2021 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER RS VIDEO REVIEW AND TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. It looks cool, comes stocked with premium features including wireless CarPlay and Android Auto and possesses a peppy engine that punches above its weight. It flaunts the brand’s new sporty crossover styling and can be equipped with enough bells and whistles to make it feel more substantive than its price would indicate. The Trailblazer will be a strong performer for Chevy but those who do their homework might find a better match.
2021 CADILLAC ESCALADE TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES.
GM’s extra-large, body-on-frame SUVs have all recently undergone comprehensive transformations but this one is the headliner. It’s America’s aspirational SUV and has been for over 20 years. I’ve driven all of them, but this 5th generation Escalade is by far the most ambitious evolution. Bigger, techier, and far more sophisticated, this is the Escalade at the pinnacle of success. It’s a 6-figure, ostentatious symbol of over-the-top American living where 16mpg matters not and supersized is a way of life. But this one also sweats the details with attention paid to even the minutest particulars.
2021 HONDA RIDGELINE FIRST LOOK BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
I’ve always wanted a Ridgeline; it’s a great lifestyles truck that’s as smart and versatile as they come, but like many of you, its soft, mini-van-like styling has kept me from pulling the trigger. Honda realizes that so to broaden its appeal they’ve toughened up its appearance. Going on sale early next year, the 2021 Ridgeline features all-new sheet metal from the A-pillars forward, with a power dome hood, more upright grille, brighter LED headlights and a prominent skid plate. Out back, the new bumper flaunts more aggressive exhaust outlets. And butching it up even more are rugged-looking 18” wheels and a wider stance. But if that’s still not enough testosterone for you the new Honda Performance Development package sports these bronze-colored wheels, unique grille, black fender flares and special graphics. And it’s available on all trims. Last year, the 9-speed auto became standard on all Ridgelines and is paired to a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with an available torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. A unibody truck with car-like ride and handling yet capable off-road, the 2021 Ridgeline’s pricing will be announced closer to launch.
2021 KIA SORENTO FIRST LOOK BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES. A 3-row family vehicle, the Sorento is offered with optional 2nd row captain’s chairs for either 6- or 7-passenger seating. Kia says the redesigned model provides more interior flexibility with improved legroom and cargo room. The platform it’s built upon is lighter and stronger, affording improved driving dynamics, including acceleration and ride and handling. An available full digital gauge cluster, Connected Routing for real-time navigation that can predict upcoming traffic, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration, and enhanced voice controls highlight the tech improvements. A new feature called Last Mile Navigation even provides walking directions to the driver’s final destination if the vehicle is parked within a 1.2 mile radius and the Find My Car feature uses the Sorento’s cameras to capture pictures of the car and its surroundings which are then accessible via the UVO app. All very cool stuff. And the depth of new driver assistance features is off the charts…if you get into an accident with this Sorento you’ll have no one to blame but the man in the mirror.
About the powertrain options; it starts with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired to a traditional 8-speed automatic making 191 horsepower, then a turbocharged version of that motor hooked up to a 8-speed dual clutch transmission producing 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Moving up, there’s a front-wheel drive only, gas-electric hybrid rated at 37mpg in mixed driving and finally an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid with an estimated 30 mile all-electric range. Kia’s optional all-wheel drive system uses torque-vectoring and a center-locking differential to give added power to the rear wheels when needed.
The X-Line SX-Prestige gets the off-road look with exclusive bumpers, unique 20” wheels and bridge-type roof rack to complement its 1” increase in ride height, standard all-wheel drive and hill decent control. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date near the end of 2020.
2021 Ford Ranger Tremor First Look By Car Critic Steve Hammes. 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor
Following the recently released off-road oriented Super Duty Tremor comes a Tremor package for Ford’s smallest pickup. When equipped with the Tremor Off-Road Package, the 2021 Ford Ranger gives customers a truck with even more capability, taking it several notches beyond the already-capable FX4 Package. A lifted suspension provides nearly another inch of ground clearance which combined with the new 32” Grabber tires improves the Ranger’s off-road metrics for tackling tougher angles. FOX shocks with external reservoirs at the rear and hydraulic rebound stops keep things comfortable even over severe terrain. A steel front bash plate, skid plates, 2 new recovery hooks in the rear, a locking rear differential and Terrain Management System round out the package. Even the traction control system has been recalibrated for improved acceleration while driving on loose surfaces. Inside, you’ll find a bank of auxiliary power switches to control accessories such as a winch and lights and special Tremor accented seats. Powered by a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbo producing 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, the Tremor Off-Road Package is priced at $4,290 and is available on XLT and Lariat grades in the SuperCrew 4X4 configuration.