10 most popular first drive reviews of 2022

When looking back to see what our most-read new car reviews of 2022 were, we discovered that the list was largely full model-line reviews of 2022 model year SUVs. Makes sense as they were on sale and people were shopping for them. There’s not a lot of reason to share that list with you, though, as they’re basically all out of date now. Instead, we turned to the most-read first-drive reviews, since those were for cars that are still for sale now. First drives also tend to be full of interesting tidbits about the various cars’ design and engineering, and therefore a bit more worthy of casual holiday reading while you attempt to avoid Uncle Walt’s latest diatribe about whatever or the brain-numbing screaming of all those damn kids downstairs. Enjoy!


1. 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V First Drive Review: 682 horses, loud exhaust, $5 gas

By James Riswick, Senior Editor West Coast & Reviews

“We frequently hear the argument that people happily doling out giant sums of money for giant SUVs ­couldn’t care less if their gas tank costs more to fill up than someone else’s more efficient giant SUV. Gas mileage? Who cares! The environment? Ha, good one. Very well, then. Let’s just accept that those with sufficient financial largesse to afford the Escalade-V’s starting price of $149,990 do not care about such things.”


2. 2023 Toyota bZ4X First Drive Review: Toyota’s first real EV arrives

By James Riswick, Senior Editor West Coast & Reviews

“For the money, the ßẐIVχ is a strong contender and we’d say a superior choice to the ID.4. What about the Solterra? Well, if front-wheel-drive is the most compelling version, then it’s hard not to give the nod to Toyota. Oh, and one more thing: bZ4X is a ridiculous name. Worse, it’s basically impossible to type. Go ahead, try it. I did, failed.”


3. 2023 Subaru Solterra First Drive Review: It take more than love to make an electric Subaru a Subaru

By John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor Green

“The company has told you time and time again that love is ‘what makes a Subaru a Subaru.’ We’d argue there’s more to the recipe than just that (and a boxer engine), as we’ve come to expect certain things from vehicles bearing the stars of Pleiades on their nose. They also need to support an active lifestyle, whether that’s an enthusiast hitting the track in a WRX, or the whole family hitting the trail in the new Outback Wilderness.”


4. 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV First Drive Review: Plug-in without the premium

By Byron Hurd, Associate Editor

“It’s easy then to think of the Tucson as a scaled-back version of Toyota’s formula — and one we could live with. If the Tucson were more expensive or less capable, it would be easy to call the RAV4 Prime the uncontested winner. But since their prices scale proportionately, it’s really a matter of how much PHEV you want (or feel comfortable paying for).”


5. 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV First Drive Review: A savvy choice

By John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor Green

“The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV is a surprise gem in the Hyundai lineup, with a sporty but efficient powertrain, an excellent interior and loads of useful technology. Our brief drive left us wanting more seat time in the PHEV to better get to know its ins and outs.”


2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line

6. 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line First Drive Review: Not just the ‘cheap’ Stinger

By Joel Stocksdale, News Editor

“Complementing the peppy four-pot is the eager, pointy nose. Having two fewer cylinders, just one twin-cam cylinder head and just one turbo means there’s far less weight on the nose. As such, the Stinger GT-Line is more willing to sniff out apexes. The car feels better balanced, too, rather than feeling like the back end is much lighter. These are all great things when it has such a fantastically communicative chassis paired with super-quick and precise steering.”


7. 2022 Kia EV6 First Drive Review: Sets the electric SUV bar even higher

By John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor Green

“Eventually we’d work our way higher into the hills, where locals hurl their ancient pickups through blind curves and snaking paths with the sort of confidence that only comes with years of retracing one’s tire tracks enough to banish thoughts of barreling down a wooded cliff. Here, the EV6 chased those locals like a dog chases a rabbit. The steering feels connected, light and precise enough to confidently transition from one corner to another. “


8. 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 55 First Drive Review: When 55 is greater than 63

By James Riswick, Senior Editor West Coast & Reviews

“Despite sharing the same wheel size and tire type, plus driving on comparable roads and surfaces, the SL 63 produced far more “noise” through the steering wheel, with extra vibration and occasional harshness felt through the front axle. It felt like a notably less refined car, and if there was a dynamic advantage to be found, we certainly couldn’t notice it at the not-exactly-relaxed speeds we were driving. If we had only driven the 63, perhaps we wouldn’t have a gripe, but we unquestionably preferred driving the SL 55.”


9. Lucid Air Grand Touring First Drive Review: New kid in town beats everyone up

By James Riswick, Senior Editor West Coast & Reviews

“A new car from a new company breeds a certain degree of skepticism. One expects a few rough edges, both literally and figuratively, with a few haphazard choices here and some janky elements there. Something probably won’t work. Something will almost certainly be borrowed from the parts bin of another manufacturer. The Lucid Air manages to erase that skepticism very quickly.”


10. Mazda CX-50 First Drive Review: The outdoorsy pivot

By James Riswick, Senior Editor West Coast & Reviews

“The CX-50 showcases Mazda’s typical obsession with ensuring that the primary controls and overall vehicle dynamics behave in a natural, immediate and, quite simply, exceptional way. Its engineers keep various classic cars on hand with a particularly commendable attribute (say, a good steering rack or rear suspension tuning) to benchmark greatness regardless of what’s happening now … The result is yet another Mazda that just feels right behind the wheel, like it’s an extension of your body. It can be a lot of fun.”

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