Two fun and affordable little rides

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With the current spike in gasoline prices, many potential buyers are taking a hard look at how much vehicle they really need. Here is an overview of three rides of different sizes: small, medium and large.

SMALL: MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS
$24,000
Mpg: 26 city/29 highway
0 to 100 km/h: 8.6 seconds

Introduced in 2018, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is generating a lot of excitement for those of us who still yearn for the sporty Eclipse coupe produced between 1989 and 2011. This affordable compact crossover offers similar cocky styling, including a futuristic fascia and a touch Lexus-style.

But despite the racy good looks, the turbocharged four-cylinder’s acceleration is more practical than powerful. And the dialed-in suspension is more lovable than exciting. But the nimble steering and tight cornering are perfect for quick maneuvers during rush-hour traffic and for squeezing through tight parking spaces. The simple cabin design has faux aluminum trim and fairly comfortable cloth seats, though the lack of an adjustable lumbar support to cushion my back was a disappointment. Some of the many standard features include a 7-inch touchscreen, four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth and plenty of safety features: automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, exit warning lane and reversing camera.

Upgrade to one of three other trim levels to add heated seats, smartphone integration, synthetic suede upholstery, power panoramic sunroof, head-up display, additional safety gadgets and more . In other words, despite its affordable price, the Eclipse Cross offers plenty of amenities.

MEDIUM: JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE
$41,000
Mpg: 19 city/26 highway
0 to 100 km/h: 7.4 seconds

Jeep Grand Cheerokee

Completely redesigned this year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee now looks more luxurious than rugged. It could have been a disaster, given the automaker’s reputation for producing rough rides. Yet despite what is essentially a nod to Land Rover’s boxy but softly contoured styling, this midsize still retains its true Jeep DNA.

This is evident in the seamless blend of smooth on-road handling and stellar off-road capability. There are more than a dozen trim levels, from the base Laredo at $41,000 all the way up to the Summit Reserve 4xe PHEV at $77,000. While that’s a big price difference, it shows Jeep’s commitment to delivering a Grand Cherokee for every buyer personality. Sure, offering so many configurations can be confusing, but it gives drivers the ability to truly personalize their rides. This includes the choice of three powertrains: the standard V6, the robust V8 Hemi and the fuel-efficient 4xe plug-in hybrid that can go up to 25 miles on battery power alone.

Inside, there’s so much glamor you’d think it’s a high-end Mercedes. Depending on the trim level, you can deck out the interior with quilted upholstery, open-pore wood, double-glazed panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, second-row blinds and other goodies. For the techies, there’s a Wi-Fi hotspot, various USB ports, smartphone integration, a 10.10-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster. Call me a hedonist, but I particularly liked the massaging seats, premium 19-speaker McIntosh stereo, and a rear-seat entertainment system that adds two high-definition screens with built-in Amazon Fire TV.

BIG: CADILLAC ESCALADE
$78,000
Mpg: 14 city/19 highway
0 to 100 km/h: 5.9 seconds

Cadillac Escalade

Introduced in 1999, the Cadillac Escalade underwent a complete redesign last year. The head-turning styling is bold and dramatic, with a massive bow-shaped hood, heavily creased sheetmetal and bold vertical lighting treatments that would make Thor proud. This colossus stands 6-foot-4 and tips the scales at 5,700 pounds, twice the weight of a Mini Cooper.

Still, it’s surprisingly snappy, outpacing the Mini Cooper by 0.3 seconds when accelerating from 0-60mph. While power comes from a thirsty V8, half the cylinders are automatically deactivated at cruising speed to reduce gas mileage. A more environmentally friendly option is the diesel engine, which provides 50% better fuel economy. (And earlier this month, Cadillac announced that its all-electric Escalade is expected by 2024.) I tested one of the high-end Platinum models, with a hefty $105,000 price tag. To say this large SUV exuded luxury is an understatement, with premium finishes throughout, adjustable ambient lighting, a center console refrigerator, night vision camera, 36-speaker stereo and up-to-the-minute captain’s chairs. the back. Perhaps even more impressive: the front dash boasts staggering 38-inch curved OLED displays, combining the digital gauge cluster, infotainment display and surround-view camera.

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