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In this review, Aaron looks at the all-new, 8th-generation Corvette in its Z51 package and compares it to his friend’s 1974 Corvette 454. In this C3 vs C8 comparison, we’ll notice a lot of differences and, surprisingly, a lot of similarities. These are the most powerful versions of the Corvette for their respective generations and the commonalities are a testament to the ‘Vette always being Chevrolet’s most cutting-edge car. Check it out.

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The Defender is Back

The Land Rover Defender is back after a too-long absence from the U.S. market. This boxy off-roader combines the luxury of a Land Rover with the off-road chops of, well, a Land Rover. Available with two-doors or four-doors, if you’re looking for a luxury SUV equally suited to city streets and muddy fields with stand-out styling, then you should take a closer look at the 2020 Land Rover Defender.

Let’s start with the look of the Defender. You’re either going to love this SUV or think it’s odd. We rather like its style because it doesn’t look like every other SUV on the road. It’s boxier than the rest, tall, and imposing. It looks like it should be capable and because this is a Land Rover, it lives up to that expectation.

There’s a tailgate-mounted spare tire that gives it an old-school vibe, but that tire is flanked by rounded square lights that are thoroughly modern. There are inset panels on the hood that look a bit like tire tracks and give what would otherwise be an expanse of sheet metal some visual punch. It’s modern and vintage all at once and it attracts attention.

Tough Luxury

Inside, there’s seating for up to seven with an airy, open interior. Those in back get a bit of extra light thanks to what Land Rover calls Alpine lights. These narrow, rectangular windows sit at the roofline and not only brighten the interior but add to the Defender’s unique presence.

Nothing in this SUV is delicate or timid. While some luxury SUVs have a level of refinement that make them feel fragile, not so with the Defender. It’s comfortable, with quality materials throughout and feels every bit the luxury vehicle, but it’s not one you’ll be afraid to get dirty. There’s a toughness to the Defender’s interior that won’t have you panicked the first time the family dog runs through it with muddy paws.

And there will be mud if you’re doing it right because the Defender has ample off-road capability. All-wheel drive is standard along with hill descent control, and a range of drive modes to suit most every terrain. The Terrain Response system allows for normal, rock crawl, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, or sand modes. The Defender can also wade through nearly three feet of water. If you have serious off-road plans, then the Defender is ready.

Plenty of Power

Power for the Defender 110 SE we drove comes from a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine with 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s a responsive powertrain that has no trouble getting the Defender’s bulk up to highway speeds. Much like the interior of the Defender is rugged without the delicacy of other luxury SUVs, the engine in the Defender isn’t a mild-mannered thing.

You feel and hear its power when you step on the gas, but it’s not intrusive or annoying. This capable SUV is still a luxury vehicle, so there’s nothing harsh about the engine or the ride. It’s power with a dose of refinement. As capable as it is off-road, on-road it’s well-mannered and composed making it a relaxing ride for driver and passenger alike.

While there are other vehicles that can handle off-road adventures, there aren’t many that also boast a luxury pedigree. That sets the Defender apart from the rest, as does its price. As tested, with extras including a sliding panoramic roof, heated third row, 14-way heated and cooled front seats, and three-zone climate control with rear cooling assist, our Defender came in at $75,440.

It’s not the most affordable off-road choice, but those looking for an off-road luxury SUV will find it’s well worth the investment.

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Embracing the Minivan Life

The 2021 Honda Odyssey gets styling and feature updates this year that increase its appeal for families. Minivans, once the top choice for families, now face stiff competition from a growing roster of crossovers and SUVs. Those cars are seen as cooler, more stylish, and more modern. That makes it more important than ever for today’s crop of minivans to deliver exactly what a family needs at a price they can afford.

Let’s face it – it’s hard look cool when you’re balancing a squirming toddler with one arm and fumbling for your keys with the other and minivans don’t really help the cause. Somewhere along the way they became uncool. They went from being a godsend with their sliding doors, roomy interiors, rear seat entertainment systems, and endless cupholders, to being the car you got because you didn’t really have another choice.

Well, today there are lots of choices and they’re just as well equipped. Whether you need to accommodate a small family or a large one, there’s an SUV or crossover that will do the job quite nicely without the minivan stigma. There are plenty of options, but the reality is nothing handles a family quite so well as a minivan.

2021 Honda Odyssey

 

People? Cargo? No Problem.

The Honda Odyssey has long been the cream of the minivan crop. It’s nicely styled, has an attractive interior with quality materials, and offers a variety of trims to fit most any budget. There’s seating for up to eight passengers with plenty of room to spread out and plenty of room for all your stuff.

It’s easy to reconfigure it so you can carry the kids and their friends one minute and a load of groceries the next. On weekends, take it for a family getaway or to the local home improvement store where its cavernous interior easily handles all the supplies for your latest project. A minivan is a truly versatile family car.

The Honda Odyssey is available in a range of five trims with the base LX priced at $31,790. The Elite we drove came in at $47, 820 and has a long list of standard features. On the comfort side, there’s tri-zone automatic climate control, integrated sunshades for the second and third row, a heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated front seats with leather trims.

It’s incredibly comfortable. There’s the possibility it’s so comfortable I fell asleep in the cell phone lot waiting for my daughter’s plane to land and she had to call to wake me up because I didn’t notice her texts. Hey, it was late, it was a long day, and did I mention this thing is comfy?

Family-Friendly Features

The Elite trim has an 8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Audio, and Sirius XM while the kids get a 10.2-inch rear entertainment system with wireless headphones. As a bonus, when they have those headphones on, they can’t say they didn’t hear you because the CabinTalk in-car speaker system sends your voice through both the Odyssey’s speakers and the headphones.

No matter which trim you get, safety features are plentiful. Collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition are all standard. Honda gets a gold star for making so much standard, even on the base trim, so you don’t have to spend big bucks to keep your family safe.

The Odyssey is available with a single powertrain that includes a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280-horsepower paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s smooth and powerful and has no trouble getting this minivan up to highway speeds. The ride is smooth and quiet with nice handling, which is just what you want in a car focused on passengers.

The Competition

On the downside, the Odyssey is front-wheel drive only. There are other minivans that offer all-wheel drive, which holds lots of appeal if you live where it snows. There’s also no hybrid option, which is again something that’s available on other minivans. The competition is tough in this segment and while the Odyssey is well-equipped, it is missing these key available features.

But what it’s not missing is the versatility to handle family life. Sure, you might look cooler in an SUV, or maybe you just think you look cooler in one. The bigger question is, who cares?

The 2021 Honda Odyssey proves minivans are still a fantastic choice for families. It has safety features to set your mind at ease, comfort that ensures even long trips aren’t a chore, and the versatility to reconfigure for cargo or people at a moment’s notice. If you have a family and you think the minivan life isn’t for you, the Honda Odyssey just might change your mind.

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In this review in 5 minutes or less, Kristin looks at the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost in all of its uber-luxurious glory. With fiber optics to mimic the night sky, a retracting hood ornament, lavish rear seat entertainment, and sheepskin rugs.. What’s not to like?

Find out more about the new 2021 Ghost in our interview with Gerry Spahn of Rolls Royce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwMgx4dozXI

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In this review, Aaron looks at the 2020 Nissan Titan XD. This truck has seen a lot of improvement, making it much more competitive in today’s pickup truck market. The XD has dropped its big Cummins diesel engine, but now offers more ergonomics, gearing, and smarter design than it’s had before. Check out this heavy-duty half-ton truck.

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In this not-a-review, James Gilboy talks about the 2020 Toyota 86 in its throwback Hakone Edition. This last gasp for the current-generation 86 brings questions about what the plans are for this little car going forward. Have no fear, James has a wish list he wants to see in the next-gen of this rear-drive Toyota.

Find Gilboy’s actual review here: https://www.carnewscafe.com/2020/09/2020-toyota-86-hakone-edition-review-evergreen-chassis-underripe-engine/

Check out the Alfa 155 DTM V6 Ti here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H8ug__9iHE&feature=emb_title

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In this review, it’s the 2020 CT4 from Cadillac in its Premium Luxury package with beautiful leather. There are some things missing from this one, though, and Aaron isn’t so sure about the price tag and interior versus the other premium brand in General Motors’ line. Find out what that means in this video review of the CT4 sedan.

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