Vehicles That Check All The Boxes

By Beverly & Steve Smirnis

Hybrids:  Lexus ES300h

  • Fuel Efficiency

  • Competitive Pricing in Luxe Segment

  • More Horsepower

  • Trunk Space

Technology has helped make hybrids drive better at motorway speeds with improved fuel economy for less initial outlay. And in this realm, Lexus has always been and continues to be a leader. Rating at 44 mpg combined, the ES 300h is the most fuel-efficient non-plug-in luxury vehicle on the market. Its hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired to an electric motor that produces 215 total system horsepower. Starting at $41,560, its price tag is just a little higher than the Toyota Avalon Hybrid that it is based on. Most often, it’s compared against the hybrid Volvo S60, which equals it in luxurious appointments, but has a higher starting price and lower horsepower. We also appreciate that Lexus made a wise move in relocating the battery pack under the rear seats on its completely redesigned ES 300h model, making its trunk space the same as the ES 350.

Lexus ES 300h

Small SUVs:  Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SE

  • Third-Row

  • Warranty

  • Value

  • German Engineering

The newest Tiguan is bigger than previous models offering more cargo and passenger space–even making room for a third-row seat option, a rarity in this segment. Our SE trim level tester was the first upgrade from the base model, but offered plenty of features including keyless entry, upgraded 8-inch touchscreen, power-adjustable driver’s seat, forward collision warning and blind-spot monitoring. Overall, it was quiet and comfortable with a turbocharged four-cylinder that has been a part of VW history for 25 years. German engineering with a 6 yr/72,000 mi bumper to bumper warranty for $27,690 on our SE model is impressive.

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SE

Midsize SUVs:  Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4X4

  • Sustainable Market Position

  • Options for All

  • Off-Road Capability

  • Overall Quality

Year after year, Jeep continues to win awards for its Grand Cherokee. One reason is, there’s a Grand Cherokee for any type of driver. It’s offered in seven trim levels with plenty of options on every level. While all Grand Cherokees sport off-road capability, Jeep sells a lot of Grand Cherokee Trailhawks to its loyal pack of extremists. On the other side of the spectrum, are the city folks who opt for the Summit 4X4, Grand Cherokee’s most luxurious of options. These buyers would pick our 4X4 tester for its great attention to detail inside and out, that’s almost as cool, more capable and, at $67,720 delivered, costs significantly less than the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4X4

Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded. Follow their automotive blog on