New SUV

Redesigned 2021 Buick Envision gets fresh looks, tech infusion

The Avenir trim level joins the Buick Envision lineup for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Buick

The redesigned 2021 Buick Envision builds on the success of its little brother, the 2020 Buick Encore GX, giving customers more premium features and making the two-row SUV more competitive in its class.

Buick will sell the 2021 Envision, which slots below the three-row Enclave in the Buick lineup, in trim levels with more distinctions between them than the previous generation Envision offered, including the Preferred, Essence, and Avenir grades. Preferred and Essence trim levels are available with a Sport Touring package, which gives the car darkened exterior finishes and dark 20-inch wheels.

The Envision Avenir is distinguished by an exclusive mesh grille design, with tinted chrome trim and unique 20-inch wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish.

2021 Buick Envision Avenir

Photo courtesy of Buick

Each Envision comes with a more athletic body design for the new generation. At the front, there are LED headlights with LED daytime running light signatures. LED taillamps are at the back. Welcome/walkaway lighting and animation is activated via key fob.

Buick has put a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood of the Envision that makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Push/pull buttons shift the vehicle in the place of a traditional shifter.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is available. Model with AWD get selectable drive modes: Tour, AWD, Snow/Ice, and Sport. Front-wheel drive models have all those with the exception of the AWD mode. Hill descent control is standard on AWD Envisions. A continuous damping control suspension is available on top-tier Envision Avenir models.

Buyers can get their Envision's interior with either a light or dark interior color scheme. Perforated leather upholstery is available on Envision Essence models. Heated front seats are standard on Essence and available on Preferred. Heated and ventilated front seats, diamond-quilted perforated leather upholstery, driver's seat massage, heated rear outboard seats, navigation, and wireless smartphone charging are standard on the Envision Avenir.

The Envision is the first model in the Buick lineup to incorporate the company's new 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, which faces more toward the driver than the front seat passenger. A covered compartment below the instrument panel is home to the SUV's wireless charging pad, SD card slot, accessory outlet, and USB ports. Amazon Alexa, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are available.

The system also has Buick-exclusive apps including Reese's Book Club and NCAA March Madness.

The dual-wing armrest is back by popular demand on the center console between the front seats. A heated steering wheel and air ionizer are standard on Essence and Avenir, and available on Preferred versions of the SUV. A power moonroof is available on Essence and Avenir models.

The five-passenger Envision has a 60/40 split-folding rear seat that can fold flat. There is 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first-row seats and 25.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seats. A hands-free programmable power liftgate is standard on Essence and Avenir and available on Preferred models.

Buick is making the SUV available with the Buick Drive Confidence Plus package, which includes a suite of nine standard advanced safety and driver assistance technologies like forward colliosn alert, front pedestrian braking, and rear park assist. Additional available driver assistance technologies include HD Surround Vision, enhanced automatic parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.

The 2021 Buick Envision is on sale now, with a starting MSRP of $32,995.

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Highway safety

U.S. roadway fatalities up in 2021

Ford, Microsoft team to use quantum-inspired technology to understand traffic congestion
Photo coursesy of Ford Motor Company

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just released its estimates on traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2021 and the numbers aren't promising. In the first quarter of this year alone, 8,730 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Last year's cumulative numbers weren't much better, coming in higher than any year since 2007.


U.S. Roadways Traffic may be going up, but fuel fill ups are down according to the latest research automotivemap.com


The grim statistics represent a 10.5 percent increase from the same time period last year, a time when we were already marveling at the numbers. Further data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicate that the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased by 2.1 percent, which makes the increase in fatalities all the more striking a statistic. Initial projections pegged the number of fatalities per 100 million VMT at 1.12, but it instead climbed to 1.26 fatalities per 100 million VMT.

Regionally, most areas in the United Statessaw an increase, though two did not. The Midwest region, which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas did not change, while the mid-east coast states of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia actually saw a six percent decline in fatality counts.


Highway 1 big sur Highway 1 near Big Sur includes the Bixby Creek Bridge, a famous landmark. Photo by\u00a0Getty Images


What's behind all of this? Last year, the NHTSA reported that, with fewer people on the roads, those that were driving were engaging in risky behavior. What's more, Automotive News reports, that the number of deaths involving people not wearing seatbelts increased 15 percent last year and speeding deaths climbed 10 percent.

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Both the Jetta and Jetta GLI are refreshed for 2022.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen is busy in 2021. The automaker has a brand-new SUV in its lineup and is implementing tech updates for almost all of its vehicles. The venerable Jetta sedan is one of them, but along with new tech, the car receives a new engine and updated safety features for the 2022 model year.


2022 Volkswagen Jetta The Jetta GLI gets standard projector LED headlights.Volkswagen


The 2022 Jetta gets the new turbo-four that powers VW's freshman SUV, Taos. It's a 1.5-liter unit that makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The Jetta GLI is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available.

Both cars are based on VW's MQB platform, but the GLI gets additional go-fast chassis and handling components. Like its spiritual cousin, the Golf GTI, the Jetta GLI carries a VAQ electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential. That extremely hyphenated component works with the car's XDS Cross Differential System and DCC adaptive dampers to help keep things tidy when the driver puts their right foot down.


2022 Volkswagen Jetta The Jetta comes standard with a digital gauge cluster.Volkswagen


Styling updates include new front and rear bumpers with a new grille and chrome trim pieces. The GLI features a signature red accent strip and a honeycomb lower fascia. The standard Jetta gets LED headlights and daytime running lights, while top Jetta trims and the Jetta GLI get projector LEDs.

New standard tech headlines the cars' interior updates and include a standard digital gauge cluster, measuring eight inches for the Jetta and ten inches for the Jetta GLI. The Digital Cockpit system can display maps, audio information, and other data from the car's infotainment system. Top Jetta trims and the Jetta GLI also come with VW's MIB3 infotainment software, which brings wireless charging and wireless app connectivity.


2022 Volkswagen Jetta New safety tech is available for the 2022 Jetta.Volkswagen


The Jetta's standard and available safety technologies also get an overhaul for 2022. Front assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts are now standard, while Volkswagen's IQ.DRIVE safety package is available for some cars and is standard for the GLI. The package includes a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a semi-automated driving assistance system, and a semi-automated medical emergency vehicle assistance system.

Pricing details for the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta have not yet been released. The automaker expects the cars to begin arriving on dealers' lots in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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