It’s hard to imagine a single brand that offers three SUVs that could be more different than the Lexus NX 450h+, GX 460, and LX 600. Each one carries its own mission and finds success in its own way. At the heart of these different vehicles is their unique powertrain that speaks to their overall character.
At one end of the spectrum is the brand’s first plug-in hybrid model, the crossover NX450h+ which brings both sport and efficiency. Then, there is the body-on-frame GX460, whose current design has soldered through what amounts to three vehicle life-cycle generations yet its sense of familiarity is oddly comforting and refreshing in today’s fashion-forward layouts. Last but certainly not least, is the redesigned LX600 which mixes old-school capability-minded chassis targets with newer and smarter technology to create an SUV that seemingly excels at nearly everything.
When the third-generation RDX arrived on the scene in 2019, it hit all the marks. A punchy turbocharged four-cylinder, super-handling all-wheel drive, a modern interior, and a big leap forward in infotainment technology placed the two-row crossover as a rightful competitor to the best in the segment all while under-cutting those Europeans by several thousands of dollars.
Now three years later, the RDX receives its scheduled refresh but instead of keeping pace with the rapidly progressing segment, the folks at Acura played an overly conservative hand.
Automakers respect the skeptical viewpoint that many pick-up consumers have regarding dramatic changes and in the case of the Toyota Tundra, the same essential truck carried on for 15 years. But now, for 2022, the all-new Tundra pulls in some of the best “new” technologies from across the segment to give it a unique advantage over others in its class.
The all-new Civic Si may look and feel more mature than ever but its engine has been tuned for more high-rpm power and the chassis adopts components from the hard-core Type R. Add in the inherent improvements provided by the 11th-generation Civic and a reasonable price tag – it seems to hit all of the marks on paper. In reality, however, the expectations that come with the Si badge can be fairly formidable.
The S-Class is the quintessential standard within the automotive industry. In every aspect, from the engineers’ freedom to design parts that best fit the car (vs the other way around), to the quality-focused and data-rich manufacturing process, to advanced technology that takes a decade before being spotted in mainstream vehicles, the S-Class shows what is possible when the reins of cost and development speed are loosened for the better of the car…and those who can afford its (as shown $130k) price tag.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS marks a defining moment in the brand’s history. It’s presented as the S-Class that is an EV, which is true in the way that it interacts with its driver and passenger and the premium aura that it exudes, however, its exterior and interior design is entirely fresh and is free from the binds of tradition.
To say that the 2022 Nissan Frontier is a huge step forward (compared to its predecessor) isn’t really saying anything meaningful. The previous Frontier lasted through about three life cycles and was ready for a new generation. The new truck brings more modern styling and safety tech yet with all of those changes, it retains a basic level of refinement which makes it feel very familiar. Nissan fans will scoop this one up and it will even convert a few Tacoma fans who are looking to stand out from the sea of other Toyotas on the trail.
There are very few moments where this fifth-generation RAM 1500 hasn’t impressed. From the mainstream Laramie trim to the monster-truck TRX to this off-road-ready Rebel, the RAM demonstrates the engineering and styling teams’ efforts to raise the bar in nearly every category. In many ways, it is the segment’s benchmark but still, there are a few places with room for improvement.
BMW’s most popular SUV gets a styling update for 2022 that brings slightly edgier touches to the front and rear ends and thankfully maintains a reasonable grille design. As far as features, the X3 has more standard equipment yet still requires pricy packages to feel well equipped. That usually hasn’t been a bad thing with BMW models in the past because the “Ultimate Driving Machine” DNA was built in – at least that was my expectation when taking on this base-spec’d X3.
This GMC Yukon, and its flagrantly similar Chevy Tahoe, dominate the large SUV market and this latest generation that debuted in 2021 shows how much it’s grown, not just in size but also in refinement.