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2020 Lincoln Aviator

A luxury SUV with plug-in hybrid efficiency

The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is an all-new SUV with seating for up to seven passengers in a lush and elegant cabin. This is a true luxury car and it feels like one. It also looks like one with a bold exterior design that includes a massive grille that demands your attention. This helps the Lincoln Aviator stand out amid the growing number of large SUVs on the road.

It’s available in a range of four trims, including the exclusive Black Label and the plug-in hybrid Grand Touring. We spent our drive time with the Grand Touring Black Label, which combines the efficiency of the plug-in hybrid with the luxury of the Black Label at a price of $87,800.

Hybrids are nothing new and you’ll find plenty of them in the grocery store parking lot. They’re a part of the automotive landscape in such a way that they no longer stand out or draw attention as something unique. Plug-in hybrids, however, are a different story.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

Embrace the plug-in life

These aren’t as popular as their non-plug counterparts. That doesn’t mean they’re lesser, just that the public hasn’t been as willing to buy into the idea of plugging in a car at night. The same is true for pure electrics. It’s still a little weird to plug in your car when you get home.

If you can shake off that weirdness, then you get the benefit of paying less to fuel your car. The overall cost of charging a plug-in hybrid or electric is less than relying on a gas-only engine. There are also tax breaks for buying one depending on where you live. Finally, there’s the added benefit of reducing your impact on the environment especially in areas where power is generated by more environmentally friendly methods.

Unlike an electric which must be plugged in to charge because it only has battery power, this is optional on a plug-in hybrid. You can run it on gas if that’s what you prefer of if plugging in isn’t convenient.

Running it purely on that gas engine, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined. Plug in to charge and that number jumps to 56 MPGe. It’s your call, but embracing the plug-in life will save you some cash.

A powerful and responsive engine

Honestly, though, if you’re looking at a vehicle like this, then you’re probably not on a tight budget. This is a luxury SUV so there are far cheaper options you can choose. The whole reason to pay extra for the Aviator is for that distinctive luxury-car vibe that can’t be had at bargain basement prices.

Power comes from a direct injection twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor for 494 system horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque. This is paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Aviator is a big vehicle, but those numbers make it surprisingly peppy. Press the accelerator and you won’t find power lacking.

While it has plenty of power, handling is a little soft. It’s more luxury family hauler than sports car. You will feel the bulk of the Aviator as you change lanes and it’s not exactly the kind of thing you want to push hard through the corners, but that’s okay. The Aviator is all about a luxury experience for passengers and on that front it delivers.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

Luxury car comfort at its peak

The Grand Touring Black Label includes leather seats that are 30-way adjustable, heated, and ventilated for the driver and front passenger, leather-wrapped steering wheel, quad-zone climate control, and ambient lighting. The second-row captain’s chairs are just as roomy and comfortable, so families won’t be fighting to see who gets to sit up front.

The Aviator looks like a luxury car and it feels like one. It has the elegant design, high-quality materials, and spacious, comfortable interior you’d expect in a luxury SUV. The Aviator also offers the opportunity to be different.

It’s not the same as every other three-row out there. It’s not the most popular choice and you probably won’t pass a heck of a lot of them on the highway. It’s a luxury SUV that gives you the chance to stand out from the crowd in the most elegant way possible. And as a plug-in hybrid, it lets you be environmentally conscious and save a few bucks at the same time.

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2021 Nissan Rogue

What’s new

  • 2021 Nissan Rogue includes Nissan Safety Shield 360 across the entire lineup
  • Intelligent driver alertness technology and Rear Door Alert now standard across all trim levels
  • “Family Hub” features add convenience for rear passengers
  • Vehicle Motion Control works in conjunction with intelligent AWD system and drive mode selector to provide four-wheel individual control and better cornering
  • 2.5L 4-cylinder engine generating 181 hp, an increase of 11 hp
  • Platinum trim added to the lineup
  • Five new two-tone color combinations

Strong mpg numbers enhanced for 2021

For model years 2017-2020, Nissan’s top-selling smart crossover has been known for stellar fuel efficiency and a nimble, quiet ride.  Powered by a 170-hp 2.5L engine, Nissan Rogue buyers could choose between 2WD and 4WD, and could get a little over 30 mpg on the highway. For 2021, Nissan added 11 hp to the mix for a little more oomph and upped the torque lb-ft by six, giving it even more zip. And the mpg numbers are even more promising: FWD models will get 35 mpg on the S trim and 34 on the other three (SV, SL, and Platinum), and AWD gets 33 and 32, respectively.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Updated styling

Firstly, Nissan has updated the V-motion grille, widening it and giving it a bit more heft. Next, to the side of the distinctive grille new multi-level LED headlights with an expanded illumination area are standard on all 2021 Nissan Rogue trims. Finally, LED fog lights are standard on SL and Platinum grades.

The rear cargo area is accessible through the newly available motion-activated tailgate. Once you open it up Nissan’s popular Divide-n-Hide system has been updated while still providing hidden and secure storage for essential gear. Now on the inner right side of the cargo area (behind the wheel arch) a cubby is perfectly sized for a gallon of milk, reducing your spill risk. We say that’s a great place for a gallon of homemade root beer in the summer, too.


Family Features

The 2021 Nissan Rogue amps up the family quotient with an enhanced feature set Nissan is calling the “Family Hub.”

As it was for the 2020 model, seventy cubic feet of cargo space is plenty of room for your kids, sports equipment, and even your furry friends in a Rogue. The new butterfly-opening center console gives you the option to place an item inside – tissues or wipes, for instance – and back-seat passengers are able to access it. If you have small children, you’ll see the functionality with that new feature. Further, more storage space is available under the front console.

Two things we love about the Rogues (and about Nissan in general) are the NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats and Rear Door Alert. First, Rear Door Alert (which was invented by two Nissan engineers who are also moms) helps remind you of items or kids that may be forgotten in the rear seat. If the system detects that a rear door was opened or closed prior to a trip, but then was not re-opened again after the trip was completed, the system responds with a series of visual and audible notifications. Secondly, Zero Gravity seats – designed to reduce fatigue and increase comfort – have 14 pressure points to put your back in a neutral position. Now your back-seat passengers benefit from Zero Gravity seats, too, and they’re going to appreciate that addition if you’ve had a Nissan Rogue in the past.

We also appreciate the expansion of the Nissan Intelligent Key to the rear doors. With the 2021 model, anyone can unlock a front or rear door by pressing a button on any of the four doors or unlock all doors by pressing twice.

Interior technology features also include push button start, Rear Door Alert and easy-fill tire alert, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, hands-free text messaging assistant, Siri Eyes Free, Google assistant and Sirius XM radio. Standard USB-C (fast chargers) are also included in every Rogue.

2021 Nissan Rogue

More safety features with ProPILOT Assist

Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist, the brand’s driver-assist technology suite, combines steering assist and Intelligent Cruise Control to help control acceleration, braking and steering in both heavy traffic and on the highway. Nissan says ProPILOT Assist  uses next-generation radar and camera technology to provide smoother braking, better steering assist feel and improved detection performance when other vehicles cut into the lane.

ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link is standard on Rogue Platinum and available on Rogue SL. If you link ProPILOT Assist with Nissan’s navigation system, the map data can now provide the ability to proactively reduce speed for upcoming freeway curves or junctions and also help you slow for freeway exits. Nissan appears to be actively pursuing semi-autonomous driving that not everyone appreciates but some will love.

If you regularly encounter stop-and-go traffic, vehicles with ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link gave you three seconds to remain stopped and automatically continue without having to tap the accelerator. Now it’s up to 30 seconds, which makes a lot more sense in large city areas. Lastly, the Rogue provies traffic sign recognition and can automatically update the vehicle’s speed when the speed limit goes up or down.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Nissan’s 2021 Rogue will be available this fall.

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Cadillac XT6

Cadillac adds a new SUV to the family

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is an all-new three-row crossover with room for up to seven passengers with a spacious and luxurious interior. Consumers are moving away from sedans toward more versatile SUVs and crossovers and the XT6 is Cadillac’s effort to lure those customers.

There’s a choice of only two trims, both of which offer an upscale, luxury experience. This is a Cadillac, after all, and that badge means you ride in luxury no matter which trim you choose. This includes a wide range of safety features, a powerful engine, and an elegant interior.

Power for the XT6 comes from a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission. This is a large vehicle, but it has no trouble getting up to speed and easily merges into heavy highway traffic. While the XT6 is responsive and powerful, it’s never harsh.

This isn’t an SUV that focuses only on power. When you hit the gas pedal, the engine responds in kind, but acceleration is smooth and quiet. You hear the engine, but it in no way intrudes on the passenger experience. The 9-speed transmission works unnoticed in the background further enhancing the ride quality for passengers.

Luxury looks inside and out

The XT6 puts a priority on luxury starting with bold exterior styling. The Sport has a black grille, window moldings and roof rails and the option for 21-inch wheels. The Premium Luxury takes a more traditional approach with bright finishes and its own unique wheel treatment. Each has a distinct look, but both are unmistakably Cadillac.

A long list of standard features includes leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, power liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a power-fold third row. That power-folding third row makes it easy to switch between passengers and cargo and takes the stress out of reconfiguring the seating as your needs change. Options include a heated second row, and a variety of packages that add carbon fiber, wood, and premium leather accents. The XT6 is the perfect vehicle for simply relaxing and enjoying the trip.

There’s seating for seven with optional second-row captain’s chairs that take seating down to six, but offer a more comfortable ride. Either way, the second row is spacious with plenty of headroom and legroom. Even the dreaded middle seat isn’t such a bad deal and won’t leave that passenger anxious for the trip to be over.

The third row in any SUV is tough for adults, but the XT6 has enough room for all but the tallest passengers in its third row. Kids will find it downright spacious and something of an escape that lets them sit in their own little world away from the boring adults up front.

Stay connected and entertained

Infotainment features an 8-inch touchscreen, wi-fi connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 6 USB ports spread across all three rows. There’s also a new controller to make navigating the system easier. Rather than a rotary dial that only spins, it tips like a joystick controller for a game console. It’s a small change, but one that makes the system easier to operate.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 has a wide range of standard and available safety features along with excellent crash test results. It earned an overall 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2020 Top Safety Pick+.

Standard safety includes forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, front and rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. Available features include reverse automatic braking, and night vision, which uses infrared sensors to see obstacles you might not otherwise see in the dark.

The Premium Luxury starts at $52,695 with front-wheel drive or $55,690 with all-wheel drive. The Sport has standard all-wheel drive with pricing from $57,095. The all-new 2020 Cadillac XT6 is a full-size SUV that delivers a genuine luxury experience with the prestige of the Cadillac brand.

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How do you off-road AND live in luxury? With Land Rover, of course. As the “lower end” (that’s entirely subjective) of the Jaguar Land Rover SUV offerings, the Land Rover line includes the extremely well-outfitted Discovery. In this review of the 2020 Discovery model, Aaron walks through its high points and talks off-roading in this luxurious SUV.

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