Yearly Archives: 2022

Toyota counts on V-6, coils for Tundra

Toyota counts on V-6, coils for Tundra

Production began in January for the third-generation, 2022 Toyota Tundra, fully redesigned with interior appeal, and company officials anticipate the first real sales climb in 15 years for the full-sized pickup.

The Tundra’s platform has been expanded into a fully-boxed frame, its rear leaf springs have been traded in for better-riding coils, and its 5.7-liter V-8 engine has been dropped in favor of a turbocharged V-6 or a second choice – a more powerful hybrid V-6.

With opportunity last week for testing the 389-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission (replacing a 6-speed) in deep snow and cold, I was impressed with good 4X4 performance, improved ride and enjoyed the front-view camera as a big help in offroading through brush and over uneven terrain, and particularly helpful in a weedy, narrow turnaround space.

The 2014 Toyota Tundra Double Cab

It was the Tundra Limited Crewmax, the four-door crew cab, with the TRD Off-Road package. A shorter extended cab is known as Double Cab. Toyota does not offer a two-door regular cab. The bed in the review-model pickup is 5-foot-6; other bed lengths are 6-foot-6 and 8-feet.

With its 3.5-liter i-Force Max twin-turbo V-6 hybrid of 437 hp/583 lb.-ft. torque, the Tundra is rated at 12,000 pounds of tow capacity and max payload of 1,940 pounds.

Maximum tow ratings for other light-duty competition are 14,000 pounds for Ford F-150 PowerBoost V-6 hybrid of 430 hp; 13,300 pounds for Chevy Silverado 6.2-liter V-8 of 420 hp; 12,750 pounds for Ram 5.7 V-8 with 48-volt eTorque mild hybrid of 395 hp. Ford, Chevy, Ram also carry higher payloads than the Tundra.

The Tundra’s structural design has been well-accepted, though complaints have been sounded about the large, relatively flat front end and grille.

For all the success of the highly regarded Tacoma compact pickup, Toyota has never gained anywhere near the same wide sales reception with its full-size Tundra. It seems to just nudge past 100,000 sales per year; in fact, last year’s total fell to only 81,000 in the face of serious chip shortage and continued pandemic.

A sharp jump in sales occurred in 2007, when 196,555 Tundras were sold; it slumped, though, with the recession of ’08 and has never approached that level of sales again.

Pushing the Tundra to the $60,000 price level was the TRD Off-Road package ($3,085), which included beefed-up suspension with Bilstein shocks, 20-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, skid plates, mud guards, leather shift knob, aluminum sport pedals and electronically controlled locking rear differential.

Among other options are JBL 12-speaker premium audio for $565, rock rails for $625 and heated leather steering wheel for $150. The Tundra has upgraded its user-friendly infotainment system; voice commands will adjust a number of settings.

The Tundra is built in San Antonio.

Kona EV and winter’s cold shoulder

The Hyundai Kona offers electric range into the 250s. (Hyundai photos)

The cold of winter takes a cut of range from the all-electric vehicles testing the market today.

In my experiences in driving fully electric vehicles in cold weather in recent years, the amount of miles lost to the weather are 10 to 15 percent. Other reviewers have estimated the loss of miles as high as 40 percent.

Most recently, the 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited driven in the cold and on snowy roads gave up noticeable range.

That is, until an evening drive, with temps still around 35 to 38 degrees, no wind and all the snow and ice gone from major roadways, the Kona showed 232 miles of range still at its battery. Jan and I headed out of Greeley north on U.S. 85 to Lucerne, then made a right turn onto Colo. 392 for 28 miles to Briggsdale, took a left turn onto Colo. 14 to Ault, then south on U.S. 85 through Eaton, Lucerne and back to Greeley.

It was a nice, steady drive, somewhat light in amount of traffic. I accelerated heavily only three or four times when passing another motorist, and let the regenerative braking play its role of restorer of energy into the battery pack. The drive mode was in Comfort for the most part, though I used Eco (mildest) and Sport (liveliest) for short stretches.

We drove 78 miles, yet the range of the battery pack had been reduced by only 64 miles, a turnaround in performance from the week’s earlier cold and snow. The 64kWh battery pack modules are beneath the floor of the Kona and under the rear seat.

A look beneath the hood of the Hyundai Kona EV

The ride was a bit rough in the little Kona with curb weight of 2,899 pounds and wind noise was in evidence. The subcompact SUV crossover is on a wheelbase of 102.4 inches and overall length of 165.6.

The battery pack supports a 150kW electric motor of 201 horsepower, with single-speed automatic transmission and push-button drive.

The ’22 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited carries a sticker price of $44,240. A cheaper version of the Kona electric is the SEL model, beginning at $35,185.

Among the many features of the Limited are 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster with Harman Kardon audio, navigation, smart cruise, heated and ventilated front seats, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist.

F-Series, Camry, RAV4 top sales in ‘21

The Ford F150 PowerBoost is a V-6 hybrid. (Bud Wells photos)

By Bud Wells

Ford F-Series, Toyota Camry and RAV4 maintained their customary positions atop the sales charts for U.S. light-vehicle trucks, cars and SUV/crossovers for the year 2021.

A serious computer chip shortage, added to the Covid-19 pandemic’s second year, slowed production and resulted in sales total of 15 million; a rise from the 14.5-million count the previous year, but painfully short of the normal 17-plus-million per year.

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Limited Hybrid offers excellent acceleration.

Ford has led truck sales for more than 40 years, Camry has led car sales every year but one over the past 25 years and the RAV4 has been tops among SUVs/crossovers for five years. Behind the Ford F-Series total of 726,004 was the Ram 1500 with 569,388 and Chevrolet Silverado 519,774. Toyota Camry’s 313,795 sales topped the Honda Civic’s 263,787 and Toyota Corolla’s 248,993. Toyota RAV4 sold 407,739 crossovers, followed by Honda CR-V with 361,271 and Nissan Rogue 285,602.

Against the pandemic/chip production shortage, three in the long SUV list of models – Nissan Rogue, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Honda HR-V – increased sales by 50,000-plus during the year.

The Toyota Sienna, after converting to gas/electric hybrid-only, edged the Chrysler Pacifica, 107,990 to 98,323 for sales-best among minivans.

Tesla, with its 10-year lead in all-electric production, far outdistanced that field, reporting sales of 172,700 Model Y, 128,600 Model 3, followed by Ford Mustang Mach-E 27,164 Chevrolet Bolt 24,828, Volkswagen ID.4 16,742 and Nissan Leaf 14,239.

Following are sales by model category for 2021:


  1. Toyota Camry 313,795;
  2. Honda Civic 263,787;
  3. Toyota Corolla 248,993;
  4. Honda Accord 202,676;
  5. Nissan Sentra 127,861;
  6. Hyundai Elantra 124,422;
  7. Kia Forte 115,929;
  8. Nissan Altima 103,777;
  9. Kia K5/Optima 92,342;
  10. Dodge Charger 78,389;
  11. Kia Soul 75,126;
  12. Volkswagen Jetta 61,967;
  13. Nissan Versa 60,913;
  14. Toyota Prius 59,010;
  15. Dodge Challenger 54,314;
  16. Ford Mustang 52,414;
  17. BMW 3 series 49,461;
  18. Lexus ES 45,406;
  19. Chevrolet Malibu 39,376;
  20. Mazda3 37,653;
  21. Subaru Impreza 34,791;
  22. Chevrolet Corvette 33,041;
  23. Kia Rio 31,362;
  24. Mercedes C-Class 30,815;
  25. Subaru WRX 27,141;
  26. Acura TLX 26,100;
  27. BMW 5 series 24,523;
  28. Chevrolet Spark 24,459;
  29. Volkswagen Passat 24,396;
  30. BMW 4 series 22,937;
  31. Subaru Legacy 22,766;
  32. Mitsubishi Mirage 22,741;
  33. Lexus IS 21,998;
  34. Chevrolet Camaro 21,893;
  35. Mercedes E-Class 20,947;
  36. Hyundai Ioniq 19,885;
  37. Hyundai Accent 19,614;
  38. Mini Cooper S 19,490;
  39. Toyota Avalon 19,460;
  40. Honda Insight 19,431;
  41. Audi A5/S5 17,408;  
  42. Chrysler 300 16,662;
  43. Nissan Maxima 16,386;
  44. Audi A4/S4 16,263;
  45. Mazda6 16,214;
  46. BMW 2 series 15,683;
  47. Mercedes S-Class 14,282.


  1. Toyota RAV4 407,739;
  2. Honda CR-V 361,271;
  3. Nissan Rogue 285,602;
  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee 264,444;
  5. Toyota Highlander 264,128;
  6. Ford Explorer 219,871;
  7. Jeep Wrangler 204,609;
  8. Mazda CX-5 168,383;
  9. Chevrolet Equinox 165,323;
  10. Subaru Forester 154,723;
  11. Subaru Outback 154,623;
  12. Hyundai Tucson 150,949;
  13. Ford Escape 145,415;
  14. Toyota 4Runner 144,696;
  15. Honda Pilot 143,062;
  16. Honda HR-V 137,090;
  17. Subaru Crosstrek 127,466;
  18. Chevrolet Traverse 116,250;
  19. Volkswagen Atlas 115,687;
  20. Lexus RX 115,320;
  21. Hyundai Santa Fe 112,071;
  22. Volkswagen Tiguan 109,747;
  23. Ford Bronco Sport 108,169;
  24. Chevrolet Tahoe 106,030;
  25. Kia Sportage 94,601;
  26. Kia Telluride 93,705;
  27. Chevrolet Trailblazer 90,161;
  28. Hyundai Kona 90,069;
  29. Jeep Cherokee 89,126;
  30. Hyundai Palisade 86,539;
  31. Ford Edge 85,225;
  32. GMC Yukon/Yukon XL 84,242;
  33. Nissan Kicks 82,960;
  34. Ford Expedition 81,988;
  35. Kia Sorento 81,785;
  36. BMW X3 75,858;
  37. Jeep Compass 75,642;
  38. Buick Encore GX 71,247;
  39. Chevrolet Blazer 70,325;
  40. Dodge Durango 65,935;
  41. Mercedes GLE 65,074;
  42. Toyota Venza 61,988;
  43. BMW X5 60,725;
  44. Audi Q5 60,301;
  45. Mazda CX-30 60,185;
  46. Acura MDX 60,057;
  47. Subaru Ascent 59,980;
  48. GMC Acadia 59,913;
  49. Lexus NX 58,514;
  50. Acura RDX 57,013;
  51. Honda Passport 53,133;
  52. Mercedes GLC/GLK 51,805;
  53. Kia Seltos 51,368;
  54. Chevrolet Suburban 48,214;
  55. GMC Terrain 47,488;
  56. Jeep Renegade 47,137;
  57. Buick Envision 46,450;
  58. Nissan Murano 46,117; Chevrolet Trax 42,590;
  59. Buick Enclave 41,962;
  60. Volvo XC60 41,582;
  61. Nissan Pathfinder 41,324;
  62. Ford EcoSport 40,659;
  63. Cadillac Escalade 40,505;
  64. Volvo XC90 38,657;
  65. Mitsubishi Outlander 36,133;
  66. Toyota C-HR 35,707;
  67. Mazda CX-9 34,493;
  68. Audi Q3 34,462;
  69. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 34,216;
  70. Lexus GX 32,509;
  71. Volkswagen Taos 31,682;
  72. Hyundai Venue 28,653;
  73. Cadillac XT5 28,380;
  74. Ford Mustang Mach-E 27,140;
  75. Volvo XC40 26,844;
  76. Mercedes GLB 26,677;
  77. Kia Niro 26,192;
  78. Audi Q7 25,362;
  79. Ford Bronco 25,023;
  80. Porsche Macan 214,716;
  81. Mercedes GLS 24,482;
  82. Lincoln Nautilus/MKX 24,443;
  83. BMW X7 23,046;
  84. Nissan Armada 22,814;
  85. Lincoln Corsair/MKC 22,790;
  86. Range Rover Sport 22,090;
  87. Lincoln Aviator 20,924; Cadillac XT6 20,662;
  88. Genesis GV80 20,316;
  89. Buick Encore 20,072;
  90. Land Rover Defender 19,413;
  91. Infiniti QX50 19,195;
  92. Range Rover 18,615;
  93. BMW X1 18,253;
  94. Lexus UX 17,581;
  95. Porsche Cayenne 17,299;
  96. Lincoln Navigator 15,631;


  1. Ford F-Series 726,004;
  2. Ram 1500 569,388;
  3. Chevrolet Silverado 519,774;
  4. Toyota Tacoma 252,520;
  5. GMC Sierra 248,924;
  6. Ford Ranger 94,755;
  7. Jeep Gladiator 89,712;
  8. Toyota Tundra 81,959;
  9. Chevrolet Colorado 73,008;
  10. Nissan Frontier 60,693;
  11. Honda Ridgeline 41,355;
  12. Nissan Titan 27,406;
  13. GMC Canyon 24,125.


  1. Toyota Sienna 107,990;
  2. Chrysler Pacifica 98,323;
  3. Honda Odyssey 76,125;
  4. Kia Carnival/Sedona 25,155.


  1. Tesla Model Y 172,700;
  2. Tesla Model 3 128,600;
  3. Ford Mustang Mach-E 27,164;
  4. Chevrolet Bolt 24,828;
  5. Volkswagen ID.4 16,742;
  6. Nissan Leaf 14,239;
  7. Audi e-tron 10,921.

Land Rover Discovery goes in snow

The big, heavy Land Rover Discovery is at home in the snow. (Bud Wells photos)

Fortunate we were to be in possession of a 2021 Land Rover Discovery during one of our earlier January 2022 snowstorms. The Discovery R Dynamic S midsize model got around with no slipping in fairly deep snow and across icy intersections.

Released by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association are sales in this state in 2021 by the various car makes, compared with totals from the previous year. Sales totals are of lesser significance, as far as comparison purposes are concerned, due to the Covid pandemic and chip shortages of both 2020 and ’21.

Land Rover’s sales in Colorado increased by 232 units in 2021; that ranked 20th of 35 various makes. The British company makes no pretense about sales races – it builds a limited number of special offroad vehicles designed for when the going gets tough. Enough said.

Registration of new cars and trucks in Colorado for 2021 totaled 242,936, a 10 percent increase over the 220,921 in the year 2020.

The 2022 version of the Honda Civic Touring.

Honda increased sales by 3,383 to edge Toyota’s gain of 3,335 and Tesla’s 3,009 for biggest jump by individual make. Others of the top 10 in numbers gains are Kia 2,693, BMW 1,745, Hyundai 1,407, GMC 1,257, Mazda 1,216, Lexus 713 and Volvo 669.

Among sales losses, Dodge took the biggest fall, 947 units; that result is no surprise after company decision was made to stop production of the Grand Caravan, the greatest-selling minivan of all time. Next in sales drops were Nissan with 469, Subaru with 435 and Infiniti with 317.

Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender are sales leaders for the Land Rover marque. Two sizes of the Discovery model are built, dividing sales between the midsizer we drove and a smaller compact, the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The larger Discovery R Dynamic is distinguished by a black contrast roof, electric third-row seats and a 355-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine in place of the standard 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder of 296-hp.

The powerful 6 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive and Terrain Response for selectable driving and offroad modes.

The Dynamic package also adds 21-inch split-spoke wheels, ebony-grained leather seats and Meridian surround sound.

The Discovery standard is 14 inches longer in overall length than the Discovery Sport and shows curb weight of 5,140 pounds, considerably heavier than the Sport’s 4,035 pounds.

The price of the Land Rover Discovery R Dynamic S climbed from a base of $63,250 to sticker of $73,255 with the addition of heated steering wheel, heated electric memory front seats, head-up display, tow-hitch receiver and premium headlights. The Discovery is built in Nitra, Slovakia.

The Land Rover name was created in 1948 by the Rover Co. The Range Rover was introduced in 1970 and the company became a British Leyland subsidiary in 1978.

Back then . . . . . 1997 Chevy Camaro

A week of weather is washed from the ’97 Camaro at Fire House Car Wash. (Bud Wells photo/1997)

(Twenty-five years ago, in February 1997, I drove and reviewed the 30th anniversary Chevy Corvette. Excerpts follow:)

The 30th anniversary Camaro Z28, a car that befits my youthful image, shows just as it snows, and snows. Four snowfalls in six days. Nothing heavy, just enough to slick down the streets and dirty up the car.

What a fun car to drive. With V-8 power, it’s best on dry roads, though.

Chevrolet has done a nice job with the anniversary appearance package. The arctic white exterior is enhanced with center stripes over the trunk, top and hood in “hugger’ orange, reminiscent of the classic ’69 Z28.

Inside, the seats are of black-and-white houndstooth inserts, with 30th anniversary embroidery on the floormats and headrests.

Wheels are white five-spoke aluminum.

Originally, some Chevrolet insiders say, the plan was for the anniversary car to be orange with white stripes. What a sight that would have been.

Few cars run as strong as does the Camaro with the 5.7-liter V-8 engine. The LT1 powerplant, introduced in the ’92 Corvette, produces 285 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s a throwback to the muscle car days, and is exhilarating to drive.

Coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission, the Camaro has tremendously quick initial acceleration. But the tranny has that unconventional (silly) “skip shift” (Computer-Aided Gear Selection) system. Under certain acceleration situations, the system locks out 2nd and 3rd gears and directs the gearshift from 1st to 4th. Such a fall-off in power from 1st to 4th is very unlike-Camaro.

To avoid this, a driver must kick out very hard, or shift almost immediately from 1st to 2nd, or delay the shift until the “skip shift” light no longer shines (about 2500 rpm).

The first-ever Chevy Camaro, produced in 1967. (Chevrolet)

Camaro’s been a popular muscle car since its debut in 1967, when a white SS Camaro convertible drew attention as the Indy 500 pace car. Sales have slowed in recent years. It competes with the Ford Mustang, Toyota Supra and Celica, Honda Prelude and Mitsubishi Eclipse.

The colorful review model carried a sticker price of $23,926, including a Z28 equipment group of speed control, remote hatch release, fog lamps, power windows and locks, electric remote mirrors, leather steering wheel, keyless entry and theft-deterrent alarm.

Other options, in addition to the equipment and appearance packages, were power seat, rear-window defogger, traction control and CD player. The stereo had the speed-compensated volume control, quieting a bit at idle, then increasing volume at highway speeds.

Rigid body structure adds to Camaro’s handling capabilities. Suspension is short/long arm in front, with dampers and springs of coil-over-shock design. At rear is a Salisbury axle design with trailing arms, track bar and torque arm.

The Camaro is equipped with driver and front-passenger airbags and an antilock brake system.

The EPA rating is 16 in town and 27 on highway. I averaged 15.3 in mostly in-town driving.

All Camaros are manufactured at the General Motors assembly plant in Ste. Therese, Quebec, Canada.

Hyundai Santa Cruz lowers compact-PU size.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is of well-balanced proportions, front to back. (Bud Wells photo)

Two new, small pickups – the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick – are drawing attention in the automotive world.

The Maverick edged out the Santa Cruz for selection as North American Truck of the Year for 2022.

I spent much of a week aboard the Hyundai, impressed with its very firm and comfortably bolstered, leather-covered front seats, and I’ll soon be driving the Ford Maverick.

The Santa Cruz and Maverick are small, about a foot shorter than current compact pickups Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline.

Hyundai for a number of years has talked of a compact-sized pickup. Seeing it to fruition is supportive evidence the months and months of planning were well spent.

The 2022 Santa Cruz Limited four-door is 195.7 inches in overall length on a wheelbase of 118.9 inches, with curb weight of 4,123 pounds. It’s a proportional beauty from the side – similar-sized hood at front and cargo bed at rear balancing the overhead of the cabin – all finished in phantom black. It is based on the Hyundai Tucson crossover platform.

Inside is generally roomy; somewhat limited rear-seat legroom. Flip-up rear seats reveal storage space beneath. A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster features Bose premium audio, navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The review model is the Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited all-wheel-drive pickup with 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine of 281 horsepower, mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. Torque is 311 lb.-ft. and the turbo engine with AWD develops tow rating as high as 5,000 pounds. Tow capacity falls to 3,500 pounds with a base-engine 2.5 non-turbo of 191 horsepower.

In a Saturday morning drive for coffee at Panera off I-25 and 144th Avenue, the Santa Cruz handled the snow fairly securely, though it slipped and slid a bit in town driving through the deep, slushy streets. Its lane-keep assist system was effective on a long stretch of fairly narrow roadway.

Among features are side-by-side circle speedometer and tachometer in the instrument panel which with left-turn signal engaged offer view in speedometer of what was to the left and rear of the vehicle, and the view is to the right in the tach circle when that turn is engaged. The camera eye is in the outer edge of the sideview mirrors.

The box at back is of very limited size, with an integrated tonneau cover. It measures about 4-foot by 4-foot. Built-in steps in bumper corners assist access. Drop the tailgate to access a small, lockable storage space beneath the bed floor.

The Santa Cruz Limited, with an estimated 19/27 fuel mileage, averaged 21.2 miles per gallon.

The Santa Cruz Limited test model carried a sticker price of $41,550; a more basic version, still with AWD, begins around $30,000. It is built in Montgomery, Ala.

Ford Raptor makes run to Kearney, Neb.

An orange metallic finish suits the bold Ford Raptor pickup. (Bud Wells photos)

The big Ford Raptor, an F150 SuperCrew finished in orange metallic hue, carried us into Nebraska all the way to Kearney, where we toured an impressive display of 200 classic automobiles.

Alan Gentz kneels beside a 1949 Triumph 2000 roadster

The Kearney Classic Car Collection, a gift to the city 10 years ago, had fallen on hard times and faced closure until Sterling entrepreneur Alan E. Gentz and his VeriQuest Ltd. investment firm paid $1.2 million for the business and 150 cars and guided it back to business-as-usual standing. It was at Gentz’s invitation we made the drive to Kearney.

We joined Kurt, Tammy and Erik Wells for the weekend at their lakehouse at Jeffrey Reservoir, near Brady, Neb. Brady and Kearney are 78 miles apart on I-80.

Heavy winds hampered the truck’s efficiency; its 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive system delivered an average of only 14.2 miles per gallon in the 700 miles.

Tammy Wells waves from passenger seat of 1949 Willys Overland Jeepster.

It stands tall, with running boards 18 inches off ground level, and shows 4,705 pounds of curb weight from its four doors and 5 ½-foot box at back.

Kearney city officials accepted the gift of the automobiles in 2011 from Bernie and Janice Taulborg. Little more than a year ago, Gentz’s daughter Mariah, who is pursuing her master’s degree at University of Nebraska Kearney, read of the city’s financial plight, called her father and said, “Dad, you should come here and take a look.” Which he did.

Shortly after acquiring the collection in a 501(c)3 purchase, Gentz and his wife, Julie, attended a car show at Rapid City, S.D., and won the show’s People’s Choice Award with a maroon-and-silver 1940 Packard convertible from Kearney.

A beautifully restored 1930 Lincoln LeBaron Convertible.

The Packard is indicative of the quality of the large collection of cars. Three among many that caught my eye were a 1940 Ford Coupe, 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood Convertible Sedan, 1930 Lincoln LeBaron Convertible Roadster.

Aiding the museum’s operation are a team of 50 volunteers; one is Jim Cudaback, former Nebraska state senator, who has ordered a 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in electric for himself. He asked my opinion of the car, and was pleased when I told him the Prime was my pick for SUV of the Year for 2020.

Gentz is seeking partner support for his VeriQuest investor group and the car museum, and may be texted at 303-619-8698 or emailed at

The Raptor 37 Performance Package refers to its 37-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires, tuned next-generation shocks with live technology. The Raptor carries a sharply elevated sticker price of $82,060.

S580 is ‘dream;’ Frontier is top truck

The 2022 Mercedes S580 sedan in snow near Glen Haven. (Bud Wells photos)

My word, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was better, is now even better.

Carrying me out of year 2021 this week was the S580 4Matic Sedan, a bit bigger at 208 inches in overall length and curb weight of 5,290 pounds.

It’s the smoothest and most comfortable drive for me in several years. Still, a couple BMW models probably outshine it in twisting tight corners and sprinting up and down mountainous terrain.

I don’t include the higher-priced luxuries in selection of favorite car, truck and SUV, so let’s tag it with “dream car” honors.

The tough-looking ’22 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X pickup.

My choices for favorite car, truck and SUV of 2021 are the Mazda3 hatchback with added turbocharging  and all-wheel drive among cars, the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X compact pickup for trucks and the ’22 Genesis GV70 AWD in the SUV class. For the Frontier, it is the first major redesign in 17 years.

Walk up to the new Mercedes S580 with key in pocket, the door handles pop outward for easy grip, the seat is specially cushioned with quilted leather, swing the sedan around a corner to the right and the left bolster in the seatback presses against the driver’s ribs to deny any seat slide.

The 496-horsepower, 516 lb.-ft. torque, 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 engine is mated to 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive with an EQ 48-volt boost of 21 horses. It attains highway fuel economy in the 25-mpg range.

Running the base price from $116,300 to $140,130 are Burmester sound ($6,700), warmth and comfort package with heated nappa leather steering wheel, technology package and others.

The Genesis GV70 at Eckley in Yuma County.

Among other highlights for 2021: 

Hello – Two well-designed, all-electric models, the Ford Mustang Mach-e and the Volkswagen ID.4, which I drove early in 2021.

Goodbye – The near-indestructible Toyota Land Cruiser, which is being discontinued after 60 years of tough, offroad service. In recent years, it had become very pricey; the last one I drove was a bit over $90 grand.

Cheapest – The little Nissan Kicks SR, a Japanese-based subcompact crossover assembled in Aquascalientes, Mexico, at $26,730. The Kicks averaged 32.3 mpg.

Priciest – The McLaren 720S Spider, with 710 horsepower and top speed of 212, at $362,960. The only higher-priced one I’ve driven was a year earlier, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan just under $400,000.

Most fun – That same McLaren, with its dihedral synchro-helix doors that rotate 90-degrees by sweeping outwards and upwards at the hinge. I laughed at myself more than once in exiting the vehicle. The low-slung convertible sits only 47 inches in height, and with the big door raised overhead, the task requires a rollout or slideout.

The Mazda3 hatchback offers turbocharging and all-wheel-drive capability.

Even Jeep – The electrification circuit has reached Jeep, which unveiled its Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4XE plug-in electric. The Grand Cherokee is expected to also add a plug-in to its lineup early in 2022.

How many cylinders? – A 1.3-liter engine with only three cylinders powered us in a Chevy Trailblazer to Jeffrey Lake near Brady, Neb., for a weekend of fun, averaging 27.3 mpg for the drive there and back. It is built in South Korea.

Jan’s favorite – Honda Accord Hybrid.

Best greeting – Happy New Year!