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    Renewing the Fight for Pride

    By Philip Ruth–

    Pride means a lot in 2023.

    Our community is under fire, and Anita Bryant’s 1977 “Save Our Children” campaign has nothing on what’s now aimed at us. For example, Florida’s Senate Bill 1580 allows healthcare providers to deny us care based on their CBOs, or conscience-based objections. It takes effect July 1.

    Worse, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made no bones about turning these efforts into national law if he’s elected president, making these serious times indeed. 

    For those of us who were lulled into thinking the next generations would float on our hard-won gains, the signs are clear that it’s time once again to bring our A-game to defend the most vulnerable among us, and ourselves. 

    I typically look to cars for inspiration, and the two we’re checking out this week—the Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring ($39,845) and the Mazda CX-90 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus AWD ($61,920)—are A-game indeed. 

    The CR-V is Honda’s perennial best seller. I could see why, after a recent used-car client compared a CR-V with a Lexus NX and VW Tiguan. In her eyes, the amiable CR-V was the obvious choice—the most well-rounded and engagingly designed. 

    The CX-90 aims to grow Mazda’s niche presence in the big-SUV market as it also grows in most every direction, though overall length creeps over 200 inches by only a bit. 

    The CX-90’s width stays the same, but better packaging turns the third row into a three-seater in the lower trims, with a three-inch increase over the CX-9’s rearmost seat. Those riders themselves will need to be neatly packaged to pull off the three-across, but the belts are there.

    The Honda’s nice surprise is its bracingly refined feel, mirroring the upscale gains first seen in the Civic and Accord. This new CR-V punches above its weight in performance and solidity, feeling at once nimble and indomitable. 

    Honda’s Real Time AWD boosts to 50% the amount of the substantial 247 lb.-ft. of torque it can send to the rear wheels. I don’t know how much of that percentage I used, but I did enjoy kicking this CR-V into corners. For me, CR-Vs have always been pleasant enough, but this is the first one that actually felt fun.

    The Mazda has its own innovations, with an engine change to an uncommon inline-six. Turbocharging and a mild hybrid system help crank out 369 lb.-ft. of torque, which shot the CX-90 up the Castro’s hills like they were flat as the roads in the Sunset. It shared the CR-V’s deliciously solid feel, and I had flashes of the Jaguars I’ve driven with the CX-90’s handling fluidity. 

    They both caught eyes in San Francisco, which is another first for me in any CR-V. At almost $62,000, the top CX-90 charts about $10K more than the maxed-out CX-9, but it feels double that, well into luxury territory. 

    So, now off we go from thinking about cars to renewing the fight. ‘Tis the season, after all.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant with an automotive staging service.

    Published on June 22, 2023