MARCH 2021
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2021 reVamped Caddy Escalade GOES HIGH-TECH!

Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –

2021 Escalade The fifth-gen Cadillac Escalade has gone high-tech! In a big way, we must point out. The iconic full-size luxury SUV now is equipped with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen technology, which basically is light produced in response to an electric current. Three screens: a 14.2-inch instrument display behind the steering wheel; to the left, a 7.2-inch touch screen for driver information center; and a 16.9-inch infotainment screen in the dashboard; all use OLED and boast twice the clarity of a 4K TV! Audiophiles will love the 36-speaker AKG sound miracle, which can be heard via the ceiling, headrests and even the center console! Add the navigation system with augmented reality to the mix and you are in business!

For 2021, the Escalade continues with the previous 6.2-liter V-8 Ecotec engine, which cranks out 420 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 460 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. You can’t find a smoother transmission than the 10-speed Cadillac engineers have installed in the luxury SUV. And the start-stop feature (automatic engine stop when the vehicle halts) ensures substantial savings in fuel and weight. A coil-over-shock front and a new independent rear suspension (replaces the traditional solid-axle) work well to absorb unpleasant road bumps or curves. Steering response with the electric power rack-and-pinion is swift and accurate. The Dynamic Fuel Management system deactivates four of the eight cylinders for fuel savings. And if you need to haul a sailboat or another car, tow capacity is an astonishing 8,000 pounds.

You can recognize an Escalade anywhere, thanks to its mammoth presence (5-inch and 8-inch extended wheelbase and length respectively than previous) starting up front with the centered and familiar crest emblem in the Galvano chromed grille, flanked by new horizontal HID headlights. The Caddy truly shines in the cabin department with such creature comforts as tri-zone auto a/c, flip-down 12.6-inch DVD screens for rear passengers, panoramic sun roof, hands-free lift gate,16-way power heated/cooled front seats, suede headliner and inviting dark auburn with black accent interior. The stainless-steel speaker grilles throughout are eye-catching. Ingress and egress into the high-sitting vehicle is convenient, thanks to power retractable running boards (optional). The third-row seat folds via a power button in the cargo hold while the second-row seat moves fore and aft 5.5 inches.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for rear rows, stability, hill descent and traction controls, four-wheel antilock brakes, rearview camera, rear-cross traffic, forward-collision and side-blind zone alerts, lane keep assist with departure warning, front/rear park sensors, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. Magnetic Ride Control adjusts the four-wheel independent suspension as per road conditions, resulting in a smooth but firm ride. It also keeps body roll to a minimum.

Of course, the indulgence doesn’t come cheap. Our Sport Platinum model with all the trimmings topped $112,095. Don’t be misled into believing that the nearly 5,500-pound vehicle lacks power. In fact, the gas pedal unleashes strong acceleration to make this a graceful, smooth and easy-riding companion. Now, all you need is an inflated bank balance to indulge yourself and the family.



2020 MustangIt may not have the power of a GT, Bullitt or Shelby GT500 but the Mustang EcoBoost with the optional high-performance package will leave any potential owner thoroughly satisfied. As we were recently while testing out the 2.3-liter inline-4 turbo EcoBoost pumping out 330 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 350 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. Basically, it is a Focus RS power train. Add MagneRide adaptive dampers to smoothen rough surfaces, 19-inch Pirelli Corsa summer tires, and a 3.55 Torsen limited-slip rear axle, and you are in for a thrill of a ride! Standard was the seamless six-speed manual gear box. Drive modes in the fully-lined cloth convertible include normal, sport, snow/wet, track and drag strip.

An independent double-ball-joint MacPherson strut front and integral-link with coil springs rear suspension isolates occupants from road noise. Guiding the classic American muscle car toward its destination is a three-mode electric power, rack-and-pinion steering system.

That this is the ever-recognizable Mustang is evident as you stare at the long sculpted hood meeting a blacked-out grille with the offset tri-bar pony crest while 2.3L High Performance Package badges deck up on both front sides. And if you step back, you will admire the eye-catching three-LED bar sequential blinking signal light. The cabin is equally pleasing with the traditional dual-cowl-style dashboard and easy-to-toggle switches. Sync3, which accesses audio, telephone, nav controls via a voice command, 8-inch touchscreen tap or button click, is simple to use. Standard amenities include dual auto a/c, leather seats, manual tilt/telescopic steering column, power windows and locks, ambient lights, two USB ports and push-button start.

Dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, rearview camera, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, front and rear three-point seatbelts, tire pressure monitor and daytime running light come at no extra cost.

The iconic Mustang is renowned for being exciting and nimble to engage with a cool and hands-on feel to the cabin. And it has always been sold at an unbeatable price. Same applies to the EcoBoost and the alluring high-performance bundle, which will impress even the hardcore GT and Bullitt fans.



2020 OutbackIs it a wagon? Or a midsize SUV? Really, it doesn’t matter because the Outback leaves a lasting impression. More so now with a recent overhaul. The sixth-gen and five-seater Subaru boasts a solid ride with quick acceleration, superb handling and steering feel. Of course, standard all-wheel-drive system along with dual X-Mode traction management ensures outstanding balance in all driving conditions.

The 2.4-liter horizontally-opposed, turbo inline-4 engine cranks out 260 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 277 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. Power routed through a continuous variable transmission with 8-speed manual-shift capabilities contributes to an adequate performance. An independent MacPherson strut front and a double wishbone rear suspension results in a pleasantly agile ride. Steering response with the rack-and-pinion power assist is sharp, precise and perfectly weighted. The Outback’s exceptional stopping power comes from robust 12.4-inch ventilated front and 11.8-inch rear discs. Tow capacity is decent at 3,500 pounds.

The Outback Onyx edition displays a larger hexagonal grille with front lower body cladding. Active grille shutters improve engine warm up, retain heat and ensure fuel savings. A twin cockpit with electroluminescent gauge displays for speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature give the interior a rich ambiance. All new is the 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment touch screen, the center of attention on the dashboard. Passenger volume is vast at 105.6 cubic feet while ground clearance is a laudable 8.7 inches. Other goodies include 10-way power driver and eight-way front-passenger heated seats, dual auto a/c, overhead sunglass holder, power lift gate, 60/40 fold-down rear seatback, auto start/stop and a roof rack with crossbars.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all three rows, driver knee airbag, EyeSight (adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist), blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear-cross traffic alert, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, rollover sensor, vehicle dynamic control, active front seat head restraints and whiplash protection, front view (180-degree view of front) and smart rearview monitors, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

This redesigned and easy-on-the-pocket Subaru is a tempting midsize SUV. A standard all-wheel drive to maintain stability in untoward road/weather conditions, spacious cabin and, best of all, gas-sipping abilities should help seal the deal.


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