Browsing author

Matt Barnes

Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he's not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn't true. Matt lives in the Utah mountains and often posts cool off-roading videos to his Instagram and YouTube channel.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 – Mountain Drive Review +Video – By Matt Barnes

The premium crossover class is very competitive and constantly growing. To play in this field, manufacturers must be at the top of their game. Mercedes has updated the GLC for 2020 with some new exterior styling bits, optimized wheels, the updated MBUX infotainment system, and more power. Exterior The GLC is very stable in appearance. It is short and low with a long wheelbase and wide track. As is common with many vehicles today, the grill is oversized and the Mercedes emblem in this grill might be the largest emblem on any vehicle I’ve seen. Because of all this, and the …

Read more 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 – Mountain Drive Review +Video – By Matt Barnes

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

What can be said about the 200 series Land Cruiser that hasn’t already been said? It’s been around since 2008 and has only had a few meaningful changes since then. For 2020, there is an all new Heritage Edition that removes the rear seats and center armrest cooler and adds a roof rack, BBS forged wheels, and special badges. Other than that, little has changed from the 2019 model year. For our review, Toyota sent us a base model Land Cruiser for a week. Keep in mind the base model Land Cruiser starts at over $85,000 and there is only …

Read more 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro – Off-Road Review – By Matt Barnes

Like nearly all other body-on-frame vehicles Toyota makes, the Sequoia is getting old. The current generation came out for the 2008 model year. Of course, there have been updates here and there over time, but there hasn’t been a major redesign in 12 years. For 2020, Toyota has introduced the TRD Pro trim level to the Sequoia. Like all other TRD Pro vehicles, the Sequoia has upgraded suspension components and a few unique color and trim items. Exterior No matter how you look at it, the Sequoia is a beast. Nearly everything about it is big. The front greets you …

Read more 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro – Off-Road Review – By Matt Barnes

2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road – Off-Pavement Drive Review – By Matt Barnes

The RAV4 is a tent-pole for Toyota USA with nearly half a million sales in 2019 and as the top-selling SUV in the United States. The RAV4 was updated in 2019 to be better in almost every way. Toyota moved away from the bland styling of yesteryear to create a more athletic and polarizing vehicle with more Tacoma and 4Runner design cues. Toyota is offering a new trim level for the RAV4, the TRD Off-Road for 2020 to match this newly masculine and athletic theme. On-Road For on road driving, the TRD Off-Road handles similarly to all other RAV4’s we’ve …

Read more 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road – Off-Pavement Drive Review – By Matt Barnes

2020 Kia Telluride – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Kia has created a winner with the all-new three-row Telluride. It has won many industry awards for best in class. Is it actually as wonderful as it seems? Outside If you have seen any of Kia’s advertising for the Telluride, you will have likely seen it wading through water or plowing through mud. Kia is pushing the Telluride as a capable, go anywhere family hauler. To push this idea even further, Kia has given the exterior design of the Telluride a boxy off-roader look. Kia has done an excellent job of separating the Telluride from the Palisade, which shares the …

Read more 2020 Kia Telluride – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2020 BMW X6 40i – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Sports Car in a Crossover’s Clothes: the New BMX X6 German vehicle manufacturers have recently been flooding the US market with a variety of crossovers; Audi offers six, Mercedes offers eight, and BMW offers seven. For BMW, they offer their SUVs as wagons and coupes. The X1 is the wagon and X2 the coupe riding on the same platforms. This goes for the X3 and X4, and the X5 and X6. The only wagon without a coupe is the new X7 as there is no X8 available yet. BMW was kind enough to give us a week with an X6 …

Read more 2020 BMW X6 40i – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2020 Infiniti QX80 Edition 30 – Off-Road Test Review By Matt Barnes

Like Lexus and Acura, Infiniti has been around for quite a while now and they are no longer new players in the game. What does thirty years of experience building luxury vehicles stack up in the new Infiniti QX80? To celebrate 30 years of Infiniti for 2020, Infiniti is offering an Edition 30 Package throughout its lineup. In the case of the QX80 Luxe we received for review, the package includes 22-inch forged dark aluminum alloy wheels, black mesh grill, dark chrome exterior trim, black mirror caps, additional badges, graphite headliner, and 1st row illuminated EDITION 30 kick plates. When …

Read more 2020 Infiniti QX80 Edition 30 – Off-Road Test Review By Matt Barnes

2020 Chevrolet Blazer Premier AWD – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Chevy released the Blazer one year ago and has already done a complete renaming of it’s trim levels for the 2020 model along with a few other trim and package updates. Chevy added a new mid level engine option with the 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder. Trim level names have changed from L, 2.5L, 3.6L cloth, 3.6L leather, RS, and Premier to L, LT, 2LT, 3LT, RS, and Premier. They have also added an auto start stop override button, three new exterior colors and a new redline edition. For our testing Chevy sent us a top-of-the-line 2020 Blazer Premier AWD …

Read more 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Premier AWD – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2020 Lexus NX300 F Sport – Review By Matt Barnes

Lexus tries to keep a model as long as possible before they make any major updates. This holds true for the NX which is largely unchanged since its debut in 2014. So what, if anything, is new for 2020? Outside there are a few color changes with Silver Lining Metallic and Autumn Shimmer no longer available and Cadmium Orange being added. Inside the infotainment system now has Android Auto (for all NXs built after October 1st 2019) which joins Apple CarPlay that became available last year. There is an optional Mark Levinson audio system. The steering wheel now includes power …

Read more 2020 Lexus NX300 F Sport – Review By Matt Barnes

Sweepstakes! Win A Free Fastway Ball Mount Tow Hitch

Engine Adventures is giving away an all new Fastway Flash Integrated Scale Ball Mount. This adjustable height ball mount has a built in tongue weight scale to make finding your tongue weight easy and provides for a safer towing experience. The mirror finish is so reflective you could use it to shave. The ball mount comes in four different drop sizes ranging from 4 inch to 10 inch drops and the winner will get to choose which size they want. The prize package also includes a set of locking hitch pins to keep the ball mount secure. Currently it is …

Read more Sweepstakes! Win A Free Fastway Ball Mount Tow Hitch

2019 Honda Passport Elite – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Returning after a 16-year hiatus, the Honda Passport is a large, 2-row CUV that slots between the Pilot and CRV. The Passport is built on the same platform as the Pilot and Ridgeline and uses the same power train, but is six inches shorter, one inch taller with an extra inch of ground clearance. Exterior All Passports come with a blacked-out grill and LED lights, but the Elite we tested had glossy trim throughout and even gloss black wheels. Other trims get a matte finish with polished aluminum or grey wheels. One thing that is immediately apparent is that the …

Read more 2019 Honda Passport Elite – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2019 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport – Review By Matt Barnes

The only major update for to the Toyota Sequoia 2019 is the all-new TRD Sport trim level. In addition, many safety features are now standard that were optional in the past. This includes blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and rear cross traffic alert. While the platform is over a decade old, it is still relevant. Toyota has one of the best reputations for reliability and the 5.7 V8 is still on par with its large SUV rivals for horsepower and torque. Review Video     Outside The Sequoia is very large and has a significant presence, yet it still somewhat …

Read more 2019 Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport – Review By Matt Barnes

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 6.6L Gas V8 – Off-Road Review + Video – By Matt Barnes

Chevy has updated the 2500 and 3500 Silverados for 2020. The grill is even bigger than before, the cab is longer and more spacious, the bed is wider and longer, and they are now offering a bigger V8 gas engine. Chevy has used the 6.0 gas V8 for over a decade now, and it’s long past due for a major update. We found the new 6.6-liter V8 gas engine to be more than adequate for most uses. With a towing capacity of up to 16,600 pounds most weekend warriors will be able to take their boats to the lake or …

Read more 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 6.6L Gas V8 – Off-Road Review + Video – By Matt Barnes

2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition – Review By Matt Barnes

Nissan gave us the opportunity to drive the 2019 Pathfinder SL 4wd Rock Creek Edition. The Pathfinder name has been used by Nissan for almost 60 years, and this newest iteration delivers. The Rock Creek Edition adds a ton of the most commonly popular features at a discounted price and makes for a beautiful color scheme. Outside There’s something about the color scheme and Midnight Pine Metallic paint that says “take me on an adventure”, but Nissan doesn’t add any additional off-road capability with the Rock Creek Edition. What it adds is a plethora of dark and rugged themed features, …

Read more 2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition – Review By Matt Barnes

2019 Nissan Armada – On and Off-Road Review – By Matt Barnes

For 2019, the Armada only gets additional standard features that were options last year. Things like rear door alert, intelligent cruise control, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning are now standard across the Armada lineup. Outside Being the largest SUV in Nissan’s lineup, the Armada has presence. It is slightly larger than a Tahoe but smaller than an Expedition, putting it right in the middle of its class. While some other vehicles are starting to look the same as everything else in their class, the Armada has standout looks. Recently, Nissan has done an excellent job in creating beautiful …

Read more 2019 Nissan Armada – On and Off-Road Review – By Matt Barnes

2019 Nissan Murano SL AWD – Road Test Review + Video – By Matt Barnes

Nissan has done a good job of making their SUV’s feel higher class than they have in the past. Often, Nissan’s are thought of as budget Toyotas, with great reliability but very basic. However, in the past few years, Nissan has moved into luxury interiors with comfortable seating and plenty of standard safety features. While bare bones base models are still available for price conscious customers, it’s Nissan’s middle and upper trims that really bring out the comfort and convenience features. Outside Our test model was an AWD SL trim with the premium Sunset Drift paint color. It is a …

Read more 2019 Nissan Murano SL AWD – Road Test Review + Video – By Matt Barnes

2019 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss – Off-Road Traction Systems Test

Spending time with the 2019 Chevy Trail Boss allowed us to dive deep into how the various traction systems work on all light duty Chevy trucks. We combined the information we gained from speaking with an engineer at Chevy with some real-world testing and here is what we found. All of the systems below work in 2WD, AWD and 4WD Chevy trucks except of course for the 4WD auto, 4WD high and 4WD low for vehicles not equipped with 4WD or 4WD low. Brake Limited Slip There are a variety of manufacturers that use a brake limited slip system as …

Read more 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss – Off-Road Traction Systems Test

2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Toyota made many changes to the Rav4 for 2019, including a new chassis, new bold look, and more space. How will Toyota’s top seller in the United States fare with these new changes? Coming in at $37,699, is this loaded crossover worth the coin? Overview The Rav4 has long been a big seller for Toyota. It was an early, if not the first, car-based SUV, now called crossovers. For 2019, the Rav4 is more aggressive with a higher stance and a half inch higher ground clearance. This bodes well for the Rav4 Adventure whose focus is on outdoorsy people who …

Read more 2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2019 Ford F-150 Limited – Road Test & Towing Review – By Matt Barnes

With the intense pickup truck wars in full effect right now, manufacturers are offering more luxury and ease-of-use features than ever before. Coming in at the very top of Ford’s F-150 lineup is the new Limited model. Recently, Ford sent us an F-150 Limited for review and we found that there were only six added options. Nearly every other conceivable feature is standard equipment. The Limited model is only available in the Super Crew 5.5 ft. bed configuration. It comes with so many features on the interior that there are few things that can be optioned. On the inside, our …

Read more 2019 Ford F-150 Limited – Road Test & Towing Review – By Matt Barnes

2019 Lexus RX350 F Sport AWD – Review By Matt Barnes

For 2019, there haven’t been many changes to the RX 350 F Sport from the 2018 or even 2017 model years. It remains a strong seller for Lexus and a great all-around vehicle. Inside, the F Sport trim adds a variety of interior pieces from the pedals and steering wheel to the F Sport leather trim and seats. Outside, the F Sport gets a nice set of 20-inch rims and a couple of F Sport badges. Performance wise, there aren’t any substantial changes. It still uses the 295 hp V6 that all other RX 350’s use, however, the F Sport …

Read more 2019 Lexus RX350 F Sport AWD – Review By Matt Barnes

2019 Volkswagen Atlas R-Line V6 – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

The Volkswagen Atlas is a vehicle that rides, drives and handles much smaller than it actually is. For 2019, it has been updated to include more standard features across the lineup, including forward collision warning, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Our test vehicle was the SE w/ Technology R-line model equipped with the 3.6 liter V6 and 8-speed automatic. Mid-size SUVs have been gaining in popularity for quite some time now, which is a great thing for buyers in this segment. Being in a profitable segment means that there is a lot of R&D put into these vehicles, …

Read more 2019 Volkswagen Atlas R-Line V6 – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser – Off-Road & Towing Review – By Matt Barnes

The Toyota Land Cruiser has a loyal global following, and for good reason. It is one of the most reliable, longest lasting vehicles in automotive history. Cruisers are lauded as the ultimate overlanding vehicle. There are many different variants sold throughout the world, but here in the United States, we get one model with one trim level, and only one available option package. Unless you account for the Lexus LX570, which offers a few more features and a more luxurious interior. To test the capability of the Land Cruiser, we decided to head into the desert hills to see what …

Read more 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser – Off-Road & Towing Review – By Matt Barnes

2018 Lexus GX460 – On & Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Badged as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado worldwide, the Lexus GX460 is a luxuriously adorned version for the United States and other upscale markets. The underpinnings are as durable as one would expect from a Toyota product with all the luxury of a Lexus. Interior The GX460 is a very luxurious vehicle with all the features you would expect in a Lexus. The leather is soft and supple, with heated and ventilated seats. The second row has heated seats, but not ventilated. The steering wheel is also heated. The middle row captain’s chairs are comfortable and allow easy access to …

Read more 2018 Lexus GX460 – On & Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Battle of the 2019 Jeep Cherokees – Trailhawk Vs Limited – By Matt Barnes

A few months, back we had the chance to test drive the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited. We really enjoyed our time with the vehicle and you can read about it here. Recently, Jeep sent us the Trailhawk version of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee, with the same 3.2 liter V6 and 9 speed automatic transmission. This gave us a good opportunity to compare the two similarly equipped vehicles, costing within $200 of each other. Similarities Both 2019 Cherokees we tested came with: Adaptive cruise control Lane keep assist 9 speaker audio system with the 8.4 inch Uconnect and GPS setup Leather …

Read more Battle of the 2019 Jeep Cherokees – Trailhawk Vs Limited – By Matt Barnes

2018 Lexus RX450h – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

The 2018 Lexus RX has always been a big seller for Lexus, and the new version is the best one yet. All variants of the mid-size luxury SUV use a 3.5 liter V-6, but the 450h (hybrid) model adds a small battery and three electric motors. There is also a new long version that has been stretched a little over four inches to accommodate 3rd row seating. Like all Lexus vehicles, the RX 450h has high quality interior materials, a quiet ride and smooth braking and steering. Does the hybrid RX really deliver luxury-car feel and econo-car mileage? The V-6 …

Read more 2018 Lexus RX450h – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

With a $125,000 base price, the Mercedes GLS 63 AMG is out of range for many people. For those who have the wherewithal and need to haul six people, it is an excellent — and perhaps only — choice. Featuring a hand assembled AMG 5.5 liter twin turbo (Mercedes calls it a biturbo) V8 with 577 horsepower and 561 torque, the GLS AMG has only one three-row performance competitor: the 475 horsepower Dodge Durango SRT 392.  [Audi is not bringing the diesel SQ7 to the USA.] When it comes to luxury, the Mercedes is at the top in this class. …

Read more 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392 – Road Test Review + GIFs – By Matt Barnes

The SRT 392 Durango is by far the best-looking Durango produced to date. The SRT package takes the Durango from mundane to monstrous. As we spent more time with it, the Durango just kept growing on us to the point that we didn’t want to return it. Exterior It’s nice to know that the hood vents and scoop are real and have an actual purpose, something not seen on many vehicles today, performance or otherwise. The SRT 392 sits lower than the standard Durango and has a more aggressive stance with wider tires. The black dual racing stripes that run …

Read more 2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392 – Road Test Review + GIFs – By Matt Barnes

2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

When looking at the new 2019 Jeep Cherokee, one may wonder how a solid axle XJ from a few decades ago has evolved into a smooth-riding, fully independent suspension and a seemingly less off road capable vehicle. From our experience, the new Cherokee is much better on road and is every bit as capable and possibly even more capable than its predecessor. Exterior For 2019, the Jeep Cherokee has a few exterior updates that are different from the 2018 model, making it more attractive and lighter. The bumpers, LED head lights, LED tail lights, hood and liftgate have all been …

Read more 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

2018 RAM 2500 Limited 4×4 Long Box – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

When thinking of an HD pickup truck, the first things that come to mind are diesel power and a terrible ride. Only one of those two things is true with the 2018 Ram 2500 Limited Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box. Our test vehicle came with a lot of upgrades and packages, making it one of the most comfortable three-quarter ton trucks we have ever driven. Exterior This was an attractive truck from nearly any angle. It really stood out from all the other vehicles around it due to its enormous size and alluring deep indigo red paint. The Limited Tungsten …

Read more 2018 RAM 2500 Limited 4×4 Long Box – Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes