Under the Hood

New GF-6 standard motor oil will be introduced in 2020

The American Petroleum Institute and International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee have worked together to develop a new generation of motor oil.

Photo by Getty Images

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee (ILSAC) have worked together to develop the next generation of motor oil, designated GF-6. The current generation of motor oil is designated GF-5.

The new oil standard took seven years to develop. To get to the final formulation standard, API's team work with ILSAC and the oil companies to test and evaluate the proposed formulations in a variety of engines, including ones from General Motors and Ford.

The GF-6 oil designation was developed in response to the evolving needs of modern powertrains, specifically turbocharged engines. Original equipment manufacturers are more frequently using turbochargers in their lineups as regulations regarding fuel economy stiffen. GF-6 standard oils are also designed to reduce low-speed pre-ignition and timing chain wear.

API has specified that the GF-6 oils will be split into two subcategories - GF-6A and GF-6B. The GF-6A standard is backward-compatible for SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 0W-30, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30. The GF-6B standard is for modern engines that use SAE 0W-16.

Petroleum manufacturers and regulators have set May 1, 2020 as the official start date for the sale of licensed GF-6 motor oil.

To find out what oil viscosity your car takes, check the owner's manual.

For ease while shopping at the store, GF-6 oils that have been certified by API can be recognized by a starburst symbol designating their official license status.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The BMW R 18 Classic is a throwback to vintage motorcycle design.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW R 18 Classic is the cruiser sibling in the BMW R 18 family. It's a touring bike that takes vintage cruising motorcycle design, borrowing from the BMW R 5, and makes it thoroughly modern while focusing on what the company sees as motorcycle "essentials".

BMW designers created the motorcycle's pear-drop tank, open-running universal shaft, and double-lined paintwork are reminiscent of the legendary boxer dating back to 1936. Its bodywork is made of metal and the suspension pairs with a double-sided swinging arm and a cantilever suspension strut to further the connection to the R 5.

BMW R 18 Classic

Photo courtesy of BMW

It has a double-loop steel frame and a rear swinging arm with an enclosed axle. The telescopic fork and directly mounted central suspension strut allow for 120 mm of suspension travel at the front and 90 mm at the rear. Twin disc brakes give stopping power at the front while a single disc brake at the rear works in tandem with four-piston fixed calipers.

The R 18 Classic gets its power from BMW's newly developed two-cylinder boxer engine, dubbed "Big Boxer". It is the most powerful two-cylinder power plant that BMW has ever used in motorcycle series production and has an output of 1,802cc. It gets 91 horsepower and at 4,750 rpm and from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, 110 pound-feet of torque is available at all times. Engine drag torque control comes standard. Reverse assist and hill start assist are also available.

Drivers can ride their BMW in their choice of Rain, Roll, or Rock drive mode.

The bike rides on spoked wheels (a 16-inch is at the front) and has mid-mounted footpegs, which allow for laid-back driver positioning. Its windshield, saddle bags, and passenger seat are removable. There is an additional LED headlight and standard electronic cruise control.

BMW R 18 Classic The R 18 Classic is now configurable on the BMW Motorrad website.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has designed the bike to be conversion-friendly. It has an easily removable rear frame and a simple-to-dismantle painted part set. The automaker further explains, "Carefully conceived interface points for the hydraulic lines of the brake, clutch and cable harness likewise allow entirely problem-free installation of higher or lower handlebars in conjunction with matching hydraulic lines and cable harnesses. In addition, the visible valve covers (cylinder head covers) and the belt cover (engine housing cover) are designed in such a way that they are located outside the oil chamber, making them very easy to change."

For the new model, BMW Motorrad has worked with suppliers to come up with a variety of high-end aftermarket parts for the motor. Mustang Seat has been enlisted to offer a variety of high-quality hand-made seats. Vance & Hines worked with the exhaust system to make it customizable.

The 2021 BMW R 18 line starts at $17,495. The R 18 Classic has a starting MSRP of $19,495.

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The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most luxurious SUVs you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac has given the 2021 Escalade the tagline "Never stop arriving" which seems apropos for a full-size SUV that shows up in nearly every way. Having undergone a complete redesign, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade finds itself securely at the top of the company's lineup showcasing the high-tech features and plush accommodations buyers are looking for.

The three-row SUV is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon at the General Motors Arlington Assembly plant outside of Dallas. The platform is ridged and good, allowing the Escalade and its brethren to take on corners at speed without fear of coffee spilling.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade continues to have a commanding presence on the street.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

That also means that it's big. Huge, in fact. But, the Escalade isn't so big it's unmanageable. Sure, you'll need a stepladder to see below the hood. But, how many Escalade owners are doing their own maintenance these days? Camera views help tremendously, as does safety technology.

As tested in the Premium Luxury trim, the two-wheel drive Escalade was powered by Cadillac's standard 6.2-liter V8 that's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a fresh addition to GM's offering list. The power plant delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, just as it is in the SUV's full-size GM stablemates, and has the same SAE-certified horsepower and torque top-out points. It's a competent power plant but it works better in the Yukon Denali.

Why?

That's the big question. The two SUVs are nearly the same weight – pushing 5,800 pounds – and were similarly equipped underneath, as tested. Yet, the Escalade drove like it had a 1,000 pound-boulder strapped into the second row. It didn't feel as agile or swift as the Yukon, but also didn't give the feeling like you're towing when you're not.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade's imposing body style is not so large that it proves unmanageable. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Escalade was test driven back-to-back-to-back with other vehicles in its segment, the Yukon and the Ford Expedition, and it proved to be, hands down, the least maneuverable. Those poor limousine service drivers in L.A. are not going to enjoy working their way up, and then back down the snaked driveways of the Hollywood elite in this Cadillac.

However, once they get on the road and are able to sit back and relax a touch with their clientele all buckled up, they're going to enjoy the drive. The tester wasn't equipped with GM's Super Cruise, which is a hands-free driver assist technology, but the addition would be a welcome one as the lane keep assist isn't as proactive as other systems from other automakers, and the massive Caddy requires a driver's full attention to stay in the lane.

The 2021 Escalade's massive standard 38-inch OLED screen display area is the highlight of the interior and likely the biggest talking point of the vehicle. Its layout is sensical, proves to not be distracting while driving, and supplies just the right amount of information without going overkill on moving graphics.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The OLED display darkens to deep black at night, giving your drivers' eyes a rest.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The best part of the tech, which is actually made up of three separate screens under the same thin housing, is that it quickly and smoothly goes to near-black, giving drivers the least amount of distraction possible while on the road at night. Its resolution is twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

Though a minor issue, the screen's design does not allow for turn signal indicators to be easily seen as they are positioned directly behind the steering wheel rim. With the indicator's generally soft tone, it's easy to miss when an indicator remains on when exiting a roundabout or merging into traffic.

Surrounding the Escalade's screen are a variety of appointments, some of which feel and look luxurious while others do not. These are, however, typical General Motors product quibbles. The synthetic materials on the dashboard, and thin leather door inserts are not as luxe as what you'll find in SUVs made by Cadillac's rivals. Not that anyone will notice them for long with the OLED elephant in the room.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The layout of the OLED display is easy to understand and read on-the-fly. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Seats in the Escalade are comfortable, providing ample room. No matter the row, the upholstery is well-executed and the ride is sublime as the suspension easily soaks up the road's imperfections. It's a vehicle the aforementioned elite won't mind being seen in and will look forward to riding in.

Along with its comfortable seats and enough legroom in all three rows for adults, one of the best parts of the Escalade is its sound system. It's the first vehicle with an AKG system (offered with either 19 (standard) or 36 speakers), and it pairs the system with an already-quiet cabin. The sound is all-encompassing for front row occupants and musical elements are separated, coming at you like you're at a concert, rather than listening to a glossed-over recorded session. Turning it up, the quality of the sound is not lost. D-E-lightful.

Individual technology elements of the Escalade are why buyers should choose it over the Yukon and the Lincoln Navigator. The OLED display, Super Cruise, and AKG sound system make the Cadillac a step up from its competition even though its drive feels like a step down.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Cadillac has made the seats of the Escalade comfortable and appointed them well. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac Escalade is pricey. As tested it was well over $85,000, and that's just a mid-grade model. The Escalade faces stiff competition from the Yukon Denali, which comes in at least $15,000 cheaper and delivers a better drive experience. The similarly priced Navigator is also an elegant option that's sure to be upgraded with Ford's hands-free driving technology in the not-too-distant future.

There may be a sleeper competitor on the horizon. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is set to debut soon and will likely rival the Escalade with its sound system and elegant design, and come with a similar price tag.

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