Behind the Wheel

2020 Lamborghini Urus Review: It's a Lamborghini where it counts

The Lamborghini Urus will make the dreams of 10-year old boys come true ... in SUV form.

Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini

When buying a supercar, personality matters. In the same way that the breed of dog you own reflects on the type of person you are, a supercar brand says a lot.

Buy a Ferrari and it's likely that you're a racing enthusiast and passionate about automotive history. A McLaren and you might be all about precision engineering. An Aston Martin might mean you want to be Sean Connery's 007.

But a Lamborghini is about flash. Scissor doors, loud colors, and louder exhausts — that's what Automobili Lamborghini is, and it's perhaps the best carmaker in the world when it comes to those things. It's a ten-year old boy's bedroom wall poster.

2020 Lamborghini Urus The Urus is a sight, taking the best lines of the typical Lamborghini car for a spin in the shape of an SUV.Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini

It's why when I picked up a friend's ten-year old niece from school in the Lamborghini Urus — a $270,034 SUV based on the Audi Q7 — a ten-year old boy on the playground yelled "LOOK A LAMBORGHINI!" That one outburst captures everything that matters about this car.

It's loud and brash and has the largest brakes ever fitted to a road-going car, and it's everything you could possibly want it to be. If you're the type to buy a Lamborghini, at least.

Here's a dirty secret about supercars: they suck to drive. They're about as comfortable to sit in as a dentist chair. They're finicky and have terrible turning radii, and you're constantly terrified of scraping the ridiculously low nose on every speed bump and driveway. And they're utterly unusable as cars, because there's no place to put people and stuff and you can't fit groceries in their tiny trunks and they're just utterly pointless for anything but going on a racetrack which most supercar buyers will never, ever do.

2020 Lamborghini Urus Just because it's an SUV, that doesn't mean that Lamborghini has lost touch with its design and engineering hallmarks.Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini

But the Lamborghini Urus gets you 95 percent of the way there, which means it's the best Lamborghini you can buy. It gets ten-year olds to yell and point, while simultaneously giving you a thrill every time you turn it on because Lamborghini has put the engine start/stop switch under a red button to make it feel like you're launching a missile. And to put it in drive, you need to pull on the giant flappy paddle instead of hitting a button because buttons are just so pedestrian.

And you put it in reverse by pulling on a giant handle in the middle of the center console, and then you change between drive modes with a switch that feels like you're putting on the afterburners on a fighter jet. Everything about the Urus is an event, which makes sense because that whole control scheme is pulled straight from the Huracan supercar — only you're in a big, comfortable SUV that you can fill with luggage and four humans and that can get over speed bumps without issue.

The exhaust is loud if you want it to be and quiet (or relatively so) when you don't. It has 360-degree cameras, which means it's easy-ish to park even though the rear visibility is truly terrible for an SUV. That's another reminder that you're driving a Lamborghini, because who cares what's behind you?

2020 Lamborghini Urus The interior of the car shares many components with the Huracan.Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini

I took the Urus to the South Orange County Cars and Coffee, and it drew as many admiring glances as all the zillion-dollar supercars parked around it. It's an attention-getter, which is, after all, what a Lamborghini is all about. And you can take it to Whole Foods and it won't give you a backache if you take it to Vegas for the weekend.

People on the street were coming up to me the entire time I had it. I got constant thumbs up in traffic or folks taking selfies with it when it was parked. It has all the appeal of a Lamborghini sports car with none of the drawbacks.

A lot of people made jokes about it being a fancy Audi Q7 because that's what it is, somewhere underneath. But then Lamborghini equipped it with staggeringly beautiful 22-inch rims ($4,420) and an outrageous amount of exterior carbon fiber trim ($22,177) and a Bang & Olufsen stereo ($6,313) that only really shines when you've cranked the volume higher than is probably safe for your hearing.

2020 Lamborghini Urus The Urus is as functional for families as the average SUV Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini

It might be a boring Audi somewhere underneath, but the Urus is a Lamborghini where it counts: in your heart. There's no logical reason to spend $270,034 on a car. But that doesn't matter, because inside every Lamborghini buyer is a ten-year old boy with a bedroom wall that needs adornment. If you buy this car, you'll be making that boy's dreams come true — and making dreams come true is what supercars are all about.

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The Nissan GT-R probably isn't the first supercar that comes to mind, but it's worthy of consideration if you're not all about being seen.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

You put the pedal down. A confident growl busts out the back end. The wheels may squeal, and you might too. It's not all about the power, though it has plenty. The 2021 Nissan GT-R delivers the type of drive experience that you're never going to get from an electric vehicle - and it's magnificent.

Godzilla has been in production since 2007 with nips and tucks and add-ons here and there along the way. It's not as sleek or stylish as the Audi E-Tron GT or even Audi's R8. There's no giant wing out back à la McLaren and certainly nothing Italian about it. The GT-R is it's own man.

Even areas of the country that are supercar-heavy, aren't heavy with GT-Rs. A Ferrari or Lamborghini is a bigger status symbol for adoring eyes. It's the real drivers out there who know that a GT-R is perhaps the better investment for someone who wants a supercar to drive, not just to be seen in. Its unique looks are subtle but properly athletic.

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium The car is capable as a daily driver but it can also push the limits during a track day.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

The reason for that starts but doesn't end with Nissan's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6. It rests below the hood, not behind your ears, and delivers 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque creating a visceral acceleration experience. It's enough to satisfy you, bring a smile to your face, impress those around you, and make you realize that Godzilla really is a beast.

The six-speed dual-clutch transmission in the GT-R Premium ($113,540 base price) manages the power nicely and shifts relatively smoothly - it's no Ford 10-speed automatic and that's okay. If you want a GT-R with a manual transmission, you'll have to upgrade to the NISMO model. Don't "save the manuals" me. So few people are buying them that they're becoming extinct despite your bumper sticker saying and hashtag. Most supercars don't have them. Nissan is just simply following an industry trend and the DCT is perfectly fine for drivers not spending the majority of their time on a track.

All wheel drive is standard on the model, meaning that the GT-R sticks to the road as you put it through its paces. That also means that you don't need to head home every time there's rainfall or snow in the forecast, and you can take corners a little faster than the local constabulary may prefer.

The car has athletic looks despite not conforming to the typical supercar design language.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

Proper engineering has made the GT-R a great daily driver. It's fun to push it around the twisties on a winding road in the country during a long weekend, but it's also not a bad car to commute or run errands in (it has a real trunk!). Like any good supercar, the GT-R goes right where you want, when you want it, whether you're doing slow speed maneuvering around a neighborhood or putting the throttle down on the highway. The speed-sensitive steering calibration is spot-on.

Parts of the interior are dated, especially when compared to other vehicles in its price point. But none of those parts are enough to make the GT-R even the least bit undesirable. The seats are surprisingly comfortable and the ride isn't too harsh. Analog dials are a nice break for the eyes.

But the real reason you're in the GT-R isn't because of the the amenities. It's because you love to drive. Because you're confident enough to go with Godzilla rather than a flashy Italian or German. Because you understand that the car nicknamed after a fictional monster, and its gasoline-powered ilk, are in danger of going extinct as carbon neutral priorities seem keen on removing the type of visceral fun that internal combustion engines provide.

The car has analog dials in front of the driver.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If we're going to have to make concessions to make the air and water cleaner, it would be nice if, on the other end of the spectrum, the powers that be let us keep having the muscle of the GT-R.

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The 2021 Honda Accord Sport is a budget-friendly model with a lot of pep.

Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Critics and buyers have loved the Honda Accord for a few decades now. Though it's frequently compared to the Toyota Camry, there's some models in its class that are giving the Accord a run for its money - the Mazda Mazda6, Subaru Legacy, Kia K5, and the Hyundai Sonata just to name a few.

Where the Accord wins versus the competition isn't on price or features, styling or appointments, tech or drivetrain. It wins because it's a whole package, especially as tested in the 2021 Accord Sport variety.

For the new model year, Honda has focused on updating the fascia and improving the tech in the Accord. They're all good gains.

2021 Honda Accord Sport The car's wheels help elevate the sporty profile of the car.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

For the 2021 model year, Honda sells the Accord in six trim levels: LX, Sport 1.5T, Sport Special Edition (SE), EX-L, Sport 2.0T, and Touring. Honda leant the Sport 2.0T, which has an upgraded powerful 2.0-liter turbo-four is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and produces 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It's available in Accord Sport 2.0T and Touring grades. The 2.0-liter is far more fun to drive than the base 1.5-liter four-pot.

Honda has done a good job differentiating the Accord from the Acura lineup, making its drive dynamics not nearly as athletic as the TLX's but still engaging, while allowing for pointed steering and easy maneuverability. Acceleration won't knock anyone's socks off, but that's not a reason to ignore the Accord. The Accord Sport has paddle shifters, which work better for mountain driving situations than they do for deriving true sport functionality, as you would get with a manual transmission.

Honda has also upgraded the braking system for 2021, designing it to engage more smoothly, especially at low speeds. The result is measured performance that is neither grabby nor soft.

Honda upholsters the Accord Sport with cloth seats but nice finishes elsewhere. While a lot of attention is given to leather upholstery, there's actually nothing wrong with the cloth seats. The ones in the Accord Sport are not only attractive but don't draw the heat of the sun or cold of the clouds and snow into them like leather does.

2021 Honda Accord Sport The interior of the Accord Sport is well appointed.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Buyers can spec their Accord Sport with a number of options, including appearance and weather protection packages. But, with the 2.0-liter powertrain, it already comes loaded with most of the desirable features buyers want including an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen, 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, eight-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a leather shift knob, rear spoiler, sport pedals, chrome exhaust finishers, fog lights, moonroof, heated front seats, remote keyless entry and engine start, and a wireless device charger.

The Honda Accord Sport starts at $27,430. Upgrading the engine adds $4,530 to that price tag, but also gets you the moonroof, heated seats, power-adjustable driver's seat, remote functionality, and device charger. That brings the MSRP of the Sport 2.0T to near $32,000. Knock a few bucks off in dealership negotiations and you're sitting quite pretty for under $30,000.

In the Sport trim level, the Accord is just as nice as Mazdas, nicer than the K5, and on-par with the Sonata. The Mazda is equally as engaging to drive but its infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired.

2021 Honda Accord Sport Honda's steering wheel makes operation of radio, cruise control, and driver assist features easy.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

2021 Honda Accord Sport

Subaru offers all-wheel drive standard on the Legacy, something the Accord does not. But, it's not as powerful nor is its infotainment system as nicely designed. The Sonata also isn't as powerful and the sporty Sonata N Line grade takes track-readiness a step too far, ruining ride quality. The K5 might end up being the Accord's closest competitor with plenty of power, but the interior is more parts bin than is optimal.

But what about the Camry? The Toyota, now with available all-wheel drive, does offer a lot to its customer base, but it's aging quickly, especially the interior. Other models offer just as good dependability and for a lower price. They're also more fun to drive.

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