Tag Archives: Crossover SUVs

Genesis GV80
New Car Reviews

2025 Genesis GV80 first drive review: An elegant SUV bargain gets even better

Genesis is at it again, refining its existing lineup bit by bit. New styling cues there. New infotainment doodads here. Simple tweaks that work together to keep Genesis relevant and create cars worth more than the sum of their parts and, arguably, their price. Just recently, Genesis worked such magic for the “enhanced” 2024 G70 sports sedan, which sought to rejoin the fight against the Germans with a potent new base engine and more advanced tech. Now, they apply the same formula to their hot-selling family shuttle, the Genesis GV80.

Price and specs

Genesis keeps things easy as they do with all their cars, with jam-packed trim levels and few options aside from colors and dealer add-ons. Base stripper GV80s with small wheels, fatter tires, leatherette, and the 2.5T engine start at just under $58,000, while a loaded-up 3.5T Prestige with suede headliners, 22-inch rollers, power doors, and power sunshades rings in at nearly $80,000.

Sure to lure in buyers from marques known for any sort of athleticism, the GV80 comes standard with multilink suspension front and rear, as well as drive modes, monoblock four-piston front brake calipers, and all-wheel drive. Higher trims add electronically controlled suspension and an electronic rear differential for an extra splash of dynamism when the kid’s soccer game or the Erewhon is nestled atop a mountain road. The family-oriented types will also appreciate the usual roundup of safety aids like adaptive cruise, lane keep, parking cameras, and various blind-spot monitors.

Base prices:$57,700 (2.5T Standard AWD), $58,700 (2.5T AWD), $61,600 (2.5T Select AWD), $65,600 (2.5T Advanced AWD), $70,450 (2.5T Prestige AWD), $73,800 (3.5T Advanced AWD), $79,300 (3.5T Prestige AWD)
Engine choices:2.5-liter turbocharged I4, 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission choices:8-speed automatic 
Drivetrain choices:all-wheel drive
Power:300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm (2.5T), 375 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm (3.5T)
Torque:311 pound-feet @ 1,650 rpm (2.5T), 391 pound-feet @ 1,300 rpm (3.5T)
Weight:4,850 pounds (2.5T), 5,115 pounds (3.5T)
Towing capacity:6,000 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:approx. 5.8 seconds (2.5T), approx 5.3 seconds (3.5T)
¼-mile:approx. 14.5 seconds @ 95 mph (2.5T), approx. 13.9 seconds @ 101 mph (3.5T)
MPG:19 city, 24 highway, 21 combined (2.5T) 16 city, 22 highway, 19 combined (3.5T)
Fuel capacity:21.1 gallons

What’s new?

Just a nip and tuck

You’d be hard-pressed to pick apart the new GV80 from the preceding model years. It’s about as mild of a facelift as facelifts come. There’s a slightly revised rear bumper with hidden exhaust outlets, a new headlamp design with individual projectors instead of solid bars, enlarged air inlets that direct air through the fender, and a new grille design with two bars instead of one. Perhaps more striking than the new grille are the new 20 and 22-inch wheel designs that further evoke a sense of sportiness beyond just bigger air inlets or the new Storr Green metallic and Storr Green matte paint colors.

Other than that, the overall shape remains the same, as does the platform itself. But the most significant alterations that Genesis’ plastic surgeons have made are the ones you don’t immediately see from across the parking lot.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

The cabin and under the hood see the most significant upgrades in the form of an updated interior that’s more in keeping with the Hyundai Motor Group design language and a new 2.5-liter turbo-four base engine outputting 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet at a diesel-like 1,650 rpm, which Genesis touts as the most powerful base engine in the segment. Torque for days, no matter the engine!

Greeting occupants is an expansive 27-inch display that manages both gauge cluster and infotainment duties as one continuous screen with no hard break between. The nav screen fades seamlessly into the gauges. Neat stuff. Like the current crop of G70 and G90, the climate control panel switches to a mix of hard buttons and quick, responsive haptic touch controls. Another proud addition is the B&O Premier audio system on higher-trim GV80s, with an impressively broad range of adjustments for those who favor bright and energetic sounds, soft and warm sounds, and everything else in between.

What is it like to drive?

The bones of an athlete

The Genesis GV80 is no athlete like a Cayenne or Macan, but it puts up a decent impression wafting along the country two lanes outside Dallas. Whether you’re in Comfort or Sport, the ride remains complaint yet composed. The steering is well-weighted, firms up appropriately in Sport mode, and turns in with a mild sense of urgency as if to say, “Alright, so we’re doing this. Can do!”

We didn’t get to sample the 300-horsepower four-banger, which was a shame since I loved it to death in the G70 and felt it lightened the nose significantly. Oh well. It’s not like the Michelin Primacy Tour tires or fast sweepers would encourage much rallyist antics, anyway. This is merely an excellent highway cruiser that just so happens to be okay with putting a little extra pep in its step should you ever ask it to.

Its twin-turbo V6 and well-tuned eight-speed auto make that easy. With a broad torque band, minimal lag, and plenty of passing power, the powertrain nudges you into your seat without being gruff, even high in the revs. Like its suspension, the mighty V6 is as well-mannered as the rest of the car. It doesn’t surprise drivers with a shocking degree of performance, but everything feels well-sorted and appropriately tuned for this kind of crossover and its range of buyers.

If I had any complaints, it’s that there’s no GV80 Magma and that Genesis should’ve never shown me the Magma brand. Give it to me! Give it to me now!

Posh and proper

Manners are good, especially in this segment where every other luxury crossover tries to out-sporty one another with needlessly raucous power-drunk engines, dreary black interiors, and bone-shattering suspension.

Genesis GV80
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Like, you know these are grocery store shuttles first and foremost, right? No one’s taking your M Sport or AMG Line crossover to the canyons, let alone the track. Genesis knows this, and they knew damn well what their true priorities were and how to hit them right on target. When departing the winding scenic routes in favor of wide Texan highways, the GV80 settles into a mellowness seldom matched by many cars today, easily absorbing fat potholes and expansion joints despite my tester’s 22-inch wheels. Eco mode further relaxes the engine, helping to achieve a commendable EPA-average-besting 22 mpg while still being able to call upon its arsenal of torque for passing.

Genesis GV80
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Around the old-timey brick roads of Fort Worth, the GV80 hardly flinched. NVH was impressively low, allowing you to better appreciate the spacious, airy cabin, easy-to-use infotainment with your choice of touchscreen or scroll knob controls, or the crystal clear B&O sound system.

Zero surprises in the best ways possible

The GV80 just makes things easy. That’s how a luxury crossover should be. Its attempts at athleticism are welcome but not overdone. It doesn’t play into any lie of sportiness only for it to deceive itself and pretend to be something it isn’t. Like the G70 and G90 I’ve driven before it, the GV80 is no imitator. It knows exactly what it is as a car and what it should do as its missions, and it executes its role with competency, at least on our brief test around Dallas and Fort Worth.

Genesis GV80
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

From our day behind the wheel, I can see that it packs no surprises or tricks under its sleeve. It’s just a good car that’s built well, feels good, and drives with confidence and coherence. I don’t think that’s much to ask for in a car. Thankfully, Genesis doesn’t think so either.

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Genesis GV60 Magma concept front fascia closeup
Buying Guides

14 upcoming cars we’re itching to drive in 2024 and beyond

Auto shows are in full swing. Manufacturers drop press release after press release. Suddenly, it seems like the car industry has almost finished healing from its ransacking at the hands of COVID and supply chain shortages, and new cars are more abundant and more alluring than ever. Affordable cars, dream cars, daily drivers, and high-performance piss missiles, oh my! It’s a fun, if polarizing, time to be a car nerd or even just a new car buyer, so let’s take a peek at some of the hottest new cars worth looking out for in the foreseeable future.

Genesis Magma lineup

Car gods, be praised! We whined, and they listened. Genesis has finally unveiled concepts for the Magma family, its future high-performance lineup in the same vein as BMW M, Mercedes AMG, Lexus F, and Audi Sport GmbH. Details of the cars are unknown, but there will be a mixed crop of EV and gasser Magma cars. First to hit the scene will be a full-production GV60 Magma EV and the limited-run G80 Magma Special.

2025 Toyota 4Runner

After a quintillion years in car years, the current-gen Toyota 4Runner will soon be the outgoing one, as Toyota teased an all-new iteration on their social media. Details are scarce other than a close-up image of the tailgate badge and the knowledge that it’ll most likely be based on the same architecture underpinning the Tacoma and Land Cruiser. Expect a 2024 reveal and a 2025 product release, as well as carryover 2.4-liter turbocharged hybrid and non-hybrid powertrains from the Taco and Land Cruiser.

2025 Porsche 911 hybrid

Unlike most of the cars here, the 911 hybrid has not been officially revealed or teased in any capacity. But it’s coming. Test mules have been spotted meandering around Europe. Their appearances have only gotten more frequent with the turn of the new year, and some claim that we should expect an official debut come summer of 2024 when the 992.2 facelift arrives for the 2025 model year. We expect a 911 Hybrid to rock a turbocharged flat-six and a small lithium-ion battery driving all four wheels and enabling some trick torque vectoring.

Kia K5 hatchback (wagon)

Just look at it. Isn’t she a beauty? An affordable wagon. Leave it to the Koreans to at least style a car in a manner that at least exudes the vibe of upscale-ness, inside and out, even if we know it’ll be built to a low price point to sell at a low price point. Expect the standard K4 sedan’s naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four pushing 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet through a CVT and its 1.6-liter turbocharged powertrain pushing 190 horsepower and 195 pound-feet through an eight-speed auto.

2025 Ford Mustang GTD

I know it’s probably beating a dead ‘Stang by now, but the GTD isn’t out yet! And it’s no less cool moseying around from rotating auto show pedestal to rotating auto show pedestal. For the seventeenth time, bask in its GT3 race car-inspired, soon-to-be-Nürburgring-lapping glory as Ford’s new six-figure halo car for Mustang and motorsports fans alike. Ford aims for 800 ponies out of the GT500-derived 5.2-liter supercharged V8 and a sub-seven-minute ‘Ring time.

‘Electrified’ Honda Prelude

Like the 911 Hybrid, the Prelude’s specs are all up in the air. But we know it’s coming. It has to atone for the death of the Accord and Civic coupes and the rise of the GR86/BRZ and Nissan Z. The concept shows off Michelin tires surrounding some stout Brembos, and maybe there’s even a hybridized Civic Si or Civic Type R motor under that hood.

2024 Dodge Charger

Considering Dodge’s recent moves toward electrifying its lineup, starting with the Dodge Hornet R/T, it’s no surprise that the new Charger Daytona swaps its iconic Hemi V8 for a 400-volt EV powertrain. For car enthusiasts, though, nothing quite matches the resounding charisma of an internal combustion engine. And they can still get that with the Hurricane-equipped Six Pack variant.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N

In a piece for TechRadar, Leon Poultney called the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N “the first genuinely fun EV.” And he’s not alone. While I haven’t had the chance to drive one,  in my New York Auto Show demo ride, I was blown away by how well it simulated the experience of being in a gas car—minus the carbon emissions.

2025 Ram 1500 Ramcharger

I’m no truck guy, but the powertrain Ram conceptualized for the Ramcharger is like a Chevy Volt on steroids. Although it can plug into a DC fast charger for 145 miles of all-electric road time, this isn’t a full BEV. And despite the 3.6-liter V6 under its hood, the gas engine has no mechanical connection to the wheels. Instead, two electric motors—one in the front and one in the back—propel the Ramcharger, with the help of a 70.8-kWh battery not much smaller than that of a Tesla Model Y. Only when the battery dies does the engine go to work, burning fuel to recharge the battery if the battery runs out of juice and you can’t reach a charging station.

2025 Lucid Gravity

We’re all tired of third-row SUVs. Believe me, this Mazda CX-90 review sucked the soul out of me for like two months. Still, the Lucid Gravity appears to be one of the more polished examples in its class. Fans of the genre will appreciate its soft-touch premium interior, expansive infotainment displays, and for the Tesla-averse, physical inputs where they’re needed. Best of all, the front trunk doubles as a seat for reverse tailgate parties.

2027 Rivian R3

Remember the Lancia Delta? No? Well, then you probably live in America, where the five-door Italian hatchback was never released. Nonetheless, the Rivian R3 borrows from the Delta’s design language—or at least its wider-stance Integrale variant. The R3, however, is a cute little electric crossover built on Rivian’s new compact crossover platform—one I could very much see myself in when the Tonale lease is up in a few years. Oh yeah. I said a few years since Rivian was so kind, giving us from its 2024 unveil to its speculated 2027 release to drool over it.

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Hyundai Kona N
Used Car Reviews

The Hyundai Kona N is a superb used car bargain for those who can’t afford a Macan

On the first day, Albert Biermann created the Hyundai N division so that Korea may have the means to stand up to its incessant German and Japanese rivals. On the second day, Biermann created the Veloster N so that Road & Track staffers’ heads may explode in ecstasy over Korea’s newfound affinity for affordable driving dynamics. On the third, he crafted the Elantra N so that I could go to the mall for Donut Media stuff (no, seriously). And on the fourth, he spawned the Hyundai Kona N so that young urbanites and small families may, too, experience the wonders of burble tunes and dual-clutch gearboxes.

Alas, the Kona is a relatively new face in a saturated segment, having only begun life in 2017 and the N joining the lineup in 2021. A second-gen car had only recently appeared as of 2023, yet the Kona has proven to be a favorable choice and a hot seller among buyers. Heck, all of Hyundai has proven favorable in recent years. So, how about a used one? Is a used Hyundai Kona N worth the coin for that discerning enthusiast who may be looking for a sporty daily or a higher-riding alternative to the typical GTI? Hmm, let’s see.

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Hyundai Kona N
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

(Author’s Note: Special thanks and shoutout to my friend for loaning her 11,000-mile Kona N for a couple of afternoons to gather driving impressions.)

Price and specs

The Kona N sold with an MSRP of roughly $35,000 before taxes and fees, approaching a base model GR Corolla or a loaded Subaru BRZ tS. However, unlike those two, the Kona offers a taller seating position and more ground clearance for the urban rally stage and, for better or worse, front-wheel drive with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox only. Like the Elantra N, the Kona shares its 2.0-liter turbocharged heart that spews out a healthy 286 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque, enabling 0-60 in as quick as 4.8 seconds. At roughly 3,340 pounds, the Kona N is just a touch heavier than the Elantra but about on par, if not a bit lighter, than a current-gen Subaru WRX.

New prices (2024):$34,950
Approximate used prices:$24,000 to $30,000
Engines choices:2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission choices:8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain choices:Front-wheel drive
Power:286 horsepower
Torque:289 pound-feet
Weight:3,340
0-to-60 mph:4.8 seconds
1/4-mile:13.4 seconds @ 105 mph
MPG:20 city, 27 highway, 23 combined
Fuel capacity:13.2 gallons
(Author’s Note: Performance numbers reflected in Car and Driver’s review from July 2022)

Not bad for a family crossover, and fuel economy is quite good by performance car standards, if unremarkable by crossover standards or four-cylinder cars in general. But by eyeing the N model in particular, you ought to know what you’re getting into. It’s a family car built to go from Namyang to the Nürburgring, not just the elementary school to Costco. Kona Ns are fairly well-appointed, featuring CarPlay and Android Auto, built-in GPS navigation, heated seats, a digital gauge cluster, and single-zone automatic climate control.

No sunroof or all-wheel drive options are available, but all Kona Ns are backed by Hyundai’s generous and well-received five-year, 60,000-mile basic and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranties. One whole decade. Given the Kona N’s infantile age compared to other sport compacts, this warranty ought to still be well within its timer and of great use to prospective buyers for years to come.

What’s hot?– Unmistakably fast
– Corners like a champ despite tall height
– Snappy, smart-shifting dual-clutch programming
– Ergonomic interior with comfortable seating
– Eager, playful demeanor
– Quick-responding, easy-to-reach infotainment

First-generation Kona N and the only N so far (2022 to 2023)

Hyundai Kona N
Image credit: Hyundai

Huzzah! There she be. The first-gen and, so far, only-gen Kona N, running for only two years in the United States with pretty much no major revisions or additions, only to be snuffed out by the arrival of a new-gen Kona, which more closely follows Hyundai’s current design philosophy. All Kona Ns, like my tester, are specced exactly the same: turbo-four ganger routing 286 horsepower through an 8-speed DCT to the front wheels only. Your options are colors and any available dealer accessories. And then there’s that super angular love-it-or-hate-it styling that grows on you after a while.

Second-generation Kona with no N model as of yet (2024 to present)

Hyundai Kona N-Line
Image credit: Hyundai

You’d be hard-pressed to believe the outgoing N is a Kona if you’ve only seen the new generation or be dumbfounded thinking the new one is a Kona if you’ve only seen the first generation. The new Kona sports standout styling akin to an Ioniq having a child with a Genesis, complete with front and rear light bars and the Elantra’s signature “Z” body lines carved into the doors. The outgoing Kona is also a significantly smaller car as the new model grows an inch in height, an inch in width, seven inches in length, and over two inches in wheelbase, all in the name of cabin space and refinement. While there’s no full-on N model yet, there is the peppy, 190-horsepower N-Line, but the increased size translates to increased weight, which has reportedly taken a toll on handling and performance. This presents a challenge for any future N variant to overcome, but it’s certainly nothing Biermann’s crew can’t handle, should they decide to make one.

Review round-up

Existing for only two model years, it’s tricky to gauge the Kona N’s long-term reliability. But I’ll take the internet’s word that the Hyundai N family, in general, is usually nothing short of bulletproof. Some higher-mile examples across CarGurus barely crest 60,000 miles, just timing out of their basic warranties but still well within their powertrain warranties. Perhaps the biggest complaint about an N is that it can be a little raucous to those unprepared to saddle themselves with something so focused and over the top compared to a run-of-the-mill Kona, Elantra, or Veloster. To some, the ride can still be a tad too firm, even in the softest settings, but thankfully, the Kona is graced with a comfort seat option that Elantras don’t get, and Velosters no longer offer.

Hyundai Kona N
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The Hyundai’s grip is stupendous, and the wheel transmits steady chatter from the road, such that you feel in your hands when the pavement abruptly transitions from smooth and fresh on the North Carolina side to patched and parched in Tennessee. Detecting that we’re up to some hijinks, the Kona’s N Track Sense Shift transmission software starts aggressively downshifting for corners and holding gears to redline all on its own.

Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver instrumented test, July 2022

Around town, there can be a little head toss with the suspension in its firmer Sport mode, but the crossover is otherwise perfectly poised. Hitting our local canyon road, we were continually amazed by the grip levels. No matter how much we turned the steering wheel or otherwise tried to induce slip, it just never gave up traction. The Kona N simply sticks and goes no matter how hard you try to break its resolve. It’s unflappable.

Bob Hernandez, Motor Trend instrumented test, August 2022

The Kona N makes for a compelling solution to these hollow excuses [saying one can’t have an enthusiast car because it sacrifices practicality]. It’s small enough to parallel park in New York City, practical enough for a shopping spree, and economical enough that I didn’t feel like I was breaking the bank, even as I filled up with premium gas. 

Aaron Segal, The Drive review, September 2022

Driving the Kona N spiritedly on back roads is fun. It’s super quick. You get grippy Pirelli summer tires (miraculously, still on my test car in November), relatively spot-on steering and a lot of feedback from the road. But unlike a GTI or a Type R, it doesn’t feel ironed over at all. You have a high center of gravity and a short wheelbase — 4.5 inches shorter than the Elantra N’s — which adds up to less stability. Normally-smoothed-out features like torque steer, body roll and tires scrambling for grip are readily apparent.

Tyler Duffy, Gear Patrol review, December 2022

The Kona N is only going to make sense to a certain subset of people. Those people will really, really love it. It seems like Hyundai’s attempt to give us a hot hatchback in a shape that the market is really into right now, the compact SUV. As a former GTI owner, the Kona N still has some of the same characteristics of the GTI and other hot hatchbacks of days gone by: a practical shape for folding down the rear seats and shoving in a bike or a dresser on occasion, a reasonably small footprint, and performance numbers that will shock people who judge cars by their badge. The Kona is just a lot less subtle about all of it. The styling is good looking but definitely not understated,

Consumer review on 2022 Kona N, Kelly Blue Book

While all of this is great, what really brings it all home for me is the day to day livability, and in this regard I think the Kona N has a leg up on the Elantra N, which I’ve also driven. The seats are great. They hold you in but don’t feel too stiff, and the leather/suede combination (I’m not sure if they’re real or imitation materials, but they feel great) is nice. While the interior won’t be confused for a luxury car, it feels solidly built and all the touch points are nice enough that the car never feels cheap. All of the lighted interior parts illuminate in blue as well, which is a cool touch that people don’t seem to be talking about. As a daily driver it really gets the job done, and you can fit four average sized adults in it no problem… Although people above six feet will probably struggle in the back seat, so keep that in mind.

Consumer review on 2022 Kona N, cars.com

I wanted a car that was functional but also very fun to drive. In comes the Hyundai Kona N. It’s not your typical CUV, it has a drivetrain that can be found in the Touring America TC race series Hyundai Elantra and Veloster. I can tote around my mom and her wheel chair while having fun carving the mountain roads (safely of course).

Consumer review on 2023 Kona N, cars.com

This car is a hoot to drive, and it also causes lots of glances over as you tear away from other cars when you are simply just driving around. Even in Eco mode the exhaust has some nice notes. The only issue is the suspension, but that should be expected given that this is a track-ready car.

Consumer review on 2022 Kona N, cars.com

Again, the standout complaint seems to be an overly stiff ride, which varies from person to person. More on ride quality in my driving impressions. And again, reliability talk seems to take a back seat as the cars are too new to have many nasty gremlins rear their ugly heads. But if magazine long-term tests and social media banter about other N cars are anything to go off, reliability should be of little concern to prospective owners, with little-to-no major hiccups reported and only a few people experiencing odd flukes that were never replicated. Car and Driver’s Veloster N long-term car experienced an unknown electric fluke that a computer reflash solved, and it never appeared again.

If anything, forums have reported a few high-pressure fuel pump failures with track-driven or heavily modified Veloster Ns, but some users are quick to note that these are uncommon occurrences and that Hyundai has otherwise made big strides in the reliability of its entire lineup. Buyers should also note if the cars they’re shopping for have had a particular recall, Safety Recall 236, regarding the 8-speed DCT resolved or not.

Driving impressions

The cool parent’s crossover

Well, how does the “broke-person Macan” drive? Out-freaking-standing, I say.

In Normal and Eco drive modes (and paying zero attention to the paddle shifters and NGS button whatsoever), you’d be hard-pressed to believe it’s anything other than a solid, well-appointed compact crossover with hefty-ish steering. The tiny size, outstanding visibility, and taller ride height versus normal hot hatches make the Kona N one of the better daily driver options for urban car enthusiasts. CarPlay works like a charm, as does the built-in GPS nav, and the digital gauges are legible.

Most appealing has to be the comfort seats, which retain enough bolstering for spirited drives but with more padding for long hauls versus the Elantra N’s rock-hard buckets. They do a commendable job helping to iron out road imperfections, the harshness of which I find to be a bit overblown in other reviews, as the softest modes aren’t terribly stiff. Sure, it’s firm, partly due to the short wheelbase, and downsizing from the factory 19-inch wheels to 18s would also help, but it’s still totally livable. That is if you’re accustomed to a Focus RS or F80 BMW M3, I must say. Perhaps I’d say otherwise in torn and battered places like Salt Lake City, Reno, or parts of SoCal.

Interior materials are unremarkable econobox stuff, easily showing this once-$35,000-car’s $25,000 roots. Plastics are abundant, but they’re tightly bound and devoid of creaks, at least in my near 11,000-mile loaner. Fuel economy is so-so, as well. The average economy readout of my friend’s car indicated a hair below 24 mpg, which is on track considering the Kona N’s also-mid EPA ratings. Hey, it’s a hot hatch, folks! That 13.2-gallon tank should keep fill-ups relatively cheap, and they make a Kona Hybrid, anyway.

Road-going rally car

Like the Elantra N, the Kona N is a bonafide ripper and eager to take anything you throw at it with glee and ferocity, from sweeping corners to tight hairpins. It feels every bit of its M-influenced heritage and makes great use of its 289 pound-feet of torque, nudging you into your seat on every pull. The DCT is geared short and shifts snappily, always keeping you in the meat of your powerband during pulls. Manual paddle response is quick, but the gearbox is smart enough in Drive where you can leave it to its own devices, and you’d be just fine.

In German car fashion, the exhaust blats and snorts on downshifts and lift-off and changes tone between Sport/N modes and lesser modes, shifting from “kind-of sporty crossover” to “wannabe rally car.” Also in German car fashion, the engine pulls butter smooth, or at least as smooth as it can be for premium hot hatch pricing.

Hyundai Kona N
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Baby Porsche Macan? In this regard, sure.

But the most Porsche-like attribute one could point out is just how sharp and confident the Kona N is once you turn that big round thing in front of your face. Sure, it’s fast. But many sport compacts these days are fast. Few are as connected and razor-sharp as this, even with its ground clearance and humble family ute beginnings. After sampling this and the Elantra, I can say that Honda’s performance car steering is better. But Hyundai isn’t far behind. The steering weighs up nicely on turn-in, and the overall weighting is appreciably hefty in Sport, although the lightness in Normal mode feels more authentic to what the Kona N really is without sacrificing accuracy.

Speaking of which, the modes appreciably make a considerable difference. It’s not a case of, “Oh, it’s a little sharper or a little stiffer than earlier.” No. Sport and Normal really are transformative, from the steering to the exhaust and the tuning of the engine and diff, bouncing between a firm family crossover with sporty steering and nothing else and a true driver’s car.

Hyundai Kona N
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Thankfully, the Kona shares its stablemates’ N buttons, allowing drivers to custom tailor their experiences to have riotous engines but soft suspension or a more or less aggressive e-LSD mode. Keep the Kona N in its softer suspension settings, and you can tackle most tattered canyon roads without worrying about upsetting the chassis or your passenger spilling their drink in their lap… Ask me how I know. Custom drive modes for the win.

And yeah. It’s a sport compact in 2024. If you want to add extra go, grip, or glamor, there’s a sizable aftermarket ready to take your money, as the local Hyundai N clubs have proven.

What’s not?– Firm ride to some, especially in sportier drive modes
– Unremarkable fuel economy
– Unremarkable cargo space
– Might be cramped for taller individuals
– Front-wheel drive only
– Fuel pump concerns for modified or track-driven N cars

Should you buy a used Hyundai Kona N?

So. Baby Porsche Macan. Broke Porsche Macan. Blue-collar Porsche Macan. Am I crazy for making all these Porsche comparisons? Yeah, probably. It’s far from a real Porsche. But that should speak to how enjoyable the Kona N is to even think of such a brand when you start to egg this little guy on. It’s a silly endeavor, turning a Crosstrek fighter into a track-ready hot hatch on stilts. But Hyundai did it. And Hyundai wound up with one of the most enjoyable compromises in the affordable performance car market, even if it only stuck around for a couple of years.

Hyundai Kona N
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Should you buy one? You can probably guess what my answer is and the answer of any auto journo or previous owner. The question you need to ask yourself is if you can deal with the compact size and cargo area typical of this class. Is this doable, or do you need something to haul more than one or two medium-sized things from IKEA? And can you tolerate the firm suspension and ho-hum fuel economy in exchange for driving enjoyment at any opportunity? The Kona N is still indeed a usable family crossover, but it’s one Hyundai twisted and bastardized into the antithesis of an HOA Karen’s ideal SUV and a car lover’s dream (affordable) daily driver. If that sounds even the least bit appealing, then have at it, and pick yourself up one of the most unique and lovable gifts to the automotive world since, well, the last two Ns.

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Lexus TX
New Car Reviews

2024 Lexus TX 350 review: Not your average three-row luxury SUV

Pop quiz! How many automakers debuted all-new crossovers or SUVs in the past five years? If that sounds like too long a list, let’s cut out the seemingly never-ending crop of new EVs… Now the list gets pretty short pretty fast. But fully four have come from Toyota and Lexus: the revived Land Cruiser and its GX sibling, plus the Toyota Grand Highlander and now, its luxurious Lexus TX variant.

The Grand Highlander and TX target a much different market segment than the LX and GX, though. By squeezing three rows of seats into a compact unibody chassis, the Grand Highlander I tested last year drove just like a car. And that’s the whole point: to avoid the hefty driving dynamics of a body-on-frame vehicle while also fitting adults in the back row without too much contortionism required. 

Now, the TX arrives as a Grand Highlander that received a high-school rom-com makeover, with a range of powertrain options that cost enough to make the gradewalk differentiation between RX, GX, and LX at the top of the Lexus food chain a little more complex. But where the LX is a massive SUV that even non-car people will immediately notice how incredibly it drives, the RX is sporty and compact (but also ugly and annoying), and the GX caters best to an off-roading crowd, the TX ticks boxes in the middle ground for city commuters or large rural families alike.

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Lexus TX
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Price and specs

Base price:$55,050
As-tested price:$67,925
Engine:2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:275 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque:317 pound-feet @ 1,700 rpm
Weight:4,730 pounds
0-60 mph:7.8 seconds
¼-mile:15.5 sec @ 91.2 mph
Tow rating:5,000 lbs (w/ optional equipment)
Top speed:112 mph
MPG:20 city, 26 highway, 23 combined
Fuel capacity:17.8 gallons
(1/4-mile performance estimates from Motor Trend instrumented test.)

Lexus TX 350 Luxury exterior design

Still recognizably related to Grand Highlanders, little differences on the TX’s exterior make a big difference in first impressions. My loaner’s Celestial Silver paint job actually ends up on the bolder end of the scale—unusual for a silver car—because the smoothed lines end up somewhat reminiscent of a Naboo royal starship from Phantom Menace. The wide grille and body-colored fender cladding end up disappearing better into darker tones, which serves the TX’s overall form somewhat better.

But generally, the TX again occupies another middle ground in terms of exterior design, carrying over some swooping Lexus styling cues of old without edging into the boxy angularity introduced on the flagship LX giant and applied entirely overboard on the new adventure-centric GX. A few concessions to contemporary competitors shine through, too, mostly in the form of metal trim above most side quarter windows and almost snake-eye headlight housings.

Lexus TX
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
What’s hot?– Silent, serene ride becoming of Lexus
– Smooth suspension and confident AWD handling
– Premium leather and touchpoints
– Snappy 14-inch touchscreen

Lexus TX 350 Luxury pricing breakdown 

A base TX starts at a competitive MSRP of $55,050, but pricing escalates quickly from there. This tester with the base 2.4-liter inline-four and Luxury trim comes out to $67,925, with the added Technology Package ($2,150), Convenience Package ($895), Mark Levinson sound system ($1,160), and second-row captain’s chairs ($680) making up the big-ticket items.

Adding $12,000-plus in options may not factor in for most buyers of the lowest-spec TX, but stepping up to other drivetrains bumps up the sticker shock even more. The TX500h with a hybrid version of the 2.4-liter engine starts at $69,350. And the top dawg TX550h+ swaps in a plug-in hybrid twin-turbo V6 engine good for 404 horsepower and 33 miles of electric range, but that starts nearly in LX territory at $78,050.

Lexus TX 350 Luxury interior and tech

After driving almost every trim level of the Grand Highlander last year, the first thing I noticed about the TX probably helps to set it apart the very most: supremely comfortable seats bedecked in supple semi-aniline leather upholstery. Adjusting the driver’s bucket with generous lumbar support and a counterintuitive combination of firm padding but opulent cushion somehow boggled my backside. And the TX arrived almost immediately after driving a new Aston Martin. Not bad, Lexus.

Meanwhile, the TX adds a couple more inches of touchscreen to reach a 14-inch diagonal measurement, with a snappy interface that looks somewhat familiar. Physical climate control dials mix with a frustrating combo of the home screen and menu pages for selecting temperatures and fan settings, but at least a little nub of a gear shifter hasn’t given way to the all-too-common dial knob.

The digital gauge screen provides clear, if slightly dim, vehicle information while driving. And the Mark Levinson Surround Sound system cranks tunes up nicely, though on my own TX I might fiddle with the equalizer to boost a bit more bass to match the crisp mids and trebles.

Of course, typically overaggressive Lexus driver aids fit into the technology discussion, too. Though not as bad as the RX, the TX still dings incessantly for driver inattention—ironically pulling my eyes toward the gauge screen instead of back to the road. Lane tracing works well most of the time but gets overwhelmed by traffic or curves in the road, and startling automatic emergency braking while backing up sometimes creates the impression of a collision that didn’t actually happen.

Lexus TX
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Swaddle the whole fam in Lexus luxury

A cozy, competent urban runabout

Driving around town, the TX’s compact footprint for a three-row SUV makes navigating narrow streets, parking lots, and traffic a cinch. Despite moderately thick C and D pillars, excellent visibility also helps a ton. The stellar suspension absorbs speed bumps, potholes, and driveway entrances with the smooth substantiality expected of a luxury vehicle. To be clear, it’s not quite on the LX’s level, but Lexus clearly made suspension a priority while working over the Grand Highlander chassis.

Sound deadening also helps to create a serene cabin, which drone from the petite turbo-four only occasionally intrudes upon. The ride quality and insulation only get better at highway speeds. Hitting 90 miles an hour almost happens too easily since so little wind and tire noise enters the cabin. Head into a stiff breeze or up a steep hill, though, and the engine noise once again crops up.

The TX 350’s mill produces plenty of torque at 317 pound-feet, and the eight-speed auto shifts quickly without lurching, but the engine’s soundtrack reveals the force necessary to haul around 4,730 pounds of curb weight. A bit more exhaust burble would go a long way toward matching the confident ride quality while bolstering the physical impression of real-world performance, even if a 0-60 time of just under eight seconds seems a bit underwhelming on paper.

Lexus TX
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Driving out of Los Angeles toward the Mojave Desert early in the morning, I turned on the adaptive cruise as an experiment to compare to the exasperating RX. On the TX, Lexus’ intrusive driver aids perform better, if only slightly. As on the Grand Highlander, adjusting the adaptive cruise control speed and following distance requires using unlabeled buttons on the steering wheel that reveal their purpose strictly on the head-up display. 

The Lexus RX I drove also dinged constantly, citing driver inattention any time I wore sunglasses, but I can happily report the TX can handle shades without a similar problem. But similarly enthusiastic automatic emergency braking frequently left me looking around to see what I backed into to cause such a sharp stop.

The TX 350 also marked my first time ever trying an autonomous parking function in any car. Perhaps we can blame the first attempt on driver error, as I pulled up slightly in front of the wide open spot as if to parallel park normally. Pushing the button then prompted the TX to back in perpendicular to the curb. I tapped the brake pedal and reset directly next to the open spot, and with three back-and-forths, the TX parallel parked itself… 30 inches from said curb. I then corrected it with another back-and-forth adjustment. It’s not terrible, and it’s kind of fun to just let Lexus take the wheel, but I’d be curious to try in a tighter situation with a car that I don’t have to give back a few days later.

A road tripper for the more dynamic family

From the Mojave Desert, I then took a quick rip up the back roads toward Wrightwood, California. Dark clouds up the hill looked threateningly close to snow, and though the TX handled every mountain corner of clean asphalt without breaking a sweat, those eco-friendly Goodyear Assurance tires seemed unlikely to handle any real slip-and-slide particularly well. As I hauled through corners, thick sway bars, and sublime dampers preventing much in the way of body lean, I also played with the paddle shifters to keep the 2.4-liter mill in its happy place. But as great as paddles are, modern turbocharger wastegates make torque curves flat enough that revving to the moon becomes unnecessary. 

Still, the sheer pace I managed in a TX on eco tires surprised me. Both the Toyota and the Lexus versions provide real passenger car performance with full-size interior volume, as I learned when I pulled over to shoot some pics and folded down the rear seats. With the third row of seats up, my little duffle fit just fine, but tapping a button to fold them down opened up a cavernous cargo compartment. Then, I flipped a few levers on the second-row buckets to tilt them down, as well. 

With everything folded, Lexus claims the TX can hold 97 cubic feet of cargo. More importantly, from my perspective, the rear now looked plenty large enough to carry bikes or skis (the largest objects I tend to schlep around). I even feel optimistic about testing that all-wheel-drive system in the snow and dirt with more legit tires.

The TX also earns up to a 5,000-pound tow rating, so a trailer hitch bike rack might fit into the mix quite well, too. Fixed roof rails ready for crossbars mean that a roof box, necessary when traveling with seven or eight passengers and luggage, can be mounted with ease. But in fairness to the entire goal of the Grand Highlander and TX alike, for most trips, the interior should do just fine. 

Lexus TX
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
What’s not?– Base 2.4L engine comes up lacking
– Typical Lexus intrusive driver aids
– Frustrating climate controls
– Hybrid options add up quickly

Goldilock’s Lexus crossover?

Headed back down the hill towards LA, I pondered all the various ways that a TX with each powertrain could fit into the expanding Toyota and Lexus lineup. Comfortable and capable, with enough space for a large family or friend group, smooth and easy to drive, all within a luxurious passenger compartment—the TX isn’t too much bigger than an RX from the outside but much more spacious on the inside. And it’s so much smaller than the other Lexus three-rows, the GX and LX, that the efficient layout almost reminds me of EV packaging. An impressive achievement, to say the least.

Lexus TX
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

The powertrain options and concomitant pricing hikes combine to make the TX unique. Want to spend LX money on a powerful plug-in hybrid? Go buy a TX550h+. How about finding a truly luxurious ride without feeling ripped off? Yep, the base TX will do, even though all cars are terribly expensive these days. But I suspect the mid-level 2.4-liter hybrid takes the cake, able to merge easily between comfort in the city and longer road trips with the fam. Maybe even a bit of sportiness enters the equation, too, which the base TX 350 Luxury proved possible over a week’s worth of driving.

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2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
New Car Reviews

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive review: Finally, some personality (and a third row)

Every previous iteration of the Hyundai Santa Fe has been perfectly acceptable, but only the bargain-priced, V6-powered first-gen crossover raised any eyebrows. Since then, the South Korean utility player has been content to provide its owners with adequate driving dynamics, decent packaging, and a great warranty, as is the trend with Korean automakers in general lately. As for individuality, well, the Santa Fe was about as forgettable as they come.

That changes with the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe. One need look no further than the bold, pixelated styling for proof of personality. In the name of detail, the boxy crossover now features a standard turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, three rows of seats, extensive technology, and a surprisingly rugged XRT trim level. Hyundai’s wallflower is blooming and bloomin’ great.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Image credit: Hyundai

Price and specs

Base price:$35,345
Price as-tested: $49,695 (Santa Fe Calligraphy AWD)
Engine choices:2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission choices:8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain choices:Front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive
Horsepower:277 horsepower 
Torque:311 pound-feet
Weight:4,486 pounds
0-60:TBA
¼-mile:TBA
Towing capacity:3,000 pounds, 4,500 pounds (XRT)
Cargo space:14.6 (third row up), 40.5 (third row down), 79.6 cubic feet (third and second row down)
MPG:20 city,  29 highway, 24 combined (FWD), 20 city, 28 highway,  23 combined (AWD), 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined (AWD XRT)
Fuel capacity:17.7 gallons

What’s new?

Eight-bit styling

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is an all-new design, sharing little with its predecessor. Numbers? It rides on a 110.8-inch wheelbase, up two over the old Santa Fe, and overall length is up by 1.8 to 190.2 inches total. The new, so-called MX5 platform—no relation to the Mazda roadster, obvi—also gives the Santa Fe a shorter front and longer rear overhang, which is good news for cargo space.

Hyundai made the most of that larger footprint by giving its mid-size SUV a boxier, more upright design. The square rear end provides the Santa Fe 40.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, up from 36.3 on the previous version, and the liftgate opening is a staggering 5.7 inches wider and 2.0 inches taller. There’s also a standard third-row seat, with a surprisingly healthy 14.6 cubes of cargo room with all the rear seats in place. Overall interior room is class-leading, beating out the five-seat Honda Passport and Subaru Outback, as well as the seven-seat Kia Sorento.

The cubist exterior looks nothing like any other Hyundai before it. “We want our cars to look like a chess set, not Russian nesting dolls,” said Hyundai North America Head of Design, Kevin Kang. The rook of the group gets a bluff front end, H-pattern daytime running lights, vertical roof pillars, and funky-cool gloss black wheel arch surrounds that make the fenders look beveled and square. To top it all off—literally—there’s a battlement of roof rails standing tall and proud. Despite this squared-off design, the Santa Fe achieves a commendable 0.29 coefficient of drag thanks to air curtains in the front bumper and clever underbody aero management. 

Handsome, tech-focused interior

Inside, the Santa Fe looks a lot like other Hyundai products, especially the top-trim Calligraphy model with its matching 12.3-inch screens for both the instrument cluster and infotainment system. The instrument panel is very rectilinear à la Ioniq 6, although there’s some clear Range Rover influence in the four-spoke steering wheel. The tech suite is familiar, but Hyundai did add one crucial improvement. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have finally arrived on the automaker’s larger infotainment screen, made all the better with a pair of wireless chargers located side by side on the console.

Other new tech features include a more advanced version of Digital Key that no longer requires the driver to hold their phone up to the door to unlock or to the dashboard to start the Santa Fe—now you can just leave your phone in your pocket or bag, just like a proximity keyfob. Furthermore, Hyundai promises that Bluelink services will be free with no expiration for the original owner, a nice break from the subscription paywall that some automakers are erecting. Bluelink includes safety alerts and maintenance reminders, as well as smartphone-connected remote start, locking, and unlocking. It’ll also allow owners to set valet and teen-driver parameters for a little extra security and control.

In front of the passenger are three distinct storage areas: an enclosed bin on the dash fascia (with a UV-C sanitizing system on the Calligraphy), a conventional glovebox, and an open slot in between the two. There’s also a floating center console with storage underneath, a dual-action cubby armrest that both front and rear passengers can access, and a drawer-style bin for the second row. Add it all up, and there are plenty of places to stash road snacks, phones, wallets, pocketbooks, handbags, etc. Two USB-C ports appear everywhere on the console, with two more on the front seatbacks for second-row passengers. The third row even gets its own 120-volt inverter to keep devices charged.

Newly standard power and performance

Mechanically, the Santa Fe is hugely improved over its predecessor. For now, the only powertrain available is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, making 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque and mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the SE, SEL, Limited, and Calligraphy trims, with all-wheel drive available as a $1,800 option; the ruggedized XRT trim gets it standard, appropriately enough.

That XRT, by the way, offers Hyundai’s first-ever factory-fit set of all-terrain tires. It also gets 8.3 inches of ground clearance (up from the standard Santa Fe’s 7.0 inches), giving it more under-car room than the Kia Sorento X-Line and Honda Passport Trailsport—though the Subaru Outback still wins with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. The XRT doesn’t include an off-road driving mode, but Hyundai retuned the stability and traction controls for rough-road duty. The Santa Fe’s all-wheel-drive system allows for a 50:50 center differential lock, which is not always common in modern crossovers. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Image credit: Hyundai

Within the next few months, Hyundai will release the Santa Fe Hybrid, which will be offered in SEL, Limited, and Calligraphy trims. The electrified crossover will combine a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, 44.2-kilowatt electric motor, and 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery to produce a total of 231 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is again a $1,800 option.

What’s it like to drive?

On the open road

Thanks to the crisp-shifting eight-speed DCT and torque-rich engine, the Santa Fe gets up to speed smoothly and quietly. With more than 4,000 pounds to haul around, the powertrain isn’t outrageously fast, but I never felt concerned about making quick two-lane passes on hilly Tennessee backroads. The newly standard turbo engine is a huge upgrade over the 191-horsepower atmospheric 2.5-liter on the old Santa Fe, which felt lethargic when asked to hustle. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Image credit: Hyundai

Hyundai paid special attention to noise insulation, knowing that the boxier interior would naturally be more susceptible to booming noises. Yet, even over gritty pavement or gravel, the cabin remains serene and quiet, and the ride is well-damped and smooth. At freeway speeds, wind noise is generally well-controlled, although the elevated roof rails may have contributed to some rushing sounds I heard when traveling above 75 miles per hour. Only the pickiest ears will take umbrage, though.

The front row is very comfortable, especially on the Calligraphy trim that includes heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, a litany of power adjustments, and lovely Nappa leather upholstery. My driving position never felt quite right, and I found myself wishing the telescoping steering wheel would extend further so I wouldn’t have to scoot closer to the pedals. What’s more, the helm’s angle is slightly bus-like; when adjusted so I could see the entire gauge cluster, I felt like the wheel was angled toward my shoulders, not my chest. Still, I grew accustomed to the reach-rake after several minutes and never felt achy or uncomfortable in my four hours behind the wheel. 

The front right seat of the Calligraphy gets all the same comfort and adjustability as the driver, and occupants of the second-row captain’s chairs enjoy fore-aft and recline adjustments, deployable armrests, and a supportive seat profile to get themselves perfectly situated. The third row is small, and anyone measuring above five feet tall will get intimately acquainted with their knees on a long drive. But for kids, short distances, and emergency carpool situations, the standard way-back is a nice feature to have.

The confident ride begins to erode somewhat as the pace quickens, with some noticeable body lean in sweeping corners. But arguing about quick transitions in a family crossover is decidedly silly, so I’ll just say that the Santa Fe’s competent, sedate handling will inspire neither fear nor enthusiasm. Ditto the feather-light, accurate, and numb steering. It’ll do the job just fine, and that’s all one could expect.

Out in the woods

After several hours in a Calligraphy, I swapped into a Santa Fe XRT for a quick 30-minute jaunt on some of Tennessee’s easier off-road trails. Like other all-wheel-drive Santa Fes, the XRT has downhill assist control and the aforementioned locking center differential, but the real party piece is the all-terrain rubber sourced from Continental. The added ground clearance is a nice boon as well, imparting a bit more driver confidence when traversing the rough stuff.

The first segment of the off-road course was relatively easy, but the second portion included some rivulet crossings that maxed out the Santa Fe’s relatively limited articulation and left a front or a rear wheel hanging in the air. Here, Hyundai’s retuned stability control came good by letting me keep my foot on the throttle and letting the software send power to the wheels on the ground instead of the one in the air. Hard-core off-roading would require a low-range transfer case and more wheel travel, but a fire road or mountain trail needn’t deter the XRT driver from finding that perfect campsite or fishing hole.

A family SUV with some attitude

Whether choosing the value-oriented SE, the loaded Calligraphy, the ruggedized XRT, or anything in between, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is an impressive three-row crossover. Its starting price of $35,345, including destination, is dearer than that of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru’s Forester, and Outback, but the Hyundai is vastly more powerful and spacious than those products. Compared to the $42k-and-change Honda Passport, the Santa Fe is both torquier, cheaper, and more efficient, and it offers more cargo room behind the second row and the convenience of a third row when needed. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Image credit: Hyundai

Beyond those left-brain attributes, the Hyundai Santa Fe is also interesting to look at. It’s quiet and smooth on the open road, and it appeals differently from its predecessors. No longer bland and blasé, it is yet another boldly styled and well-executed product from the South Korean brand.

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Buying Guides

Here are five great used SUVs for family hauling on a budget

New SUVs are expensive! You can thank dealer markups and cost of living expenses for that terrible news. However, not all is lost. If you want to get yourself or your family a nice SUV, you just need to look at a good used SUV that can do what you need without robbing you at the dealer. Now presenting our round-up of five great used SUVs that you can get in 2024 year that will help you find and choose the best soccer practice shuttle for yourself. 

Subaru Forester

Image credit: Carpixel.net

What’s hot?

  • Comes standard with all-wheel drive 
  • The Forester comes standard with many EyeSight driver assists 

What’s not?

  • Lackluster performance from the engine
  • “Meh” CVT

Subaru is often overlooked when it comes to buying cars, but that does mean the price of the Forester is often much lower, and you can get your money’s worth when buying one used. That does not mean the Forester is a bad SUV. In fact, it is beloved by people who like to overland and who love to explore the wilderness. 

The inviting size of the cabin and the features that come standard on the Forester make it an ideal family SUV. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being a feature since 2019, the infotainment functionality of the Forester is up with there with other premium cars, even if its appearance is a bit dated.  The engine and transmission of the Subura Forester is what many people complain about as the engine feels lackluster and the CVT introduced in 2014 is, well, a CVT. Even the best ones can make an engine drone and moan like a complaining brat. If you don’t mind the age, older variants with more conventional autos would do nicely, and you may even be able to find a turbocharged XT with a stick! However, the easygoing handling and impressive all-weather and all-terrain capabilities of the Forester make it an easy pick, nonetheless. 

Honda Pilot

Image credit: Carpixel.net

What’s hot?

  • Tons of cargo space and interior space.
  • The Pilot is reasonably fuel-efficient with its V6 engine. 

What’s not?

  • The third-row seats are not comfortable for long-distance
  • The infotainment system isn’t the most user-friendly in older generations

The Honda Pilot follows in the footsteps of Honda’s reputation of being practical and reliable but still has that premium feel. The Pilot shares the same platform as the Honda Odyssey but loses the interior space due to it being limited to becoming an SUV. This means that the Pilot does have a third row like the Odyssey, but the seats are not as comfortable for long distances. 

The exterior looks of the Honda Pilot are nothing special, and you can easily forget what the Pilot looks like when you compare it to rival cars. Even the driving experience is nothing special. This does not mean it is a bad thing, especially if you want an SUV that can easily tow between 3,500 to 5,000 pounds, is reliable and you do not want a flashy SUV.  The Pilot does come with many driver assists that come standard on all trim levels of the car, making it a very practical SUV to drive.

Ford Explorer

Image credit: Carpixel.net

What’s hot?

  • The rear-wheel drive improvements help with towing
  • Abundance of interior and cargo space 

What’s not?

  • Wind noise can be harsh at highway speeds
  • The interior material, build quality, and the seats weren’t that great

By owning a Ford Explorer, you can be seen as one of the most hated SUVs on the road, but you can have fun with it. I’m talking about how the Explorer is used by Police, and many people may mistake your SUV for a police Explorer (psst, get one in silver or dark blue for that near-universal Highway Patrol cosplay).

With the 2020 redesign of the Ford Explorer, you can get the SUV either in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. This is an improvement over previous versions that offered the front-wheel drive version. The interior of the Ford Explorer wasn’t always up to par with rivals such as the Honda Pilot or Santa Fe. The infotainment systems and the safety technology inside the Explorer are very competitive when you compare them to rivals, especially in newer generations. It just the materials of the interior is that bring down this SUV, particularly in generations past. 

Hyundai Santa Fe

Image credit: Carpixel.net

What’s hot?

  • Some powertrain choices of later years are a hoot
  • The infotainment system is top-notch.  

What’s not?

  • There are a lot of hard plastic interior bits 
  • Some model years don’t have third-row seating

The 2.5-liter turbo inline-four in the Hyundai Santa Fe boasts impressive figures, making it a strong performer. Plus, the dual-clutch eight-speed transmission is just as willing to play along with you as it will happily downshift to get into the torque range of the engine. This means that you can surprise many unsuspecting cars at the stop light when you take off. 

While being a bit playful due to the power figures, you still get a great family SUV that is reliable and has infotainment systems that all modern SUVs and cars need to thrive in today’s modern world. One possible issue with the interior is the abundance of hard plastics that can make the interior feel cheap when you compare it to rival SUVs. Some used Santa Fe options may come with the upgraded premium quilted Nappa leather seats, but they are not as good as full luxury seats in more premium vehicles. 

Toyota RAV4

Image credit: Carpixel.net

What’s hot?

  • Easy to drive with excellent handling
  • Exciting powertrain in the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid

What’s not?

  • Interior can suffer from wind noise gruff engine noise
  • Ride quality can be harsh in more adventurous off-road variants

As the world’s first urban SUV (or so Toyota insists), the RAV4 has become a popular choice for people to buy. Due to it being parked in nearly everyone’s driveway for a very long time, it has become the standard on which many other SUVs are judged. And for good reason. RAV4s have always been reasonably efficient. Reasonably spacious. Easy to drive and easy to live with, all backed by that reputation of Toyota reliability.

The RAV4 has excellent features, as some of the later models come with wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay. You also get great safety systems that include automatic braking and automatic high-beam headlights. Adventure and TRD Off-Road variants, if you can find them used, score standard torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, and hybrids offer an efficient yet lively driving experience, especially the Prime plug-in.

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2025 Ford Explorer
News

Ta-da! This is the new, updated 2025 Ford Explorer

Ford sells a ton of Explorer SUVs. Old or new, it’s probably one of the more populous cars on the road, in police fleets, and on CarGurus. But the current model is starting to feel a bit long in the tooth compared to newer, more advanced rivals. That won’t remain a problem for long (sort of), as Ford recently introduced the 2025 Ford Explorer with substantive updates to its styling and interior. 

The Explorer’s powertrains remain unchanged, with a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder as the standard offering. It makes 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. A twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 is available, producing 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. All powertrains are reportedly mated to a retuned 10-speed auto. The SUV keeps its rear-drive bias, and four-wheel drive is still available. 

Ford gave the Explorer a new face for 2025, with the Active trim featuring a sawtooth grille with black mesh and chrome bars. The ST-Line and ST get honeycomb gloss-black grilles, and the ST adds red badging. The top Platinum trim gets a wing design grille with satin chrome and black accents. Ford offers seven new wheel designs, with sizes from 18 to 21 inches.

Each trim gets a unique interior look, ranging from the dark grey, bronze, and black accents in the Active trim to the “Mojave Dusk” interior theme for the Platinum model. The sporty ST and ST-Line get black interior finishes with red stitching, and the ST adds Miko suede inserts to the upholstery.

Image credit: Ford

Interior tech got an upgrade, with a standard 13.2-inch touchscreen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford also equips a 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge cluster, Amazon Alexa capabilities, eight USB ports with two for third-row passengers, three 12-volt powerpoints, and a Class III trailer tow package. Buyers can also add Blue Cruise, a hands-free driving assistance feature.

Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ comes standard, bringing features like blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure alerts, and more. The 2024 Explorer earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick award for the 2023 calendar year, so the new model should perform at the same level. 

Image credit: Ford

If you’re hoping to get a 2025 Explorer, the order books opened this morning. You’re looking at a $41,220 starting price, including destination, and deliveries should start in the second quarter of this year.

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Dodge Hornet R/T
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

The Dodge Hornet R/T is America’s little Italian hybrid hot hatch for better and worse

I never go into the world of crossovers expecting much in the way of creativity or differentiation. Small family crossovers are all mostly drawn from the same cookie-cutter template. But that’s also to say they all do their job commendably well. They’re all roomy. They’re all reasonably fuel-efficient. They’re all easy to drive, easy to live with, and easy to use for all your family, commuting, or household needs. They’re fine cars, and if you throw a dart at anything on the board, you’ll probably land on something you’ll enjoy. Maybe not as a driving enthusiast, obviously. But it’ll serve its purpose well. And that’s why I’m so excited to sample an oddity like the Dodge Hornet R/T.

Where have you been the whole time, you shifty little rat?

In a sea of dull but glaringly obvious choices in the market, here comes the Hornet R/T (and, by extension, the Alfa Romeo Tonale) to rule its only little corner of the kingdom and do it its own way. In R/T guise, it can be had with a spunky plug-in hybrid akin to the RAV4 Prime. Except, unlike that longtime favorite, this diminutive crossover has… wait, Brembo brakes? Wait, dual-valve Koni shocks? Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires? Metal paddle shifters? Hold up. Something’s special about this gold jellybean on stilts, and I’m going to get to the bottom of this.

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Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

🚦Get ready, set, full disclosure! Some of the links powering our posts contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase, even if it’s not from the page we linked. Affiliate links are not always an endorsement of the product. To really help us keep our headlights shining to make more content like this, subscribe to the Acceleramota newsletter.

Price and specs

GTI and GR86 fans, read it and weep. The Hornet R/T is indeed a threat. 288 horsepower and a sports car-rivaling 383 pound-feet place it squarely within the realm of entry and mid-level performance cars, and the big kid magazines’ test teams have the test numbers to prove it. Thank the 1.3-liter turbo four-banger assisted by a plug-in hybrid system consisting of two AC motors (one more than Tonale, likely resulting in its higher torque figure) and a 15.5-kWh battery, with the latter half of the powertrain being capable of up to 32 miles of EV-only commuting up to 84 mph. However, that impressive spec sheet comes at a wince-inducing price tag for our tester, which stickers at a hefty $52,405.

Base price:$41,400
As-tested price:$52,405
Engine:1.3-liter turbocharged I4 + 2 AC motors, 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission:6-speed automatic 
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:288 horsepower
Torque:383 pound-feet
Redline:7,000 rpm
Weight:4,200 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:5.5 seconds
¼-mile:14.2 seconds @ 96 mph
MPG:29 combined
MPGe:77 combined
Observed MPG:29.2 MPG
EV Range:32 miles
Fuel Capacity:11.2 gallons
(Author’s Note: Performance numbers reflected in Car and Driver’s review from October 2023)

Hornet R/T exterior design

Oh, thank the car gods that Italy had the heaviest influence in designing this vehicle. Yes, this is still very much an Alfa Romeo Tonale underneath, from the shape to the glass and the rear fascia. The starkest change is really just that Dodge Charger-fied mug, which itself looks pretty damn decent, and the headlights are still very much Tonale, albeit with a different lighting pattern inside the lens.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

If you care not for family crossovers, then perhaps you’ll find nothing remarkable here. But one must admit it’s a refreshingly smooth and elegant way to do a RAV4 rival, with hardly any sharp creases aside from the questionably functional hood vents and Dodge grille. The smooth, paper-thin light bar streaking across the rear hatch is a fun Euro touch, as are the dual-exit exhausts that protrude through the bumper rather than beneath it. Oh, and there’s no denying how gorgeous Acapulco Gold is, and I don’t even like yellows on cars.

Cough, Tonale still looks better. Just by a bit.

Perhaps what is most enjoyable is that it’s not a diminutive two-row crossover pretending to be something sportier, bigger, or more “off-roady” than it really is from the outside. It looks small. It’s styled small. It is small. It’s honest without being drab, which should be enough to lure at least a few prospective car buyers away from Toyota or Honda lots.

What’s hot?– Intoxicating power for a family crossover
– Nimble, responsive chassis
– “Just right” damper tuning with many talents
– “Just right” size for urban excursions
– Useful EV range with commendable regen abilities
– Italian styling

Hornet R/T pricing breakdown

Before we dive into our specific tester, do note that you can get lower-rung GTs for a starting price of $31,400. Not bad! GT and more tech and luxury-laden GT Plus trims feature a Dodge-exclusive, all-ICE, non-hybrid 2.0-liter turbo powertrain not currently offered on U.S. Alfa Tonales. For a notable ten-grand discount off an optionless R/T, you score a comparable 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, with performance figures that are barely slower. Hmm, interesting. However, no paddle shifters are available for that powertrain’s 9-speed auto, and there are obviously no hybrid drive modes or EV-only capability.

Our R/T Plus starts at $46,400 and adds a sizeable moonroof, Harmon Kardon audio system, heated and ventilated power seats, and power liftgate. Acapulco Gold adds $595, although other colors can be had for $495 or free. The $2,345 Tech Package adds surround-view cameras, front, rear, and side parking assist, and Level 2 autonomy with adaptive cruise and lane centering. Lofty, sure. Worth it? We’ll discuss it momentarily. But get this.

What gimmicky bundle of ironic coolness has me rolling my eyes to the back of my skull while also screaming “HELL YEAH” is the availability of the (drum roll) Track Package. Track. Package. You can spec your hybrid family compact crossover with a $2,595 track pack. Although this pack features a severe lack of oil coolers, stupid wings, or carbon ceramic brakes, you do get 20-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires, red-painted four-piston Brembos, and adaptive twin-valve KONI shocks.

I iterate once more: Hell yeah.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Hornet R/T interior and tech

Inside is a standard Stellantis affair with a unique Italian flair, resulting in a cabin that’s practical and comfortable without being a boring hodgepodge of flat surfaces. The center console and transmission tunnel gradually rise to meet the climate controls on the dashboard, leaving an angled surface for your wireless charger. And the center console storage bin provides ample space for wallets, phones, garage clickers, or maybe four or five small hot dogs. Maybe.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Rear passenger space is ample, with a fold-down center armrest with cupholders and a rear cargo area passthrough, which may come in handy from time to time, as the rear cargo area doesn’t appear any more spacious than a large hatchback. With 22.9 cubic feet of cargo volume, it’s roughly on par with a Kia Niro but down on a RAV4 or Ford Escape by several cubic feet. At least rear-seat passengers get their own climate vents plus USB charging, but I suppose that’s expected in this era and at that lofty price point.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The aforementioned Tech Package means our Hornet tester is graced with Level 2 autonomy in the form of lane centering and adaptive cruise. Surround-view cameras bunched with front and rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring mean the Hornet should (theoretically) be uncrashable. Or so you’d hope. If any of these doo-dads bug you for whatever reason, they’re defeatable via hard buttons or through settings in the 10.25-inch uConnect touchscreen. The latter also houses wired and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, built-in nav (hallelujah!), and readouts for performance gauges, electric charge, and more. The standard digital gauge cluster can also display accompanying readouts for fuel economy and which half of the powertrain, gas or electric, is using how much energy.

A different kind of commuter car

Fascinating. This two-row family crossover excels as a two-row family crossover. I never would’ve guessed.

Slap it in Hybrid or Electric via the drive mode button on the wheel, and let the Hornet R/T deliver you from your typical bland commuter car woes. The perforated suede seats are cozy. The heated steering wheel is toasty and fits beautifully in your hands. The uConnect touchscreen is fast, responsive, and immediately easy to learn in a matter of minutes. A vertical stack of shortcut buttons keeps CarPlay, music, or nav functions at a finger’s touch at all times.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Out on the open road, the Hornet is fairly quiet and comfortable. In fact, I’d argue it exceeds expectations for something with such a small stature and short wheelbase. Props to the Track Pack’s KONI dampers for excellently dispatching most of what Cali roads have to throw at it. Speed bumps, expansion joints, point holes? Pfft. The Hornet moseys on over all of them with little harshness sent through the cabin, only occasionally wallowing over large undulations as one would expect from a smaller car, like a tiny vessel over a large wave. But even over the largest lumps, it’s as composed and settled as can be. And to think its Tonale twin is even more refined, according to a little birdie who helped engineer it.

Don’t let the cutesy silhouette fool you into thinking it’s a cheap tinker toy. The Hornet is a genuinely well-mannered city car with an affinity for navigating the concrete jungle.

Most impressive was the commendable EV range afforded by the Hornet’s wee battery pack. An EPA rating of 32 miles places it near the upper echelon of plug-ins alongside other strong contenders such as the Alfa Romeo Tonale (33 miles), Ford Escape Plug-In (37 miles), and the Kia Niro Plug-In (33 miles). During my stint bouncing back and forth between Glendale and Redondo Beach, I found that best-case range to be easily believable, consistently getting 30 to 31 miles of EV range. The eSave and Sport modes prioritize gas operation to preserve and even assist with battery charge once you’re low on electrons, but oftentimes, the Hornet will always find that extra ounce in its cells for the occasional power boost off the line or on the freeway.

What’s less impressive is the total range, which could only ever be roughly 360 miles, including Electric mode. After reading the specs, you know instantly the R/T works best as your lifted city runabout. Fear no parking garage or tight back alley in the Hornet. But possibly fear interstate expeditions, as you have more frugal options. Ho-hum fuel economy in gas-only operation, further hurt by how the Hornet rarely operates as a “normal hybrid” like Toyotas, and a small fuel tank (a little over 11 gallons) means fill-ups are cheap but more frequent than you’d like if your commute sees a lot of freeway miles.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Don’t get me wrong, an EPA combined rating of 29 mpg and my 29.2 mpg average, even factoring in some hard canyon runs, aren’t bad at all! But a RAV4 Prime gets 38 combined, and its Ford Escape equivalent gets 40. What a shame this only functions as a normal hybrid a fraction of the time, heavily prioritizing gas-only or electric-only, even in Hybrid mode, because the Hornet saw mileage figures of 40 to 42 mpg in my hands when it does. Fail. Once more, at least fill-ups will be cheap.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Questionable hybrid operation paired with wonky lane-centering programming that struggles with cornering and a service warning that randomly appeared a thousand miles premature and never went away without tricking it with a specific start-up sequence makes for a crossover SUV that’s tough to recommend to the average consumer. Like seriously, this tech has been around for many years, yet it feels like an early adoption here.

I’ll write them off as hiccups in this early-build Hornet specifically, but still. Oh, Italy. Why are you like this? Oh, I can take a guess why. You must have had your priorities elsewhere, such as trying to turn the Hornet into…

A different breed of hot hatch

Gotcha, suckers! You thought this was a family car? Shut up and get to the pits. Monza beckons for a new champion.

Should anyone dare to take the R/T badge a little seriously and head for the hills with Sport mode engaged, the Hornet will oblige with the best driving experience a car of its size and class could possibly deliver. Make sure you sprung for the Track Package before you do. Trust.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The 235-wide Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires are a godsend. They were great on a base C8 Corvette Gabe and I had previously sampled. They’re stellar here, enabling enough grip that you feel like you’re going to grip roll this golden egg down the hill, but thankfully, the KONI shocks do a commendable job at keeping body motions in check. They reportedly firm up in Sport mode. Frankly, the difference, if any, is negligible and still comfy enough for daily duty. You feel the body tilt in corners, but it takes a set and rotates right around with assistance from the torque-vectoring electric motors, almost never getting upset by mid-corner bumps and undulations despite the thin tire sidewalls and short wheelbase.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Steering was expectedly a tad numb and light, but there was just an ounce of feedback coming through to let you know there was a bump or the road surface had changed. A little more weight could do nicely, but at least it was reasonably quick and accurate for what’s ultimately still a family car. You can tackle most right-hand city streets and tight canyon bends without ever crossing arms, which is always nice.

Brakes? Effective. But a little wooden-feeling, needing a heavy foot to haul it down from the lofty speeds the plug-in powertrain is capable of. Which, by the way…

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Did I mention this thing was fast? Because it’s fast. Quite fast. The big kid magazines have consistently clocked sprints to 60 mph around five and a half seconds, mirroring some V6 and turbo-four pony cars and posing a serious threat to GR86s and Miatas everywhere. The 1.3-liter pushing damn-near 30 pounds of boost out of its itsy-bitsy turbo must surely lag like a Group B rally car, but thankfully, its hybrid half fills in the torque more than adequately enough. Engage PowerShot mode, and you get 15 seconds of electric overboost with an extra 30 horsepower. Because that’s just what I needed on the way to Trader Joe’s. Whether that 30 horsepower is on top of the 288 or if the 288 is with PowerShot is unclear. But quick is quick.

Best of all, Sport mode’s battery regen, whether from the brakes or the engine itself, is far more aggressive than in eSave. Basically, whenever you’re not asking for juice for full-throttle sprints, it’s juicing the battery instead. This effectively means you can enter your local canyon road with a near-dead battery and come out with it nearly fully charged!

No charger? No problem. Just run for the hills (or your nearby freeway on-ramp).

As for the six-speed auto, it’s definitely no ZF or DSG. But it gets the job done and is thankfully responsive-ish to the familiar Alfa Romeo metal shift paddles. Sure, there were a few slight, quarter-second delays on a few upshifts. But its relative lack of sporting intent is forgiven when the paddles are this damn fun to click-clack around, just like its distant corporate cousins costing multiples more.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Unremarkable mpg in gas-only mode plus small gas tank equals short range
– Rarely functions as a normal hybrid
– Brakes require a heavy foot for performance driving or emergency stops
– Somewhat small cargo area
– Italian electronic annoyances
– The Hornet GT and Alfa Romeo Tonale exist

Too lovable but too flawed

Could you tell I’m smitten? It’s got style! It’s got swagger! It’s got speed, handling, and real-world urban commuting chops! After only five days, I fell in love with the Hornet R/T. I just don’t know if I can ever recommend a Hornet R/T. Here’s why.

If you insist upon a plug-in for the handy all-electric capabilities, the Tonale exists. For a few grand more than the comparable R/T, you can nab the actual donor car that’s arguably far more attractive and, frankly, more authentic because it’s the original one. The performance, despite being down on torque, is nearly identical. And according to a former engineer behind the project, it’s quieter and more refined.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Back in Detroit, there’s the Hornet GT, which trades its plug-in powertrain for an all-ICE 2.0-liter powertrain with comparable performance, fuel economy, and total range for $10,000 less. A Hornet R/T could buy you one comparable GT without the worry of charging and with leftover dough for a decent Fiat 500e if that’s your jam. Both corporate cousins leave the R/T in an odd spot between, “You got to really want it,” and, “I could use that spare couple thousand bucks.”

But looking at the R/T for what it is. If you don’t mind drinking Dodge’s Kool-Aid and partaking in the Americanized Italian hybrid for all it gets right, and in spite of all it gets wrong, then be my guest. And for most urban commutes, it’ll be more than enough. You may never even feel the crunch of its comparatively unremarkable range if you never leave the asphalt grid. It’s just roomy enough for friends and their shopping if they’re not big spenders, and you have all the ground clearance and agility in the world to dart between lanes and around parking lots in total, all-electric comfort. And if you want to show them a party trick on the way to your favorite downtown bar, Sport mode and PowerShot ought to do the trick.

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

It’s hard to look at the Hornet R/T without seeing the sheer scope of its market and all with whom it competes. But on its own, it’s a rambunctious little RAV4 alternative with more charm and driving enjoyment than that cookie-cutter crossover will ever have. Hey. At the very least, I’m glad it exists.

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News

Chevrolet unveils the new, gas-powered 2025 Equinox

Chevy’s Equinox EV is just hitting the streets, but it’s time to talk about the new gas model. The automaker recently announced the 2025 Equinox, a significantly updated SUV with more tech, updated safety features, and new trims.

The 2025 Equinox comes in three trims: LT, RS, and the new Activ trim. Chevy equips a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, making 175 horsepower, which sends power to the front wheels through a CVT or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic. The RS and Activ trims get drive modes with settings for snow and light off-roading. That said, the tiny engine’s middling output won’t do much to bring the thrills, on-road or off. 

Image credit: Chevrolet

New textured materials and more standard features highlight the refreshed interior. Chevy gives every Equinox a heated steering wheel and front seats, and the folding rear seats open up to 63.5 cubic feet of cargo space. The sporty RS trim adds red and blue stitching and “RS” logos throughout the cabin. Ventilated front seats and heated rear outboard seats are available.

A new 11.3-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing 30 percent more screen real estate than the outgoing model. It runs Google built-in, which offers Google Assistant, Maps, and some Play Store functions. Buyers also get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, Bluetooth, and more. 

Safety tech got a boost for the new model year, as the 2025 Equinox offers several advanced driver aids. The list includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision alerts, pedestrian and bicycle braking, following distance indicators, lane keep assist with lane departure warnings, automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, and a teen driver mode. 

We don’t have pricing or exact release date details yet, but Chevy said to expect the 2025 Equinox to hit dealers’ lots later in 2024. 

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New Car Reviews

Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid review: Green looks good on you

As I drove the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale over the past couple of weeks, I finally understood America’s infatuation with SUVs. I rode high on my steel throne, as my feet sat 6 inches from the ground and the tip of the brim on my cap hit the ceiling 5 feet in the air. My head was in the clouds, and no pothole in Queens was a match for my all-wheel drive (AWD) subcompact crossover. But unlike most vehicles in its class, the Alfa Romeo Tonale pops out like a peacock in a flock of pigeons.

In the last season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, there’s a scene where the Weissman family is sitting down at the table eating breakfast. Midge, reviewing color swatches for her new bathroom fixtures, decides she’s going to buy a pink toilet. Her father, Abe, isn’t having any of it though, insisting toilets should only ever be white. But Midge, being Midge, doesn’t back down. Mildly annoyed, she quips, “A pink toilet is still a toilet, just a little more fun!”

Growing up as a kid in the early aughts, the master bathroom in our house had a pink toilet with a matching shower, tub, and double vanities. The half bathroom near the kitchen was furnished with a toilet and sink in dark green. Around the time we stopped drinking skim milk with dinner, colorful bathrooms went out of fashion I guess, seeing as all our stuff was replaced with the same stuff but in a more neutral white. Soon thereafter, it seemed the world had turned monochromatic and sterile.

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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale design

🚦Get ready, set, full disclosure! Some of the links powering our posts contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase, even if it’s not from the page we linked. Affiliate links are not always an endorsement of the product. To really help us keep our headlights shining to make more content like this, subscribe to the Acceleramota newsletter.

As Frank Markus said for Motor Trend, the Alfa Romeo Tonale is “being pitched to women and millennials.” Not the enthusiast type, but the “taking your kids to soccer practice” type. Its goal is to steal market share from the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA-Class, and it may very well do that.

With every new BMW seemingly competing for the Most Repulsive Grille Award, its aversion to change works to Alfa’s benefit. The self-serious marketing copy on its website might be slightly hyperbolic (see the graphic I made below for the Greatest Hits), but the Alfa Romeo Tonale is a better-looking SUV than just about every other crossover on the market, not that it’s an especially high bar considering every car looks the same now.

A compilation of hyperbolic marketing quotes
Graphic: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

The tasteful V-shaped Scudetto (Italian for “little shield”) grille is unwavering, practically identical to the one on the 8C Competizione that brought Alfa back to the States in 2008. The appearance will differ slightly from trim to trim. It’s gloss black on our Veloce, whereas the midrange Ti sparkles silver, and the Sprint’s grille is a more subdued black than the Veloce’s, outlined in a more economical plastic material. As Top Gear said in its review of the U.K.-spec Alfa Romeo Tonale, the “elegant shield grille makes you wonder why rivals are making such a horlicks of their increasingly pugnacious frontal styling.” How very British of them.

The only substantial change to the front end from the Alfa models before it is the Marelli 12-zone adaptive headlight system. Rather than burning the retinas out from the skull of the driver in front of you, each zone responds independently to your outside driving conditions. When you’re cruising through town at low speeds, for instance, it reduces power consumption as well as glare by only utilizing the necessary lighting zones for optimal visibility. It kinda reminds me of how OLED TVs work, in a sense.

Don’t hold your breath for a Quadrifoglio like the Giulia and Stelvio before it, though. Because it’s PHEV (plug-in hybrid)-only in the United States, I doubt we’ll see a Tonale with a Ferrari-derived engine, as is the Alfa CEO. (Sorry, losers, no four-leaf clover this time!)

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale (left) parked next to a red 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Photo credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

More so than previous Alfa Romeo models, the 2024 Tonale won’t let you forget where its assembly plant is based. Three Italian flags brazenly appear throughout – two on the side mirrors and one prominently displayed below the gear shift. Perhaps it’s to distract you from the DNA it shares with red-blooded American muscle cars and 4x4s, thanks to its absorption into Stellantis, which also owns Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, and Dodge. Because found on the driver’s side window, brake calipers, and even in the engine bay are the obligatory Official Mopar® stamps of approval.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale colors

Parked on the street, I was sitting in the car one morning queueing up music on CarPlay when I saw a teacher walk by chaperoning a group of young elementary school kids. “Wow, look at that car. What color is that?” she asked one student.

The child, who could not care less, ignored her question.

“Green, right! Emerald green. Can you say emerald?” The student did not respond.

More recently, I nearly pulverized a pedestrian as he was crossing the street while the traffic light was green. I slowed down, of course, so he could cross. He, too, complimented the car. It seems no matter who you are or how you drive, the Alfa Romeo Tonale will stop people in their tracks, pausing for a moment to stare in awe. Not because it’s an Alfa – New York has plenty of Giulias and Stelvios in black and white and gray. But because it’s green… excuse me, verde fangio.

It isn’t subtle either, calling to mind the shade Aston Martin uses for its Formula 1 cars and has since made its way to production vehicles including the DBX 707 SUV and the new DB12.

Alfa knew what it was doing when it exclusively showcased the green Tonale in just about all of its marketing. Because the green Tonale comes at a $2,000 premium. But even if you, like me, believe an eye-catching color is well worth the added cost, it’s no longer available to order from the Alfa Romeo site as of this writing. Instead, you’ll have to check in with a local dealer and see if they have any in stock.

Otherwise, you can be boring and get yours in Alfa White without spending another dime – or shell out a little more for a lot more visual appeal. Whatever you do, just don’t buy gray or Stellantis will dunk you in a vat of orange paint.

Exterior paint colors

  • Alfa White (white): $0
  • Alfa Rosso (red): $500
  • Alfa Black (black): $500
  • Grigio Ascari Metallic (gray): $660
  • Misano Blue Metallic: $2,200

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale price

Like most cars, the Alfa Romeo Tonale’s price isn’t one-size-fits-all. It comes in three different trim levels, each with its own packages and options. While it starts at $42,995, chances are slim you’ll find a vanilla Sprint model with no additional toppings sitting on the lot of the Maserati dealership near you (where most Alfa Romeos are sold). And, even if you do, there’s a $1,595 destination charge on top of the base price regardless of which configuration you choose.

Trim levels (before taxes and fees)

  • Sprint: $42,995
  • Ti: $44,995
  • Veloce: $47,495
Photo credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

With that in mind, I do recommend leasing a Tonale as opposed to financing, for a number of reasons. The first is that while the list of cars you can buy that qualify for the EV tax credit is getting smaller and smaller, it’s still the wild west for lessees. That’s one of the main reasons you may have noticed a sudden influx of lease deals, even in our own coverage. As long it can be driven using the electric powertrain by itself, at least some of the time, any leased car is eligible for the full $7,500.

In theory, leasing a V8-powered BMW XM could net you the credit, but the mild-hybrid Toyota Prius will not. (I haven’t tried it, but if you do, please report back to me). Ironic considering the XM gets an estimated 13 mpg in the city while the Prius can achieve upwards of 50 mpg. All because the BMW XM is a PHEV, which can travel a whole 30 miles on battery alone, and surely Americans will only use the gas engine as a backup in that ungodly gas guzzler.

Unfortunately, leasing a vehicle means the dealer still holds the title, so the tax credit goes straight to them. Gold Coast Maserati was kind enough to pass the savings on to us, lowering our monthly payment. That won’t always be the case, of course, so make sure you ask your salesperson about the tax credit before signing any paperwork. Remember, walking out is the best negotiation tactic when visiting any car dealership.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale interior and tech

The interior of any Alfa Romeo is going to be divisive, and the Tonale is no exception. Starting with the high notes, the heated seats and heated leather steering wheel come standard, as do eight-way adjustable front seats, a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster display, a 10.25-inch center touch display, a built-in universal garage door opener, and wireless phone charging.

In making the most of its subcompact frame, Alfa literally outdid itself with the Tonale’s interior. Despite its smaller dimensions on the outside, the Tonale beats the Stelvio when it comes to legroom in both the front and rear cabins. Of course, the Tonale falls short on headroom in comparison to its mid-sized sibling, but only by less than an inch in the back and just under 2 inches in the front. And while it lacks the cargo space of the Stelvio with the back seats down, the Tonale has 4.4 cubic-feet more storage when the seats are up. Yet, despite offering less space, the Stelvio is taller, wider, and longer than the Tonale, making the 2.0L Stelvio’s place in the market all the more confusing.

In addition to the standard interior and tech trappings, the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale has a handful of premium options, but keep your expectations in check, especially if you go for the base trim.

For an extra $1,200, you can add a power moonroof with a matching black shade you can open or close using electronic overhead switches. We outfitted ours with the moonroof, and apart from getting it in a strong color, it’s the only other must-have on the list. Not that it’s a particularly special sunroof. Alfa calls it “semi-panoramic,” which I guess is semi-true. The shade can retract fully, but the moonroof itself stops about halfway. So while your rear-seat passengers can see the sky above them, they won’t be able to recreate this scene. For safety reasons, that’s for the best.

Speaking of safety, an optional $1,895 Active Assist package introduces a few more bells and whistles to reduce the chance of collision. The active driving assist system enables Level 2 autonomous driving, employing an array of sensors to accelerate and brake for you while maintaining your lane position in keeping with the traffic flow. Not self-driving, but certainly more robust than old-school cruise control. On top of the auto-dimming rear-view mirror inside the car, the Active Assist package also dims the side mirrors, an unfortunate necessity given the increasingly blinding headlights on newer cars.

While we did get the full suite of Active Assist features with our Tonale, in retrospect, it was mostly overkill. The main reason we wanted it was for the parking assist features. Living in NYC, as you can imagine, we have to pull into a lot of tight spaces, whether it’s on the street or in a garage. Sometimes those spaces are so tight we give up halfway through to find another spot. Even if we can pull off the tricky maneuver, the cost-benefit analysis we do in our heads advises us against it.

Again, using tiny cameras all around your car to create a 360-degree map of its exterior, the surround-view system eliminates the guesswork. And holy shit does it let you know when you’re too close to something! The incessant beeping drives me to madness, but it’s better than driving me to the body shop. Unless you do a lot of city parking, you can probably skip Active Assist. The standard features will be more than enough for most drivers.

Tech, safety & infotainment

  • Uconnect 5 navigation w/ 10.25-inch touch display
  • 12.3-inch full TFT LCD color display
  • 6-speaker audio
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Wireless charging pad
  • Alfa DNA drive mode system
  • Automatic e-brake
  • Blind spot and cross-path detection
  • Driver attention alert
  • Enhanced adaptive cruise control
  • Forward-collision warning + full stop
  • Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA)
  • Lane-keep assist
  • LED daytime running headlights
  • Front and rear park assist
  • ParkView backup camera
  • Passive speed-limiting device
  • Remote start
  • Tire pressure monitoring display
  • Traffic sign recognition

Comfort

  • Sport cloth heated seats
  • Heated leather sport steering wheel
  • Door panel bottle holders
  • Consoles and storage
  • Console with armrest
  • Overhead console
  • Sun visors with illuminated vanity mirror

Climate control

  • AC w/ dual-zone temperature control
  • Rear air vents
  • PTC heater

Windows and locks

  • Power front and rear windows with 1-touch up/down

Interior mirrors

  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Floor mats
  • Front floor mats

Interior design

  • Black headliner
  • MPH primary speedometer
  • Vinyl door trim panel
  • Vinyl instrument panel

Packages

  • High-performance driving: $1,500
    • Features: paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, Brembo brakes w/ Alfa Romeo script
  • Active assist advanced: $2,000
    • Features: intelligent speed control, traffic sign recognition, 360-degree camera, front, ParkSense park assist
  • Premium interior: $1,500
    • Features: leather-trimmed interior, ventilated front seats
  • Premium interior & sound: $2,500
    • Features: leather-trimmed interior, ventilated front seats, 12-speaker Harmon Kardon premium sound system

Interior options

  • Sport cloth seat with biscotto stitching: standard
  • Perforated black leather seat: $1,500 or $2,500 (depends on package)

2024 Alfa Rome Tonale design, performance and powertrain

Alright, here we go. The moment all you spec-heads have been waiting for. Lift the curtain and cue the drumroll, please! Commanding 285 horsepower (hp) and 350 lb-ft of torque, Alfa claims the Tonale can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6 seconds with both the gas engine and electric motors turned on. I haven’t timed it, but that sounds about right, anecdotally speaking. Apart from the AMG version of the Mercedes GLA, the Tonale really does pack the best performance in its class. It might weigh 4,150 pounds at the curb, but in 2023 where everything is built like a tank, that’s less than some sedans.

Powering the rear wheels are two electric motors making 44 and 121 hp as well as 39 and 184 lb-ft of torque for a combined 165 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque with the engine off. Located under the front hood is a 1.3-liter turbocharged inline-4-cylinder Fiat FireFly-based internal combustion engine (ICE). Originally introduced in the South American market for the regional Fiat Uno, the FireFly was engineered to scale across a range of Stellantis (formerly Fiat-Chrysler) vehicles. You’ll find naturally aspirated versions of it in the Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda while the turbo variant is used in the Jeep Compass and Jeep Renegade, albeit without the electrified bits, at least in the U.S.

On battery power alone, you can drive for 31 miles without recharging. Plugging it into a Level 2 charger will get you a full charge in about 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, by default, the Alfa Romeo Tonale won’t charge in full swing without adjusting the charge speed on the infotainment first. On the default setting, it takes about 5 and 30 minutes to reach a full charge. Still faster than the 8 hours it takes to fully charge the 15.5-kWh battery using the included 120-volt Level 1 cable.

Photo credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

If you’re in the city, good luck finding a charger that isn’t blocked by an ICE or a Tesla taking up two spots. If you own a house, suck it up and get a Level 2 charger installed. Fortunately, it being a PHEV means the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale never really needs to be plugged in, unless you plan to drive full-time on battery power alone. The DNA drive mode system you’ll find in all modern Alfas lets you toggle between three modes. As far as the Tonale is concerned, Dynamic (D) means the engine and electric motors are on all the time, Natural (N) relies primarily on the electric motors but fires up the engine when the extra power is needed, and Advanced Efficiency (A) runs purely on electric until it runs out of juice.

Driving the Alfa Romeo Tonale in Dynamic Mode will recharge the battery relatively fast. For every mile I drove, I gained one mile back in electric range. Regardless of the mode, you’ll always recoup some power thanks to the Tonale’s regenerative braking capabilities. That’s good news considering the dealer forgot to charge ours until we arrived to pick it up. As a result, my wife had to putter from Long Island to Manhattan on gas alone.

Folks, let me tell you. This is a fun car. Not just fun for a mom car. It handles like an Alfa, which is to say it handles like a BMW or any other German car, only quirkier. I would argue it’s even more fun to drive in EV mode because, without the gas engine powering the front wheels, it’s effectively a rear-wheel drive (RWD) sportback. Although you’re losing horsepower, you can corner like you’re in your favorite racing game. The driving dynamics are astonishingly similar to that of my Giulia Quadrifoglio, and yes, you can disable traction control in any of the three drive modes.

But… BUT – and let me preface this by saying, the Veloce model’s dual sport exhaust note is phenomenal for a 4-cylinder hybrid (I had to double-check to make sure the sound wasn’t playing through the speaker). BUT! When the battery dies down, the excitement dies with it. The Alfa Romeo Tonale running on gas alone sounds like a marathoner gasping at the final mile, desperate for electrolytic replenishment. The dedicated gas-only mode called e-Drive, Alfa-speak for “Grandpa Mode,” turns the Tonale into a front-wheel drive (FWD) boat making 180 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. If you derive any enjoyment from driving, I suggest you never turn it on.

Photo credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale vs 2024 Dodge Hornet

Oh, you thought I wouldn’t bring it up, as if it’s the insect who shall not be named?

Believe me, I am well aware the Dodge Hornet sits on the same Jeep Compass platform as the Alfa Romeo Tonale. That they share the same powertrain. And before you say anything, I know it costs nearly $10K less to start. However! Let’s set the record straight. The Alfa Romeo Tonale is not an up-badged Dodge Hornet. The Hornet is a down-badged Tonale. This isn’t a cheap shot at Dodge – Alfa employees have that covered.

In all earnest, they’re two different cars, particularly at the base level where the pricing is at its most disparate. In fact, the $32,330 Dodge Hornet GT isn’t even a hybrid. It’s a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo making 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s 6% less horsepower and 15% less torque than the Alfa Romeo Tonale Sprint. Premium features that come standard on the Tonale, like the heated steering wheel and seats, 18-inch wheels, as well as remote start are optional, so tacking them on the Hornet hikes up the price.

The Dodge equivalent of the $42,995 base model Tonale is the $42,530 Hornet R/T. Buying “American” saves you a whole $465. Congratulations, treat yourself to something nice for Prime Day.

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