First Drive

First drive review: Next-gen Rolls-Royce Ghost offers restrained indulgence, sublime ride

The next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost was unveiled earlier this month and AutomotiveMap has already been behind the wheel.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Walking into a zero entry pool, you start your journey with one step, slowly and serenely you're emerge in the experience. It's equal parts engaging and relaxing. That same experience is replicated with the new, next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost.

With restrained proportions and purposeful lines, the aluminum-bodied ultra-luxury sedan takes the best parts of its predecessors from the Goodwood stable and combines them with fresh innovations that make a Ghost riding and driving experience that exceeds the notion of what a Rolls-Royce should be.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The stately Ghost is a perfect match for the British car company's stablemates.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

It was 10 years ago, with the new, modern Ghost, that BMW-owned Rolls-Royce recreated the modern driver's car. Unlike the Phantom, a large car with limousine aspirations, the Ghost is a more personal experience that benefits from its reduced footprint and less regal, though nonetheless austere, appearance.

Ghost buyers are young and fresh, bringing a new idea of luxury to the brand. Most of them drive their cars and while they're not necessarily as eco-conscious about their drive choice as many in their age demographic group, they're conscious of their lifestyle choice, seeing their Rolls-Royce as a respite from the world around them.

The outside and inside design of the Ghost are expected and there's nothing wrong with that. Rolls-Royce has improved the formula offering an upgraded list of features.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The interior of the Ghost is very expected.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

At the front of Ghost there's subtle Pantheon grille lighting between sneering headlamps. A strip of metal between the roof and doors channels raindrops away from entering and exiting occupants eliminating the water curtain that erupts when opening a more pedestrian models's doors.

Inside, the supple luxury of plush upholstery abounds. With leather as soft as silk and comfort in focus, the Ghost carries over the high levels of craftsmanship and artistry expected while employing new techniques. It's part of the Rolls-Royce "Post-Opulent" design philosophy.

The real wood accents and garnishes throughout the cabin provide an authentic environment, turning the page from the lacquer and shine of the Phantom. Here, Ghost projects its personality in an gently commanding manner. Still, the exactness of the craftsmanship shows through.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The Illuminated Fascia is made up of 850 LED lights. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Ghost's Starlight Headliner, consisting of a thousand LED lights that are each cut at a different angle to help vary the intensity of the light, much in the same way the heavens appear at night, contains new shooting star functionality while the Illuminated Fascia includes 850 additional LED stars. The effect is stunning but not too much - restrained but extravagant, much like the vehicle itself.

Riding in style and comfort is only half the equation. Ghost offers a connected and effortless drive experience that does not allow the rigors of the real world to interrupt your time behind the wheel.

Power is plentiful thanks to the company's twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12 engine. It delivers 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Larger intake porting has allowed the engine to breathe better and pass along less noise to the cabin, aiding the overall luxury experience. Though low-end torque isn't as readily available as an eager driver might want, there's no doubt that the heavy Ghost is powered properly.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The car's electronics make the Ghost easy to maneuver at high and low speed. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Like the Cullinan, Rolls-Royce's SUV, the piloting process is early effortless. It's made even easier by the all-wheel steering that deploys at higher speed to make lane changes more stable and rounding corners a breeze. At speeds under 40 km/h, the Ghost's steering is led by the front wheels, which makes maneuvering in city traffic nearly as easy as it is in a hot hatch.

The car benefits from parent company BMW's infotainment technology. The system is easy to navigate and the car's head-up display offers turn-by-turn navigation complete with lane choice indication that kept me from getting lost while driving in and around Austin, Texas and its suburbs during a 100-ish mile test drive this week.

Ghost features the first fully-digital instrument cluster offered by the company. Like the infotainment system, it features clean design, easy-to-read displays, and works as advertised.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The car features an all-digital instrument cluster.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Traditionally, Rolls-Royce's motor cars ride smoothly over most terrain. The way this engineering has evolved to accommodate the fresh company lineup was especially apparent when the Cullinan evolved and immediately proved more than capable of delivering a comfortable ride experience over rugged roads.

Ghost takes that a step further, with its variety of underpinnings soaking up everything but the roughest jolt from the deepest pothole. And, it does it all while keeping the riders in the type of silence that is almost eerie... until you realize that you can't hear the landscapers as you pass by and you breathe a sigh of relief realizing that this is a true luxury experience.

And that's what Ghost is all about: a true luxury experience. It's extraordinary. It's easy to drive and indulgent. It's supposed to be.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

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New plug-in hybrid SUV

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe starts at $59,495

The Grand Cherokee 4xe is premium, inside and out.

Jeep/Stellantis

Last year, Jeep electrified the Wrangler, its most iconic model, with an innovative plug-in hybrid powertrain (PHEV). Not long after, the brand announced a similar version of the Grand Cherokee. The upscale electrified off-roader offers plenty of standard tech and features, solid safety equipment, and 25 miles of all-electric range. Today, Jeep announced pricing for the SUV, which will start arriving in dealers this spring.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The 4xe powertrain delivers up to 25 miles of all electric range. Jeep/Stellantis

Pricing for the 4xe lineup starts at:

  • Grand Cherokee 4xe: $59,495
  • Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe: $64,280
  • Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe: $67,555
  • Grand Cherokee Summit 4xe: $71,615
  • Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4xe: $76,095
The Grand Cherokee 4xe comes with a turbocharged 2.0-,item inline-four that combines with two electric motors for a total output of 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The 4xe powertrain includes plug-in hybrid technology, which enables all-electric driving. In the Grand Cherokee, there's up to 25 miles of electric range, which could enable a completely gas-free ownership experience for people with short commutes. Once the electric range is exhausted the vehicle functions like a normal hybrid, and the batteries must be recharged to replenish range.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The Grand Cherokee joins the Wrangler 4xe in Jeep's electrified lineup.Jeep/Stellantis

Fortunately, the 4xe's premium starting price buys a premium SUV, even at the base level. Standard features include Capri leather upholstery, a 10.1-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch passenger display. A dual-pane panoramic moonroof and heated power seats are also standard. A full suite of advanced safety systems come standard as well. All 4xe trims come with full-speed forward collision warnings, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, LED headlights, and more.

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The 2023 Sequoia is all-new and a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Toyota

The Toyota Tundra and Sequoia were two of the oldest vehicles on the market, but that's all different now. The new Tundra is already on the streets, and today Toyota released a load of specs and details on the all-new 2023 Sequoia. The full-size SUV gets a major update for the new model year with completely fresh styling, impressive new tech, and a powerful standard engine. We don't have pricing details yet, but Toyota says the 2023 Sequoia will be available starting in summer 2022.

2023 Toyota Sequoia In addition to new styling, the SUV gets a twin-turbo hybrid V6 powertrain and a load of updated tech.Toyota

Five trims of the Texas-built SUV will be offered: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone. All 2023 Sequoia models get the impressive twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-Force Max engine from the all-new Tundra. It makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, and sends it to the rear or all four wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain delivers a max towing rating of up to 9,000 pounds, which is a solid number and a massive increase over the previous Sequoia.

Toyota offers automatic-leveling air suspension and adaptive suspension settings with modes for Comfort, Sport S+, and Custom. The Sport drive modes also improve throttle response and changes transmission shift points. The electric motor handles most propulsion duties below 18 mph, but after that the gas engine steps in. The motor is constantly involved when the truck is in Tow/Haul mode.

2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro models get under-body cladding and beefier tires.Toyota

Similar to the high-end treatment given to the Tundra, Toyota will offer a Capstone trim for the new Sequoia that brings unique upholstery and trim materials, 22-inch chrome wheels, power side steps, American Walnut inlays, and more. That said, even the standard Sequoia SR5 offers plenty of standard gear. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, along with heated seats and more. An available Premium Package adds an enormous 14-inch infotainment display, power third-row seats, a hands-free liftgate, and additional power outlets.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 will also be standard for the SUV. The system includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and rear seat reminders. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts is also standard.

2023 Toyota Sequoia The new Capstone trim is a super-plush trim with an interior rivaling those in many luxury brands.

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