New Model News

2021 Honda Accord gets a fresh face, Special Edition trim, upgraded tech

The Honda Accord has been revised for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The 2021 Honda Accord has undergone a mid-genenration refresh. For the new model year, the midsize Accord gets a host of styling updates, upgraded technology, a new trim level, and additional safety features. The Accord Hybrid is also getting powertrain upgrades and new wheels.

Honda will sell the 2021 Accord in five trim levels: LX, EX-L, Sport, Sport Special Edition (SE), and Touring. The SE grade is new for 2021 and replaces the EX trim. There's also a revised Accord Hybrid.

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda has restyled the front of the Accord to feature a wider, less segmented-looking grille. The look adds sophistication and draws comparisons to the Mazda6 and Audi. With the redo, the Honda Sensing suite of safety technology's radar unit is now housed in the grille. Flanking the grille are new LED high- and low-beam headlights with longer and wider illumination. The fog lights are now housed in smaller offerings.

Honda differentiates the Accord Sport and Sport SE from the other trims by adding a rear trunk lid spoiler, trim-specific 19-inch wheel design, LED fog lights, dark-chrome grille, and chrome exhaust finishers.

The Accord Hybrid is set apart from the rest of the crowd stylistically with a blue H-mark on the grille, adds its own unique touches to the styling updates made to the entire 2021 Accord lineup, including a blue H-mark on the grille and Hybrid badges on the front fenders and trunk lid. This year, Accord Hybrid Touring grade features 19-inch wheels, giving it an upscale and sporty appearance.

Accord LX, EX-L, and Touring receive new alloy wheel designs. The Sport, SE, and Touring trim levels have a new available wheel color: Sonic Gray Pearl.

The Accord Hybrid has gotten a powertrain update designed to improve the car's performance. Engineers have recalibrated the hybrid system for a more immediate throttle response. The car's acceleration will now feel more traditional and this should follow a trend that is seeing automakers offer more responsive performance from their hybrid models. It will also spend more time operating solely on electric power than competing hybrid models.

The Accord Hybrid has a total peak output of 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. It achieves 48 mpg combined. Honda was recently named the most fuel-efficient automaker in the North American market.

The cabin of the Accord remains relatively the same. It now includes a standard 8.0-inch Display Audio infotainment touch screen. Accord EX gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which requires a cord to connect a smartphone to the system, while Accord EX-L and Touring get wireless versions of the same tech.

The Accord's USB ports have been moved to the front of the center console. Accord Sport and higher trim levels now include dual 2.5-volt USB ports for rear seat passengers. A wireless charger is available.

For 2021, the new Accord Sport SE replaces the Accord EX 1.5T. It builds on the Sport trim adding leather seats, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, 12-way power driver's seat, heated mirrors, Smart Entry, and remote engine start. Its dual rear USB ports, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, leather-wrapped shift knob, and an eight-speaker audio system will carry over from the EX 1.5T model.

All Accords also get rear seat reminder technology while upper trim levels get Honda's Low Speed Braking Control system.

The 2021 Accord goes on sale October 13. It has a starting MSRP of $24,770.

The 2021 Accord Hybrid starts at $26,370.

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The Porsche Panamera lineup has finally fully been revealed.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The 2021 Porsche Panamera lineup has been completed with the announcement of two new models, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. They join the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid as a trio of Panamera PHEVs for 2021. Each is available in regular, Sport Turismo, and Executive body styles.

The 2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is the new flagship in the stable. It boasts an exceptional 689 horsepower and 642 pound-feet of torque. Porsche has engineered the flagship to get a combined a 563-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with a 134-horsepower electric motor, paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Its 17.9-kilowatt-hour battery is shared with the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid.

2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The flagship model comes standard with Porsche's Sport Chrono package. The equipment helps the traditionally-bodied Panamera get from zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds while the Executive wheelbase model takes one-tenth of a second longer. The Turbo S E-Hybrid sedan and Sport Turismo also offer the quickest acceleration from 0 to 124 mph of any 2021 Panamera at 10.9 seconds. It has a top track speed of 196 mph, a 4 mph improvement over the 2020 model.

Every 2021 Panamera Panamera 4 E-Hybrid has the same electric motor setup as the flagship. It pairs the motor with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 for a total system output of 455 horsepower, an increase of 12 horsepower over the 4S model. It too has an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The 2021 Panamera 4 E-Hybrid takes just 4.2 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start and has a top speed of 174 mph. Both of those numbers improve on the 2020 version of the same model.

Both models feature the freshly redesigned interior and exterior of the Panamera. This includes the Porsche Communication Management infotainment operating system, which now features a higher display resolution and includes additional digital functions and services like Voice Pilot online voice control and wireless Apple CarPlay.

The Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid family tree has a starting price of $103,800 for the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The previous Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive topping out the lineup at $198,100. Pricing for the new models has yet to be revealed, but it's safe to expect it to be similar.

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The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most luxurious SUVs you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac has given the 2021 Escalade the tagline "Never stop arriving" which seems apropos for a full-size SUV that shows up in nearly every way. Having undergone a complete redesign, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade finds itself securely at the top of the company's lineup showcasing the high-tech features and plush accommodations buyers are looking for.

The three-row SUV is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon at the General Motors Arlington Assembly plant outside of Dallas. The platform is ridged and good, allowing the Escalade and its brethren to take on corners at speed without fear of coffee spilling.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade continues to have a commanding presence on the street.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

That also means that it's big. Huge, in fact. But, the Escalade isn't so big it's unmanageable. Sure, you'll need a stepladder to see below the hood. But, how many Escalade owners are doing their own maintenance these days? Camera views help tremendously, as does safety technology.

As tested in the Premium Luxury trim, the two-wheel drive Escalade was powered by Cadillac's standard 6.2-liter V8 that's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a fresh addition to GM's offering list. The power plant delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, just as it is in the SUV's full-size GM stablemates, and has the same SAE-certified horsepower and torque top-out points. It's a competent power plant but it works better in the Yukon Denali.

Why?

That's the big question. The two SUVs are nearly the same weight – pushing 5,800 pounds – and were similarly equipped underneath, as tested. Yet, the Escalade drove like it had a 1,000 pound-boulder strapped into the second row. It didn't feel as agile or swift as the Yukon, but also didn't give the feeling like you're towing when you're not.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade's imposing body style is not so large that it proves unmanageable. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Escalade was test driven back-to-back-to-back with other vehicles in its segment, the Yukon and the Ford Expedition, and it proved to be, hands down, the least maneuverable. Those poor limousine service drivers in L.A. are not going to enjoy working their way up, and then back down the snaked driveways of the Hollywood elite in this Cadillac.

However, once they get on the road and are able to sit back and relax a touch with their clientele all buckled up, they're going to enjoy the drive. The tester wasn't equipped with GM's Super Cruise, which is a hands-free driver assist technology, but the addition would be a welcome one as the lane keep assist isn't as proactive as other systems from other automakers, and the massive Caddy requires a driver's full attention to stay in the lane.

The 2021 Escalade's massive standard 38-inch OLED screen display area is the highlight of the interior and likely the biggest talking point of the vehicle. Its layout is sensical, proves to not be distracting while driving, and supplies just the right amount of information without going overkill on moving graphics.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The OLED display darkens to deep black at night, giving your drivers' eyes a rest.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The best part of the tech, which is actually made up of three separate screens under the same thin housing, is that it quickly and smoothly goes to near-black, giving drivers the least amount of distraction possible while on the road at night. Its resolution is twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

Though a minor issue, the screen's design does not allow for turn signal indicators to be easily seen as they are positioned directly behind the steering wheel rim. With the indicator's generally soft tone, it's easy to miss when an indicator remains on when exiting a roundabout or merging into traffic.

Surrounding the Escalade's screen are a variety of appointments, some of which feel and look luxurious while others do not. These are, however, typical General Motors product quibbles. The synthetic materials on the dashboard, and thin leather door inserts are not as luxe as what you'll find in SUVs made by Cadillac's rivals. Not that anyone will notice them for long with the OLED elephant in the room.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The layout of the OLED display is easy to understand and read on-the-fly. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Seats in the Escalade are comfortable, providing ample room. No matter the row, the upholstery is well-executed and the ride is sublime as the suspension easily soaks up the road's imperfections. It's a vehicle the aforementioned elite won't mind being seen in and will look forward to riding in.

Along with its comfortable seats and enough legroom in all three rows for adults, one of the best parts of the Escalade is its sound system. It's the first vehicle with an AKG system (offered with either 19 (standard) or 36 speakers), and it pairs the system with an already-quiet cabin. The sound is all-encompassing for front row occupants and musical elements are separated, coming at you like you're at a concert, rather than listening to a glossed-over recorded session. Turning it up, the quality of the sound is not lost. D-E-lightful.

Individual technology elements of the Escalade are why buyers should choose it over the Yukon and the Lincoln Navigator. The OLED display, Super Cruise, and AKG sound system make the Cadillac a step up from its competition even though its drive feels like a step down.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Cadillac has made the seats of the Escalade comfortable and appointed them well. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac Escalade is pricey. As tested it was well over $85,000, and that's just a mid-grade model. The Escalade faces stiff competition from the Yukon Denali, which comes in at least $15,000 cheaper and delivers a better drive experience. The similarly priced Navigator is also an elegant option that's sure to be upgraded with Ford's hands-free driving technology in the not-too-distant future.

There may be a sleeper competitor on the horizon. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is set to debut soon and will likely rival the Escalade with its sound system and elegant design, and come with a similar price tag.

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