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The First-Ever Canyon AT4

The 2021 GMC Canyon gets a new trim this year and it’s one that will make off-road enthusiasts quite happy. For the first time ever, the Canyon is available as an AT4, which is a badge reserved for only the most capable of GMC’s offerings.

This is a midsize truck, making it a great choice for those who want extra cargo capability, but who don’t necessarily need a full-size truck. While big trucks are great, they’re a challenge if you take them into a city. They can be difficult to navigate through narrow streets, tough to park, and impossible to drive into many a parking garage with a too-low ceiling. The GMC Canyon faces none of those issues.

The Canyon is available with either a 5-foot 2-inch bed with a maximum payload of 1,609 pounds or a 6-foot 2-inch bed that can manage up to 1,475 pounds. Again, the full-size trucks outdo those numbers, but a midsize truck still has impressive stats that easily manages large payloads.

It’s also no slouch when it comes to towing. The base 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, which was our test vehicle, can tow up to 7,000 pounds. Those who put a priority on towing may want to go with the optional 2.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel. It has 181 horsepower with 369 lb-ft of torque and can tow up to 7,600 pounds. Not only is it more capable towing, the extra torque helps it handle the load more easily getting up to speed and cresting hills.

Ready for the Dirt

It’s great in the city. It can handle a payload and tow a trailer. But what about off-roading?

This is where the AT4 shines. It rides on 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires with 17-inch aluminum wheels. There’s an off-road tuned suspension, advanced hill descent control, four-wheel drive with an automatic locking rear differential, and a transfer case skid plate. It has the features to let you head off-road with confidence. Want more? GMC has you covered.

There’s an optional AT4 Off Road Performance Edition package that adds extra goodies. It includes a suspension leveling kit and the removal of the front air dam to increase the approach angle by 35 percent. It also adds rocker panel protectors and performance front and mid skid plates.

That’s a lot of off-road goodness and while that’s great when you’re in the dirt, it can make a truck unwieldly on pavement. The GMC Canyon AT4 has a surprisingly smooth and quiet ride on the highway, even with those off-road tires. This is a GMC, after all, and that makes it a more upscale truck. It’s rugged, but it’s not utilitarian so passenger comfort is still a priority.

Plenty of Creature Comforts

The interior is quiet and roomy with attractive trims and comfortable seats. Standard automatic climate control, heated front seats, and available leather seating surfaces further enhance the appeal of the Canyon AT4. It also has plenty of tech with an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto all standard. On the options list are Qi wireless charging and a 7-speaker Bose audio system, so this truck deserves its reputation as an upscale choice.

Pricing for the Canyon range starts at $26,400 with the AT4 sitting higher up in the lineup. That means it also gets a higher price of $38,200. Considering the style, comfort, and features of the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4, it’s a good value for the off-road set.

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Three Rows of Luxury for Busy Families

The 2022 Acura MDX arrives at dealerships this winter giving families a compelling new three-row SUV to consider. There’s a lot of competition in the segment, so introducing an all-new anything, whether it’s a wholly new model or the latest generation of an existing favorite, comes with a lot of pressure. Get it right or risk losing customers to the legions of other options. Did Acura manage to get it right with the latest iteration of the MDX or will families look elsewhere?

The SUV that works for one family might not be the best choice for another, but the 2022 Acura MDX does an admirable job of delivering key features that give it wide appeal. Outside, a thorough redesign adds presence with a bold grille that’s striking without overwhelming the front of the vehicle.

This is a three-row SUV with seating for seven people, so it’s not going to look like a sleek sports car, but the MDX avoids looking like a boring metal box. It has a longer wheelbase and wider stance that give it a dose of sportiness without adding bulk. The MDX is attractive and eye-catching. Acura is a luxury brand and the MDX looks every bit the luxury SUV.

Seating to Suit Your Lifestyle

It’s even more important that a luxury car looks like one on the inside. Rich trims, plush leather seats, and an open and airy interior thanks to a standard panoramic roof all create a positive first impression the moment you open the doors. Front passengers get 12-way adjustable seats with three-way heating – something that came in handy during the single-digit weather we had during our loan – and the adjustability made it easy to find the perfect seating position.

Also handy is the removable middle seat in the second row. If you don’t need it for seating, then you can fold the back down creating a wide center armrest with drink holders. This also makes for easy access when you need to reach back into the third row. If you don’t want that seat at all, then take it out entirely, which makes it much easier for the kids to hop in back and reduces the chances they’ll step on your fancy leather seats with muddy shoes.

2022 MDX

Ready for Any Weather

Power for the 2022 Acura MDX comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s smooth, responsive, and powerful enough to easily get the MDX up to highway speeds.

There’s the option for all-wheel drive, which dealt with a bit of nasty winter weather with ease. It can direct up to 70-percent of torque to the rear axle and then further split that with up to 100-percent going to either of the rear wheels. That translates into superior handling when the roads are slick, so you get where you’re going rather than finding your way into a ditch.

Drive modes that include Snow, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Individual let you adjust vehicle dynamics to suit the road and your preferences. These alter engine, transmission, and steering settings to enhance control. Acura designed this new generation of the MDX for better handling from suspension to steering to overall rigidity. You can’t see those engineering enhancements, but you can feel them behind the wheel.

The MDX is more responsive and controlled so it feels less like a seven-passenger SUV and more like something smaller and sportier. You don’t notice its weight, even during high-speed highway maneuvers, which makes it more relaxing to drive. The ride is equally smooth for passengers and it’s notably quiet with minimal road and wind noise finding its way into the cabin. The 2022 MDX is nicer to drive and nicer to ride in than the outgoing generation.

2022 MDX Advance

Infotainment that Keeps You Connected

There’s a unique instrument cluster that features a 12.3-inch customizable screen. It looks very futuristic and adds to the premium feel of the MDX. The same is true of the 12.3-inch infotainment screen that extends across the dashboard. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Qi wireless charging are standard. It’s not a touchscreen however, which will frustrate some, and instead has a True Touchpad Interface.

This touchpad on the center console uses absolute positioning that makes it easier to move the cursor across the screen than other touchpad systems, but we’re not going to lie. It’s a challenge to use any touchpad in a moving vehicle. There is a learning curve, and it gets easier with time, but bumpy roads that make your hand bounce make navigating the system frustrating.

The 2022 Acura MDX is a luxury SUV with key features that make it ideal for family life. It has an attractive interior with an open, airy feel and a uniquely configurable second row that lets you customize seating in a way that works best for your family. It also has a fully-featured infotainment system to keep everyone connected and a responsive engine that makes it engaging to drive. Those who want a premium SUV well-suited to family life will find plenty to like.

Look for the 2022 Acura MDX to arrive at your local dealership this winter with pricing from $46,900 to $60,650.

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So. Many. Choices.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan is a compact car with an affordable price. You can get behind the wheel of one for just $20,025 making it a good choice for those on a budget. It’s affordable, sure, but just because it’s not a luxury car with the matching luxury price doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to like about the Corolla.

Let’s start with the range of trims. There are nine different versions of the Corolla from which to choose. This includes a hybrid and special Apex and Nightshade editions of select trims in the basic five-trim lineup. There’s a Corolla for everyone and every budget. Even if you go all the way to the top of the trim ladder with the XSE Apex Edition, you’re still looking at only $28,310. It’s affordable in any guise.

Looks Good Inside and Out

The Corolla looks good with sporty almost aggressive styling. It has none of the too mild-mannered styling of old and attracts attention for all the right reasons. The story is the same when you open the door. We drove the XSE, which sits at the top of the lineup. Materials are appealing to the eye with plenty of soft touch surfaces and a minimal amount of plastic. It makes the Corolla look like pricier than its sticker.

Seating is comfortable with ample room up front for even taller riders, but the rear seats are another story. Although they’re comfortable they aren’t as spacious. Headroom and shoulder room are fine, but legroom is tight, especially if whoever is sitting up front has long legs and pushes the seats back.

The XSE has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. It’s the more powerful of the two gas powertrains and it performed well. Not only did it get up to speed quickly, but there was no need to mash the gas to get extra power for passing. Our only complaint was the noise of the CVT, which is intrusive under hard acceleration.

Toyota Corolla

No Shortage of Standard Features

While many an affordable car makes key safety and tech features expensive extras, the Corolla makes many of them standard. Safety features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control are all standard. There’s also a standard 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and, new for this year, Android Auto. You don’t have to move up a trim and spend extra just to get these features.

All in all, the 2021 Toyota Corolla is a compact sedan with appeal for a wide range of buyers. Lots of trim choices, two gas and one hybrid powertrain, key standard features, and a low price make the Corolla a great option.

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In this video, we look at the all-new Nissan Rogue. It’s been greatly improved to add more space, a smaller footprint, and better ergonomics overall. We have a couple of “not so great” points, but overall, this is a very well-executed crossover from Nissan.

See Aaron’s interview-style review with Kristin about the new Rogue:

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The Cachet of Cadillac

The Cadillac name is synonymous with luxury. It doesn’t matter which model you’re talking about because the brand alone says it all. Or does it? While every Cadillac is a luxury car, the Escalade sits at the top of the lineup as something unique unto itself.

The Escalade is the epitome of Cadillacs. It really doesn’t even matter if you need a three-row SUV with seating for up to eight. That might be part of your reason for wanting an Escalade, but that’s not why you buy one.

You buy an Escalade because of the statement it makes whether it’s sitting in your driveway, pulling into the office parking lot, or being loaded up with the family’s groceries. Owning a Cadillac Escalade tells the world you have arrived.

There are legions of three-row SUVs from which to choose with a wide range of prices that fit every budget. The Escalade does not fit every budget. Our test vehicle came in with a price of $109,500. There is no such thing as a cheap Escalade.

Impressive in Every Way

Even people who don’t know or care much about cars have likely heard of this one. It’s the car professional athletes and wealthy Hollywood types drive. People notice you when you drive around in an Escalade.

That’s in part due to its impressive size. This thing is big. I’m not going to lie. I may have passed a tight parking spot or two for something with a bit more room further away from the door of my local grocery store. You’ll get the hang of it eventually, just spend some time getting comfortable with that bulk before you head out into a congested city.

The upside to the Escalade’s size is an expansive interior. There’s room for seven adults, eight with an optional second-row bench seat. As is the case in most every three-row SUV, the third row is best for two unless you’re putting the kids in back. There are 25.5 cubic feet behind that third row with up to 109.1 cubic feet if your fold both second and third rows flat.

Yes, you can load up the Escalade with cargo, but cargo doesn’t care about luxury. People, however, very much care about luxury and that’s what makes this SUV stand out from the rest. The front seats on our Platinum trim were plush with rich leathers, 16-way power adjustability, heat, ventilation, and massage. Leather accents were everywhere from the steering wheel to the center console to the doors and the dashboard.

Cadillac Escalade

It’s All About Luxury

Striking, highly varnished wood trims enhance the interior’s luxurious first impression along with a sueded headliner and illuminated door sills. At first glance, it looks like the dashboard is one giant screen, but it’s a series of three, curved OLED displays that cover the dash in front of the driver. There’s a 16.9-inch infotainment touchscreen, 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster, and 7.2-inch touchscreen control panel. It’s impressive.

An AKG 19-speaker audio system is standard, but we had the pleasure of listening to the upgraded 36-speaker system. It fills the cabin with rich, immersive sound. It impressed my teenager. That’s saying something. From the materials to the technology to the comfort to the audio, the Escalade delivers a consistent luxury experience.

Cadillac Escalade

Well-Mannered Performance

It also delivers a luxury ride. The potholes of New England roads can rattle your teeth this time of year, but they went unnoticed in the Escalade. Passengers sit at the top of the priority list in a luxury car. They need to be not just comfortable, but downright coddled. The Escalade delivers with a ride that is smooth, composed, and quiet, even at highway speeds. Despite its size, handling is responsive so passengers remain comfortable while the driver stays relaxed and in control.

Our Escalade was powered by a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It had no trouble managing this SUV’s bulk and it did so quietly. Remember, this is a luxury car. No one wants to hear the engine doing its work. It just does its thing unobtrusively in the background while you enjoy that fancy audio system and those supple leather seats.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade offers the luxury, technology, and ride one expects from a luxury car. There might be other luxury SUVs that’ll do the job, but the Escalade makes a lasting impression that’s hard to duplicate.

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While controversial on its launch, the Ford Mustang Mach-E has proven itself to be a winner to most of those who’ve driven it. In this video, we talk about the new electric crossover from Ford and about Kristin’s impressions and daily use of it for a week. Aaron tries not to ramble on about things too much too. It’s refreshing.

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