Want a New Car? You’d be Lucky to Get Into These SUV Options


If you’ve driven past any car dealerships lately you’ve certainly noticed the empty lots.

In case you haven’t heard, due to the pandemic-driven work-stoppage-labor shortage-supply-chain-issues, there is an extreme scarcity of microchips used to operate the electronic systems of most modern vehicles, resulting in a nationwide dearth of new cars. Consumers in need of a new ride have two choices, fret about the situation, or take this time to do some research and get ready to buy that new car as soon as production is back online.

So, I put new tires and brakes on my 2005 Lexus RX 330 and I’m crossing my fingers it will last me another year or so while I plan out my next new car purchase. Here are a couple of top contenders that I recently got to try out during a recent trip to Los Angeles and the reasons why I think these vehicles are excellent options.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Big Bend 4×4

The Ford Bronco Sport has a lot of appeal to an active mom with a teen son. There’s lots of cargo space for sports equipment gear, such as tubs full of dirt bike gear, and a slide-out table that can be used as a workbench is a unique addition.

The all-new Bronco Sport enables exciting, high-speed off-road driving thanks to an available 2.0-liter EcoBoost® engine with segment-best horsepower and torque. (Pre-production model pictured.)

As a sometimes late-night shopper, I also really liked the LED floodlights on the liftgate, for illuminating my cargo when I need to unload and for safety around me, as the lighting spread is up to about 130 feet.

Speaking of the liftgate, it reminds me of the traditional sport vehicle liftgates, which is a good thing, as because you don’t need to open the rear hatch just to toss something small inside.

The thoughtful touches and extras on this rugged small SUV made it perfect for our weekend campouts and beach days. The 400-watt inverter is great for powering up the air pump for the inflatable kayak, and the spacious cargo area fits a full-size bike without removing the wheel, along with all our sunshade tent, beach chairs, four backpacks, and more.

While we don’t go off-road much, if we needed it, we had Built Wild capability that Bronco is known for, i.e., G.O.A.T. – “goes over any type of terrain.”

Apart from the hardware comforts, the 8-inch SYNC infotainment system gives my teenage son all the tech that makes him happy, and the plentiful air vents are great for keeping everyone cool no matter where they are sitting.

Lastly, as I am used to driving an older car, I loved the safety features like the Co-Pilot360 Assist, with features like pre-collision assist, automatic emergency braking, and the warning assist system if you drift from your lane. This equipment is a definite must-have for my next vehicle. Pricing for the Big Bend Package with some nice options – $32,840.

2021 Lincoln AWD Reserve Nautilus

And now for something completely luxurious, the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus is my kind of spacious midsize SUV for cruising around Beverly Hills, Malibu and anywhere I want to ride in comfort and make an impression.

I admit I am drawn to the elegance and poshness of a luxury vehicle that is like a spa on wheels. They thought of everything to make you feel comfortable and pampered.

For starters, I love a quiet ride, and this ride exudes calm. Appropriately called Black Ebony, the classic upscale interior design inspires serenity and security. Not to mention you are surrounded by features catering to your every driving need. The 13.2-inch screen SYNC 4 system, with SiriusXM, features voice recognition with internet search, so I could get weather and other information without taking my eyes off the road using a regular speaking voice. I also enjoyed the “piano key” shifter, which made me actually look forward to putting the car into gear.

The front end is powerful yet refined. The profile looked perfectly at home parked in the valet lot alongside a Rolls Royce and a Bently at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

It is a beauty, but the pleasure of this SUV is not all about aesthetics. It performed as powerfully as it presented, with 335 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, which can be hard to experience driving in the city but was like letting the horse out of the barn with no traffic on PCH.  

Safety is always top of mind for me, so I was thrilled with the Co-Pilot360, with its 360-degree camera and front sensing system, along with the Cruise Control with stop-and-go and lane-centered technology, and distance alert, distance indication and evasive steering assist systems. For tight parking, like in the small garage of my Airbnb rental, the Active Park Assist was incredibly helpful.

If you are looking for a driving sanctuary and appreciate attention to detail, the Nautilus lives up to its name of the intricate and meticulous mollusk.

Pricing with the Reserve equipment group 202A package, 2.7L V6 engine, Revel Audio System, 20” black aluminum wheels, monochromatic package, and Mini Space Saver, and 22-position driver seat – $68,340.

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Cadillac’s crossover XT5 makes long drives a pleasure


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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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Living large in a Lincoln Navigator, and loving it


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


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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