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    Future Features in Today’s SUVs

    By Philip Ruth–

    People I help to buy cars very often have not been in the market for at least five years or so, and many times, they are blown back by the explosion of technology in even the cheapest models. Some have confessed when I’ve followed up after purchase that they still use only a small portion of the available features. 

    I’ve certainly noticed it with the press cars, where “jump in and drive” has been replaced by a thorough pre-flight orientation. Otherwise, you’re cursing at it when underway because you haven’t learned the systems in place. 

    This becomes more of an issue as prices rise and more features are added. This week’s $66,475 Genesis GV80 and $112,465 Cadillac Escalade take two different approaches to technology and the environments they create around it. 

    These are the top trims of each—Platinum for the Escalade and Advanced+ for the GV80. Size is part of the Escalade’s near-$46,000 extra cost, with a full-sized length of 211.9 inches, which is Crown Victoria territory. The GV80 fits in more parking spots with 17.2 fewer inches to manage.

    On other hand, the extra size and nine extra inches in height give the Escalade its familiar authoritative presence, both in the driver’s vantage point and the plutocratic exterior styling. The Escalade is one of the few new cars people recognize at first glance. 

    The Genesis is the opposite, where hints of Bentley and Jaguar combine with the relative newness of the brand’s identity to make it the subject of many curious looks. The GV80 trades the Escalade’s truck-based stateliness with a sport-sedan platform that loses little in the translation to crossover SUV. 

    The tested GV80 sparkled over the road, with a range of drive mode options that took the ride from opulent to fully engaged. While not sporty, the tested air-suspension Escalade is worlds better than its predecessors, with sharp reflexes and a refined ride.  

    Both were equipped with “Level 2” self-driving features: Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Genesis’s Highway Driving Assist II. Cadillac’s goes a bit further by allowing hands-free driving, and both can perform automatic lane changes when the turn-signal lever is flipped. It won’t be long before this tech trickles down the price scale, and here, they’re well-executed and very easy to use. 

    Inside, you’d expect the Cadillac to be ornate and the Genesis to favor subtle European styling, but you’d have it exactly backwards. The tested Escalade “Whisper Beige” interior matches its delicate name with a soft-white look, accented by linen-like fabrics on the doors and console. And here are some words I never thought I’d write: the Escalade’s instrument panel is a thing of beauty, a continuous and gently-curved display that’s perched on a sculpted plank of wood. 

    The Genesis is more extroverted, with diamond-patterned leather and the neat Ergo Motion Seat, which clamps in the side bolsters as speeds rise. 

    As a preview of common future features, these SUVs also deliver their own version of luxury satisfaction. 

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant with an automotive staging service.

    Published on October 7, 2021