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Wheel Love 2022

This year’s most intriguing automobile trends.

The auto industry and consumers will remember 2021 as the year of the pandemic, critical shortages of semiconductor chips, empty lots at the dealerships, and insane prices for both new and used cars. As we look optimistically to the future, 2022 will continue to see limited inventories, limited choices, and prices that continue to rise for the automobile industry. Electric and hybrid vehicle choices will continue to expand, which should offer some light at the end of the tunnel. The battery-powered revolution, while disconcerting for traditional car enthusiasts, will offer buyers both innovative technology and the promise of a cleaner and healthier planet. 

Here are four automotive highlights for 2022 that should intrigue OutSmart readers looking for style and value. 

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota has resisted change when it comes to  its tried and true success story known as the Toyota 4Runner. This current generation of body-on-frame SUV was introduced in 2009 as a solidly built, off-road-capable SUV with unmatched reliability. For 2022, Toyota is offering the 4Runner in eight different models—from the basic SR5 at $37,305 to the TRD Pro, which lists for $52,120. 

All 4Runners are powered by a 4.0-liter V6 gasoline engine producing 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes 4-wheel vented disc brakes, LED headlights, LED taillights, pre-collision warning, lane departure, and even a sliding glass tailgate. EPA estimated mileage ranges from 16 mpg city to 19 mpg highway. Toyota will undoubtedly be offering a redesigned 4Runner in the near future to update its very iconic success story. I hope they listen to buyer feedback and continue building on a great legacy.

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

The iconic Volkswagen Microbus went into production on March 8, 1950, and became a favorite of the hippy generation and a mainstay of the American counterculture movement. Welcome to 2022 as Volkswagen introduces the seventh-generation all-electric I.D. Buzz. It’s packed with technologyz, has room for seven adults, and is loads of fun. It will begin production this year for European markets, and a three-row passenger van should arrive in the United States in 2023. 

The I.D. Buzz concept is reported to have 369 hp electric motors on each axle and a 111kWh battery pack in the floor, providing all-wheel drive with nearly 300 miles of estimated range. Pricing is expected to start around $40,000.

Nissan Z

It is official: Nissan has introduced the next generation of its favorite sports car known as the Nissan Z. It was originally launched in 1969 for the 1970 model year as the 240 Z—a modern sports coupe that immediately became very popular with car enthusiasts. The recast 2023 Nissan Z retains the long-hood fastback we are accustomed to, while promising to be quicker and more fun. 

This latest Z is powered by a 400 hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 producing 350 lb-ft of torque. Choices of transmission are a 9-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox with a high-performance clutch. It will be offered in two models: the base model known as the Sport, and the step-up model known as the Performance. 

Lucid Air

Lucid Motors describes their vision as having a relentless focus on innovation, luxury, and producing something great while doing the right thing. Yes, we are talking about the 2022 Motor Trend Car of the Year—the stunning Lucid Air. The aircraft-influenced profile is one of the most aerodynamic cars in the world, producing a 0.21 coefficient of drag. Lucid is an all-electric luxury vehicle designed in California, and offers four unique models with a range of luxury upgrades.  

Single- and dual-motor configurations are available, with a maximum of up to 1,111 horsepower. Prices range from $77,400 for the Air Pure to $169,000 for the Air Dream Edition.

This article appears in the March 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.


James T. Hurst

James Hurst is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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