Sunday Drive: Enjoy the 2022 Rocky Mountain Driving Experience | News, Sports, Jobs


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Steve Parrett, Nissan Regional Director of Corporate Communications, opens the pre-lunch discussion on the new Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition at this year’s Rocky Mountain Driving Experience.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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Deann poses with the 2023 Hyundai Palisade.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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Deann poses with the 2022 Toyota Tundra Hybrid.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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Deann poses with the 2023 Honda HR-V.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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The 2023 Lexus NX.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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A group of people gather around the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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Deann poses with the 2023 Nissan Z.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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The 2022 Kia EV6.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

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The 23 Genesis GV60.

Craig Conover, Daily Herald

At the end of the summer, we had the opportunity to take our annual trek to Denver and the Colorado mountains to attend an event hosted by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP for short) organization. They dubbed this event the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience, or RMDE.

This year’s campaign took place at the Fort Restaurant in Morrison, Colorado. It was the perfect setting for RMDE; it was minutes from the canyon and the highway, giving the more than 30 reporters in attendance an opportunity to put all the vehicles through their paces.

Not only does this event give us the opportunity to get into some really great vehicles in a short amount of time, but we also get time with marketing and PR reps from various manufacturers. This year there were representatives from Nissan, Lexus, Toyota, Genesis, Kia, Jeep, Mazda and Honda. It allows us to rekindle friendships and dive deeper into some of the great new vehicles on the market today.

The first for us was the new 2023 Hyundai Palisade, which has a few additional design features inside and out. Most notable was the 12-inch infotainment screen and available all-digital instrument panel which is user-configurable and adds a huge element of luxury to the already popular SUV.

Hyundai has also included what it calls an Ergo Motion driver’s seat. Sounds pretty awesome, and it is. This feature makes driving more comfortable and easier for the driver. After the initial setup, the seat will perform – at the push of a button – a series of stretches in the pelvic and lumbar areas using the air inside the seat to cool the driver. It’s almost like massage seats. We love how it worked and look forward to an extended stay at the palisade.

We were then on the brand new Toyota Tundra hybrid truck. We spent a week with the new Tundra without the hybrid setting, and were very impressed with how it handled and how it pulled, even on canyon slopes.

The hybrid was even more impressive because it has an added electric boost that helps the twin-turbocharged V-6 engine up and go. Plus, with all the Toyota technology that’s been developed over the years (they were the first to enter this world with the Prius), the hybrid version of the Tundra should average 19 mpg. It’s perfect for a full size truck! We expect that, in reality, that number will be even higher because we’ve always done better than expected in any Toyota hybrid.

Honda released a new HR-V this year that has been completely redesigned and now sports a fully digital driver’s cockpit and a 7-inch or 9-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The affordable HR-V was designed to look tougher on the outside but have more premium vibes on the inside. It should get combined figures of 27 mpg, with an upcoming hybrid version that has even better figures and even more power.

Before stopping for lunch at the Fort, we took a quick opportunity to get out in the hybrid Lexus NX, having had the non-hybrid version for a week in Utah. Again, we loved Lexus’ new layout for the interior, and the fact that there’s only one touchscreen to use (and a huge one) was always our favorite feature.

The hybrid version, with a smaller four-cylinder engine that puts out 189 horsepower, is mated to an electric motor that takes that number up to 239 ponies. Lexus claims it will get 37 mpg combined, which is fantastic. After a group of reporters ran it up and down a nearby canyon for half a day, it stood at 37.8 mpg – again, a testament to Toyota technology.

Before lunch, we were treated to a drive around the new Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition, and we got to see all the great additions that will make this SUV even tougher for those who want to get out and about.

Rock Creek will feature off-road-ready suspension and use Nissan’s Surround View Monitor to navigate through rocks and obstacles when using the Pathfinder in Mud or Snow mode.

After lunch, we just couldn’t help it; we had to take the all-new Nissan Z out for a quick spin. It’s going to be a great addition to the lineup, and they’re now starting to land in dealerships across the country.

Towards the end of our day at RMDE, we thought it appropriate to spend some time with the two all-electric vehicles that were at the event.

The new Kia EV6 was a pleasant surprise for us; he behaved well and looked amazing. Adding to the good looks, Kia just introduced a 576-hp version of this little “ute” on August 19. Now there’s impressive power to go with a very versatile vehicle.

The EV6 can even be used to power regular electrical devices (up to 1900 watts), which would be very useful for keeping certain lights and appliances working in the event of a power outage.

Towards the end of the day, we released the all-new Genesis GV40, which is the new all-electric model just released by this manufacturer. Of course, there was all the great Genesis luxury included – plus a really cool feature.

When starting an electric vehicle, there is no engine noise and sometimes it is not known that the car is actually on. We are just as guilty of this as anyone. The first time we had a hybrid to test, Craig called the driver to ask how to start the car after pressing the button several times. The driver replied that it was a hybrid, so just push the button and turn it on; it would be very quiet.

To solve this problem, Genesis included a small crystal globe located on the center console. When the GV40 is turned on, the globe flips over and becomes the gearshift device for the SUV. It was cool and left no doubt that the car was running.

RMDE 2022 is in the books. It was a huge success and we loved being a part of it – and more importantly getting into some great new vehicles!


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