Monterey's Stars, the Cadillac Escalade IQ, and the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe - What a Pack!

Cadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinion 7 photos
Photo: Cadillac / Hyundai / Bugatti
Cadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinionCadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinionCadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinionCadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinionCadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinionCadillac Escalade IQ & Santa Fe & Chiron Golden Era opinion
Suppose you are more the outdoorsy type and don't like classic, conference center-confined auto shows. In that case, there are basically two major automotive industry outings that could satisfy every whim and desire - England's Goodwood Festival of Speed and America's Monterey Car Week.
With the Goodwood FoS wrapped and packed for a while, now it's the best time to focus our attention on the Monterey Car Week and all the goodies that precede it. Deployed in California over a matter of ten days starting August 11, this is a string of celebrations jam-packed with events, from legends of the Autobahn to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca, and from The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering to the culmination of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

There is something for everyone, of course, from carbon fiber-clad Shelby Cobras to exotic supercars like the Maserati MCXtrema or hypercars like the Bugatti by Sur Mesure Chiron Super Sport 'Golden Era' that took no less than two years to complete! That gold-and-black work of art features hand-drawn elements all over the body and represents yet another exquisite way of saying goodbye to the W16 era of Bugatti madness.

But I'm not going to talk about Monterey while all of its novelties are still tucked behind the curtain. Instead, let me tell you how this final summer month already feels like we're completely back in action across the automotive industry. And we have just three significant introductions to thank for that. Or to hate them – as not everyone loves work as much as casually surfing the waves or lying out in the sun at the beach. Oh, there I go; my mind wanders off.

Back to the task at hand, August kicked off in the grandest style possible with the introduction of the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser. It's the light-duty version of the J300 Land Cruiser that was presented two summers ago and follows proudly in the footsteps of the J70 lineage that branched out in 1990. The Japanese automaker delivered a show of force as it launched (online) all versions for their respective regions – with the model dubbed Land Cruiser Prado in Australia and parts of Europe, as well as Land Cruiser 250 at home in Japan.

But that doesn't matter much for the regular folk in America, as Toyota is keeping things simple with the 2024 Land Cruiser moniker. Plus, there are just three grades to choose from – including a limited, 5,000-unit First Edition that looks like the well-dressed version of the base Land Cruiser 1958 said to arrive during the early part of 2024 with round LED headlights and a mid-$50k starting price. On the other hand, the regular Land Cruiser is squared like only the J80 models from the 1990s knew how, and all three are motivated by Tacoma's 326-hp hybrid i-Force Max powertrain.

After a few days of slack time when automakers simply waited for the Land Cruiser hype to wind down, a couple of carmakers wanted the red carpet and spotlight all for themselves, just ahead of the tidal wave of novelties brought by the Monterey Car Week 2023. First, Cadillac was brought to New York City and overturned Times Square to reveal the first-ever all-electric Escalade IQ. It's big enough to slot between the regular ICE-powered Escalade and Escalade ESV but also stylish enough to initiate a new design era for the fifth generation.

However, it has less to do with its ICE-powered siblings and more to do with the Chevy Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV, and especially the GMC Hummer EV, plus the latter's SUV version. Luckily, it also boasts some Ultium upgrades and power can reach up to 750 hp, but more importantly, the range will be no less than 450 miles or 724 kilometers thanks to a humongous, 200+ kWh 24-module battery pack. Towing is not an issue, either, given the 8,000-pound rating – which is 3,628 kg. And neither is relaxation because the 2025 Escalade IQ will offer the perks of Super Cruise, dubbed as the automotive industry's "first true hands-free advanced driver assistance system."

Anyway, as much as anyone favors this model for the sleek design that partially hides the mammoth dimensions, it's going to be a hard sell if General Motors keeps the $130k asking price. But then again, they are also selling a $340k Celestiq, so we're not surprised if this will sell because it's 'fashionable' and cool. However, if I had a big family and had to go home with a three-row model this past week, I would probably favor the boxy 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe that just had its (second) unveiling – the official world premiere – in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

And you want to know why? Well, simply because it looks excellent and you can also dress it up like the XRT Concept (no relationship with the Mitsubishi prototype of the same name that previewed the latest Triton/L200 mid-size pickup truck in Asia) if you don't want to be street-savvy in a Calligraphy trim model. Adventurous SUVs are making a comeback because people seem to like them rugged and tough – even if the Santa Fe is, in fact, just another unibody mid-size crossover SUV with two powertrains (178-hp hybrid and 277-hp turbo gasoline). So, in the end, which one is your favorite, the unique Bugatti Chiron, the Land Cruiser, the Escalade IQ, or Santa Fe. And why?

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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