It’s that time of year where everyone reflects on everything and where plans for the year ahead start to be made. Though one huge (successful) focus this year was on connecting LGBTQ drivers, both online and in-person, the new car reviews kept coming as well. Tyler and I continue to have so much fun providing our enthusiast-focused perspectives on new cars, crossovers and trucks online while sharing them with other queer people at events we host and attend. We’re doubly happy that so many readers have chosen to subscribe to our various channels and share or otherwise engage with our new car reviews. Thank you.
None of these reviews happen without so many other folks behind the scenes. PR teams who believe in dedicated LGBTQ automotive outreach, scheduling mavens at fleet companies who play Car Tetris with calendars, and several handfuls of drivers who spend their days moving cars around the metro area for media to drive. Thank you.
The Data Behind The Driving
We drove 47 cars from 22 brands, covering 12,628 miles for an average of 269 miles per vehicle. Average engine displacement was 2.9 liters with an average cylinder count of 5.2. Electric vehicles have no displacement or cylinders to speak of – not in the combustion sense – and were not counted in those two calculations.
Average curb weight of our review fleet was 4,198 pounds, powered by an average of 313 horsepower. This works out to an average of 14.5 pounds per horsepower, which is not especially slow or especially fast. Older “attainable” sporty cars (well, once attainable) like the Acura Integra GS-R and BMW E36 M3 are in the 13.x range. This of course says nothing about how anything produces that power, a statistic where even “slow” EVs can feel a bit punchy.
Manufacturers usually send a well-equipped, high-trim model as those show off all of the new features available, and that was reflected in the average MSRP of what we drove – $56,442. This figure was certainly skewed by a few high-dollar cars like the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S and 2021 Audi RS7 Sportback, both of which carried MSRPs over $120,000. It was refreshing to slip behind the wheel of vehicles that weren’t fully loaded, a more accurate representation of what people may purchase.
Blue and gray dominated the color palette of loans in 2021, followed by white and red. Here’s hoping we see more unique, interesting colors in 2022.
We also drove another 13 cars at various media events across the country. Two Chevrolet Corvettes, the 2022 Subaru BRZ, and a host of others from the 2022 Honda Civic to the 2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe were all able to pass through our hands for “first drive” evaluations on the street and on the racetrack.
There’s not enough space to discuss sixty vehicles in one post, so here’s some of our favorites from the past year.
Our Top 10 of 2021
2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette
Some say it’s funny-looking because of rear proportions. The convertible simply isn’t (it’s a power-operated targa) and rear visibility is poor. But damn, it’s good otherwise. The C8 Corvette is a lot of car for the money and a radical, positive departure from Corvettes of recent memory. DCT is fantastic, even in town. I think the sweet spot is a more basic “coupe” model with Z51 package added.
2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid
Not the first hybrid pickup truck on the market (GM’s GMT900 trucks and SUVs didn’t sell well but beat Ford to the punch) but by far the most well thought-out to date. Can cruise on battery alone at highway speed if unloaded. Get the Pro Power Onboard setup and power your trailer in the paddock all weekend. Hybrid system fills in the smallest bits of turbo lag from 3.5L EcoBoost V6. Payload suffers and it can only be had in specific cab/bed sizes. Toyota now offers a Tundra Hybrid to compete, but on paper it’s not as clever.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Comes across as a thought-out, good “all-rounder” electric crossover. Plenty quick in non-GT form, though seats were a touch flat on back roads and suspension a touch firm in the city. Plug & Charge at Electrify America stations was flawless and range estimates from Ford were spot-on with actual driving. The Mach-E handles back roads with relative grace and range didn’t suffer much despite being pushed harder than usual. Worth a look if you’re EV-curious.
2021 Genesis GV70 3.5T Sport Prestige
We like a lot of what Genesis is doing, but the GV70 is perhaps their best expression so far. Genesis has pulled off the “luxury and sporty” thing well here, and put their own unique styling spin on it that we love. Twin-turbo V6 is plenty punchy – don’t write off the turbo four, either – and benchmarking of the Porsche Macan shines through. Genesis’ driver assistance technology remains some of the best in the industry. We appreciate Genesis offering interesting paint and interior colors throughout the model and trim range, not just on the top-tier 3.5T Sport Prestige.
2022 Honda Civic Touring
I found the outgoing Honda Civic lineup to be competent on paper, but with fussy styling and a bit of a “bathtub” driving position. Honda’s updated 2022 Civic Touring made a fantastic first impression at a media drive, with immediately-impressive steering feel mated to better visibility and a cohesive, simple cabin. We’ve requested a 2022 Civic Si as the most enthusiast-oriented model to review, but don’t skip past the lower trim levels automatically.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Tyler drove the Santa Cruz on a “first drive” media event, and came away impressed. The Santa Cruz brings high levels of usability, comfort and style at a price that is accessible to almost everybody. Short of your sports car needs, the Santa Cruz is the do-it-all daily that still doesn’t abandon good driving dynamics. We’re waiting to test one with a hitch, as Hyundai claims a 5,000 pound towing capacity.
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata 6MT Grand Touring
You’re either a convertible person or you’re not. If you are, the Miata is perhaps the most pure expression of cheap fun – tossable, carefree, wind-it-out fun. Your other roadster options are far more expensive. Tall drivers don’t often fit well. Get the soft top over the RF, get the manual over the automatic. You’ll look for excuses to grab the key and go for a drive.
2021 Ram 1500 TRX
Ford’s F-150 Raptor is the better from-factory-ridiculous-trophy-truck to actually use, but the Ram 1500 TRX tugs at your heartstrings more. Its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 makes an assortment of absurd noises and scoots the truck along far too quickly for its own good. The embodiment of a child’s toy brought to life, the TRX is awful on gas, draws a ton of looks and judgement from others, and makes no sense unless your daily commute includes jumping sand dunes at 75 miles per hour. A “regular” Ram 1500 would be better for most buyers and the TRX won’t be around in current form forever, but it’s pretty wild that it can exist for now.
2022 Subaru BRZ
I was lukewarm on the outgoing BRZ and related Scion FR-S and Toyota 86, mostly because of a somewhat-uninspiring engine. Subaru and Toyota listened to customer chatter and made a second generation of their affordable sports coupe, and it is excellent. The old engine’s “torque dip” is no more – the 2.4-liter boxer four is a great upgrade and no, the car doesn’t need a turbo. Handling is friendly and approachable with plenty of feedback for the driver, speed and overall limits stay low where you can have more fun more of the time.
2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness
Tyler and I aren’t ‘Outback people’ but we came away impressed by the Outback Wilderness. Subaru’s response to owners modifying their Outbacks at home is a good one, with actual hardware changes to support going further off-road than a normal Outback might tread. As much ground clearance as a Mercedes-Benz G-Class combines with good tires and smart software to take you well into the tough stuff. Other brands are attempting the “overland” trim level but without any physical changes to make their vehicles better off-asphalt.
We’ve already got more vehicles on our schedules, so stay tuned for what’s to come. Be sure you’re following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’ve signed up for TikTok and have no idea what to do with it yet, and will otherwise keep producing video reviews on YouTube.