2017 Jaguar F-PACE
The Jaguar brand always seemed to be in some type of turmoil, going all the way back to its 60’s heydays. Boy has that changed, these days it appears to have a very solid footing under Tata ownership, producing a string of very impressive vehicles. Notice we didn’t say “cars”. For behold, the F-Pace, Jaguar’s first crossover utility, a “cat” designed to really stir up the market.
Let’s get this straight right out of the box; a Jaguar utility vehicle, as implausible as it may sound, is not really a stretch. After all, Jag’s been partnered with Land Rover since Ford bought the pair in 2000. And during that time, SUVs from luxury brands have gone from a rarity to a necessity. So, this 2017 Jaguar F-PACE shouldn’t be a surprise.
And truth be told, it would have made a fantastic Land Rover. Be that as it may, there are plenty of SUV and crossover sales to go around, and somehow Jaguar resisted the urge to just rebadge a Range Rover, by basing the F-PACE on their own XE/XF sedan chassis. Good call on their part, as it makes it truly unique.
Both the structure and most body panels are aluminum of course, and it looks fantastic, drawing a crowd wherever we parked it. The familiar grille tells everyone what it is; while the 20-inch wheels, with big brakes behind, on this F-Pace S, clue everyone in on its performance potential. Up to 22-inch wheels are available.
The rear continues the theme established by the F-TYPE, particularly with the LED tail lights. But all-in-all, it looks exactly like you might expect a Jaguar crossover to look like.
Powertrain options include 2-different supercharged 3.0-liter V6s, a 340-horsepower version, and the 380-horsepower unit in our S, both rated at 332 lb.-ft. of torque. Plus, a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter I4 turbo-diesel.
All F-PACE’s get an 8-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive.
Behind the wheel, there’s a very familiar Jaguar feel, which is awesome. Smooth and willing. In similar fashion to BMW, Jaguar has established a tremendous brand consistency throughout their lineup.
The F-PACE is also one of those rides that feels faster than you’re expecting, even when you know it’s going to be fast.
F-PACE operates on rear-wheel-drive until traction is lost, at which time in can send 50% of the power forward. Adaptive Surface Progress Control is autonomous driving for off-road, designed for keeping you from hurting your Jag on steep hills or slippery conditions. That’s technology we can get behind; as no doubt it comes from Land Rover. Ground clearance is a fine 8.4-inches.
Taking full control ourselves, for straight line sprints, this F-PACE S put plenty of power down; leaping off the line to 60 in just 5.2-seconds.
Gear changes were brisk, the exhaust sounds exotically loud, and in 13.6-seconds we were at the end of the 1/4 mile travelling at 103 miles-per-hour.
Steering was light, tight, and nimble; and overall it handled extremely well. There was bit of expected understeer, but it remained very flat through our cone course.
On the inside, the F-Pace layout is similar to the XE sedan, but materials are a welcomed step above. And we’re glad to finally see an infotainment system worthy of the brand, Jag’s new InTouch Pro features a 10-inch tablet-like interface.
Front seats have substantial bolstering, but also very good comfort and tons of adjustments.
The expected Jag elements, like the pop-up rotary shifter and TFT gauges are present, but there’s plenty of utility as well, with decent rear seat people space, and 33.5 cubic-ft. of seat-up cargo room.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18-City, 23-Highway, and 20-Combined. We averaged a good 21.7 miles-per-gallon on Premium. The Energy Impact Score is about average, with 16.5-barrels of oil burned and 7.4 tons of CO2 emitted annually.
Get the diesel if you want better, it rates 29-mpg Combined.
With the F-Pace, Jaguar now has the broadest product line in their history. And, there is much to like about their first luxury-ute effort, including a base pricing that is quite low at $41,985. And that’s for the diesel. This F-PACE S starts at $57,695; certainly not awful for a vehicle of this caliber.
So, not only is the F-PACE a great mid-size luxury crossover utility vehicle, it’s a great Jaguar! It handles on par with anything similar from Porsche or BMW; for less than the price of a Tahoe. So, get used to seeing plenty of these cats prowling around stirring up the luxury utility market. The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is truly one of the most outstanding vehicles we’ve driven this year.
- Engine: 3.0 liter
- Horsepower: 380
- Torque: 332 lb.-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 13.6 seconds @ 103 mph
- EPA: 18 mpg city / 23 mpg highway,
- Energy Impact: 15.6 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 7.4 tons/yr
2023 GMC Canyon
Canyon Goes Bigger
Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!
Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.
Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.
The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.
At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.
But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.
Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.
The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.
Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.
So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!
- Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 430 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined
2024 Jeep Wrangler
The New Wrangler Crawls Its Way Towards Modernization
The Jeep Wrangler has been an affordable rugged launching pad for backroad exploring for almost four decades. And while constant updates have made the current Wrangler more modern and capable than ever, a lot has changed since the JL model first arrived for 2018. So, Jeep engineers did their thing again, handing us yet another, better Wrangler for 2024.
To most people, the Jeep Wrangler is all about tradition, a craggy aging dinosaur among the smooth fleet-footed crossovers of the modern era. But the Wrangler has come a long way with modernization in recent years, and takes another big step for 2024.
Side curtain airbags for the first and second rows are now included in all but the base Wrangler Sport, and Uconnect 5 with 12.3-touchscreen is now standard across the board. And since the 4xe plug-in hybrid powertrain has proven so popular, Jeep has made it available in more trims, including all the way down to Sport S, which means an even lower entry price point for what has quickly become the best-selling PHEV in America.
So, the 4xe has truly brought the Wrangler into the modern era in more ways than one, and it was also what we chose to spend the bulk of our Southern Utah drive time in. It still delivers the same impressive, combined output of 375-horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque, with the added bonus of 21-miles of EV time.
The 4xe is just one of many engine options however, including a 270-horsepower 2.0-liter I4 turbo and the monster 470-horsepower 6.4-liter V8 exclusive to the Rubicon 392. Standard engine remains the 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, which is the only way to go if you want to shift your own gears, as the rest are all 8-speed automatics.
Speaking of the Rubicon, they’ve made it even more capable for ’24, with a new Dana 44 HD full-floating solid rear axle which should hold up better when you stuff bigger tires in there, plus boosts towing capacity from 3,500 to 5,000-lbs. And a factory-installed 8,000-lbs. Warn winch is now available as an option.
Off Road+ drive mode makes its way into 4xe models for ’24 too, optimizing throttle, traction control, and transmission parameters to maximize off-road performance whether rock crawling or doing high-speed desert runs. And since people really can’t get enough of Rubicon, Jeep has added a new Rubicon X model with 35-inch tires on beadlock-capable 17-inch wheels, integrated off-road camera, steel bumpers, and full-time Rock-Trac 4:1 transfer case.
Back on our home turf, it was a trip to Mason Dixon Dragway with this 4xe plug-in performer.
Provided you’ve still got some battery power for additional boost, the 4xe will jump off the line with surprising authority on its way to a 0-60 time of 6.7-seconds. Power deliver stays strong once you get rolling, with things really coming alive as the tach needle climbs. Automatic shifts were both quick and smooth, resulting in ¼-mile runs of 15.0-seconds flat at 97 miles-per-hour.
There’s nothing about the Wrangler that wants to be pushed hard through a cone course, but we did it so you won’t have to. And truth be told, it wasn’t that bad, but when you’re sitting this far off the ground, it’s a natural tendency to keep inputs smooth and steady and not tempt tipsy fate by being overly aggressive with steering inputs. But rest assured, even if you are heavy handed, there are plenty of safety systems in place to help keep bad things from happening. There was a lot of weight transfer on hard braking, which is to be expected, but 145 foot stops from 60 were still longer than we like.
The only real change to the new Wrangler look-wise is an updated 7-slot grille with shorter openings; though there are also the usual new color and wheel choices. Multiple soft and hardtop options remain available. And inside, the dash has been reshaped a bit to house that new touchscreen, 12-way adjustable power seats are now available, and additional sound deadening has been added to higher trim levels.
But, just about every trim level also comes with additional content for ’24, and thankfully they haven’t eliminated the 2-door yet, which starts things off with Sport trim at $33,690, 4-grand more for the 4-door. 4xe’s remain 4-door only, but now start at just over $50,000, with the exclusive High Altitude trim at $68,790.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Jeep sells an incredible number of Wranglers every year, and it was really what kept the former Chrysler Corporation afloat for many years. Stellantis has big plans for EVs going forward, but the 2024 Jeep Wrangler is not only more capable and modern than ever, it’s proof that electrification and old-school off roaders can coexist; and it’s a pretty good bet that the Jeep Wrangler will always remain a major part their portfolio.
- Engine: 2.0L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 145 feet (avg)
- EV Range: 21 miles
- Battery: 17.3-kWh
- Torque: 470 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.0-seconds flat at 97 mph
- EPA (Combined): 20 MPG | 49 MPGe