Skip to main content

The Lincoln Aviator Black Label is a Serene Setting to Witness California’s Ashen Tears

Having spent a number of years in the Boston area, I’m familiar with gray skies. Sometimes the sun disappears for days or weeks, leaving rain, snow, fog, or otherwise somber scenes to take its place. It wasn’t the cold that eventually drove me back to my home in Southern California – it was the gloom.

California is not without its flaws, but insufficient levels of vitamin D isn’t one of them. Here the sun seems content to dole out its rays in unfair doses while other parts of the world savor a few clear hours during large chunks of the year. We in SoCal take the sunlight for granted, it’s true, and only when we are deprived of its warmth do we show sufficient appreciation.

The last time I saw the unobscured sun, though, was two weeks ago. And no, I didn’t take a flight back to Boston. Wildfires are ravaging parts of California, Washington, and Oregon in ways that startle even lifelong residents. Fire season is nothing new, but it seems to get worse every year. Eight of the 10 biggest fires in California history have burned in the past decade, including this month’s August Complex – our largest on record. As a result, air quality is unhealthy across much of the state, with falling ash blanketing homes, lawns, and cars.

I’m not watching doomsday from behind the wheel of the Lincoln Aviator Black Label, but it’s an ominous scene nonetheless. Unable to trace the outline of clouds through the Aviator’s panoramic sunroof (an ironic name at the moment), the sky appears uniformly dark, as if God spilled a paint bucket.

The sleek Burgundy SUV prowls Orange County with its chrome accents and LED light signatures muted in the haze. A cream-colored leather interior looks, somehow, more sumptuous in the pale light, as if it is acting as a sinless setting to contrast the burning beyond. The 30-way adjustable massaging front seats and a 28-speaker Revel Audio system invite me to a merrier state of mind. The cockpit’s typical clutter of buttons and distracting visuals are subdued, with hidden controls on the steering wheel, piano key gear selectors, and a digital instrument cluster that can suppress all but the most necessary information.

My dulled sense of hearing and feeling via the SUV’s insulated and air-suspended cabin only emphasizes the queer world outside. A quiet yet potent twin-turbo V6 engine ushers the three-row SUV along breathlessly, while adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist correct the errors of my wandering mind inconspicuously.

A small red circle on the horizon is the only clue as to the dwindling day. At least night will cloak the fire for those of us far enough from its blaze. I can only hope the first responders and victims have as serene a refuge as the Lincoln Aviator when their fighting and fleeing are over – and may it be soon.

Miles Branman
Miles Branman developed a passion for cars early on thanks to a neighbor’s collection of rare and exotic vehicles. What…
UAW Strike cripples the Big Three – GM, Ford, and Stellantis productions grinds to halt
UAW members striking

Over 10,000 automotive workers have walked off the job as the United Auto Workers union begins strike action in Detroit. The UAW strike directly concern three of the world's biggest vehicle manufacturers, Ford, GM, and Stellantis - known as "the big three." Unions have christened the action "The Stand Up Strike," calling it "our generation’s answer to the movement that built our union, the Sit-Down Strikes of 1937."

So far, all three companies have offered a 20% pay rise to staff in an attempt to end the strike, but the UAW union has opted to decline that offer. The union organizing the strike has outlined a number of demands, with the main focus centering on a 40% pay increase stretched over four years for all of its 140,000 members. While that pay increase may seem drastic, union bosses claim it is comparable to raises executives have been awarded in recent years. Going forward, the union is demanding pay raises are also tied to inflation, which could see an equally significant increase in workers' pay rates going  forwards if recent inflation trends continue. Other demands include limits on how long staff can be categorized as temporary workers and denied union benefits, and the establishment of a four-day working week.

Read more
The Tesla Cybertruck is still a complete mess, not production-ready (and won’t be any time soon) says Musk
The long wait for the Tesla Cybertruck continues
Tesla Cybertruck parked indoors in front of a black wall with headlights and taillights on.

When it was announced back in 2019, the Tesla Cybertruck promised an awful lot. It was going to have more towing capacity than anything a 7-liter diesel engine could hope to produce. Its windows were bulletproof. Its 0-60 times would put most historic supercars to shame. And it would be all yours for less than $40,000.

Now, four years on and over two years past the original intended production date, many people are wondering what happened. One of those people seems to be Tesla CEO and self-professed Twit Elon Musk.

Read more
BMW, Ford, and Honda team up to solve the biggest problem with EV charging stations
ChargeScape aims to bring clarity to the EV charging network
F-150 Lightning backup power charging

EVs have pushed boundaries in many ways, but infrastructure is still arguably the biggest issue holding the green vehicles back. In a bid to make things a little less confusing for their customers, three automotive giants have teamed up to solve what is arguably the biggest issue with EV charging. BMW, Ford, and Honda recently founded “Chargescape,” a company dedicated to getting automakers, utility companies, and customers on the same page when it comes to EV charging.

The new partnership is aimed at creating a platform customers can use to save money while benefiting the electrical grid as a whole. To put it in simple terms, customers can make savings by charging at “grid friendly” times, allowing power to be drawn from their EV’s batteries during peak hours. All three companies will pool years of cross-industry research in the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform in an effort to make the scheme work.

Read more