These days, vehicle shoppers have tons of choice. There are always great deals, low interest rates, and competitive offerings from half a dozen brands in any category. Customers usually have the luxury of asking “why this one?” When it comes the 2018 GMC Yukon, I don’t have a “one size fits all” answer. But I do have a pretty good answer.
The 2018 GMC Yukon: A New Standard
The value proposition for the 2018 GMC Yukon is based on the fact that you get so much standard equipment. Base models for most vehicles are bereft of quality materials, useful features, and a powertrain worth a few years of monthly payments. But when you buy a 2018 GMC Yukon, you’ll find that comfort, convenience, and performance all come standard.
You want big performance? Try out the 2018 Yukon’s standard 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine with 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque while still getting a respectable 10.7 L/100KM on the highway. Inside, the high benchmark continues for comfort and convenience. You even get a premium Bose nine-speaker system which delivers stunning sound quality even on the highway.
Other remarkable standard features include:
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
4G LTE WiFi
Rainsense automatic wipers
18” bright aluminum wheels
While the standard features are amazing, the fun doesn’t stop there. Upgrading to the 2018 GMC Yukon Denali opens the doors to possibilities previously unconsidered.
2018 Yukon Denali
Denali has always represented the peak of professional grade. A Denali combines GMC’s best features in all categories with a sophisticated flourish. In the 2018 Yukon, it begins with a standard 6.2-liter V8. For your own sake, I hope you don’t encounter a driving scenario that demands more power than you’ll have on tap. While it’s mighty, the power is tempered by sophisticated features like 10-speed automatic transmission, Forward Collision Alert, and Lane Change Alert. Oh, and it looks good, too.
Here’s what GMC has to say about the Yukon Denali’s signature grille, “The horizontal pattern is highlighted with three-dimensional block elements, which were carefully crafted to catch light just the right way, much like a high-end timepiece or sculptural jewelry.” I don’t know what sculptural jewellery is, but I do know that the grille is the perfect complement to the standard 20” bright machined-aluminum wheels. The 2018 GMC Yukon Denali makes an impressive first impression. And the refinement and sophistication carry on into the Yukon Denali’s interior.
Inside, you’ll find a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel; perforated, heated leather seats; and heated second-row seats. And, thanks to Bose’s Active Noise Cancellation, the sounds of the road and wind are entirely deadened. You get a customizable 8” Driver Information Centre as well as a vivid, 8” infotainment screen. GMC has even included a wireless charging dock for your smartphone.
The 2018 Buick Enclave is a big deal. For the new model year, Buick’s full-sized luxury SUV is adopting the design language introduced by the 2017 LaCrosse. The awkward bulk of the 2017 Enclave has been been replaced with a sleek and imposing frame that makes carrying seven passengers more romantic than it has any right to be. And that excellent first impression isn’t let down by anything that follows.
Every 2018 Buick Enclave comes with standard Bose Active Noise Cancellation and Buick QuietTuning.The Noise Cancellation emits negative waves to cancel ambient sound from the engine and road. Buick QuietTuning refers to all of the design techniques Buick uses to make the cabin pristinely silent. Those include features like triple-sealed doors, acoustic-laminated glass, specially tuned suspension, insulated dashboard, and a hydraulic engine mount.
It’s cool to see how far Buick’s designers and engineers have gone to perfect something that many drivers may not even think about. Of course, most drivers don’t care about acoustic lamination. They just want to know their vehicle is quiet – and it is. Even when you’re accelerating on the highway with significant wind, the 2018 Buick Enclave is silent. But it remains a difficult feeling to convey with words. You really have to drive an Enclave for yourself. Once you do, you’ll immediately realise how much passive noise you’ve been tolerating while driving your current vehicle.
Luxury is Standard
The 2018 Enclave is quiet in the industry, too. In the past few years, Buick has been reinventing its lineup, trying to make vehicles that appeal to a younger generation of drivers. To achieve that goal, Buick has employed two strategies. The first, explained above, is design. Modern Buicks are attractive and sophisticated. The second strategy consists of an attempt to offer more standard equipment than equally priced competitors. The amount of standard features available on the 2018 Buick Enclave is amazing. And I’m not talking about floor mats and airbags. I’m talking about genuine luxury features for which the overwhelming majority of automakers charge extra.
Almost all automakers saddle their base models with underpowered, inefficient powertrains. This is not the case with Buick Enclave. Each trim level comes with the 3.6L V6 SIDI VVT engine that offers 310 horsepower and a remarkable fuel economy rating of 11.2 L/100km (city/hwy combined). Inside, the 2018 Enclave, heated seats, a leather steering wheel, OnStar 4G LTE WiFi, tri-zone climate control, an 8” touch screen, and a 4.2” Driver Information Centre display. If that’s not enough standard equipment, you also get:
18” Aluminum wheels
Automatic LED headlamps
Heated power mirrors
Rear Vision Camera
Sirius XM Satellite Radio
2018 Buick Enclave Avenir
If you want you want to further elevate your driving experience, you won’t be disappointed. That’s because 2018 also marks the debut of the Avenir sub-brand. Similar to GMC’s Denali, Avenir signifies the brand’s best luxury, convenience, and performance features. Obviously, that means it comes with All-wheel drive and the 3.6L V6 SIDI VVT engine. But the Enclave Avenir also comes with a unique package of enticing extras.
Included is a unique grille and 20” aluminum wheels. Despite the Black Ice finishes on those items, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, and heated steering wheel will keep you warm. Buick has also included tons of smart features like a wireless charging pad, Surround Vision camera system, and 10-speaker audio. However, the smartest features of all are included in the Avenir’s standard Driver Confidence Package:
The differences between an economy car and a luxury car are fairly obvious. A luxury car has improved performance (larger engine, improved suspension, et c…), a refined interior (premium materials, high-end electronics, et c…), and a high price tag. But distinguishing luxury cars from ultra luxury cars isn’t always so easy. It’s tough to convince buyers to pay $30,000 more for extra horsepower they can’t (legally) get the most out of and marginally softer leather. Consequently, upscale brands end up including some pretty innovative (weird) features to help justify the price difference. But, they don’t always hit the mark, so we’ve made a list of some the worst luxury features available.
BMW: Gentleman Function
Yes, BMW has something called the “Gentleman Function.” It’s a name that’s unsettling for several reasons, the least serious of which being the fact that some women drive BMWs. The feature simply allows the driver to adjust the passenger seat. But it’s hard to think of situations in which that would necessary or welcome. Each official BMW Gentleman receives his own 7-Series monogrammed fedora.
Bentley/Mercedes-Benz: Don’t take luxury for granite
Recently, Bentley found an ingenious use for the great quantity of rocks lying around on this planet: they decided to stick them in the interior. Per Bentley’s marketing team, “This innovative interior finish utilises state-of-the-art stone veneer technology to make a luxurious, contemporary feature of a natural product formed over 200 million years.” If you can ignore the fact that Bentley is taking credit for the formation of the Earth, and that you could use the same argument to sell crusher dust, you won’t hesitate to drop a few hundred thousand dollars for a stone dashboard. But Bentley wasn’t the first automaker to see if people who pay more for some stone.
In 2005, Mercedes-Benz offered a Designo interior package with granite trim. Yeah, granite: like the countertop. Not only is granite notoriously heavy (a property reviled in automotive design), it also provokes a desire to chop carrots. Quite simply, there are a hundred materials I could list off the top of my head that convey a greater sense of sophistication, style, and class than granite.
Rolls Royce: For the Sake of Painstaking Paints
And, coincidentally, most of the materials on that list have been mixed into Rolls Royce’s exterior paints at one time or another. Consider the custom commissioned Phantom built for property investor Stephen Hung. The paint featured a gratuitous layer of 24k gold. Strangely, the rest of the paint was bright red, so it mostly looks… red. It probably goes without saying, you shouldn’t take one of these to your local body shop.
Rolls Royce has also mixed ground-up diamonds into paint used on a Ghost. Obviously, diamond is particularly strange choice considering it’s one of the hardest materials on the earth and that dust particles can leave significant scrapes in a vehicle’s paint. But what do I know? I’m not a paint scientist.
BMW: Gesture Controls
Watch this BMW commercial without rolling your eyes. Yes, it depicts a man removing his hand from the steering wheel audio controls to adjust his stereo volume with a touchless gesture. Smugly, he holds his finger in front of the stereo and made small circles in the air and the volume increases. Sure, it’s kind of cool. Does it solve a problem? No.
Steering wheel-mounted volume controls work perfectly and don’t require a driver to look down. That is crucial during a time in which distracted driving has become as dangerous as impaired driving. Adding weird air gestures also increase the likelihood of software malfunctions and the price of replacement parts. It also makes you look like you’re conducting the A/C Symphony.
Mercedes-Benz: Unnecessary Accessory
Mercedes-Benz is notorious for weird features to help justify their larger cars’ ridiculous price tags. Can I interest you in a $91 coat hanger or a $300 “coolbox” (cooler) for you S-Class Sedan? What about an $8,500 package that includes a refrigerated compartment, folding tables, and champagne flutes? I don’t think your average glass repair shop covers crystal decanter repairs, so be careful back there.
But perhaps the greatest offence perpetrated by Mercedes is the cabin fragrance atomizer with six distinctive scents. Because you can’t hang a pine tree from a thousand dollar rearview mirror, the system uses some sort of dark art to protect your cabin from the odour of the commonalty.You can choose from several scents (which need to be replaced at your local dealership) including Agarwood Mood, Pacific Mood, Nightlight Mood, Freeside Mood, Downtown Mood, and Sports Mood, which sounds like a behavioural disorder made up by a Montessori parent.
Bentley: What’s Your Time Worth?
For Bentley’s new Bentayga SUV, the luxury automaker partnered with watchmaker Breitling to create a custom piece. Instead of a wristwatch accessory, Bentley has placed the design in the dashboard as an analog clock. Traditionally, an analog clock adds a touch of class to a luxury vehicle. But, traditionally, that touch of class doesn’t cost an additional $150,000, the price of Breitling’s creation. Ignoring the fact that it doesn’t look very good, I wonder what depreciation will do to it. When you sell your Bentley, you may have to strip the clock out and set it on your nightstand.
The 2018 Cadillac XT5 is certain to be one of Cadillac’s best-selling vehicles. The demand for capable and stylish crossovers (which the XT5 undoubtedly is) continues to grow. That also means the small SUV market is a crowded field. So, how does this one stand out? Obviously, it’s beautifully styled and remarkably comfortably. I don’t need to elaborate – it’s a Cadillac. But what even diehard Cadillac fans will find surprising is the offering an astounding amount of features that come standard in every XT5.
An eight-speaker Bose audio system is now standard. It includes Bose Active Noise Cancellation that emits negative waves to nullify the sound of the wind, road, and engine. Even on the highway, your music is clear and sharp without dialling up the volume to harmful levels. And you can even upgrade to the Bose Centerpoint audio system with 14 speakers for a concert-like music experience.
But that’s not the only impressive tech that Cadillac has included. A wireless charging pad eliminates the hassle of wires usually associated with smartphone charging. You just set your device on the pad, and it will charge as you drive. Plus, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can control your music and apps with natural voice commands. And with 4G LTE WiFi, you can stay connected on the go with multiple devices. Oh, and all of these features are standard on the base model XT5.
At the risk of offending some buyers, I will say that most choose the XT5 for its style, flexibility, and elevated comfort. In other words, they do not buy the XT5 for its performance. Nevertheless, the 2018 XT5 is a genuine thrill to drive. While an increasing number of manufacturers are starving their crossovers with turbocharged 4-cylinders, it’s nice to see Cadillac offering a standard 3.6L V6 engine. It’s good for 310 horsepower and pairs exceptionally well with the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
Smart & Confident
The 2018 XT5 will offer an available Rear Camera Mirror. Unlike typical rearview mirrors, the Rear Camera Mirror does not simply reflect an image of a vehicle’s rear window. Instead, it uses a camera on the rear of your XT5 to display a live HD image of the road behind you. Why? Because this increases your field of view by roughly 300%. Obstacles like passengers’ heads, headrests, and vehicle pillars are removed from the equation entirely. The result is a much safer and more useful rearview mirror.
If that’s not good enough, you can also add Surround Vision. Surround Vision uses cameras on each side of the vehicle to build an overhead, 360-degree view of your surrounding. It becomes active automatically when you’re driving at low speeds or in reverse. It’s particularly useful for navigating parking lots. While the XT5 is naturally quite agile, it has blind spots like any vehicle, so the extra awareness can’t hurt.
The X(T5) Factor
While Cadillac offers tons of these remarkable available features, it’s frankly going to be difficult to convince buyers not to stick with the standard trim. The base model of the 2018 Cadillac XT5 comes with so many features that other automakers charge extra for (you can even add All-Wheel Drive to the base model). Here is just some of the XT5’s standard equipment.
3.6L V6 direct-injection 310-hp engine and 271 lb.-ft. Torque
8-speed automatic transmission
18″ blade silver painted aluminum wheels
Bose® 8-speaker premium audio system
OnStar® 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi
Rear Vision Camera & Rear Park Assist
Rear power liftgate with memory height
Keyless Access, Passive Entry and Push-Button Start
The 2017 Buick LaCrosse was an unqualified success. It had a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA. The LaCrosse also introduced Buick’s reimagined design language. Notably, the LaCrosse eliminated the round grille and lethargic shoulders of previous versions. The interior was refined, too – from the seats down to the improved Buick IntelliLink software. And it didn’t escape recognition: the 2017 LaCrosse became the first Buick to win a win one of Ward’s Top 10 interiors. But, things are about to get even better with the introduction of the 2018 Buick LaCrosse.
Surprisingly, eAssist light electrification has become the standard form of propulsion for 2018. The base model’s 2.5L, four-cylinder engine will now be bolstered by a small electric motor. The result is 194 horsepower and 187 lb.-ft. of torque. More importantly, the light hybrid setup (Buick has actually avoided calling it a hybrid) will bring some impressive fuel savings. Specifically, Buick estimates the hybrid powertrain will deliver a remarkable 7.8L/100km of combined fuel economy (city/highway).
Drivers can still choose to upgrade to the 3.6L V6 with 310 hp. Seemingly, it’s the perfect amount of power for a mature luxury sedan still harbouring the sporty predilections of youth. Buick has paired the engine with both Auto Stop/Start technology to improve fuel economy and a nine-speed automatic transmission for smooth power delivery. V6 power also allows you to upgrade to dual-clutch AWD.
The 2018 Buick LaCrosse’s interior is defined by new technology. Buick has made it even easier to handle music, applications, and navigation with the new frameless, 8-inch touch screen underpinned by Buick IntelliLink software. You also get a standard OnStar 4G LTE WiFi hotspot for connectivity on the go, and an 8-speaker audio system. Audiophiles can even upgrade to a Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system for a high-fidelity, concert experience. And, combined with standard QuietTuning, you get to shut out the sounds of the road and wind.
Building on the safety acknowledgments from the previous year, Buick has added some impressive safety hardware. A rear vision camera is standard, but that’s not nearly the most exciting feature. Buick offers advanced safety technology divided into two Driver Confidence packages: