same time, the interior remains quiet, and the car feels like an S-Class Mercedes at all times.

Mercedes offers a serious array of tech in the EQS, including standard 64-color ambient interior lighting and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Though optional before, the expansive Hyperscreen system now comes standard, bringing a 17.7-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch passenger display. The EQS comes standard with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward and rear automatic braking, and more.

Nissan Ariya

Nissan Ariya Front Fascia
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Kazya Kuruma

Starting price: $43,190

Horsepower: 214 to 389 hp

Torque: 221 to 442 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 87 to 101 mpge

Battery Capacity: 63 to 84 kWh

Range: 205 to 304 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Top Safety Pick +

Nissan had delays with its new EV, the Ariya, but it landed in 2023 with a decent range and impressive horsepower. Acceleration feels solid, though the front-wheel drive model takes more than seven seconds to reach 60 mph. The all-wheel drive configuration is considerably quicker, making the run in 5.5 seconds, and the SUV manages itself well on the road. Braking and steering are confidence-inspiring, and the Ariya holds its own in the corners.

Nissan equips the Ariya with a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen running wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A Wi-Fi hotspot, HD radio, Amazon Alexa capability, and much more also come standard. The Ariya has a solid list of standard safety equipment, though the IIHS hasn’t tested it yet. It’s equipped with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, a rearview camera, parking sensors, and driver attention warnings.

Genesis Electrified G80

Genesis Electrified G80
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Damian Oh

Starting price: $79,825

Horsepower: 365

Torque: 516 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 97 mpge

Battery Capacity: 87.2 kWh

Range: 282 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet evaluated under new criteria

Genesis took a tried-and-true approach with the Electrified G80, fitting batteries and an electric motor to the gas model’s body. The results are impressive: 365 horsepower, 282 miles of range, and all the luxury ride quality anyone could want. The car retains its flagship sedan feel, and the silent electric drivetrain offers strong acceleration and smooth operation. It’s not the most agile option around, but the car’s extreme level of comfort is a substantial consolation prize.

The Electrified G80 gets a 14.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 12 speakers, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a digital gauge cluster, and USB inputs. A 12.3-inch gauge cluster is available, along with wireless charging and an upgraded Lexicon audio system. The Electrified G80 earned a Top Safety Pick + in 2022 but hasn’t been subjected to the new, more intense side-crash tests. 

Cadillac Lyriq

Cadillac LYRIQ on China roads
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Dinkun Chen

Starting price: $58,590

Horsepower: 340 to 500 hp

Torque: 325 to 450 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 89 mpge

Battery Capacity: 102 kWh

Range: 307 to 314 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

The Lyriq is Cadillac’s first EV, riding on GM’s advanced Ultium platform. And while not everyone on board Acceleramota seems to love it, there’s no denying what it has to offer GM fans. It offers up to 500 horsepower, and even the base configuration brings 340 ponies to the table. Acceleration isn’t exceptionally thrilling, but the SUV delivers refined power and good handling. It’s also every bit a Cadillac, bringing a smooth driving experience and a stable ride quality. The Lyriq’s one-pedal driving function works well, and standard braking feels solid.

The Lyriq’s dash is adorned with a massive array of screens, collectively spanning thirty-three inches, and equipped with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, seven speakers, and more. Additionally, Cadillac includes ambient interior lighting, an AKG premium stereo, and a panoramic sunroof. Though it hasn’t been evaluated by the IIHS yet, the Lyriq comes standard with a vibrating safety alert seat, lane departure warnings, pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warnings.

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Teslas in winter
EVs ExplainedFeatures

Electric cars and winter: A guide to EV winter survival and how to drive in the winter

It’s cold. So cold. But life doesn’t stop in the cold, and neither does your EV. Winter weather can present unique obstacles for your electric vehicle that don’t often affect gas-engined ones, and you must know how to tackle them. So we compiled everything there is to know about EV winter survival!

Unlike combustion engines, batteries are indeed negatively affected by winter, or at least to a significantly greater extent. You also need to consider your charging habits and where you park your vehicle. And traction is something every car lover must understand when the roads get slippery. We’re not necessarily debunking EV myths here; we’re only providing straight facts on electric car performance (as well as general driving and car ownership tips) during winter. So, let’s dive in and ensure your EV is winter-ready!

Tesla model S winter
Image credit: Tesla

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Maximizing range in cold weather

At temperatures below 32°F (freezing), battery chemistry functions all slow down, reducing how fast your battery can charge and discharge. Some battery compositions are more susceptible to degraded performance than others. At extremely low temperatures, the electrolyte can freeze, and your battery might be unable to discharge. Charging at low temperatures can also reduce your battery’s life span.

It’s important to note that battery pre-heating is common in electric vehicles, and most will not let you charge before the battery has heated sufficiently. Batteries also generate their heat when you drive. However, note that range may still take a hit as your energy consumption may rise with your reliance on climate controls and heating.

You will lose range. As little as 3% but can be as drastic as 25% to 30%. Whether you’re driving a Tesla or Audi E-Tron, any lithium battery loses range in weather below freezing. The degradation in performance should you find yourself with a nickel-metal battery or perhaps a dinosaur with a lead-acid one.

EV battery winter solutions

Some positive news is that there are solutions to improve your winter battery performance.

  •  Precondition your EV (arguably the most important thing!): Although your car will probably do this before charging, it can help to precondition your EV before this. You can do this using your vehicle’s app, smart home system, or even the car’s infotainment.
  • Park in a garage: Removing your electric car from complete cold weather exposure does help. Parking in a heated garage is an even better option. 
  •  Use a winter car cover: Parking outside is the only option for many people. If that’s you, a winter car cover is your best bet. Yes, more high-tech solutions are coming, but this can prevent your vehicle from freezing over and further reducing battery temperatures.
  •  Warm your EV while charging: Heating your seats and cabin is essential. Warm up while charging is the best way to do this without reducing range.

Winter tires (duh!)

Tesla side view tires
Image credit: Tesla

All-season vs all-weather tires

Winter tires are necessary for those in colder states, but there’s more to tires than just the rubber that meets the road.

All-season tires offer traction in light snow, and some top-tier offerings can fare far better than others, but they’re generally not usable for especially deep snow, ice, and below-freezing weather. Anything below 45°F means it’s time to switch to a more effective tire. 

All-weather tires are better than all-season tires if you live in states with freezing temperatures. Think of them as all-seasons with a marginally broader spread of talents. A more aggressive tread pattern means you get excellent traction in snow and no hydroplaning in melting conditions. The caveat is that these tires are noisier and don’t offer equal performance compared to summer tires. They’re also still not as good as snow tires in winter, and tread life is worse than all-season tires.

Studded vs. non-studded snow tires 

Let’s talk about the real deal. Snow tires are the ultimate winter tire for snow, ice, rain, and temperatures below freezing. The main issue is that these tires are unusable in hotter conditions, so you must switch them out in the summer.

Studded snow tires offer extra traction in icy conditions. The metal studs dig into the ice, are generally the safest option when the roads are icy, and can withstand extremely harsh winter conditions. Non-studded snow tires are just as usable for winter as studded snow tires, albeit with reduced traction when ice is on the road. Not all states allow studded snow tires, and some only allow rubber studs.

Winter tire maintenance

Not all winter tires are the same. On average, electric vehicles weigh more than gas cars, increasing tire wear, specifically during winter. Choose an extra load (XL) winter tire for your EV to prevent this.

Make sure to check your winter tire tread before setting off. A great way to do this is by using a quarter; it’s time to replace the tire If you see the top of George Washington’s head. Regularly checking your tire pressure in the winter is also vital because the air is denser, which lowers pressure. 

Mustang Mach E in the snow
Image credit: Ford

All-wheel drive

Power to the car, people. The basis of all-wheel drive is that it powers all four wheels. Four-wheel drive functions similarly with a different mechanism, but the gist is that you get more traction on slippery surfaces. Winter tires will improve the safety of your vehicle in the colder months; all-wheel drive is that additional step for surviving winter.

It’s important to note the power of AWD systems is significantly reduced without winter tires. Many AWD cars will not help you escape a jam if your vehicle gets stuck, nor will it help you stop and turn since there’s no traction from the ill-equipped tires. That is not to say it is entirely useless in winter, but don’t go out and buy an AWD car if you don’t already have one; winter tires will do just fine.

However! Should you fancy the extra driven wheels, consider the viable options below. Heck, we have pictures and videos of them doing this exact kind of driving.

No winter tires — no problem

Winter is coming! But sometimes, life happens, and winter tires are not an option. Thankfully, there are alternatives to help you get by if you can’t score a set of winter rubber or all-weathers, ones that can be totally transformative and still save your skin when it gets really nasty outside. Some of your options are:

Autosock snow socks are the perfect winter traction tool for sports cars and emergencies. These textile wheel covers pull over your wheels just like a sock. Super quick, super traction!

Snow chains are metal chains that attach to your wheels. It’s a tried and true solution; you can buy these as a fixed set instead of buying them yourself. Even though these are an effective solution for winter traction, snow chains can be quite challenging to install.

Anti-skid tendons are similar to snow chains but forgo the old-school metal for plastic. You could also opt for long-cable ties as they perform the same function.

How to drive in winter

So you’ve put your winter tires on and are ready to take off in your super quiet EV. Another critical point about driving in winter is the driving part. Winter brings a significant loss of tire traction, which is the resistance between your rubber and the road. Too much resistance and you lose speed; too little, you start to slide and lose control of the vehicle.

Here are some extra winter driving tips:

  • Keep your headlights on for improved visibility and to spot black ice easily.
  • Keep your wipers elevated when parked so they don’t freeze to the glass
  •  Increase your following distance to a minimum of five seconds.
  •  Brake more gradually and accelerate gently.
  •  If you hit black ice, take your foot off the gas pedal, steer toward the spin until you regain traction, and do not slam on the brakes. If you find your EV’s brake regen to be quite aggressive, consider dialing it to a Medium or Low setting if it’s adjustable.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N winter driving
Image credit: Hyundai

Surviving a winter emergency

Let’s discuss what you should keep in your emergency kit and what to do if you get stuck. And this goes for all of you, EV or ICE powertrains!

Don’t leave your car. The worst thing you can do is stumble into a winter storm and become stuck outside your vehicle. Run your car every ten minutes for heat, but (and here’s one for the ICE car owners we know are still reading this) crack the window for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Check for any snow that can clog your vehicle’s exhaust.

Keep a kit for emergencies. The National Weather Service recommends these items:

  • Flashlight and Extra Batteries
  •  Blankets/Sleeping Bag
  •  Extra Clothing
  •  First Aid Kit
  •  Non-perishable food like granola bars
  •  Kitty Litter for traction
  •  Snow Shovel
  •  Bottled Water
  •  Cell Phone & Charger
  •  Ice Scraper
  •  with Brush
  •  Booster Cables
  •  Flares/Triangles

Acceleramota recommends staying at home

Image credit: Toyota

The safest place during winter is your house. There are those situations where you have to venture out into the icy depths, but if you don’t need to travel, don’t go out! Winter expeditions are risky even if you take the correct precautions and drive safely. So stay inside where possible and cozy up for more Acceleramota!

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