This was a year of change—for this column.
If you are a regular reader, you have seen this column evolve from just presenting reviews of the latest and greatest vehicles that we hoped you would consider for your next purchase (or lease). We presented a variety of transportation options from using electric scooters for that last mile of your commute to covering motorcycles and maintenance for your vehicles.
In the last few columns, we continue to evolve this column towards giving you ideas on where to take your vehicles, your significant others, your Rainbow Families, and/or your friends for a getaway from home. So far, we took you to Fargo-Moorhead, Mankato, and Cedar Rapids and shown you around each town for an experience that fits your lifestyle and your time away from home.
However, this column is going back to its roots for one issue only.
This columnist usually works with 40-50 vehicles per year. Fewer of them actually show up on these pages. If I do, they provide context for our adventures on the road.
For this Year-End column, I wanted to present the best vehicles of the year that I had a chance to work with here and elsewhere. However, it will always be my aim to bring them onto these pages, as I have received plenty of feedback from you that you love the vehicles that appear in this magazine—and I thank you for that!
And, these are our best of 2019…
HYUNDAI PALISADE: We talk about Rainbow Families and their needs for transportation. More of us are having children or are merging our families together with our spouses and significant others. You still want the best out of your family transport. The new Hyundai Palisade offers space for up to eight people over three rows. The third row can fit three children comfortably. Its V6 power and available all-wheel-drive do the job all year round. Most of all, its high style and high level of technology are what make the Palisade one of the most talked-about vehicles this year. It is definitely worth driving.
JAGUAR I-PACE: There’s Tesla. Then, there’s everyone else challenging Tesla. However, when the topic of the Jaguar I-Pace comes up, why were you surprised? This is the Jaguar no one expected. And, yet, this is the Jaguar that has catapulted the British luxury/sport brand to the front of the electric vehicle movement. Room for four-to-five people with a crossover/hatchback body style and plenty of cargo space from front to back. Two electric motors make for a driving experience expected in a Jaguar—sporty and quick. It can also go up to 234 miles on a single charge from a full battery. If you’re looking for an EV, check the I-Pace out!
JEEP GLADIATOR: This is a selection chosen more for you. We love Jeeps—we have in the decades after Stonewall. Jeeps helped liberate us towards freedom of expression and know no gender or sexual orientation. This newest Jeep caught your eye with its extended frame and attached bed behind a crew cab made from the Wrangler Unlimited four-door. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V6 with standard four-wheel drive. A diesel V6 is coming later in the 2020 model year. As it stands, you can tow up to 7,650 pounds and can haul up to 1,700 pounds in the bed. You can’t get any more butch than this!
LEXUS ES: A year ago, Lexus introduced the newest generation of one of its original two offerings. The “smaller” ES is now a leading mid-sized premium sedan offering luxury, efficiency, performance, and a smooth quiet ride. As a result, the new ES is attracting a younger customer—thanks to the new ES 350 F Sport model. Plus, it offers the latest technology in safety and connectivity inside. You still have a choice of a V6 engine or a Hybrid driveline. Either way, you are coddled in fine luxury—at a price that does not put you out of reach of premium car reality.
MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS: For years, we love how the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport can take us anywhere we wanted to go. Through snow, ice, rain, and high heat, our Outlander Sports were trusty enough to be one our local favorite vehicles. The Eclipse Cross is designed perfectly for us—a high-styled crossover with great all-wheel-drive traction, a powerful turbocharged engine, improved technology and safety. And, we have responded by trading in our Outlander Sports for Eclipse Crosses. Welcome to your new favorite vehicle, simply because a little extra does go a long way!
VOLVO XC40: As I pointed over the past eight years, we love Volvos. And, Volvos love us. It is a match made in… Sweden. Except, this one is assembled in Belgium. Still, the XC40 is a great urban runabout that offers Volvo style and luxury in a size made for St. Paul’s Lowertown or Uptown Minneapolis. It is also attainable for anywhere you live while giving you every safety feature Volvo has perfected since the 1950s. The turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive will get you through the winter. You can also load up the rear with your yield from your day’s shopping! Plus, it was a wonderful road trip vehicle.
The next year will see more road trips to destinations near and far from home. Look for me (and Lavender Magazine) somewhere down the road. I might be driving something wonderful to your part of the world!