From the October 2020 print edition
While autumn’s vivid palette paints a pretty reminder that another year is drawing to a close, it’s a time of new beginnings for automakers. Long before 2020 finally shows itself out, a new crop of vehicles will be rolling off the production line – with some already making their way to dealerships now. Among these are several premium sedans and SUVS that fall under the executive rides umbrella. Here are just a few of those highlights.
The Palisade is a full-size luxury SUV with seating for eight, powered by a 291hp, V6 engine. New for 2021, Hyundai adds an even more upscale, top-spec Calligraphy trim featuring standard all-wheel-drive, unique grille and exterior lighting, 20-inch wheels, quilted leather upholstery, suede headliner and perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel. All Palisades now come with standard LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Mid-range models future 10.3-inch display, navigation, Sirius XM radio and semi-autonomous driving aids. Front-wheel drive is standard, with available all-wheel drive on all but base models.
While the current sedan enters its 16th year, the 300 badge was actually introduced in 1955. Chrysler’s rear-wheel-drive sedan may be aged, but has lost none of its swagger. For 2021, it’s offered in only three trim levels, powered by a 292hp, V6 or optional 363hp V8 – both mated to an eight-speed transmission. Standard are 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android auto, but you’ve got to step up to a higher trim to get active safety technology or all-wheel-drive. The big sedan offers plenty of leg room and trunk space coupled with old school good looks.
Lexus NX 300
Lexus’s compact luxury crossover NX 300 returns for its sixth year with only subtle changes. In addition to new low-profile wiper blades and power folding, auto-dimming, reverse tilt mirrors, a brand-new Nori Green Pearl replaces Blue Vortex Metallic on the paint wheel. Blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alert is now standard with Lexus’s Safety System driver safety technology bundle. Available trims include the NX300, NX300 F Sport, NX 300h and a limited edition NX 300h F Sport Black Line. Powertrain choices are a 235hp, four-cylinder with six-speed transmission and the 194hp hybrid mated to a continuously variable transmission.
Toyota’s lovely, yet understated flagship sedan finally adds available all-wheel drive to its list of features. Also new for 2021 is a new Nightshade Edition on sporty XSE models, featuring black 19-inch wheels and black exterior trim. Android Auto joins its connectivity features and hybrid models now have a space-saving, compact battery pack. Powertrains are a 301hp V6 or 215hp hybrid, while Touring models come with adaptive suspension.
Mercedes Benz S-Class
The flagship of the Mercedes sedan lineup, the venerable S-Class has for years been a rolling ode to luxury and success. The latest model aims to build on that legacy with state-of-the-art technology, a roomier, more luxurious interior and innovative new safety features. Highlights include a new active air suspension, rear wheel steering for cornering stability, an enormous OLED touchscreen and a three-dimensional gauge pod. There’s a choice of two powertrains: a 429hp turbocharged six cylinder, or 496hp twin turbo V8, both mated to a nine-speed transmission and standard all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model is slated to arrive later with nearly 100km of range.
Arriving in the spring of 2021, the fully redesigned Outlander is bigger, boasts more advanced technology, and according to Mitsubishi, will be the quietest and best Mitsubishi ever to be sold in Canada. As part of the new Nissan alliance, it will ride on the same platform as the Nissan Rogue. The Outlander PHEV, the world’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, will reportedly offer a more refined electric drive system with greater range and a more powerful engine.
Ford Mustang Mach E
The first Ford designed specifically as an electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach E uses the emotional appeal of its heritage nameplate to help launch this new crossover. With choice of rear- or all-wheel-drive, available hands-free semi-autonomous driving, and up to 480kms of range, the Mustang Mach E is a proper five-seater offering genuine crossover utility. A GT performance-badged model will boast 459hp and can scoot from 0-100km/hr in just over 3.5 seconds. The Mach E comes standard with Ford’s CoPilot360 suite of safety systems, including lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, frontal collision warning and automatic braking. With similar price and performance, it will compete directly with Tesla’s Model Y SUV.
Although rumoured to be discontinued in the near future, Nissan’s flagship Maxima sedan celebrates four decades of production with a new Limited 40th Anniversary Edition, featuring unique badging, red leather seats, 19-inch black alloys, and two-tone paint with black roof. All Maximas come standard with a 300hp V6 and Nissan’s Safety Shield suite of driver assistance tech, including intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, traffic sign recognition, rear view monitor and rear cross traffic alert. Available are heated front and rear seats, panoramic sunroof, upgraded leather, adaptive cruise control and memory settings.
The largest vehicle in Subaru’s lineup, the Ascent is a three-row SUV ideal for four-season family outings. With Subaru’s trademark asymmetrical all-wheel-drive system and 250 horsepower, the Ascent can haul a camper or boat trailer in addition to seven passengers. Optional are blind spot monitoring, heated front seats, wifi hotspot, rear cross traffic alert and power driver’s seat. New for 2021 are LED headlights that turn with the steering wheel and automatic high beams, standard across the lineup.