Cars not reviewed, but not forgotten

2022 flew by. Time constraints didn’t allow for full written reviews of every press car I drove this year (though we did cover them on The Off the Road Again Podcast). Yet the cars are still worth mentioning, so this post covers these vehicles. The cars herein are BMW M4, X5, X3M Competition, and 840i; Infiniti QX60; Kia EV6; Land Rover Range Rover First Edition; Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek; Mercedes AMG GLE 53 Coupe and AMG GT 53; and, Subaru BRZ. What follows are my quick-hits-style thoughts on each vehicle, presented in the order of when I drove them. Let’s get to it.

2022 BMW BMW M4 Competition xDrive Coupe

Base price: $78,800

As-tested price: $101,795

I only put a few miles on this car before picking up a nail in the right rear tire. Yet those few miles told me everything I needed to know about the M4 Comp. The performance is almost overwhelming the first time you punch it. I’ve never driven a front-engine car that launches this hard (Car and Driver ran a 2.8 second 0-60). Adding AWD to the M4 turns it into a rocket. The interior is well-crafted, and the carbon-backed seats have tons of support, even if they’re a bit awkward in the groin region. Driving the M4 Competition makes you feel like a kid; it just evokes that “Holy crap, the car I’m driving is well beyond my limits and those of the speed limit signs” feeling. This isn’t like old BMWs. It’s not restrained, not long-haul comfortable, and not anything resembling luxury-forward. But holy hell is it fun. BMW got this one right, even if its front end is still a point of contention.

Yay: Incredible performance, unhinged excitement, AWD can run as RWD

Nay: Gets expensive quickly, too fast to properly use on local streets, the front end is polarizing

Takeaway: Difficult exterior design language is easy to forget when the experience from behind the wheel is this great.

2022 BMW X5 xDrive45e

Base price: $65,400

As-tested price: $81,695

The M4 was swapped out for the X5. It’s a plug-in hybrid, but as I only drove it around town for a few days, so there was no need to charge it. In EV mode, it’s somewhat confusing to drive; the car feels heavy, and the electric powertrain feels slightly overtaxed. The car’s interior is glorious, though. It’s amazingly comfortable, and the crystal shifter is the pièce de résistance. All-in-all, it’s a pleasant vehicle to be in. The X5 has grown up, and at this price, it feels like a good value.

Yay: Fabulous interior, well-executed plushness, 30-mile EV range

Nay: Heavy, and it feels it, mediocre economy with the gas engine, not engaging to drive

Takeaway: BMW is getting the hang of the luxury-hybrid thing.

2022 Mercedes AMG GLE 53 Coupe

Base price: $78,450

As-tested price: $99,225

What a troubling vehicle for me to think about as a car enthusiast. The “coupe” SUVs have always bothered me since a real SUV is more practical and a wagon even more so, but clearly, the trend has caught on. Cars are a business proposition for the manufacturers, first and foremost, and this exemplifies that. Despite my disdain, Mercedes’ execution of this concept is solid. The styling is certainly eye-catching, which will undoubtedly help it sell. If that doesn’t, the interior will. This car had among the best seats I’ve experienced. Couple that with an upscale aesthetic, and it can even overcome MBUX’s foibles. The driving experience leaves a lot to be desired, especially with the AMG badge on it, but this is an AMG meant to stun with curb appeal, not outright performance.

Yay: Attention-drawing looks, great seats, modern and attractive interior

Nay: Pace doesn’t match the price, less practical than a traditional SUV/wagon, MBUX is clunky

Takeaway: A fashion statement in which substance doesn’t quite meet style.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek

Base price: $42,820

As-tested price: ~$45,000 (Exact pricing unavailable at the time of review)

I had quite a bit of trouble with the 2021 Pathfinder Platinum when I drove it last year. My week with the Rock Creek trim didn’t include the towing that did that test and was limited to street and highway duty. Outside, I quite like the look of this CUV. It’s masquerading as an SUV, and that is one of its biggest successes. Adding the Toyo Open Country A/T III tires helps with the macho look. They hurt fuel economy, ride quality, and steering responsiveness, though. That’s not a knock against the Toyos. I love them and run them on my own vehicle, for what it’s worth. The Pathfinder is just somewhat too much of a crossover for the off-road additions to really make sense, but again, selling cars is a business. This will undoubtedly move more Pathfinders.

Yay: Burly good looks, spacious interior, easy to use

Nay: Off-roader downsides without the upsides, materials feel better served in a cheaper vehicle, clunky infotainment

Takeaway: The Rock Creek edition is a styling exercise that will help sell cars, but its ability to go further when the pavement ends is solely down to the tires.

2022 Subaru BRZ Limited

Base price: $30,495

As-tested price: $31,095

For many, this was one of the most anticipated cars of the year. With the ND-generation Miata being as good as it is, the new BRZ and GR86 duo needed to be good. I only had a little seat time in the first generation of the 86-cars. That time told me it was just a few steps away from greatness. For the new 2022 car, they nailed it. It’s (relatively) cheap fun done darn near perfectly. The interior got a huge upgrade which helps justify the price. More importantly, the old engine was ditched for one that’s actually willing to party. The handling is sublime, and the car is an absolute joy to drive in basically any circumstance.

Yay: Excellent steering, excellent handling, excellent involvement

Nay: Shifter could be a little tighter, demonic lust for a turbocharged version still exists

Takeaway: Toyota and Subaru took everyone’s feedback from the first-gen car and used it to their advantage for this one, making for a car that’s up there on the fun-per-dollar list.

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD

Base price: $55,900

As-tested price: $57,410

This was my first experience really spending time with an EV. I had driven some before, but not really interacted with one the way you do when using it for a week straight. The EV6 is everything I expected it to be and more. Given, I had read countless reviews praising it and its Hyundai Ioniq 5 sibling. They were right: The EV6 is a very pleasing vehicle to use and live with. The silence of an EV takes some adjustment, as does the braking, but immediate response from the motors really does change city driving for the better. That the Kia looks this good, has a well-laid-out and smart interior, and is supremely comfortable are the icing on the cake.

Yay: Wild futuristic wagon looks paired with rapid EV acceleration, ~300-mile range, comfortable and pleasant to drive

Nay: Wild futuristic wagon looks that betray its not-so-involving driving experience, not cheap, lackluster charging network

Takeaway: The EV6 shocked me not only for being a great EV but also for being a truly enjoyable car to use day after day.

2022 Mercedes AMG GT 53

Base price: $102,600

As-tested price: $124,220

This car oozes sex appeal. It’s a true stunner, the big grille leading a long swooping design that ends in four overly-sized exhaust tips. The inside is gorgeous, too. None of my issues with this car come from how it looks or feels, inside or out. What I do have a problem with is the lack of performance compared to comparably-priced cars. The 2022 BMW M5 Competition that I drove earlier in the year cost $139,145. Its 617 horsepower and Jekyll-and-Hide demeanor made it one of my favorite cars I drove this year. For nearly the same price, the AMG GT 53’s 429 horsepower felt way too low to push around nearly 4,600 pounds of Merc. The two cars might not be direct competitors, but when the Mercedes looks this aggressive, it needs more firepower to back the design and the price.

Yay: Looks expensive, feels expensive, clever hybrid-assist powertrain

Nay: Should be sportier, feels slower than the numbers indicate, style compromises usability

Takeaway: If you want an AMG car, buy a true AMG car.

2023 BMW 840i xDrive Coupe

Base price: $87,900

As-tested price: $96,595

This should shock no one, but it turns out that BMW is rather good at this whole luxury car thing. The personal luxury coupe is a dying breed, and the 840i is severely underappreciated. It flies under the radar, looking more like an oversized 4-series than anything. That works to its benefit, as it doesn’t draw significant attention to itself while still treating the driver to a healthy dose of luxury. Meanwhile, the turbocharged six-cylinder engine is rated at a lowly 335 horsepower and 368 lb-feet of torque. It constantly feels like BMW is underrating its engines, and that’s perhaps most present here. While the 840i is devoid of steering feel or svelte handling, it’s a car that feels special on the inside and still has the oomph luxury buyers want. Speaking of the interior, our test car’s $2,000 White/Tartufo Full Merino optional cabin theme is unquestionably well worth the money. Outside, San Remo Green paint stunned us in the changing light, and the interior made us feel like we were cruising Miami every time we slid behind the wheel.

Yay: Subtle speed, cushy seats, feels like money

Nay: Nearly $100k for a non-M six-cylinder is pushing it, tight interior for the size of the car, M8 is “only” $30k more

Takeaway: The 840i doesn’t get talked about much, especially in light of the drop-dead-gorgeous Lexus LC500 sharing the same segment, but it’s a sleeper in the luxury coupe market in terms of its performance and its elevated driving experience.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover P530 First Edition SWB

Base price: $158,200

As-tested price: $169,900

An all-new Range Rover is no small thing. The fifth generation of Land Rover’s halo car only looks slightly different on the outside versus the prior model, but it’s on an all-new platform and is changed (either in small or large ways) everywhere you look. I’ll argue that this L460 generation is less attractive than the outgoing L405 model, especially at the back. It traded subtlety for overt touches, and not necessarily for the better. Inside is a big step forward, though, with the 34-speaker Meridian Signature Sound stereo stealing the show. Pivi Pro has also become a well-executed screen setup, though some of the buttons and such below it don’t feel as premium as the sticker indicates. Still, it’s hard to argue with a BMW-sourced 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes 523 HP and 553 lb-ft in something this comfortable and capable.

Yay: Drives on par with its price, has go-anywhere luxury capability, always the star of the show

Nay: Surprisingly cramped inside, prices continue to soar, and less attractive than the outgoing model

Takeaway: The new Range Rover is a fantastic execution of what the nameplate needs to be in order to set itself apart from comparably-priced luxury SUVs, even if it isn’t as British-feeling as it used to be.

2022 BMW X3M Competition

Base price: $69,000

As-tested price: $87,345

BMW’s X3M Comp shouldn’t be as good to drive as it is. The SUV isn’t as little as it used to be, and now it’s a mid-size thing at a full-size price. Adding the M and Competition parts to the X3 basically make it a lifted M4, with a 503-horsepower (479 pound-feet of torque) twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine that helps it to a 3.3-second 0-60 MPH run. Given the car weighs 4,600 pounds, that’s seriously impressive. The performance comes at the expense of cruising comfort. The X3M Competition, with its 21-inch wheels, rides absolutely terribly. The ride quality is dreadful. Impacts to potholes and broken sections of the road can bounce you off your seat and send jolts up your spine. Gotta hand it to BMW for making this thing as exciting as it is to drive, even if doing so makes you immediately think about seeing a chiropractor.

Yay: Insane performance for something of this class and price, attractive M-brand looks, still practical and usable

Nay: Terribly stiff suspension translates to horrid ride quality, exhaust note can be overly shouty and is not particularly pleasant

Takeaway: If you live somewhere with glass-like roads and want a midsize crossover with performance that punches above its weight, the X3M Competition is a laugh-inducing good time (when it’s not bouncing all over the place).

2022 Infiniti QX60

Base price: $57,250

As-tested price: N/A (Exact pricing unavailable at the time of review)

The QX60 is the luxury version of the Nissan Pathfinder, a vehicle that, in their new L51 (R53 for the Nissan) generations, lives on reworked versions of the prior generation’s platform. The new QX60, even if its name is still confusing, is an attractive car on the inside and outside. Unfortunately, it can’t hide some of its Nissan roots, evident in places like the switchgear and lack of insulation from an outdated powertrain and chassis. Even in spite of its Pathfinder’s bones, the QX60 is comfortable, spacious, and easy to drive. It doesn’t coddle the driver the way some other luxury models do, though it’s plenty well-equipped to entice buyers. I liked the QX60 even in spite of its inability to feel like more than a fancied-up Pathfinder.

Yay: Better to look at than before, comfortable interior, good ride quality

Nay: Pathfinder bones, Pathfinder buttons, and knobs, Pathfinder powertrain…

Takeaway: A Nissan that’s put on a fancy dress and gone to finishing school, the QX60 is a solid three-row crossover even if it doesn’t feel as premium as other vehicles in its class.

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3 responses to “Cars not reviewed, but not forgotten”

  1. Trucking Authority Avatar

    Damn the 2023 BMW 840i xDrive Coupe’s color is so gorgeous! Can you please mention which color it is?

  2. Sjalabais Avatar
    Sjalabais

    Of these cars, the Kia EV6 is the amazing choice for normal people, you know, not 1%ers wondering if they go for AMG or Lambo after breakfast next to their coastal infinity pool. I have driven countless EVs and I’m taken aback by the fantastic interior design and a long range of good choices made in creating this car. All kind of overshadowed by the stupid, mindboggingly painful idiocy of not adding a rear wiper. WTF, car industry? I see this is a trend now.

  3. John Riewes Avatar

    I used to like Mercedes AMG GLE 53 COUPE. However, looking at it for hours and days inside the car dealership, I came to the conclusion that this is nothing more than a high car, and only the salon and grille were good. Every time I look at the models that were before the update, this allows me to understand what I really look at and they look awkward.

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