We needed an upgrade from our Acura MDX. We have had it for a long time, it still works very well, but getting old. This is our second MDX and so the first place we went to test new cars was Acura. This was followed by Lexus and the RS, Toyota and the Highlander hybrid, Jeep Grand Cherokee, then finally the Tesla model Y. All of these are excellent cars but, the Acura MD is pretty much the same as the two we have had since 2004. They are very well built, excellent driving cars, but use a lot of premium fuel. No hybrid or electrics available.
Next came Lexus and the RS. We liked it as it is about the size we need and is a softer luxier MDX. This car when you look at it and sit in it is well made and looks good. The drivers seat sort of pinched my bottom though. My complaint with Lexus is their cars ride too soft and wallow when driving. They drive very quiet though and smooth over the bumps. The current hybrid for this car uses the same six as the non hybrid six and the MPG is only slightly better than the standard six motor.
Then came the Toyota Highlander. The Toyota dealer ship is across the street from the Lexus dealer. I like the Highlander but my wife does not. My older daughter has three young children and has one. She enjoys hers. We drove the hybrid one. When you get the limited package these are very fully equipped. I was impressed by the hybrid which uses a 4 cylinder and has electric motors to give it more acceleration when needed and for use around town. This is, in my opinion, a better solution than the similar but luxier Lexus RS. The Highlander is big and gets 34 MPG around town on regular. To my wife this vehicle is too big for her, but if you need to carry a lot this would be a good choice. To me it drives quite well.
Then I drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have a Jeep Wrangler from 2013 I like a lot. The Grand Cherokee is much much nicer inside than my Jeep and rides and drives on the road far better than my Wrangler. Of the SUVs talked about above the Grand Cherokee is about the same size. The six combined with the 8 speed transmission has plenty of power and uses regular gas. The inside of the GC is as nice as either the Acura or Lexus and better than the Highlander. It handles better than the GS or Highlander but not as well as the Acura. It is less money than all three. Soon there is a new model Grand Cherokee coming out and can be ordered with a plug in hybrid. All of these four cars seemed well built out of good components.
Then I set up an appointment to drive the Tesla long range model Y. From the get go the Tesla is very different than the other cars. You don’t start the motor you just push down on the accelerator. There is almost no sound. The control screen is to your right, but right away that was easy to use. I noticed immediately that when you took your foot off the throttle the car slowed down and stopped. That seemed a little strange for about ten minutes. After that it seemed natural. A light went off in my brain and the idea of mostly accelerating, slowing, and stopping with one foot seemed brilliant. We drove in city streets and I literally never had to put my foot on the brake. I learned later that the Tesla model Y slows you while taking power from the energy of the car moving and when it comes to a stop it puts on the brakes seamlessly. I found the visibility except for the back window is very good. By about this time I realized how much I liked driving with one foot and I wanted the Tesla over the other cars. It is as simple as 3-2-1. When I was young most cars had three peddles, clutch, brake, accelerator. Then later when auto transmissions became popular they had two, brake and accelerator. The Tesla has two, accelerator and brake, but in operation you don’t use the brake much and driving becomes simpler and in my opinion better.
We leased a Tesla model Y for three years. I leased it because I think electric cars will change a lot over the next few years and I think leasing will allow us to to change when that happens easily. Plus we know quite accurately how many miles we average over a years time.
Hits & Misses Of The Acura MDX 2022, Lexus RS 2021, Toyota Highlander Limited 2021, Jeep Grand Cherokee 2021 – These are completely subjective and only my opinion. All three of these SUVs are among the best of the best for this type of car. They all have very few flaws.
- Acura – Hit – Superb handling for a full sized SUV.
- Acura – Hit – Great V6 motor.
- Acura – Misses – Complex controls that can confuse + uses more premium fuel than I like. Solution – add a good hybrid and go with simple controls
- Lexus RS – Hit – Very quiet and smooth ride and motor for both V6 and hybrid.
- Lexus RS – Hit – High quality components.
- Toyota Highlander – Hit – Perfect kid and thing hauler – I recommend the fuel saving hybrid. Except for being too big for my wife this SUV is a winner.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee – Hit – Beautiful interior for the higher level limited and up.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee – Hit – Easy to use controls.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee – Hit – The most off road capable of the SUVs I tested. If you like to go off road this is the car to get of this group in my opinion. This model is soon to be replaced and if priced well the new hybrid will add a lot to this car.
- Tesla Y – Hit – This is a next level car and their systems all benefit from coming off a clean slate with a great deal of thought when making new. Even though this car comes with a lot of advanced systems they are mostly very well thought out and intuitive to use.
- Tesla Y – Misses – We may nick name this car Christine (After the old movie car Christine). It seems to start up some things by itself and then resist turning stuff off. Keep in mind we have only had this car less than a week and no one has read the manual. Yesterday I backed the Tesla out of the garage a bit while I was doing some work in it. The car kept turning on what sounded like and air conditioner or fan. I think it was a ventilation fan. I lowered the window and it was not hot outside or cold. I turned the climate control off on the iPhone app and inside the car. It ran anyway. I still have not figured how to turn off the music. Tesla is following Apple in making it hard to turn stuff off. I like off switches. I like the auto things in the Tesla, but also like the option of turning things off positively when I want. Both Tesla and Apple seem to like to be always on.
- Tesla Y – misses – I am developing range anxiety. I keep looking on the Tesla map to see what are the charging options in some of the places we like to travel that are somewhat remote. So far I have noticed that our model Y seems to have it’s range predictor showing less miles than it should. When I drove it back from picking up (my longest trip yet) the estimated miles to go till needing a charge went down more than the miles traveled. This is no problem with a gas car as you can fill up everywhere, but an electric, not so easy or fast.
I want to emphasize that all the cars I tested are great, but one has to be the winner and the Y just blew me away with it’s next level features and the also using only electricity. I like the idea of adding solar to our house and not needing gasoline to power my car.