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2022 BMW i4 EV Sedan First Look: Big Range, Big Power, Big Grille

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  3. 2022 BMW i4 EV Sedan First Look: Big Range, Big Power, Big Grille

Production model promises up to 300 miles range and 523 horsepower.

The 2022 BMW i4 EV sedan premiered a bit earlier than expected, with the first few exterior photos and even fewer details released during the company’s annual conference in Munich today. It is the latest i model to be introduced under BMW’s electrified sub-brand, which has fielded stuff like the i3 EV hatchback and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.

The production i4’s styling, it turns out, was accurately previewed by the Concept i4 last year. That said, the sedan’s visual were toned-down substantially, particularly in the headlights and wheels. While the concept looked like an aggressive sport sedan, we were told back then that wasn’t the goal for the production car. As such, the i4 you’ll be able to buy later this year looks like a less-aggressive version of the new 4 Series coupe, which will itself debut in four-door Gran Coupe guise soon, albeit with blue accents like those on the (discontinued) i8 sports car. Though BMW refers to the i4 as a Gran Coupe in a press release, it’s unclear if that appellation will be an official part of the car’s name.

While details are scarce, the Concept i4’s headline numbers have arrived intact or improved. BMW now promises up to 300 miles of range on the EPA cycle (based on internal estimates), bettering the 270 miles previously announced. (367 miles on the more generous WLTP cycle.) The automaker is continuing to promise up to 523 hp and a zero-to-60 mph acceleration time “around four seconds” for the quickest model. Those stats are likely to apply to an upcoming M Performance model (not a full M car), while the big range number may apply to a less sporty model.

Another, less fortunate carryover from the concept car to the real-deal i4? The rodent-with-braces fascia, wholly unnecessary in this case as electric cars don’t need big radiator grilles as they don’t have combustion engines to cool. BMW has instead chosen to use the inflamed kidneys as a place to mount all the forward-looking sensors necessary for advanced semi-automated driving features and, someday, autonomous driving. We hope this choice doesn’t lead to expensive repair costs in the event of a front-end collision, although other manufacturers stuff similar equipment in their vehicles’ noses.

It remains to be seen how much of the somewhat radical concept interior makes it to production as BMW has not released any interior photos yet. BMW i models tend to have futuristic interiors, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of the design elements make it to production, especially the massive, curved, floating instrument cluster and infotainment screen. We’re told the crystal iDrive controller is unlikely to go into production, but otherwise, BMW’s plans are still a mystery.

BMW has promised to release more details over the coming weeks ahead of the car’s on-sale date late this year as a 2022 model.

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2021 Toyota Highlander XLE vs. Highlander XSE: The Battle for the High Land

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  6. 2021 Toyota Highlander XLE vs. Highlander XSE: The Battle for the High Land

Is the XSE really that sporty? We drove both back-to-back.

Toyota Highlander Full Overview

The Toyota Highlander is known for being a reliable, good-looking three-row SUV, but among the list of adjectives used to describe it, sporty is not on our list. New for 2021 is the Highlander XSE, which swaps its elegant lines for a more dynamic appearance. With a unique grille, fascia, lower spoiler, wheels, and blackened details like the mirror caps and fake air vents, the XSE distinguishes itself from the rest of the Highlander lineup. But the XSE is more than a badge and an appearance package—Toyota engineers made changes under the skin to deliver a more connected driving experience. Among those trades are stiffer spring rates, a thicker anti-roll bar, and retuned shock absorbers, while the steering feel is more pronounced.

Earlier this year we tested a 2021 Highlander XSE but couldn’t notice any major differences between the regular three-row SUV and the new trim. To get a better perspective, we asked Toyota to lend us the XSE back along with an XLE—the most popular Highlander trim—for a back-to-back comparison.

How Sporty is Sporty?

Usually, we associate the word sporty with extra power and dynamic handling, but that’s not the case here. All Highlanders—regardless of the trim—are powered by a 295-hp, 263 lb-ft 3.5-liter V-6 mated to an eight-speed transmission. Our XSE and XLE both came with the optional all-wheel drive system, which can send up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. Besides the suspension and steering settings, the XSE comes with stickier tires and 20-inch wheels (instead of 18s).

Driving the Highlanders back-to-back exposed the difference we didn’t see earlier in the year. Compared to the XLE, the XSE’s steering felt a bit more weighted, but short of what we’d describe as sporty. The difference was like turning Sport mode on—the XSE felt more alert while the XLE seemed to be in comfort mode all the time. The response was a bit sharper and better balanced and provided a tad more feedback than the XLE. Still, it wasn’t a night and day difference, as the XSE’s steering is still tuned to on the comfort side of the spectrum.

The case is the same with the ride. On our test loop that mingles through curvy roads, broken pavement and highway portions, the Highlander XSE’s body felt a bit more controlled than the XLE. On the broken pavement, the XSE’s suspension felt like it was tuned to work in a one-and-done fashion versus trying to dissipate the vibrations in the cabin in a cushier way, like we felt in the XLE. On twisty roads, the XSE felt sharper, more controlled and a tad grippier—the latter mostly because of the Goodyear Eagle Touring tires compared to the XLE’s Michelin Premier LTX. Ride quality wasn’t impacted by the XSE’s bigger wheels.

At our track in Fontana, California, the pair felt pretty close to each other in our acceleration and handling tests. In the 0-60 mph run and the quarter mile, the XLE was 0.1 second faster, but on our braking test the XSE’s tires showed off, stopping in 116 ft compared to 122 ft for the XLE. “Similar feel to the XLE: Lots of front dive, softly sprung front suspension,” said associate road test editor Erick Ayapana after driving them back-to-back.

Things were minimally different on the skid pad as well, where road test editor Chris Walton managed to shave 0.2 second in the XSE for a time of 26.5-seconds at 0.65 g (the XLE took 26.7 seconds at 0.64 g). “Lots of body roll in the corners, and the steering seems heavy for heavy’s sake. The transmission wasn’t very intelligent on the skid pad, so I had to downshift manually,” said Walton on the XLE. His feelings were almost replicated in the XSE, noting the same foibles as in the XLE but less so. “There’s still quite a lot of dive and roll, but not as severe. The transmission behaves the same, and perhaps the tires are a little sportier, so it was easier to brake in the same spot consistently,” he added.

So, how sporty is sporty? The Highlander XSE falls short of what we’d call sporty or spirited. But like Walton said after driving the XSE on the skid pad, “this is how the regular Highlander should be.” The stiffer springs and weighted steering help it keep its body under control when driving aggressively, and still have that level of comfort that the three-row Toyota is known for.

Are the Interiors Different?

Similar to the exterior, the cabins are a bit different. The biggest change is the red leatherette in the XSE, which you can choose at no cost. (On a side note, the red leatherette only covers the first and second rows; the third row gets black seats.) If you prefer something more traditional, black leatherette seats are also standard, which is how our model came equipped. Faux carbon-fiber trim can be seen across the dashboard. The XLE, on the other hand, trades the red leatherette for a premium appeal, especially with the Harvest Beige interior, which combines beige and brown materials. And instead of getting the fake carbon-fiber, the XLE gets a shiny gray plastic.

The other minor difference inside is the design of the Multi-Terrain selector, which is controlled by a knob in the XSE instead of buttons like in the XLE. Both SUVs have the same three modes—Mud & Sand, Normal, and Rock & Dirt—only the way to select them is different.

Opting for the XLE allows you to choose between a seven- or eight-passenger interior at no cost; the XSE arrives with seven seats only.

Everything else is the same across the board. Both SUVs come with five USB ports (three in the front row, two in the second row) and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The XSE is available with navigation and a JBL premium audio system (a $1,680 option), while the XLE offers navigation and a premium audio option (no JBL speakers) for $1,040. Both systems sounded good; we didn’t notice any major difference between them.

Interior space is the same in both Highlanders, with the third row feeling cramped for adults. Recently, Toyota trademarked the “Grand Highlander” name, which means we might see a bigger three-row SUV soon, which could amplify interior space.

Which Highlander Should I Buy?

The XSE is positioned between the XLE and Limited grades, which means it starts at $42,680 while the XLE is priced at $41,085. All-wheel drive is an extra $1,950 for either model. Our XLE, which only added the navigation and audio package, crossed the checkout counter at $43,625. Our XSE added the JBL package and other accessories like the cargo cross bars on the roof, all-weather floor mats, and illuminated door sills (among others) that increased its price to $47,451.

In the end, it all comes down to the looks and practicality. If you think the Highlander’s design is boring, the XSE definitely brings more emotion. But if your budget is tighter, the XLE is a good option. The stiffer suspension and steering settings likely won’t affect your decision, as the experience behind the wheel is virtually the same when either Highlander is not pushed to its limits, something the vast majority of owners will stay away from.

If it were our money, we’d probably go with the XSE, as we prefer its handling on the road and its stickier tires. We’d rather have the XLE’s exterior design, but we’d get the red leatherette seats if we were buying the XSE. We can’t have the best of both worlds here, but we’re glad Toyota is giving customers more options to choose from.

Looks good! More details?

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2021 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE AWD
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE Atkinson-cycle 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 210.9 cu in/3,456 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 11.8:1
POWER (SAE NET) 295 hp @ 6,600 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 263 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
REDLINE 6,750 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 14.7 lb/hp 14.9 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.00:1/2.02:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 14.2:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.8
BRAKES, F; R 13.3-in vented disc; 13.3-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 8.0 x 18-in cast aluminum 8.0 x 20-in cast aluminum
TIRES 235/65R18 106V Michelin Premier LTX (M+S) 235/55R20 102V Goodyear Eagle Touring (M+S)
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
TRACK, F/R 65.3/65.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 194.9 x 76.0 x 68.1 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.0 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 17.9/23.0 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 37.4 ft
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,341 lb (56/44%) 4,394 lb (55/45%)
TOWING CAPACITY 5,000 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 7 6
HEADROOM, F/M/R 38.4/39.4/36.1 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 40.4/41.0/27.7 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 59.0/58.7/55.0 in
CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/M/R 84.3/48.4/16.0 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.4 sec 2.4 sec
0-40 3.8 3.9
0-50 5.2 5.4
0-60 6.8 6.9
0-70 9.2 9.4
0-80 11.6 12.0
0-90 14.3 14.6
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.5 3.6
QUARTER MILE 15.3 sec @ 92.8 mph 15.4 sec @ 92.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft 116 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.82 g (avg) 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.64 g (avg) 26.5 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,500 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $42,860 $44,805
PRICE AS TESTED $43,900 $47,726
AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, driver knee, front-pass thigh, f/m/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 2 yrs/25,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 17.9 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 20/27/23 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 169/125 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.86 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

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2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition First Test: Real Deal

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Honda Civic Type R Full Overview

When we first drove the 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition, we reported that the seemingly small list of upgrades made a huge difference in how the car drove. Are the differences really big enough to quantify? We took the short-run special to the racetrack to find out, and the results speak for themselves.

Most of the Civic Type R LE’s upgrade list actually looks like an exclusion list. Reducing weight pays big dividends in acceleration, braking, and handling, and the Type R LE loses 50 pounds compared to a standard Type R. About half the weight loss comes from removing things like sound deadening material in the roof, rear hatch, dashboard, and front fenders, as well as dumping the rear wiper and the cargo cover. The rest comes from fitting a set of BBS forged aluminum wheels.

The only actual additions to the Type R LE are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and a new calibration for the active dampers to account for the weight loss and stickier rubber.

Fifty pounds’ worth of weight reduction on a car that normally weighs about 3,100 pounds isn’t much—literally a 1 percent reduction—so we weren’t surprised to see little difference in the instrumented test results. In fact, the Type R LE is actually slightly slower to 60 mph than the quickest Civic Type R we’ve tested, needing 5.3 seconds instead of 5.0. Although the Cup 2 tires didn’t launch as hard, the reduced weight, especially at the drive wheels, showed up in the quarter-mile result. The Type R Limited Edition needed 13.7 seconds, same as the “standard” Type R, but was traveling 1.9 mph quicker. More power went to accelerating the car, power that otherwise would’ve gone to spinning heavier wheels.

Going the other way, both the Civic Type R and the Type R LE needed a supercar-worthy 99 feet to stop from 60 mph.

As we expected, though, the real difference showed up in our handling tests. On the skidpad, the Cup 2 tires needed to be warmed up, but once they were, they provided an average of 1.04 g of lateral grip, up from a best of 1.01 g on the standard Type R. The extra grip translated directly to a faster lap time in the figure-eight test of 24.1 seconds at 0.81 average g, compared to 24.3 seconds at 0.79 average g for the regular car.

That’s a measurable improvement, sure, but it’s not huge. To really see if the Civic Type R Limited Edition delivers on its promises, we took it to the racetrack and called up our good buddy Randy Pobst. If the mods made a useful difference, he’d find it.

Find it he did. On a frigid Streets of Willow Springs racetrack that’d been rained on the night before (washing off all the helpful rubber from previous racers), Randy put down a 1:24.02 lap, nearly a full second quicker than a standard Type R tested on a much nicer day (1:25.07). Race teams would sell their souls to consistently take a second off their lap times.

Randy, ever the racer, wanted more. He cut his teeth racing front-wheel-drive cars, so he has some thoughts about how they ought to handle.

“That’s damn good for a front-drive,” he said, “but I’m not really a big fan of the handling because I can’t work the tail. Once the tires are warm, the tail doesn’t move, so it’s just levels of understeer. It has enough power to generate a real strong understeer, especially in second gear, and that just makes it want to go straight off the track. So I found I had to wait for a little bit, so I could take some steering out of it and accelerate that way.

“When the tires were cold, it oversteered a ton, and then when they got just a little bit of heat, there was beautiful balance. Once they got warmed up, it turned into more of an understeer and a typical front-drive experience of dealing with the front tires. Once they were all warm, I was really just controlling levels of understeer.”

This tracks with what we experienced driving the Type R and Type R Limited Edition back to back on the racetrack. The standard car is freer at the rear end and can be induced into a little bit of oversteer that helps point you out of the corner. The LE is just stuck, all the time. If Randy had his way, he’d add a bunch of negative camber at the front end to reduce the understeer and then dial in some toe out on the rear end to free it up. When you track your Type R LE, you can play with alignment to your heart’s content, just know that you’re starting with a car that’s already a second a lap quicker.

Don’t think you can just put stickier tires on your standard Type R and automatically get the same performance, either. We tried that with our long-term 2018 Civic Type R. On a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, that car did a 1:25.81 on Streets, and only 39 pounds lighter than the heaviest Type R we’ve ever weighed.

Here’s the big kicker, though: The Civic Type R LE isn’t actually 50 pounds lighter. According to our scales, it’s only 21 pounds lighter than the skinniest Type R we’ve weighed, the one that did the 1:25.07 lap.

Put all these instrumented results together, and a conclusion emerges. We already know losing weight and fitting sticky tires increases performance, but the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition isn’t just about bolt-on (or off) parts. It’s a complete package, and it works. What’s more, as we described in our First Drive review of the car, it absolutely feels quicker and nimbler than the standard car. All you need to decide is whether lap times, yellow paint, and an even better driving experience from what’s already the best-driving front-drive car on the market is worth the $6,500 upcharge to you. A quality set of lightweight wheels and Cup 2 tires will cost nearly as much, and we’ve established there’s more to it than that. Decide quickly, though, because Honda only imported 600 of them.

Looks good! More details?

SPECIFICATIONS 2021 Honda Civic Type R (Limited Edition)
BASE PRICE $44,990
PRICE AS TESTED $44,990
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 4-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 2.0L/306-hp/295-lb-ft turbo  DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,075 lb (62/38%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 179.4 x 73.9 x 56.5 in
0-60 MPH 5.3 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.7 sec @ 107.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 99 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.04 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.1 sec @ 0.81 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/28/25 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 153/120 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.80 lb/mile

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Rivian Warranty Overpowers Tesla with More Years, More Miles

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  3. Rivian Warranty Overpowers Tesla with More Years, More Miles

Not all EV warranties are created equally, and in this case, Tesla is not king.

There is a peace of mind knowing that a vehicle is covered by a good warranty. It’s not like owners expect anything to go wrong, but modern vehicles and their thousands of associated bits ‘n pieces are bound to be too dang expensive to cover out-of-pocket. Plus, vehicle fixes are increasingly electrical and decreasingly mechanical. As more and more long-range electric vehicles see real-world use and abuse—including those from Tesla, Rivian, and Lordstown—the substance of those warranties may become increasingly important. And so far, Rivian is just barely winning the warranty wars.

Basic Warranty: Lordstown vs. Tesla vs. Rivian

Lordstown claims a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty for its Endurance EV pickup, though warranty details seem scant at this point. Meanwhile, the New Vehicle Limited Warranty coverage for Tesla includes four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Rivian? The comprehensive warranty for Rivian tops that with a generous five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.

While Rivian’s basic warranty is impressive, the mileage still falls short of Nissan’s five-year/100,000-mile offering for the Leaf EV (just to drop in some perspective). Tesla has one warranty, a Supplemental Restraint System Limited Warranty that covers seat belts or air bag systems, that’s good for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.

How About That All-Important Battery Warranty?

Lordstown’s battery warranty is eight years, with no mileage listed at this point. The battery and drive unit warranty for Tesla vehicles offers coverage for eight years (with a minimum of 70 percent retention of battery capacity) or 100,000 miles (Model 3 Standard Range); 120,000 miles (Model 3 Long Range, Performance; Model Y Long Range, Performance); or 150,000 miles (Model S, X). Rivian’s battery pack and drivetrain components warranty matches the eight-year and 70-percent battery capacity of Tesla, but ups the mileage to 175,000 for both its R1S SUV and R1T truck.

Additionally, all of these vehicles are or are expected to be covered against rust perforation, the fancy way of saying that a vehicle won’t prematurely return to the earth due to manufacturer defect or poor workmanship. Tesla’s Body Rust Limited Warranty covers 12 years and unlimited miles, while Rivian covers 8 years with unlimited miles. This information wasn’t available for Lordstown yet, so consider the rust advantage Tesla’s for now.

Does a warranty matter? No one wants to find out the hard way, but as the years go by and mileage increases, the likelihood increases. Rivian and Lordstown do not actually have vehicles on the road like Tesla does (but Rivian is much closer than Lordstown). With no claims, warranty coverage does not truly matter—yet.

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