Posts from ‘First Spin’
The “hot-hatch” segment, for a longtime defined by Volkswagen’s enthusiast-beloved Golf GTI, is inarguably shrinking, in sales volume and in number of models offered. In fact, the whole small, sporty-car thing is in serious decline. Sadly, buyer attitudes have changed, and shoppers—especially young shoppers—seem to value utility over fun these days. I curse their pragmatism.
One of the most old-school SUVs on the market is about to get a lot less old-school. It’s been a long time coming, but late this summer an all-new, third-generation version of Toyota’s full-size SUV is slated to go on sale. The Toyota Sequoia is redesigned from the ground up for 2023, finally doing away with its 2008-vintage platform and adopting new body-on-frame architecture that’s shared with Toyota’s redesigned-for-2022 Tundra full-size pickup truck.
The stereotypical Subaru owner is an outdoorsy nature lover who’s at least a bit more environmentally conscious than the average American consumer, so it seems inevitable that Subaru would eventually enter the electric-vehicle market. And now it has. The 2023 Solterra is Subaru’s first pure EV: a two-row, five-passenger compact crossover SUV that is built on a platform shared with Toyota’s new bZ4X pure-electric SUV.
There’s no moss growing under the feet of Jeep engineers and product planners these days. About a year ago, the brand introduced its first plug-in-hybrid vehicle: the Wrangler 4xe. Approximately 30,000 units found buyers last year, which Jeep says makes the Wrangler 4xe (pronounced “four by e”) America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid. Last summer, the fifth generation of Jeep’s Grand Cherokee debuted with the all-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L—the first Grand Cherokee with three rows of seats. Late last year, a redesign of the traditional two-row, five-passenger Grand Cherokee was introduced on a shorter version of the L’s all-new unibody platform. That’s all history now—along with the equally new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer full-size SUVs—and Jeep’s engineers are on to their next act: the 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe. It’s an intriguing mix-and-match that combines the Wrangler 4xe’s powerful plug-in-hybrid powertrain with the redesigned Grand Cherokee.
Last October, Toyota gave us our first chance to drive the all-new redesigned 2022 Tundra full-size pickup in Texas, which you can read all about in our First Spin report. Since then, Toyota has announced a new top-of-the-line Capstone trim level and filled in few more details about the new Tundra lineup that were left blank last fall. Now, we’ve had the opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of the new Tundra Capstone and better experience the new i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain.
Earlier this year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee kicked off its fifth generation with the all-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L—the first Grand Cherokee to offer three rows of seats. Meanwhile, the 2021 two-row Grand Cherokee soldiered on for one more season with the previous, fourth-gen design. Now, for the 2022 model year, a redesigned two-row five-passenger Grand Cherokee is being introduced. The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is built on a shorter version of the L’s all-new unibody platform, and it’s scheduled to go on sale by the end of the 2021 calendar year. Shortly after the new year, Jeep will add 4xe plug-in-hybrid electrified variants of the two-row Grand Cherokee.
Here’s a factoid for you: Nearly 1 out of every 5 Subarus ever sold has been a Forester, and since its debut as a 1998 model, Subaru has sold more than 2.3 million of its popular compact crossover SUV. For the last several years, the Forester’s annual sales have been running in the neighborhood of 170,000-180,000 units in the US, and Subaru says those totals have been limited by production capacity rather than consumer demand. The current-generation Forester debuted for 2019, and for 2022 it gets a mild freshening, along with the addition of an outdoor-adventure-focused Wilderness model with improved off-road capabilities.