Self-Driving

General Motors-linked company clears major driverless vehicle testing hurdle for Cruise cars

Cruise has received a permit to test their vehicles with passengers riding along.

Photo courtesy of Cruise LLC

Cruise made news last month with the debut of its new Origin people mover. The technology-driven vehicle company, of which General Motors has a controlling interest through its wholly-owned General Motors Holdings LLC subsidiary, has hit another milestone this month, receiving a permit to test its electric self-driving cars on public roads. The news was first reported by Automotive News.

The Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Permit, issued by the State of California, allows Cruise to test its vehicles while carrying passengers as long as a safety driver is present. According to its application for exemption, which was grated, Cruise utilizes a third-party to operate Cruise vehicles and conduct testing.

Cruise car San Francisco Cruise vehicle's are currently testing on San Francisco's streets.Photo courtesy of Cruise LLC

While conducting testing, in accordance with the permit's requirements in San Francisco, Cruise cannot charge for any rides nor display top lights or taxi meters. This means that while the vehicles can act in a ride-hailing capacity, they cannot collect any monies from the service.

Vehicles must also comply with all traditional traffic laws and regulations. They are not allowed to operate at airports unless otherwise authorized by an airport authority. Round-trip sightseeing tour service is authorized.

Moving toward passenger service is the natural next step for Cruise, which has been testing self-driving vehicles without passengers for years.

Cruise joins a growing list of companies that have received permits for testing including Zoox, AutoX, Pony.ai, Waymo, and Aurora Innovation. Only Cruise, Pony.ai, and Waymo have received the exemption.

Cruise's permit expires on February 19, 2023. It can be renewed in three-year increments with a written application no less than 90 days before it is set to expire.

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The Land Rover Defender has gotten a beefier engine option for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The new generation of the Land Rover Defender came to U.S. shores last year with a heaping helping of anticipation from buyers. With initial orders fulfilled, the company is upping the ante to bring an improved and more powerful Defender to North America for the 2022 model year.

The additions will mean that both the 2022 Land Rover Defender 90 and 2022 Land Rover Defender 110 will have nine grades available for purchase. The Defender 90 and Defender 90 S are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Land Rover Defender The Land Rover Defender has a long history of V8 engines.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Moving up to the Defender 90 X-Dynamic S, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, or X will get you a 395-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter mild-hybrid six-cylinder engine that achieves 406 pound-feet of torque. The new supercharged 5.0-liter V8 gets 518 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque in the V8 and V8 Carpathian Edition models.

The same engines are available in the larger Defender 110 and have the same power. The Defender 110 and S trim levels have the turbo-four. SE, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, XS Edition, and X have the mild-hybrid under the hood. The V8 and V8 Carpathian Edition have the V8.

Land Rover has also upgraded the SUV's Pivi Pro infotainment system. It's now available in a 11.4-inch screen option that features curved glass and with new operating system touch screen optimization to make interacting with the screen easier. Wireless device charging is now standard.

2022 Land Rover V8

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

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The new V8 engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It can get the Defender 90 from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed of 149 mph. Opting for the V8 gets buyers the new Dynamic drive mode within the SUV's Terrain Response system. Models equipped with the power plant also get anti-roll bars and a unique electronic active rear differential with yaw controller. V8-powered Defenders also get their own induction and exhaust systems that are designed to enhance the vehicle's soundtrack.

Each of the V8 models is available with a Carpathian Grey, Yulong White, or Santorini Black paint job. The grey and white-colored models have a contrasting Narvik Black roof.

The interior of the vehicles features seats trimmed in Ebony Windsor Leather with Mike Suedecloth and Robustec accents. The cross car beam has a satin black finish and the steering wheel is finished with an Alcantata rim. Leather is wrapped around the airbag housing and gear selector. V8-scripted treadplates complete the look.

2022 Land Rover Defender XS Edition

2022 Land Rover Defender XS Edition 110

The 2022 Land Rover Defender XS Edition replaces the Launch Edition in the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The new Defender XS Edition replaces the First Edition for the new model year. It has body-colored lower cladding, lower wheel arches, and 20-inch Satin Grey contrast diamond-turned alloy wheels. Buyers can choose their model with either a Silicon Silver, Hakuba Silver, Gonwana Stone, or Santorini Black paint job.

XS Edition models also get 12-way heated and cooled seats finished in Ebony Grained leather and Robust Woven Textile. The cross car beam features a light grey powder coat while leather extends throughout the cabin and illuminated metal treadpates compete the look.

Buyers also get a stand electronic air suspension, Terrain Response drive modes, tri-zone climate control, cabin air ionization, adaptive cruise control, rearview mirror, and a 10-speaker Meridian sound system.

2022 Land Rover Defender V8 Carpathian Edition

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

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‚ÄčThe flagship Defender V8 Carpathian Edition is unique not just because of some badging and extra supple leather. It also has a bespoke chassis settings designed to deliver new levels of engagement and agility on- and off-road.

The model is only available in Carpathian Grey with a Narvik Black roof, hood, and tailgate. It wears bespoke badges, has Satin Black tow eyes, and is adorned with Carpathian Gloss front and rear skid pans, front grille bar, and Xenon Blue brake calipers.

The interior of this model is the same as the traditional V8 offering.

Land Rover is also offering a number of new packages to enhance the model. The Bright, Extended Bright, and Extended Black Packs feature unique exterior design touches. A Defender with the Bright Pack wears Noble Chrome front and rear skid pans, and a Noble Chrome grille and badging. The Extended Bright Pack adds Ceres Silver to the lower body cladding and wheel arches. A gloss black finish on those components comes as part of the Extended Black Pack.

Prinvg for the 2022 Defender 90 and 110 will be announced at a later date.

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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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