LTR 2023 Truck Guide

 Features  Comments Off on LTR 2023 Truck Guide
May 212023

Ford F-150 Lightning

The truck segment has evolved from offering basic-but-hardworking transportation to premium-but-still-hardworking-if necessary family vehicles. The next stage will focus on electrification. Many credit Tesla for energizing the electric vehicle market but while carmakers allowed Tesla to move ahead with cars and crossovers, they’re leapfrogging ahead with trucks. Ford stepped up with the Lightning, its full-size electric truck and for this year’s truck guide, Latino Traffic Report (LTR) had the chance to drive one. Contributors Valerie Menard and Andy Stonehouse also review the GMC Sierra and Ram 1500, respectively.

Ford Lightning

The EV market was not a hit when the first models, car or otherwise, hit the market but over the last ten years, helped by an improved infrastructure, government incentives, and OK, Tesla, the market is beginning to grow. To add trucks to the segment seemed a big leap but in 2021, Ford took a bold step forward by introducing its first EVB truck, the Lightning. The electric truck era reached #LTR in 2023 with a test drive of the Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum with the extended range battery. With an electric range of 240 miles, the EV truck was immediately competitive.

LTR has reviewed several EVs and while some models boast a good range, they differ when it comes to holding a charge. Using the air conditioner, for example, can make the range drop suddenly.

For its part, the Lightning held a charge for longer stretches which was impressive considering its size. While it can be charged from a conventional 110-volt home outlet, it takes a while and unless the truck fits in the garage, the most ideal place for charging overnight, the opportunities for home charging may be limited.

While the Lightning easily performs as a premium truck, it keeps up with its gasoline-powered siblings when it comes to towing, with a maximum weight of 10,000 pounds, and power, producing 580 hp and 775 lb.–ft. of torque on the test model. It does, however, surpass them when it comes to cargo capacity because when you go electric, you gain 14.1 cubic feet of storage under the front hood.

With good power, a huge 15-inch center stack touchscreen with charging station info, a panoramic sunroof, and front and rear heated seats, the F-150 Ford Lightning is super impressive if you can afford it. As-tested MSRP came to $94,304.


GMC Sierra 4WD

Sitting near the top of that half-ton segment for General Motors is the GMC Sierra. LTR recently test drove the Sierra AT4X Crew Cab (four-door) 4WD that has off-road capabilities as well as luxury and seating for five. Following in a trend a premium trucks that continue to raise the bar on what buyers will spend, this truck is a cut above the rest.

While it’s priced as a premium vehicle—as-tested MSRP came to $81,010—this truck will also be judged by its utility, as most trucks are. All-new in 2023, the Sierra AT4X comes standard with a 6.2L V-8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 460 ft.­­–lbs. of torque and is matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission. The Sierra has a maximum payload of 2,240 pounds but on the as-configured test model, it came to 1,420 lbs. with 8,900 lbs. maximum towing. GMC’s unique MultiPro tailgate can be configured for six uses including a step ladder to improve ingress and egress to the truck bed. While the tailgate is dampened (it drops softly) the ladder does add a bit of weight to it when lifting it to close.

Most owners may not want to scratch the paint on this fancy truck by driving off road, but the AT4X is quite capable of doing so, as the name implies. Its two-speed transfer case includes selectable modes for different off-road conditions.

After capability, most owners will interact with the infotainment system on a daily basis. The Sierra, including the test model, features a new, 13.4-inch-diagonal color touchscreen that is fairly intuitive when presetting radio and XM for 30 channels. A 12.3-inch-diagonal configurable digital instrument cluster with a 15-inch-diagonal multicolor Head-Up Display complements the center panel and heated leather seats throughout with ventilated front seats and 16-way massage setting.

Premium status also extends to the truck’s battery of standard safety features starting with the blind spot monitor, parking sensors, back-up camera (for connecting the tow hitch) as well as a Safety Alert Seat, a unique GM feature, that sends a vibrating sensation to the driver’s seat to warn of a potential collision.

Still, the GMC Sierra is a stunner, inside and out, and for those in the market for a premium family vehicle with more brawn than an SUV, it’s worth a test drive.

—Valerie Menard


RAM 1500 Rebel G/T

The at-one-time astronomical amount of $80,000 of money, puts you in a very, very optioned-out Ram 1500 Rebel G/T today—base priced at about $55,000 but almost $77,000 in the truck I had.

This ultra-rugged, ultra-massive machine is pre-programmed for mud, sand, and snow, but so tall and wide that cleaning snow off its roof or, getting aboard for that matter, is a real chore.

But in the thick of a genuine off-road situation, or tasked with its more traditional job of menacing other drivers on highways and in parking lots, it’s awesome, in its own way.

I think you could replicate much of the Ram’s core experience in that almost $30,000-less base model, with the biggest addition being the 395-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8, this one mild hybrid eTorque system that uses a battery-powered motor generator rather than an alternator. Treat it poorly, enjoying the absolutely oversized shift paddles and the eight-speed transmission, and you’ll get the 13 mpg I got; the EPA says up to 22 highway mpg, maybe.

Like the whole Charger/Challenger gang, Rebel also gets a full set of digital race track and drag strip meters, but without the 700-horsepower Ram TRX engine, those seem a little silly.

Ram has perhaps less refined on-road manners than the Sierra AT4X, even with an optional, four-corner air suspension system, but that loose tarmac feeling also gave it a more playful spirit on gravel and dirt—and it still makes full-blown Hemi noises pretty much all the time. Plus, a Crew Cab setup produces one of the biggest rear seats in any vehicle available.

Even with nearly $20,000 in options, the Rebel lacked the proximity cameras, running boards or the fancy multi-function tailgate other brands offer, and still has an old-fashioned manual tilt steering wheel.

But its simplicity might also appeal to some drivers, with a more straightforward 4×4 system and electronic locking rear axle. I dialed everything in and the Ram absolutely ate up a super-steep and muddy test slope, both forward and backward, and comfortably dominated washboard gravel and snowy surfaces.

Mine had also been upgraded with the nearly Tesla-styled, 12-inch vertical navigation screen, which can be split between functions and feature vastly improved map and even back-up camera resolution. The G/T package also added sporty leather seating and a Mopar cold air-intake system and, yes, Ram just announced new electric versions of their trucks with up to 500 miles range; long live 13 gasoline mpg, in the meantime.

—Andy Stonehouse


Bumped-up Bolt, Racy Equinox Add to Chevrolet’s SUV Options

 Chevrolet, Reviews  Comments Off on Bumped-up Bolt, Racy Equinox Add to Chevrolet’s SUV Options
Apr 012023

By Andy Stonehouse

I remain just a little confused about the “U” part of the new Chevrolet Bolt EUV, i.e. electric utility vehicle, the marginally enlarged new version of the existing and extremely affordable Bolt electric car. Families looking for hauling capacity are probably better served pricing out a traditional, actual SUV like Chevy’s Equinox RS—or wait a year and check out the 2024 Equinox EV, on its way.

But if you’re one of those hearty electric vehicle (EV) advocates who’d like reliable and largely domestic technology, at just over $43,000 (a price that includes the $2,200 Super Cruise package) it’s another option, with all-wheel drive (AWD) also available. More impressively, the standard Bolt now sells for about $27,000, both prices before any of the now-confusing array of EV credits.

The 2023 Bolt EUV Premier is a good indication of what GM’s emerging range of EVs will be like, both inside and out, that is, rather understated in its interior design, perhaps even sparse by other brand standards, with a very grey plastic interior, large and simple-to-read displays for your EV stats, and a slightly more versatile 56.9 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats dropped.

In terms of EV performance, it’s still pretty impressive, with an official EPA range of 247 miles on a full charge, in warm weather, on flat roads, at sea level. Your actual results will vary. During my drives, the readouts told me I got up to 4.1 miles per kilowatt-hour.

Given that it’s only 3,589 pounds, lighter than a Tesla Model 3, it also goes like hell, pretty much all of the time. There’s 947 pounds of battery (the new Hummers’ batteries are about 2,300 pounds, by comparison), but Bolt EUV can make its 200 horsepower, 65 kilowatt-hour system feel like you’re driving a go-kart, and absolutely fly.

It is not, however, imbued with performance brakes or performance suspension, and though the modified shape means taller rear seat headroom, I would keep its diminutive size in mind while attempting land-speed records. Maybe take it easy and use the easy-to-activate one-pedal driving, or yank on the left-side-of-the-wheel regeneration paddle for more electronic braking.

Charging stats suggest you’ll get up to 95 miles of range with a super-fast charger, or between 25 and 37 miles of range per hour at a Level II (220 outlet) charger, with seven to 10 hours required for a full charge there.


Meanwhile—and actually more affordable than the Bolt’s EUV version—the Chevy Equinox offers a sprightly, pleasant and more capacious experience, with a 1.5-liter turbo providing surprisingly effective motoring and an easy 30 mpg.

Assembled in Mexico, the $36,020 Equinox RS AWD is not quite as plain as GM’s even-smaller, Korean-made models, with a tastefully downsized rendition of Chevy’s SUV designs—lots of sculpted swoops, red outline stitching and the RS’s blacked-out leather seats, dark chrome and black on black everywhere else, including the wheels and roof rails. You can also go super-austere and get a standard front-wheel drive version of the car for a $26,600 starting price.

The 175 horsepower from that little turbo made for a largely pleasant weekend of 350 miles of highway driving earlier this year, with somewhat lower mileage in the uphill stretches but steady numbers in the higher 20s elsewhere. Car and Driver complained how much it missed the Equinox’s old 2.0-liter engine, as you might expect them to do. With a curb weight less than the Bolt EUV, I think budget-minded drivers might find the Equinox just right.

Space here is of course not Escalade-level but also not bad, with 63.9 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats dropped, and almost 30 cubic feet behind those seats. Rear seat room is also pleasant, with almost 40 inches of leg room.

An $895 entertainment package added a heated steering wheel, USB plugs and an eight-inch color touchscreen.

Si: The Bolt EUV offers a competitive range for an EV. The Equinox RS offers good performance for an SUV.

No: The Bolt EUV offers less utility than its name implies. The Equinox’s turbo engine lacks the power of its predecessors.

Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Lakewood, Colorado. All photos are stock, not as-tested, and feature European models.







Premium SUV Review: Lexus NX 350

 Lexus  Comments Off on Premium SUV Review: Lexus NX 350
Mar 132023

All new in 2022, the Lexus NX 350 enters its second generation with a sharper look on the outside and advanced technology inside. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently test drove the NX, specifically the Luxury trim level. From its Circuit Red leather-trimmed quilted seats to its Lexus Interface multimedia system, the as-tested NX embraced its premium tag.

Covering all its bases, Lexus makes three versions of the NX available including a hybrid, the NX 350h, and a plug-in hybrid electric (a first for Lexus), the NX 450h+. LTR tested the gasoline-powered NX 350 with all-wheel drive (AWD).

Matched to an eight-speed transmission, the turbo-charged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 275 horsepower and 317 lb.–ft. of torque and speeds from 0–60 in 6.8 seconds. It has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. It averaged 22.5 mpg on the weeklong test drive.  Its performance was further enhanced by paddle shifters and the standard Drive Mode Select with Normal, Eco, and Sport options.

Redesigned from the inside out, the NX reflects the Lexus DNA with a “refined” spindle grille. It also adds a new block LEXUS rear badge and full-width tail lamp. The sleek exterior look is complemented by a plush interior. Standard features include a power moonroof, wireless charger, and dual zone climate control. The Luxury trim added the afore perforated leather-trimmed seating, head-up display, 14-inch touchscreen (a 9.8-inch one is standard), real wood accents, and thematic ambient lighting, among other features.

Lexus seems most proud of its new technology featured in the new NX, starting with Lexus Interface Assistant that enables a voice-activated interaction with its multimedia system, from the phone to climate control.  Intelligent Assistant accesses convenience features like weather and points of interest (POI) searches with navigation. Add Wi-Fi Connect and it can access audio streaming.

The Lexus Interface Cloud Navigation system offers 100 percent cloud capability and integrated Google POI data. While this service and other connected services like Safety Connect and Service Connect, are nice, they all require a paid subscription to access them after the trial term ends.

On a more basic level, AppleCarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on all NX models and the radio channel preset function was simple and intuitive though 18 channels seemed to be the  maximum of presets. If there was an ability to expand that number, it wasn’t apparent.

Standard on all-new NX models is the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 that includes nifty features like right and left turn oncoming pedestrian/vehicle detection and braking, dynamic cruise control, and Road Sign Assist, it doesn’t include the blind spot monitor because it’s standard.

Lexus hasn’t left off utility on the NX. With the rear seats folded, the cargo room expands by 14 percent to 46.9 cubic feet.

Pricing for the 2023 NX 350 starts at $44,665. The as-tested price came to $55,225.

Sí: The all-new NX 350 improves on looks and functionality.

No: Much of the new technology requires a subscription.

Toyota and SHPE Award Latino Scholars

 Noticias  Comments Off on Toyota and SHPE Award Latino Scholars
Mar 022023

Nunca Pares Scholarship winners, (left to right): Tyler McBride, Sr. manager, Brand, Growth Audiences, Cross Vehicle Line Marketing, Vehicle Marketing and Communications, Toyota Motor North America; Ruben Bonett, Giana Aguilar-Valencia, and Maximiliano Pombo Hernández.

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Toyota’s Nunca Pares (Never Settle) Scholarship campaign, in partnership with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), has awarded three Latino students with a $25,000 scholarship each.

The scholars were celebrated at a ceremony held at Toyota’s North American headquarters in Plano, Texas on February 28:

  • Giana Aguilar-Valencia – Junior at DePaul University, studying computer science
  • Ruben Bonett – Junior at Texas A&M University, College Station, studying electrical engineering
  • Maximiliano Pombo – Junior at Texas A&M University, College Station, studying computer science

With these scholarships, Toyota joins SHPE in the shared mission of expanding science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for Hispanic-heritage students. Each student demonstrated unyielding determination to making their dreams come true.

“We recognize these students for their commitment to creating solutions for a better tomorrow,” said Tellis Bethel, group vice president, Social Innovation, Toyota Motor North America. “Driving educational opportunities to Hispanic students is important to the development of future innovations for a more equitable and sustainable society. We’re excited to see how far these students go and to have the opportunity be a part of their continued educational journey.”

For more than 20 years, Toyota has engaged with SHPE on a regional and national level, including participation in their national conference. Toyota’s college programs with SHPE encompass recruitment efforts, co-ops, internships and scholarships.

“We’re excited to see this scholarship opportunity come to life for our members thanks to Toyota,” stated Monique Herrera, chief external relations officer, SHPE. “The Toyota Nunca Pares Scholarship gives these students the opportunity to continue pursuing their higher education goals by providing much needed financial support so they can achieve their dreams.”

Katya Echazarreta joined the ceremony to share her inspiring story. As an electrical engineer and the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space, Katya’s journey to becoming one of the youngest women in space exemplifies her resolve to be an example of success for others pursuing a career in STEM.

Toyota’s Nunca Pares brand campaign celebrates Latino’s collective spirit of pushing forward, to never give up on achieving their goals, regardless of the challenges. It was developed by Toyota’s marketing agency, Conill.


Mexican Textiles on Display at Texas Museum

 Destinations  Comments Off on Mexican Textiles on Display at Texas Museum
Feb 212023

Visitors to Austin, TX might like to stop by the Bob Bullock Museum while in town. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has learned that the museum is featuring an exhibition of Mexican Textiles, on display through April 2, 2023.

Dress from Oaxaca.

Hilos de Tradición: Dresses of Mexico is a collaborative exhibition with the Brownsville Historical Association that presents Mexican textiles as living traditions with roots that can be traced back thousands of years to the earliest peoples in Mesoamerica. The tools, patterns, materials, and techniques of crafting these textiles have evolved over the centuries. European influences and modernization have contributed to these changes. But the common thread in all of the textiles is the link they represent between Mexico’s past and present.

Dress from Chiapas.

The collection on which the exhibition is based was formed by the Brownsville chapter of the Pan American Round Table (PART), a women’s group established to foster understanding, knowledge, and friendship among the peoples of the Western Hemisphere.  Today, now under the care of the Brownsville Historical Association, the collection has over 3,000 unique pieces and is one of the largest collections of North, Central, and South American textiles.

Dress from Veracruz.

The dresses reflect both the indigenous and European influences that have shaped Mexican culture and tradition. Weaving, embroidery, and lace feature prominently. Heavy fabrics and multiple layers speak to the climate of Mexico’s mountainous regions. Ruffles and flounces add movement to the dresses worn for dancing and celebration. Some dresses reflect Mexico’s vaquero culture and revolutionary spirit, while other dresses are a connection to Mexico’s deep Catholic faith. Through it all, color and pattern shine brightly as a testament to the vibrant and varied regions of Mexico.

Inside the Exhibition

Dress from Yucatan.

Hilos features 37 traditional outfits representing the states of Mexico. The garments have been selected to represent the traditional textiles, art, dance, and culture of each Mexican state. Several states are represented by multiple dresses.

  • See outfits that showcase and reflect the long traditions of weaving and embroidery in Mexico. The earliest evidence of woven textiles in Mexico dates as far back as 1400 BC. Using fibers like cotton and others derived from yucca, palm, and maguey plants, skilled weavers crafted textiles on a back strap loom. The history of embroidery in Mexican clothing is also centuries old. As Spanish influence in the region increased, needlework skills from around the world made their way into the stitching vocabulary of Mexican artisans.
  • See outfits reflecting Mexico’s cultural traditions through celebrations and music. Wearing traditional clothing for holidays and celebrations is a way of showing respect for the past and their cultural heritage, and traditional Mexican dances are history lessons set to music and reflect Mexico’s many regions.
  • Four hands-on stations allow visitors to feel and examine up close the basic fabrics used to make the dresses on exhibit, the embellishments used to add texture and movement, and the details of embroidery stitches and woven patterns.
  • Visitors can try their hand at five traditional stitches commonly used in embroidery. After trying it themselves, the extraordinary craftsmanship of the embroidered dresses will be even more remarkable!

To purchase tickets, click here.

Premium SUV Review: 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V

 Cadillac, Reviews  Comments Off on Premium SUV Review: 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V
Feb 202023

Driver’s side view of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V under the arch at Arcosanti in Arizona.

By Andy Stonehouse

Can a car change you? And if so, do you want to take on the personality of a 682-horsepower, fire-breathing, $150,000 box of Texas-built Cadillac, an end-of-an-era monster that makes Corvette noises and conforms to almost no standard societal norms?

Close up of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V’s supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine.

Well, sure. For the price of two Hellcat Widebodies, two Camaro ZL1s, or a pile of Ford GT-somethings, Cadillac has produced the complete antithesis to its upcoming family of electric vehicles.

The 2023 Escalade-V is a striking and rather conspicuously over-the-top automobile designed to outdo other brash statements such as the 577-horsepower Mercedes AMG G63 (though the Benz is still $30,000 more expensive), yet still haul seven passengers.

If you’d yearned for a full-size American SUV that’s capable of 4.4-second runs to 60 mph, exhaust noises that  scream and crackle, and parked on 22-inch wheels, this is it.

Semi-aniline leather, and heated/ventilated and massaging front seats of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V.

Yes, a lot of questions come along with such a vehicle. Is it truly and unbelievably different than the base Chevy Suburban you can get for approximately $90,000 less—a vehicle of the same size and general capacity? Well, yes and no.

For this price point, I’d kind of expected Escalade-V to at least come with the new Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system, or maybe a hot tub or controls covered in Swarovski crystals. Even a refrigerated console box would have been cool. Sadly, none of those were present.

Interior finishes are indeed premium, with lots of polished wood, an Alcantara headliner, and a beautifully perforated dash top. The Escalade-V’s extra-chiseled looks do set it apart from its Suburban/Yukon/standard Escalade siblings, but it’s still basically the same tallish box as they are.

As mentioned in previous reviews of the newer General Motors full-sized SUV platform, the benefit is rear-seat access and head room that will allow adults to perhaps more than temporarily be seated in the third row. The captains’ chair second-row seats sort of drop and squat out of the way; you just have to navigate around slightly oversized TV monitors attached to the back of the front seats.

Scale is gigantic up front, too, with a super-broad and tall console that’s so large you simply cannot reach over and try to pick up something on the passenger seat. You also get power running boards, helpful for access, as well as blacked-out, bugle-styled exhaust tips, ultra-bright vertical brake lamps and lighting in the rear, and very nice 18-spoke alloy wheels.

But none of that is quite as important (or, costly) as the hand-assembled 6.2-liter supercharged V8, with 682 actual horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque. It is quite the technological achievement, and when noisy acceleration is required, the Escalade-V delivers.

As I found on my first outing, it’ll (happily) hit a rev limiter at about double the standard U.S. highway speed limit, which will help you from destroying the vehicle, maybe, as high-speed handling was strictly a straight-line kind of deal.

I did appreciate the fact that the Escalade-V handled in a relatively civil and even large-sporty fashion when driven more slowly, capably taking curves and riding along firmly on its adaptive air-ride suspension—which seemed to readjust itself at every stop sign.

Like the Corvette, almost every aspect of the Escalade-V’s driving can be adjusted—braking, shifting, chassis control, even exhaust noises – and hitting the somewhat hidden V switch ahead of the oversized 10-speed auto shifter puts everything into max mode.

That results in somewhat stabby braking, but those banquet dish-sized front discs and red Brembo calipers up front are fully capable of bringing Escalade-V out of orbit, so that’s reassuring.

Fuel consumption is as expected, ranging between about 11 miles per gallon (mpg) and an unlikely 28 mpg I got coming back into Denver; the EPA sticker suggests you will spend $13,000 more on gas over a five-year period than an average car, and get 16 highway mpg.

Sí: The Escalade-V delivers on its promise of unmatched performance in its segment.

No: For the price, the Escalade-V doesn’t set itself apart from its more affordable full-size siblings offered by GM.

Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Lakewood, Colorado. All photos are stock, not as-tested, and feature European models.








Car Review: 2022 BMW 2-, 4-, and 5-Series

 BMW, Reviews  Comments Off on Car Review: 2022 BMW 2-, 4-, and 5-Series
Dec 312022

M440i XDrive Gran Coupe

By Andy Stonehouse

BMW sedans might seem best suited for more warm/dry-weather, but the proliferation of xDrive all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems on many of them does provide excellent versatility for anyone needing mountain and wintry use. I keep asking for more of BMW’s X-model SUVs to test but in the meantime, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about their sometimes bewilderingly expansive world of two- and four-door cars. At least it’s not as complicated as the Mercedes-Benz catalog.

BMW M2 two-door coupe.

Doing this numerically, the tour begins with the new BMW 2-Series, a diminutive but striking model that looks perhaps a bit like a slightly larger Subaru BRZ, but does not behave (or cost) anywhere near that recently renewed, low-priced sports machine.

I had two performance variants of the petite 2-Series, the very exclusive and utterly fantastic/terrifying M2 CS edition ($95,545), and a more grounded but still enthusiastic M240i xDrive ($57,295). The very small two-door M2 edition (rifghr)  included a 3.0-liter inline-six, twin-turbo with 444 horsepower, hellaciously wide race tires, gold 19-inch wheels, and $8,500 carbon ceramic brakes, plus a real six-speed manual transmission.

M240i in purple and white

The M2 was frankly so vivid and vicious and outright scary that I saved my drives for a single late-summer jaunt up the winding highway to Colorado’s 14,000-foot-plus Mt. Evans, cramming myself into the race seats and experiencing race-car-level hilarity that rivaled the output of $150,000 supercars.

The level of structural rigidity makes M2 the antithesis of a

commuter’s delight—or any all-season practicality—but a layer of Alcantara trim on pretty much every seating and elbow/wheel surface does lighten up the feel of what really is a track-centered machine. If that’s what you desire, the M2 CS delivers.

The M240i, by comparison, behaved more like a traditional small car, although it is not slouchy in any way, compared to its race-car edition. The 3.0-liter here still produces 382 horsepower and with metallic purple and red paint jobs as options, it’s one very striking little coupe. Mine was a more sedate Mineral White but the M-level trim here included such details as white, blue, and red digitized bursts printed on the insides of the ultra-contoured doors, plus sporty 19-inch wheels and sport brakes.

BMW 430i

I cruised all the way from Northern Colorado to Pueblo one snowy morning and the M240i’s xDrive AWD system and some real winter tires made it seem like a safe and pleasant experience, and plenty fast when you want it to be. Simply do not plan to ever access those tiny rear seats, and be prepared to continually rest your left knee against the door panel on longer trips.

There has been an understandably polarized reaction to BMW’s 4-Series automobiles and their very unconventional front looks and gawd-awful gigantic nostrils (grille), but that didn’t stop me from driving 760 miles from Denver to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and back, and enjoying the ride in the hardtop, xDrive version of the 430i.

Yes, strange men did frequently yell at the car in the parking lot (maybe that’s a New Mexico thing), but the $60,520 coupe was often the classiest car in the county. While it lacked the pure cataclysm of power found in other models, I also got a real 42 miles per gallon (mpg) over my entire trip, and had to be just a tad more vigilant while doing two-lane passing jobs.

A somewhat more practical and perhaps less visually divisive version of the 4-Series, the quasi-hatchback M440i Gran Coupe model ($67,520) seemed like an entirely different animal, though that vexing, digitized calamity of a grille remains. It comes with a 3.0-liter turbo tuned to 382 horsepower, like the M240i, but the additional real estate here, including a full-sized back seat and almost SUV-styled storage in the rear, makes it feel like a much more substantial kind of deal. The most surprising thing is how competently this fuller 4-Series behaves, with an elegant, upscale expansion of the 3-Series package, including bits like ultra-aerodynamic side mirrors, beautiful highlight-painted wheels, and performance brake calipers. That cut and curved rear roofline does eat into rear visibility.

Finally, after a sea of somewhat smaller options, the grandeur and the style of the 540i xDrive sedan ($77,935) truly stands out. Power here is right in the middle, with 335 horsepower and standard light-hybrid boost from a 48-volt electrical system, but I was impressed by the 34 mpg I generated and the vehicle’s responsiveness.


It definitely felt like a whole different class of car after those New Mexico miles in the basic 4-Series, with a more spacious and nuanced experience accentuated by optional roll stabilization and dynamic damper controls. Anything constrained or squeezed in the smaller models gets the fuller treatment here, including the talk-to-me Intelligent Personal Assistant system on the gloriously wide and bright navigation display.

If you feel a little cheated on the power but love the space, the new M5 packs 600 horsepower. Let us save that for summertime.

Si: If you want responsivity and sport appeal, BMW’s M family still reigns supreme, with upgrades available at almost every size in the car (and SUV) family.

No: Base price is pretty much a non-concept with BMW; unlike Kia, your list of options and add-ons, some not that exotic, can dramatically boost the cost of any Bimmer.

Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Lakewood, Colorado. All photos are stock, not as-tested, and feature European models.

Sports Car Review: 2022 Toyota GR Supra

 Reviews, Toyota  Comments Off on Sports Car Review: 2022 Toyota GR Supra
Nov 232022

While Toyota excels at reliability, some say that accomplishment comes at the expense of an appealing design, but there’s at least one model in the lineup that represents the exception to that rule, the 2022 GR Supra. Latino Traffic Report recently drove the GR Supra 2.0 and it rumbles and speeds with the aplomb of a sports car, plus it looks good too.

To truly compete in the segment, a sports car needs to be fast. The Supra achieves this with a zero to 60 of 4.1 seconds. While the test model was powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine with 255 horsepower and a 295 lb.-ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, a straight-six 3.0-litre engine with 335 hp/365 lb.-ft. of torque is available and new for 2023, so is a six-speed intelligent manual transmission, ramping up its sporty appeal.

Sports cars should also hug the road, especially on curves. The GR Supra did so on Austin’s famed FM 2222 assisted by a double joint type McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension.

If at all possible, sports cars should sound like they mean it. The as-tested Supra’s 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine had a very nice rumble. It also had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. It averaged 28.6 mpg on the test drive.

As a base model, the 2.0 is a bit challenged when it comes to standard safety features but it did include auto-leveling headlights and pre-collision and lane departure warning. More sophisticated technology like a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, and parking sensors came with the Safety and Technology package ($3,485). That’s a pricey investment and these features remain optional throughout the line-up, even on the top-of-the-line A9-CF with the manual transmission.

The interior included Alcantara seats with leather trim, a digital gauge cluster and 8.8-inch touchscreen display with a three-month subscription to XM satellite radio. It had knobs to making engaging the infotainment system easier but when programming preset channels, it was less than intuitive.

Don’t expect roominess or much storage capacity, that’s not where sports cars excel. But on the test drive, it seems a hand can get caught by the trunk lid. While it didn’t break any bones, it did bring up a daunting idea—there’s no exterior latch to release it so without the key fob in your pocket or a friend to release the trunk from the inside, a person could remain caught until he or she can flag down help. So be careful and don’t let your hand linger near the trunk.

Pricing for the 2022 GR-Supra starts at $43,645. The as-tested price came to $47,845.

Sí: The GR Supra perform as a sports car should and the combination of speed, performance, and rumble will put a smile on your face.

No: Be care of that trunk lid and safety features like the blind spot monitor should not be stuck in such a pricey optional package.

Hispanic Motor Press Announces Awards at LA Auto Show

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Nov 182022

Kia EV6

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has learned that the Hispanic Motor Press has revealed the first round of winners for the 2023 Hispanic Motor Press Awards (HMPA), the premier independent Hispanic awards presented in the country for the Latino community to help, educate, and pre-select the best vehicle options in the market, during today’s opening of the Los Angeles Auto Show (LAAS) and AutoMobility LA.  The thirteenth annual HMPA program identifies the best new model year 2023 vehicles for Hispanic car buyers, considering manufacturer advancements in technology, safety features, infotainment, and cleaner mobility.

“We are delighted to announce the winners of the Hispanic Motor Press Awards right here once again in Los Angeles which represents the largest Hispanic market in the country. With the segment representing one in four of new vehicle purchases, we empower Hispanic consumers across the nation with information on adopting clean and safe transportation that enhances their vehicle experience while helping them make the right decision at the time of purchase,” states Ricardo Rodriguez-Long, veteran automotive journalist and founder of the Hispanic Motor Press.

The 2023 HMPA vehicle winners in respective categories are:

Best Technology of the Year – General Motors Super Cruise

City Car of the Year – Hyundai Kona

Luxury Vehicle of the Year – Jeep Grand Wagoneer

EV Car of the Year – Kia EV6 (top)

SUV of the Year – Kia Telluride

Truck of the Year – Chevrolet Silverado


Winning vehicles will be featured in an exclusive staged area throughout the duration of LAAS taking place through November 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The remaining HMPA 2023 winners will be chosen from two categories,  EV Truck of the Year and Family Vehicle of the Year, and will be announced in 2023.

Auto manufacturers voluntarily submit their entries, and the jury panel evaluates vehicles features including overall design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, infotainment integration, interior design, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction, and price.

The 2023 HMPA Jurors, of which LTR is included, represent a distinguished, independent group of Latino automotive journalists, content creators and industry influencers selected by the organization’s advisory board. Over 20 juror members evaluated over 100 new vehicles during 2022. The jury panel is comprised of national Hispanic journalists, content creators, and influencers who assess the vehicles while considering key purchase drivers for Hispanic families in quality, reliability, style, safety, and value.

Hispanic Motor Press Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 with the objective to educate and help the Hispanic Consumer to move towards mobility that is clean, affordable, and capable of reducing greenhouse emissions and improve our air quality.

For more information, visit Follow Hispanic Motor Press on Twitter@HMotorPressOrg, Facebook@Hispanicmotorpress  or Instagram@hispanicmotorpress.

Hyundai Invests in Latino Community During Hispanic Heritage Month

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Oct 152022

(l to r) Brandon Ramirez, director, corporate social responsibility, Hyundai Motor America, Sandra Pisano, PsyD, Director, Behavioral Health, AltaMed, Fanny Oliveira, Sr. director of Development, AltaMed Foundation, in Los Angeles, Calif. on October 14, 2022. (Photo/Hyundai)

At the close of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15) Latino Traffic Report has learned that Hyundai  honored the Hispanic and Latinx communities with a multifaceted program that included philanthropic and community-based support and sponsorships including:

  • Hyundai Hope donations to empower future generations through education
  • Community support from Hyundai’s employee resource group (ERG), Amigos Unidos
  • Partnership with the Latin American Museum in Long Beach (MOLAA)
  • Participation in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) leadership conference
  • Hyundai’s Hispanic marketing agency, Lopez Negrete Communications, FIFA campaign

“Hispanic and Latino Americans have long played a pivotal role enriching our culture and economy and serve as a key driving force of the automotive industry,” said José Muñoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America. “America’s diversity has always been one of our greatest strengths as a nation and we are proud to support and spotlight the Hispanic community’s rich and diverse heritage, achievements and contributions that have made our country better and stronger.”

Members of Hyundai’s Employee Resource Group, Amigos Unidos, with Lourdes Ramos, PhD, president and CEO, MOLAA, Alison Heney, PhD, vice president of learning and public programs, MOLAA, in Long Beach, Calif., October 10, 2022. (Photo/Hyundai)

Philanthropic Commitments
Hyundai donated $25,000 to The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) College Success Program to increase the number of Hispanic and Latino first-generation students from underserved communities majoring in the fields of STEM and business.

Hyundai Hope contributed to the AltaMed Foundation to support programs and resources providing mental health services to underserved communities.

Amigos Unidos Community Work
Hyundai and its employee resource group (ERG), Amigos Unidos, hosted the Fifth Annual Hyundai Career Experience Virtual Program for first- and second-year college students to learn about automotive career opportunities.

For a second year in a row, Hyundai’s Amigos Unidos ERG members volunteered their time and provided financial assistance to community-based organization, Project Youth OCBF in Santa Ana to keep at-risk youth in school, healthy and drug-free through education, counseling, mentoring, and family strengthening.

Latin American Museum in Long Beach (MOLAA) Sponsorship
Hyundai donated $14,000 to the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) Youth Art and Hispanic Heritage Programs and is sponsoring the Día de los Muertos community celebration and exhibit. For more information, please visit 2022 MOLAA Day of the Dead Festival.

Thought Leadership
Hyundai Motor North America’s Gil Castillo, senior group manager, product strategy and regulatory compliance, participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Leadership Conference “Building a Climate Resilient Nation: Green American Communities and Business” in Washington, D.C to discuss Hyundai’s electrification and carbon neutrality goals.

Hispanic Agency of Record and FIFA Content
Hyundai’s multicultural marketing group together with its newly selected U.S. Hispanic agency, Lopez Negrete Communications, unleashed the passion for soccer, starting with families, with original, culturally curated content awarding four Hispanic winners to attend the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Selected winners will be sharing their experience and journey of a lifetime during the live, global event that scores high among U.S. Hispanics.

Not all automakers make reaching out to the Latino community a priority. Bravo to Hyundai for its efforts.