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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 G90
New Car Reviews

2024 Genesis G90 review: Korea’s twincharged flagship strikes hard at German rivals

Korean automakers are on a roll, and atop its hierarchy sits Genesis building damn fine cars. They were nothing too groundbreaking in the beginning, but they were effective, well-built, and reasonably affordable in the face of rivals from the West or the Land of the Rising Sun. But one day, Mr. John Hyundai himself decided to do something remarkable. He wanted Korean cars to not only be good. He wanted them to be great. Greater than great. Exceptional, if you would. Hyundai Motor Group would break Genesis off into a standalone luxury marque, creating a new battalion with which the peninsula’s auto industry could charge into war, and the Genesis G90 would be the flagship to wave its winged crest high for the world to see.

The Genesis G90 is now a model year into its second generation, rocking Art Deco styling, a newfound taste for interior decor, and an optional mild hybrid twincharged V6 like our tester. But is it all enough to lure in the eclectic crowd of executives, influencers, and Malibu divorcees?

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Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Price and specs

Key takeaways from the G90 are as follows: Its price starts above the Lexus LS but is on par with the less-equipped BMW 7-Series and far below any Mercedes S-Class. More on that in our pricing breakdown. What sets the Genesis apart is its unique twincharged powertrain, which pairs a 48-volt mild hybrid system to a twin-turbocharged and electrically supercharged 3.5-liter V6 that’s good for 409 horsepower and 405 pound-feet at a diesel-like 1,300 rpm. Some motorcycles and tuner cars idle higher than that.

Base price:$99,500
As-tested price:$102,250
Engine:3.5-liter supercharged twin-turbocharged V6 + 48V mild hybrid
Transmission:8-speed automatic 
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:409 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
Torque:405 pound-feet @ 1,300 rpm
Redline:N/A
Weight:5,150 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:5.1 seconds
¼-mile:13.7 seconds @ 104 mph
MPG:17 city, 24 highway, 20 combined
Observed MPG:22.7 MPG
Fuel Capacity:19.3 gallons

G90 exterior design

“Land yacht” is as cliche as can be when describing these barges, but a yacht is certainly what the G90 is in both styling and presence. From its massive diamond grille to its split headlights that wrap around the bumper and extend past the wheel arch to become turn signals, everything about the G90 exudes luxury as if to (politely) scream to the world that Korean automakers are back with a vengeance. It’s not dressed as sleek or elegant as an S-Class, nor is it built as angry and athletic as a Lexus LS, but its fit occupies a lovely middle ground between the two sides of the fence.

The Verbier White matte paint is certainly a looker, even if it’s not to my taste. But I can see the influencers and executives who dare to be different lapping this paint option up like the long-awaited cure to their matte black affliction. There’s just a hint of sparkle in the matte that helps it pop, even in low-light environments, and it compliments the e-SC-exclusive 21-inch snowflake-esque wheels beautifully.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s hot?– Silky twincharged V6 makes power across the whole rev band
– Cruiseliner ride quality… most of the time
– Won’t completely embarrass itself during sporty driving
– Banger lineup of smooth, effective driver assists
– Outstanding build quality and styling make you forget it was ever a Hyundai
– Undeniable value versus Germans

G90 pricing breakdown

I should get this out of the way and say that while the G90 is a remarkable value as far as flagship executive sedans go, the Lexus LS has it beat by several thousand dollars. The G90, which used to hover in the low $70,000 range in its prior generation, now kisses $90,000. My e-SC tester with the more potent engine and a splash more standard pazazz starts at $99,500.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Thankfully, speccing a G90, like many other Hyundai Motor Group products, is a straightforward task. What colors do you want? What engine do you want? The e-SC adds multi-chamber air suspension managing the motions for 21-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Primacy Tour all-season tires, power reclining climate-controlled rear seats with massage function, and a killer Bang & Olufsen Premier surround sound system. Beyond that, our Genesis ticked the $1,500 box for matte Verbier White, and a $1,250 destination fee brought the total out to $102,250.

Yes, a loaded Lexus LS 500 hovers comfortably in the $90,000 range, but one can argue the design of the Genesis is deserving of its upscale premium. Also, remember that the awkwardly-styled 7-Series starts for around the same money as a base G90 e-SC with less power and standard equipment, while a bottom-rung, optionless S-Class starts at over $117,000.

G90 interior and tech

It’s a Genesis, which means expect an interior that, in terms of layout and design, stands tall with the best in the biz. There’s little in the way of imitation, too. The G90 is proudly just itself, with multi-color ambient lighting and forged carbon trim accented with strips of metal brightwork to contrast the Bordeaux Brown interior upholstery.

The digital gauge cluster is vaguely Hyundai but with a simplified tach-speedo combo to make room for things like safety system readouts, navigation, and a large widget for things like weather forecasts and all-wheel drive power distribution. Akin to the Ioniq 6 I drove less than a week prior sported the same suite of adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, eighty-quintillion cameras and parking sensors, and multiple levels of blind spot monitoring. Unlike the Ioniq 6, you could say the G90 now has four instead of three since the visual indicator in the gauge cluster can be displayed in the bright, legible HUD.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The top-shelf e-SC model also adds the aforementioned power massage seats in the rear, multi-chamber air suspension that can raise itself at the touch of a button, and an infinitely adjustable Bang & Olufsen Premier sound system. Rear seat occupants are also treated to their own control panel for climate, infotainment, seat massage, and operation of the power sunshades because sweating on the ride to the airport is for feral savages who could only swing a G70.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Korea’s flagship is a sublime coastline cruiser

To those looking for a value-packed deal in land yachting your way up to Santa Barbara and back down to Manhattan Beach, the G90 makes one hell of a case for itself. In the twisties snaking through the Angeles Forest, the G90 didn’t totally embarrassing itself. In Sport mode, the transmission swaps its silken lethargy for some eagerness without making shifts too snappy. It’s appropriate for this kind of machine and that drive mode. Transmission tuning is smart enough, but paddle response is slow. Eh. Who cares in an executive sedan, right?

The air suspension stiffens to reduce roll without compromising ride quality. You can daily drive this in Sport without a second guess and still hold your own in the canyons despite the all-season tires. It’s no AMG, and it never will be. But if you’re a cheating snake seeing your “other partner” in Paldmale and have to skedaddle home to Glendale before the spouse notices you’re gone, you could bypass traffic via the canyons with this, no problem. There’s at least some facade of sportiness, which is plenty for most buyers.

Once the canyons yielded to wide-open freeways, the G90 came into its element. Leave it in Eco or Comfort, or even throw it in Chauffeur to optimize the experience for rear passengers, and let the air suspension soak up nearly every pothole, undulation, and rock. Let the B&O audio system immerse you in your favorite playlist (or Hyundai’s Sounds of Nature ASMR thing) with plenty of audiophile goodness that I’m not calibrated to fully appreciate. Let the massage seats rub your stress away while the three-level climate-controlled seats chill your bum to a frosty degree or sear it to a crisp.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

If this is what commuting can be, then I don’t want to go back. I didn’t want to go back. I just wanted to waft up and down the 405 and up the PCH all day long, with the adaptive cruise and lane keep assists working smoothly and effortlessly to help me captain this near-5,200-pound vessel for hours on end. I love my hhigh-strung sport cars, but who knew bottomless torque and a plush ride could be so intoxicating?

Upon arrival to Santa Barbara, the G90 proved to be a decent enough city car. There’s no defying its sheer length. It sticks out in some parking spots, and no, I wasn’t parked in a Compact space. But the suite of cameras, sensors, and the great expanse of glass that envelops you means obstacles don’t hide from you that easily. As an added plus, the turning radius is delightfully tight.

Earlier that weekend when covering an event at Willow Springs, the rear seat proved to be plenty capable of coddling the rich and mighty should they discard any brand sobbery in favor of buying a Genesis in the first place. I could fully recline the seat, move the front passenger out of the way since riding shotgun is for the poors, and take naps in heated, cooled, and massaging bliss. Hang my camera backs on the metal pillar-mounted coat hanger rods, put up those power sunshades, and let the caccoon of insulation drown out the incenssent barks of those lowly Civics outside (just kidding, I love you, Civic Type R, my beloved).

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

An all-star act begging for some follow-ups

Basking in all Genesis gets right makes it hard to ignore the few tidbits it gets wrong. For instance, why do Honda-freaking-Civics get wireless CarPlay, but the flagship product of a luxury brand doesn’t? Wack. While the 48-volt mild hybrid system results in rapid engine starts, the start-stop system is still a bit perceptible, which may be fine in a standard family sedan, but it feels a tad out of place in something so posh. A true hybrid powertrain can possibly smooth that out and bolster the ho-hum city fuel economy tremendously while delivering a handy performance boost. Not that it needs the boost.

The G90 absolutely is not slow, but it can be even more effortless during passing, which probably isn’t helped by its reluctance to downshift outside Sport mode or its immense weight. The G90 is a quick, punchy thing that makes torque everywhere, but it could be even better. Two turbos and a supercharger and only 409 horsepower? Hm. I sense some punch-pulling for future models. There’s always room for improvement, like its ride quality, which can be even more pillow-like with smaller wheels and fatter sidewalls like the base G90s, as the 21-inchers simply can’t iron out every sharp edge and high-frequency imperfection in the road.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Have I been spoiled already after only a few days? I hope not. But that’s okay. These were built to represent strong value, and it most definitely does. But it also leaves plenty of room for potential performance or true hybrid variants down the line as the Genesis brand continues to soar into stardom. In fact, Genesis models will eventually get true hybrids but starting in the lower-level models first.

This is a fantastic car at a fantastic price. It leaves a few extra goodies on the table that are more like wants rather than needs… Except for wireless CarPlay. This thing should have wireless CarPlay at six figures.

And a Magma version, pretty please. Just for me.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Not as sporty as its peers
– Could be more powerful or offer more serious hybrid powertrains
– Lexus LS is an even stronger value
– Okay-ish fuel economy around town
– Explaining to badge snobs why Genesis is cool
– FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST GIVE ME FAT-SIDEWALL TIRES

Genesis has come a long way

The Genesis G90 isn’t the most dynamic, efficient, or high-tech thing in the field. But at such an undeniably strong price point and with all the standard equipment it throws in as freebies, it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be an outstanding car that stands tall on its own merits, and it does. For roughly a hundred grand, or far less if you skip the electric supercharger, you get something that’s respectably quick, handles well enough, is built like a bank vault, rides like a cloud on most roads, and looks like an art museum exhibit inside and out.

Genesis G90
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Best of all, Genesis achieves this purely through its own ingenuity and little mimicry. This car doesn’t remind me of anything else. Not a Lexus. Not a Mercedes. Not a BMW. It reminds me of Genesis. And I think that’s enough to lure in its own niche of cultist buyers and build a legacy that’ll stand for decades. If it all starts here in this era, I’d say Genesis was off to a hell of a start, and the ball is certainly rolling fast. Go, Genny, go!

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Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
New Car Reviews

Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD review: A masterful display of honesty and quality on wheels

Welcome to a society where seemingly the only way to encapsulate buyers is through toys, toys, toys! Flash, flash, flash! Gimmicks galore, and give us more! We love it when companies tout an upcoming product so heavily, placing it on a gilded pedestal for prospective buyers and investors to gawk. We also love it when said product becomes the center of ire and controversy in the public eye and when said products tend to fall apart, not do what they’re claimed to do, or backpedal on their original promises. But to cleanse our palettes and present to the world something refreshingly honest, we’ve been gifted the Hyundai Ioniq 6, South Korea’s entry into the affordable-ish electric sports sedan fray.

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Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Price and specs

Key notes. The Ioniq 6 has few trims and a handful of powertrain configurations, including a base model with 240 miles of range, all-wheel drive, and rear-drive “Long Range” variants that achieve 316 and 361 miles, respectively, and less-frugal rear-drive models on 20-inch rollers that score 305 miles. This Limited Long Range tester on its 20-inch wheels has the big kid 77.4-kWh battery and dual-motor all-wheel drive, good for 320 horsepower, 446 pound-feet of torque, and 270 miles of range, plus all the goodies that come with being the top-rung Ioniq 6.

Base price:$50,150
As-tested price:$55,480
Motor/battery:Dual motor + 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission:single-speed
Drivetrain:all-wheel drive
Power:320 horsepower
Torque:446 pound-feet
Weight:4,578 pounds
0-60 mph:4.4 seconds
¼-mile:13.2 seconds @ 103 mph
Top speed:124 mph
MPGe:111 city, 94 highway, 103 combined
Range:270 miles

Ioniq 6 exterior design

The Ioniq 6 is unique, sleek, and sporty from some angles. It’s also weird, bulbous, and fugly from other angles. It’s tough to decipher what exactly Hyundai was going for, but I’ll give them props for delivering us a unique shape from the brick Polestar 2 and bubbly Tesla Model 3, and neither of them is that much of a looker anyway.

The side profile screams Mercedes CLA and CLS, which is likely a call to Hyundai’s European influence and their bid to out-German the Germans. The mid-level tailgate spoiler and rear lip spoiler give mild WRC vibes, like a Ford Sierra Cosworth or Escort Cosworth. Hell, add a support beam connecting the two and lift it on Fifteen52 wheels, and you have a Gen Z rally car.

In typical Ioniq fashion, squares and cubes define the little details of the Ioniq 6, and they can be found everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Check the seats, steering wheel, rearview camera, trunk release, exterior lighting, etc. It’s a CLA that’s been in Tron and back and has the pixels to prove it.

What’s hot?– Strong, sports car-like acceleration
– Well-tuned, easy to modulate brake and throttle pedals
– Far more premium driving experience than some key rivals
– Buttery smooth action of the many driver assists
– Abundant rear seat legroom
– Ergonomic interior with brainless controls

Ioniq 6 pricing breakdown

Hyundai makes speccing an Ioniq 6 really easy. Ready? Choose from the SE Standard Range, SE, SEL, and Limited trims. The latter three, with the bigger Long Range battery and more powerful motor, can be optioned with a rear-drive single motor or with dual-motor all-wheel drive. There are not really any major option packages on any trim aside from wheel locks, floor mats, road safety kits, etc.

A 2024 Ioniq 6 Limited starts at $50,150 and includes much of the same equipment as the lesser trims, from the digital displays to the safety aids and the 20-inch wheels. That fancy-schmancy Limited moniker does earn it a large power sunroof, power-folding side mirrors, a 12-volt outlet in the rear seats, and adjustable powertrain sounds for overgrown children who like it when their EVs make Star Wars speeder noises.

It’s me. I’m Overgrown Children.

Dual-motor all-wheel drive adds $3,500 to the price tag, while my tester’s pearly Serenity White paint tacks on another $470. Factor in carpeted floor mats for $210 and a $1,150 destination charge, and my tester rang the bell at $55,480, up there with the refreshed Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3.

Ioniq 6 interior and tech

The digital gauge cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment screen are perfectly legible and have an adjustable blue light filter for nighttime driving. Bitching. Adaptive cruise with lane centering is standard. Yes, please. There are 360-degree parking cams that seem silly in operation but turn out to be real life savers when you realize you can angle them to peek just ahead of blind corners. Smart, indeed. There are not one, not two, but three methods of blind spot warning: A light in your mirrors, a visual indicator in one of the gauge cluster screens, and blind spot cameras on either side. Oh, yes! Uncrashable? No. But the Ioniq 6 will make you really hard to defend if you do crash one.

Built-in navigation with destination searching and EV charger locating is included. Hallelujah! But should you prefer to bring your own navigation from home, wired CarPlay is standard, and you can sit your phone nicely on the charging pad just beneath the dash controls, which feature a mix of haptic touch and hard buttons and knobs.

If you really want to get silly, the higher-trim Ioniqs come standard with a nearly infinitely adjustable ambient lighting setup and adjustable EV powertrain sounds, which can scale from “Off” to “Annoyingly Loud.” It’s a goofy and playful feature that emits fun sounds, like a sci-fi speeder or spaceship. It can just be set to irritating volumes, is all.

A brainless EV to commute in

Comfort done Korea’s way

I’ve only driven a Polestar 2 around a parking lot during the LA Auto Show, and I’ve only driven older, pre-facelift iterations of the Model 3, so I’ll hold back driving comparisons until I can get proper seat time in newer versions of both. But I can say this Ioniq 6 deserves a place among them, if not above them.

The cabin is wonderfully airy, and the contrasting accents and ambient lighting do a great job of breaking up the sea of black “bio-based” leatherette enough to ward off the feeling of bleakness German interiors are infamous for. The power sunroof amplifies the airiness, and the seats are perfect when running down every last mile of its 270-mile EPA range, although the roofline raises concerns in the rear seat for anyone over six feet. At least the legroom and trunk space are quite generous.

While initially drawing skepticism, the haptic touch climate controls work flawlessly, and every icon falls right into hand. The hard buttons for media controls are handy in a pinch, and Bluetooth and CarPlay are near-instantaneous to connect. Why no wireless CarPlay? Beats me. That’d be a knock against it in the eyes of younger buyers who love wireless everything nowadays, but at least what you’re given works exceptionally. Just give us a real frunk next time.

Perhaps the only real strike against the Ioniq 6 inside is the abundance of hard plastics reminding you of this car’s $37,500 base car roots and that Hyundai badge on its nose. But I can take the plastics knowing it’s screwed together far tighter than any Tesla I’ve ridden or driven in recent memory, completely devoid of squeaks or rattles, even over broken pavement and deep potholes.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A driving experience worthy of luxury car branding

Around town, the Ioniq 6 feels authentic to itself rather than trying to be more of an appliance than it already is. It’s just a car, and it’s just a nice, well-insulated, compliant one with a little bit of spunk and classiness. The aforementioned driving aids work smoothly with inoffensive beeps and gentle operation of the adaptive cruise and lane-centering systems. There are four levels of brake regen, adjusted via repurposed paddle shifters, which change the in-town flavor of the Ioniq to whatever you’re craving, from full-regen with one-pedal driving to nearly off with normal car coasting.

Although this is the insultingly named “Long Range” Limited with a 270-mile rating, the second lowest in the lineup, my mixed driving returned a frugal 3.8 miles per kilowatt-hour. Times that by the 74 usable kilowatt-hours in the 77.4-kWh battery, and that’s a mixed driving range of 281 miles. Still not stellar, but better.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The steering is sharp enough to make parking lots a cinch, further aided by the cameras, sensors, and short bumper overhangs. Again, shame on you if you so much as ding this thing. And while the ride is mostly comfortable, you can’t help but feel it’d ride leagues better with the lower trims’ smaller wheels and fatter tires, but such is the trend of “RIMS real big.” Still, the occasional firm impacts can’t shatter how well-engineered this car feels and how endearing it is. One can only imagine what it’d be like if it wore the Genesis badge.

Now, did I say spunk earlier?

The pleasantly sporty sports sedan

Ah, yes. How can I forget? The dual-motor EV with the sizable battery and oodles of torque just so happens to be capable of snapping your head back into the headrest like it’s attempting a G-force-actuated chiropractic service. The Ioniq 6 Limited AWD is no Ioniq 5 N or Model 3 Performance, and we’re yet to see if an N version will come to fruition. But 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet from its dual motors and 77.4 kWh battery are plenty. That 270-mile range might not attract many buyers when Tesla exists, but it can surely make every mile a blast for those hopping out of their Elantra leases into one of these.

The comfortable suspension squats and exaggerates the feeling of acceleration, making the Ioniq 6 feel quicker than its reported 4.4-second 0-to-60-mph run, but it doesn’t flop on a twisting road or tight freeway on-ramp. The sharp steering, while devoid of feel, as is typical in this class, is well-weighted and less video-gamey than I remember in pre-facelift Model 3s and feels about on par with the Polestar 2. The firm, easy-to-modulate brakes can be adjusted in feel in the drive modes and in a Custom Mode individual setting. I felt little difference in either available mode, but either brake feel mode felt easy to get to grips with.

Just like how it’s easy for the Pirelli PZero all-seasons to get to grips with, well, the road and getting this roughly 4,600-pound brute to stick to the tarmac. I’d prefer a more eco-minded tire over what I’d call overkill, as I’m sure most normal buyers would, but this is dandy. The Pirellis, low center of gravity, clever suspension tuning, and 50/50 weight distribution result in an enjoyable driving experience, even when well out of the environment most Ioniq 6s will call home.

Want some extra spice with that spunk? Turn on the powertrain noises, and let them ramp up through the nonexistent rev band as they activate a Star Wars hyperdrive-like sound once you get up there in speed. For an added challenge, try braking using only the regen paddle shifters. Let the brain rot take hold, and you might actually think you’re engine braking. Man, the Koreans sure do know how to have fun with even their more sedate and mature cars.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Polarizing styling
– Fastback roofline may impede rear-seat headroom for taller occupants
– Range is only okay in Limited AWD guise
– Plasticky interior
– Ride quality would be better with smaller wheels
– Laughable “frunk”

A masterful display of quality at an agreeable price

The Ioniq 6 exudes confidence without being egregious. Yes, there’s a sea of plastics, but they’re tightly bound and styled in an efficient yet attractive manner that appeals to both the tech-savvy and the traditionalists. It’s comfortable and can be more so if you step down in trim and wheel diameter. Its range isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s plenty for most metropolises and, as I’ve proven, has the potential to yield more than its EPA rating. The Ioniq 6 is surefooted and surprisingly fun when flogged just a wee bit, and everything blends together in a well-executed and cohesive manner that’s becoming less common in cars nowadays.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The Ioniq 6 isn’t necessarily the definitive commuter car for me, but I can easily see it being the definitive commuter car for many. Rarely do I see present-day cars this likable right off the bat without pulling any sort of rabbit out of its hat to draw our attention away from any glaring deal-breakers. The Ioniq 6 doesn’t have to because it has no deal-breakers, except maybe having to rely on stupid Electrify America until Hyundai follows in Volkswagen’s steps and the revised Model 3 promising improved quality and performance at competitive pricing that’s tough to ignore.

However, in a refreshing turn of events, here’s an EV that’s not jingling keys for investors and hype beasts. Instead, here’s an EV that’s just an excellent car by an excellent company that’s still going through the glow-up of the century.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 Limited AWD
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Toyota Prius Prime
New Car Reviews

Toyota Prius Prime review: Look how far we’ve come with toasters on wheels!

Growing up, I earned my learner’s permit driving my mother’s absolutely ratchet first-generation Honda Civic Hybrid. Remember that piece of boring, banal, borderline-indistinguishable, and certainly unmemorable mediocrity? Hopefully not. However, a couple of years after I stepped up to adulthood and earned my license, my mom bought a 2008 Toyota Prius. In those days, the purposefully fugly second-gen Prius served as something of a West LA status symbol but also served the fam well as a damned good car: getting superb mileage, with plenty of room for pets and gear, and over the years, proved reliable as the day is long (once we installed a cat shield to foil constant thievery, anyhow). 

But more about the old Prius later because last year—boom!—Toyota hit us with a total redesign, a radical revamp, a veritable resuscitation of the entire concept of the commuter hybrid. And now, I finally got the chance to revisit those early days of hybrid driving in a 2024 Prius Prime, the plug-in version that best suits this West LA commuter crowd.

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Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Price and specs

Base price:$32,975
As-tested price:$34,434
Engine:2.0-liter inline-four with dual electric motors
Transmission:Single-speed + CVT
Drivetrain:Front-wheel drive
Power:220 horsepower combined
Torque:139 pound-feet
Weight:3,461 pounds (3,571 pounds as-tested)
0-60 mph:6.7s (11.2s in full EV mode) 
¼-mile:15.1 seconds @ 94 mph (hybrid), 18.7 seconds @ 75 mph in (full EV)
Top speed:112 mph
MPG:50 city, 47 highway, 48 combined
Battery capacity:13.6-kWh lithium-ion
All-electric range:44 miles (39 miles as tested)

Prius Prime exterior design

Toyota’s advertising campaign leading up to the LA Auto Show debut of the new Prius ended up coming across as a bit funny since, even considering the svelte and futuristic styling, nobody will ever consider this common car a “black sheep.” And yet, damn if that new design doesn’t hit the nail on the head. Just look at the pics! Anyone remember the first-gen Echo twin? My, how far we’ve come.

Now, my boss here at Acceleramota has already covered the “base” (non-Prime) Prius, so go ahead and click back through his review before continuing to learn more about my time with the Prime. 

The only thing I might add, in terms of exterior styling, is that I parked the Prime next to my mother’s still-cranking, sun-faded, and bird-shit-splattered 2008 Prius just for comparison—and the new car’s roofline looked around five or six inches lower! So much so that I actually Googled the official measurements. It turns out the 2024 model rides exactly 2.8 inches shorter. Not as much as my eyeballs perceived, in fairness, but a serious statement about how stellar styling can make so much of a difference in a car’s profile and presence.

What’s hot?– Some style, at last
– Plug-in hybrid system allows for choice at a reasonable cost
– Simple, stark interior
– Noticeably improved aerodynamics
– Vastly improved performance and handling

Prius Prime pricing breakdown 

The non-Prime that Jeric drove starts at $27,950, and adding the plug-in capabilities bumps the price up by $5,025. The Prime comes in three trim levels, with the SE at the bottom of the gradewalk sporting manually-adjustable fabric seats, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, a slicktop roof, and 17-inch wheels for max range. Stepping up to the XSE swaps on 19-inch wheels, which result in slightly less electric range and diminished fuel economy stats, plus a parking assist system. And the XSE Premium, topping the lineup at a $39,670 MSRP, comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and the choice of a glass roof or an optional solar panel roof to soak up photons on sunny days.

As tested, my SE tester’s window sticker reads just about as basic as possible. Options limited to a cargo mat in the rear, door sill protectors, and wheel locks result in a $34,434 price tag—almost how I might spec my own Prius Prime. Leather or faux-leather seats might be nice for my pets and the generally filthy life I lead.

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Prius Prime interior and tech

As on a non-plug-in Prius, most of the interior and tech options come standard depending on the Prime’s trim levels: both the eight-incher and the larger screen support wireless Apple CarPlay, thankfully. For Prime specifically, though, the small gauge cluster display needs to combine EV and ICE readouts. The resulting barrage of constantly shifting charge levels, range estimates, so-called “EcoScore” and “EcoZone” stats, and driver aid widgets all get lost in their own wash, to an extent.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Toggling to a simplified screen cleans up some of the mess, and really, just drive more slowly to max out the range in either HV (hybrid) or EV (fully electric) mode. Otherwise, the rest of the interior—despite a lower roofline—comes across as spacious and simple, with plenty of leg and headroom for tall drivers (even in the backseat).

And kudos to Toyota for delivering a straightforward design exactly as it should be: just a toaster that toasts toast as efficiently as possible.

It’s finally Prime Day!

A bit of battery power goes a long way

Slotted in between one of the most ridiculous press loaner schedules of my professional career—as I played car Tetris with a Ferrari 296 GTS, Porsche 911 Dakar, Bentley Continental GTC Azure, and an MV Agusta Dragster America—the Prime was arguably the most important car. And I can admit to feeling a bit of excitement before actually receiving it!

Too excited, maybe, because I promptly ruined the all-electric range without even realizing it by driving straight out to the Valley in full EV mode. A big whoops but a nice lesson on figuring out the toggles and switchgear before blasting through traffic in a plug-in hybrid (while thinking that Toyota had finally solved the hybrid drone sound the whole time). But luckily, I always snag a pic of the odometer when I first get into a press car so I can report my stats and figures for that inaugural drive.

In all, I used 68% of the reported battery capacity to drive 21 entirely unaware all-electric miles. That falls right in line with the claimed EV range of 44 miles, and even better, over the course of that jaunt, the overall combined EV and ICE range actually went up by three miles.

Next, I used the supplied charge cable (housed beneath the rear cargo deck) to plug into a standard 120-volt garage outlet for almost exactly three hours. In that time, the Prime added 33% charge—again, just about spot on for the onboard computer’s prediction of a nine-hour window to fully charge up the petite 13.6-kWh lithium-ion battery. Then I drove 11 more miles in hybrid mode and checked in again to discover that doing so used zero additional percent of battery charge. 

I spent the rest of my time in the Prime trying to max out the hybrid and EV range, but I also pushed a little harder just for fun. More official testing might skew the results, presumably, but so far, Toyota’s engineering seems pretty perfect. Especially considering the typical use case, when commuters might do most of their daily driving in full EV mode and top off the battery at home every night. For longer road trips—after remembering to remember to switch into HV mode—driving over 500 miles per 10.6-gallon tank shouldn’t even require too much hypermiling diligence.

Lower, sleeker, faster, stronger

On the 405 freeway, always a true test of suspension dynamics, the Prime’s lower and tighter suspension definitely produces a bit more rollicking than a second-gen Prius. But then again, in town or on a winding road, the new setup makes most driving much more fun: peppy and quick, with a 220-horsepower combined rating, and the torque delivery is almost full-EV-like given that an electric motor modulates the ICE engine’s power on the way to the e-CVT system. I missed a bit of the hybrid glide path ride quality of earlier Priuses, but I would definitely take those 99 additional ponies versus the previous gen and even some slight torque steer in trade.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Equally as important, this generation seems to include more sound insulation to reduce hybrid drone and wind/tire noise—though speaking of wind, the exterior redesign also finally solves the sailing phenomenon of the second-gen on long highway bends, which was always a truly sketchy sensation.

In terms of nits to pick, the typically frustrating Toyota driver aids still chime and ding incessantly. The fact that the Prime also defaults to EV mode, rather than sticking in hybrid mode after a power cycle, requires a bit more attention than I expected. And relatively slow charging rates limited by the onboard 3.5-kW charger, without Level 3 capability, means that, for example, anyone who does space out and forget to switch into HV mode can’t rectify their mistake particularly quickly.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
What’s not?– Still a hint of hybrid drone
– Automatically reverts to full EV mode instead of hybrid
– Digital gauges are still small and in a silly location
– Naggy driver aid chimes
– Slow charging rates, no Level 3

Have we reached peak Prius?

Toyota openly wants to stick with hybrids as much as possible in the foreseeable future and only plans to build EVs reluctantly. Much of the argument makes sense since minimizing the use of lithium and other rare earth minerals while maximizing the use case of each individual vehicle will serve both customers and the environment best. Prime stands as a testament to that commitment (as does, considering perhaps a contrapositive, the peculiar Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra situation).

But if government regulations don’t snap back to reality—oh, there goes (the Lucid) Gravity—then Prius may need to go full electric in the near future, as well. All of which means that there’s a solid chance this little blue car might just be peak Prius Prime, the final form of one of the most important and influential automobiles in world history—no exaggeration, truly, despite my obvious penchant for obscene hyperbole.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

And this Prime indisputably takes a major leap forward, even if the tech does so slightly less. When a fourth-gen plug-in Prius drops a good chunk below $30,000 on the used market in the next couple of years, even a rear-drive sports car and four-wheel-drive rally racing fanatic such as myself might be tempted. And that is, truly, the greatest compliment I can give.

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Tifosi Sunglasses
Buying Guides

Tifosi sunglasses review: The best budget shades for driving?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Gabe hit me up, saying some sunglasses company was interested in sending us stuff to sample. Us? Sunglasses? But then I thought about it. Most humans wear sunglasses every day on our silly little commutes to shield our feeble eyes from that dastardly ball of gas in the sky. Glare, whiteout reflecting off snow, clouds, and stupid Altimas, or direct sunshine funneled straight into your eyes all spell potential health hazards and an impending car accident. I’m no superhuman. I wear sunglasses on the road, too, and so do many of you, probably. So why not give these trinkets a shot? After all, sunglasses aren’t just for adding glitz to some snarky fashion freak’s aesthetic, right?

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Price and specs

Thanks to Tifosi Optics, a fine producer of budget-friendly sports sunglasses, I had the opportunity to sample two styles of frames with two styles of lenses over the past couple of weeks during my normal-ass routine. Both had different feels and would certainly appeal to different tastes, but one thing they have in common is a stellar price point. When I titled them as “Budget Shades,” I meant it.

A quick bit of online window shopping showed me that their aviator-style glasses range from anywhere between $35 and $59, depending on the exact lens and frame. Their Rayban Wayfarer-esque shades bounce between $30 and $55. It’s not as cheap as something on a stand at the mall, but it vastly undercuts the likes of Oakley and Rayban. Expectedly, non-polarized lenses will save you tens of dollars, while polarized lenses, like my two testers, occupy the upper echelon of Tifosi’s price range. All sunglasses are sold with a lifetime warranty, and spare parts are available on select models, including the aviators. And should you need it, you can get Tifosi glasses with prescription lenses, as well.

As for typical Acceleramota specs, let’s see. 0-60 mph? Some day. Quarter-mile? I don’t know, however fast you can jog. Displacement? I’m guessing less than two liters. No turbos, superchargers, or hybrid batteries, obviously.

What’s hot?– Impressive glare protection comparable to more expensive brands
– Little-to-no slide or bounce
– Versatile lenses provide great vision, even in dimmer settings
– Lifetime warranty and replacement parts available
– Prescriptions available

Tifosi Shwae

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Tifosi Optic’s Shwae aviators are about what I expected for an affordable aviator. It rocked a far sturdier build and better lenses than your typical mall booth or airport convenience store sunglasses, albeit to say it had a sturdier build is to say it can still feel a little frail in your hands at times. Aviators are aviators, and you’re often left worrying about being a clutz and damaging the thin frame. Still, it sits great on your face and almost never slides off your nose, and the black polarized lens does a fantastic job of filtering our sun glare without inhibiting your vision much at all, even on overcast days and dim mornings or evenings. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s comparable to more expensive brands.

If I had one bone to pick, it’d be that the “scratch-resistant” polycarbonate lenses aren’t scratchproof. Interestingly, they went through less abuse than the other pair I was given, yet they seemed to scuff easier despite being made of the same lens material. Weird.

So far, it’s proven to be a solid pair of driving glasses that will be an invaluable aid once the brutal Nevadan summer rolls around to roast eyeballs left and right. And I mean, look at it. You’ll be safer on the roads and look fly at the same time—unless you don’t like aviators, in which case, I say stop being lame.

Tifosi Smirk

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Although I was more excited about receiving the Shwae aviators, it was these Smirk Wayfarer-ish glasses that actually left me the most smitten. The acrylic frame was tough enough to withstand my clumsy self dropping a few, okay, several times, yet flexible enough not to crack when finagled into my Subaru BRZ’s terrible strap-type sunglass holder. I received a brown “Honey” frame color, one of several available, that goes well with many outfits, and the brown polarized lens proved to be the most versatile, easily making short work of glare while still being bright enough to forget they’re even on your face, cloudy or sunny. There are also small rubber pads on the nose piece to keep it from sliding off your face, which is a thoughtful touch when other Wayfarer-style glasses are straight-up plastic.

For the price (a few dollars cheaper than the comparable Shwae, mind you), I’m impressed. I originally thought it wasn’t my style, but it easily became my new favorite pair.

What’s not?– “Scratch resistant” doesn’t mean scratch proof
– Aviator frame feels easier to bend or damage
– Polarized lenses (expectedly) cost more

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Sunglasses weren’t really something I put much thought into as a driver, despite how often I use them. If I receive a pair as a gift, that’s cool. Or if I forget to bring a pair on a press trip, well, that’s okay; the airport sells a bunch for ten bucks a pop. But genuinely well-made, high-quality sunglasses with quality lenses are not to be slept on, and I’ve learned companies like Tifosi exist to deliver them to the masses at agreeable prices. The Shwae and Smirk are such examples and have proven we don’t have to settle for less because better options are too expensive. Let’s not short ourselves because we’ll never know when glare will come to send us into the back of a semi-truck or sail us off the race track or into a crowd of pedestrians holding kittens and bunnies or whatever else we find valuable that we’d prefer not to hit.

Shoutout to Tifosi Optics for the opportunity, and good job on a pair of commendable products. Keep it up.

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Robs E92 BMW M3 review cover
Used Car Reviews

The BMW E92 M3 is a modern classic immortalized by a fervent V8

The BMW M3 has been synonymous with performance since its inception in the 1980s. It was born from the company’s need to homologate a new car for Group A touring car racing. It went on to be the most successful touring car in history and has gone on for six generations over the past thirty-six years. And even though BMW has made changes along the way, it mostly stuck to the same formula that made it so successful. As much as I’d like to sit and ramble about the different generations, for the purposes of this article, I’ll be focusing on the fourth-generation BMW E92 M3. It could be said that it was the peak of M3 production, a type of car that BMW simply can’t make today because of regulations. And I think they knew then they built it, a kind of swan song, paying homage to all the M3s that came before it. But let’s dive in and see if it’s worth snagging that E92 M3 for sale from your friendly neighborhood car-buying sites.

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BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

Prices and specs

The majority of fourth-generation M3s sold were well-optioned. So, a lot of cars are going to have leather seats, iDrive with navigation, and other fancy luxury items you might find in the mid-aughts, like heated seats and those cool power folding mirrors. Remember, it’s an older car, so there is no CarPlay or Android Auto without aftermarket modification. Electronic damping control (EDC) was also common. The coupes came standard with a carbon fiber roof unless they were ordered with a sunroof. In 2010, BMW released the Competition Package. It featured a 10mm lower ride height, a different set of parameters for the electronic damping control, and a set of wheels specific to the Competition Package. 

New prices (2008 to 2013):$56,500 to $62,845
Approximate used prices:$25,000 to $45,000
Engines choices:4.0-liter DOHC V8
Transmission choices: 6-speed manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain choices:Rear-wheel drive
Power:414 horsepower
Torque:295 pound-feet
Weight:3,704 pounds
0-to-60 mph:4.3 to 4.7 seconds 
1/4-mile:12.6 seconds
MPG:14 city, 20 highway, 16 combined 
Fuel capacity:16.6 gallons

The V8 engine, dubbed S65, was based on the S85 V10 used in the 2004 to 2010 E60 M5, with minor changes to improve reliability and reduce weight. It spewed out 414 horsepower at a dizzyingly high 8,400 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at a still-kind-of-high 3,900 rpm. It also weighed 33 pounds less than the inline-six it replaced. It has eight individual throttle bodies controlled by two electronic actuators with a massive air plenum perched atop and a set of equal-length, four-to-one headers for the exhaust. You could have the car with your choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or BMW’s then-new seven-speed DCT, which were both equipped with a transmission cooler. A limited-slip differential was standard, christened “M variable differential lock.” 

The price of a used M3 from this generation has been on the rise lately, even before it made Hargety’s Bull Market list this year. Depending on condition, mileage, maintenance records, and options, they can run anywhere from $25,000 to $45,000. Generally, cars with fewer options demand a higher price, especially “single hump” cars without navigation, referring to the dashboard construction. The lack-of-a-sunroof “slick top” will also cost you extra, especially for E90 sedans. And if you’re the kind of person who wants a unique color, that’s also going to add a few dollars to the price. But if you don’t mind cars that have 100,000 miles or more and are a common color, a well-maintained example will set you back $25,000 to $30,000 in today’s market. 

Oh yeah. There were technically three members of the E9x family. There is the popular E92 coupe and the far less common and arguably less sought-after E93 Cabrio and E90 sedan.

What’s hot?– Bonkers V8 engine 
– Balanced chassis 
– Rewarding drive
– Resilient on and off the track
– Shockingly versatile for everyday use
– Abundant aftermarket support

Review round-up

I’ve always been a fan of history, and taking a look back to see what the professional opinion havers (auto journalists) and consumers thought of the M3 was entertaining. Unbeknownst to me, the car was met with extremely high praise from everyone who reviewed it—finding only a handful of small issues. Fuel economy, which I can attest to, is nothing to write home about. The addicting sounds bellowing from the engine certainly don’t help keep your foot off the throttle.

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

“Our M3 was a sedate and luxurious sedan as well as a supremely rewarding driving machine. Docile in inclement weather and smooth enough to transport your grandparents (if you can resist temptation), the M3 was equally primed for backcountry road-smash mode, where it would fire every synapse in your brain related to driving pleasure. And then you’d find the M Drive button, which holds your preferred throttle, traction, and damping settings. With one press, everything somehow managed to get better. This is the M3’s genius. There are faster cars, yes, and there are a few that are more rewarding to drive. But of those, we challenge you to find one that combines speed, thrill, and daily driving duties as deftly as the M3.”

Carlos Lago, Motor Trend 2009 BMW M3 verdict

“With the M3’s many buttons, you can make of it what you want: loafing commuter, track animal, high-speed touring express. But no matter how you set it, the M3 astounds. There’s more front-end grip than most people have the guts to exploit, the steering wheel able to carve perfectly elliptical arcs up a winding road at foolish speeds. Where the 911 battles each corner, sometimes in a nerve-jangling sine wave of alternating grip and push, the M3 is dead calm.”

Aaron Robinson, Car and Driver 2009 Porsche 911 Vs. 2009 BMW M3

“Not exactly a lightweight at an estimated 3650 lb., needs more than just a carbon-fiber roof panel to be race ready — although from the performance numbers and driver’s seat it would be hard to tell the M3 is heavy. It feels light and agile. Getting the car to its limits feels smooth and progressive. Few cars combine this level of performance with such docile behavior.”

Shaun Bailey, Road and Track 2008 BMW M3 road test

“A car has got to be pretty spectacular to win over the curmudgeons here at 1585 Eisenhower Place, especially when familiarity sets in over the course of 40,000 miles. But our Sparkling Graphite Metallic M3 did indeed win us over. For less than $70,000, the M3 bolts from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and turns the quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds at 113 mph. It pulls an exceptional 0.96 g on the skidpad, stops in 147 feet from 70 mph, and reaches a governor-restricted 161 mph. On a racetrack or a back road, it’s a beautifully balanced and hugely entertaining machine.”

Mark Gilles, Car and Driver 2008 M3 long-term wrap up

“I am a proud owner of a BMW M3 and I enjoy driving my vehicle whenever I have the chance. Starting off with the exterior of the M3. My M3 is white, and I absolutely love looking at it from a distance and also when I walk away… kinda creeps some people off, haha. Moving on to the interior cabin. Very nice black leather with the signature BMW stitching on the steering wheel. The navigation systems could use some work. First-time users such as myself would have a difficult time unless you are technology savvy. This is my first BMW, and I am very impressed with the styling, detail of the vehicle, and the way it drives. It truly is the ultimate driving machine. The description of my driving experience isn’t included in my review simply because you have to drive it to experience it yourself. Go test drive an M3 now what are you waiting for!?”

Consumer review of a 2013 M3 Kelley Blue Book

“I purchased this car used in August of 2014 with 16,000 original miles. I have owned a 2004 M3 and a 2008 M3. This is by far one of the most exciting cars to drive that I have ever owned. The car is bulletproof. This is the last naturally aspirated V-8 made on the M3 platform. BMW changing (in my opinion) back to the straight six-cylinder was a huge mistake. This car is a 13-point Dinan-equipped car. Nothing but positive comments about the looks, engine sounds, and overall styling. Do yourself a favor if you are considering this car… Just drive one. Not cheap to maintain or fix, but worth every penny!”

Consumer review of a 2009 M3 Kelley Blue Book

“Handles great, love the engine sound and performance. Spent a lot of time in the shop, though. Dual-clutch broke, navigation broke, blue tooth broke, passenger seat controls broke, rear differential fluid needed to be replaced, etc. My nav has been broken for almost a year and says, ‘please wait,’ indefinitely every time I try to use it. The service deparment claims that their tests show that it is working fine! Not worth the hassle in my opinion.”

Consumer review of a 2011 M3 Kelley Blue Book

“Meets all expectations . Sporty and classy. Definitely a head turner. I receive compliments from total strangers. People are still impressed with the retractable roof. I feel this car is undervalued. Purchased used for 30k with only 40k miles. Great price. I will get years out of this car. Very impressed with the handling and pick-up.”

Consumer review of a 2013 M3 Kelley Blue Book

The other slap on the wrist was the early and somewhat clunky iDrive unit in the  2008 models. This was replaced in 2009 when the car underwent one of BMW’s famous LCI (facelift) updates, making the system much more user-friendly. Even the average consumer gave the car stellar reviews. They loved it for its style, performance, and overall usability for a sedan that keeps up with outright sports cars. However, as I’m sure you could see in a couple of those consumer reviews, there were reports of this German car doing stereotypical German car things. No one is perfect, I suppose.

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

Driving and ownership impressions

The commute

Working as an automotive technician has given me the opportunity to drive a plethora of different cars, including different generations of M3. But it wasn’t until I bought my own 2009 E92 M3 two years ago that I really got to know what it was like to own one. 

As a daily driver, I found it better than expected. Plenty of useable space for dogs, kids, groceries, or whatever homeowner crap I bought from Home Depot. It deals with my twenty-mile commute without a problem. With the suspension set in comfort mode, it soaked up most of the cracks, divots, and expansion joints that pepper the 57 and 91 freeways. Everything about the interior was well thought out. The controls are intuitive and have a solid feel to them. The seats, even with the obvious bolstering, are comfortable on long trips. Of course, it’s helpful that they have adjustable bolsters and power lumbar support.

If it weren’t for the outdated iDrive system, you wouldn’t think you were sitting in a car that debuted in 2008. However, despite its inability to link to a newer iPhone, the infotainment system still does the job. You just have to plug into the auxiliary port if you want to stream from your phone unless it’s a 2011, and then you can just stream using Bluetooth. Even the cup holders provide a perfectly adequate place to put your morning coffee. And by adequate, I mean I’ve never inadvertently spilled anything. Plus, on those rare mornings when the freeway is wide open, you can get to work really fast. Really fast.

While the M3 functions just fine as a commuter, there are better cars for that, which is why it’s been replaced with a Nissan Leaf. This car was purchased for two reasons: Explore the vast and wonderful canyons and backroads of Southern California and turn laps at the track. 

In the canyons and at the track

This car is the last of the old guard. An M3 powered by a high-strung naturally aspirated engine backed by a manual transmission. Driving it over the undulating ribbons of asphalt cutting through the mountains behind Los Angeles is one of the rare events everyone needs to experience.

The V8 fills your ears with the abundant sound of induction and exhaust as you push into third gear headed toward a fast-approaching corner. The talkative hydraulic power steering lets you know what the front end is up to as you turn in after a dab of braking. You can feel the tires grabbing hold of the asphalt, and even mid-corner adjustments are effortless. The brakes are responsive without being overly grabby, and you’ll be hard-pressed to overheat them on the street. The whole car feels composed and, despite its weight, agile. Visceral sensations abound, even at what one might call reasonable speeds in a canyon setting. It’s part of what makes the car so special. You don’t need to push it to enjoy it. The character that comes from the drivetrain makes the car feel alive regardless of your pace. 

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

In my mind, having a car like an M3 and not taking it to the track doesn’t make much sense. So, I took mine to the track as often as I could. As impressive as the car was in the canyons, it was even better on track. After a simple change to high-temperature brake pads and fluid, even with an amateur driver like myself behind the wheel, the car filled me with enough confidence to attack every corner with the ferocity of an angry badger. The chassis is balanced enough so that even when I overcooked a corner, there’s only a touch of understeer that was easily overcome. Heel-toe downshifts were handled easily, thanks to the on-point pedal spacing.

Even with 148,000 miles on the original suspension, it still held things together in the corners. Of course, with the weight of the car, there was some body roll when I pitched the car into a turn. The engine pulls and then pulls some more, and then it bounces off the rev limiter because I forgot to shift. But even after a day at the track, having pushed the car as close to its limits as I could, everything held together with no overheating, no brake fade, no matter how hard I sent it. 

Keeping it running

 Maintenance and repairs are the one thing everyone fears when they’re considering buying a used high-performance German car, so this section is a must. And I’m going to be straight with you here: it’s not the easiest car to work on, and parts certainly aren’t the cheapest. And yes, the rod bearings should be replaced. Mine certainly were. It’s a classic “better safe than sorry” situation because if you do spin a bearing, it takes down the whole engine. Mind you, the cost of a new engine outweighs the cost of replacing the rod bearings by a vast number of dollars.  

That being said, I haven’t experienced any world-ending failures. Repairs have consisted of replacing gaskets to take care of oil leaks and replacing service items like spark plugs, drive belts, and air filters. Standard old car affairs. The most shocking bill came when I had to replace the brake rotors. Those massive 14-inch front and rear two-piece rotors were far from cheap. The parts cost me well over $1,000, including pads and fluid. And when it comes time for an oil change, don’t think you can just grab engine oil at any run-of-the-mill parts store. The S65 V8 uses a special 10W-60 synthetic oil that you either have to order from your chosen online European parts supplier or the dealership.

The good news is that just about anyone handy with a wrench will have no trouble taking care of one of these cars in their own garage. After all, it is based on an everyday 3-Series. Just set aside some extra time when dealing with the engine bay, as it’s a bit cramped. And if you’re into modifying your car, the aftermarket support is phenomenal. Whether it’s improving the suspension, the endless search for more power, or cosmetic changes you’re after. You better believe it exists. 

What’s not?– Atrocious fuel mileage
– High cost of maintenance 
– Low front end likes to scrape on everything 
– Be wary of throttle body actuators and rod bearings in high-mile cars
– Older platform means no CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity without mods

Should you buy a used E92 M3?

The 2008 to 2013 BMW E92 M3 is not for the faint of heart. So that question really depends on what you’re after in a car. If you’re looking for something that gets great gas mileage, is cheap to maintain, and will simply function as a large, wheeled appliance, then no, you absolutely shouldn’t buy one. However, if you want a car that stirs your soul every time you get behind the wheel and you don’t mind putting up with the extra cost and effort to keep it going, then yes, you absolutely should. But you’d better hurry because they’ve already started to catch the eyes of collectors, and you don’t want to get priced out of the market. 

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

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New Car Reviews

Maserati Grecale Trofeo review: The comeback kid

After more than a decade of sporty handling and sloped roofs, it’s safe to say we weren’t hurting for another luxury compact crossover SUV. To not only add another face to the crowd but to price it higher than its German rivals, I’d say you’re either out of your mind or you’re Italian. As it happens, Maserati is both. And while its standard Grecale GT and Modena trims are the result of rational decisions a faceless corporation would make to sell a commercial product in high numbers, the 523-horsepower Maserati Grecale Trofeo is the exact opposite in the best possible way.

Up against the dubiously named but popular BMW X3 M and the universally lauded Porsche Macan GTS, both of which have undergone years of refinement, Maserati has its work cut out for it. Not to mention that once-iconic Trident badge on the front doesn’t hold the same level of prestige it once did. But if reputation is all that’s standing between you and the Grecale Trofeo, don’t write it off just yet. From a plush, high-quality interior to a fierce supercar engine ripped straight out of the MC20, you’re going to want to take this one for a test drive.

Jump to:

Price and specs

Having said that, if you’re going to write off Grecale Trofeo, write off the Grecale Trofeo. Entrepreneurial lessees could be in for a big tax break considering Maserati clocked our press car at $117,500 MSRP. Damn near fully loaded with all the bells and some of the whistles, for this price, I could have my pick of SUVs in not only this class but the next size up—certainly a well-specced Cayenne S. Hell, that kind of money could get you a true lightweight sports car and a Grecale GT.

Base price:$105,500
As-tested price:$117,500
Powertrain:3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine
Transmission:8-speed automatic
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:523 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 457 lb-ft @ 3,000-5,500 rpm
Curb weight:4,469 lbs
0-60 mph time:3.6 seconds
Top speed:177 mph
EPA estimated fuel economy:18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, 20 mpg combined
Observed fuel economy:19 mpg
Fuel capacity:16.9 gallons
Maserati Grecale price and specs

That’s right, with a starting price of $65,300, the lower-trim Grecali (plural for Grecale) will more than suffice for the average Maserati SUV driver. The base GT’s mild-hybrid, 2.0-liter four-popper makes 296 horsepower, plenty enough to merge safely onto the highway. And, let’s face it, in our daily lives, that’s all most of us use the extra power for anyway. From $74,900, stepping it up to the midrange Grecale Modena unlocks the Trofeo’s premium interior touches.

Design, colors, and options

Say what you will about Italian cars (believe me, I do)—they do tend to be easy on the eyes. It’s a long-standing stereotype that Italian automakers give their designers a blank canvas, and the frustrated engineers have to work backward to bring their artistic visions to life. To what extent that’s true, I’m not sure. But it could explain how brands like Maserati avoided the polarizing—and in my opinion, heinous—trend of big honking grilles championed by BMWs. The front end of the Grecale is tame, inoffensive, and consistent with Maserati’s design language across its current lineup.

What’s hot?– Classic, understated design
– Fast, responsive engine
– Brilliant stock exhaust
– Five bespoke driving modes
– Flexible air suspension
– Dazzling metallic paint options

When our Grecale arrived at the bustling, grandiose Acceleramota headquarters in NYC (my apartment), I was struck by its majestic tri-coat metallic paint glistening in the sun. As I later found out, embedded between the middle and top, clear coats were tiny flakes of reflective aluminum, giving it that distinct iridescent flair none of my photos could do justice. This lovely shade of blue is undoubtedly the best of the bunch, but all of the metallics are stunning and well worth the $800 premium over the single non-metallic white that comes standard.

Maserati Grecale Trofeo metallic colors ($800):

  • Bianco Astro (white with silver gloss)
  • Grigio Lava (sparkly gray with bronze tint)
  • Nero Tempesta (fancy black)
  • Blu Intenso (spicy blue)

Maserati Grecale Trofeo non-metallic colors (included):

  • Bianco (generic white)

Not one of the Grecale’s three trim levels offers a ton of extras when ordered from the factory, but that is especially true of the Trofeo. After all, Maserati parent company Stellantis’s strategy to improve reliability by giving customers fewer options—thus, fewer combinations of untested variables—seems to be paying off. In JD Power’s 2023 Initial Quality survey, Maserati showed the biggest jump of any car brand year-over-year.

Nevertheless, the Grecale Trofeo doesn’t forego factory add-ons entirely. Advanced driving assistance tech doesn’t come standard, nor do some more basic features you’d expect from a car in the six figures. The heated steering wheel, for instance, is baked into a $4,200 Premium Plus package, as are ventilated front seats. Wireless charging and a head-up display (HUD) are bundled together for another grand. Even all-but-essential safety features like blind spot assist tack on a few thousand clams. Now we’re talking paper.

Packages

Driver Assistance Plus ($3,100):

  • Intelligent speed assist
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Intersection collision assist
  • Active driving assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Drowsy driver detection

Premium Plus ($4,200)

  • Ventilated front seats
  • Heated rear seats
  • Heated leather steering wheel
  • Heated windshield washer nozzles
  • Sonus Faber 21-speaker sound system

Techssistance package ($1,100)

  • Head up display (HUD)
  • Wireless charging pad

Other options

  • Roof rails ($400)
  • Full LED matrix headlights ($1,200)
  • Inox sport pedals ($200)
  • Cargo rails on load floor ($400)
  • 360-degree surround view camera ($800)
  • Cargo 115-volt power outlet

Interior and tech

Don’t get me wrong, the Grecale Trofeo is a luxury vehicle through and through, no matter what packages or options you end up with. Odds are, you’ll never see a no-frills Trofeo at a dealership anyway. So you can rest assured that its old-money-inspired new-money cabin made me feel poor. Mission accomplished, Maserati.

If it wasn’t upholstered in leather, it was carbon fiber. The piano black bezels surrounding the infotainment displays were among the few plastic parts I could find. The firm grip of its swanky yet classic leather steering wheel gave me the confidence of an executive at a pharmaceutical company pretending to save lives. Physical controls were a nice touch.

Coming from an Alfa Romeo Tonale, the ignition button on the steering wheel was instantly familiar, and the drive mode selector on the opposite side was an upgrade. Adjusting the volume of my music and changing songs with controls on the back of the wheel took some getting used to. As did the frankly baffling procedure of opening the door from the inside. Pressing a button to open the door electronically when there’s a mechanical backup latch right below it made me wonder why the button was there at all. The answer, I reminded myself, is because why not?

The raw texture of carbon fiber can be found and felt everywhere from above the door handle to the center console. Red stitching accentuating the leather upholstery gave the Grecale Trofeo a sportier look, color coordinated with its performance. As we all know, red is the fastest color.

Although it’s not particularly exciting, the Android-derived Uconnect infotainment system is intuitive. A benefit of Stellantis’s platform-sharing, parts bin ecosystem is that the software has to scale across 14 different brands. If it doesn’t work for Maserati’s clientele, then it doesn’t work for Jeep or Ram or Alfa Romeo drivers either. As such, most people will get the hang of it after 10-20 minutes of flipping through menus on the Grecale’s Nintendo-DS-like dual-screen setup.

My only gripe with the infotainment, which is not unique to Maserati, is how eager it is to age. The more screens you have, the more dependent you are on software and computers, and the shorter the window of time in which a car looks and feels new. The bottom screen is a static HVAC panel, great! But then, at that point, why is it a screen and not a stack of tactile buttons I can program my muscle memory to press without looking? A digital gauge cluster is less concerning—there’s a level of tailored control over what I’m seeing, and it’s not something I’m constantly engaging with, unlike climate controls.

Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

But hey, at least we have a row of real physical buttons between the two displays!

Oh, no, that’s a gear selector, isn’t it?

Don’t forget to double-press P to throw it in Park, or else the car will stay in reverse.

Oh, Maserati.

As much as I appreciate a good historical nod, the analog timepiece in the middle of the dashboard doesn’t feel quite the same either as yet another backlit digital display. I’d be willing to accept it if it served some function beyond telling time—maybe a built-in timer for recording lap times or a way to benchmark acceleration. But no, it’s just a clock. Nothing more to see here, Gabe. Don’t question why an analog clock can’t be, you know, analog… move along.

Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

Capping this section off on a positive note, because despite spending several paragraphs on a rant about screens, I do like the interior in the Grecale. No, really!

If recent Mercedes are any indication, maybe those in the target income bracket for this car don’t care how it ages. More likely than not, they’ll lease it for a couple of years and then move on to something else. Then some sucker will buy on the used market for the price of a new Nissan Altima, and it becomes their problem. And that sucker will be me.

Where was I? Right. Cargo space. It has a good amount: 20.1 cubic-feet behind the second row. More than the Porsche Macan GTS, and less than the BMW X3 M.

Fuel economy and performance

Do we have to? Before I start philosophizing about the moral quandaries of driving a status symbol on wheels, much less leasing a new one every 2-3 years, let’s cut to the chase: No one cares about how much fuel they’re burning in a Maserati. The answer is 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. No one cares so much, in fact, that you made it this far and forgot I already wrote this on a chart three sections ago. You know how I know that? Because I forgot too.

Those are decent numbers. So decent, they’re boring. Both the GT and the Modena are rated for 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. So there you go. The one with two more cylinders burns slightly more fuel. If emissions are a concern, presumably because you want to hang out in your garage with the door down while the car is running and survive, you’re in luck: Poised to compete with the Porsche Macan EV, the fully-electric Maserati Grecale Folgore is coming soon. I have thoughts on what we know so far, but I’ll keep those to myself until we know the price.

For the rest of you gas-guzzling scum, the Grecale Trofeo is quick. Maybe it doesn’t have the instant torque of an EV, but 3.6 seconds to 60 mph is enough to scare the demons out of you—with an exhaust that sings like Pavarotti and turbos that flutter like your heart will when you hear ’em. Believe it or not, you won’t find a fast compact SUV that bests the Grecale’s horsepower, straight-line acceleration, and top speed for the price. The vastly lower-cost X3 M comes close, darting from zero to 60 in just under four seconds, but close doesn’t win pink slips when you’re dropping the kids off at school.

Seeing as it weighs nearly 4,500 pounds, that’s an impressive feat. Impressive, but not terribly surprising since it’s powered by a detuned version of the twin-turbo Nettuno V6 engine shared with Maserati’s halo car, the MC20. As with the GranTurismo, the Grecale is underpinned by a Maserati-fied version of Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform, the same one found in the late Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio (RIP).

You can feel it, too.

In Corsa mode, the gear changes hit with a satisfying punch, the suspension stiffened, and I was dropped so close to the road that, as with my Giulia, I could sail through corners in the Grecale Trofeo with unwavering confidence.

What’s not?– Too many screens
– Cursed gear selector
– Unproven long-term reliability
– Silly digital dash clock can be tacky
– Priced among fierce, proven competitors

To lease or not to lease? That is the question

Growing up as a child of hip-hop from the aughts into the early ’10s, it wasn’t that long ago when driving a Maserati was as much of a flex as a Maybach, a Rolls-Royce, or a ‘Rari. But sometime between Backseat Freestyle and To Pimp a Butterfly, the iconic Trident badge lost its exotic sheen, and for good reason.

Famously, the Ghibli sedan and Levante midsize SUV were introduced with cheap parts from downmarket brands like Chrysler and Dodge. Then there were the quality control problems, in some cases ranking Maserati dead last in reliability. Don’t get me started on its depreciation. As much as I enjoyed the Maserati Grecale Trofeo for everything it was, is everything it was everything it will be, and for how long?

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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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Best Car Reviews
Best CarsBuying GuidesNew Car Reviews

The best cars we’ve reviewed (so far) for 2024

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

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

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

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Best EVS

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

  • Sharp and sporty like its looks
  • Quiet and refined

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

Best plug-in hybrids

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

Best hybrids

1. Toyota Prius – shockingly fun but still lovably practical

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

Best luxury sports sedans

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

Best luxury SUVs/crossovers

1. Acura MDX Type S – Quick and cushy

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

Best hot hatches and sports compacts

1. Acura Integra Type S – The surprise knockout

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

2. Hyundai Elantra N – Shattering Korean car stereotypes

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

Best affordable sports cars

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

Best luxury sports cars

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

Best pickup trucks

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

What’s hot?

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

What’s not?

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

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

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

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Used Crosstrek review
Used Car Reviews

The Subaru Crosstrek is a sporty, fuel-sipping adventurer

Welcome to a new segment on Acceleramota, where we sample popular picks for used cars to see if they’re really all the rage or if they just belong at a junkyard. Today’s pick? America’s compact little sweetheart for hikers, overlanders, outdoorsy folk, and hipsters who just really, really love avocado toast. Say it with me. Subaru. Crosstrek.

They’re everywhere. From down on the Malibu coast to high in the Appalachians, we can’t seem to get enough of Subaru’s plastic-clad Impreza on stilts. And surely, it’s for good reason. Over the course of a day behind the wheel of a Turo rental (plus a healthy serving of research), I sought to discover the appeal of one of Subaru’s hottest sellers and find out if a used Subaru Crosstrek is the move for budget transportation. Time to see how its image stood the test of time and if its actually for real or all a facade.

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2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Price and specs

Crosstreks come fairly well-appointed across all trim levels and generations. As expected, every Crosstrek rocks a variant of Subaru’s smooth operator of a flat-four, which usually churns out something in the 150-ish horsepower ballpark. Only recently did they make Sport versions available with an enlarged 2.5-liter flat-four pumping out a healthy 182 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. Both current and last-generation cars I’ve sampled prior were base models sporting identical 2.0-liter engines that made 152 horsepower. All Crosstreks rock Subaru’s Symmetric All-Wheel Drive, and all are essentially lifted, plastic-clad Imprezas, built on the same platforms and sporting similar design cues inside and out.

New prices (2024):$25,195 to $32,195
Approximate used prices:$12,000 to $32,000
Engines choices:2.0-liter flat-four, 2.5-liter flat-four, 2.0-liter flat-four + 0.55 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery pack (Hybrid only), 2.0-liter flat-four + 8.8 kWh battery pack (PHEV only)
Transmission choices:six-speed manual, CVT
Drivetrain choices:all-wheel drive
Power:148 to 182 horsepower
Torque:145 to 178 pound-feet
Weight:3,000 to 3,700 pounds
0-to-60 mph:7.5 to 9.5 seconds
1/4-mile:16.1 seconds @ 88 mph to 17.5 seconds @ 83 mph
MPG:23 to 29 city, 29 to 34 highway, 25 to 31 combined, 90 MPGe (PHEV only)
Fuel capacity:15.9 to 16.6 gallons, 11.3 gallons (Hybrid only)

Expect most secondhand Subaru Crosstreks to hover in the mid $10,000 to mid $20,000 range in today’s market, depending on mileage, trim, and condition, of course. You can expect to see first-gen cars trade hands at a far lower price, with dealers asking between $12,000 and $15,000 for seemingly well-kept examples that all sit comfortably above 100,000 miles. Unsurprising, given the nature of these cars. Current-gen cars and the last years of the second-gen cars can easily double those used car prices but often with half the mileage, and lightly-used examples of hot trims like the Sport and Wilderness can hold their value close to, if not a touch higher, than their original MSRP.

First-generation XV Crosstrek (2013 to 2017)

Subaru Crosstrek
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Welp. There she be. The one that started it all. 148 horsepower, 2.0 liters of fury, and unashamedly Impreza styling. Referred to as the “XV Crosstrek” for “crossover vehicle,” it helped amplify and solidify Subaru’s place as a hipster chic adventuring brand and was met with mostly positive reception for delivering ruggedness and versatility with affordability and efficiency in a way few cars did at the time. A less-acclaimed and arguably half-baked hybrid variant existed for this generation, should you want one,

Second-generation Crosstrek (2018 to 2023)

Subaru Crosstrek
Image credit: Rutger van der Maar, Wikimedia Commons

The second-gen continues the trend with little-to-no change in its intended mission. The front fascia got a little more aggro, and that plastic cladding on the fenders got just a tad more pronounced to remind you it still yearns for dusty fire roads and mint chocolate Clif Bars. CarPlay, Android Auto, and EyeSight safety tech join the family, as does a massaged 2.0-liter powertrain that bumps output from 148 horsepower to 152. Torque remains unchanged at 145 pound-feet, but peak power and torque figures hit a couple hundred rpm sooner. Sport models introduce the more desirable, 182-horsepower 2.5-liter engine. A more polished plug-in hybrid model arrived for the second-gen Crosstrek, as well.

Third-generation Crosstrek (2024 to present)

Subaru Crosstrek
Image credit: Ethan Llamas, Wikimedia Commons

The current generation of the Crosstrek is easily the most vividly styled pick of the bunch and an easy fit for Subaru’s current design language, defined by its skinny headlights, an abundance of sharp creases, and heavily pronounced fender cladding. Powertrains carry over, but the manual gearbox is dead (F in the comments), leaving the CVT as the only option. The vertical 11.6-inch StarLink touchscreen is introduced alongside a more adventurous and off-road-ready Wilderness trim.

What’s hot?– Can easily defy EPA mileage figures
– Surprisingly fun, agile, and composed!
– Superbly spacious despite being based on a compact hatchback
– Usable ground clearance for off-road escapades
– Hybrid variant gets superb fuel mileage and range
– Strong value, especially after the initial depreciation hit

Review round-up

Shall we embark on a trip down memory lane for one of Subaru’s most popular offerings? Since 2013, the Crosstrek has earned heaps of praise from consumers and journos alike. Its high ride height provided meaningful clearance for mild off-pavement excursions while serving as the perfect platform for rally and overland builds. Its flat-four powerplants and later plug-in hybrid variant scored proper econobox fuel economy that often beat out EPA estimates, and the Hybrid even delivered a respectable 17 miles of EV-only range. And, of course, there’s its strong value proposition.

As beloved as it was and still is, the Crosstrek is still not without a handful of faults, many of which simply stem from it being an affordable car built to a price point. At $32,000 or less brand new, the touchscreen infotainment systems aren’t regarded as the most reliable or quickest responding, even in newer cars with their Tesla-style vertical screen. Build quality was merely okay, at least early in the cars’ lifespans, with some consumers reporting creaks and rattles popping up over the course of their ownership. And perhaps the most frequent headache of all from journos and owners alike: the powertrains aren’t that powerful, and the base cars are especially slow. Acceleration test numbers for 2.0-liter CVT cars over the years nearly reflect that of more meager econoboxes, like the Fiat 500, Toyota Corolla, or Nissan Sentra.

On the flip side, those meager powertrains motivating the Crosstrek are known to easily match or beat EPA fuel economy estimates. If consumer and auto journo experiences are anything to go by, you shouldn’t have to work too hard to match 29 mpg combined and hover between 33 and 35 mpg on the highway. As I’ve experienced and will soon discuss with you, those economy numbers come shockingly easy.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

First, it’s the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport. Over 12 months, we put 16,581-miles on this Impreza-based utility, and averaged 29.9 miles-per-gallon from its 2.5-liter flat-four. Almost exactly what EPA estimates say to expect. This isn’t our first long term Crosstrek, and they’ve yet to disappoint, as there just seems to be something special about it.   While this Crosstrek isn’t the biggest, nicest or fastest long-term test vehicle we’ve ever had, it’s probably in the running for most-loved because it’s just so useful. And while I’m rattling off adjectives, I’ll throw in practical because of things like these spill-resistant, yet stylish StarTex seats. I think the Crosstrek embodies Subaru’s ultra-dependable spirit as well as any model in the lineup. That spirit manifests itself with a great 20.8 cubic-feet of cargo space, sturdy roof rails, 8.7-inches of ground clearance, and hard rubber mats protecting the floors throughout.

MotorWeek staff, MotorWeek 2021 Crosstrek Sport long-term review, May 2022

Plenty of staffers used the Subaru for long trips, and for good reason. Besides the comfort level, the Crosstrek has a large 16.6-gallon tank and delivers 33 mpg on the highway with the CVT. The rear seats are roomy, and the cargo area should be large enough for most. Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto) keeps passengers entertained, and if there is an emergency, simply hit the SOS call button near the map lights. Additionally, even though visibility is good, the added assistance of the large yellow warning light of the blind-spot monitoring system will help keep things safe. If your trip is in the mountains, engine braking is surprisingly strong, and the paddle shifters are responsive.

Micahel Cantu, Motor Trend 2018 Crosstrek long-term verdict, March 2019

 The XV Crosstrek’s handling is essentially transparent. This new crossover goes around corners and in a straight line without making a negative or positive impression, although it is capable enough to handle aggressive driving. The electrically assisted steering is accurate if somewhat uncommunicative, the braking is without drama, and the ride is closer to that of a family sedan than a four-wheel-drive soft-roader.

Fred M.H. Gregory, Car and Driver 2013 XV Crosstrek instrumented test, January 2013

We encourage all prospective Subaru buyers to be wary on test drives, as nearly all of the company’s cars feature aggressive throttle tip-in that gives the impression of eager off-the-line acceleration as soon as you touch the gas pedal. But while the Crosstrek might feel zippy around town, the powertrain quickly runs out of steam when tasked with merging or passing on the highway. Depress the pedal farther into its travel and you’ll soon find that there’s not much additional grunt to be had.

Joey Capparella, Car and Driver 2018 Crosstrek intrumented test, February 2018

This really is the little car that could. Both of my Crosstreks have been used to the max; pulling a trailer, loading kayaks, and hauling large dogs. While it doesn’t go from 0-60 lickety split, once its cruising at 70 mph, it really can pick it up to 85 quickly. Gas mileage has been consistently good. The cargo area is deceiving, with the back seats down the space is huge, I have hauled my large working dog in his crate on a daily basis, I have car camped fully stretched out (5’7″), and I have loaded my market stall with canopies and tables and bins. The Crosstrek does it all. The seats are comfortable. The center console could be better. Having a removable rubber insert like Volkswagen would be great for keeping it clean. There are two plugs for 12V or USB; one in the console, one under the dash. There is an adequate light in the cargo area and tie downs on each side. If I had any complaints, it would be the paint chips pretty easily. Most of my driving is highway so I’ve had my share of rocks from trucks. Also, the headlights could be brighter. I love this little car and won’t be switching brands anytime soon.

Consumer review on 2019 Crosstrek, Kelly Blue Book

I love my Crosstrek, I really do. I love the performance and gas mileage it gets. It is the perfect size for what I need it for… But ever since it hit 5 years old things have been starting to go. It started off with my steering wheel peeling, then it was the driver side back door automatic lock stopped working, and now the passenger side isn’t working. ($700 each to fix so I am not having that done). Then my horn stopped working but it wasn’t due to something simple like the actual horn or a fuse. It was the clockspring, a part I didn’t even know existed. I don’t have that many miles. At a little over 6 years old, the car has 72,217 miles, not high for its age. I was already worried about what might go next, and then I heard about a friend of mine whose 10-year-old Subaru with 182k miles needs a new transmission. My first car was a Subaru; it had belonged to my grandmother and then my sister, who I bought it off of. It was 15 years old by the time I got it and nothing was wrong with it. I know Subaru’s reputation, but it seems like maybe the quality isn’t as good as it used to be.

Consumer review on 2016 Crosstrek, Kelly Blue Book

Feels like they cut cost . My 2017 was nicer. Bigger. Better made. I don’t like the big box in the windshield by the top of mirror. I don’t like the navigation system. Seats are smaller. It cost too much for what you get. I’m disappointed.

Consumer review on 2024 Crosstrek, Kelly Blue Book

First off, if your looking for a drag car, look elsewhere. That being said, so far, it is priced extremely well for an AWD/off-road capable/overland-excelling vehicle. Comfort and style are great but lacks lower lumbar support, so if you need that, you may want to look elsewhere. Three-month ownership, love the vehicle. Wish I could default the car into Sport mode rather than having to turn it on every ignition. Short-term ownership. Slap some Maxxis Razor ATs on and rejoice that if you get in a gridlocked situation on the highway, you’re just a left turn through 90% of the medians away from freedom. If safety is at all close to the smaller brother of the Impreza, which I unfortunately was in a high-speed deer strike. Rest easy, I’ve never driven any vehicle that reduces the impact as a Subaru. Frankly amazing and well-earned, top-notch safety ratings

Consumer review on 2021 Crosstrek, Kelly Blue Book

Other than plasticky tinker toy construction and wheezy engines, the Crosstrek remains in good standing with most who cross paths with it. For the most part, reliability seems to be stout, with owners reporting Crosstreks easily scooting well into the 100,000-mile range with only bare basic maintenance. However, other owners report abnormal oil consumption or premature CVT problems that aren’t replicated by a substantial chunk of the community. It could simply be a lack of maintenance or an overly stressful life under some folks’ ownerships, however, so buyers beware.

As one owner who was aware of the issues but never experienced them and couldn’t discern causes of failure summarized: just take care of your car.

Driving impressions

A reasonably tech-laden econobox

Alrighty. My turn.

My time with the Crosstrek has been limited to two iterations: a fairly spartan 2021 second-gen car and a similarly-specced 2024 third-gen model. Both were saddled with Subaru’s Symmetric AWD, 2.0-liter flat-four, and their respective versions of Subaru’s StarLink infotainment systems. I say that with air quotes as they’re fairly comprehensive and feature-rich for what are ultimately lifted hatchbacks that start well under $30,000.

Second-gen Crosstreks feature a 6.2-inch touchscreen, with a 7.0-inch one available on higher trims. Second-gen Crosstreks also donned wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that, in my experience, worked about as flawlessly as you’d imagine. Although the base 6.2-inch units are a tad small and can be a bit tricky to read, they’re always within easy reach.

The 2024 car I had recently sampled marks the start of a new generation of Crosstrek and, in doing so, ditches Subaru’s smaller screens and auxiliary dash-mounted info display in favor of a vertical touchscreen plucked straight from an early-year Tesla Model S. Featured in Premium models and up, it measures 11.6 inches and can display climate controls, which are complimented with a few hard buttons, CarPlay, radio, and vehicle settings. Some users have reported incessant lag and latency, but I found the system in this 7,000-mile loaner to be decent enough for what it is. If anything, I’ve only really noticed a split-second delay between tapping the screen and it actually doing something. Could be better. Could be worse.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

But of course, I can talk tech without talking about what makes Subaru a Subaru. No, not love. I mean a smorgasbord of handy safety goodies all packaged into this plastic-clad gift basket. That includes backup cameras, pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control; all worked intuitively and inoffensively, never screaming at me with loud beeps or yanking the wheel with enough force to send me into the next lane over. Subaru EyeSight is certainly one of the best in the biz at one of the best price points around. It was an add-on in Premium and Limited-trim second-gen cars between 2018 and 2023, now made standard for 2024, including the stripped-down Base trim. Yes, it’s actually called “Base.”

First-gen cars, while mechanically near-identical, never received CarPlay or Android Auto, and were never offered EyeSight safety goods until 2015. So be aware of that while shopping.

A smooth (and sporty) operator

The Crosstrek continues to impress on the open road. I can’t personally attest to the Crosstrek’s off-road prowess, but I’ll take the word of literally everyone else around me, including the legions I often see flooding the trails at nearby campgrounds and national parks. But as an urban runabout and highway cruiser, the Crosstrek was a shockingly competent companion. Road trips? Commutes? Parking garages? Hell’s Revenge, apparently? No problem. None at all.

Well, unless you have to pass a semi on the I-15 when you’re already going 80 mph but traffic speed is freaking 95. Then the mopey CVT and modestly-powered 2.0-liter base engines start to show their weaknesses. But I suppose that’s the cost of achieving 35 mpg on the freeway in my hands and averaging over 31 mpg on my mostly-highway loan with the 2024 car.

Around town darting from light to light, the CVT does an ample job at simulating short “gearing,” making ample use of the flat-four’s torque and making the Crosstrek feel far more athletic and lively at lower speeds. Dare I even say this thing is quite fun to drive? While I haven’t sampled one yet, I’m eager to sample the reportedly transformative 2.5-liter mill in a Sport or Wildnerness model.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The high-riding Subie’s mild playfulness is amplified by the car’s surprisingly composed and nimble handling, keen to turn into corners at your local mountain pass and only feeling neutered by the eco-minded all-seasons. Steering is appropriately weighted and accurate, although it’s a little light for my tastes. But that just makes it a sweetheart in parking lots. Ride quality is as supple and smooth as the powertrain. While the Crosstrek is on the smaller side, a sizable wheelbase and fat sidewalls absorb most impacts well and make any speedbump more of a suggestion than anything else. A blue-collar rally car you can drive every day, indeed.

Neither of the two variants I drove exhibited any of the interior rattles that people had mentioned in consumer reviews. But if their word and my own BRZ are any indicator, it’s only a matter of time until a couple faint ones pop up. Unfortunately, we can never expect total perfection at this price, and an econobox will always do econobox things.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Base model engines can be quitesluggishc
– Infotainment systems can be a touch laggy at times
– Cheap-O rear-seat accommodations
– Fuel economdivesve with manual transmission
– Questionable plastic build quality
– Even a good CVT is still a CVT

Should you buy a used Crosstrek?

Should you even bother? Well, like any car, that depends. I’ve inferred this since the first generation Crosstreks dropped in 2013, and I can confirm it now after driving two of the suckers. The Subaru Crosstrek may very well be among those jack-of-all-trades cars that are almost perfect at almost everything.

They’re fun and lively to drive for what they are while still returning superb fuel economy, comfort, and practicality in a nimble package that’s as affluent with adventuring as it is with commuting. Go to the trails. Go to Whole Foods. The Crosstrek will do it all eagerly and efficiently. Conversely, nothing hides that it’s a cheapo hatchback with cheapo plastics and silky-yet-asthmatic powertrains, and those looking for more ruggedness will be better served by real crossover SUVs or a compact pickup truck.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Is fun-sized versatility your jam? Is that what you need for your life? Only you can decide that for yourself. I’m just a messenger. But I hope the message I deliver here is clear: So long as you take the Crosstrek for what it is and don’t pretend it’s something it’s not, you’ll easily see that it’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful car with a great spread of talents at an agreeable price point, new or used. And in an age where many of us don’t have the disposable income for a second or third car, perhaps that affordable jack-of-all-trades approach is what we need more of.

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