APRIL 2021
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Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –motoringtampabay.com

2021 INFINITI QX80 THE RIDE: Four-door, up to eight-passenger (our trim seated seven) full-size 2021 Infiniti QX80 4WD.

DOWN THE ROAD: Based on a fully boxed all-steel frame, the power in the Infiniti is abundant to propel the 5,706-pound plus vehicle. The luxurious ride is quiet and graceful whether you are on the highway or testing the Infiniti off-road talent.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 5.6-liter V-8 DOHC engine pumps out 400 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 413 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. It is mated to a 7-speed auto transmission but our all-wheel-drive version also was equipped with an auto-leveling air suspension to smoothen the bumps while towing a boat or a small trailer. Tow capacity? An astonishing 8,500 pounds. The four-wheel-drive system can be driven in auto, 2WD, 4Hi or 4Lo modes depending on road and weather conditions. Up front and in the rear is an independent double wishbone suspension with stabilizer bars. The power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering is accurate and direct. Stopping power is left up to the massive 13.8-inch ventilated disc rotors. The SUV sits on enormous 22-inch forged dark aluminum-alloy wheels.

LOOK & FEEL: We test-drove the Premium Select model, which is packed with tech and luxury goodies. This means dark chrome and black decked up the double-arch grille, fender vents, door mirror caps and rear tailgate strip. The side-step rails will come in handy for the little tykes to ingress and egress from the vehicle. Space is at a premium in the full-size QX80 with storage areas in the center console, overhead console and doors. Want cargo space to haul plywood from the local home improvement store? Then fold flat the third-row seat for 49.6 cubic feet of space. Or press a button and watch the 60/40 third-row seat fold flat to open up 95.1 cubic feet of space (that’s with both second and third row seats down). The InTouch infotainment system, which comes with 8-inch dual touch screens atop each other, is convenient to use. Wood trim on the doors and the dashboard above the glove box conveys a tasteful appearance. Also standard are tri-zone auto a/c, 10-way power and eight-way front-passenger heated/cooled seats, power-fold outside mirrors, roof rails and power slide/tilt moon roof and rear lift gate.

SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all rows, four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, two-speed transfer case, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, forward emergency brakes with pedestrian detection, 360-degree camera, hill start and distance control assists, adaptive cruise control, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitor are standard.

OUT THE DOOR: Based at $78,450 (with options totals $80,185), plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Wheelbase, 121.1 inches; length, 210.2 inches; Width, 79.9 inches; Height: 75.8 inches; fuel capacity, 26 gallons; city, 13 mpg; highway, 19 mpg; Web site: www.infinitiusa.com

WHY DIG IT: Packed with luxury, plentiful room for passengers and cargo, as well as admirable tow capacity backed by a potent engine. What’s there not to like? If you looked past the fuel economy figures (we did eked out just 16.9 mpg in combined driving, beating EPA estimates), this full-size SUV should serve the needs of large households quite well.


2021 Chevy TahoeIt’s a fact. Even if gas prices reached $4 a gallon and beyond, there would still be a demand for full-sized SUVs such as the truck-based 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe. After all, few rides on the road can tow up to 8,200 pounds, carry up to eight passengers comfortably and boast cargo space of 122.9 cubic feet. And the overhauled ride is bigger than ever before. Here are the impressive figures: wheelbase and length are up by 4.9 and 6.7 inches respectively; third-row leg room increases another 10.1 cubic feet as does the cargo area behind the third row; and maximum cargo room grows by a gigantic 28.2 cubic feet.

Chevy’s large SUV is equipped with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine generating 355 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 383 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. Mated to a smooth-shifting 10-speed auto gearbox, the fully boxed frame Tahoe is offered in rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive versions. An independent coil-over-shock front and a new independent rear suspension (out goes the traditional solid-axle) work well to eagerly tackle sharp, sudden curves on the road. An accurate and well-weighted power-assist rack-and-pinion steering works incredibly well to guide the large SUV into a tight parking spot.

Magnetic Ride Control, which adjusts the four-wheel independent suspension as per road conditions, brings toughness and rock-solid stability to the ride. GM’s Dynamic Fuel Management system deactivates half of its eight cylinders to conserve gas while cruising or at slower speeds. EPA estimates are 16 city/20 highway and 18 combined.

The Tahoe makes its presence known wherever you go, thanks to the familiar but massive centered bowtie on a black-ice finish grille, LED headlights and tail lamps and 22-inch black-painted wheels. Step into the capacious cabin and you will realize there is no need to remove the third-row seat. Instead, press a button in the cargo hold and watch the bench fold. The second-row seat moves fore and aft 5.5 inches. The two-gauge analog instrument cluster is well-lit and crystal clear. And the huge center console can swallow a laptop. Other notable goodies include tri-zone auto a/c, tilt/telescopic steering column, 10.2-inch color touch screen for infotainment readings, 9-speaker Bose surround system, heated front seats, hands-free power lift gate, wireless phone charge and several USB slots.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for rear rows, stability, hill descent and traction controls, four-wheel antilock brakes, rearview camera, mechanical limited slip differential, forward collision alert, auto emergency brakes, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

The Tahoe power plant delivers a calm and compliant ride, responsive braking and remarkably good body control despite its weight. No wonder, this full-sized SUV is a functional miracle that has served its buyers well for over 25 years.



2020 Ford Edge ST reviewIn 2019, the Edge ST entered the market, the first utility from Ford Performance. Though the midsize crossover segment is packed with tough competition such as the solid Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano and Chevy Equinox, the appealing five-passenger Edge has always stood its ground. The ST trim reinforced its established roots.

Under the hood sits a 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine cranking out 335 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 380 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. That’s 0 to 60 mph in just under 6 seconds for an SUV weighing 4,525 pounds. EcoBoost is essentially twin turbochargers and a smaller-displacement engine working in tandem with gasoline direct injection to produce a powerful but fuel-efficient engine. Coupled to the power train is an 8-speed automatic gear box with steering-wheel paddle shifters. All-wheel drive is standard in the ST trim. Guiding the sprightly SUV is an electric power-assist steering while the specially tuned suspension is handled up front by a MacPherson strut and an integral-link with coil springs in the rear.

Conveying a revamped, brawny appearance, and understandably so, is a black wide-mesh grille with LED signature headlights, body-color door handles and dual exhaust tips. Take a seat behind the firm steering wheel and you find yourself staring at a speedometer flanked by two LCD screens. ST badging on the steering wheel and seat backs (as well as on the exterior) is an instant giveaway that this is a performance-oriented ride. Sync3, which accesses audio, telephone, navigation controls via a voice command, 8-inch touchscreen tap or button click, is simple to use. The center console features a practical rotary gear shift dial. Other comforts include dual auto a/c, 10-way power front seats, aluminum sport pedals, 60/40 easy-fold rear bench, overhead sun glass holder and push-button start.

The standard Ford CoPilot360 bundles together driver-assist safety features such as blind spot monitor, cross-traffic alert, pre-collision and lane-keep aid with auto emergency brake, auto high beams and rearview camera. Also included are dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, front and rear three-point seatbelts, tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights.

As noted, the midsize crossovers are battling hard in a crowded field. But this Ford with its vigor, thanks to a forceful engine, sharp appearance, fun-to-drive character and spaciousness, has an ‘Edge’ over its competition. With performance, to boot!


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