Friday, 25 September 2020

2021 Lexus GX Review

2021 Lexus GX

Overview


Lexus's GX SUV has been around for a very long time, and although it doesn't follow the same formula as most modern luxury crossovers—it's built on a separate frame, like old-style, pickup truck-based SUVs—its charms lie in its off-road capability and quiet cabin. 

Speaking of its cabin, the GX offers space for up to seven thanks to three rows of seats, so families can explore nature or take road trips in relative comfort. 

2021 Lexus GX

A 4.6-liter V-8 is the only engine choice and, while it isn't particularly fuel efficient, it makes 301-hp and drives all four-wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Where the GX shows its age the most is in its available technology features. 

An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard, but the software interface isn't as up-to-date as in more modern Lexus models such as the LS and ES sedans or the UX subcompact SUV; it even lacks common connectivity features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

But aside from the Land Rover Defender, the GX is one of few options remaining in the mid-size luxury SUV segment that can legitimately be used off-road.

2021 Lexus GX

What's New for 2021?

Lexus has made few changes to its aging GX SUV for 2021, but it has added a Premium Plus trim between the mid-range Premium and top-spec Luxury models. 

It comes standard with a power-operated third-row of seats and a Mark Levinson premium stereo system. The GX's infotainment system now offers Amazon Alexa compatibility. A heated wood-and-leather steering wheel is now optional on the Premium and Premium Plus models.

2021 Lexus GX

Pricing and Which One to Buy


The base-model 2021 Lexus GX460 comes with enough standard features to please most buyers in this segment. 

This SUV rolls on standard 18-inch wheels, and all models are equipped with exterior amenities such as automatic LED headlights, daytime running lights, illuminated running boards, and heated power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals. 

2021 Lexus GX

Ten-way power-adjustable front seats and a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering column are on hand to help you find an ideal position behind the wheel. 

The cabin is also home to standard features such as keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, faux-leather upholstery, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. 

All GX SUVs comes with driver-assistance amenities such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance.

2021 Lexus GX

Engine, Transmission, and Performance


The 2021 Lexus GX continues to offer just one engine: a 4.6-liter V-8 that generates 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque. This power-plant is teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. 

Lexus's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System is standard, and this setup aims to boost traction during off-road adventures. The GX cruises from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. 

2021 Lexus GX

However. An 2021 Audi Q7 with the available V-6 does the sprint in 6.1 seconds, and a BMW X5 xDrive50i covers the same distance in a scant 4.2 seconds. The GX exhibits relatively smooth handling on paved streets, but it is in its element when taken off-road. 

Its sturdy underpinnings and 8.1 inches of ground clearance make this SUV an excellent choice for buyers who need a vehicle that's at home in the great outdoors. A 6500-pound towing capacity bolsters its versatility.

2021 Lexus GX

Fuel Economy

The GX won't win any awards for fuel economy. According to the EPA, this all-wheel-drive SUV achieves mileage of just 15/19 mpg city/highway. That puts it well behind rival luxury SUVs such as the Lincoln Aviator, which gets 17/24 mpg when equipped with all-wheel drive.

2021 Lexus GX

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Lexus gave the GX its last full redesign all the way back in 2010, and this is perhaps my reason for the somewhat dated appearance of its cabin. 

The interior is home to wood and leather that looks appropriately deluxe, but there are also some hard plastics that seem out of place in a vehicle in this price range. 

2021 Lexus GX

Front-row passengers enjoy pleasant accommodations and a lofty seating position, but the second-row seats are surprisingly flat and hard, and the third row is a cramped space best left for kids.

To its credit, the GX does a great job of keeping road noise out of the cabin, and the interior remains tranquil even when the vehicle is being driven at high speeds. 

2021 Lexus GX

This Lexus provides 11.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and 46.7 cubic feet behind the second. With the second and third rows folded, cargo space jumps to 64.7 cubic feet. 

This is less room than you'll get in rival models such as the Audi Q7 (14.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 35.7 cubic feet behind the second, and 69.6 cubic feet behind the first).

2021 Lexus GX

Infotainment and Connectivity


The GX offers an appealing range of tech amenities. Base models come with a nine-speaker audio setup and an infotainment system governed by an 8.0-inch touchscreen. 

Standard Bluetooth connectivity facilitates hands-free phone calls, and all models come with SiriusXM satellite radio. 

The selection of available tech features includes a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system and integrated navigation. 

The options list also includes a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

2021 Lexus GX

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The 2021 Lexus GX hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 

However, this SUV comes equipped with driver-assistance features that can help you avoid accidents. 

Key safety features include:

  •  Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  •  Standard lane-departure warning
  •  Standard adaptive cruise control
  • 2021 Lexus GX
    Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

When it comes to warranty coverage, Lexus outpaces rivals such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

  •  Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  •  Power-train warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
  •  Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 years or 10,000 miles.
  • 2021 Lexus GX




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Thursday, 24 September 2020

2021 Jeep Cherokee Review


 

Overview


The 2021 Jeep Cherokee separates itself from the typical compact crossover with class-leading off-road and towing capabilities. Its Jeep genealogy will appeal to outdoorsy types, some of whom may actually need a vehicle that can handle driving beyond where the pavement ends. 

While the Cherokee's bloated fa├žade will get few Instagram likes, the rugged Trailhawk model is more visually and mechanically exciting—especially with its enhanced drivetrain and other exclusive equipment. All Cherokee models can be had with all-wheel drive, and there's a solid selection of engines, including a stout V-6 and a torquey turbocharged four-cylinder. 

Still, folks who don't intend to capitalize on the 2021 Cherokee's 4500-pound max towing capacity or ever leave pavement will be disappointed with its poor fuel economy, limited cargo space, and questionable value.

What's New for 2021?


For 2021, Jeep gives the Cherokee several newly standard active safety features. These include automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and more. 

The lineup also benefits from reshuffled standard features. For instance, the base model adds heated exterior mirrors and one-touch up/down front side windows; the Trailhawk adds a heated steering wheel and front seats as well as remote start. 

There's also a new 80th Anniversary Edition that's based on the Latitude LUX trim level, so it inherits all the same standard features. Highlights include Granite Crystal 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery with contrast stitching, power-adjustable front seats, the larger 8.4-inch touchscreen, a panoramic sunroof, and more.

Pricing and Which One to Buy


I'd choose the Trailhawk model, which gets the stout V-6 as standard. An advanced all-wheel-drive system that features a locking rear differential is included, too. 

Other desirable standard features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a full-size spare tire, red tow hooks, a matte-black hood decal, an off-road suspension that increases the ride height, and 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires. 

I'd also select the Trailer Tow package, which unlocks the Cherokee's maximum towing capacity of 4500 pounds.


Engine, Transmission, and Performance


The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is joined by an optional 3.2-liter V-6 and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The latter makes 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque (56 lb-ft more than the V-6) and slots at the top of the powertrain pyramid. 

The four-cylinder Cherokee has less towing capacity (4000 pounds maximum towing capacity versus the V-6 Cherokee's towing capacity of 4500 pounds). 

As you'd expect from a Jeep, the Cherokee drives with heftiness and solidity, making it feel larger than its rivals. Despite its off-road abilities, the Cherokee is still based on a car, meaning it provides a comfortable ride and decent handling on the road. 

Relatively firm suspension tuning controls body roll in corners without compromising the ride quality. Impacts are absorbed without much excess reverberation, and the Jeep never feels floaty on the highway, but it's nicely weighted and accurate. 

A firm-feeling brake pedal engenders calm in panic-braking scenarios, and the Cherokee's 70-mph-to-zero emergency-braking performance is average for its class.

Fuel Economy


The Cherokee has among the worst fuel economy in its compact-crossover and SUV segment, according to the EPA, the EPA estimates for either four-cylinder version  aren't much higher than those for the V-6.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo


With supportive seats and easy-to-use controls, the Cherokee's cabin is comfortable. An attractive dashboard that mimics the larger and more expensive Grand Cherokee's layout helps cultivate an upscale feel. 

However, given that the Cherokee is larger on the outside than many of its competitors, I'd expect it to feel more spacious on the inside. Small windows and high windowsills contribute to the feeling of confinement. 

The Cherokee's cargo area is smaller than most vehicles this size, and interior cubby storage is average at best. It's more difficult to load items into the rear than into some of its rivals due to the Jeep's high lift-over height. 

In addition, its cargo area is significantly smaller than top rivals such as the Ford Escape (34 cubes) and the Honda CR-V (39).


Infotainment and Connectivity


The Jeep's available Uconnect infotainment system is among the best in the business, with well-organized menus and ample features. The standard touchscreen measures 7.0 inches and the larger option is 8.4 inches. 

Starting on the Latitude Plus trim, every model adds two USB ports on the back of the center console for use by rear-seat passengers. Every Cherokee has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot is available.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features


The 2021 Cherokee earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the last version the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluated wasn't named a Top Safety Pick. 

Jeep now provides an array of standard driver-assistance technology as well as several optional assists. 

Key safety features include:

  •  Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
  •  Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  •  Standard blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert

    Warranty and Maintenance Coverage


    The Cherokee's warranty coverage is average for its class. Competitors such as the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson are the only rivals that offer significantly longer power-train warranties. 

    The Cherokee is available with the Jeep Wave ownership program, which provides original owners with complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first two years. 

    The Jeep Wave program is standard and Overland and Trailhawk models, but customers of lesser Cherokees can opt-in by paying a fee.

    •  Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
    •  Power-train warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
    •  Complimentary maintenance is covered for four visits over two years.




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    Wednesday, 23 September 2020

    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

     

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Overview


    Of Jeep's many SUV offerings, none so effortlessly blends the brand's off-road ethos with refined road manners quite like the Grand Cherokee. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    To accommodate every lifestyle, Jeep offers a wide variety of Grand Cherokee models, from the affordable Laredo to the classy Summit trim. 

    The standard V-6 should suit most buyers' needs, but for those who want a little more grunt, Jeep offers a potent 360-hp V-8. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Those with adventure on their minds should consider the Trailhawk, which comes with a two-speed transfer case, an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, hill-descent control, Kevlar-reinforced tires, and an air suspension that provides additional ground clearance. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Inside, the Grand Cherokee offers a comfortable cabin with room for four adults over two rows of seats. 

    A touchscreen infotainment system and plenty of connectivity features help the GC feel current, but Jeep's driver-assistance tech is mostly optional, even though several of its rivals offer such features as standard.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Pricing and Which One to Buy

    Jeeps offers a Grand Cherokee for every taste and budget. The Limited includes a good amount of luxury items, such as leather seats (heated in front), Uconnect infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces, and 18-inch wheels. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    I'd consider ordering the new Sun and Sound package to get the panoramic sunroof and upgraded Alpine stereo system. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but Jeep purists can opt for all-wheel drive for between $2000 and $3000 more, depending on the trim level.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee


    Engine, Transmission, and Performance

    Your Grand Cherokee will come with a V-6 unless you opt for the V-8, available only on Limited trims and above. The base engine pulls strongly and transmits very little vibration into the cabin, so it's the power-plant I prefer. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    It's well matched to the Grand Cherokee's heft, and it does an admirable job of motivating this SUV around town and on the highway. No matter the configuration, the Grand Cherokee has brawny towing capacity—6200 pounds for V-6 models, 7200 pounds with the V-8—that kicks its usefulness up another notch. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    There's nothing sporty about this utility vehicle, though. Rough stretches of pockmarked pavement send shivers through the chassis and into the cabin. 

    The optional air suspension appears to remedy this, which provided a more refined ride. The steering is precise and has a nice heft to it. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    The Jeep tracks straight, which makes for laid-back highway cruising. Soft in its first couple inches of travel, the Grand Cherokee's brake pedal firms up quickly, and performance is on par with the rest of the class. 

    For those seeking the ultimate in GC performance, check out the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, which I will review separately.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Fuel Economy


    With the V-6 under its hood, the Grand Cherokee is fuel efficient by SUV standards. The V-8 may have greater towing capacity, but it's noticeably thirstier.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

    Stepping into the Grand Cherokee's cabin provides either a sense of ruggedness or luxury depending on the model. 

    The contoured dashboard houses an infotainment touchscreen atop chunky redundant buttons and controls, and a 7.0-inch LCD display in the instrument cluster is flanked by analog gauges. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Jeep designers use soft-touch materials and leather where it counts—armrests, upper door panels, the dashboard—but hard plastic persists elsewhere. Behind its second row of seats, the Grand Cherokee has space for 11 carry-on cases. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee


    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    That count expands to 24 when the rear seat is folded, which splits in a 60/40 fashion; the operation is neat and tidy, too, requiring just one action to release the headrest and flop the seat down to its flat position.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Infotainment and Connectivity


    Jeep's excellent Uconnect infotainment system is one of my favorites for its ease of use and snappy response times. A dinky 5.0-inch display is standard.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    I'd recommend stepping up to the large 8.4-inch touchscreen. Available rear-seat entertainment and in-car Wi-Fi make the Grand Cherokee a movie theater on wheels. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    A six-speaker audio system comes standard, with the option of SiriusXM satellite radio. An array of more advanced setups—including a six-speaker Boston Acoustics stereo, a nine-speaker Alpine system, and a 19-speaker Harman/Kardon arrangement—are available on certain trims.

    2021 Jeep Cherokee

    Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

    The Grand Cherokee did not perform well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small-overlap front crash test, but it still offers a comprehensive list of driver-assistance features

    Unfortunately the only active safety feature that comes standard is blind-spot monitoring. 

    2021 Jeep Cherokee


    Key safety features include:

    •  Available automated emergency braking
    •  Available lane-departure warning
    •  Available adaptive cruise control

    • 2021 Jeep Cherokee
    • Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
    • The Jeep's warranty is nothing special. The Kia Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe both provide much better plans, including 10-year power-train warranties and five years of bumper-to-bumper coverage.
    2021 Jeep Cherokee

     Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles

    •  Power-train warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
    •  Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years on Overland, Trailhawk, High Altitude, and Summit models.
    • 2021 Jeep Cherokee




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    Tuesday, 22 September 2020

    2020 Audi S4 Review

     

    2020 Audi S4

    Overview


    Based on the already dynamically pleasing 2020 Audi A4, the 2020 S4 adds horsepower and a sport-tuned suspension to the mix to dial in the performance. 

    2020 Audi S4


    All-wheel drive is standard and the S4 is powered by a 349-hp turbocharged V-6 engine that hustles this four-door along—how's 4.3 seconds to 60 mph sound? 

    2020 Audi S4

    The S4 has the moves, too, and it's never met a twisty stretch of road it couldn't conquer. This sports sedan means business—serious business. 

    And that's why it's not my favorite, despite its capability. Driving it feels a bit too clinical

    2020 Audi S4

    It's lacking the emotional appeal that makes great cars exciting to drive, qualities that make rivals such as the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia more appealing. 

    Still, when it comes to being a well-made, very quick, well-rounded sports sedan, the S4 is one of the best on sale today.

    2020 Audi S4

    Pricing and Which One to Buy

    Upgrading from the base Premium model doesn't add more horsepower or driving excitement, but the $2500 leap to the mid-range Premium Plus does add a handful of luxuries that buyers in this segment may feel are essentials. 

    Among them are a wireless smartphone-charging pad, keyless entry with push-button start, the Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, blind-spot monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors.

    2020 Audi S4

    Engine, Transmission, and Performance


    All S4s ship with a 349-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that syncs with an eight-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. 

    The engine response and exhaust sound—both hugely important characteristics of a sports sedan—are less visceral than expected. 

    Despite its subdued engine character and lack of manual transmission, the V-6 delivered substantial thrust on demand, seamlessly transitioning between relaxed and responsive. 

    2020 Audi S4

    Also impressive is its automatic gearbox, which has reactions that seems so perceptive. Looking at the numbers, the S4 ranks above most competitors in performance. 

    Still, the experience lacks the emotion and sharp handling responses of top rivals. Its chassis is its greatest strength, with tautly controlled body motions and compliant damping that make it equal parts sports and luxury sedan. 

    2020 Audi S4

    The S4 is very precise and easy to control; its accurate steering, excellent cornering stability, and tenacious grip on the tarmac boosts confidence to torpedo on-ramps—but it also cruises calmly around town. 

    Although the brakes are tremendously responsive, they are touchy at city speeds. The fluctuating feedback also interrupted the fun on curvier sections of road where the brake pedal could feel too soft.

    2020 Audi S4

    Fuel Economy 


    The EPA estimates the 2020 S4 will earn 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. 

    Those numbers are down from the previous model year when the Audi was rated at 21 mpg city and 30 highway.

    2020 Audi S4

    Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

    Audi is a benchmark of interior quality, and the S4 is further evidence of this. 

    Every cabin is trimmed with marvelous materials and standard features such as diamond-stitched sports seats with massage features. 

    2020 Audi S4

    Along with impeccable fit and finish, the interior is racy and luxurious. The flat-bottomed steering wheel, straightforward controls, and highly adjustable seat provide an exceptional driving position. 

    Despite having a 13-cubic-foot trunk—tied for smallest in its class with the Mercedes-AMG C43 sedan—the S4 holds an impressive number of carry-ons. 

    2020 Audi S4

    While its interior storage is average, the sedan can store a variety of loose items and personal belongings provided that they're not too big. 

    Compared with the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, the Audi is a much better travel companion. I only wish the S4 had a more versatile center console.

    2020 Audi S4

    Infotainment and Connectivity


    Audi fits every S4 with a 10.1-inch center infotainment screen and ample infotainment options. Along with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, the MMI system we tested responded quickly to commands and had user-friendly controls. 

    2020 Audi S4

    While it's within the driver's line of sight, certain areas of the display require leaning forward to reach. 

    Thankfully, the rotary knob on the center console is user-friendly to operate and makes the system easier to navigate.

    2020 Audi S4

    Driver-Assistance Features

    The sports sedan does include several standard driver-assistance features, but other options such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are only offered on the more expensive Prestige model. 

    2020 Audi S4

    Key safety features include:

    •  Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
    •  Available blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
    •  Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode

    • 2020 Audi S4

    Warranty and Maintenance Covera


    Apart from its short complimentary scheduled maintenance coverage, the S4 has an ordinary warranty that aligns with most competitors.

    •  Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
    •  Power-train warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
    •  Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles.

    • 2020 Audi S4




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