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Sport and utility: Audi SQ7's V8 delivers 500-horsepower of family-hauling fun

The Audi SQ7 is a sporty take on the three-row SUV.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi's three-row family hauler is taking driving fun up a notch with the new 500-horsepower 2020 Audi SQ7. The model maintains much of what buyers want from their Q7 but amplifies the power and connected drive experience of the model, giving the BMW X7 M50i direct competition.

The German automaker has given the SQ7 a host of typical sport model upgrades to differentiate it from the typical Q7 including S-model bumpers with integrated front splitter, a platinum double-slat Singleframe grille, Alu-optic exterior side mirror housings, S-specific quad tailpipes, and a rear diffuser inlay.

2020 Audi SQ7 The SUV has many familiar features inside and out that link it to the traditional Q7.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

It rides on standard 21-inch V-spoke bi-color wheels with summer performance tires.

The available Black Optic package adds a black exterior kit with black Singleframe grille, black exterior mirror housings, black roof rails, and 21-inch bi-color wheels with summer performance tires.

The Q7 packs a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine under its hood that delivers 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. That power plant is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and gets from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds - the same as the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 that also was revealed this week.

Along with its standard all-wheel drive, the model has an S-tuned adaptive air suspension, which electronically controls the vehicle's adaptive dampers, automatically regulating vehicle dynamics and enhancing ride quality. Adding the Sport Package to the model gives its active roll stabilization, all-wheel drive with a sport differential, and red brake calipers.

2020 Audi SQ7 The SUV is available with a top-view camera.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

With the available towing package, the SQ7 is capable of towing a maximum 7,700 lbs.

Drivers sit behind a three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters. There are steel doorsills with an illuminated S logo inside the cabin.

Audi has given the model front S sport seats that are lined with contrast-stitched Valcona leather. The seats are heated and feature Black, Rotor Gray, or Arras Red leather with a diamond cross-stitch pattern. Those seats also come standard with eight-way power with four-way power lumbar adjustment. The model is available with ventilated and messaging front seats. The SQ7 seats seven, just like the Q7.

2020 Audi SQ7 The SUV features S-sport badging on the interior and exterior.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The second-row features a 35/30/35 split tumble-folding design with fore/aft positioning and recline functionality. The third-row seats split 50-50 and have electronic folding functionality. There are five LATCH child seat connection points.

Audi's long list of standard and available features in the model includes a 10.1-inch upper display screen for infotainment functions and an 8.6-inch lower screen for climate control and comfort functionality, 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit screen, Wi-Fi hot spot, Amazon Music connectivity, full-color head up display, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a 19-speaker sound system, and a 23-speaker sound system.

Additionally, Audi offers the following standard and available driver assist technology: adaptive cruise control, a top-view camera, intersection assist with braking to prevent side impact collisions, turn assist, and traffic sign recognition.

2020 Audi SQ7 Diamond quilting comes standard on the model's seats.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2020 Audi SQ7 will be available in the Premium Plus trim for $84,800. The Prestige grade will start at $90,400. There is an additional $995 destination and delivery charge.

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The 2021 Cadillac XT6 has familiar familial design attributes, inside and out.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

When people shop for a new SUV, especially a premium one, they're looking for style and sophistication as well as good seating, a modern infotainment system, and excellent safety features. Cadillac hits most of those checkboxes right on the nose with its 2021 Cadillac XT6. But all that gleams under the spotlight is not a star.

The Cadillac XT6 is mostly unchanged for the 2021 model year. That's both good and bad. The three-row SUV suffers from the sameness factor that many General Motors SUVs do and along with other weighty issues.

The face of the SUV features the same styling cues as the Cadillac XT4 and XT5, which slot lower than it in the company's lineup and the interior is much the same. Sort of a "if you like one Cadillac SUV you'll probably like them all" scenario going on here. That includes the less-then-premium dashboard and infotainment system surfaces.

2021 Cadillac XT6 The dashboard of the 2021 Cadillac XT6 is outfitted in less-than-premium materials.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

2021 Cadillac XT6

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 's upgraded engine option is a 3.6-liter V6 power plant that comes paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission in the Sport and Premium Luxury trim levels. It's powerful enough to get you going with ease and the tranissmision smoothly shifts through the gears.

The all-wheel drive-enabled XT6's biggest struggles are in terms of drive dynamics. The tester XT6 Sport felt too heavy for its frame. At 4,690 pounds the Sport model is the SUV's heaviest variant, by about an NFL lineman. In the XT6, the weightiness came from the mid-rear, where the SUV's AWD mechanics would be located. This made the XT6 less dynamic at nearly every turn from roadway to parking lot.

Small item storage in the XT6 is not ideal, but rear cargo space is better than average. A power liftgate is standard and power-folding third-row seats make reconfiguring the area easy.

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 offers a good amount of rear cargo space.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac XT6 is a good vehicle for its target audience, but it could be better. While there are high points, like the comfortable seats that can be equipped with heating in the first two rows, the low points are mainly when the XT6 is considered versus the competition. Other premium SUVs, like the Acura MDX, have far more comfortable and plush seats.

Another plus is that adults can fit in the third row of the XT6. This is something that older midsize SUVs struggled with but has become more common in recent years with the emergence of the Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent, and Hyundai Palisade, as well as the redesigned Highlander. However, the XT6 still has less head-, leg-, shoulder-, and hip room than many of those models, in all three rows.

There's nothing cutting edge about the tech in the Cadillac XT6 and that's okay. It's not the Escalade. What is there is perfectly suitable compared to the XT6's main rivals. The main pain point is the SUV's infotainment screen, which is smaller than other offerings in the segment and can appear crowded with information, or lacking information, depending on the use case scenario.

2021 Cadillac XT6 The 2021 Cadillac XT6 has seating for up to seven. Here, it's configured for six.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

All Cadillac XT6 models come with automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, a high-definition rearview camera, Safety Alert Seat, and IntelliBeam headlights with rear park assist. Premium Luxury and Sport models also get lane change alert with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert as standard.

As in the XT5, the XT6 struggles with its lane keeping assist and departure warning technology, which rarely reads the lines until the vehicle is well over them, even in excellent driving conditions (new pavement, fresh lines, bright but not glaring sun). At night, just "fuhgetaboutit", as they say in any number of Martin Scorsese films.

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 starts at $48,990. General Motors loves to get buyers to add on packages and equipment to up the price of their model. All-in, the XT6 Sport tester Cadillac leant for this review had a MSRP of $70,570 after $13,375 in options were tacked on. That's a steep price to pay for this SUV. For that amount of money, it should be better.

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Volvo placed several cars on the annual list of safest vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

This week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released their list of the 2021 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles. The models earning this designation are the cream of the crop earning high marks for their safety features, crashworthiness, and headlight visibility.

To qualify as a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ winner, vehicles must score at least a Good rating in the driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They must also get an Advanced or Superior rating for available front crash prevention — vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. Finally, their headlights must be rated as Acceptable or Good.

The vehicles listed below checked all those boxes.

Click here to see 2020's results.

2021 Acura RDX

2020 Acura RDX

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Acura RDX is a four-door midsize luxury SUV. It earned all Good crash test ratings. The only sore spot was the SUV's standard front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system, which was rated as a two out of three.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX Advance Photo courtesy of Acura

The 2021 Acura TLX earned the highest marks possible in every category of testing.

2021 Audi A6

2020 Audi A6

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A6 is a luxury large four-door sedan. It earned all Good crash test ratings and a mixed Good and Acceptable headlight rating (varies by trim level). It performed better in the front crash protection scenarios earning two Superior ratings.

2021 Audi A6 Offroad

2020 Audi A6 Allroad Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi's wagon version of the A6 Allroad earned the same crash test and crash avoidance and mitigation scores as its sedan stablemate.

2021 Audi A7

2021 Audi A7 Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A7 earned the highest scores possible in all by one category - headlights. There, it managed to only get an Acceptable rating.

2021 Audi E-Tron

2020 Audi E-Tron SUV Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Like many models on this list, the Audi E-Tron is plenty crashworthy, scoring all Good marks. However, its headlights are only Acceptable in lower trim levels while top grades get a Good rating.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The sloped-roof version of the Audi E-Tron shares most of its components with the model. It earned the exact same marks as the E-Ton - all Good except for lower-grade models with non-premium headlights get an Acceptable rating.

2021 Cadillac XT6

2020 Cadillac XT6 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac XT6 is the automaker's only entry on this list. It earns all Good crash test ratings, an Acceptable headlight rating, and Superior front crash protection ratings for its standard and available systems. LATCH ease of use is only rated as Acceptable.

2021 Ford Explorer

2020 Ford Explorer Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Explorer isn't perfect, but it is nearly there. The SUV has earned all Good ratings from IIHS except in the headlight and LATCH system categories where it's ranked as merely Acceptable.

2021 Genesis G70

2020 Genesis G70

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motor LLC

Despite being the smallest car Genesis builds, the G70 is categorized by IIHS as a four-door luxury large car. While it earned all Good marks for crashworthiness and the all-important headlight test, the car's LATCH system was given just Marginal marks.

2021 Genesis G90

2020 Genesis G90 2020 Genesis G90 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

IIHS also categorizes the Genesis G90 as a four-door luxury large car. It too earned all Good crash test ratings but its LATCH system fared slightly better than the G70's, getting an Acceptable rating.

2021 Honda Accord

Honda Accord Honda Accord Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The 2021 Honda Accord earned its designation by getting a perfect score in every category. Depending on the trim level, the car's headlights either earned a top Good rating or just an Acceptable mark.

2021 Honda Insight

2020 Hyundai Insight

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Insight is a four-door small sedan with big appeal for commuters. It has earned the highest marks IIHS gives in each area it was evaluated. The Insight is one of the few models to earn just high praise.

2021 Honda Odyssey

2021 Honda Odyssey 2021 Honda Odyssey gets $1,000 starting price bump, but one grade gets a big decrease Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Odyssey was refreshed for the 2021 model year, a move that has improved its IIHS crash test results. The Odyssey received all Good crashworthiness ratings but its headlights were only deemed Acceptable.

2021 Hyundai Nexo

2020 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai-branded hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is categorized as a midsize luxury SUV by IIHS. This probably has something to do with its high price tag. The Nexo scored nearly all top-tier ratings. The exception is in the vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention test where it earned an Advanced rating.

2021 Hyundai Palisade

2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a family hauler that easily competes with more premium-priced SUVs. The three-row SUV scored Good on all its crash tests and earned the highest technology and headlight ratings.

2021 Kia K5

2021 Kia K5 Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia K5 did well in IIHS crash testing, but its headlights didn't fare as well. Depending on the grade, their score was either Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor. The K5's standard front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system scored just a two out of three and LATCH ease of use scored an Acceptable rating. These ratings only apply to K5s produced after November 2020.

2021 Lexus ES 350

2020 Lexus ES

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The 2020 Lexus ES 350 is a four-door midsize luxury car that was redesigned for the 2019 model year. It scored all Good ratings in the crashworthiness tests but earned just Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

2021 Lexus IS

2021 Lexus IS Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus gave the IS a massive improvement for the 2021 model year and it's paid off - not just in terms of drivability, but also safety. It scored top Good ratings in all tests except the headlights section where it lower trim levels earn an Acceptable rating while higher grades get a Good.

2021 Lexus NX

2018 Lexus NX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

IIHS categorizes the four-door Lexus NX as a midsize luxury sedan. It, like the Honda Insight, earned all top-tier marks inn every testing category except for the LATCH ease of use, where it merely scored an Acceptable rating.

2021 Mazda CX-3

2020 Mazda CX-3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

As far as four-door small SUVs go, the Mazda CX-3 is one of the safest. It scored all Good ratings in the crashworthiness tests but earned just Acceptable headlight ratings. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention. The SUV's LATCH system was rated as Acceptable.

2021 Mazda CX-30

2020 Mazda CX-3 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The new-in-2020 Mazda CX-30 has its rating only apply to vehicles built after September 2020. The SUV received all Good crashworthiness ratings but its standard headlights were rated Poor. Everything else about the car was highly rated.

2021 Mazda CX-5

2020 Mazda CX-5

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

IIHS's ratings of the four-door Mazda CX-5 small SUV apply only to models with the available front crash prevention system. When equipped with that system, the CX-5 gets rated as having Good crashworthiness, Good and Acceptable headlights because the lights vary by trim level, Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection with its optional system, and Advanced front vehicle-to-vehicle (standard) and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention (available) with the systems.

2021 Mazda CX-9

2021 Mazda CX-9 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 has received all Good marks except in the crash avoidance and mitigation category. There, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system only received an Advanced score. The CX-9's LATCH system was not evaluated.

2021 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback

2020 Mazda Mazda3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback earned all top-tier ratings from IIHS except in the headlight test where it had an Acceptable or Good rating, depending on the headlights offered on the model's trim level.

2021 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan

2020 Mazda Mazda3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Like the hatchback variant, the four-door Mazda Mazda3 small sedan earned all top-tier ratings from IIHS except in the headlight test where it had an Acceptable or Good rating, depending on the trim level chosen.

2021 Mazda Mazda6

2020 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door midsize Mazda Mazda6 got all Good marks in the six crashworthiness categories. The car's headlights earned Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes-Benz GLE Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLE was tested with optional front crash prevention technology. It earned all Good marks but its headlights were split between Good and Acceptable, depending on trim level. The car's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system was only rated as Basic.

2021 Nissan Altima

2020 Nissan Altima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's Altima received all Good crash test ratings but its headlights earned just an Acceptable score.

2021 Nissan Maxima

2020 Nissan Maxima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The four-door Nissan Maxima sedan is one of the models that earned a nearly perfect score. The only place where it faltered is with its headlamps, which scored just an Acceptable rating. This rating only applies to Maximas built after November 2020.

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue received outstanding marks in all IIHS evaluation categories including the headlight and LATCH tests.

2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 Subaru Ascent Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Subaru's largest SUV received all Good scores in IIHS testing thanks in large part to its standard EyeSight safety technology. The three-row Subaru Ascent has a high strength-to-weight ratio.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, earned a perfect score in all the categories IIHS tested.

2021 Subaru Forester

2020 Subaru Forester

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Forester small SUV earned a Good rating in every IIHS testing category, much like the rest of its Subaru family.

2021 Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Legacy's scores are the same as the Subaru Forester's. It got all Good marks, including its headlights, which is a higher mark than what they earned last year.

2021 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Outback was awarded all Good and higher scores in IIHS testing this year.

2021 Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 all-electric sedan earned all Good ratings in its crashworthiness test but didn't score quite as well in the front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluation where it got just an Advanced rating. The car's LATCH system is rated as Acceptable.

2021 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

All of the Toyota Camry sedan's crashworthiness scores earned a Good rating. Its headlamps were only rated Acceptable whereas the available ones received a Good mark.

2021 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Highlander does as well as most other three-row SUVs in IIHS testing - all Good scores except a Good/Acceptable split in the headlights test.

2021 Toyota Sienna

2021 Toyota Highlander

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Sienna was redesigned for the 2021 model year as a hybrid-only minivan. The van's redesign has been engineered well, earning it all Good scores from IIHS. Like many other vehicles, the Sienna's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system is just basic.

2021 Volvo S60

2021 Volvo S60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo S60 has earned perfect marks from IIHS except when it comes the LATCH system ease of use. There, it scores just an Acceptable rating.

2021 Volvo S60 Recharge

Like the traditional S60, the S60 Recharge has gotten all top ratings except in the LATCH category.

2021 Volvo V60

2020 Volvo V60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo V60 is the wagon version of the S60. It has gotten the same score.

2021 Volvo V60 Recharge

The V60 and V60 Recharge have the same relationship to each other as the S60 and S60 Recharge so it makes sense that they have the same scores. The V60 and V60 Recharge scored all Goods, except in the LATCH category, where the mark was Acceptable.

2021 Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC40 scored the best of any Volvo on this list. It earned all Good crashworthiness marks, has Superior standard vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention systems, and earned an Acceptable LATCH connection rating.

2021 Volvo XC60

2020 Volvo XC60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC60 is a well-engineered vehicle. It earns all Good crash test ratings and has Acceptable headlights and LATCH connections. The SUV's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system is Advanced.

2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge

The XC60 Recharge, a twin of the XC60 except in powertrain, scored exactly the same as its brother in IIHS testing.

2021 Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90 T8

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC90 scored well in IIHS testing, earning all Good crashworthiness scores, but its headlights and LATCH connections earn Acceptable scores. The standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system earned an Advanced rating.

2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge

The Volvo XC90 Recharge, which varies from the XC90 in powertrain alone when it comes to equipment, earned the same IIHS ratings as the XC90.

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