2022 JEEP GRAND WAGONEER TEST DRIVE

It’s a Jeep so above anything the brand has ever produced that it doesn’t even use the Jeep name. It simply goes by Grand Wagoneer and it’s the big, highly capable, opulent 3-row affluent Jeep owners have been waiting for. So watch out Escalade and Navigator; there’s a new 4X4 in town and it isn’t pulling any punches.
They’re both the same size – huge – but if you prefer your Wagoneer to be grand you’re going to need an extra $30,000 and an even more fervent desire for fossil fuels. Each premium fill up of its 26 gallon tank costs more than $100 in order to feed the 6.4-liter V8. Even with engineering tricks such as cylinder deactivation and a front-axle disconnect, consider yourself lucky if you get 15mpg. But the Grand Wagoneer’s story isn’t about fuel economy. It’s about oversized American opulence; a new choice for fat-cat families in the gigantic SUV segment. GM and Ford now have a new competitor to wrangle with and Jeep is coming in hot. But you can barely find the Jeep name on the Grand Wagoneer and if you go to Jeep’s retail site the Wagoneers receive their own special tab, so consider this a Jeep subbrand if you will.
This here is the penultimate Obsidian trim in the only monotone color choice; Diamond Black with a starting MSRP of just over $100,000. But despite the name, the Obsidian is also available in white, silver, red and blue. But even those colors receive 22” black wheels, black grille and badging, black interior accents and as a bonus a 23-speaker McIntosh audio system with a cool amp app to make you feel like you’re in a home theater. The sticker price of this one is $109,025 with the optional Rear-Seat Entertainment Group, Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package and Convenience Group. But if the blacked-out treatment just isn’t for you, the Grand Wagoneer Series III is basically the Obsidian with more shiny metal and standard equipment starting at $4,000 more.

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2022 INFINITI QX60 TEST DRIVE

Once a rival to Lexus, Infiniti has been mired in old product and meandering business plans for years. The recently introduced QX50 didn’t set the world on fire as they had hoped so this new QX60 better click and it will. This is a solid evolution of what made the 1st one so popular; now smarter, more premium and better packaged for greater convenience. A base, front-drive QX60 Pure is priced at just under $48,000 and leases for $671 per month but we don’t do much base around here so my tester is an all-wheel drive QX60 Autograph; a metaphor referencing its personalized style. And this is a beautiful reimagining of the body with a judicious use of chrome and this gorgeous Moonbow Blue paint. It’s less curvy and more muscular now with a pronounced front end design proclaiming affluence. The footprint is nearly identical to before but this one is wider with a little more ground clearance though inside the 2nd and 3rd row legroom has decreased while cargo volume behind the 3rd row has increased by 2 cubic feet. There’s also a nifty underfloor storage box back here and of course, the tailgate can be foot activated. The 3rd row seats don’t power fold but they do get a power assist when raising them. And in general the configurable seat action is a QX60 strong suit. To access the 3rd row, just press this button at the base of the seat and the rest of the movement is done for you. And because the 2nd row captain’s chairs slide and recline and the 3rd row seats also recline, as long as everyone is courteous there’s enough room for 6 in here without any whining from the kids. And when it’s time to get out, there’s another one-touch button for that. So very family friendly though other than a couple of mixed-type USB ports there’s no entertainment features or screens back here…not even as an option.
Extremely limited in availability, the 2022 Infiniti QX60 can be ordered in Pure, Luxe, Sensory and Autograph trims in either front- or all-wheel drive with up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity including trailer sway control and a transmission oil cooler. I’m not sure it’ll be the savior the brand needs but it’s certainly the best SUV Infiniti offers and will no doubt resume its reign as their sales leader.

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2021 ASTON MARTIN DBX TEST DRIVE

In the USA where SUVs are king, the DBX will court the wealthy, trying to steer them away from other luxury SUVs such as the more established Bentley Bentayga. What we have here is a 5-seat, all-wheel drive sport-utility with dimensions not too dissimilar from an Audi Q7 but without the 3rd row. Like many of these types, it runs with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, comes with an air suspension and works through a 9-speed auto. The aluminum-intensive body keeps the curb weight below 5,000 pounds, there’re 6 selectable drive modes, a limited slip rear differential and standard 22” wheels. This Buckinghamshire Green is a special paint you won’t find on the configurator – a $6,100 option and all told this DBX sits before you at $205,186. Gas mileage is rated at 15mpg in combined driving.

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2021 GENESIS GV80 TEST DRIVE

The GV80 is a reality with its concept look very much intact. It’s exciting that I get to drive a first-ever model from a relatively new brand. And though there are some familiar parent company bits in here, this GV80 truly feels like a Genesis and not just a premium-level Hyundai. It’s exhilaratingly fresh in every way and for those who play close enough attention to: 1) Even know what Genesis is? And, 2) Where to find a dealer? Discovering the GV80 will be automotive bliss.
When you drive the GV80 it feels as though you’re behind the wheel of something even more expensive. For instance, the shocks are fed information from the forward-facing camera which previews the road ahead so that the GV80 can preemptively keep the ride comfortable. And even without the noise cancellation feature, this is one quiet SUV. It drives beautifully in all situations backed by an engine that delivers its turbo power with maturity. For $66k, this is very hard to beat.

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2021 CADILLAC ESCALADE TEST DRIVE

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.  

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