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New 2022 Volkswagen Taos compact SUV set to take on hot-selling Toyota, Honda models

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the newest member of the compact SUV segment.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The 2022 Volkswagen Taos, the Tiguan's little brother, has been revealed. The model is a compact SUV designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V.
The introduction fo the Taos as Volkswagen works to flush out its North American market offerings, first with the Atlas Cross Sport late last year then with the ID.4 electric SUV just last month.

2022 Volkswagen Toas The Volkswagen Taos sits below the Tiguan in the VW lineup.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Taos is our fifth new addition to the Volkswagen SUV family in just four years, and we're thrilled to keep finding new ways to meet the needs of American families," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "Taos will bookend our compact SUV offering, giving buyers all the style, technology, and drivability that Volkswagen is known for at an even more affordable price."

The Volkswagen DNA is instantly apparent by anyone looking at the model. Its front end comes with a grille with familial ties to the Tiguan and Atlas while the light signature is borrowed from the ID.4. Top trim levels of the model feature VW's adaptive front lighting system. A panoramic sunroof is also available.

VW will offer the SUV in eight paint colors and with four wheel designs. Seventeen-inch aluminum-alloys are standard. Buyers can opt for their choice of 18-inch wheel designs (machined or black finish) or 19-inchers.

Size-wise, the Taos is a little larger than the 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport and a little shorter than the 2020 Ford Escape. It's 9.3 inches smaller than the Tiguan but has a wheelbase that's longer than the CR-V.

2022 Volkswagen Taos

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Despite its compact size, the Taos has just 1.6 cubic feet less passenger space than the two-row Tiguan - 99.5. That's far less than the spacious CR-V, which comes in at 105.9 cubic feet, but more than the 94.1 cubic feet in the Mazda CX-30.

Taos features 28.1 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second-row seats and 66.3 cubic feet with the second row folded down. Again, that puts it between models with the Rogue having more space and the Buick Encore GX having far less. The model offers a good amount of legroom for front and rear passengers.

Volkswagen is touting the Taos's interior design aesthetic and high-quality fit and finish. In typical VW style, the cabin is full of clean lines, seemingly all well-organized.

Two-tone seats are standard on the Taos, whether they're covered in the base cloth or available leatherette or leather seating surfaces. The top tier Taos model is available with a unique French Roast and black color combination.

VW developed the Taos especially for the U.S. market and it shows. The list of standard features includes automatic headlights, push-button start, keyless entry, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated side mirrors, and heated washer nozzles.

2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos shares its looks with the rest of the VW stable of SUVs.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is standard, meaning that there are no analog dials on the dashboard. Each model comes with Wi-Fi capability and an infotainment system powered by the company's MIB3 operating system, which is shared with Audi. An 8-inch infotainment touch screen is standard while wireless charging, 10-color ambient lighting and a BeatsAudio system is available.

The automaker has made its IQ.Drive suite of driver assistance technology available on every Taos. The suite includes forward collision warning with autonomous braking, active blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist. Park distance control is available.

Taos is powered by the same turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that runs the Jetta. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel drive models, the engine makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Those number are on the low end of what is offered in the segment. All-wheel drive Taos models get a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission.

Volkswagen plans to sell the Taos in three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL. Taos will be produced in the North American Region at Volkswagen's Puebla, Mexico factory. More details and pricing will be announced ahead of the launch in the summer of 2021.

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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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