The GLE 63 is the big, V8-powered Mercedes SUV that’s received the AMG sport treatment. This is as upscale as it gets for most luxury consumers and there’s a lot to talk about with this utility. But first, you have to say its name three times fast.
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxrU8NxsZhI
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.
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.
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.
In this episode, Kristin asks Aaron about the all-new, fully redesigned Rogue and what he thinks of it. Aaron talks about the Nissan Rogue and how it changed the game before and continues to change things for the better now. This is Nissan’s best-selling vehicle and they definitely had to bring an A-game to it.
Watch for Aaron’s full review of the Rogue coming soon.
In this episode, we talk about the new turbocharged engine found in the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback as well as the CX-30. Both labeled “Turbo” models to designate their engine choice, these vehicles greatly benefit from the added power and low-end torque given by the turbocharged addition. Here’s our thoughts on both.
For a full review of the Mazda3 Turbo: https://drivemodeshow.com/2021/03/03/the-2021-mazda3-bring-on-the-turbo/
For a full review of the CX-30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZYdjmo76gs
Talking semi-autonomous safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60s7_sa45gY
Aaron loses all objectivity in this review of the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat. It’s pure awesomeness and probably the greatest family vehicle ever designed, up there with the Pontiac GTO Wagon and other hallmarks of muscle car multi-seaters.
Kristin talks about the Durango SRT from Dodge and its mixture of awesome family hauling, interior comfort, and monstrous power. She towed a trailer with this rig and more. Check it out!
In this episode, Kristin and Aaron talk about the traditional crossover-SUVs in the Toyota lineup. Namely the Highlander and the RAV4, especially in the new hybrid variants. Toyota has done a lot to improve these family haulers and we discuss what’s changed, how the electrification has gone with the RAV4 Hybrid, RAV4 Prime, and the Highlander Hybrid, and more.
Join us for this look at Toyota family machines.
In this video, Aaron looks at the 2020 Santa Fe and talks about what bothers him about this mostly perfect hit into the family crossover ballpark. Best known for its right-sized design, the new-generation Santa Fe brings a lot of added tech and smart ergonomics as new additions.
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.
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.