2021 GMC CANYON AT4 TEST DRIVE

The off-road segment is the hottest in the industry.  Everyone wants a piece of the Jeep life and automakers of all-kinds are jumping in including Subaru with their upcoming Wilderness sub-brand.  And of course, the Canyon AT4 is designed with outdoor adventures in mind – an all-terrain package that’s available on every GMC with the exception, ironically, of the Terrain but that’s coming as well for 2022.  Their small pickup has been updated this year across the board, and now the AT4 adds off-road confidence through standard 31” Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, a specifically tuned suspension with an Advanced Hill Decent Control System, an automatic locking rear differential and a transfer case skid plate.  It possesses a bolder exterior design with dark chrome finishes, a larger grille and red recovery hooks.  But this truck doesn’t stop there.  With the addition of the Off-Road Performance Package you get a suspension leveling kit for the front end.  Combined with the removal of the front air dam this Canyon’s approach angle is a friendlier 30 degrees.  It’s also paired with rockers for added body protection and more skid plates for the middle of the truck.  There are also unique 17” gloss black wheels, Carbon Black AT4 logos and a gloss black exhaust tip.  All-weather floor liners and a spray-in bed liner round out the upgrades at an added cost of $3,195.  It’s a great looking truck in Summit White powered here by the standard 3.6-liter V6 producing 308 horsepower through an 8-speed auto, returning 19mpg.  You can also spec this AT4 with a diesel at a significant price increase but either way the AT4 is only available as a full 4-door Crew Cab with either a short or long box. With the next gen Nissan Frontier right around the corner and a recently introduced, beefed-up Honda Ridgeline and Ranger Tremor Off-Road Package already on sale, there are a lot of compelling choices in this segment that will give the Canyon AT4 a run for its money. 

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2021 GMC YUKON AT4 TEST DRIVE

Denali is to the city as AT4 is to the wilderness. It’s another GMC sub brand that is being spread throughout their entire lineup and here on the Yukon includes all-terrain tires, skid plates, a more off-road friendly front fascia, an off-road driving mode, hill decent control and of course 4-wheel drive with an auto setting and low range. Couple those attributes with the optional air suspension with an extra 2” of lift and a limited slip differential and the Yukon cuts through deep snow like a hot knife through butter. Pricing starts at around $66,000 and when you load it to the roof with all kinds of goodies – including the optional panoramic – you end up here at $75,960. With the Traction Select System and wheel-specific 4-wheel drive, the Yukon AT4 feels like the beast you expect it to be but with the polish of a luxury SUV on-road. AT4 is a cool idea and will no doubt continue to bear fruit for GMC throughout their entire lineup.

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2022 ACURA MDX TEST DRIVE

Acura has absolutely nailed it. I’ve got a week with this range-topping MDX Advance Package in gorgeous Performance Red Pearl with standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, priced at $62,175. The headline-grabbing trait is, without a doubt, how awesomely the MDX drives. So if you appreciate precise, effortless handling and a supple ride even in your family 3-row then this is definitely the one for you. So this model goes full peacock, showing off everything the new MDX has to offer such as premium leather, 16-way sport seats, 27 different ambient lighting schemes replete with cool names, 20” wheels, a large and informative head-up display, a 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D premium audio system with 4 speakers in the headliner, and a surround-view camera system with a conveniently located activation button on the end of the wiper stalk. Great in the snow as well as in the curves, this MDX is a driver’s SUV with family capabilities at a smart price.

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CADILLAC ESCALADE SUPER CRUISE

Super Cruise….the cutting edge hands-free driving tech. Now, you won’t hear Cadillac using the term “self-driving” – those are my words – but as long as you’re on one of the mapped limited access highways Cadillac has programmed into the system – over 200,000 miles of them – you’re mostly good. It’s super easy to use…if you can set cruise control on your car then you can do this. And when the steering wheel lights green you know you’re good to go and the hands can come off. This updated version also better mimics a more realistic driving styling and it’s near perfect in its execution. Look away for too long and there are all sorts of warnings to get you to refocus. The key for GM is to finally spread this feature throughout their entire portfolio of brands because it one thing to have it on a $100,000 Escalade but a complete game changer to offer it on a $30,000 Chevy. GM says they’ll have this option in 22 vehicles by 2023. The cost? $25 per month after the free trial expires.

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TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID PLATINUM AWD

TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID PLATINUM AWD QUICK TAKES. Toyota made “hybrid” synonymous with high fuel efficiency more than 20 years ago. Later, Toyota introduced the first hybrid SUV in its class, the 2006 Highlander. Leave it to Toyota to again raise the bar for hybrid SUV functionality by making the 2020 model the most fuel-efficient Highlander Hybrid ever. The bottom line is an eye opener for the efficiency-minded: 243 total system horsepower and up to a manufacturer-estimated 36 combined MPG. The latter is a 24-percent improvement over the previous-generation Highlander Hybrid’s 29 combined MPG. Yet, Highlander Hybrid still delivers the everyday acceleration, power and responsiveness that family buyers expect. In another Highlander first, the hybrid is now available in either 2WD or AWD, further expanding hybrid technology to a new group of buyers.

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