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luxury

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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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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Aaron gets cleaned up and talks about a Lexus NX and why the F Sport model is probably worth skipping. The NX is Lexus’ aim towards small families and single parents and it hits the mark very well. Most of the time. Find out what Aaron thinks and what’s up with this luxury crossover.

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