SUV/TRUCK REVIEWS

The 2019 Volvo XC40 is one of the sharpest looking compact luxury SUVs on the market.

It could be argued that there are already enough vehicles in the compact luxury SUV segment, which has been growing like a weed in the past few years.

Good thing Volvo didn’t listen to that school of thought, as their XC40 entry is one recent addition to the segment that delivers both on looks and performance, in addition to safety.

Read on for a full assessment of the 2019 XC40, which has the goods to disrupt this segment and achieve long-term success.

LOOKS

When I got my first look at the XC40, I immediately thought it was one of the sharpest looking rides I have seen in a long time. My test vehicle was a beautiful light blue color, with a white top and a long sunroof. The body was impressively designed with unique deep side lines. And to top it off, a nice little Swedish flag is attached to remind you of Volvo's heritage.

From a distance, it almost reminded me of the look of an classic car from the 60s, a bit of a retro throwback.

Having a strong look is important in this class, as everyone from Audi to Lexus to Infiniti comes with their A-game in terms of design.

The 2019 Lexus RX 350L features room for seven passengers and features three rows of seating.

When Lexus debuted the RX in the late 1990s, it was one of the original creators of the crossover market that has taken over auto industry in the past two decades. Today, it feels like there’s a new crossover announced every month, but it was a risk back in the day.


The move paid off, as the RX has been a top seller for Lexus for many years, leading sales charts in its class on a regular basis.

But something was holding it back from further success. Unlike some competitors, it only offered a two-row version (housing 5 passengers), and didn’t have a 3-row option for people wanting some extra room for the little ones in back. That has changed with the arrival of the RX 350L option, which boosts capacity to 7 passengers.

How does the three-row edition of the RX measure up to other luxury 7-seaters? Read on for a full report.

 

The GMC Sierra Denali has been fully redesigned for the 2019 model year.

Trucks dominate the auto industry, and not everyone is looking for a basic work truck. In fact, the trend is moving in the opposite direction, with these vehicles moving farther away from being solely work-focused and instead growing more luxurious in their creature comfort offerings for the whole family, based on customer demand.


The 2019 GMC Sierra has been redesigned for 2019, and attempts to break out of the shadow of its GM cohort the Chevy Silverado. I recently tested out one of the upper trim level Sierra offerings, a 2019 Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab, and I’m back with a full report on how this truck distinguishes itself.

 

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk handles well both on everyday streets and off-road excursions, something few vehicles can claim.

The reality is that most SUVs and crossovers are used for shopping mall trips and soccer practices.

But Jeeps are different. They still have a loyal crowd who gets a bit more adventurous and goes places most of us won’t go. With that in mind, their Trailhawk offerings are offered to please this off-the-beaten-path crowd.

I recently spent some time in a Jeep Compass Trailhawk, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

No surprises on the grille: Your standard Jeep design can be found up front with the seven stripes.
In terms of an overall look, it’s a pretty straightforward small crossover design, with a clearly all-business/rugged look to it. The two-tone paint scheme on the hood did spice the look up a bit.


Inside seats on the Compass Trailhawk were comfy, but this isn’t a vehicle that’s trying to be luxurious (leather-wrapped steering wheel being a lone exception to that rule). The front row was comfy, but overall the inside is a bit cramped, especially in the back seat.

There is a well-designed layout of all the interior controls and a great setup on the center touchscreen. Steering wheel controls are also straightforward, and you get the option to add a power liftgate, as well as a dual-pane sunroof.


Subaru returns to the three-row SUV segment with the 2019 Ascent

The first image that pops into most people’s minds when hearing the word Subaru likely involves wagons or rally cars. But Subaru has recently rejoined the rest of the automotive world by offering its own brand new three-row SUV: The Subaru Ascent.


Subaru exited the three-row SUV category a half-decade ago when the Tribeca was retired, but the Ascent is a much better offering than their previous go-around.

I recently spent some time in the 2019 Ascent, which has the daunting task of battling a bevy of longtime competitors in the segment — including the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and more.

Read on for a full assessment on how the Ascent succeeds in its attempt to climb that hill.

The 2019 Cadillac XT5 is a segment leader in terms of safety, design and overall drive quality.

The only thing constant about the Cadillac vehicle lineup lately is change. Beyond the news that its flagship CT6 is going away after this year, the brand’s crossover lineup is getting a major revamp.


Brand new for 2019 was the XT4, Cadillac’s entry in the hot category of compact crossovers. Then the three-row crossover XT6 (a 2020 model) was just unveiled at NAIAS in January.

Right in the middle is the OG of the crossover lineup, the XT5 (known in its former life as the SRX), a midsize luxury crossover competing against heavy hitters like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Lexus RX.

I recently spent some time in a 2019 XT5 and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up to the competition.

A redesign does wonders to improve the stock of the 2019 Infiniti QX50.

In the packed SUV battlefield, if you’re not keeping up you’re falling behind fast. This is true across the board, including in the realm of luxury SUVs.


Take for example the the Infiniti QX50, a compact luxury SUV that has been in need of an update for a couple years. Prior to the arrival of the redesigned 2019 version, this vehicle had fallen behind most of its rivals.

The good news for Infiniti fans, and car buyers in general, is the second-generation edition of the QX50 has arrived, and immediately moves the vehicle several rungs up the ladder in the battle for supremacy in this tough segment.

Storage space is abundant in the 2019 GMC Yukon

Crossover is the buzzword of the past decade (even Lamborghini made one, for chrissakes), but body-on-frame SUVs have not yet gone the way of the dodo bird.


Yes, these massive relics live on, including the GMC Yukon, due to their extreme storage capacity and versatility.


There’s a limited number of contenders here, and the Yukon is primarily taking on its own GM brethren (Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Suburban) as well as the Ford Expedition and some foreign entrants that are smaller players in the segment (Lexus GX, Infiniti QX80, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada).

 

I recently tested a 2019 Yukon — which saw its last major design overhaul back in 2015 and sees only minor changes for the 2019 model year — and I’m back with an update on how it competes in this old-school segment.

 

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.

LOOKS

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.

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