Author Archives: Frank

About Frank

Hi, I'm Frank, the creator of "Build Your Own," a YouTube channel that builds, prices and options new vehicles. I love doing that so much that I built this website. You'll find new car builds from my channel here as well as car buying tips. If you don't see the new car you're researching, contact me and I'll be happy to do a video review!

Detailed Review of the Lucid Air

The Lucid Air offers a much-needed mid-step between the cars of today and the cars of tomorrow. Some are calling it a Tesla killer, but this electric sedan still needs to prove itself against the current leader of the electric vehicle market. Lucid has a few aces up its sleeve though in the form of former engineers from Tesla, a revolutionary design architecture, and deep investment capital from Saudi Arabia.

The Lucid Air isn’t just a Tesla Model S knockoff though. This electric sedan makes some bold moves of its own. Let’s take a closer look at the Lucid Air and compare it to the Tesla Model S along the way. You’ll be surprised at the level of value in the Lucid Air and the design strategy behind the latest contender for the electrified throne.

Model Trims for the Lucid Air

In a bold departure from Tesla’s lack of options and packages, Lucid is offering four model trims for the Air electric sedan. The base model is Air Pure and it comes with just a single electric motor and a 406-mile range. It has an MSRP of $69,900. Then, there’s the dual-motor, 620 horsepower, all-wheel-drive Lucid Air Touring model.

The next tier up is a dramatic leap in price. The Lucid Air Touring costs $87,500. The next level Lucid Air Grand Touring carries an MSRP of $131,500 with the farthest driving range of the Lucid models. Finally, there’s the Lucid Air Dream Edition (see my build & price review) that cranks out 1,080 horsepower with exclusive style elements and finishes. It costs $161,500.

Tesla vs Lucid

In comparison to the Tesla Model S, the entry-level Lucid Air is a bit more affordable. The 2021 Tesla Model S starts at $79,900. However, the lack of model trims for Tesla means that there are fewer stops along the way to jack up the price. The Plaid + model of the Model S is $132,990. Lucid has added a tiered model trim system like traditional automakers. This enables the price of the Air to soar way out of range for the average consumer looking for their first electric vehicle.

Peter Rawlinson, CEO, and CTO, Lucid Motors is a former Tesla employee. He was Vice President of  Engineering. It’s clear that his time at Tesla influenced his work on the Lucid Air. In a company press release, Rawlinson had this to say.  “The Lucid Air is a vehicle that thrills me personally because it delivers a level of performance, efficiency, and luxury that is currently unseen in today’s EVs,” said “Our vision from the beginning – what drives this company – is creating the world’s best EV technology while making it progressively more attainable over time.”

Time will tell how much wiggle room Rawlinson will allow on the exorbitant price of the Lucid Air.

Style Elements of the Lucid Air

The Lucid Air has proportions that seem familiar. Yet, there are subtle changes to the vehicle that seek to redefine the architecture of a luxury sedan. Lucid’s VP of Design is the former Head of Design for Mazda. The fluidity of the Lucid Air’s design is a page torn straight out of the Mazda playbook.

The Lucid Air has a well-sculpted, smooth exterior that creates a 0.21 drag coefficient. Lucid designers and engineers took inspiration from jets – luxury private jets and not fighter jets. The platinum look is included with the Grand Touring model. It has polished satin titanium accents with bright, contrasting aluminum inlays. The Air has a full glass canopy roof just like the Tesla Model S. It travels seamlessly from front to rear.

Wheels

Your choice in wheels range from big to bigger. 19-inch black-painted wheels are small for the Lucid Air. 20-inch wheels are available but the 21-inch Aero Blade wheels that are featured in most of the promotional material for the Lucid Air seem to fit the vehicle just right. The wheelbase of the Lucid Air is 116.54 inches. The length is 195.88 inches. That gives it about the same dimensions as the Model S.

Design

Lucid employed their own in-house lighting designers to give the Air a signature light array. The front of the electric sedan has intelligent micro headlights that react to the environment. The headlights are arranged in a narrow slit with six individual headlamps. In the rear of the Air there’s a long, single form LED taillight assembly.

Exterior

While the exterior of the Lucid Air might lack a lot of style points with its fluid form, the benefits of such an unadorned exterior are transferred to the comfort of the interior cabin. For example, the rear doors open 90-degrees for easier entry and egress. The rear trunk has a wide clamshell design that makes the interior seem larger than it is.

Limited Edition

The Limited Edition Dream model is the only one that comes with the sparkling gold metallic paint palette and Alcantara inserts for the interior. Otherwise, it doesn’t standout cosmetically from the rest of the vehicles in the Lucid stable. Its allure comes from the 1,080 horsepower powertrain.

Interior Amenities

The interior of the Lucid Air draws inspiration from the California landscape. There’s a high attention to detail that’s evident in the colors, finishes, fabrics and the stitching of the Nappa leather upholstery. It’s available in ceramic off-white, light brown Tahoe, and all black. If you happen to loath leather, then there’s a PureLux faux leather version of the black Mojave interior. All of the woodgrain is sustainably harvested and so are the recycled yarn and alpaca textiles.

One of the aspects of the Air’s interior that separates it from the competition are the contrasting zones. The front row has a cockpit aesthetic, but the rear bench has a different color scheme and amenities that are more focused on comfort. There’s this clear separation of functionality between the front and rear that’s a real departure from the Tesla Model S.

Related: Detailed Review of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The Air has a flat-bottomed steering wheel with a few touchpads and toggles that seem to float in the center of the assembly. The instrument cluster of the Lucid Air is actually a gorgeous 34-inch curved digital floating glass display with 5K resolution. The center 10-inch touchscreen display in the center console has the vertical orientation from the outgoing Tesla sedan. The Lucid Air display can be removed to reveal a storage compartment underneath.

The interior of the Lucid Air has the space of a mid-sized SUV without all of the bulk. The electrified powertrain and battery bank have been miniaturized to fit inconspicuously under the floorboards. This maximizes the interior space for head and legroom. The rear bench with a standard battery bank has 37.4 inches. Even the long-range battery model has 35.8 inches of legroom in the rear. The driver and front passenger have a comfortable seating position, as well. There are 41.5 inches of legroom and 39.5 inches of headroom. The Lucid Air beats the Model S for rear-seat comfort but comes in about even for front-row occupants.

The front of the Lucid Air doesn’t house an internal combustion engine (ICE). It can be used for storage. The same is true for the Model S from Tesla. However, the Lucid Air has a cavernous trunk with a fold-down rear bench for maximum cargo space. Yet, there’s even more space back there. The rear floor panel of the trunk folds away to reveal a second trunk compartment underneath. The rear trunk offers 456 liters of capacity and the front (frunk) has 202 liters of cargo capacity.

Performance and Efficiency

The Lucid Air has dual active core electric motors that run on four different output settings. The base model produces 480 horsepower while the top-of-the-line Dream Edition produces 1080 horsepower at 800 kilowatts. The Dream Edition travels from zero to 60 MPH in 2.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 168 miles per hour.

All-wheel drive is standard on all versions of the Lucid Air platform. The suspension is controlled by semi-active dampers, standard torque vectoring, and electronic stability control. Otherwise, there isn’t much available information about the drivetrain and braking.

The Lucid Air has one of the fastest charging times of any electric vehicle. Owners using DC fast charging can expect to recoup about 32 kilometers a minute or the equivalent of 300 miles in 20 minutes. The base model has a driving range of 406 miles while the Grand Touring model gets 517 miles of driving range.

Since the Lucid Air is aimed squarely at the electric vehicle throne, it’s important to compare the Lucid Air to the Tesla Model S. In terms of performance, the 1080 horsepower potential of the Lucid Air is a bit better than the Tesla Model S with 1020 peak power. The Model S boasts a zero to 60 time of 1.99 seconds, but the Lucid Air doesn’t even attempt to make such a claim.

When it comes to efficiency, the Lucid Air trumps the Model S. The Model S from Tesla has a 412-mile range and maximum charging of 200 miles in 15 minutes with DC fast charging. It’s clear to see that the Lucid Air promises to outperform the Model S in nearly every category except acceleration.

How Safe is the New Lucid Air?

The Tesla pedigree shines through when it comes to the available packages. There’s a Dream Drive Level 3 package that supplies the hardware for autonomous driving in the Lucid Air. It also receives over-the-air updates to the Air’s software.

There are 8 advanced airbags inside the cabin. In total, there are 32 onboard sensors that provide the essential data for advanced safety and autonomous driving. Lucid hasn’t released any information about those autonomous driving features, but consumers can expect some form of lane departure mitigation, automatic braking, and driver attention alerts.

Designers of the Lucid Air expect a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA, but those tests haven’t been performed yet. The architecture of the Air’s platform certainly imbues a certain level of safety. The heavy battery bank sits at the bottom of the electric sedan providing a low center of gravity and enhanced handling capabilities. The frame is composed of lightweight bonded aluminum, but the glass canopy leaves the Lucid Air with a top-down vulnerability. It offers little protection but increases outward visibility.

At the Finish Line

Lucid found a chink in Tesla’s armor and filled it with a luxurious electrified sedan. In an obvious act of hubris, Tesla designers made a bold indictment of superfluous refinements with their remarkably austere designs and minimalist interiors. Then, the Lucid Air drives up and reminds consumers just how much they used to love Cadillacs. The Lucid Air is a revival of opulence that is poised to propel consumers into the electrified age of motoring.

Well played, Lucid. Well played. The Lucid Air has an affordable entry-level model that offers unparalleled luxury for an electric vehicle. Yet, the Grand Touring and Limited Edition models will most likely stay on dealership lots well past their prime. Tesla will still have brand dominance with consumers, but heads are already turning toward the Lucid Air.

Detailed Review of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The 2021 Tesla Model S is an electrified sedan with blistering acceleration and autonomous driving technology. The Model S debuted in 2012 and just got its first real update. The new Model S has a simplified interior, some minor exterior alterations, and an available powertrain that’s even faster than the previous generation.

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What Are the Different Models for the 2021 Tesla Model S?

There are 3 model variants available for the 2021 Model S from Tesla. The base model is dubbed “Long Range” and it has an MSRP of $79,990. It has a driving range of 412 miles and a top speed of 155 miles per hour.

The new powertrain Model S option is called “Plaid” and has an MSRP of $119,000. That’s a big leap in price from the base model, but it only has a driving range of 390 miles. The hike in price is most likely attributed to the performance boost that the Plaid Model S receives. There is a third model called “Plaid Plus” and this is the real long-range model because it can go 520 miles before recharging. However, the price tag soars to $139,000. That’s the version that can go zero to 60 in under 2 seconds and run a 9.23-second quarter-mile, which begs the question – How fast is too fast?

Detailed Review of the Lucid Air

Exterior Style of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The 2021 Tesla Model S has a sleek sedan body style that reflects high attention to aerodynamic detail. The Model S sits low with a wide stance. It has an overall teardrop shape with door handles that fit flush against the paneling. All these features are meant to decrease the drag coefficient and boost the performance output of its electric powertrain. As Nissan engineer Hiroshi Tamura once said, “The body is technology.”

The 2021 Model S from Tesla now comes standard with a full glass panoramic rooftop. The Model S comes with either 19 or 21-inch wheels but looks amazing with either option. Color palettes are a bit limited, but the Model S doesn’t disappoint in black, white, blue, or red. There aren’t many build options that buyers can select at the time of purchase. A few different grille designs would have been a new direction for Tesla, but you have to accept what you get.

Performance Capabilities of the New Model S from Tesla

The new Model S electric powertrain can go from zero to 60 in just under 2 seconds. Both Plaid models can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour. That would make the new Model S the fastest electric vehicle on the market and maybe even the fastest accelerating vehicle period. Time will tell if those numbers bear out in real tests by real drivers.

The 2021 Model S with an updated powertrain can travel 520 miles before it needs to be recharged. By utilizing Tesla’s range of 20,000 supercharging stations nationwide, drivers can use fast charging to recoup up to 200 miles in just 15 minutes.

The Model S Long Range model has all-wheel drive and two electric motors. The Plaid models come with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and three electric motors. Otherwise, Tesla is rather tight-lipped about the underpinnings of the new Tesla Model S.

Is the 2021 Tesla Model S a Safe Car to Drive?

The 2021 Model S has a floor-mounted battery bank that spans almost the entire length of the vehicle. This gives it a low center of gravity and increased protection against rollovers. Automatic emergency braking comes standard on all models.

The Model S has a high-tech system of cameras and radar devices. There are cameras that cover the front, rear, and sides providing 360 degrees of visibility. The front-facing radar has a range of 160 meters and 12 additional ultrasonic sensors that help to prevent collisions.

Self-Driving Features of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The cameras and sensors on the Model S enhance the vehicle’s safety but also assist with the AutoPilot functions of the electric sedan. In certain circumstances, the 2021 Tesla Model S can brake, steer, and accelerate without driver input.

The Model S can parallel park and park perpendicularly by itself. You can also use the key to summon your Model S. The vehicle will activate itself and drive toward you. While on the highway, the Tesla Model S can change lanes and use offramps, as well.

With that being said, there are bound to be some safety-related issues when it comes to all that technology doing the heavy lifting. For example, there’s no gear shifter on the 2021 Model S. Instead of manually choosing a direction, the Model S has an onboard AI that extrapolates the driver’s intentions from a complex algorithm of choices. The vehicle selects a gear for you.

That could become problematic when you’re stuck in an odd traffic situation that the AI can’t make heads or tails of. You can override this system by manually deactivating it through the touchscreen. However, that involves scrolling and tapping your way through a menu of subsystems just to get this electric sedan moving. Not to mention, if there was a software or electrical problem involved, the driver would essentially be useless in operating the vehicle.

Self-Driving Cars: History and Future

New Interior of the Tesla Model S

In keeping with the design language of other Tesla vehicles, the 2021 Model S now sports a minimalist interior. Tesla engineers are so adept at reducing clutter inside the cabin that it has become a sort of philosophy for them. The steering wheel has been chopped in half. It now has a U-shaped design with no stalks for turn signaling or activating wipers. This is bound to play tricks on drivers’ muscle memory as they instinctively flick their fingers to indicate a change of lanes. This also takes out a simple and straightforward mechanical process for signaling a lane change.

Steering Wheel

The new Model S just has illuminated arrows on one side of the flat steering surface. Pudgy fingers beware. The U-shaped steering wheel is most often seen on drag racing cars that don’t need to ever turn. However, the 2021 Model S will require a nimbler steering column and it will be interesting to see actual reviews from drivers in the near future. Tesla’s website promotes the new steering wheel design as a way to focus on driving. Yet, removing features that have been on steering wheels for decades hardly seems like the ideal way to keep drivers focused on the road ahead.

Dashboard

As you pan your vision to the right, you’ll notice that the dashboard has been stripped of adornments. The only thing left is the touchscreen interface and a digital instrument cluster.  The interior has a 17-inch cinematic display that boasts a 2200×1300 screen resolution. It tilts left and right to favor either the driver or passenger. Previous Model S electric sedans had a touchscreen display with a vertical orientation, but the new Model S has turned the screen on its side.

Back Seat

The rear bench has a screen where older model sedans used to house their air conditioning vents, down low in the center stack. Thankfully, there are still a few cupholders. The rear bench has wireless device charging, as well. The front row can charge 2 devices via Bluetooth, wireless, or USB-C chargers. You can even fast-charge a laptop or tablet at the expense of your vehicle’s overall electric power output.

Technology

The 2021 Model S comes with a 960-watt sound system. It has noise-canceling technology that provides high-quality audio through its 22 speakers. There have always been minor updates and improvements to the software of the Tesla Model S, but the 2021 Model S finally has a full overhaul. It has updated software for the touchscreen. It’s a bit more powerful than the previous generation. It has a wireless controller for video games and a faster processing speed for the graphics card. It can now support 10 teraflops of data. That’s a trillion floating-point operations per second. This will put the Model S on par with the PlayStation 5 and the cabin can now double as a gaming lounge for both the front and rear passengers.

Cargo Space

Cargo space is a big plus for the 2021 Tesla Model S. Since it does not have an internal combustion engine (ICE) you can use the front and rear of the vehicle for storage. The rear bench folds flat to open up the cabin for 28 cubic feet of cargo space.

Final Thoughts on the 2021 Tesla Model S

Just when competing automakers were starting to catch up to the wave of performance electric vehicles, Tesla set the bar even higher with the new Model S. It’s set to be the fastest sedan on the market with speeds that seem to warp reality. Its 520-mile driving range will also set the record for electric range.

Interestingly, the name “Plaid” is a reference to the 1987 comedy Spaceballs. In the movie, Darth Helmet’s spaceship went so fast that the color streaks went plaid. As you may recall, Tesla also has a Ludicrous mode which is another reference to “ludicrous speed” from that same Spaceballs movie.

Speed comes at a price though. The top of the range 2021 Model S Plaid + will cost more than some supercars. With a stripped-down interior, you’re not paying for plush creature comforts. Part of the price is raked across Tesla’s brand popularity and high-tech amenities like console gaming and autonomous driving.

Just like the Cybertruck, people will either love or hate the u-shaped steering wheel. Once again, Tesla engineers seek to jar the automotive industry out of well-established conventions just to prove a point. The flat-bottomed steering column seems ripped right out of a sci-fi movie or an 80s video game arcade. Will drivers lament over the absence of their beloved turn signal or will they be going too fast to even notice?

Real Review of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a high-selling crossover that hardly ever needs refueling. It comes with plenty of standard tech features and safety equipment, but its budget-minded interior will leave some occupants feeling a bit cramped. Overall, it strikes a chord when it comes to balancing economy and style.

The hybrid version of the 2021 RAV4 crossover comes in 5 different model trims. There’s the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, XSE, and Limited. The LE model is tempting with its standard roof rails, dual chrome-tipped exhaust, and remote keyless entry. The XLE and XLE Premium both have some upgraded features, but for just a small hop in the price, the XLE Premium is the better bargain. It comes with a power moonroof, power liftgate, and leather-trimmed interior.

The XSE Hybrid is all about style with its sporty wheels, custom front grille, and two-tone exterior paint. The Limited model for the RAV4 Hybrid aims at sophistication with a dark brown interior, but there’s very little else on the Limited that can’t be equipped with a package on other trims. So, Toyota might have missed the mark there.

Top 5 Family Vehicles of 2021

Exterior Style of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Style comes first for the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid. This compact crossover has the looks of a genuine off-roader with chunky paneling, roof rails, and aggressive grille, but there is a catch. Don’t be fooled; the RAV4 Hybrid is a paper tiger.

The profile of the new RAV4 is remarkable. It has cuts and undulations in the paneling that inspire images of a fighter jet cutting through the wind. This style is becoming a sort of trope for the crossover segment, but it’s an attractive shape. You can see a similar design on the 2021 Chevy Blazer, but Toyota handles it with a bit more grace.

The XSE RAV4 model comes with black-painted 18-inch wheels and a black roof. You can pair that two-tone combination with four different colors, but the Blueprint Blue fits the color scheme quite nicely. If you get larger aftermarket chrome exhaust tips, mudguards, and brushed aluminum runner boards, then the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid has an even more aggressive look.

Interior Amenities and Tech

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid loses some points in the interior department. Thankfully, it has so much to offer that it can spare a few demerits. The interior is awash in a mismatch of plastic surfaces and synthetic fibers. That’s alright for a bargain crossover, but buyers are looking for more refinement these days, even at the budget level.

There are 98.9 cubic feet of passenger volume in the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid. The Ford Escape has 104 cu. Ft. of passenger space. The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe goes even further with 111.5. So, the Toyota RAV4 hybrid has some serious competition for interior space.

That’s due primarily to the low roofline and battery bank design. It makes for a handsome exterior, but the passengers suffer in terms of headroom and hip comfort. The RAV4 Hybrids above the XLE trim get a power-sliding and tilting moonroof. Additionally, a panoramic glass roof is available for an additional cost.

Build and Price Pro Tip: If you’re a taller person and want more headroom from the RAV4 Hybrid, don’t opt for the panoramic glass roof. It takes away even more headroom and the RAV4 has precious little to spare.

Here’s where the 2021 RAV4 interior does well. There are 69.8 cubic feet of cargo volume in the new RAV4. For a point of comparison, the Chevy Blazer comes up short with 64.2 cu. Ft. The RAV4 actually beats the 2021 Nissan Murano, as well. The 2021 RAV4 Hybrid has 60/40 spilt folding rear seats and convenient storage space scattered around the cabin. It’s ideal for families with bags galore or people who just like to stash items to get them out of their way.

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2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Performance Capabilities

The 2021 RAV4 hybrid has a 2.5 Liter, four-cylinder engine that makes about 219 horsepower. It’s partnered with a pair of electric motors, one for each axle. An electronic all-wheel-drive system comes standard and really helps to provide driver confidence in difficult weather conditions. Yet, this isn’t really an off-roading vehicle. Fuel economy is a big selling point for the 2021 RAV4 hybrid crossover. On the highway, it gets 38 miles per gallon and 41 MPG in urban settings.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a lackluster towing ability for a crossover SUV of its size. It can tow 1,750 pounds on a 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain. It also comes with all-season mud and snow rated radial tires. That beats out the Nissan Murano…again. However, the hybrid Ford Escape does 3,500 lbs. and the Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid has a towing capacity of 1,650. That’s without its optional trailer brakes.

Related: To see more info about the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe, just CLICK HERE.

Safety Gear from Toyota

All 2021 RAV4 Hybrids come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 safety features. This is a comprehensive suite of advanced safety features. You get pedestrian detection, lane departure alerts, automatic high beams, radar cruise control and road sign recognition. In certain circumstances, the RAV4 Hybrid can override the steering and pull you back into your lane if your attention wanders.

The RAV4 Hybrid comes with a back-up camera, but there is an optional package that includes a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera system. That same option package includes automatic braking, parking assist, and blind-spot monitoring.

Build and Price Pro Tip: The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has wide rear pillars that compromise visibility. Potential buyers would be well-advised to opt for the blind spot monitoring feature to help offset those chunky roof pillars.

At the Finish Line

The RAV4 hasn’t been put out to pasture just yet. It ages well for a compact crossover and has plenty of curb appeal. It’s sporty, adventurous exterior might be just for show, but the RAV4 Hybrid wasn’t meant to rival a Jeep. The hybrid version gets 40 miles per gallon but doesn’t suffer much in acceleration. That’s the big takeaway here.

The interior of the RAV4 Hybrid won’t win any awards. Admittedly, there are nicer cabins on other hybrid crossovers. However, the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid has more cargo space than other comparable crossovers. The XLE Premium is new for 2021 and it’s the model trim with the best value. It carries an MSRP of $35,485 when properly outfitted. The base model RAV4 Hybrid costs $28,650. Go in with value on your mind and you’ll drive away with the right RAV4 Hybrid for your budget.

Real Review of the 2021 Ford F-150

The 2021 Ford F-150 is the undisputed king of pick-up trucks. Sure, there might be slicker, more stylish trucks on the market, but the numbers don’t lie. According to market data from Car and Driver, the Ford F Series was the top-selling vehicle of 2020 in America. It’s been the top-selling truck for more than 40 years.

The price range varies greatly. The base model 2021 Ford F-150 XL has an MSRP of $28,940. Yet, once you get all the way up to the Limited trim, a Ford F-150 can cost you $70,825. Just keep that in mind when you price and build your own. We’re still talking about a pick-up truck, right?

Well, the low entry cost is a big reason for the F-150’s popularity. The Ford F Series also has big brand marketing power that goes back for generations. Many Americans can recall seeing a Ford pick-up truck in their Dad’s garage before they were even old enough to drive one. When you partner those factors in with all the options of today’s F-150 you get a nearly unbeatable vehicle that flies off the dealership lots.

There are six different model trims available for the 2021 Ford F-150. There’s the base model XL and the XLT. The XL comes with attractive styling and an 8-inch touchscreen display. The next tier is comprised of the Lariat and King Ranch trucks. Then, you get to the top of the mountain with the Platinum and Limited models. These F-150s can rival a luxury sedan in terms of cost and interior amenities.

First Look at the Tesla Cybertruck

What’s New for the 2021 Ford F-150?

The latest F-150 has some new functionality features and a V6 hybrid powertrain. In total, there are 21 new upgrades to the 2021 F-150 from Ford. For hard workers, there’s a fold-down workstation and a lockable under-seat storage compartment in the cabin. In the truck bed, there’s a new workstation, clamp pockets, and zone lighting. Cosmetically, the new F-150 has more colors, grilles, and appearance packages. The interior has been updated with a larger instrument cluster, a bigger dashboard display, and improved SYNC 4 technology.

The Iconic Style of the F-150

The 2021 Ford F-150 is a good-looking truck even without any additional packages or upgrades. It has a wide track and rounded edges in the front fascia. It walks the line between the blocky GMC pick-up trucks and the unadorned look of the RAM trucks. Yet, it isn’t as modern as the Nissan Titan.

There are options galore for the F-150. You can choose between 15 different colors and more than 10 different front grille options. The Platinum model is resplendent with chrome accents and 20-inch wheels while the XLT F-150 takes a more subtle approach. It has a blacked-out front grille, halogen lights, and simple color palettes. It’s a good idea to price and build a Ford F-150 online to get a better feel for what type of style suits you best.

There are 3 different truck bed options. There’s a five and a half, six and a half, and an 8-footer. Just keep in mind that you can’t outfit the F-150 with an 8-foot bed if you’re getting the four-door super crew cabin.

There are six appearance packages. So, if you like the Lariat model but think its exterior is a bit muted you can build your F-150 with the Lariat Chrome Appearance Package. Likewise, if you think the King Ranch model is a bit over the top, you can tone it down with the King Ranch Monochromatic Paint Package. This will give you an F-150 that looks more like the Platinum model.

Performance Capabilities

There are six different engine options for the 2021 Ford F-150. There’s a tough 3.0 Liter turbo diesel. There’s an EcoBoost V6 engine that has a maximum towing capacity of 14,000 pounds and a 5.0 Liter V8 engine that delivers a maximum payload of 3,325 lbs. The F-150 can be outfitted with a nimble 2.7 Liter EcoBoost V6 and a 3.3 Liter V6 engine.

The new hybrid powertrain deserves a closer look. It’s a 3.5 Liter PowerBoost V6 that gets 25 miles per gallon on the 4×2 variant. It can go 750 miles on a single fill-up. That’s a gamechanger for full-size trucks. Surprisingly, the 4×4 variant still gets a class-leading 24 MPG.

The 3.5 Liter V6 hybrid boasts 570-pound feet of torque and 430 horsepower. It also has a maximum towing capacity of 12,700 pounds and a payload of 2,120 pounds on standard equipment. No other full-size 4×2 truck can match the 2021 F-150s performance numbers.

Ford PowerBoost

In a Ford Motor Company press release, Hua Thai-Tang, the chief product platform, and operations officer for Ford described the main reasons why Ford chose to launch their new hybrid powertrain. “Our team spent months living with and observing truck customers at their homes, on job sites, and on the weekends.”

Thai-Tang went on to say, “Using electrification, we realized we could now give customers something they had long wanted but didn’t think was possible – tremendous power, great fuel economy, and all-new capabilities to make their F-150 even more productive.”

The PowerBoost hybrid is one of Ford’s crowning achievements this year. That same PowerBoost configuration comes with a 2.4-kilowatt powerplant that can export power to the worksite. You can tap into it through the cargo box or via outlets in the cabin.

Build and Price Pro Tip: For even better utility you can upgrade the Pro Power Onboard system to a 7.2-kilowatt powerplant. Not only is that a significant boost over the standard feature, but it’s well over 10 times the amount of exportable power than any other full-size truck on the market.

Drivetrain

All of the F-150 powertrains are managed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive comes standard on the 2021 F-150, but there are two 4×4 options available. There’s a familiar shift on the fly, an all-wheel-drive system on the XL and XLT models. It’s been around on F-150s for a while now.

The second 4×4 system shunts torque on demand to the front wheels. You can override the system manually through the transfer case. The 2021 F-150 can off-road with the best of them. There’s an FX4 Off-Road Package that adds skid plates, hill descent control, off-road shocks, an electronic-locking rear differential.

Build and Price Pro Tip: If you’re a fan of the Ford Raptor off-road truck, but can’t wrap your head around the $53,455 MSRP, then take a look at the Ford F-150 Tremor. It comes with most of the Raptor’s off-roading equipment but comes as a package for the Ford F-150. Pricing hasn’t been officially announced yet, but you can expect it to be in the range of $4,000 as an add-on to your build.

Interior Amenities of Ford’s Best-Selling Pick-up

You can find the 2021 F-150 as a 2-door regular cab, supercab, and 4-door supercrew. If you’re going to be inviting more than 2 people into your vehicle, then skip the supercab altogether. It has less rear bench space than some compact cars. Yet, the four door supercrew has about 43.6 inches of rear legroom.

The interior of the 2021 Ford F-150 concentrates on both form and function. The center console can house an 8-inch or 12-inch touchscreen navigation system. If you opt for the smaller 8-inch touchscreen, you’ll find yourself staring at all the additional black paneling that fills the space.

The Limited model has a twin-pane glass moonroof, ambient lighting, and real woodgrain inserts. The King Ranch model has one of the most sumptuous interiors for the F-150 line. It comes with full leather, heated and ventilated bucket seats up front, leather trims and inserts around the cabin, and an 8-speaker premium audio system from Bang & Olufsen. You’ll instantly feel the comfort of a lazy Sunday on the ranch whether you’re in Texas, Oregon, or New York.

How Safe is the 2021 Ford F-150?

If you’re in the market for an F-150 pick-up truck, you’ll hear and see the word “tough” over and over again. That’s not just marketing. The 2021 Ford F-150 has a dent-resistant, high strength, aluminum alloy body. It’s the only truck in the full-size grouping to have this level of high strength, lightweight aluminum alloy. That aluminum-alloy body is slapped onto a roll-formed steel frame.

Even the base model F-150 comes equipped with excellent safety features. It comes with automatic high beam headlights, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and lane control. When you upgrade to the XLT model and above, your 2021 Ford F-150 comes equipped with Co-Pilot 2.0. That’s a comprehensive suite of advanced safety features like post-collision braking, blind-spot detection, and parking sensors.

Final Thoughts

The 2021 Ford F-150 has an amazing hybrid V6 engine, best towing and payload of any full-sized truck on the market. The 2021 F-150 is a dominant pick-up truck with a starting cost of just $28,940. It’s little wonder that it racks up so many awards, including the prestigious Edmunds Top Rated Truck of the year.

In a company press release, Alistair Weaver, the editor in chief for Edmunds summed it up nicely. “The Ford F-150 has numerous bragging rights with impressive towing, max payload and with an EPA-estimated rating of 25 mpg city/26 mpg highway/25 mpg combined, but we believe its true strength rests in the extensive and varied options that allow shoppers to get a truck tailored to their needs. With the F-150, Ford displays a clear understanding of the changing needs and wants of truck customers, and for that and many other reasons, it deserves the title of Edmunds Top Rated Truck this year.”

So, what do you think of the 2021 Ford F-150? Is it really the best pick-up truck in America or just another truck?

Detailed Review of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy Model

Hyundai might not be the first brand name that comes to mind when it comes to luxury SUVs and crossovers. However, that might start to change when more people take notice of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy model. The Calligraphy trim is a new addition for 2021. It’s got all the sophistication of a premium SUV without the six-figure price tag.

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe has some tough competition in the mid-sized SUV segment. There’s the Nissan Murano, Honda Passport, Kia Sorento, and Jeep Grand Cherokee just to name a few. Luckily, the Calligraphy model trim offers true luxury amenities and features at a competitive price point.

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Style Elements of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy

The new Santa Fe SUV has been updated for 2021. The front end has a unique LED headlight design with two narrow daytime running lights that come together and trail down the front fascia. The grille is wide and has a cascading pattern.

From the profile, the Santa Fe has large, rounded wheel wells and creases in the side paneling that travel from front to rear. The recessed wheel well trim might not be the Santa Fe’s best stylistic feature. It looks as if something fell off the vehicle. Hyundai designers could have easily slapped on a bit of body paneling to flush out the profile.

The rear of the vehicle has narrow, tapered taillights to follow the design elements of the front. It’s a smart rear end that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel of SUV design. The liftgate in the back opens automatically and there’s a rear skid plate underneath.

Interior Amenities of the Santa Fe Calligraphy Model

The 2021 Santa Fe Calligraphy model has a spacious interior with luxury features in all the right places. The interior has quilted Nappa leather seating, an electronic gearshift knob, and ambient lighting. You’d have to remind yourself that this is still a Hyundai and not a flashy Genesis G80.

The center console slides all the interface surfaces down the dashboard. The 10-inch touchscreen navigation sits high over the dash. There are air-con vents in the center and the radio, climate controls, parking brake and gear shifter are beneath it. Admittedly, this is probably the worst feature of the Santa Fe’s interior because there are so many tactile buttons and knobs. It could take the driver’s attention away from the road.

The Calligraphy model provides plenty of space for all the occupants. Five passengers can fit, but four would ride more comfortably. There are 44 inches of legroom and 57.5 inches of hip room up front for the driver and passenger. That’s more wiggle room than the Kia Sorento and the Nissan Murano. All told, there are 115.5 cubic feet of passenger volume in the new Santa Fe SUV and 72.1 cu. Ft. of cargo space.

The Calligraphy model comes with a panoramic sunroof and a Harmon Kardon premium sound system. These are features from the premium package, but the top-level Calligraphy model bundles all the best features from all the available packages into the final build. That includes heated front and rear seats, wireless device charging, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

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Performance of the Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy

For a mid-sized SUV, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe gets above-average gas mileage in Calligraphy form. Drivers can expect to travel 28 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 miles per gallon in the city when equipped with all-wheel drive. Those numbers change ever so slightly with front-wheel drive, granting drivers of the Santa Fe SUV 22 MPG in the city and 25 MPG combined.

The Calligraphy model of the Santa Fe comes equipped with Hyundai’s 2.5 Liter turbo inline 4. This powertrain efficiently motivates the mid-sized SUV with 277 horsepower and 311-pound feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all interested shoppers should opt for the HTRAC all-wheel drive in their final build-out. The Calligraphy model has an updated transmission. It’s an 8-speed wet dual-clutch with SHIFTRONIC technology. There’s a multi-link suspension in the rear and MacPherson struts on the front. Both axles benefit from gas shock dampers and stabilizer bars.

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe can’t match the towing capacity of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but still puts on decent numbers when outfitted with trailer brakes and trailer sway control. The Calligraphy model can tow 3,500 pounds, but without the right towing package those numbers fall to just 1,500 lbs.

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Top Safety Equipment for the Calligraphy Model

One of the strong suits of the Calligraphy model is that it comes with all the best safety equipment that Hyundai has to offer. For other Santa Fe models, these features are optional, but the Calligraphy puts it all in the build-out.

The automatic emergency braking has been improved over the previous year’s Santa Fe SUV. Now, it can detect vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians. The safety system can automatically bring the vehicle to a direct halt to avoid a collision.

The Calligraphy model comes with some autonomous driving features that you won’t find on the Honda Passport or the Nisan Murano. The 2021 Santa Fe has Remote Smart Parking Assist which can basically park the vehicle by remote. This is especially helpful if you’re stuck in a tight space with vehicles all around your SUV. You can stand outside and watch as the 2021 Santa Fe exits the parking space by itself.

Another class-exclusive safety feature for the Calligraphy model is the advanced monitoring system. You can use the onboard cameras and radar array to get surround views of the vehicle and even a live feed of your blind side. Partner that with a heads-up display and you’ve got peace of mind behind the wheel.

Final Build Notes for the 2021 Santa Fe Calligraphy Model

There are two versions of the Calligraphy trim available from Hyundai. The one with 19-inch wheels has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $42,100. The Calligraphy model with 20-inch alloy wheels has an MSRP of $42,300. At that price, the Calligraphy model can rival any premium SUV or crossover on the market.

The Calligraphy model gets a grab bag of luxurious amenities and top-level safety features. It has a 10-inch navigation screen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with a heads-up display for the windshield. That’s totally Audi Q5 territory and the 2021 Santa Fe has all the other automakers nervous. You can’t find that much technology on display with the Ford, Nissan, and Honda budget SUVs.

One of the main reasons that the 2021 Santa Fe is a gamechanger is that Hyundai has arguably the best warranty in the automotive industry. Not only do buyers get the best Hyundai features for the Calligraphy model, but they also get 3 years of hassle-free maintenance, a 10-year powertrain warranty, a 5-year new vehicle warranty, and 5 years of roadside assistance. It’s hard to beat that level of consumer confidence.

If you’re like the style and features of the 2021 Santa Fe from Hyundai, then you should take a second look at the Calligraphy model. It comes fully loaded with all-wheel drive, semi-autonomous safety features, and stylish 20-inch wheels. It doesn’t take an automotive expert to tell that this is a smart buy that can last for a few hundred thousand miles or more.

Detailed Review of the GReddy Fugu Z

The GReddy Fugu Z first made headlines after debuting at SEMA in 2015. It won Best in Show in the Gran Turismo Awards and was easily the crowd favorite. That’s how the custom-built Datsun Z made its way into the Gran Turismo Sport video game.

There’s just something about this custom build that inspired people and helped to cement the modified Datsun Z as an automotive legend. But why the name – Fugu Z? Well, the name Fugu relates to the Japanese pufferfish.

Would you eat a fish that was poisonous and could possibly kill you? Well, the Japanese pufferfish makes for an adventurous and possibly fatal culinary experience and that’s the inspiration for the GReddy Fugu Z’s name.

In an interview with AutoBlog, Sung Kang gave some insights into the early stages of the Fugu Z build. “I remembered having dinner with Sonny Chiba in Japan while filming Tokyo Drift. We were having fugu, Japanese for blowfish and Chiba explained that if the poisonous fish wasn’t properly prepared, it could kill you – a parallel I saw with a car built for the track.”

As you know, we love custom builds here at Build Your Own. So, we decided to look back at the evolution of the GReddy Fugu Z and give our audience a detailed review of its performance specifications.

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History of the GReddy Fugu Z

It all began with a movie star’s dream. Sung Kang is an American actor most known for his role as Han in the Fast & the Furious films. The Fugu Z is Sung Kang’s international social media car. What started out as casual musings with friends quickly snowballed into a social media-fueled quest to make a dream car come true.

Sung Kang found the old 1973 Datsun on Craigslist and drove it home himself. After posting his thoughts on Facebook about a possible body kit for the Datsun, fans and automotive enthusiasts shared their ideas, too.

Eventually, GReddy reached out to Kang and got involved in the build. WithGReddy at the helm, there was nothing out of reach as far as this vehicle’s performance and design potential. People from all over the world collaborated on the design and it quickly took on a life of its own. The world was anxious to see the results and SEMA was chosen as the best venue for Fugu Z’s debut.

Even Sung Kang himself never imagined that his dream car build would debut at one of the world’s biggest auto shows. The team had just 3 months to get their car ready. Kang was personally invested in the build and hovered over the mechanics even down to the last hour before the Fugu Z debuted at SEMA.

It was a huge hit. According to market statistics from Hagerty, the asking price for used 240Zs in pristine condition shot up by 30% after the Fugu Z debuted at SEMA in 2015. The custom-built Datsun Z also found its way into the Gran Turismo video game.

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Design Specs for the GReddy Fugu Z

The GReddy Fugu Z has distinctive exterior features based on a Japanese Rocket Bunny body kit and its original 1973 Datsun body style. It has a lowered suspension with wide, flared-out fenders and a signature front bumper and rear spoiler. It took the team over 60 hours to complete the stitch welding.

The paint palette hovers somewhere between off-white and bone. It comes from a classic Datsun color choice – Kilimanjaro White. The Fugu Z has custom-sized 17-inch Volk Racing alloy wheels with Nitto NT01 tires and the over-sized brake calipers have Fugu Z etched directly onto them.

The Fugu Z has a custom-built roll cage to reinforce the frame. The interior also underwent weight reduction customizations. The GReddy team stripped it down to the bones with custom seats, dashboard console, and doors made of carbon fiber. Overall, the Fugu Z weighs just 2,400 pounds.

The front seats are mounted low to the body and have Fugu Z stitching. There’s nothing but a metal frame in the back. Without any sound dampening material, the Fugu Z’s HyTech headers, GReddy exhaust, and lack of windows on the front doors make for a noisome driving experience.

The GReddy Fugu Z Performance Specs

The GReddy Fugu Z has a base platform from the 1973 S30 Datsun Z that Sung Kang bought. For the sake of comparison, it’s important to note that the base model S30 Series Datsun produced between 138 and 151 horsepower. It had a 4-speed manual gearbox and a 2.4 Liter naturally aspirated inline 6.

The Fugu Z has an R32 Nissan Skyline GTR engine that has been converted over to natural aspiration with custom tuning. The inline-6 RB26DETT engine needed to be decommissioned as a turbo-charged motor. That was no easy feat for GReddy. It required modifying the cams, building a custom exhaust manifold, new pistons, valves, and throttle bodies. They raised the compression rate from 8.5:1 to 12:1. That gave the Fugu Z a power range between 215 and 295 horsepower. For the vehicle’s size, that’s a ton of power supplied to the rear wheels.

The Fugu Z has a 5-speed manual transmission from the Nissan Skyline RB25. The car got an OS Giken twin-plate clutch, flywheel, and limited-slip differential to go along with it. The team added on a McKinney Motorsports driveshaft and transmission kit, custom Techno Toy Tuning CV axles, and R200 rear-end conversion. There’s no power steering on the Fugu Z. So, powering through corners and turns can provide a potential workout for your arms. It’s definitely a driver’s car.

The Fugu Z on Gran Turismo Sport

You can find the GReddy Fugu Z in Gran Turismo Sport among all the GT Awards winners. If you want to try out the GT Sport GReddy Fugu Z on Gran Turismo, you can purchase the vehicle on the PlayStation Store for about $2.00. Follow the link for details. You can also find the custom-built Fugu Z on the Gran Turismo section of Brand Central for 300,000 Credits.

Build Your Own took the Fugu Z around the Mount Panorama circuit for 3 laps. To see our Gran Turismo action, check out the video below.

What Ever Happened to the GReddy Fugu Z?

In 2020, Sung Kang brought the Fugu Z out of the GReddy garage with plans to upgrade and fix many of the features that were rushed to get the custom modified Datsun Z ready for SEMA back in 2015. The Fugu Z now has a custom steering wheel and safer seats, but there are rumors of a twin-turbo mod in the vehicle’s future.

On his website, Kang explained that the “Endgame is going back to what the car was designed for. I want the car to be safe, and I want it to be reliable and fun. And I want it to be able to go on the track, the canyons, and then to the grocery stores. I want to be able to teach people what this car means to me, I want to be able to explain to people the evolution from the L24, to the NA, to the twin-turbo RB26.”

Comparison: The 2021 Audi A7, S7, and RS7

With a gorgeous shape and stunning performance, it’s hard to find fault with the 2021 Audi A7. That is until you realize that there is an even faster S7 and RS7 parked right next to it.

Vehicle Comparisons: The 2021 Audi A7, S7, and RS7

These sporty hatchback coupes can achieve the nearly impossible. The 2021 Audi A7, S7, and RS7 provide the exhilaration of a racing coupe and the sophistication of a luxury sedan. Where other automakers have failed to thread the needle, Audi makes it look effortless.

The 2021 Audi A7 is equipped with one of the most intuitive tech interfaces on the market and a powertrain that dares supercars to jump. Thanks to adaptive steering and Quattro all-wheel drive, the A7, S7, and especially the RS7 can carve up corners like a hatchback on steroids.

There are 3 model trims for the 2021 Audi A7. There’s a Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige model. There are 2 model trims for the 2021 Audi S7 – the Premium Plus and Prestige. The 2021 Audi RS7 luxury Sportback does away with model trims all together.

Let’s take a look at the A7 and S7 vehicles first.

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Performance Capabilities of the A7 and S7

2021 Audi A7 Sportback

The 2021 Audi A7 has a 3.0 Liter twin-turbo V6 engine that’s mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s capable of achieving 335 horsepower and 369-pound feet of torque. The A7 travels from zero to 60 MPH in about 5.2 seconds.

There’s also a hybrid powertrain available for the 2021 Audi A7. It’s an e-plug-in hybrid that uses a 2.0 Liter four-cylinder turbo engine that’s partnered with an electric battery. If fuel economy is a concern, then this is the powertrain to choose. The Audi A7 doesn’t get stellar gas mileage otherwise. The hybrid gets 24 miles per gallon and boasts a maximum driving range of 440 miles. Yet it still produces 362 horsepower and 369 lb. ft. of torque. So, there’s no need to compromise performance for fuel economy with the hybrid powertrain.

The 2021 Audi S7 tunes up the performance of the twin-turbo V6 to reach 444 horsepower and 443 lb. ft. of torque. That takes the 2021 S7 from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. The S7 shares the same transmission as the 2021 Audi RS7 – the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic. Smooth shifts and low RPM power are on command with the Tiptronic.

The S Sport package equips the S7 with dynamic all-wheel steering, Quattro sport rear differential, and sport exhaust. These are some of the standard features on the RS7. The Quattro sport rear differential distributes torque across the rear wheels to give the S7 superior cornering and steering capabilities. It carries an added charge of $4,000. That’s a bit of a bargain when you compare it to the cost of the RS7. You can also equip the S7 with adaptive steel suspension. These are important upgrades to make the 2021 Audi S7 luxury Sportback realize its full Quattro performance potential.

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Performance of the 2021 Audi RS7

2021 Audi RS7 Engine

Now, let’s talk about the RS7. The Audi RS7 is in its second generation. Some of the visual departures from the A7 and S7 are the flared-out wheel wells and lower ground clearance. Many of the performance add-ons from the Audi S7 come standard on the RS7, as mentioned earlier.

Under the hood, the 2021 Audi RS7 has a 4.0 Liter, twin-turbo V8 engine. It produces 591 horsepower and 590-pound feet of torque. For the sake of comparison, the Aston Martin DB11 produces 503 horsepower with its V8 engine and travels from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds. The 2021 Audi RS7 goes from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

The 2021 Audi RS7 is a super-fast luxury vehicle that shares a powertrain with the Porsche Panamera. Of course, the Porsche has the fastest shifting transmission, (probably the best gearbox on any vehicle), but the RS7 comes close with its 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. It has launch control like a true supercar and fine-tuned shift times that are optimized for delivering maximum power to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Quattro sport differential

The 2021 RS7 comes with a Quattro sport differential, all-wheel-drive steering, and adaptive airbag suspension. The air suspension in the RS7 is slightly different from the A7 and S7 upgrades. In the RS7, the suspension can be adjusted across 3 different driving modes. You can also adjust the driving dynamics with 6 additional presets. It has auto, comfort, dynamic, and efficiency modes. Plus, there’s the customizable RS1 and RS2 modes which can be activated from the steering wheel controls.

Roland Waschkau is the sport differential specialist at Audi Sport GmbH, and he elaborates on the RS7’s equipment in an Audi press release. “For customers looking for dynamic driving on dry roads, we offer our sport differential, the Quattro sport, for the rear axle. This makes the car agile by actively shifting the drive torque between the rear wheels as required. Race tracks and high coefficients of friction also play an important role in tuning, particularly for the RS models. Unlike the traditional center differential, the sport differential is an electronically controlled system. It consists of two clutches and a superimposed transmission, while the software is specially adjusted and finetuned for each vehicle.”

Ceramic Brakes

If you’re a true speed demon, then you’d most likely want to upgrade the RS7 to include ceramic brakes. The large, lightweight calipers help the 2021 RS7 reach a maximum track speed of 190 miles per hour. No Audi RS7 would be complete without the sport exhaust package either. Why not let it rumble?

The Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH summed up the 2021 RS7 quite nicely in a company statement. “RS vehicles have a strong and unique character: spontaneous maximum performance wherever and whenever desired, and effortless performance on long journeys,” said Oliver Hoffman.

“An RS is a true Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde. It is important for every kilometer, no matter how it is driven, to be an experience. This is achieved thanks to the breathtaking design, high-end look and feel, and outstanding quality,” says Oliver Hoffmann, who is also responsible for Technical Development at the Neckarsulm RS vehicle test site.

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Exterior Design Elements of the A7, S7, and RS7

2021 Audi S7 Exterior

The 2020 version of the A7 and S7 already got a few upgrades to the exterior. So, this 2021 model isn’t due for a refresh anytime soon. The 2021 Audi A7, S7, and RS7 have a five-door coupe design with a Sportback exterior.

The 2021 A7 comes with 20-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof top that streams down toward the rear hatch. That sloping fastback roof design has been copied by lots of different automakers, but Audi still rises above the competition with the A7 and S7. The front has a clamshell hood, wide grille, and LED headlights.

The 2021 Audi S7 comes with 21-inch alloy wheels, S model front, and rear bumpers, as well as S model badges. The choices for exterior paint are a bit brighter, a bit bolder than the A7. There’s also a black optic package available for the S7 that upgrades the exterior with a blacked-out body kit and special wheel design.

When it comes to the 2021 RS7, only the hood, roof, front doors, and tailgate are the same as the A7 and S7. Otherwise, the 2021 Audi RS7 strikes its own pose. It has 21-inch wheels, signature RS bumpers, mesh front grille, RS exhaust ports, and gloss black rear diffuser.

The 2021 RS7 takes a wide and low, aggressive stance. If you include the carbon fiber package, the RS7 equips carbon fiber inserts for the front and rear air diffusers. Those large wheel wells also get filled out with 22-inch rims with a polished anthracite finish.

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Audi Tech and Interior Amenities

2021 Audi RS7 interior

The 2021 Audi A7 and S7 models might have a five-door coupe exterior, but the interior is 100% luxury sedan. It has a cascading dashboard resplendent with ash or dark wood trim, leather upholstery, and large digital screens.

The 2021 Audi A7 might not be the first vehicle that comes to mind when you think of family haulers. It’s a performance luxury sedan, but there are some features that a growing family would appreciate. For example, there are 24.9 cubic feet of cargo space and an available wireless charger.

The intuitive tech interface inside the 2021 A7 and S7 simply stands out as one of the best in the automotive world. The base model A7 comes with two touchscreen displays. There’s an 8-inch screen on the upper deck of the center console and another 8-inch touchscreen beneath it. You can upgrade the top deck with a 10-inch navigation system. When you include the 12.3-inch instrument display, the 2021 A7 and S7 have about 30 inches of screen.

The 2021 Audi S7 comes with a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system and heated front seats with S model quilts and stitching. The woodgrain of the A7 is replaced by brushed aluminum or carbon fiber inserts. The S7 has a sporty interior, but it’s no less refined.

For the most part, the 2021 Audi RS7 follows the interior layout of the S7. Of course, there are RS badges and accents in place of the S badges and more color choices with the upholstery, but there isn’t much difference. There is one special touch though – the available black Alcantara headliner in the RS7.

Additional luxury features from Audi come with packages. There’s plenty of upscale amenities available for the right price. You can add ambient lighting, heated rear seats, premium leather on the dashboard and doors, heated steering wheel, and Audi cockpit. The choices go on from there, but you’d have to wade through a number of packages to find the right blend of features for your specific tastes.

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Safety Gear from Audi

The 2021 A7 platform was awarded a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and automatic emergency braking comes standard on all models. Otherwise, you’ll need to jump up to the Premium Plus model on the A7 or add a package for driver-assisted safety features on other models.

The Driver Assistance package has traffic sign recognition, intersection assist, lane assist, and Audi Pre Sense technology for the rear of the vehicle. You can go a step further and add the Audi Side Assist package which throws in a pedestrian warning and Audi Pre Sense for the side of the vehicle, as well. All told, these packages together cost an extra $2,750. That’s not bad for one of the best safety suites on the automotive market.

At the Finish Line

One of the most obvious differences in these Audi Sportback models is the price. The 2021 Audi A7 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $69,200. The 2021 Audi S7 has an MSRP of $84,400. Finally, the 2021 Audi RS7 costs around $114,000.

Those price points are only the beginning. When you equip packages, trims, and options, the price of each one of these vehicles can go up considerably. A maxed-out 2021 Audi RS7 can cost upward of $150,000.

If a six-figure MRSP doesn’t hurt your eyes, then the 2021 RS7 is a supercar in luxury guise. It has the sophistication of a luxury sedan and the athleticism of a racecar. The RS7 is on par with Porsches and has the longevity to stay viable over years of enjoyable use and lots of turns of the odometer.

For the best bargain, the 2021 Audi S7 with additional safety gear and the S Sport package really stretch the value. You get some of the best performance equipment from the RS7, some top safety technology, and the iconic styling of the A7 platform. Sometimes, the middle car takes the trophy.

2020 Volkswagen Arteon: A Detailed Review

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is an impressive premium sedan…when equipped with all the best options. 4Motion all-wheel drive, a panoramic roof, and advanced safety gear are all on the options list, but for a heftier price. Volkswagen is betting that you’ll be distracted by the handsome style of the Arteon. It’s certainly one of the most stylish vehicles to wear the VW badge and a turbo engine with great gas mileage sweetens the pot.

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon has an MSRP of $35,995. There are four model trims available for the new Arteon. The base model is called SE and comes with blind-spot monitoring and LED headlights. The next tier is the SEL. It comes with a panoramic sunroof and a navigation system.

Then, there are R Line versions of the SE and SEL. The R Line SEL Premium model comes with all-wheel drive, a premium sound system, and all the best features from the other models. The 2020 R Line trim adds additional style points to an already upscale sedan. It comes with R Line badges, 20-inch alloy wheels, and special edition bumpers. On the interior, the R Line model gets faux aluminum pedals, a black headliner, and sporty accents around the cabin.

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For more info on the R Line model, check out this amazing video walkthrough of its features

Progressive Good Looks of the 2020 Arteon

Volkswagen is world-renowned for its tame styling. Just look at the VW Jetta and Golf models; they’ve changed very little in recent years and they easily blend into the parking lot. The Arteon is a refreshing departure from the vanilla exterior wraps that Volkswagen has produced before.

It has a well-sculpted exterior that starts with a wide grille in the front fascia. The horizontal lines of the grille lead right into narrow LED headlights. The clamshell hood has athletic lines sweeping up toward the windshield.

From the profile, viewers might have trouble naming this vehicle. That’s because it cuts similar lines as Chevrolet, Nissan, and Honda sedans, which is a good thing for Volkswagen. The wheel wells can accommodate 20-inch wheels and just beg for an aftermarket ground effects kit.

The roofline rides low on the VW Arteon and then slopes down gracefully to merge with the trunk. The Arteon has an available hands-free powerlifting hatch in the back. You just wave your foot under the rear fender and the trunk pops up. That’s an interesting feature on a sedan. Usually, you see this on crossovers, SUVs, and minivans.

Performance Capabilities

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon has a 2.0 Liter TSI turbo engine that produces 268 horsepower and 258-pound feet of torque. It’s managed by an 8-speed automatic gearbox. For an internal combustion (ICE) vehicle, the Arteon gets remarkable gas mileage. The 2020 Arteon gets 22 MPG in urban settings and 29 MPG on the highway.

The 2020 Arteon excels at carving corners. You can adjust the ride quality through the dashboard controls and make the handling a bit sportier. It has a progressive steering system, adaptive chassis dampers, a cross differential system, and available all-wheel drive. Otherwise, the base model just gets a front-wheel-drive setup as standard.

Safety Gear from Volkswagen

The 2020 Arteon from VW comes with some advanced standard safety features. The base model gets outfitted with a rearview camera, pedestrian monitoring, frontal assist braking, and blind-spot warnings. The SEL Premium adds adaptive cruise control to the equipment list.

It’s important to note that most Volkswagen vehicles also come with great warranty and maintenance coverage. The Arteon gets 2 years of cost-free maintenance and 3 years of roadside assistance. You might not need to rely on these services that often because the 2020 VW Arteon received good crash scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Interior Amenities of the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon

The Arteon has an exceptional, sophisticated interior with plenty of technology and creature comforts. It manages to match the futuristic aesthetics of luxury sedans without the price hike that usually comes with it. The trick here is the lack of upscale materials.

The 2020 VW Arteon isn’t outfitted with all the luxurious largess that you’d normally see inside a luxury sedan. For example, the Arteon might not be able to match the 64 color ambient lighting choices of Mercedes-Benz, but Volkswagen equips the Arteon with 3 colors that you can adjust to create different moods.

The rear bench isn’t all that spacious, but you can pack in more cargo than passengers. The trunk of the Arteon has a removable deck cover and the rear seats are 60/40 folding. There are 55 cubic feet of cargo space to play with back there.

The Takeaway

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon has an enticing list of optional features. If you don’t watch your wallet, you’ll leave the dealer paying way more than the sticker price. For example, the front seats can come ventilated with driver massage. The steering wheel can be swapped out for a heated one. The available panoramic sunroof should have come standard, but this sought-after feature went straight to the higher model trims.

After choosing the best options for the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon, the MSRP climbs up considerably. The R Line SEL model equips the Arteon with the best performance, safety, and tech equipment. The adjusted MSRP sits around $48,715.

The hands-free trunk is a statement about the target audience of the Arteon. Sedans aren’t as popular as crossovers, so Volkswagen has placed several crossover features on the Arteon. It’s a smart move. The VW Arteon can easily attract buyers with growing families who need to pile on the mileage.

VW touts the Arteon as a premium sedan, but there’s a glaring lack of luxury trappings inside the cabin. There’s no wood and leather upholstery is reserved for the highest trim level. The center console screen is just average-sized. In truth, the Arteon would make a better bargain family hauler if all the options come standard. For the price, the Arteon will have stiff competition. Regardless, it sets a precedent for Volkswagen and highlights a willingness to think outside the box.

2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Review

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan enters the game of luxury SUVs with the trophy already in the bag. It has the off-roading capabilities of a Land Rover but really departs the field with endless levels of customization. Here’s a closer look at the Rolls-Royce of SUVs – the Cullinan.

Detailed Review of the 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

The Cullinan is the first SUV from Rolls-Royce and establishes the very pinnacle of refinement. It’s a luxury off-road vehicle built from the inside out. It first debuted in 2018, but it’s still building a fanbase. Auto enthusiasts have been whispering about the prospect of a Cullinan for more than five years, aided by perfectly planned sneak peeks being leaked by RR every year.

In a company press release, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös had this to say:

“The super-luxury lifestyle is evolving, and Rolls-Royce is in the lead. Luxury is no longer an urban concept. More and more it is about embracing and experiencing the wider world. Our customers expect to go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly, and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be. For this reason, they have asked us to create a Rolls-Royce that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car. It is Effortless, Everywhere.”

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Distinctive Style of the Cullinan

The first take of the Cullinan’s exterior might draw one to believe that it’s slow or bulky. It has a powerful stance and flat front fascia. It certainly doesn’t look nimble. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan weighs in at an astonishing 6,069 pounds.

The Cullinan has an upright, boxy exterior that looks a bit like the Mercedes-Benz G Wagon or the Land Rover platforms. The Cullinan is 210.3 inches long and 72.3 inches in height. That makes the Cullinan slightly shorter and slightly longer than a Land Rover Defender.

The Cullinan’s appearance provides a blank canvas for a bespoke design. Customers can choose nearly any wheel style, paint job, or exterior feature. So, the Cullinan base model is more like an unmolded block of expensive clay.

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Performance of the 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

The Cullinan is motivated by a 6.8 Liter, V12 engine that produces 563 horsepower and 627-pound feet of torque. The engine in the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the same powertrain from the Phantom and it’s managed by an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s fast enough to travel from zero to 60 in about 5 seconds with a top speed of 151 MPH. It certainly moves its weight well, but the Cullinan SUV gets roughly 18 miles per gallon.

The Cullinan’s driving dynamics hinge largely upon the torque and suspension. All that torque gets shunted to the rear wheels most of the time, but the Cullinan is classed as an all-wheel-drive vehicle. It doesn’t use torque vectoring as one would suspect but instead relies on its own advanced form of all-wheel drive management.

Off-Road Capabilities

The Cullinan can go into an off-road mode with a press of a button. Then, there are six different driving modes to control the vehicle’s traction response. There’s mud, gravel, sand, snow, wet grass, and rough trails. Its air suspension works in concert with adaptive dampers, double-wishbone suspension up front, and a multi-link suspension in the rear.

The airbag suspension works best to control the ride quality, not to challenge it. This is also part of the design philosophy behind the Cullinan – to be impervious to environmental conditions, whatever they may be.

Although Rolls-Royce was very public about its off-road testing, the Cullinan uses regular old hill descent electronic controls and anti-lock braking to handle slopes. The Cullinan can rise to a maximum ground clearance of 7.3 inches and it can ford 12 inches of water.

To showcase the offroad prowess of the RR Cullinan, it was sent around the world with National Geographic. The Cullinan tackled extreme landscapes from sand dunes and rock-encrusted mountains to stony rivers and snow-packed plains. In keeping with brand ethos, the Cullinan appeared to master all of the terrain types in the final challenge effortlessly.

Luxurious Interior of the New Cullinan

Getting inside the Cullinan is a treat as the ride height is lowered to allow for easy access to the interior. Once you get inside, the doors are power closing. The doors open “suicide style” with the rear doors opening from the center of the Cullinan outward on rear hinges. This opens up the entire cabin-like double doors to a luxury penthouse suite.

The Cullinan has a panoramic glass roof that retracts and tilts at the press of a button. Super soft headliner and carpeted floors make shoes optional. The interior of the Cullinan comes with certain luxury trappings like leather upholstery and premium wood trim, but these are just placeholders. Customers are paired with designers from Rolls-Royce to create their own amenities. The options list is extensive.

The rear of the Cullinan is the place to tune out the cold, cruel world. Seating in the rear of the Cullinan can be outfitted with two heated, massaging captain’s chairs or a rear bench that seats three occupants. The rear seats recline with a footrest, retractable worktables, and touchscreens.

The rear cargo compartment can accommodate 68 cubic feet of storage in total. The Cullinan has a glass partition to exclude the cargo compartment and acoustic glass on all the windows. You don’t have to know what your luggage is doing; that’s the driver’s job. The rear hatch has two opening liftgate panels, one above and one below. However, the rear seats fold down to allow occupants to access the trunk for spare blankets, a pair of skis, or to put more golf clubs inside.

Safety Gear of the Cullinan

It’s refreshing to see that the 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is outfitted with some of the latest safety technology. Unlike other luxury SUVs that value performance over safety, the Cullinan leaves no stone unturned. It comes with forward-collision warnings, a surround-view camera system, automatic emergency braking, and driver attention alerts. There’s a heads-up display for the driver and lane departure warnings, too.

Options Galore

There are 44,000 different paint combinations you can choose for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and many other ways to customize the vehicle. The super-luxury automaker specializes in producing truly bespoke vehicles. Customers can manage nearly every aspect of the build-out, even designing the sound system to create their own personal level of audio enjoyment.

The Cullinan is available as part of the Black Badge series, too. It joins the Ghost and Wraith in getting the all-black treatment from Rolls-Royce. There is a bespoke wheel design available as well as yellow leather upholstery with carbon inlays. It’s not all cosmetic. The Cullinan Black Badge edition has increased horsepower and torque. It also gets updates to the drivetrain and chassis for better handling and performance.

Summing it Up

The name Cullinan comes from a 3,000-carat diamond worth $2 billion dollars that was gifted to the British during their colonization of South Africa. It seems that every aspect of the Cullinan SUV is a statement piece, even the name.

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the most expensive SUV on the mainstream market. Before any sort of customization, the Cullinan comes in at $325,000. Even with such a large price tag, the Cullinan presents a daunting challenge for producers of the Range Rover, the DBX, and other luxury SUVs. For the super-wealthy, the 2021 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is unparalleled and exists in its own stratosphere. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan presents owners with an unprecedented challenge – drive or ride. Surely, it will be a pleasure to do both.

Detailed Review of the 2021 Aston Martin DBX

The 2021 Aston Martin DBX dances on the brink between a luxury SUV and a high-revving sports car. The exhaust note is throaty and rumbling, not at all what you’d expect from a luxury SUV, but everything you’d expect from an Aston Martin.

Detailed Review of the Aston Martin DBX

The DBX is the first SUV produced by the British automaker Aston Martin. It’s been teased for a few years now, but the production of the DBX finally began earlier in 2020. The DBX comes at a pivotal moment for Aston Martin, given an abysmal year in sales. The company needed more than half a billion dollars in bailout cash just to stay afloat. Now, the former head of Mercedes-Benz AMG is helming things at Aston Martin, bringing with him design logic from AMG and a fresh set of eyes.

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Sophisticated Style of the DBX

The body of the DBX is composed of bonded and composite aluminum. It’s both lightweight and durable. The front of the DBX features Aston Martin’s trademark six slatted grille with two chrome-tipped airports in the lower paneling. It shares this look with the other Aston Martin DB vehicles.

The DBX has an attractive profile that really sprawls out thanks to its long wheelbase. The roofline floats overhead and tapers at a rear diffuser that creates the illusion of even more length. The DBX profile is dominated by the 22-inch alloy wheels that come standard with Pirelli P Zero tires.

The door handles fit flush against the paneling. The doors themselves are also frameless and feature hidden seals. It has a clamshell hood with two vents running up the length and the rear has two circular exhaust ports. Up top, the DBX has a panoramic sunroof that has a retractable shade on the inside.

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How Fast is the 2021 Aston Martin DBX?

Under the hood, it looks like the DBX’s engine is wearing one of Iron Man’s spare body armor suits. Almost all of the motor is covered, but there’s lots of power underneath. The Aston Martin DBX has a 4.0 Liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 542 horsepower and 516-pound feet of torque. It’s a powertrain lifted straight from the AMG lineup at Mercedes-Benz. It’s managed by a 9-speed automatic transmission that pushes all four wheels.

Is the Aston Martin DBX fast? Well, it travels from zero to 60 in just 4.3 seconds and maxes out at 181 miles per hour. There are six driving modes for the DBX. Drivers can toggle between individual (a custom setting), sport, GT, sport+, and two off-road managers.

The GT mode is for normal cruising and it makes the DBX as tame as a lioness on a leash. Sport+ mode tightens up the steering and throttle response and you’re reminded that this powertrain comes from AMG.

The transmission is based on an electronic shift-by-wire system. There’s a rear electronic rear limited-slip differential and electronic active center transfer case. The DBX has multi-link suspension in the rear and independent double-wishbone fixtures upfront. The DBX also has adaptive air suspension and the ride height can be raised or lowered by about 45 mm. That might not seem like much, but it could matter most for off-road enthusiasts who want to test the DBX’s ruggedness at the expense of its paint job.

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Luxury Interior of the 2021 Aston Martin DBX

The 2021 Aston Martin DBX wouldn’t be a true Aston if the interior didn’t drop your jaw. At first glance, you might notice the plush Alcantara headliner or the copious amounts of leather upholstery that’s been wrapped around nearly every surface. From the speakers to the glovebox, the perforated and stitched leather is everywhere. Aside from the leather, there’s contrasting piano black wood and satin chrome trim.

The steering wheel has a sporty design to match the brushed, satin chrome floor pedals. There are steering wheel-mounted controls, as well. When you compare the DBX with other luxury vehicles from BMW, Tesla, or Jaguar, there does seem to be a superfluousness of buttons and a lack of a screen.

The driver’s instrument panel has a 12-inch display. The center screen is 10.25-inches. The dashboard of the DBX doesn’t have a super large touchscreen display. Instead, it has an oval-shaped central control hub that houses controls for infotainment, navigation, and climate. Beneath the central hub, there’s a second control station. This is also where you find the rotary dial gear shifter.

Unlike most SUVs, the front seats in the Aston Martin DBX have thick bolsters, more like a sports car. Both front and rear seats are heated, but the rear seats have more plush cushioning than the front. There are even fold-out footrests back there.

There are 64 colors of ambient lighting to fit any mood in the DBX. There’s an 800 watt, premium audio system in the DBX with 14 speakers covertly stashed around the cabin. There are 4 USB ports and 3 12v power sockets. Apple CarPlay comes standard, but the DBX doesn’t have Amazon Alexa or Android Auto connectivity.

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Safety Technology from Aston Martin

This isn’t a budget family hauler that comes with loads of built-in safety features. The DBX has a 360 camera that deploys from the vehicle’s rear paneling and parking sensors, but otherwise, there aren’t many advanced safety features. So, forget about lane departure warnings and blind-spot monitoring. You’ve got to use your own wits to drive the DBX.

Options Galore

If you want to customize the DBX, there are several options. You can even test some of them out on the Aston Martin’s website configuring page. The exterior can be outfitted with different wheels and tires. You can paint the brake calipers for added accents and wade through a ton of premium paint colors for the body.

The interior can be customized with three different types of upholstery, one of which features woven wool. If piano black wood trim isn’t your thing, you can choose between seven other veneers including carbon fiber.

There are other functional options that you can add to the DBX. Some of these should have probably come standard, but Aston Martin has placed them aside for a la carte selection. Customers can include a garage door opener, power tailgate with gesture control, a touchpad controller, tow bar, and a park assist system. These tech upgrades would have really sweetened the deal for the DBX, and it’s likely that future versions of the DBX will trickle them out as standard features over time.

Some of the options are downright extravagant. Would you like a leather key holder, leather umbrella sleeve or blanket holder? Or how about a custom dog bed in the back? All of these accessories can be added to the DBX’s build to augment your adventurous lifestyle.

Summing it Up

Aston Martin has managed to make a large SUV that drives like a sports car. That is the true test of the DBX – to fit in with its smaller, nimbler stablemates. It has an MSRP of $179,986 and has an awesome powertrain courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.

Steering is largely dependent on which driving mode you choose, and novice drivers might have a bit of a learning curve with the DBX. Fuel economy is usually an afterthought with sports cars, and that’s a good thing for Aston Martin. The DBX is a large, thirsty vehicle with a combined rating of 19 MPG.

The DBX is a functional sport utility vehicle that can tow up to 5,940 pounds and handle a wading depth of 500 mm. It has a ground clearance of 190 mm, but that can be raised to a maximum ride height of 235 mm. Between the variable torque distribution of the all-wheel-drive system and the air suspension, the DBX is more than capable of getting to and from the campsite.

The DBX lacks a lot of advanced safety gear and technology. It doesn’t come with Android Auto connectivity, an intuitive touchscreen interface, or blind spot warnings. For the price, luxury sports car customers might find those features with competitors. Given that, the 2021 Aston Martin DBX will undoubtedly become the AM flagship and get upgrades over the years. It’s built to last and Aston Martin needs it to do just that.