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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)
ÂĽ-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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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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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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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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These are the best EVs we’ve driven for 2024

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

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

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Ioniq 5 charging
Image: Hyundai

Starting price: $41,650

Horsepower: 168 to 320 hp

Torque: 258 to 446 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 99 to 114 mpge

Battery Capacity: 58 to 77.4 kWh

Range: 220 to 303 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Top Safety Pick +

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

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

Kia EV6

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

Starting price: $42,600

Horsepower: 167 to 576 hp

Torque: 258 to 545 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 83 to 117 mpge

Battery Capacity: 58 to 77.4 kWh

Range: 218 to 310 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? No

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

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

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

Ford F-150 Lightning

F-150 Lightning in the dirt
Image: Ford

Starting price: $49,995

Horsepower: 452 to 580 hp

Torque: 775 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 66 to 70 mpge

Battery Capacity: 98 to 131 kWh

Range: 230 to 320 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? No

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

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

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

Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes EQS quarter view
Image: Mercedes-Benz

Starting price: $104,400

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

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

Combined MPGe: 76-96 mpge

Battery Capacity: 108.4 kWh

Range: 280 to 352 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

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

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

Nissan Ariya

Nissan Ariya Front Fascia
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Kazya Kuruma

Starting price: $43,190

Horsepower: 214 to 389 hp

Torque: 221 to 442 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 87 to 101 mpge

Battery Capacity: 63 to 84 kWh

Range: 205 to 304 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Top Safety Pick +

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

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

Genesis Electrified G80

Genesis Electrified G80
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Damian Oh

Starting price: $79,825

Horsepower: 365

Torque: 516 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 97 mpge

Battery Capacity: 87.2 kWh

Range: 282 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet evaluated under new criteria

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

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

Cadillac Lyriq

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

Starting price: $58,590

Horsepower: 340 to 500 hp

Torque: 325 to 450 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 89 mpge

Battery Capacity: 102 kWh

Range: 307 to 314 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

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

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

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2024 Lotus Emira
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

The Lotus Emira is a driving enthusiast’s dream come true

Making the most of old technology usually takes the form of automakers making big profit margins on platforms that have been around for longer than usual. It’s not a bad strategy. Look at the previous-generation Lexus LX and GX; excellent trucks that barely changed over the better part of fifteen years. Or the W-body Chevy Lumina … Okay, bad example. However, legendary British sports car maker Lotus takes a completely different approach to this strategy with its latest mid-engine sports car, the Emira.

The UK brand does it by going against what every other sports car maker has grown a little too accustomed to: Instead of the Emira having electric power-assisted steering like everyone else these days—this side of McLaren, at least—this mighty midship has hydraulic-assisted power steering. It’s very old technology, yet it possesses far better characteristics, like improved communication, excellent weight, and so on, that make the driving experience quite special.

Hydraulic steering may be a little harder to amortize over time due to its higher cost, and it’s more of a pain to service, but it’s well worth it. In fact, when combined with the 2024 Lotus Emira First Edition’s other top qualities—a stiff and lightweight chassis, as well as a potent V6, standard six-speed manual transmission, and gorgeous sports car looks—it makes for an overall excellent package that anyone who considers themself a driving enthusiast would thoroughly dig. Here’s how it all comes together to not only be one of the best Lotus sports cars ever made but also a very refreshing option in a new car market that’s awash with portly curb weights, excessively long wheelbases, as well as bland, lifeless electric power steering.

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2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Price and specs

To hop in the 2024 Lotus Emira First Edition with a supercharged V6 behind its two seats, turn the key, and rip off down the road in a hilariously fun manner, it’ll require $104,500 to start. That’s no small sum of money, but then, it’s no small sum of car. Well, it’s dimensionally pretty small, but you know what I mean.

Bolt up this tester’s lightweight forged 20-inch wheels, and the price comes out to … well, just $1,000 more. Its Dark Verdant Green paint, tan leather interior, sports suspension, and manual gearbox are no additional charge, so the total works out to $105,500. Suppose you’re inclined to go for an automatic gearbox, that tacks on an additional $2,150. Save the manuals, as well as some cash: Pick the stick. 

Base price:$104,500
As-tested price:$105,500
Engine:3.5-liter supercharged V6
Transmission:6-speed manual
Drivetrain:rear-wheel drive
Power:400 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
Torque:310 pound-feet @ 3,500 rpm
Redline:6,800 rpm
Weight:3,212 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:4.2 seconds
ÂĽ-mile:12.7 seconds @ 111 mph
MPG:17 city, 26 highway, 20 combined
Observed MPG:19.0
Fuel Capacity:14.5 gallons

Coming soon is a turbocharged four-cylinder from Mercedes-AMG bolted up in place of the supercharged V6, which’ll start a little less at $99,900; Acceleramota will report more on that at a later date. I’ve had the pleasure of revving out this mighty four in other vehicles, and it’s an absolute riot; choosing between the two powertrains will be a tough decision.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Design, interior, and infotainment

Let’s cut right to the chase: The Lotus Emira is simply beautiful. While the brand’s never been a stranger to penning striking design, this new two-seater slots nicely within its Greatest Hits alongside the Elan, Esprit, Esprit V8, and Elise.

The Emira’s short and wide stature is nicely adorned with intakes and venting cut into its bodywork, pronounced front fenders, wide hips, sharp headlights, and taut lines throughout. It’s got trim athleticism in spades and looks drop-dead gorgeous from every angle. Where the Evora looked ever-so-slightly awkward from a couple of angles, possibly due to being 2+2, the Emira simply can’t be faulted. Especially on my tester’s 20-inch silver wheels and paint that errs towards British Racing Green yet has more depth and faint metallic flake to it. It’s a beautiful take on this default-good color.

Inside is the same song, second verse. Where the Evora was a little more bare and focused (which I actually loved about it), the Emira is more geared towards luxurious everyday liveability. This is a good thing—less knocks against it parked next to a Porsche Cayman, and the world would be a better place if more people were inclined to daily drive high-end mid-engine sports cars. Giving it this plush interior extinguishes excuses not to.

Speaking of plushness, much of the interior’s square footage is covered in supple Nappa leather and Alcantara, and the overall design is quite chic. It may also be a small two-door sports car, but it’s actually plenty bright and airy, making something like a Toyota GR Supra feel like solitary confinement by comparison. With this airiness comes an appreciable increase in spaciousness over the Evora, with plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room for my slim six-foot-three stature. 

Seating-wise, I was initially a little disappointed that the Emira didn’t have the same near-race-level Sparco seats that the final iteration of the Evora GT possessed. But the 12-way power-adjustable buckets actually proved to be quite good: the driver’s seat was easy to slide in and out of, had great all-day comfort, and even held me in respectably well on fun roads. Win across the board.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Then, it possesses some select fine details that really upped the interior’s bespokeness like a good bit of the shift linkage that’s exposed behind some metallic mesh. I like to think that is Lotus’ way of paying tribute to the almighty, sacred manual gear change. It even lights up at night; how cool is that?

One aspect of the Emira’s interior that’s somewhat unchanged from the Evora is its cargo room. Like the Evora, there’s sadly no frunk to impress your friends or passers-by, but the trunk area could accommodate either a small piece of luggage or two or a small haul of weekly groceries. Just don’t travel too far if you’ve got ice cream in there—it sits next to one bank of cylinders and atop most of the exhaust system. Then, instead of the old Evora’s rear “seats” that were less roomy than an iron lung, there’s a cargo shelf that’s plenty commodious for daily haulings or some light luggage.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

When it comes to infotainment, the Emira doesn’t have a whole lot going on, and that’s very much a good thing. The center 12.25-inch touchscreen has good feedback, a nice layout, and no lag, and it’s quite easy to navigate through. It’s equipped with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, and the stereo system has great overall audio quality.

 To split hairs, I had to re-pair my phone every morning to get Apple CarPlay working. But when the car’s own soundtrack is as wonderful as it is, I didn’t find myself as inclined to listen to music or podcasts as I’d normally be. Even while rolling along in mundane Los Angeles traffic. 

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson
What’s hot?– Wonderful overall handling
– Surpringly great ride quality around town
– Brilliant hydraulic steering
– Rioutous supercharged V6
– ‘Dem looks

Versus the outgoing Evora GT

It’s important to point out that the Emira isn’t the full-on replacement for the Lotus Evora GT. As far as Evora vs. Emira goes, it’s the succeeding model. But as far as non-GT vs. GT goes, that’s like comparing the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS against the Cayman GT4—Both are well-regarded as massively fun mid-engine sports cars and their Lotus’ direct competitors. But they aren’t interchangeable in the Porsche trim hierarchy, nor are they meant for the exact same purpose. One’s more daily-friendly, whereas the other is more engineered for laps on track.

Though, after spending a week with the ravenous and ever-entertaining Evora GT two years back and now becoming well-acquainted with the Emira, I really hope there will be an Emira GT. Though, in light of some recent unfortunate news, the chances are slim.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Well-natured around town and on the highway

Where the Lotus Evora GT’s suspension was surgical in its precision, the Emira is a bit more toned down and everyday friendly. This isn’t intended as an apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s important to point out for anyone fiending for something built by the British firm in the past couple of years. The Emira hits it out of the park with daily-ability compared to the former GT.

My favorite place to see how any car deals with crappy city roads is Los Angeles’ neighborhood of Silver Lake. Decades of yuppification have left its tarmac thoroughly brutalized by construction vehicles, with many stretches littered with tar patches that resemble a welding student’s first couple inches of MIG work. It’s a rough place to drive.

The Lotus Emira dealt with all of it shockingly well. From sharp and bumpy stuff to flat-out violent bits that’d make a trophy truck blush, I could feel the Emira’s conventionally damped compression and rebound work overtime to filter it all out. It’s still a sports car—it didn’t waft across the road like a Rolls. But for something sporting an enthusiast-focused chassis, low weight, and just 101 inches between its wheelbase, I was impressed. Who needs adaptive dampers when you’ve got low weight and a Lotus engineer’s legendary stamp of approval?

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

The same goes for its highway manners. Where the Evora GT would lightly dart around and tramline, the Emira felt more solid. It still tramlined ever so slightly here and there over particularly offensive SoCal highway asphalt, but it generally tracked forth with confidence, and that same nicely tuned compression and rebound gave it a very roadtrip-ready ride quality.

Here’s the thing: Lotus offers either what it calls a Sports or Touring suspension package for the Emira. The former is more focused on performance, whereas the latter is on the softer side. I had no qualms with Sports option ride over construction-equipment-beaten tarmac in the heart of Los Angeles gentrification. But for someone who is perhaps after even more comfort that bolsters daily-ability even further, I couldn’t fault them.

Then, when it came to noise, there was more of the wind and road variety than your average car while rolling along on the highway, but not to any annoying degree. Most folks would quickly check it off as something that goes with the territory in a little high-end sports car.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

The best part: a chassis Chapman would love

But where the Lotus Emira truly shined was where Lotuses have always been tuned for: twisty fun roads.

Setting out up Southern California’s Angeles Crest Highway, I took it easy at first to bring its tires up to temperature. At a mildly enthusiastic clip through its picturesque sweepers, I couldn’t help but smile in excitement—if body motion was this flat, and grip was this unbothered, I couldn’t wait to bump up the pace.

Once its 245-front and 295-rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s felt ready, I dipped the throttle and went to work balancing out the Emira’s inputs with bigger and bigger values. First and foremost, and perhaps what truly separates this British sports car from its competition, is its steering, which is pure bliss. Past a few degrees, the ratio felt nearly 1:1 with the angle of the nose, so much texture transmitted through the wheel, and its weight loaded up perfectly through every flavor of corner.

Why more manufacturers don’t spend a teeny bit more coin to throw a good old-fashioned hydraulic steering rack in their prized sports cars is beyond me. But I’m quite thankful that Lotus still does.

Equally brilliant was the Emira’s suspension and chassis tuning. That same feeling of unwavering, sure-footed grip at modest speeds never ceased at much higher paces. Its aluminum extruded and bonded chassis, plus double-wishbone suspension under each wheel arch and 40/60 distribution of just 3,212 pounds, meant there was very minimal sway under the hardest lateral G force. Like any good mid-engine chassis, once I got into a corner-carving rhythm, I never wanted it to end. 

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

It was such a wonderfully communicative experience as if I had a head-up display telling me every tenth of a percent change in weight balance across all four wheels. I felt so in tune with every little input. Traction control rarely intervened, too: This chassis is a little forgiving, but it was happy to reward well-balanced steering, acceleration, and braking inputs with shockingly high numbers on the speedometer.

The brakes were always up to the task of maintaining control and reigning you in. Behind its bright silver wheels live 14.5-inch front and 13.8-inch rear two-piece drilled rotors with four-piston AP Racing calipers, and they made for a brilliantly firm yet easy-to-modulate pedal. The pedal box itself is quite narrow, just like the Evora GT’s was, but the spacing makes for easy heel-toe downshifting. Overall, braking performance was quite good, though, after half an hour of hard use, they did start to exhibit some fade and vibration. Considering the Emira’s increased daily-friendly sports car appeal over the more focused Evora GT, this is easy to forgive.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

The other best parts: an engine and transmission like no other these days

People may poke fun from time to time at the Evora’s, and now Emira’s, Toyota Camry-sourced 3.5-liter V6, but Lotus could’ve fooled me of its origins. A massive air-to-water-cooled Edelbrock supercharger sits atop its intake valves and helps boost horsepower and torque to 400 and 310, respectively, which push the little Emira to 60 mph in as little as 4.2 seconds.

Its soundtrack is a beautiful mix of baritone V6 growl and supercharger whine. The latter is the most audible with as little glass as possible interrupting the aural fun—thus, it’s definitely a windows-down-as-much-as-possible experience. This thing’s anything but Camry-like. The way the mighty 3.5 revs up and bounces off the 6,800 rpm limiter is quite intoxicating and sounds like Lotus went to town with its own bespoke drivetrain and internal components. Such as a lightweight flywheel and some lightweight valvetrain work. If not, massive props for making me think it did.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson

Power builds linearly, as is characteristic of any supercharged powerplant, and it just does so with all the gusto you’d expect after taking one look at that prominently placed blower. Nobody would call 400 horsepower lacking in the pursuit of shoving 3,212 pounds down the road. The mighty 3.5-liter was too fun to rev up and down, and its baritone growl turned into an all-out baritone scream above 5,000 rpm. It’s also a powerband that takes commitment, as you want to make sure there’s plenty of clear road ahead to get the full experience.

It’s an engine and transmission that’s more than happy to be driven lightly short-shifted around town, too, which really bolsters its daily-ability. There’s ample torque down low, and transmitting it via the Emira’s six-speed manual transmission is a hoot, just like listening to its delightful soundtrack during every up-and-downward sweep of the tach needle. Never gets old.

I should point out that traction control was a tad loose on cold tires around town. One time, while jabbing the throttle during a low-speed 45-degree left turn onto a 35 mph street, I had to feed the wheel some hilarious counter steer and make a bit of a scene. Upon further investigation (the kind that makes this job too fun at times), it turns out that the Emira’s ECU will allow a little slip to keep its occupants entertained but then follows up with a throttle cut. Neat.

A few months back, I did a brief drive in a very fresh, sub-thousand-mile Emira. Between it, the Evora GT, and this Emira with around 5,000 miles on the clock, the latter’s gear shift felt the best. I chalk it up to the bushings and linkage being more broken in, like a comfortable pair of leather shoes. There was very little play and a good amount of spring, and engagement felt quite positive in every gear. However, it was still a bit stiff and took a careful wrist to shift quickly. Treating it like a gated unit and shifting more methodically made for a much happier harmony between the output shaft and cog, though some folks may not dig that.

2024 Lotus Emira
Image credit: Peter Nelson
What’s not?– Shifter action not quite on par with the rest of the inputs
– Steep price may be hard to justify against stiff competition
– Uhhh, ummm… Geez, lack of cons?

People better buy a lot of these things

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.

I’m really glad that Lotus is still at it and still makes stuff that’s quite nice to look at, to boot. The Emira may not be as hardcore as the old Evora GT was, but that just means a potential future Emira GT is worth crossing our fingers for. It costs a bit more than the more commonplace Porsche 718 Cayman GTS—in fact, it’s a considerable ten thousand or so dollars more. The Cayman’s steering may not quite stack up (though, I really want to find out for myself and report back), and it doesn’t mini McLaren, Ferrari, or other sharp, wedge-like mid-engine exotic. Though, that might not be enough to sway folks—only time will tell.

I’m glad the Emira is here and hope that by some stroke of luck, it sticks around for longer than its current reported prognosis. If you’re in the market, please take one for a spin and consider not only helping keep hydraulic-assisted power steering around, but also vivacious supercharger noises and brilliant, conventionally damped handling. We need to protect low-production sports cars like the Emira at all costs.

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Chevrolet Blazer EV
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV First Drive: An awesome range of cool but confusing electric crossovers

Ever since the EV1 of the late 1990s, General Motors has led the pack in forward-facing electric vehicle production. That first foray into electrification suffered an ignominious fate, sure, but soon enough, the Chevrolet Volt and then the Bolt carried on GM’s EV mantle—which most recently resulted in the absurdly gargantuan revival of the Hummer as a fully electric brute capable of crab-walking and four-wheeling alike. To an extent, the Volt, early Bolts, and especially the six-figure Hummer EV can be considered niche vehicles. Now, with the debut of a fully-electric 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet purposefully designed and engineered a crossover built for the purpose of converting a wider swath of EV holdouts.

The newly electrified Blazer joins two gasoline engine options to create a full run of eight different powertrain variants, even before selecting various trim and options packages. Is that too much for consumers? Well, at a recent media drive program in the hills of San Diego, Chevy introduced the new EV in a perfect setting to show off attractive design and impressive driving dynamics, as well as solid proof for every EV’s most important stat: real-world range.

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Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Price and specs

Note that not every tidbit of information is currently available at the time of publishing. MPGe for front or rear-drive variants are yet to be revealed on the fuel economy.gov website, and exact performance measurements are yet to be tested. Thankfully, this first drive event still gave us more than a clear enough view of what to expect from the Bowtie’s forthcoming cyberpunk soccer practice shuttle.

Base price:$44,995 (minus rebates)
As-test price:$60,215 (2RS AWD minus rebates)
Electric motor options:dual motor, front bar-wound, rear induction without magnet
Transmission:single-speed direct drive
Drivetrain options:front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive
Power:288 hp/212 kW combined (2RS AWD), 340 hp available for RWD, up to 557 hp (SS)
Torque:333 lb-ft/451 Nm combined (2RS AWD), 325 lb-ft available for RWD, up to 648 lb-ft (SS)
Weight:TBA
Zero-to-60 mph:TBA; approx. <4 seconds (SS)
ÂĽ-mile:TBA
MPGe:TBA (FWD, RWD), 103 city, 88 highway, 96 combined (AWD)
Battery Capacity:85 kWh (102 kWh available)
EPA Range:279 miles (up to 324 miles available)
Charging:150 kW DC fast charging (up to 190 kW available)
10-min fast charging capability:69 miles (RS AWD), 79 miles (RS RWD)

Exterior design

From more than 50 feet away, the ICE and EV Blazer siblings look nearly indistinguishable. But up close, GM’s Ultium chassis beneath the skin clearly allowed Chevrolet to scoot the wheels further out towards the EV’s corners, which creates a sportier form highlighted by slightly swoopier aero lines. Large 21-inch wheels, Y-shaped taillights, and an optional front light bar on highly equipped versions help to add a stylized futurist aesthetic in contrast to the more restrained ICE design.

Overall, the almost Mazda-esque shape comes together best on white, black, and silver Blazers, though some of the details add up to make brighter metallic colors a bit showy. A host of piano black plastic cladding, so popular on EVs these days, detracts from otherwise clean lines and fades away best when camouflaged by simpler paint jobs.

What’s hot?– Sporty and smooth driving dynamics for an electric crossover
– Prioritizing NVH makes the EV experience much more palatable
– Tech galore on a class-leading touchscreen
– Easy to just get in and drive

Chevrolet Blazer EV pricing breakdown

Chevrolet promised earlier this year that a base 1LT model Blazer EV would start at $44,995 minus any rebates and incentives, but the RS AWD trim on hand in San Diego ratchets that price tag up to just above $60,000 quite quickly. Filling mid-level slots in the gradewalk, the 2LT and RS FWD will cost $47,595 and $51,995, respectively.

Production of the AWD Blazers began in the summer, but other trims will begin assembly soon. Meanwhile, the highest-performance SS package offering 557 horsepower and 648 lb-ft of torque will be priced at $65,995, with deliveries slated for later in 2024.

Chevrolet Blazer EV interior and tech

Pushing all four wheels towards the Blazer’s corners only accentuates this EV’s interior volume. Four full-sized adults will fit with plenty of head and legroom, all without impinging on a best-in-class 59.8 cubic feet of rear trunk capacity (with the back seats upright). Beneath the trunk floor, a small cargo hold adds to that figure, flanked by flat tire kits in place of a full-size spare.

The interior design features fun retro-themed climate vents plus a fair amount of piano key switchgear and physical knobs, but the entire experience centers around a massive 17.7-inch panoramic touchscreen atop the dash. Plenty of adjustable drive mode settings and EV-specific navigation tools work seamlessly with Google’s Built-In program and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, of course. 

In fact, the Blazer EV dash can house up to four screens counting the main center display, the driver’s gauge cluster, a standard Head-Up Display, and an optional digital camera rearview mirror. Both the main touchscreen and gauge cluster allow for easy configuration and prioritization of common widgets, including an easy way to switch headlights on and off, plus even an off button for the whole vehicle (which so many EVs frustratingly lack).

Surprisingly, the higher RS package does not offer a panoramic roof, though the lower-spec LT trim does. The RS gets ventilated seats standard, however, which is an important detail on EVs given that less efficient air conditioning for the whole cabin can affect range so significantly. Whether most buyers select the undeniably excessive red upholstery seems dubious, though Chevrolet’s loaner fleet will highlight that package for eye-catching media photos.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Smooth (and sporty) operator

Chevrolet first set journalists loose to explore San Diego in a fleet of the rear-wheel-drive RS variants, which use a single 250-kilowatt motor putting down the equivalent of 340 horsepower. First impressions on a series of winding sweepers showed off the Blazer EV’s impressive chassis dynamics, which toe the line between smooth and sporty with minimal body roll thanks to the low-slung Ultium skateboard.

Punching the go pedal (can’t call it a throttle, after all) produces a quick moment of jerk (the scientific term for rate of change of acceleration, I’m serious) but never the same kind of rollercoaster stomach lurch as other high-performing electrics. “Peppy” describes the rear-wheel-drive RS best, but straight-line speed probably takes a second-row seat to its cornering and confidence. A thick steering wheel rim accentuates that athletic nature, with a surprising amount of weight and feedback for an adjustable electronically assisted rack.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Switching through various drive modes changes the level of steering assist, as well as acceleration tip-in, brake pedal response, and faux engine sounds. Acclimating to the maximum one-pedal drive mode takes some time before neck-snapping at liftoff smooths out, but luckily a lower level of regen is easily selectable, as well. A configurable “My Mode” allows for a better balance between the various settings, critically to entirely switch off the silly fake engine noises.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

All-wheel zap!

The next morning included far more drive time behind the wheel of an all-wheel-drive RS, which to the general confusion of everyone involved, actually combines for significantly less output than the single-motor rear-drive version. So yes, you read the above spec table correctly. In this case, a front 180-kW motor pairs with a small 67-kW helper motor at the rear axles to create a combined rating of only 288 horsepower, although max torque does increase to 333 pound-feet. That helper motor gives a bit of punch while cornering or on low-traction surfaces, but for the most part, the larger front motor handles power delivery, likely a concession to improved efficiency and, therefore, range.

The AWD RS similarly rides smooth and quiet, with plenty of pickup available up to around 50 miles an hour where pushing air starts to impinge on outright shove. Even running through canyons near Julian, California, where the composed suspension served as the star of the show, that questionable powertrain layout produced minimal torque steer despite its front-biased setup. Most importantly, while climbing 6,000 feet of elevation and then cruising back to sea level with plenty of journalistic exuberance and the A/C blasting, the AWD RS only pulled about 150 miles out of the fully charged 85-kWh battery to drive the full route’s 143-mile distance.

As posh and quiet as an EV should be

Not bad, Blazer. Not bad at all, and a good sign for the larger Ultium 102-kWh Ultium battery pack that will offer the option for an EPA-rated 324 miles of range. But probably the most impressive aspect of the Blazer EV can easily go unnoticed: the very hard work that GM put into reducing Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH). 

A square set of low rolling resistance Bridgestone Alenza A/S “Enliten” tires measures a respectable 275 millimeters wide at all four corners yet produces very little road hum even up to nearly triple-digit speeds. Mounting tires that wide on 21-inch wheels helps to minimize drag and maximize range but also contributes to the unshakeable stability of the Blazer while cornering hard in an effort to explore the limits of Chevy’s traction control and ESC programming. Only the occasional squeal of protest pushed the limits of the eco-focused rubber, and yet intervention by robot overlords never approached the edge of intrusiveness that many other electric powertrains struggle to exercise effectively.

The pre-production RWD RS did rattle a bit from the back seats, as perhaps expected. But the production version of the AWD RS almost approached Lucid levels of silence, an important factor due to the lack of an internal combustion engine to drown out little creaks and clunks. Similarly, while either ripping through canyons or rolling down the highway with adaptive cruise control on, minimal wind noise entered the cabin. (Of note: the Blazer EV will include an option for GM’s impressive Super Cruise Level 2+ autonomous driving system that works on over 400,000 miles of American roadway.) Even with the respectable sound system playing country music on low volume, the entire drive bordered on serene, which clearly points to the benefits that legacy automakers bring to the table when building mass-scale electric vehicles. 

What’s not?– Priced surprisingly high for a General Motors EV
– Exterior design can look busy on certain colors
– Electric range lagging behind industry leaders, including GM’s own Hummer and forthcoming Silverado

A fine electric crossover in a fiercely competitive battlefield

Will customers find the dizzying range of choices between three different drivetrain layouts—FWD, AWD, and RWD—plus the two battery sizes and unexpected output ratings, not to mention the duo of gasoline Blazers, simply too extensive to make an educated decision? Paralysis by analysis seems likely, and the RS nomenclature seems a bit odd for a low-spec front-biased all-wheel-drive layout. Navigating the configurator on Chevy’s website will almost require a spreadsheet.

And then the pricetag for the RS AWD, at $60,215 as tested, somehow ends up higher than a more luxurious, more eye-catching Cadillac Lyriq. Maybe GM is banking on the fact that most customers who wanted a bold EV will flock to the Caddy’s obviously futuristic styling, while the target base for Blazer will lean more towards conservative shapes and lines. Either way, reps on hand in San Diego believed the Blazer EV would also qualify for federal and local rebates, given GM’s massive investments into American manufacturing.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Still, after the Bolt and its EUV variant snatch up the lower end of the EV market, while the Hummer EV and forthcoming Silverado EV offer so much more range, the Blazer’s pricing and spec gradewalk might have been the biggest surprise of the entire San Diego experience. Anyone expecting performance on par with Teslas and Lucids—or even Hyundai and Kia’s higher-performance Ioniq 5 N or EV6 GT—will need to wait for the SS next year and prepare to shell out stacks of cash for the matching front and rear motors to truly max out the Blazer chassis. In the meantime, the lower spec Blazers will certainly serve as a wide range of perfectly respectable EV options that can cater to just about any potential buyer priorities and demographics.

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Honda MotoCompacto
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

Honda Motocompacto: Maybe the best “EV” of 2023

Once upon a time in early-1980s Japan, Honda Motor Company sold a tiny gasoline-powered scooter as a factory add-on to the Honda Today and City hatchbacks. Dubbed the Motocompo, the tiny scooter featured an air-cooled, two-stroke single-cylinder and handlebars designed to fold into a square body, and in folded form, specifically snug into the City’s trunk.

The point was to offer last-mile transportation around crowded city centers where parking, even then, presented challenges. Honda sold 53,369 Motocompos over three years, many of which collectors in the United States now prize as fun, vintage toys. But then, earlier this year and seemingly out of nowhere, Honda announced a successor to the Motocompo that doubled down on efficient design with a lightweight electric powertrain that cut the original’s overall weight in half. Finished in flat white with even better packaging, the appropriately named “Motocompacto” now weighs only 41.3 pounds, offers up to 12 miles of electric range, and costs just $995.

Honda held media rides for the Motocompacto in late October, and the very next week, my friend picked up two from Airport Marina Honda in West Los Angeles—amazingly, with zero wait time and no markup. As soon as he unboxed and charged the little scooters, I jetted over to test out their power and range for last-mile commuting, plus, of course, the fun factor of what I immediately thought might be quite possibly the best EV of the year.

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Honda MotoCompacto
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

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Price and specs

Base price:$995 + tax
As-tested price: $995 + tax
Weight:41.3 pounds
Power:250 watts, 0.33 horsepower (peak of 490 watts, 0.66 horsepower)
Torque:11.8 pound-feet
Drivetrain:front-wheel drive
Top speed (claimed):15 mph
Top speed (observed):23 mph
Zero-to-15 mph:7 seconds
Zero-to-60 mph:No.
ÂĽ-mile:>1 minute
Range:12 miles
Battery capacity: 6.8 amp-hours
Full charge: 3.5 hours (claimed)

Exterior design

Where the Motocompo’s diminutive size still needed to house an internal combustion engine, the Motocompacto’s electric battery and motor afforded Honda much more creativity in the design process. The result looks somewhat akin to a large briefcase from the Disney-Pixar movie Wall-E, and when folded measures just 3.7 inches wide, 29.2 inches long, and 21.1 inches tall. Compare those numbers to the Motocompaco, which measures 9.4 inches wide, 46.7 inches long, and 21.3 inches tall when all folded up. 

At half the weight, stowing the new Motocompacto in the back of a tiny hatchback becomes infinitely easier—and no gasoline or oil to worry about spilling, either. Part of the impressive design comes down to how Honda packaged the wheels, seat, and handlebars to fold inside the tiny white rectangle. Each Motocompacto arrived fully folded, and learning the process to get ready to ride does, admittedly, take a minute. 

Start out by folding up the handlebars, then rotating the bars on the tube until a locking clip can secure them upright. Next, hold the bars and lock in the tube at the base. From here, reach down into the briefcase and pull out the seat, straighten the seat tube and lock it into place, then push a button to slide down into a clasping sleeve. Then, pull and twist out a handle on the right side that releases the rear wheel rearward, then lock it into place. Spin out the two foot pegs and flip down the world’s cutest kickstand before double-checking your work. I practiced unfolding and folding the Motocompacto twice, and the process felt simple enough.

Honda MotoCompacto
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
What’s hot?– Nobody saw the Motocompo’s successor coming
– Crisp design, compact engineering
– Light enough to lift into the trunk, no problemo
– It’s a suitcase scooter!

Pricing breakdown

Honda and Acura dealers sell the Motocompacto for $995 plus tax, available only online via a dedicated website. Given the popularity on socials as soon as Honda revealed early imagery, plus supply chain issues still plaguing the automotive industry, a lack of wait lists and lead times surprised me when my friend picked up his two scooters with ease. (Whether that means $995 still sounds too high for a folding electric scooter remains a serious question.)

Motocompacto tech

The Motocompacto uses only one simple button for powering up, selecting between two ride modes, and powering down. The first mode, “Go Far,” prioritizes range and requires a kickoff to start rolling with the thumb throttle lever. The second mode, “Go Fast,” allows for pulling away with only throttle—an estimated range difference of one mile makes Go Fast the easy and obvious choice, though we all know that when it comes to EVs, that last mile can make all the difference in terms of range anxiety. And trust me, you’ll want top speed immediately!

I tried using the throttle without the rear wheel extended, and the Motocompacto is smart enough to prevent such shenanigans. Otherwise, the rest of the scooter’s data feeds to an impressive and intuitive smartphone app that displays the state of charge, location, lithium-ion battery temperature, and health, and offers the ability to lock the wheel (presumably to prevent theft, though the whole point of being able to carry the scooter like a briefcase makes this feature a bit silly).

Riding around town on the Motocompacto

After folding out the handlebars, seat, and rear wheel, the time quickly came to go for a ride around town. How far would we get before having to turn home? And how fast would we get there? Well, I can report that 15 miles per hour is not particularly fast compared to bicycles, e-bikes, and motorcycles. Smiles per hour, though, reach a maximum immediately. This little thing is fun! And everybody walking, driving, or riding by can’t help themselves either.

In terms of real speed, rider weight makes a big difference—Honda claims a maximum rider weight of 265 pounds, but my scooter accelerated noticeably slower, hauling me at 170 pounds versus my friend at 150 pounds. The 250 W motor (capable of a peak 490 W or just under 0.66 horsepower) powers the front wheel, too, which makes any additional heft while going uphill an even bigger struggle.

Honda MotoCompacto
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Downhill, though, I gained the advantage and saw 23 miles per hour on the digital screen as I hunched over in a full tuck to minimize my aero drag. Because we’re racing, obviously. And on the Motocompacto, with tiny handlebars and a reverse-facing stem, 23 miles an hour feels very fast indeed. Rather than steering with my hands or leaning, I began simply wiggling my hips to turn and swerve. Eventually, I found a flow and wondered how the Motocompacto might perform really racing around a little coned-off course.

Honda’s decision to use solid rubber tires rather than tubed or tubeless tires explains at least partially why 23 miles per hour feels so fast. Every bump reverberates through the white plastic straight to the handlebars and seat. And the concept of grip flies right out the window. Simply leaning back or putting a foot down makes front-wheel burnouts easy. The single cable-operated rear brake also produces quick slides when yanked hard enough—luckily, a handlebar-mounted bell should alert any pedestrians, cars, or other riders while coming in hot.

What’s not?– Build quality not quite up to Honda’s high historical standards
– Zero suspension, solid tires
– Still kind of expensive for a toy

Functional Last-Mile Transportation or Fun Little Toy?

The original Motocompo’s function as a form of last-mile transportation thoroughly shines through in the Motocompacto’s design and engineering. Imagine parking more than a few blocks from work in busy Tokyo or Los Angeles, then pulling out a little scooter that takes up minimal trunk space, unfolding it quickly, and zipping along into the office. No more getting sweaty riding a bike, no Uber apps or dead batteries on rideshare scooters, and nothing to leave on the neighbor’s lawn or blocking someone’s garage door every… single… damned night in a row. I’m not mad. You’re mad.

For that purpose, the Motocompacto actually outshines its predecessor—no gas fumes, no whining two-stroke engine, and it can fully charge up at work on any standard 110-volt outlet in only 3.5 hours. And that’s when using all 12 miles of range rather than just a few blocks going here and there! 

If anything, I suspect that softer tires would go a long way towards making the Motocompacto feel more solidly built, just to reduce rattling while rolling down the road. But other little build quality issues cropped up, too. That flimsy pull-and-twist rear wheel release lever scraped and scratched one of my friend’s Motocompactos on the first few uses, and dirty shoes left marks on the folding picnic table-esque white plastic pretty quickly. 

Honda MotoCompacto
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

But throw in the style points, even if I wish it came with red graphics and Honda Performance Development decals, and this scooter starts to blur the line between a last-mile solution and a fun toy. All the better for Honda moving units, but at around a grand, many consumers may still find the Motocompacto something of a steep proposition for either use case. The e-bike industry keeps following Moore’s Law, as well—batteries and motors getting more powerful and cheaper simultaneously—but most still cost far more than a Motocompacto.

And no e-bike or scooter folds up quite as well, without a doubt. Maybe the biggest bummer? Honda still won’t sell the adorable E electric hatchback here in the States to perfectly match the Motocompacto in purpose and style. Instead, selling the Motocompacto as a separate unit, rather than a Honda Civic or CR-V add-on as with the original City and Today, leaves an obvious gap in the marketing plan. Come on, Honda, commit to the perfect combo for city-slickin’ EV owners here in the USA! Then, a Motocompacto at $995 would definitely make for a hell of a deal.

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Acura MDX Type S
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

Acura MDX Type S: A performance crossover with plenty of plush and just enough bite

“Come on, kids. Time for school! Yes, I know you’re late, but that’s not my fault your brother wanted to sleep in like a deadbeat. Now come on! We can still make it on time since we got the 2024 Acura MDX Type S and all 355 of its shirt-tearing, rip-snorting horsepower! What’s that, son? Sport+ all the way to school? You bet,” said some parent somewhere, probably. Okay, probably not, but I would. Okay, maybe not, but you get what I’m trying to say.

It’s time for me to throw some sensibility in with my usual dose of sportiness, and the 2024 Acura MDX Type S can do just that. Or at least it should, being the hotted-up performance variant of the standard MDX three-row family SUV that Acura has been touting since the early 2000s, with this current iteration having started its generation for 2022. From a distance, you may not think much of it. You could mistake it for a mere A-Spec, with it being not all that aggressive as far as performance crossovers or other Type S Acuras go. But then you start to raise an eyebrow at the red-painted Brembos and quad-tip exhaust outlets and wonder what Acura was cooking when they plucked this fairly average family SUV off the line. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that the final dish is quite the morsel.

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Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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

Price and specs

At $75,295, the MDX Type S ain’t cheap unless your idea of a posh family SUV has Alpina or AMG in the name. What you do get for that pretty penny is a fairly loaded, well-optioned vehicle that has just a bit of everything for everybody, as we’ll soon discuss. The Type S treatment also swaps out the normie MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 for a 3.0-liter, twin-scroll, single-turbo mill belching out a healthy 65 horsepower and 87 pound-feet atop the standard engine’s output. Acura’s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is standard, as is the 10-speed auto.

Base price:$68,150
As-tested price:$75,295
Engine:3.0-liter twin-scroll single-turbo V6
Transmission:10-speed automatic 
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:355 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
Torque:354 pound-feet @ 1,400 rpm
Redline:6,200 rpm
Weight:4,741 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:5.4 seconds
ÂĽ-mile:14.0 seconds @ 101 mph
MPG:17 city, 21 highway, 19 combined
Observed MPG:18.3
Fuel Capacity:18.5 gallons

(Author’s Note: Performance numbers reflected in Car and Driver’s review from August 2022)

MDX Type S exterior design

“Mm, yes, this SUV is made of SUV. “

The MDX isn’t a particularly remarkable design, even with the mild dose of added aggression afforded by the Type S moniker. But I will say what’s remarkable is how unremarkable it is. It’s an appreciably tasteful and inoffensive design, devoid of the garish mugs that adorn other cars in its field, such as those from Lexus or BMW. But its creases and angles just keep it interesting enough to have it stand out from the overly-rounded blobs from Audi or Mercedes.

Frankly, I like it! But those seeking something more extroverted and shouty may wish for something with even more visual wow factor.

The decision years ago to ditch the Acura silver beak and adopt a traditional grille in the same shape has to be one of the strongest moves for the brand’s design language, and it gives the MDX a “just right” face that, while it may not attract the showy types, certainly won’t offend the more reserved buyers either. The quad-tip exhausts, red brake calipers, and machined wheels of the Type S are just sporty and modern enough, although the car could be more aggressive given its raucous-looking TLX and Integra stablemates. The lower-slung profile and somewhat elongated snout make the MDX slightly reminiscent of a bloated hatchback or a tubby station wagon, especially with the air suspension at its lowest height, and I mean that in the most respectful way possible.

What’s hot?– Buttery smooth powerhouse of an engine
– Drive modes for any occasion
– Admirable handling and steering
– Posh, airy interior earns its luxury car status
– Logical interior layout with physical switchgear
– Excellent second-row seating accommodations

MDX Type S pricing breakdown

The MDX Type S, even at its most affordable “base” trim, is no cheap bargain. At $68,150 before destination, you still get the adaptive air suspension (adaptive shocks plus air springs), LED headlights and taillights, auto rain-sensing wipers, Acura’s 12.3-inch display with the touchpad controller, and a glass panoramic roof. Step up to our tester’s $73,500 Advance trim, and Acura throws in quilted leather upholstery, a fancier set of machined 21-inch wheels, an upgraded 25-speaker ELS STUDIO 3D audio system, and 9-way massage seats for front occupants. Fancy! Acura’s suite of safety tech is standard across all models and includes traffic sign recognition, collision avoidance, lane keep assist, blind spot monitors, and adaptive cruise.

Add $1,195 destination charges and our tester’s $600 Liquid Carbon paint, $459 illuminated door sills, and $188 Acura logo puddle lamps, and we’re sitting at a lofty $75,295, a big step above similar rivals from a continent over. However, unlike those rivals, the MDX Type S comes fairly well-specced out of the box, even in its most spartan form, while its peers are more likely to nickel and dime you for every little option and package. Still, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a value deal, but it’s certainly of its class.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

MDX Type S interior and tech

A luxury interior for those with Old World sentiments

Such opulence. Much wow. If this is the very best Honda can pull off, then I’d call it a resounding success. The MDX Type S is nice! I mean, it better be for the price. I expected it to be. But I’ve grown more smitten than I thought I would with the interior design and fit.

Everything just feels properly snapped together and screwed in without the slightest creak to be heard, even after the long life I’m sure this press car had. Interior panels were sturdy, what plastics existed throughout felt dense and robust, and the infotainment screen was appreciably complimented by a suite of hard buttons that all actuated with a premium, satisfying click. How simple. If hard buttons are the first to be dated and left behind, then I don’t want to get with the times. Hard buttons are cool, people! They’re cool, especially when they’re this tactile.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The leather seats were plush and supportive, although the second-row seats could be a tad bit softer. At least they’re adjustable and feature their own chargers, climate controls, and a fold-down center armrest and cupholders when the generous-ish center seat isn’t in use. Rear cargo space is expectedly meh with the surprisingly usable third-row seats up but more than accommodating with them folded down, giving plenty of room for week-long excursions, beach days, and maybe a couple of mountain bikes with the front wheels removed. Perhaps it’s just me, but it’s refreshing to see the cargo area as airy as the rest of the cabin, devoid of spare tire kits, tool sets, or ill-fitting folding seats that eat away at space.

Loads of tech, not all of it so cool

As previously mentioned, the MDX Type S comes standard with a whole starter pack of safety tech, all of which serve noble purposes to keep you from pancaking yourself against a wall or truck. As we’ll soon discuss in further detail, everything works decently well, from the adaptive cruise to the 360-degree parking cameras when in reverse. It’s great stuff, but nothing new under the sun.

What isn’t so great is the controversial touchpad, akin to what aroused ire in Lexus models before making their way to Acura’s side of the street. Similar to them, it’s a haptic-feedback method of navigating the infotainment screen via an auxiliary tracking pad to keep the glass free of your filthy, disgusting prints. Because “resale value,” I suppose. The fact is any infotainment system that needs a learning curve warrants a sigh and an eyebrow raise from me, but its ease of use soon made itself apparent over the course of my loan.

The MDX is a proper luxury crossover

A lavish chariot for a thousand-mile commute

As you’d expect, the Acura MDX Type S is an easy choice for a daily driver. Enthusiasts will appreciate its blend of sportiness and power in every commute, and the average suburbanite will love, well, pretty much almost everything, from its supple ride quality to the spacious cabin.

The glass roof earns chef’s kisses for shining much-appreciated light into the already-airy cabin, helping shine the sun on the red leather upholstery and open-pore black wood trim and reinforcing nightclub vibes when the sun goes down and the ambient lighting turns up! The abundance of glass greatly helps with visibility, bolstered by bind spot monitors that help make the MDX just as usable as a downtown LA runabout as it is rocketing down the 405. 

Just know that the unremarkable fuel economy off of the 405 will remind you of olden times just as much as the interior’s collection of hard buttons will. I saw about 18-ish combined in my mostly city driving, but at least I beat the EPA highway estimate, scoring between 23 and 25 mpg when traveling between 70 and 80 mph on most stretches of freeway.

The high-mounted screen, digital gauge cluster, and heads-up display keep all necessary information within a glance, if not in your peripheral. And the safety aids work wonders in nearly all driving scenarios. As discovered in the spunky little pocket rocket that is the Integra Type S, adaptive cruise with lane keep works fairly well at kinda-sorta-not-really self-driving. 

How all that tech works on the road

However, unlike the Integra, which tracked commendably straight and centered in its lane, the MDX would occasionally ping-pong between lanes. At the very least, it’d track straight but heavily favor one side of the lane or the other. It didn’t do this all the time, but it did so more than enough during my six-day stint, and I’m sure Acura can easily iron it out with some minor software updates.

The touchpad turned out to be fairly simple to get the hang of within a day or so, but there are some functions you may wish to use, such as adjusting screen settings or the massage seats, that may require more than a quick peek for you to get right. Again, it wasn’t a big pain, and it wound up being more functional than any similar system I had used before, but the fact there’s a learning curve in the first place still incited annoyance, especially when the Civic-based Integra gets to keep its touchscreen. There’s the easy fix! Just move the screen closer by a couple inches and make it touchscreen! Bam.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Now it’s time to top off this compliment sandwich because there’s one bit of tech in the MDX I find quite infallible: that adaptive air suspension is God’s gift to the world. It can be sporty and firm when needed and perfectly supple otherwise. But even in Sport+, the ride is still compliant enough to take potholes and expansion joints with little fuss. It’s height adjustable, too, with up to 50 millimeters of lift available up to 37 mph for thick snow or water crossing. Clever! Every luxury crossover, no matter the brand, should dabble in air suspension at this price point, and the fact we can have it on what’s technically a Honda product is nothing short of spectacular. Speedbumps and road debris, be damned.

The Type S badge carries weight but could be better

Just sporty enough

The MDX Type S has some real pep in its step with the dance moves to match, more than I thought it would, and enough to put weight on that Type S badge. This soccer practice shuttle should have no problem catapulting the kids from the living room to the local game in no time at all.

The aforementioned 3.0-liter V6 is a soldier and a sweetheart in one, belching out just enough power to shove you back in your seat without inducing unwanted browning of the trousers. Plucked from the TLX Type S, it sports a reinforced block, squared bore and stroke, and forged internals to create the perfect tuner-ready canvas. Not that it’s lacking in grunt or anything. Of course, the stock 355 horsepower pushing a 4,700-pound SUV doesn’t sound like much in today’s world, but it’s more than enough, partly thanks to the snappiness of the heavily-revised 10-speed auto.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Four-piston, 14.3-inch front Brembos be brembing (new verb for the dictionary, someone get on that), doing a great job of reigning the MDX down from the lofty speeds it’s capable of without overheating, at least at canyon pace. In Sport and Sport+, the air springs sag 15 millimeters while the adaptive dampers stiffen slightly. Bunched with double-wishbone front suspension and Acura’s acclaimed Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, the result is an eager, nimble, and competent canyon toy for when the kids’ soccer match is atop Angeles Crest.

The SH-AWD system can send 70% of its power to the rear wheels and 100% of that power allotment to either the left or right wheel, which did wonders to quell understeer and help rotate around hairpins. In other words, this thing handles! Even the steering is precise and has an impressive degree of communication, going so far as to lighten up when the front wheels unload to inform you of road surface changes or a loss in front traction. The only real limiting factor was the Continental performance all-seasons, which let out faint howls in some of Angeles Crest’s tighter bends, but that’s nothing Michelin Pilot Sport SUVs can’t fix.

The MDX rips! It tears! Dare I say it even shreds? This three-row, seven-seater luxury crossover is genuinely fun. Ah, life is good. But it could be better.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Needs more bite to match its bark!

Yes, the MDX Type S is appreciably quick and plenty sharp. But it could be quicker. It could be sharper. It could turn in with even more ferocity and have the thrust needed to topple Civic Type Rs and Hyundai Elantra Ns. It could have a 10-speed that’s fully manual when hopping on the paddles and doesn’t auto-upshift at redline. But it doesn’t.

I’m unsure if that’s simply what the Type S badge means and if the ankle-biting Integra is the outlier, or if the Integra set the new benchmark and all other Type S Acuras should follow. But the MDX Type S is just a smidge too gentle for the message it wants to convey. It seems to occupy the same realm as the BMW X3 M40i and Audi SQ5, which are admittedly smaller but ring in at a lower base price and are much quicker. I’d liken it more to other big three-rows like the Audi SQ7 or BMW X5 M50i, but those monsters sticker for tens of thousands of dollars more and rock twin-turbo V8s pushing way more oomph.

Maybe it is I who fails to fully grasp the true identity of the Type S brand, having only experienced the Integra before this. Or perhaps I’m right. Maybe the Type S cars are just a quick ECU tune and a set of sticker summer rubber away from absolute perfection. 

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
What’s not?– Could be faster
– Could be sharper
– Trackpad is a learning curve
– Unremarkable fuel economy
– Reserved styling may not be sporty enough
– Steep price tag encroaches on fierce rivals

An admirable product with plenty of posh and a splash of sizzle

The Acura MDX Type S has proven to be quite the underrated gem that I wish more people spoke about. But I get that its performance and price put it in an awkward position.

It seemingly has many direct rivals and none at all, leaving the Type S to be a purchase choice solely on you. Is it faster or slower than the next car? Is it bigger or roomier than the next car? If you’re really looking at the Type S above all trim levels, then who cares? This is a car you buy because it’s different, not necessarily a standout. And that’s to be taken in the most respectful way possible. It’s the ability to feel so distinct that makes it an all-star in its own right.

Acura MDX Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

If you want it, then clearly, you want it. Clearly, you’re keen on snagging a vehicle that seeks to make a statement against its peers while also living in its own little world of luxury and athleticism, free of the stigma of most German contenders and the gaudy mug of other Japanese options. If that’s your vibe, status without the stigma, then the Acura MDX is an easy go-to, granted you can get along with the touchpad controller. And if inoffensive high performance is a big plus for you, then the MDX Type S might just seal the deal.

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