Sustainability

GM's Spring Hill plant will be run on solar power by 2022

General Motors workers on the line Thursday, December 8, 2016 at the General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing plant.

Photo by Sanford Myers for General Motors

The Spring Hill Manufacturing plant started as the home of the Saturn Corporation. Now, it's turning to the sun. General Motors has announced that the Tennessee facility will be able to run on purely solar power by late 2022 thanks to a tariff agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The TVA Green Invest program is designed to help companies reach sustainability goals by partnering with local power companies to build large-scale renewable energy installations in the Tennessee Valley, which overs most of southwest and eastern Tennessee.

General Motors Tennessee Valley AuthorityPhoto courtesy of General Motors

As part of the agreement, TVA will supply up to 100 megawatts of solar energy per year, the equivalent of the amount of energy used by 18,000 U.S. households annually. GM's energy will come from a solar farm in Lowndes County, Mississippi that is currently under development by Origis Energy.

The plant is the largest manufacturing facility GM has in North America, totaling 2,100 acres. One-third of the acreage is dedicated to farming and 100 acres is dedicated to wildlife habitat. The wildlife area has received Gold recognition and certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council.

GM has committed to sourcing 100 percent of electricity from renewables in the U.S. by 2030 at GM-owned sites. This latest agreement movies the current total to around 50 percent.

General Motors isn't the only company committed to sustainable assembly plants. FCA recently released a report detailing its efforts. Toyota is building a hydrogen-powered city and Volkswagen is funding a purchase of land near its Chattanooga plant for conservation.

Currently, the Spring Hill plant builds the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac XT5 and XT6, as well as several engines for a variety of vehicles.

General Motors has invested $2 billion in the plant in the last decade.

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Family-friendly three-row SUVs

Three of our favorite three-row SUVs for 2022

The Grand Cherokee L is available with two different powertrain choices.

Jeep

There are more three-row SUVs on sale than ever before, so it can be tough to make a choice between them. You need to balance space, performance, safety, and tech to make your decision, and doing your homework is important. To help you get started down the right path, we've selected three of our favorite three-row family haulers. These are SUVs that bring the latest features and excellent design features to help keep you and your family rolling. Let's get started.

2023 Toyota SequoiaThe Sequoia is all-new for the 2023 model year, and finally stands on level ground with its rivals.Toyota

Toyota Sequoia

Toyota gave the Sequoia a much-needed overhaul for the 2023 model year that brought it up to speed with its competitors. The thirsty V8 and outdated styling are gone, and in their place, Toyota installed a twin-turbo V6 with a hybrid system that produces 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive are available.

The Sequoia’s update brought a new infotainment system with a much more intuitive, fluid interface. It runs on a standard 8-inch or an optional 14-inch touchscreen. Toyota’s new software offers voice controls, standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and much more.

Inside, the Sequioa’s interior feels much more upscale and modern than before, and there’s plenty of room for the entire family and all their gear across its three spacious rows. Starting with the Limited trim, Toyota gives luxurious standard features, including heated and ventilated front seats, a larger touchscreen, a hands-free liftgate, and a heated steering wheel.

2023 Kia TellurideKia updated the ultra-popular Telluride for 2023 with refreshed styling and features.Kia

Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride is easily one of the best family vehicles from the last ten years, and it offers great value on top of its functional characteristics. Kia updated the SUV for 2022 with a new 10.25-inch infotainment system and a highway driving assistance system.

The Telluride comes with a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. The SUV’s engine may not be the most powerful or thrilling, but it gets the job done and offers refined, smooth operation.

Kia equips the base Telluride with seating for eight, but the optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce capacity to seven. Interior fit and finish, materials, and styling are all far more upscale than the Telluride’s price tag would suggest, making the SUV an excellent family companion for longer road trips.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee LThe Grand Cherokee got a third row for the first time with the new L.Jeep

Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Jeep completely overhauled the Grand Cherokee for 2021 and added a new three-row “L” model shortly after. The new Grand Cherokee L features boxy, muscular styling that works with its stretched profile. Even with a new shape, the SUV is immediately recognizable as a Grand Cherokee.

Jeep offers two engines in the 2022 Grand Cherokee L. The base mill is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is available that produces 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the V8 comes standard with four-wheel drive.

The L is more premium inside than most likely expect from a Jeep, but at the top end of the model line it’s deep into luxury territory, both on price and design. The Jeep is just shy of its competitors on interior space, but there’s still plenty of room for up to seven people. Top trims get luxury finishes like leather and woodgrain, and available tech like a rear-seat entertainment system helps keep everyone happy for the long haul.

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The Wildcat is a new electric concept from Buick.

Buick

Buick, the automaker whose lineup consists entirely of middle-of-the-road SUVs, has just come out with something unexpected. Today, the storied American automaker announced a new EV concept that revives a historic name from its catalog. The Wildcat was introduced in the early 1950s and has just returned on a sharp, futuristic EV.

Buick Wildcat ConceptThe car will help Buick test and validate new tech like artificial intelligence. Buick

The concept’s interior features a classic 2+2 seating configuration, with two front and two rear seats. An extended center console stretches through both rows of seating, and the cockpit-style seats feature cantilevered headrests. Buick says it focused heavily on color and the level of comfort it conveys. Green accents highlight many parts of the interior, and orange contrasts can be found throughout, including on the seatbelts.

The Wildcat features a large curved display that integrates the gauge cluster and infotainment unit into one panel. The air vents and all physical controls are hidden in an interesting and elaborate dash, and Buick says the car is designed to be a platform for future technologies like artificial intelligence, biometrics, and aromatherapy.

Buick Wildcat ConceptThe Wildcat's interior is futuristic and almost completely devoid of buttons.Buick

Buick will become an all-electric brand in the future, and though the Wildcat is just a concept, we’re likely to see many of its features make their way into production models. We don’t have any details on whether or not a version of the car will make it into production, though if it does, it’s unlikely to wear the Wildcat name, as of the automaker’s other models feature sedate names.

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