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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Porsche Taycan has outsold the 911 in 2021

The Taycan has outsold a few Porsche models so far this year.

Porsche

The Porsche Taycan is an impressive EV with speed and build quality to shame almost anything else on the road. As we learned from Porsche today, those attributes resonated with buyers, as the Taycan outsold the Porsche 911 during the first nine months of 2021.

Porsche Taycan The Taycan's steep starting price doesn't seem like much of a sticking point for buyers.Porsche

Yes, the electric car that starts at almost $83,000 outsold the most iconic sports car of all time. However, Porsche's had a good year, and it's not all thanks to the Taycan. In today's SUV-crazed world, it's not surprising to see that the Cayenne is still Porsche's most popular model. The automaker sold 62,451 of its flagship SUV in the first nine months of the year. The Macan sold a respectable 61,944.

Now, consider that the Taycan – a brand new, expensive, all-electric car – sold almost half as many units as those two iconic SUVs. Further cementing its place in the Porsche lineup, the car outsold the 911 by almost 700 units and decimated sales of the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman, which combined sold 15,916 units. The Panamera, which offers a similar body style to the Taycan, sold 20,275.

Porsche SUVs The Cayenne and Macan both sold very well.Porsche

Porsche has had a good year in all markets it serves, but the U.S. market showed the strongest sales growth, climbing to 51,615 vehicles sold in the first nine months of the year. That's a 30 percent jump from 2020, and the rest of North America was just as strong with a combined 29 percent increase in growth. China did the most to propel Porsche's sales skyward, with almost 70,000 cars sold there.

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The Bronze Edition model builds on the XLE trim.

Toyota

The Toyota Highlander entered its fourth generation for the 2020 model year, which brought sleek style, updated tech, and a premium-look interior. A new XSE trim joined the lineup for 2021, and for 2022, Toyota is adding a new hybrid-only Bronze Edition trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition adds useful features, such as a hands-free power liftgate.toyota

The new Bronze Edition Highlander builds on the XLE trim with:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
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Toyota notes that the Bronze Edition previews features that will show up with the greater 2022 Highlander release. Among them are the new Wind Chill Pearl color, which replaces Blizzard Pearl from the previous model, and height/tilt passenger seat adjustments.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Highlander is a supremely comfortable SUV with room for the family.Toyota

The Highlander carries on into 2022 with a standard 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. A Highlander Hybrid is available, which mates a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Combined system output is 243 horsepower. With the V6 on board, the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition is available for Highlander Hybrid models.Toyota

All 2022 Highlander models get Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, road sign assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, lane tracing assist, a sway warning system, and automatic high beams. Those features and the Highlander's excellent crash testing scores were good enough for the SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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