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Cadillac’s crossover XT5 makes long drives a pleasure

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Traveling light in the tech-heavy luxury crossover

The approximate three-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Diego can stretch to four or more hours, in the wrong conditions, like on a Friday after work, but in the Cadillac XT5 (2019 model starting at $41,695), even the peak of rush hour is comfortable and pleasurable ride.

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As a mother who enjoys carting my family around in a larger car, a crossover like the XT5 is an ideal alternative to a heavier SUV. I haven’t gone off-roading yet on any of my vacations nor my grocery trips or work commute, and don’t plan to, so why pay for the gas consumption and endure the rougher handling of a heavy SUV?

The XT5’s lightweight design and structure make it hundreds of pounds lighter than its competitors in the class with no comprise to body rigidity and crash performance, but with far more agile driving dynamics and fuel economy. There’s also no giving up of power, with the XT5 sporting the same 3.6-liter V6 engine that debuted in the 2017 ATS and CTS sport sedans, and is currently used in the CT6.

For someone like myself who enjoys a luxury ride and loads of technology features to make the ride enjoyable, this vehicle is outfitted with everything a mom and kids could want, and more. Long trips and busy commutes pass by quickly with the diversion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibilities; and as a modern family car, the XT5’s mobile friendliness is evident with storage for both phones and tablets in the center console, with complementing 4G LTE WiFi capabilities and charging ports conveniently accessible in the front and rear seats.

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The entertainment tech aside, the XT5 also has safety features that now I don’t know how I lived without. Cadillac’s patented and industry-leading Rear Camera Mirror system enhances the driver’s rear vision by 300 percent, using a video display applied over the conventional inside rearview mirror. A camera records wider images behind the car, streams the image to video processing software which “removes” obstacles such as the roof, rear pillars and rear seat passengers, projecting an unobstructed view to the display.

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Then there’s always the creature comforts and touches that make “Cadillac” synonymous with quality and luxury, such as the auto-heated steering wheel. Like its luxury sedan brethren, the XT5 has sophisticated design throughout its spacious interior, with modern elegance and craftsmanship. Even the detail of the stitching in the seats and the leather-covered peripherals are painstakingly crafted, with an interior that is assembled with cut-and-sewn wrapped panels, rather than molded surfaces typical of mainstream vehicles.

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Looks is one thing, but comfort is equally considered. Not just for the driver and front passenger but also in the rear, there is extra legroom, and rear seats that recline and adjust forwards and backwards, so even adults riding in back can stretch out. There’s also ample room for luggage.

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So, back to my drive to San Diego, to visit the indelible Hotel Del on Coronado Island. The long drive was a breeze in the XT5, and even stuck in traffic for four hours I didn’t mind, because I was streaming an awesome playlist from Amazon Music, using voice controls to text friends, and I didn’t have to worry about burning my gas allowance, because the XT5 has Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology, which allows the engine to automatically switch to a fuel-saving 4-cylinder mode under low or moderate loads.

The 2019 CT6 V-Sport offers a connective environment, with a sma

Introducing the Morello Red Edition for the CTS V-Sport performa

Cadillac’s Stop/Start technology automatically stop and start the engine when the vehicle is at rest in traffic stops, saving fuel and reducing emissions and noise. As with all Cadillacs, there is a premium on the quiet ride, which is why they engineered the Electronic Precision Shift to reduce noise and vibration.

The 2019 CT6 V-Sport offers a connective environment, with a sma

The only tricky feature of the XT5 was the shifter, which has a button on the side for putting the car in gear. I sat in a parking spot trying to figure this out for at least five minutes before locating the button. While this was frustrating for a few minutes, I considered that this might be a good thing, to deter a curious kid or car thief tried to make a quick getaway. Despite this one hitch, I had no complaints about this fully equipped crossover.

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Four hours after departing LA, we arrived safe and sound at the lovely Hotel Del, rested and relaxed, ready for more rest and relaxation.

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Automobiles

Living large in a Lincoln Navigator, and loving it

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Family Size Matters

By golly, bigger is better, at least when it comes to the Lincoln navigator. I’ve been driving an SUV for the past 11 years, but driving the Navigator was a first-time experience, and a great one — a great, great big one.

I was recently given the opportunity to drive around in a Lincoln Navigator for five days in Los Angeles, and riding in such a large vehicle was at first outside my comfort zone, and then I realized, I actually stepped into a new, enormously comfortable zone.
Getting behind the wheel and looking over the hood from a perspective of what seemed like 10 feet up, I felt powerful.

I know it’s cliché, but I understood instantly why the Paul Bunyan-esque big country boys from my home state of Virginia were so enamored of luxe-size vehicles. The front compartment resembles first-class accommodations in a 747. The large and roomy seats are like lazy boy loungers, complete with a side table with cup holders. Of course, all the wood trim and finishes of lacquer and chrome are of high quality and bespoke materials.

The backseat, or I should say backseats, are equally spacious, and the first row even features its own controls for the stereo system.

The interior of this car hollers comfort, and taken as a whole, the undeniably loud statement this car makes is “power.” Not that this luxury SUV is made for a monster truck rally or racing, but it puts forth through it’s prodigious presence an aura of superiority and strength. This is, I am sure, the allure for many drivers, though in my case, I also was endowed with the feeling of safety.

Driving a car this size made me feel protected on the road. Driving around Los Angeles, occasionally through questionable neighborhood and sidestreets, I felt like no one could touch me, and they wouldn’t dare. I also thought that, heaven for bid, if I got into an accident, I would not be the one who had to worry about being crunched.

This car gave me a feeling of confidence and calm, which is a great feeling for a mom carting around her kids. It may not be totally PC to say, but it was a secure feeling to know that I was the biggest, baddest most intimidating vehicle sitting at the traffic light, and my vehicle was saying to others, “Don’t mess with us.”

Other features that gave me peace of mind about safety including the driving aids like a back up beeper, warning alerts when you drive too close to the curb or the car in front or back when parking, and I appreciated the projection onto the front windshield of navigation directional signs, my current speed, the speed limit, and the time of day, so that I never had to take my eyes off the road.

It’s also a gratifying feeling to drive into a place and get instant respect and attention, like when I pulled into the valet at the H Hotel near LAX, and the valets were tussling over who would get to take my vehicle.

Besides the psychological benefits of driving this vehicle, the amenities are nothing to overlook. You name it, it’s got it. Full-size screen navigation, check. Kick-butt sound system, check. Reclining and fold-down seats that are like a bed, check. The design of this car is all about luxury, comfort and making it easy for the driver to relax and enjoy the ride. The details are also all about providing a VIP experience for everyone, driving or riding, down to the sideboards that automatically slide out from under the car when a door is opened, as soft purple lights illuminate the step and the ground. Is the feeling of someone taking your hand and guiding you as you step down out of the car.

I would be remiss not to mention the actual mechanics and the driver of the car. It should go out without saying, that this car has an engine to match it’s muscular exterior. Though it is a sizable vehicle, the acceleration is quick, so if the mere size of the vehicle alone doesn’t make other drivers let you in when you try to pass, then the speed of it will get you out front, or wherever you need to be.

Needless to say, kids love this car. It is an indoor playground. Kids of all ages, i.e., those in their 20s, 30s and beyond, love this car, because it is a party on wheels. It is easy to see in my mind’s eye a bachelor party, or a bridal shower, or a weekender with the girls or the guys, on-the-go in this vehicle. It’s not just a pleasure to drive, it is a treat to ride in, from any vantage, including the rear third row, which has space behind it for shopping bags, sports gear or a couple carry-ons.

For sure, this is the ultimate road-trip vehicle, loaded with luxury features and prestige to make the ride incredible, with the caveat that you might not want to get out once you reach your destination.

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AutomobilesLifestyleWomen's Interest

Girls’ Auto Clinic guide puts women in the driver’s seat, and under the hood

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Engineer creates women’s car care clinic and guide to help women perform basic car fixes and maintenance

Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide is just the kind of book my father wished I’d had when I got my first car, and second, and third, and so on. Instead of calling him up or bringing my car to my parents’ house every time I had an indicator light come on or I heard a new rattle or thump, I could’ve referred to this book and maybe even have found an easy fix I could do myself.

The guide aims to help women who are not mechanically minded to never feel powerless again by learning to maintain their ride, think like a mechanic and learn the basics so they can get down and dirty under the hood. The sassy and casual tone of the book makes it fun to learn things like what you can and can’t touch, the meaning of all those lights on your dashboard and which ones you can ignore, how to change a flat tire, correctly jumpstart a car, and first aid for your engine if it overheats. Tips also include the signs when it’s time to get a new vehicle.

The book has lots of easy-to-follow instructions with illustrations, tips, tricks and information that the author says every woman must know about her car to make her a confident driver and smart consumer. Banks, the founder of Girls Auto Clinic, worked for 12 years as an engineer and then went back to school to learn auto repair and began leading car care workshops. She now runs an auto repair shop/salon outside Philadelphia staffed by female mechanics. Girls Auto Clinic is published by Simon and Schuster, available on Amazon in paperback for $17.

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