SUV/TRUCK REVIEWS

The Nissan Kicks is a new entry in the subcompact SUV battlefield, which seems to grow every year.

Subcompact SUVs seem to be growing on trees lately, and there’s yet another one in town. The Kicks is the latest vehicle in Nissan’s lineup, replacing the Juke at the low end of their SUV lineup.

I recently spent time in a Kicks and I’m back with a full report on what this little lifted subcompact has to offer.

LOOKS

By the very nature of being a subcompact SUV, the Kicks is small and the back seat is tight. It’s best for people who don’t plan to have a lot of folks in the back seat regularly. Storage space is decent for the class if you put down the rear seats. The materials used inside were pretty basic, nothing fancy, and the comfort level of the driver’s seat was a bit disappointing.

Exterior design looks sharp on the Kicks, much better than the funky-looking design of the Juke. The Kicks comes with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Two-tone color schemes are offered to attract more buyers.

The 2019 Chevy Equinox sees only minor changes from the redesigned 2018 model, and remains one of the better SUVs you can buy.

There’s a seemingly endless list of SUVs out there to choose from, in case you haven’t noticed.  But a handful of them rise to the top of the sales charts every year, and for good reason, as they’re the real deal.

One of those is the Chevy Equinox, which underwent an attractive redesign for 2018 and sees only minor changes for the 2019 model. I’m here with a full report on what it has to offer and how it holds up to the competition.

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While most SUVs aren’t too thrilling to look at, the Equinox’s look is one of the better designs in class, and my test vehicle was helped along by its sharp “Orange Burst Metallic” paint scheme.

The Equinox is classified as a compact SUV (the Trax being the subcompact in the Chevy family, the Traverse the midsize). I found the space situation in the Equinox to be roomy, but not a class leader. You get a grand total of 63.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.

The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee has some off-road capability and also handles well on the beaten path.

With more than 200,000 vehicles sold each year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best-selling SUVS in the U.S. every single year. And while there aren’t many changes for 2019, it remains a powerful, high-class and tech-savvy SUV option for those who don't need a third row.

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The 2019 Grand Cherokee offers a strong visual package, with my test vehicle (A Grand Cherokee Limited X 4x4) featuring an attractive velvet red pearl exterior paint job, paired with black, leather-trimmed interior seating.

Inside there was comforts including a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated front seats, and an overall roomy and high-class interior featuring quality materials.

The redesigned 2018 BMW X3 is one of the better-looking compact luxury SUVs you'll find, and drives better than most of them.

The BMW brand has a certain mystique about it, but in the end a driver has to like the entire experience for that loyalty to remain once someone picks up one. It’s a fine line between focusing all-out on performance, while also maintaining a comfortable experience for the driver and their family.


With their expansive X line of SUVs (X1 to X6 on sale now, with X7 and X8 coming very soon), BMW is treading that line very closely. I recently spent time in one of their compact SUV offerings, the X3, and I’m back with a full report.

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Taking a look at the exterior of the redesigned 2018 BMW X3, including the unique BMW split grille up front, I would easily put it at or near the top of the class when we’re talking about compact luxury SUVs.


Moving inside, it’s also plush and comfortable with attractive wood trim, and the rear seat has decent leg and headroom for the segment, something that’s often missing. You get a heated steering wheel, plus heated front and rear seats.

With fold-down rear seats, cargo space is impressive at 62.7 feet, considering this is a compact SUV, and you get 8 inches of ground clearance.

The 2019 Infiniti QX60 is largely unchanged from the previous model year, and that's not a bad thing.

For the 2019 model year, the Infiniti QX60 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, essentially carrying over from the 2018 design. And that’s fine by me, as I’ve been a big fan of this model since its introduction more than a handful of years ago.


The calling card of the QX60 is that it’s a midsize luxury SUV that’s roomy, comfortable, quiet and family-friendly with superb styling, and skips some of the more sporty setups you’ll find on its luxury SUV competition. Read on for a full report based on my recent experience behind the wheel of the new QX60.


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For a vehicle that fits seven people inside comfortably, the 2019 QX60 manages to have a design that looks a bit more svelte on the exterior than some of its competition. The QX60 comes standard with leatherette seating, and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. But you can chose a Limited package upgrade featuring leather seating and a bunch of other attractive tweaks to the interior and exterior design.

A separate options package (the Sensory package) includes the superbly attractive addition of hourglass seat quilting, which is as attractive as any seating design I’ve seen in the luxury realm. Beyond looks, the materials used on the seating materials provide for supreme comfort, even on longer journeys, and other visual accents make the interior shine.

The 2018 Buick Enclave gets a much-needed redesign.

With its first design lasting a full decade (2008 to 2017), after a very long wait the Buick Enclave finally gets updated for the 2018 model year.

And the results are pretty spectacular.

The new exterior look for the entry-level luxury brand’s biggest ride is much smoother looking looking than the previous version, and inside it’s more practical too.
I’m back with a full report after spending some time in the new-look Enclave.

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The less bulky, slimmer look of the new Enclave is clear upon first glance and a big improvement on its predecessor. As part of the redesign, the vehicle got slightly longer but still shed weight while increasing interior space.

Inside, the materials in the Enclave are consistently high-end and you get a litany of creature comforts, even if you don’t go for the top trim lines. The three rows in the Enclave can host up to seven people. Third row is easy to access, but best for kids.

 

Among comfort features are heated and ventilated front seats (driver and passenger), tri-zone climate control and heated second row seats.

 

The 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk performs solidly both on-road and off-road, a rare combination.

Jeeps have a rich history and are known for getting you places other vehicles can’t take you. And even the more pedestrian Jeep offerings have versions that will do just that.

Take the Jeep Cherokee, which in its regular version is a normal compact crossover competing with the likes of the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V.

But if you go for the Trailhawk version of the Cherokee, which I recently tested, you’re in for a whole different set of capabilities.
I recently spent time in a 2019 Cherokee Trailhawk and I’m back with a full report.


LOOKS

The Trailhawk I tested featured a sharp blue paint scheme and a unique nose design that I liked but might not please everyone, taste being subjective and all

The interior space is pretty tight in rear seat, but you get decent storage space with seats down.  

There are also some clever storage spots, including one atop the dash.

Storage space in the 2019 Chevy Suburban is hard to top, especially with the rear seats folded down.

The 2019 Chevy Suburban isn’t just big.

It’s not just huge.

It’s absolutely massive.
It’s too big for some people, probably most people.


But the truck-based full-size SUV is great for large families (and sports teams) and can seat up to 9 people comfortably, a claim not many vehicles can make.

It’s also very adjustable, with the second and third rows folding down for maximum storage space. You can either pack in a bunch of people or a bunch of stuff, or sometimes both. You’ll find 39.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row (which is actually comfortable for adults to sit in), and 121.7 cubic feet with the 2nd and 3rd rows folded down.

The downside of this size is maneuverability (or lack thereof) in tighter spaces, as well as the difficulty of finding a proper parking space at times. Once you’re parked though, you won’t have any trouble finding this big boy in the lot. I often just parked farther away, which is generally a wise move anyway.


It terms of the interior, you’ll find in the Suburban a well-appointed design that is sharp looking but just shy of luxury level materials that you’ll find in its GM cousin Cadillac Escalade model

All passengers have plenty of leg and head room, seats are comfy, there’s lots of charging locations for your devices, and tech setup/controls are intuitive.

The 2018 Nissan Rogue is a top-seller for many reasons, including its impressive tech offerings.

With a large (and growing) number of competitors in the compact SUV category, the Rogue has done something unexpected. It’s battling for the top spot, running neck-and-neck with the Toyota RAV4 in 2017 -- with more than 400,000 of both vehicles being sold.

That alone is an impressive feat; but Nissan is also pushing things in another area -- technology.

While truly automated vehicles are still down the road a bit, Nissan is starting to offer strong tech features in mass-produced vehicles that go beyond the normal safety equipment we are used to seeing offered, including ProPilot Assist, which I was able to sample on the Rogue vehicle I tested.

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica offers ample space for families, up to 8 passengers, and lots of cargo space.

The minivan, once a shining beacon of the automotive future when they first gained prominence in the 80s, has seen better days. The SUV craze has taken over the auto world, and poor old minivan has generally gotten the cold shoulder.

But wait, that’s not quite true. Some manufacturers remain committed to the segment, and one company that never really left the segment and still represents it strongly is FCA. To follow up on their longtime minivan successes the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, the company a couple years back introduced the Chrysler Pacifica, and have seen strong success in the category since then.
I recently spent time in a 2018 Pacifica, and I’m back with a full report on how it compares in the segment, for those who still love the sliding doors and a perfect setup for half the baseball team.

 

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