New Model News

500-horsepower Audi SQ7, SQ8 coming to the U.S. this spring

Audi has introduced sportier versions of their popular SUVs.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

It's safe to say that the Q7 and Q8 aren't the most invigorating models in the Audi lineup. The family haulers have proved themselves with premium interiors; high-tech comfort, convenience, and safety technology; and the type of drivability expected of the German brand. Now, they're getting a power upgrade as they prepare to land on U.S. shores.

The SQ7 is the first performance variant of the Audi Q7 three-row SUV. The SQ8 slots between the Audi Q8 and Audi RS Q8. The models are both tuned to be sportier than their Q7 and Q8 counterparts, delivering some much-needed fun behind the wheel.

2020 Audi SQ8 The Audi SQ8 isn't as powerful or sporty as the RS Q8, but it is a big step forward from the Q8.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2020 Audi SQ7 and 2020 SQ8 are both equipped with a 500-horspower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that can get the SUVs from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It's quick off the line thanks to its 568 pound-feet of toque. Audi is pairing each V8 with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

All-wheel drive is standard. A sport differential is standard and is able to send up to 80 percent of the vehicles' power to the rear wheels, which is helpful in inclement driving conditions. Additional tech can turn the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels.

Active roll stabilization is also available.

The exterior of the 2020 SQ7 and SQ8 is adorned with differentiated with Alu-optic or Black-optic design elements, including air intake blades, side sill blades, standard silver mirror caps and quad exhaust outlets. SQ7 models wear an octagonal Singleframe grille and ride on standard 20- or available 21-inch wheel designs. The SQ8 features an Alu-optic grille surround and comes standard with 21- and has available 22-inch wheel designs.

The cabins of the model feature the usual design notes for Audi's mid-grade sport models. There's standard front S sport seats each with heating and ventilation and cross-stitched leather.

The SQ7 and SQ8 arrive at U.S. Audi dealer lots in the late spring, with final pricing and packaging to be announced closer to their on-sale dates.

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Buick has redesigned their flagship Enclave model for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Buick

A more aggressive body design is on tap for the 2022 Buick Enclave. The model, which has undergone a complete redesign, was shown this week ahead of a full debut.

The body of the 2022 Enclave features piercing LED headlights with an LED light signature. Fog lights dominate the lower front fascia while the clamshell of the hood closes further down the face, presumably to enhance aerodynamics. Sculputed body panels emphasize the length and stance of the three-row SUV.

Hard plastic, which typically serves as a sensor panel for safety technology, is not shown on the grille of this model, meaning that the technology may continue to be concealed in the Buick's front emblem.

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir The 2022 Buick Enclave Avenir will ride on new wheels and have a fresh back end design.Photo courtesy of Buick

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir

Chrome accents feature heavily on the Enclave, which is shown in the top-tier Avenir trim level. The model also wears a new wheel design.

New taillight design goes further to emphasize the width of the seven-seat Enclave.

Engine and transmission information has yet to be revealed. The 2021 Enclave comes standard with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is available. Buick has made the 2021 model capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. It is expected that the 2022 model will follow in those footsteps.

Though not shown in the photos released by Buick, the Enclave is expected to have a more refined interior. It's not unreasonable to assume that they model will include the over 10-inch infotainment touch screen that made its debut in the 2021 Buick Envision, as well as diamond-quilted leather upholstery, massaging seat functionality, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It's also possible that the model will get GM's Super Cruise hands-free driving functionality, which is being expanded throughout the lineup.

Pricing for the model has yet to be announced. The 2021 Enclave is listed with a starting MSRP of $41,195 with the destination and delivery charging included and tops out just over $57,000.

The 2022 Buick Enclave will go on sale later this year.

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The Mercedes-Benz GLA was redesigned for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was completely redesigned for the 2021 model year, taking it from a mundane tuna can-like hatchback to a zippy, more traditional small SUV. Everything about it fits into the modern Mercedes SUV lineup. It's a mini Merc. It's formulaic and perfectly fine but it's just not that nice compared to what else you can get for around $40,000 (starting price is just over $36,000)

Mercedes sells the GLA in three variants with another on the way. There's the traditional GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC, and the AMG GLA 35. A more high-performance version of the model, the AMG GLA 45 is coming soon. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available on most models. A variety of drive modes allow the driver to choose how much torque they want to allocate to what wheels and additional setup options for suspension and dynamics are available on pricier GLAs.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 The car's infotainment and driver information screens are housed together as one unit.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

As tested, the GLA 250 was powered by the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four that is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It delivers 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SUV had trouble off the line during daily driving. The GLA's turbo lag added together with low-end gearing confusion to make the mundane drive from stop sign to stop sign in a neighborhood a comfortable creep followed by a robust burst of energy. Once out of the neighborhood and up to full speed on the highway, the powertrain performed far better, however, there was nothing elegant about it.

The model's steering is numb, which is typical for its class. It's steering circle isn't as tight as is optimal.

Any promise of a tranquil ride that you would think would be relatively standard with a Mercedes is not something the GLA possesses. However, for as much road noise that permeates the cabin, it's still less than the awful rattling the previous generation GLA allowed in. For that we can all be thankful.

The added height of the GLA gives the vehicle a more SUV-like seating position than its crossover predecessor. Ingress and egress is easy, as it should be with a model of these proportions. Head- and legroom for front passengers is fantastic for a vehicle of the GLA's size.

Seats in the GLA are not uncomfortable, and certainly not the worst that Mercedes offers.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes wins points for the GLA's tech, which is easy to use, responsive, and pleasing to the eye. The GLA comes standard with the Mercedes-Benz two screens, in one large housing. Its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) operating system runs two 7.0-inch screens. The centrally located screen, which controls the infotainment system, reacts to touch and can also be operated by a touchpad controller on the center console. The list of standard equipment also includes four USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Buyers can upgrade their model to include a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, 12-speaker Burmester audio system, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, head-up display, and navigation.

Mercedes gives every GLA a reasonable amount of active safety features. The list includes a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, vehicle exit warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, and crosswind assist. To get the most desirable safety features, GLA buyers need to add on two packages, which drive up the price $2,800.

The SUV has ample space in the second row for adults.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The GLA's interior materials, cabin noise, and unrefined powertrain make it seem like a less-than premium SUV. The car's tech offerings give it a boost, but other models offer a longer list of standard and available safety technology.

Buyers who are savvy and looking to get the most bang for their buck will want to test drive similarly sized models like the 2020 Buick Encore GX, Jaguar E-Pace (it was refreshed for the 2021 model year with major changes), and Mazda CX-30 before committing to the GLA. They have interiors that are just as nice and offer price tags that are more wallet-friendly.

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