April is now upon us, which means mud season is here in New England, and daylight savings time is in full effect. As usual, NEMPA members are busy racking up miles and forming their impressions of a wide variety of vehicles delivered all across the northeast courtesy of Automotion International.
Here’s a brief look at just a few examples.
2022 Ford F-150 Limited PowerBoost
Text and image by Tim Plouff
Pickup trucks are as essential to life in rural Maine as air, water, and dry firewood. With Ford’s latest technology demonstration on wheels—the high output, high-efficiency F-150 PowerBoost hybrid in Limited trim—arriving for a muddy week during spring, we put it right to work.
After day one slow-cruising the central coast around Brunswick and Freeport, and then romping up the interstate to Bangor at the usual and customary pace of hurried traffic, we had a clear impression of both the PowerBoost system’s efficiency, 26 mpg while playing tourist, which dropped to just over 18 mpg while chasing the pack. With 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque on tap, and EPA ratings of 24/24 mpg, this is not your grandfather’s pickup.
Day two’s errands and commuting duty were soon replaced by Saturday’s planned excursion to visit five farms participating in Maine’s Maple Weekend events. With two couples sampling the F-150’s heated and massaging leather chairs, and the cooler tied down in the bed next to the six power outlets that turn the Ford into a four-wheeled generator, we plowed through central Maine’s rutted dirt roads in pursuit of the best maple syrup in the state.
Seven hours and 200 miles later, (23 mpg), the cooler’s lunch was replaced by dozens of tasty maple syrup treats and jugs of syrup intended to last another year. After missing two years of visitors, maple farmers are sure happy to have visitors again—and a super-productive spring for running sap.
The Ford provided a similar sugar high; quick, smooth, and refined in its work tasks (hauling a ½ cord of firewood before leaving) while a durable and delightful companion on the road, the F-150 hybrid is more than a bridge vehicle from now to the forecast EV future. The F-150 PowerBoost is simply a not-too-subtle hint that our pickup trucks are going to get a whole lot different very soon.
2022 GMC Terrain AT4 AWD
Text and images by Rick DeMais
This week I am driving the GMC Terrain AT4 AWD. What’s cool about this vehicle is the head-up display. You can adjust this with simple buttons to the left of the steering wheel. So when lighting conditions change, it’s quick and easy to adjust the display position or brightness without having to search a menu on the screen somewhere else in the vehicle, which can be more distracting.
2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5
Text and images by Matt Smith
The 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 shows just how startlingly good a typical electric vehicle can be. Although it looks like something from the future, the latest EV from Hyundai hasn’t reinvented any recipes. Yes, the available dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain delivers neck-snapping acceleration (courtesy of 446 pound-feet of instant-access torque). Yes, its 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery is big enough to provide north of 250 miles of driving range. And, yes, it looks… well, it looks the way it looks. You won’t confuse any other car on the road for an IONIQ 5.
But there’s not much underpinning the IONIQ 5 that feels out of reach for other EV automakers. The Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, and Polestar 2 all offer similar performance, similar AWD trims, and similar battery sizes and driving ranges. The Hyundai’s edge, it seems, is its 800-volt charging architecture. Thanks to this, it shouldn’t take quite as long to juice up an IONIQ 5 as it does some of the competition.
Shopping for an EV in 2022 is like deciding what to order at Neptune Oyster; you’re faced with a wealth of incredible options. Our advice? Try a little bit of everything—pick whichever you think looks best.
As-tested price: $56,340
2022 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus
Text and images by Thom Blackett
Like most cars in the test fleet, the 2022 Mazda CX-30 I’ve been driving is loaded to the gills with equipment, which makes for an exciting and coddled week of driving, but also allows me to experience everything this little all-wheel-drive (AWD) crossover has to offer.
Inside, there’s a leather-clad power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated steering wheel (wrapped in some of the softest leather I’ve ever touched), 12-speaker Bose audio system that delivers excellent sound, and an 8.8-inch touch-screen center display.
With the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus variant you also get 18-inch alloys, LED lights, a power liftgate, and a host of safety and convenience features ranging from rain-sensing wipers to traffic-sign recognition visible via a heads-up display. Under the hood is a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 227 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission. I’ve averaged 24.1 mpg overall, which is fairly close to the EPA’s 25-mpg estimate.
From a driving perspective, the 2022 CX-30 is pure joy, with a taut suspension, responsive steering, and impressive power without noticeable turbo lag. For people who think driving can and should be fun, the CX-30 – like nearly every other recent Mazda I’ve tested – delivers. If, however, you don’t enjoy a firm ride, this may not be the best choice for you. And, because the CX-30 is a small vehicle, interior space is limited. I have plenty of room to get comfortable in the driver’s seat and the cargo area easily accommodates a week’s worth of groceries (for my dog and me, so take that for what it’s worth). Still, the rear seat is a tight fit even for vertically challenged folks like me.
With an as-tested price of $36,345 (including a $1,225 destination charge), I don’t view my 2022 CX-30 tester as cheap, though with the average cost of a new car now in the mid $40s I likely need to adjust my perspective on that. In any case, I think it’s important to recognize that much of what I like about the CX-30 comes standard with the base version that’s priced about $12,000 less. Granted, you’ll lose the turbocharger and 41 hp and 124(!) pound-feet of torque while seeing no appreciable gain in fuel economy, but you’ll still have the attractive styling, sport-oriented chassis, AWD, 8.8-inch touch-screen, and must-have features like lane-departure and pre-collision warning systems.
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Text and images by John Goreham
This week, I’m driving a vehicle well-suited to the New England terrain. The all-new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
The Wilderness trim of the Forester adds a smidge more grunt in its powertrain, about a centimeter of added ground clearance, skid plates under the engine and rear differential, a forward-facing camera, and a nifty set of 17” wheels wearing trail-rated tires complete with a snow symbol.
The Forester in any trim is an ideal vehicle for New England. Whether you are exploring dirt roads in New Hampshire or Maine, traversing sand on Cape Cod, or blasting through a blizzard, all of the Foresters do a great job of keeping you moving forward despite the odds. The Wilderness is at the top of the pecking order in the trim line.
Little things like a full-size spare on a matching rim, waterproof mats and cargo cover, and dual X Mode help in real-world situations. The copper accents are also quite attractive.
The shocking part of the Subaru Forster Wilderness is the cost. At about $36K, this very capable crossover is priced well below many vehicles with far less capability where the pavement ends.
Forester owners will recognize the Wilderness and its Subaru-unique features. It’s not a rocket, nor is it intended to be. However, on a country back road, the Wilderness trim is just as fun as any crossover. Despite the special tires, it is no noisier on-road than other Foresters, and the added ground clearance doesn’t make it tippy.
I drove the Forester in New Hampshire on back roads and lonely rural highways. It was equally at home on both and returned 26 MPG, about the same as I’d expect from any Forester trim.
The Wilderness delivers more of what most Subaru Forester owners want, without any compromises I could uncover. If you are considering a new Subaru, or any all-road capable crossover, the Forester Wilderness should be a serious consideration.