09-09-22

5 Best Cars for Winter in Canada

There are many reasons to love winter in Canada, but driving on icy or snow-packed roads may not be one of them. When you need to dig out your car and make it to work after a massive snowstorm, you'll want to have a vehicle you can trust to get the job done. Whether you prefer to drive an all-wheel-drive sedan or a powerhouse pickup truck, there's a winter-friendly vehicle to fit your needs, lifestyle, and budget. Here are five of the best cars you can drive during the winter in Canada.

 

Chevrolet Silverado

It's no secret that pickup trucks typically outperform smaller vehicles in severe winter weather. Chevrolet's flagship truck, the Silverado, can get you where you need to go, even during a severe snowstorm. This powerful truck offers a range of engine options, including a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine designed for optimal performance and maximum efficiency. This engine produces 460 lb-ft of torque and can tow up to 13,300 pounds. With the Silverado's impressive towing capabilities, you can even hook up a snowplow to clear your street after a brutal snowstorm. Choose a Silverado with four-wheel drive for enhanced traction on slippery roads.

The Chevrolet Silverado also comes loaded with advanced safety and driver assistance features to keep you safe on winter roads. New models come standard with Chevy Safety Assist, which includes features such as forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. These features can help improve your visibility and prevent potential collisions while driving in poor conditions.

Subaru Outback

With standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru Outback is a winter-ready SUV. Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system provides optimized traction in snow or rain by evaluating real-time data to deliver power continuously to all four wheels. When one wheel slips, the system automatically transfers power to the wheels with the best grip on the road. Newer Outback models also come standard with 8.7 inches of ground clearance to help you drive in deep snow. You can get most trims with additional features to keep you comfortable in colder weather, including heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.

The Subaru Outback comes equipped with standard safety features to help you drive on winter roads. These features include automatic high-beam assist, lane departure and sway warning, automatic emergency steering, and pre-collision braking. Depending on the Outback you choose, optional safety features may be available, such as blind-spot detection with lane change assist.

Toyota Camry

If you prefer the handling and efficiency of a sedan, get one that can handle winter conditions. The Toyota Camry is a good bet if you choose a model with available all-wheel drive. When the system senses the front wheels slipping, it sends torque to the rear wheels, which helps the car maintain its grip in rain or snow. Newer versions of the Camry offer two impressive engine options, or you can choose a hybrid version with a four-cylinder engine and electric motor, which produce a combined 208 net horsepower.

Other helpful winter features in the Toyota Camry include LED headlights and dual-zone climate control. Some models may come with an available cold weather package, which includes heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated power outside mirrors with blind-spot warning indicators. Newer models come standard with advanced safety features, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high beams. These features can help you feel confident when driving on wintry roads.

Chevrolet Tahoe

For a full-size SUV that can handle snowy roads, choose a Chevrolet Tahoe. New models come with available four-wheel drive to increase the SUV's grip on slippery or uneven roads. The SUV also has several engine options, delivering up to 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The Chevy Tahoe has impressive ground clearance, and on some models, an air ride adaptive suspension can even adjust the SUV's height to increase clearance depending on the road conditions.

The Chevy Tahoe also comes with other features that make it a bit more bearable when you have to leave the house on a chilly winter day. New models come standard with tri-zone automatic climate control and remote start, so you can warm up the car before your trip. Rain-sensing wipers help keep your visibility clear, while LED headlights provide enhanced clarity during difficult conditions. Safety features in the new Chevrolet Tahoe include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, following distance indicator, and automatic high-beam assist.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep has a well-deserved reputation for making cars to withstand tough conditions, and the Grand Cherokee is no exception. The Grand Cherokee comes standard with an off-road capable four-wheel-drive system, providing maximum traction in any weather condition. On newer models, an available traction management system allows you to choose from different modes based on road conditions, including snow. Dual-zone climate control comes standard in newer Grand Cherokee models, and most trims offer heated front seats to keep you warm and comfortable on days when the outside temperatures dip below zero.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee comes loaded with safety and convenience features to protect you on snow-packed roads. Driver assistance features include forward collision warning with active braking, active lane management, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and high-beam assist. Optional safety features that can help you navigate difficult roads include a surround-view camera and night vision with infrared sensors.

Winter is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to purchase a winter-friendly vehicle to get you through the season. Whether you are looking for a Chevrolet Silverado or Tahoe, or one of our used vehicles, at Jim Tubman Chevrolet, we offer a wide selection of new and pre-owned cars, trucks, and SUVs, including many models with all-wheel or four-wheel drive. Browse our online inventory or stop by our dealership for a test drive. If you're not ready for a new car, our service centre can help get your current vehicle ready for a Canadian winter. Give us a call or contact us for more information. We look forward to seeing you soon.

2019 Silverado by Truck Hardware is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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09-01-22

2022 Chevy Silverado vs. 2022 Ford F-150

The competition between Ford and Chevy has been the most prolonged in the auto world. The brands' full-size pickups battle for the annual sales crown. But which of the two should you buy? This 2022 Ford F-150 vs. Chevy Silverado 1500 comparison will give you the answer you seek. Each pickup truck has several configurations ranging from a luxurious family hauler to a no-frills work truck. Once you have identified what feature matters most, you will be ready to choose from one of the two trucks.

 

Pricing

 

The Ford F-150 comes in seven trims of varying body styles and lengths. The MSRP price for the no-frills base model XL starts at $29,640, the XLT starts at $35,750, while the more upscale Lariat trim starts at $45,760. The luxury trims are a bit pricey, with King Ranch starting at $56,230, Platinum at $59,010, and Limited at $73,455.

The 2022 Chevy Silverado comes in an option of Work Truck, Custom, LT, Trail Boss, RST, LTZ, and High Country. The Work Truck (WT) is the base model, and MSRP starts at $31,500. The more luxurious LT starts at $42,600 with RWD or $44,700 with 4WD. At Jim Tubman Chevrolet, we prefer the LT trim with a fancier interior and the customizable option to include a crew cab with a standard length for maximum passenger and cargo space.

Engine and Transmission

The 2022 F-150 has several engine options: a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 with 250-hp; a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with 400-hp; a twin turbo-charged 2.7-liter V-6 with 325-hp; a 5.0-liter V-8 with 400-hp; and a 3.3-liter with 290-hp. All these engines are paired with a 10-speed auto transmission. A hybrid powertrain is also available, which consists of a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 400 horsepower and 10-speed auto transmission.

The Chevy Silverado is available in a turbocharged four-cylinder, a Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six, and two V-8s. Each trim has agile handling, and the brake pedals provide a firm and reassuring grip. If you are looking for a more rugged Silverado, the Trail Boss would be a good choice. It has a 2.0-inch lift and gnarly wheels that make off-roading more accessible and fun.

Fuel Economy and MPG

The Silverado is not fuel efficient, but some of its powertrain options are more efficient than others. The diesel engine, which comes as an option, is the most economical, with up to 23 mpg and 33 mpg for city and highway, respectively. With the AWD, the highway ratings drop to 26 mpg city. The gas-fueled turbo-four AWD is rated at 20 mpg and 22mpg for city and highway, respectively. The 5.3-liter V-8 AWD powertrain is rated at 16 mpg and 22 mpg for city and highway, respectively.

As for the Ford F-150, EPA estimates the turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 to have 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 is rated at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The hybrid trim estimates 25 mpg and 26 mpg on city and highway, respectively.

Towing and Payload Capacity

The F-150's base 3.3-liter V-6 engine has a maximum towing capacity of about 8,200 pounds. Trims with the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 can tow up to 14,000 pounds. If you opt for the 5.0-liter V-8, the maximum towing capacity will be 13,000 pounds. The diesel V-6 can tow up to 12,100 and the hybrid up to 12,700 pounds. The F-15 has a payload capacity that averages between 1,840 and 3,250 pounds.

The Chevy Silverado has a maximum towing capacity of 13,300 pounds. The top towing rate is available with the 6.2-liter V-8 and the diesel engines. The 5.3-liter engine can haul as much as 11,500 pounds, while models with the turbocharged four-cylinder can haul up to 9,500 pounds. The Silverado has a payload ranging between 1,870 and 2,280 pounds.

Interior and Cargo Space

The interior of the F-150 nearly matches the Ram 1500's cabin, especially in the higher-end Limited, Platinum, and King Ranch models. The cabin is covered in quality materials, and there is plenty of storage cubes. Additional convenience features, including a folding gearshift, 14 power outlets, and speakers in the headrests, are included to make things easier for those that use the F-150 as a mobile workspace. Passenger space is sufficient, with the four-door crew cab having the largest space and being more family-friendly. The Ford also has an optional onboard generator that provides up to 7.2 kW of power.

The base models of the Silverado offer only the essentials, including manually adjustable front seats, vinyl seats, manual locks, and windows. The luxury trims starting from the LT trim have a significantly better cabin, thanks to an improved dashboard design with 12.8-inch digital gauge clusters and a large center touch screen. The crew cab can feature an enormous rear seat with ample headroom. The Silverado is a practical vehicle with large storage cubes spread throughout the cabin.

Connectivity and Infotainment

Ford includes an 8.0-inch infotainment display as standard on all models, but there is a 12.0-inch unit that comes as an option. Wi-Fi hotspots, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay are also standard. SiriusXM radio, navigation, and Bang & Olufsen stereo systems are optional. Ford's Sync 4's new software offers weather and traffic updates through the optional navigation system, over-the-air updates for future software releases, and onboard telematics to help in keeping track of the vehicle use and location for fleet customers.

Chevy equips every Silverado with a touch screen infotainment system that supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and mobile hotspot. The physical buttons and knobs make operating the system hassle-free, and the screen responds promptly to touch. The upper trims from LT have enhanced features, including Google-powered voice assistant, wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration.

Ford and Chevy offer a series of trucks that compete favorably against each other. Chevy Silverado provides its customers an advantage with its large display screen, ample storage space, advanced tech features like the Google-powered voice assist, and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the other hand, Ford boasts an enormous towing capacity, fuel economy, and a reasonable price value.

If you are looking for a truck for work or family use, you can trust us at Jim Tubman Chevrolet to offer you the best deal. Our inventory of used and new vehicles has some of the best offers you can find in the market. Visit us or call us today and get to drive your favorite truck.

 

Image by Stefan Rodriguez is licensed with Unsplash License

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08-03-22

2022 Silverado Towing Capacity

One of the benefits of owning a pickup truck is that you can tow heavy items, like cars, boats, and trailers, around with you. However, it's important to get a pickup truck that's capable of handling what you need to tow, as some trucks are stronger than others. If you're interested in making the Chevrolet Silverado your next pickup truck, you may be wondering about its towing capacity. Below, we'll highlight some of the available Silverado configurations along with some other great features that make the Silverado a great option to consider.

Types of 2022 Chevrolet Silverados

Chevrolet produces a few different types of Silverado, which are the Silverado 1500, Silverado 2500HD and the 3500HD. There are a lot of similarities between these models but also some key differences, one of which is the towing capacity. Read below to learn more about the towing capacities of the different Chevrolet Silverados:

2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 Towing Capacity

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes with a few different engine options, which means there are different towing capabilities depending on what you get. The engines include a turbocharged four-cylinder, a Duramax diesel, and two V-8 options. If you want to get the maximum towing capacity, which is 13,300 lbs, you'll need to get either the diesel engine or the 6.2-litre V-8. The 5.3-litre V-8 models can handle up to 11,500 lbs, while the Silverados that have the turbocharged four-cylinder engines can tow up to 9,500 lbs.

2022 Chevy Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD Towing Capacity

The Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD have similar capabilities when it comes to towing. This is largely because they have the same powertrain options. Inside the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD or 3500HD, you can either get:

  • A gas-powered 6.6-litre V-8 engine that produces 410 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque.
  • A diesel 6.6-litre V-8 that produces 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque

If you get the gas-powered powertrain, the Silverado is rated up to 17,400 lbs. For the diesel option, you'll be able to tow up to 36,000 lbs. This is clearly an upgrade over the Silverado 1500 models, but you may not need that much towing capacity, depending on what you typically need to tow.

2022 Chevy Silverado Payload Capacities

Similar to towing capacities, the Chevrolet Silverados each have their own payload capacities. The payload capacity is how much weight you can haul in the truck bed. For the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, expect to be able to haul between 1,870 and 2,280 lbs, depending on which powertrain you get. As for the Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD, the maximum you'll be able to tow is 7,442 lbs.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado Interior Features

Of course, towing capacities are just one thing to consider when deciding which truck to buy. You'll also want to consider the interior features, such as entertainment and safety. Here are some key features you should know about for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500:

Comfort and Convenience Features

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 can come with a wide range of features aimed at making things more comfortable for the driver, depending on which trim you select. Some available options include leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and hands-free driving technology. The front seats are also adjustable in several ways to allow drivers to find the best position, while also providing plenty of space for both driver and passengers alike.

Entertainment Features

At the centre of every Chevrolet Silverado is a touchscreen infotainment system. The size of this screen can vary based on your trim, with more premium models having larger screens. This infotainment system can easily connect to both Apple and Android devices, allowing drivers to stream their favourite music, use their preferred navigation apps, and make hands-free phone calls.

Safety Features

There's a long list of safety features included or available with every version of the Chevrolet Silverado. Some safety features you can get include:

  • Super Cruise — a hands-free driving technology that works while pulling a trailer.
  • Forward collision warning.
  • Automatic emergency braking.
  • Blind-spot monitoring.
  • Rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Lane departure warning.
  • Lane-keeping assist.

You can also upgrade your Chevrolet Silverado with several features that make it easier and safer to tow. For example, there are towing assists that make it easy to line up your truck with a trailer.

How Much Towing Capacity Do You Need?

Which Silverado you ultimately choose will depend on how much towing capacity you need. You don't want to spend extra for towing capacity that you won't use, but at the same time, you want to ensure that you have enough. To help you decide, here are some common trailer weights:

  • Canoe trailer: 300 lbs.
  • Motorcycle trailer: 600 lbs.
  • Fishing boat trailer: 800 lbs.
  • Car trailer: 2,000 lbs.
  • Large boat trailer: 3,500 lbs.
  • Large travel trailer: 6,000 lbs.
  • 5th wheel camper: 10,000 lbs.

Keep in mind that these are only the weights of trailers and that you'll need to factor in the weight of whatever you're loading onto the trailer as well. It's best if you can get a close estimate of exactly what you want to tow before buying a Chevrolet Silverado, but the above estimates can help you calculate this.

Get Your Next Chevrolet Silverado at Jim Tubman Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Silverado has a lot to offer. One of its best features is its towing capacities, which are sure to make many owners happy. If you need a truck that's reliable when it comes to towing and hauling, you'll likely enjoy one of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado models.

To learn more about the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, Jim Tubman Chevrolet of Ottawa is here to help. We can answer any questions you may have, help you pick out a truck that has the right amount of towing capacity, and take you out for a test drive. To get started, please contact us today or check out our latest vehicle specials for additional ways to save. We look forward to helping you find the right pickup truck for your needs.

 

Lurkin by Drew Lindlsey is licensed with Unsplash License

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07-20-22

Chevy Electric Vehicle Lineup: EVs & EUVs

GM has developed a great lineup of EVs for Chevy shoppers to choose from. With the upcoming release of the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV, Chevy has a car, crossover, and truck in its EV repertoire. Do you want to know more about Chevy's EVs and what it's like to own one in Ottawa? Our GM experts here at Jim Tubman Chevrolet have some answers for you.

 

Chevy Electric Vehicle Lineup

There are three electric vehicle options available for Chevy shoppers: the Chevy Bolt EV, the Bolt EUV, and the Silverado EV. The Bolt EV is a sedan, while the Bolt EUV, which stands for electric utility vehicle, is a crossover. The Silverado EV is an all-new version of Chevy's classic full-size pickup.

You can check out these EV options at our Ottawa showroom. We'll be happy to arrange for you to take a test drive in a Bolt EV or EUV so you can get a feel for how it performs on the road before you commit to a purchase. Fill out a form to get in contact with us today!

 

Chevy Bolt EV

The Bolt EV is a five-seater car with plenty of space in both rows for adult passengers. The Bolt is powered by a 65-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor that puts out 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. This power train gives you plenty of acceleration for highway driving, with the Bolt able to move from zero to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds.

At the rear, the Bolt has over 16 cubic feet of cargo space. That's ample room for a large load of groceries or a weekend's worth of luggage. You get cloth seats in the standard setup, but you can upgrade to leather upholstery, along with heated front and rear seats, to create a more luxurious cabin.

The Bolt has a driving range of 259 miles. With a standard 120-volt charger, you can charge the battery at a rate of about 4 miles per hour. This won't be a viable option for most drivers, since it would take several days to fully charge your battery. A more practical alternative is a 240-volt charger, which allows you to fully charge the Bolt's battery in approximately eight hours.

 

Chevy Bolt EUV

The Bolt EUV is slightly longer than the Bolt EV, has more rear-seat legroom, and boasts some different exterior design features. GM brought out Chevy's first-ever electric crossover for the 2022 model year, and it's already proved to be a popular choice.

The Bolt EUV's power train is the same as the Bolt EV's, and it returns the same horsepower and torque numbers. It gets a driving range of 250 miles on a full charge. With a Level 2 240-volt charger, you can fully charge the Bolt EUV in seven to eight hours.

Inside the cabin, you'll have just over 16 cubic feet of storage with the second row of seats in use. With the rear row folded down, you'll have around 56 cubic feet of space, which is among the roomiest cabins in the class.

Several upgrade packages are offered to give you the option of a more upscale cabin. You can add a power-adjustable seat for the driver, heated and ventilated front seats, and leather upholstery. In the higher trims, you can add GM's semi-autonomous driving system, which includes steering, braking, and acceleration along 200,000 miles of highway in Canada and the United States.

 

2024 Chevy Silverado EV

The Silverado EV will start to arrive in dealerships in the spring of 2023. The first configuration is expected to be a Silverado EV WT or work truck, which is aimed primarily at the job site. The Silverado will have a battery pack and electric motor capable of achieving up to 400 miles of driving on a full charge.

The Silverado EV will share some technology with the GMC Hummer EV, which was the first all-electric truck built by GM. The Silverado EV will have a four-door crew cab and four-wheel steering. It's expected to boast a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds, although GM has promised to release a Silverado EV capable of pulling 20,000 pounds in the future.

Shortly after the work truck hits dealership lots, GM will bring out the range-topping RST model. This trim is expected to be packed full of technology and will have a six-figure price tag. It will also pack a powerful punch, with initial reports suggesting that it will put out at least 660 horsepower and 780 pound-feet of torque.

 

The Benefits of Buying an EV

If you're considering buying an EV for the first time, there are many good reasons to do so now. The network of public charging stations in Ottawa and across the country is growing, ensuring that you'll be able to access charging options while you're on the go. Additionally, the cost of installing a 240-volt charger in your home, which allows you to charge a Bolt overnight, has become much more affordable over recent years.

Technology improvements have reduced the price of electric vehicles significantly over recent years. It's no longer the case that you have to pay substantially more for an electric crossover such as the EUV than a traditional gas-powered SUV.

 

Why Shop at Jim Tubman Chevy?

You should make Jim Tubman Chevrolet your No. 1 stop for electric vehicles in Ottawa. In addition to the great range of EVs in our showroom, we can offer competitive auto financing to help fund your purchase and a professional service centre to provide you with regular maintenance. You can also take a look at our new vehicle incentives to make sure you get the best deal for your purchase. And if you decide purchasing an EV outright isn't the right choice for you, there are always our leasing options to consider.

If you have any questions about the Chevy EV lineup, don't hesitate to contact our dealership. Our team of GM experts knows the Bolt and Bolt EUV inside out and is looking forward to the arrival of the first Silverado EV in the coming months. We'd be delighted to assist you in learning more about our auto loan options and help you have a hassle-free buying experience.

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04-11-18

CHEVROLET’S SILVERADO 2500 HD IS ONE SMART TRUCK

Silverado

By Jil McIntosh, Driving.ca - In the world of truck advertising, torque and towing are kings.  It's an all-out war and there are some pretty impressive numbers out there, but there's more to a truck than just pound-feet and how much it can pull.

Those biggest numbers belong to the heavy-duty trucks - three-quarter-ton (2500/250) and one-ton (3500/350) - and I had the Chevrolet Silverado 2500.  The heavy-duty Silverado models, and their mechanically-identical GMC Sierra siblings, start with a 6.0-litre V8 gasoline engine making 360 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque.

My chariot carried the optional Duramax 6.6-L V8 turbodiesel engine, which ups the ante to 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.  It's not a cheap upgrade; the engine is an additional $10,430 and it hooks exclusively to an Allison six-speed automatic transmission, priced separately at $1,445.  The Silverado 2500 starts at $42,070 for the Regular Cab 4x2 in Work Truck trim, while my Crew Cab 4x4 LTZ tester began at $63,065 with gas engine.

Adding the optional diesel engine and transmission, along with such options as a Midnight Edition black-out accent package, power sunroof and Z71 off-road package, brought it to $80,005 before freight and taxes.  In a nutshell, trucks ain't cheap anymore.

An all-new Silverado 1500 half-ton is coming for 2019, completely redone from the tires up.  The new heavy-duty versions usually lag at least a year or two behind, so expect the current-generation 2500 and 3500 to hang in for a while.

The Silverado's 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque slots in between archrivals Ford F-250, with a 6.7L Power Stroke diesel that makes 450 hp and 935 lb-ft of torque, and the Ram 2500, with a 6.7-L Cummins engine that cranks out 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque.  That's about it for your choices in this segment.  Toyota doesn't make a heavy-duty Tundra, while Nissan offers the Titan XD, a truck it says bridges the gap between half- and three-quarter-ton models, and with an available 5.0 L Cummins that makes 555 lb-ft of torque.

As for towing, turn off the TV when the oversized numbers start rolling up.  Tow ratings are a complicated science, and whenever an automaker promises you'll be able to haul an apartment building off its foundation, that's the very top number for specific truck configurations with a specific type of hitch.  It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Buy the truck that best matches your trailer.

I recently towed and hauled with all of the Detroit Three heavy-duty trucks in back-to-back testing, and all of them get the job done without fuss, but I give the nod ahead to the Chevy.  That Duramax-Allison combination is a match made in heaven; acceleration is smooth and linear with a heavy load, and braking is confidence inspiring.  The Silverado's exhaust brake sound is nowhere near as much fun as the Ram's booming hey-good-buddy-we-got-a-convoy blatt, but it does a good job of slowing everything down on deceleration.

All of these big trucks are meant to look intimidating, and the Silverado plays the part with its huge domed hood and squared-off styling (beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but I think the GMC Sierra is better looking).  At the back, GM uses a simple step into the bumper ends that's absolutely brilliant: Put your foot in, grab the handhold in the box side, and pull yourself up (and you need it, because trucks these days are needlessly oversized).  Ford gives you a tailgate-mounted step that works well, but requires you to pull it out and set it up, while Ram offers nothing more than a sliver of rubber-topped bumper when the tailgate's down, and I'm terrified that my toe will slip and my knee will slam into the edge on my way down.

Still, not everything on the Chevy seems as smart as its step.  The front bumper is cut out to provide airflow for the intercooler, but without a protective mesh over it, it looks vulnerable to stones and debris.  Meanwhile, the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank sits lot under the passenger-side rocker, waiting for a driver to bump over a tall curb.  The stock mirrors are also too small for the truck's size.  Why make a fuss over what it can pull, and then expect customers to pay $450 for optional towing mirrors?

The interior is a nice place to be, and the Silverado features supportive seats, a roomy second row with fold-up seats for extra storage, large centre storage console, and controls that are easy to use, even when you're wearing gloves.  And unfortunately you are likely to have them on in this truck.  While it sounds like a needless luxury, heated steering wheels are the new gotta-have-it feature, especially on a truck where the idea, at least in theory, involves some work outdoors in the cold.  The top-trim High Country has one, but not this LTZ tester, and it's a glaring omission on something that costs 80 grand.

Heavy-duty diesels are seldom an impulse buy, but if it's your first one, remember that in addition to the engine's initial stiff cost, it's also more expensive to service.  So ignore the big numbers in the ads and instead consider your needs, and buy appropriately.

Overview: Chevrolet's entry in the tow-and-torque wars

Pros: Impressive engine and transmission combination, simple box step, nice interior

Cons: A few missing items, considering its trim level

Value for money: Good

What I would change: Give it bigger mirrors

How I would spec it: LT trim; it is one step below, but still lots of stuff

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04-11-18

CHEVROLET BOLT EV WINS AJAC 2018 CANADIAN CREEN CAR OF THE YEAR

2018 Chevrolet Bolt

By General Motors of Canada, Toronto - The Chevrolet Bolt was named Overall Winner of the 2018 Canadian Green Car Award.  The Chevrolet Bolt was also named Overall Winner in 2017, marking the first time in the Award's six-year history that a vehicle has won back to back.  The Chevrolet Volt took home the award in 2016, making this the third consecutive win for the brand.

The Bolt EV, winner of this year's Zero Emission category, was selected by a panel of top Canadian automotive journalists from among six category winners as the vehicle that best combines environmental benefits and mass-market appeal.

The Canadian Green Car Awards recognizes vehicles, widely available in Canada, that combine impressive environmental attributes with strong mass-market appeal.  The assessments included criteria, such as fuel consumption, emissions and price, as well as the judges' evaluations of performance, driving experience, value, features and "green" qualities.

QUOTING:

"Chevrolet is honoured to accept the Canadian Green Car Award for the third consecutive year", said Ester Bucci, brand, product and technology communications manager at Chevrolet Canada.  "This award reinforces Chevrolet's commitment to offering an affordable, world-changing vehicle that delivers on the promise of an electric car for the masses.  Chevrolet is dedicated to continued innovation in electrification, that will bring the thrill of driving an electric vehicle to many more Canadians."

2018 BOLT EV BACKGROUND:

Chevrolet is proud to lead the market and sell more plug-in electric vehicles in Canada than any other brand.  The Chevrolet Bolt EV sets the range benchmark for an affordable EV capable of going the distance by delivering up to 383 kilometres on a full charge.  Bolt EV starts at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $44,300 (plus $1,795 freight charge and $100 air conditioning tax).  In Ontario, pricing can be as low as $31,911 after the eligible Ontario provincial incentive of $12,389.

About the Canadian Green Car Award

The Canadian Green Car Award is Canada's premier award recognizing vehicles with the greatest potential for environmental benefits.  The Award is an independent program developed by automotive journalists Eric Novak, Michael Bettencourt and Peter Gorrie, who comprise its steering committee.  The Award recognizes vehicles, widely available in Canada, that offer both impressive environmental attributes and strong mass-market appeal, since any product can have a significant impact only if it sells in large numbers.

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01-25-18

CHEVY’S DIESEL-POWERED EQUINOX IS CERTAINLY EFFICIENT, BUT BE PREPARED FOR SOME STICKER SHOCK

Equinox DieselBy Jil McIntosh, Driving.ca - Diesel engines have been around for more than a century, but North Americans have never really flocked to it for light-duty use the way Europeans have.  That hasn't stopped automakers from trying, though, and with its all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, GM offers an equally-new diesel.

The 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbodiesel is offered alongside two four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engines: a 1.5-L unit making 170 horsepower and a 2.0-L engine producing 252 hp.  The diesel isn't the strongest of the three - its 240 pound-feet of torque sits between the two gas engines - but at a published combined city/highway fuel consumption of 7.4 L/100 kilometes, it's the most efficient.

Those fuel numbers are a big reason many automakers are sticking with diesel, especially a truck-heavy company like GM that needs to off-set thirstier members of the fleet.  As with all current diesels, you have to add diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF, which automatically squirts into the exhaust system to neutralize pollutants.  The company estimates about 8,000 to 9,000 kilometres between refills.  So for most drivers, it'll probably be replenished during the oil change.

The engine is a clean-sheet design, engineered by GM in Italy and built in Hungary, and it's pretty heavy on tech.  The injection system can deliver fuel ridiculously fast - up to 10 times per ignition cycle - for quieter operation, and it has an intake port with a butterfly valve to swirl the air for better combustion.  The timing chain is on the back of the engine to further reduce noise.  I don't know if I'd quite call it a "whisper diesel" as GM does, but it's definitely nothing like the clattery versions of days gone by.

Pricing depends on the trim and driveline.  The Equinox starts at $25,445, which gets you the 1.5-litre gas engine and front-wheel drive; for all-wheel drive, it's $27,845.  The 2.0-L turbo-four runs from $34,020 to $37,445.  The diesel versions are the priciest, starting at $34,120 for front-drive models and at $36,520 for AWD versions, while my Premier Diesel tester was the chart-topper of the entire Equinox range, at $37,945.  Mine was then further equipped with the True North package, which adds such items as a power sunroof, navigation, ventilated seats and such electronic safety nannies as lane keeping and emergency braking, which took it to $41,945.

Overall, this new Equinox is impressive.  I like the size and the styling, and the new cabin is handsome and roomy.  The seats are supportive both front and rear, and the rears fold down easily to provide an almost-flat cargo floor.  There are dials and buttons for most of the controls, so changing the temperature or the radio volume should always be quick and straightforward, and the icons on the infotainment screen are large and simple to use.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and there's an integrated Wi-Fi hot spot that can handle as many as seven devices, but you have to buy a subscription to stay connected once the trial period is up.

The driving experience is a typical commuter vehicle done well.  Handling is predictable, and steering is just light enough to be easy without feeling vague.  The ride is equally smooth and well planted, and you have to hit a pretty big pothole before you start to hear any bumps.  The all-wheel system runs primarily in front-wheel drive until the back wheels need power.  It can be disconnected via a button on the console, ostensibly for better fuel economy, although I'd rather spend whatever small amount of fuel it saves to have that all-wheel drive on tap should the conditions warrant it.

The engine gets the job done, but it's no powerhouse.  Don't expect the torque-rich, low-end power that you'd get out of a diesel-equipped sports model or truck.  For that matter, don't expect it to have superior towing capacity; both the 1.5-L and the diesel are rated for 1,500 pounds, while the 2.0-L can pull 3,500 pounds.

In my week with the diesel Equinox, I averaged 9.7 L/100 kilometres; that's well over the official number, although I'll cut it some slack because it was brutally cold weather.  All engines have an automatic start/stop feature that shuts them off at idle, intended to improve consumption and emissions.  What I really hate is that GM has ditched the over-ride button, so you can't disable this feature if you don't want the engine shutting itself off.

All Equinox models include such safety features as a rear-view camera, a rear-seat reminder, and a Teen Driver program that tattles if young driver's don't wear seatbelts, or if they speed or set off the safety nannies.  Still, forward-collision alert, emergency braking, bird's-eye camera, and lane-keep assist are only available as options on the top-line Premier models.  In a vehicle intended for families, why not offer them across the board?

Offering three engines provides lots of choice, although each has its pros and cons.  The 1.5-L costs the least, but it works hard; the 2.0-L is powerful, but it's the thirstiest and prefers premium gas.  The diesel is efficient, but the most expensive.  Overall, though, for ride, comfort, practicality and good looks, this newest Equinox is a really good machine.

Overview:  An excellent makeover of a practical sport use

Pros:  Quiet ride, comfortable seats, handsome styling

Cons:  Costly diesel option, safety features should be available on lower trims

Value for money:  Good

What I would change:  Let me shut off the idle-stop if I choose

How I would spec it:  The diesel in LT trim

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01-23-18

CHEVY’S NEW CRUZE DIESEL COULD BE THE SALVE FOR THOSE MOURNING THE DEMISE OF VW’S TDIS

Cruze DieselBy Peter Bleakney, Driving.ca - Just when you thought the diesel-powered compact car was dead in the water, GM comes rattling to the rescue.  The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, available in both sedan and hatchback, could very well be a salve for those who mourn the tragic demise of Volkswagen's cruelly deceptive yet otherwise excellent TDIs.

Up until that VW's emissions scandal blew up real good, the diesel-powered Golf and Jetta enjoyed cult status here in Canada, accounting for a sizable percentage of those compact car's sales.  Canucks have a penchant for diesels, and really, what's not to like?  Amazing fuel mileage along with gobs of relaxed torque is hard to dispute.

So, can this diesel Cruze pick up where the compact VWs left off?  Will it ever garner the kind of love and emotion the TDI faithful still harbor in their hearts?  Will it spawn a new crowd, proudly willing to wield their stinky yellow pump handle?

I will say this: after a week in the saddle of the 2018 Cruze Diesel sedan, the on-board computer showed a heart-warming fuel consumption rating of 5.4 L/100 kilometres, and with diesel currently cheaper than regular gasoline, that's a sweet thing.  So yes, this diesel sedan delivers hybrid-baiting economy without the attendant weight and complexity of battery packs, electric motors and mega computing power.

However, pricing is an issue that weighs down the Cruze Diesel.  It's only available in the second-from-top tier LT trim, with the six-speed manual sedan starting at $24,395.  Add another 41,500 for the six-speed automatic in this tester, and that represents a $3,250 hike over the comparable gas models that run with a 1.4-L turbo-four making 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque.

The heart of the matter here is an all-new 1.,6-L turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, with a variable-vane turbocharger, and aluminum block and heads.  This Hungarian-built oil-burner is 20 kilograms lighter and a claimed 68 per cent quieter than the 2.0-L turbodiesel it replaces.  The engine is also available in the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers, so yes, GM seems serious about this diesel business.

While this new diesel's 137 hp might sound a bit paltry, it's the robust 240 lb-ft of torque available from 2,000 rpm that does the talking.  hooked to an excellent nine-speed automatic transmission that expertly slurs the gears while keeping the little oil-burner in the meat of its torque band, the Cruze Diesel never feels flat-footed.  There's always a big slug of torque at the ready to urge you forward from just about any speed.  It certainly feels more fleet than the gasoline car.

In Europe, this engine gets the nickname "fluster-diesel" - fluster is German for whisper.  indeed, once warmed up, it is a civilized unit.  Sure, there's an earnest - some might find it endearing - grumble emanating from under the hood when accelerating, but when cruising, it's as quiet as a church.  And with the necessary down-stream urea-injection exhaust scrubbing, it meets all North American emission regulations.  You'll need to top up the DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) every 8,000 to 10,000 km.

There are a few reasons diesel engines are so much more efficient than gas engines.  Diesel fuel is more energy-dense, containing about ten per cent more bang-power per litre.  Additionally, parasitic pumping losses are reduced in a diesel engine because engine speed is dictated by fuel supply; it doesn't have to work to suck air through a restrictive opening (the "throttle", get it?)  And finally, the super high-compression ratio, needed to ignite the fuel because there are no spark plugs, contributes to more efficient combustion.

As for the higher price compared to gas-powered vehicles, chalk that up to robust construction and the extremely precise, high-pressure fuel-delivery systems.

In all other aspects, the Cruze Diesel lines up with the gas model.  It's an agreeable compact sedan with fine road manners that lean more toward comfort than sport.  however, its numb on-centre steering feel won't win over any Volkswagen fans.  Likewise, the interior quality trails the VW's, but you can say that about most competitors in this segment.

In the plus ledger, the Cruze's ergonomics are good in LT trim with an intuitive, seven-inch touch screen-based MyLink infotainment system featuring Bluetooth, USB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus SiriusXM satellite radio.  you also get six months of free, full-service OnStar that spoils with turn-by-turn GPS navigation, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot-spot connectivity, and more.

This tester had the $3,200 True North Edition Package that adds leather seating, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot and lane-change alerts, rear park assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a sunroof, ambient lighting, a colour screen in the gauge cluster, a pretty decent nine-speaker Bose audio system, and the touch screen is bumped up in size to eight inches.  spicing up the exterior is the RS body package ($795) and Cajun red paint ($595).

All in, we're looking at a pretty pricey Cruze; just north of $30,000 before freight and taxes.  I would also posit it is the best-driving Cruze, because the 1.6-L turbodiesel and the slick nine-speed transmission give this little sedan a relaxed, V6-like urge from step-off to highway cruise.

There's no arguing its parsimonious fuel sippage.  One could, however, argue-with the financial hit this 'fluster-diesel" inflicts on the Cruze's bottom line.  Justifying the cost would require driving it around the globe a few times.  We will accept fanatical, flag-waving, diesel enthusiasm as well.

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01-23-18

THIS ALL-NEW SUV PACKS SOPHISTICATED TECH IN A MORE ‘MASCULINE’ PACKAGE

2018 TraverseBy Jil McIntosh, Driving.ca - My Chevy traverse has a rattle in it.  It's a brand-new vehicle and it shouldn't have a rattle, but there it is.  Over a rutted road, there's an annoying, plasticky, nasty rattle that won't go away.  I touch parts and panels, trying to figure out what's making the noise.  And after all that, it turns out to be a loose cap on my water bottle.

I remember when SUVs were just trucky boxes of noise on wheels.  They've all been getting more car-like for quite a while, but it's still impressive when one's quiet enough inside that I can hear a wobbly lid.

The Traverse is all new for 2018, starting with a stiff new platform that gives it a comfortable and - as I discovered - very quiet ride.  The vehicle's overall length remains virtually the same from the last-generation model, but the wheelbase is longer, which provides more interior space.  The third-row cushions are still uncomfortably hard and flat, but there's now enough legroom there for most adults, and of course children will love being back there.  There's also an impressive amount of cargo space, even when the back seats are up, which is often a weak point for many three-row vehicles.

Naturally, the styling also morphs with this new model, with a more angular design that gives it a bigger-than-it-is look that GM's rep described as "more masculine" (although I'm not quite sure what made the last one apparently more feminine-looking).  in any case, it's a handsome beast.  The large windows provide good visibility, and while slightly bigger mirrors would improve that even more, all models come with a standard rear-view camera, and mid-level trims and up add a 360-degree view.

The new 3.6-litre V6 engine is the usual more-power-less-fuel improvement over the old Traverse, making 310 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.  Eventually it will be joined by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, which will come solely in the new RS trim level, and only in front-wheel drive.  It's mostly aimed at urban drivers who don't want a bigger engine, although the fuel savings will be minimal.  The V6 with FWD is rated at a combined city-highway rating of 11.0 L/100 km, the four-cylinder at 10.5.  Even the all-wheel V6 isn't that huge a jump over the front-wheel model, with a combined rating of 11.8 L/100 km.

The V6 Traverse comes in five trim levels, starting at $34,895 for the LS and climbing to an eye-watering $58,495 for the top-line High Country.  The two lowest levels come in FWD or AWD, while everything else is all-wheel.  Even so, the all-wheel can be switched into front-wheel only through a dial on the console.  I'd leave it in all-wheel anyway, because the Traverse runs primarily in front-wheel, but distributes power to the back whenever needed to maintain traction, giving peace of mind with a very small difference in fuel economy.

The High Country exclusively includes a more sophisticated all-wheel system with torque  vectoring, which gives it more stability on sharp curves.  It may eventually find its way into lower trims, but for now it's kept at the higher level primarily because it's a costlier system to build.

There's a lot of technology in this new model, but one feature that grabbed my attention is a program in the electric power steering.  Turning the steering wheel the right way in a skid can help get you safely back on track.  if the Traverse detects it's going sideways, it will make the wheel easier to turn in the correct direction, and harder if your wrong move will make the skid worse.

The V6 is a smooth performer, as is the nine-speed transmission that's mated to it.  It includes start-stop, which shuts the engine off at idle to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, but while most manufacturers give you the option of temporarily disabling it, GM doesn't.  I much prefer having the choice.

My noise bottle cap aside, the traverse is a pleasant driver.  It feels smaller than it is, helped by the responsive steering and tight turning radius.  The seats are supportive, both on the leather- clad High Country and cloth-upholstered LT trim levels that I drove.

The wide centre console makes the front foot wells a bit tight, but there's good legroom for second-row passengers.  One middle seat can be slid forward while upright, so a child seat can remain in place while providing third-row access, and it's a relatively wide opening to get back there.

Connectivity is the big deal these days, and all models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, seven- or eight-inch infotainment screen, Wi-Fi hot spot and a rear-seat reminder lest a child be forgotten back there.  The screen itself slides up to reveal a hidden storage cubby, and you can set a PIN to lock it.

Canadians have consistently been buying more SUVs than cars, and so automakers have been putting their efforts into making their people-movers better.  There are a few minor flaws, but overall, this Traverse revamp is pretty impressive.  It's roomy, it looks good, and it drives well, and that's what most people prioritize in a family vehicle.  Just be sure to secure all drink-container lids before driving.

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01-10-18

THIS HIGH-PERFORMANCE SPECIAL EDITION IS THE MOST POWERFUL TAHOE EVER

2018 tahoeBy Lesley Wimbush, Driving.ca - Enormous size, stump-pulling power and comfortable trappings used to be enough for fans of these rolling behemoths.  Who knew that a full-size SUV that sprints from 0-to-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds while still maintaining the ability to tow up to 8,400 pounds was what they really wanted?

Introduced at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, the Chevrolet Tahoe RST - which stands for Rally Sport Truck - starts with an appearance package and builds all the way up to a bad-ass performance truck with powertrain and suspension components borrowed from the Camaro ZL1.

With 49.3 per cent of the market share, the full-size SUV segment is an important market for GM: one out of every two sold is either a Tahoe or Suburban.  A three-row, eight-passenger, body-on-frame vehicle available in either rear- or all-wheel drive, the Tahoe competes against the Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia, sister vehicle GMC Yukon and its biggest rival, the Ford Expedition.  Tahoe sales are nearly double that of the Expedition's in the U.S., but in Canada it trails the Ford by a few hundred vehicles.  While the rest of the segment is powered by big V8 engines, the Expedition has a twin-turbo V6, and near-premium luxury features.

For 2017, the Tahoe lineup received more equipment and interior features, and a Premier model to replace the LTZ as the top trim level.  New standard equipment includes the Teen Driver System (allowing parents to monitor their youngster's driving habits), back-seat reminder, active grille shutters and an updated MyLink infotainment system.  The options list was also expanded, with an upgraded rear entertainment system, more USB ports, automated emergency braking, the illuminated bow-tie grille emblem from its pickup siblings, new 22-inch rims and a Midnight Edition appearance package.

And now the most powerful Tahoe ever: the RST.

While the base RST starts as a dechromed appearance package available on mid-level LT trims, retaining the standard 5.3-L V8 and six-speed powertrain and adding blacked-out grille and 22-inch rims, the top-spec Premier model can add the 6.2-L Performance Package, available on both rear- and all-wheel-drive Tahoes.  The package consists of the L86 6.2L V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque mated to the same 10-speed automatic transmission found in the Camaro ZL1.  Available are six-piston Brembo brakes, and the Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension system, which can assess road conditions and respond within milliseconds.

A 30-mile loop of not-very-inspiring Fort Worth suburban landscape is all we've got to evaluate our fully loaded Tahoe RST.  There's no RST badging anywhere on the vehicle: a glimpse of red Brembo calipers peeping from behind the spokes of the blacked out, 22-inch wheels, and two steely black tips from the optional Borla exhaust (which reportedly offers a 28 per cent improvement in flow) are the biggest visual clues.

Inside is a low-key leather interior: functional, comfortable but not particularly memorable.  There are other colours available that are more striking than our tester's black.  The infotainment screen is somewhat small in these days of panoramic display.

Seating is comfy, with room for seven or eight, depending on whether you opt for a second-row bench or available captain's chairs.  Our tester features the optional power release that easily drops the second-row seat for easier access to the third row, a rather cramped but admittedly useful space.  In all, there is a maximum of 2,681L of cargo space.

Despite its bulk, the Tahoe has very good road manners.  It is quiet and composed over bumps, without allowing any disturbances to enter the cabin.  It's fairly quiet until you tromp the gas pedal, when the small-block EcoTec3 V8 roars to life and the Borla exhaust answers with a deep-throated rumble.  This is the first time this engine has been available in the Tahoe, and if it doesn't quite offer Corvette-style performance, it does move the nearly 6,000-lb (2,720-kg) vehicle along with surprising swiftness.

We weren't able to confirm the sub-six second 0-to-100 km/hr sprint time, but suffice it to say the RST is pretty quick.

The Brembo brakes do a great job of reining it back in.  Once off the freeway, we travelled over some rather ratty pavement.  Although the big rims were wrapped in performance rubber, the suspension absorbed most of it without any harshness, yet at the same time the vehicle felt nicely planted without exhibiting any wallow.

Our U.S.-spec vehicles were rated at 17 mpg city/22 highway (13.8L/100 km city/10.7 highway) but featured active cylinder management, shutting down half the cylinders when not under heavy load and effectively converting it into a more efficient four-cylinder.

So, is there really a demand for such a special-edition, high-performance utility vehicle?  Well, in addition to the Tahoe RST we just tested, and its sibling the Suburban RST, Mercedes has been relentlessly churning out new AMG-badged crossovers, Chrysler has a 700-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powered by a Hellicat engine, and its new Dodge Durango boasts 475 hp, launch control - and a towing capacity of 8,600 lbs.  Suddenly the Tahoe RST sounds almost reasonable.

Available now in Canadian dealerships, the 2018 Tahoe starts at $64,045 for the LT 2WD, $67,345 for LT 4WD and $75,070 for the Premier 4WD ($1,795 destination/freight charge included).  The RST appearance package is $2,995.  The RST 6.2-L Performance Package is an additional $3,395, for a total of $6,390.  Add $4,130 for the Brembo Brake Package, and $1,620 for the Borla Exhaust.

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12-21-17

NEXT-GEN SILVERADO REVEALED AT CHEVY TRUCK CENTENNIAL EVENT

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SilveradoBy General Motors Canada - The past and future met today with the introduction of the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado, at an event celebrating the first 100 years of Chevy Trucks.  Many guests in attendance were some of the brand's most passionate fans and owners.

"Our owners' passion for the Chevrolet trucks is truly humbling," said Alan Batey, president, of GM North America, and global head of Chevrolet.  "Many of our owners depend on their trucks for work and play, personalize their trucks in astonishing ways and pass their loyalty for Chevy Trucks down from generation to generation.

"For the Chevy Truck Centennial, we wanted to recognize the customers who have made Chevrolet part of their lives, and have them help kick off the next 100 years of Chevy Trucks."

The 2019 Silverado 1500 is all new from the ground up and leverages Chevrolet's experience building more than 85 million dependable, long-lasting pickups.  It also reflects feedback from more than 7,000 people on what they wanted in their next truck, the most customer research in the company's history.

The 2019 Silverado's strong, modern design advances Chevrolet's history of industry-leading pickup design.  It's a legacy built on decades of experience with models such as the Advance Design trucks of the 1950s and the C/K series of the 1960s.  Those trucks set the standard for pickup design in their eras, and currently are some of the most coveted vintage trucks on the market.  The next-generation Silverado is poised to change the face of trucks again, with a breakthrough design that is unmistakably Chevrolet.

The new Silverado also delivers improved capability and performance.  For example, a higher-grade alloy is used in the roll-formed, high-strength-steel bed floor, contributing to a bed that is more functional and lighter weight.  This use of mixed materials and advanced manufacturing is evident throughout the Silverado, resulting in a significant reduction in total vehicle weight and improved performance in many measures.

As no two truck customers are alike, the next-gen Silverado will offer an expanded range of models, more engine/transmission combinations, and more technology and convenience features to help customers with their ideal truck.

The new Silverado LT Trailboss is one of eight 2019 Silverado models.  It integrates the off-road equipment of the Z71 package as well as a two-inch suspension lift.  Unlike aftermarket lift kits, the Trailboss suspension is fully tested, validated and warrantied by Chevrolet.

The 2019 Silverado will make its public debut in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, exactly 100 years after the first Chevrolet trucks were delivered to customers.

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2018 EquinoxBy Brian Harper, Driving.ca - Yes, General Motors is a King Kong-sized global manufacturer, and its Chevrolet brand as American as baseball, apple pie and all that other stuff, but the Equinox is still built in Ontario - at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll - so I look beyond any obvious flaws in my argument to consider the crossover to be at least quasi-Canadian and, therefore, worth rooting for.  (And, yes, I maintain a certain amount of pride for all vehicles assembled in our nation, regardless of the automaker's origin.)

It's not as though this particular Chevy is an underdog; though it isn't the top seller in the ultracompetitive compact crossover segment - that would currently be the also-built-in-Ontario Toyota RAV4 - it is definitely a player.  Within the Chevy model range, the Equinox is the third in sales in Canada, behind the Silverado pickup and Cruze sedan/hatchback.  And it will likely surpass the Cruze within a few months.

The 2018 model year sees a new, third-generation version, one that sheds a considerable amount of weight - about 180 kilograms - to become leaner and more responsive in comparison with the previous model.  But, more importantly, the new Equinox sets aside its traditional engine lineup - normally aspirated four-cylinders and V6s - for a trio of turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains, including a diesel.

There are LS, LT and Premier trim levels to choose from; the tester was a high-level Premier 1LZ with the base 1.5-litre turbo four and a six-speed automatic transmission.  Putting out a reasonable 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, the small four is impressively smooth and lively, not just when puttering about town, but also on the highway.  For comparison, the same-sized engine in the Honda CR-V delivers 190 hp but only 179 lb-ft of torque.  Oh, it's not going to win any stoplight drag races (zero to 100 km/h in about 9.5 seconds(, but the all-wheel-drive Equinox tips the scales at a trim 1,605 kg, so it's not overly burdened, feeling quite nimble when turning corners and such.  Plus, the AWD system is disconnected from the rear axle when not in use, improving efficiency.

Initially, though, I felt that were the Equinox to be loaded up with people and luggage - or perhaps towing a small trailer - ticking the box for the 2.0-L turbo (with a far more substantial 252 hp/260 lb-ft, plus a nine-speed automatic) or the 136-hp 1.6-L diesel (236 lb-ft) would be more prudent.  Yet, after putting some 700 km on the odometer with a quick trip to visit friends, I might reconsider.  The crossover handled four adults aboard without missing a beat, and delivered a parsimonious 7.8 L per 100 km - primarily at highway speeds - fuel economy to boot.  Unless you get aggressive on the throttle, the six-speed shifts up early to promote efficiency.  Mind you, southwest Ontario is mostly pancake-flat terrain; the 2.0 L or diesel would probably be a better bet if higher elevations or more varied topography was involved.

Though decidedly fresher in appearance than its doughy predecessor, the new Equinox still blends in with the bulk of the models in the compact crossover segment, rather than standing out.  Design cues for the vehicle came from the aerodynamically shaped Cruze, Malibu and Volt, stalwart Chevy models all, but not known for their drop-dead gorgeous exteriors.  Chevrolet debuted a particularly striking crossover concept called the FNR-X at the Shanghai Auto Show in April; the new Equinox would have made much more of a statement if it had borrowed some of the concept's styling.

But whatever disappointment there might be with its outward appearance - and I will be the first to say that looks are purely subjective - was mitigated by the Equinox's bright and cheerful cabin, highlighted by the tester's two-tone black and tan seats and dash area.  However, the dashboard itself was not the better soft-touch plastic, which, considering the crossover's nearly $39,000 price tag, smacked of unnecessary cost cutting.

The instrument cluster is first rate, with a configurable information display front and centre.  The same goes for the eight-inch centre console touch screen, with clearly marked icons for a variety of functions.  These include the latest connectivity technologies, such as MyLink infotainment systems designed to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as an available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.

Heated seats and a remote starter are standard on all trims.  The Premier is highly contented and includes such features as dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, power windows, door locks and liftgate, power heated outside mirrors, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-zone alert and rear-view camera.

As for cargo capacity, the Chevy's "kneeling" rear seats - the bottom cushions tilt forward when the split-folding seatbacks are lowered - enables a flat rear load floor for easy loading and up to 1,798 L of space, including 846L behind the back seat.

There's much to like about the redesigned Equinox: fuel efficiency, and impressively smooth ride, good handling characteristics, up-level interior and competitive pricing.  Still, the compact segment is crazy competitive, and the Chevy has to contend with something like 16 rivals, including such heavyweights as the RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape.  Whether the Chevy can elevate its status is up for debate, though it's not for a lack of trying.  The 1.5-L engine might not be to everyone's tastes, but the Equinox's ace in the hole is the fact that there are alternatives.

Overview:  Five-passenger compact crossover

Pros:  Roomy for its size, multiple engine choices, made in Canada

Cons:  Mainstream styling, AWD must be engaged

Value for money:  Good

What I would change:  AWD should activate automatically

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07-20-17

CORVETTE OWNERS INVITED TO RALLY

David Purdy CorvetteDavid Purdy's Corvette has a new decal for this weekend's Cannonball Rally.
The event will run over the weekend and features three different tiers of
difficulty, ranging from 500 miles to 2,500 miles.

By Michael Chen, The Nugget - Organizer David Purdy wants to make one thing clear about this weekend's inaugural Cannonball Corvette Rally.

"It's not a race.  It's about having fun, getting your car out of the garage," says Purdy, who is president of Bobcaygeon-based web development company Turn Key Web Solutions.

"The one thing I don't enjoy is going to a hot parking lot and standing around all day with my car."

The event features different tiers of racing ranging from a "light edition" 500-mile rally on Saturday to a 2,500-mile rally that runs from Tuesday to Saturday.  The event has different routes for Northern and Southern Ontario, with the 500-mile Northern route ranging from Bobcaygeon to Bancroft, with a stop in North Bay.  The 1000-mile route goes as far as Pickering.

Purdy has previously organized more than 80 motorcycle rides under the Cannonball Ride banner.  "I do all the layout, I do all the legwork.  It's just about finding like-minded people who actually enjoy getting out and driving," he says, adding that his motorcycle rides now average 8,000 to 10,000 riders per event.  "My plan next year is to have eight car rallies coming out weekend after weekend."

For Purdy, these events are an outlet for him to pursue his own passions.  "I'm not about making money.  It's just about going out and having some fun because, if I didn't do it, it wouldn't happen," he says.  "If someone else had done it, I wouldn't need to do it!"

Purdy says the free rally will require drivers to stop at various car dealerships to pick up business cards.  Participants start from the closest dealership to their home and end when they arrive back home with all the cards.

Purdy expects anywhere from 300 to 500 cars at the event.

 

Find out more at www.cannon-ballcorvetterally.ca

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06-22-17

DEDICATED OFF-ROADER DOESN’T GIVE UP MANY MANNERS FOR THE ASPHALT

Colorado

By Costa Mouzouris, Driving.ca - The engineers at Chevrolet are a sneaky bunch.  They needed an excuse to get out of the office and have some off-road fun, so they conceived a plan that allowed them to participate in several off-road rallies across the U.S., and on the company's dime, no less.  They disguised these thinly veiled recreational diversions as "engineering tests" and headed out to renowned off-road parks and trails across the States, where they proceeded to cross deserts, climb rocks, wade through deep mud, plow through sand dunes and snake along tight, technical trails.  Their excuse was the 2017 Colorado ZR2.

These tests were done in conjunction with Multimatic, the automotive engineering firm based in Markham, Ontario, which helped develop the ZR2's suspension components, and it's the resulting DSSV (Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve) suspension that contributes significantly to the ZR2's off-road ability.

Perhaps best known lately for manufacturing the Ford GT, Multimatic also builds suspension dampers mostly for motorsports applications, which can be found in cars competing in Formula One, DTM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indy Lights, and the list goes on.  Chevy's first collaboration with Multimatic came with the 2014 Camaro Z/28.

Peek under the ZR2's fenders and you'll see blue and gold anodized, aluminum-bodied shock absorbers that resemble premium aftermarket items rather than OEM parts.  These shocks incorporate Multimatic's DSSV damping technology, which features position-sensitive damping that varies the damping rate depending on how far the wheels travel, while external reservoirs enhance cooling.  Barring any external damage, the shocks are designed to last the life of the vehicle.

You can't just bolt on a set of Multimatics to a regular Colorado though, because new control arms provide more wheel travel.  Wheel track has also been widened by 8.8 centimetres, while ride height has increased by 5 cm.

Other off-road-enhancing features include electrically locking differentials, 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac tires on 17-inch wheels and an abundant application of skid plates to protect the undercarriage.  The added off-road equipment has dropped payload by about 300 to 1,100 pounds (135 to 500 kilograms), while towing capacity is 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg).

Visually the ZR2's most striking feature is the front bumper, which has cut-outs that expose the front tires, giving the pickup an aggressive stance, while providing additional clearance when rock climbing.

Powertrains are shared with other Colorado models (except the base 2.5-litre gasoline four).  The standard engine in the $44,215US ZR2 is the 3.6-L V6 that claims 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic.  For an additional $4,090US, you can get the 2.8-L turbodiesel four, which claims 181 hp and 369 lb-ft and powers the wheels through a six-speed auto.  Initial numbers put combined fuel consumption at 13 L/100 km for the gasoline engine and 10.7 L for the diesel.

Despite the added ride height, it's easy to climb into the cab, where you'll find the familiar Colorado cockpit, the biggest difference being the added buttons in the centre stack that lock the differentials.  Interior amenities include heated front seats, wireless phone charging, an eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system with MyLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4G LTE on-board Wi-Fi, a rear-view camera, and sliding rear window.

Other standard features include keyless entry, automatic cruise control, a spray-on bed liner, damped tailgate operation, a full-sized spare mounted on a matching aluminum wheel, and a trailer package that includes a hitch, seven-pin connector and a trailer-brake controller.

Since the emphasis is on off-road driving, our test drive includes a high-speed closed course that emulates desert racing, and an off-road loop that takes us to Bangs Canyon and the Tabegauche Trail just outside of Grand Junction, where we perform some serious low-speed rock crawling.

The high-speed course is laid out on sand and hard-packed dirt, and includes tight bends, higher-speed sweepers, and several jumps.  Approaching one of the jumps at about 70 km/h launches the ZR2 into the air, with all four wheels dangling from the chassis.  Anticipating a hard landing I brace for a body-jolting impact only to be greeted by a surprisingly cushy touchdown.  The added suspension travel combines with the shocks' position-sensitive damping to soak up the landings without bottoming, while allowing excellent straight-line stability upon touchdown.  Even higher speeds over these jumps result in equally soft landings, a true testament to all of the engineers' "testing" done before the ZR2 hit production.

The rock-crawling portion of the test drive is equally impressive, especially since our hosts did not drop tire pressures from standard for convenience.  With the transfer case switched to 4 Low and both differentials locked, the ZR2 treads effortlessly over some impressive geological features, including rather tall stone steps.  While it's impressive to see pictures of trucks driving over obstacles with one wheel high in the air, the truth is that this is more a demonstration of electronic torque management than actual off-road capability.  The ZR2 negotiates the extreme step course without ever getting a wheel in the air.

Aside from its taller stance, there are no concessions made in ride quality on the road.  The ZR2 is remarkably composed and quiet, with only a faint howl coming from the aggressively treaded tires.

The collaboration between Chevy and Multimatic has proven that you really don't have to give up everyday comfort to be able to take serious weekend forays deep into the woods.  It's also smaller and capable of squeezing into tighter spaces than the full-sized Ford Raptor.

Of course, if you're not serious about off roading, you really don't need the ZR2; you can spec the Z71 with the V6 or the diesel (starting at about $37,000) and save several thousand dollars.  But if you spend weekends on the trails with your off-roading buddies, the ZR2 can climb rocks and handle the toughest trails along with the most capable competition, and even among modified custom jobs, right off the showroom floor.

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06-12-17

CHEVROLET’S COMFORTABLE AND GROWN-UP EQUINOX NOW PACKS A SURPRISING PUNCH UNDER THE HOOD

2018 Equinox

By Peter Bleakney, Driving .ca - Originally launched in 2005, the Cambridge-built Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover became a cash cow for General Motors thanks to the segment's ascendancy to North America's vehicle of choice.  The first-gen Equinox found more than 2 million homes, and in Canada it was Chevy's second-best seller behind the Silverado pickup.

Ah, but time waits for no crossover mired in the past.  To keep up with the raging tide of competitive iron, the Equinox now moves into its third generation for the 2018 model year, getting an all-new structure, tidier dimensions, sharper looks, updated tech and a new base engine - a 1.5-litre turbo-four putting out 170 horsepower 203 lb.-ft. of torque - mated six-speed automatic transmission.  It also sheds up to 180 kilograms, depending on the trim.

The 1.5L engine in the Equinox, which we sampled earlier this year, is smooth and reasonably fuel efficient.  But for those seeking more punch, Chevrolet answers the call with this 2.0L turbo-four that makes 252 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,500 rpm.  It works in tandem with a nine-speed auto.  The Equinox now leaps to the head of the class when it comes to segment power, edging out the speedy Subaru Forester XT with its 250 horsepower, the 245-horsepower Ford Escape and the Kia Sportage, which develops 237 HP from its 2.0L turbo-four.

We sampled the top tier-Premier AWD which layers on such goodies as two-tone leather, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, memory settings for driver's seat radio and mirrors, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a hands-free powered lift gate and rear park assist, plus 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a few chrome bits on the exterior, and more.

Escaping the confines of congested Nashville, the 2.0L Equinox feels relaxed and certainly more fleet than the base 1.5L engine.  With it's stiff structure, targeted sound insulation and standard noise cancelling, Chevy has fashioned one of the more serene and comfortable riding vehicles in the segment.  Ride quality is excellent, and while handling might be not as sharp as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, the Equinox cuts a clean and controlled path on these undulating roads in rural Tennessee.

The nine-speed automatic was developed by GM in-house, reflecting an industry trend to get a wide ratio spread while also keeping engines within a fuel efficient rev range.  Hats off to GM for tuning this transmission to avoid unwanted ratio "hunting" and excessive lag when calling for acceleration.  The first five gears are closely stacked and slur between each other mostly unnoticed.  Under light throttle loads, the nine-speed wants to keep the 2.0L turbo just under 1,500 rpm, but unlike some others with multi-gear transmissions - the new Jeep Compass comes to mind - there's no pathological aversion to downshifting here.

As these were U.S.-spec Equinoxes, we observed 24 MPG on this mix of highway and winding two-lane roads.  Plus, not only does the Equinox run on regular grade fuel, an auto start/stop system is standard across the line.

The first stop is the hamlet of Leipers Fork, about an hour outside of Nashville.  If you're looking for a killer fried chicken sandwich and some fried green tomatoes, drop in on the friendly folks at The Country Boy diner.  And if you're looking to jam on some funky vintage instruments, wander two doors down to Serenite Maison.  There's an old Kay standup bass leaning in the corner - been there for decades, they say - along with a selection of Gibson and Martin guitars hanging on the wall.  No, they're not for sale - I asked - they're purely for the pleasure of anyone who wants to play them.

Chevrolet has the 2018 Equinox armed for connectivity.  Standard is Chevy MyLink infotainment system with wireless audio streaming, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and one year of OnStar that bestows, among other services, a 4G LTE wireless hotspot.

The Equinox's dash looks to be lifted right out of the Malibu, which is no bad thing as all the controls, major gauges and menu structure are clear and logical.  The cabin looks good dressed up in this two-tone tan-and-black combo, but lesser trim models in all black are a bit dour.  The quality of materials is not up to class leaders like the CX-5 and the Sportage, and some of that faux-chrome trim hints of an old-school GM hangover.

The front seats are comfortable, and rear passengers are not left out here, getting plenty of headroom and legroom, two USBs, a power adapter, a 110-volt outlet and heated seats.  It doesn't stop there - rear seat riders can actually choose whether they want warm butts and/or backs.

2018-chev-equinox-2-0-4

A raft of new radar and camera-based safety kit is on the menu, including surround vision, forward collision alert and automatic braking, plus lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist systems.  Additionally, the standard Rear Seat Reminder warns if a child or dog is left in the second row.

There's plenty of functionality in the 2018 Equinox.  The 60/40 split second row easily folds forward with a low-effort fluid motion, creating a flat and smartly configured load space.  There is a decently sized hidden compartment under the floor.  The hatch opening is large too, although you'll find more cargo room in a CR-V, Forester or Toyota RAV4.  With the 2.0L turbo engine, the Equinox's tow rating leaps to 3,500 pounds.

Landing in dealerships now, this accomplished crossover with its bigger engine, grown-up comfy road manners and class-leading technology is the second prong in the Equinox's assault on the compact crossover segment.  Later this year, the Equinos will get a 1.6L turbodiesel engine with 136 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

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05-31-17

QUICK SPIN: 2017 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06

Corvette Z06

By James Bergeron - It was a Monday, around 11am, my phone rings and I answer it - "Hello?"

"Is this James?"

"Yes."

"Would you like to drive the Z06 on Wednesday?"

"Does a pig roll in sh-- YES!"

Two days later, I walk into Jim Tubman Chevrolet on Bank Street in Ottawa, tell the receptionist my name; they hand me a key and say, "Have fun."  I take a quick walk around what can only be referred to from now on as "The Beast".

The 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the most powerful production GM vehicle ever produced, powered by a 6.2-litre V8 engine that wasn't powerful enough so they bolted a supercharger to it and upped the ante to 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.  The window sticker is just as big as the brakes, staring me right in the face: $120,690.

That's a lot of cheddar and they just threw me the keys ... Who am I to question them?

I hop in, fire up the car drive off the lot and give 'er down Hunt Club Road.  I stop at the red light with authority as the massive ceramic brake rotors haul The Beast to a stop.  I'm sitting there, looking at the leather stitched dash and I spot this older lady waving.  I give her a thumbs up, she goes nuts.  "NICE CAR!" she exclaims.

As I'm contemplating life at the lights, I think to myself, holy geez I have no license plates on this thing, no paperwork to prove I should be driving it, nothing.  Welp ... Today I live dangerously I guess - just as the light turns green and I give the lady a show.

The Z06 starts at a very reasonable (cough) $93,045.  For that you get the 650/650 engine, the seven-speed manual transmission with overdrive and a bunch of other stuff like climate control and radio, leather seats - meh, stuff you probably won't care much about in a car like this.  The model I tested though, as mentioned, was $120K and it also included the following optional features, which sweetened the deal even further.

The "biggest" feature package was the 3LZ package, which for $9,865 added: navigation, front vision camera, performance data recorder, leather-wrapped interior, front sport bucket seats, memory seats, Bose stereo system and more.  Performance-wise, my tester was sporting the massive ceramic brake roots for $8,625 and competition sport bucket seats for $2,295.

The Corvette is no longer a parts bin interior with a huge engine attached to it.  GM has really stepped up their game and have designed a quality interior that is luxurious and purposeful - and dare I say world-class?  The previously mentioned leather-stitched dash, leather centre console and of course leather seating make the Z06 stand out.  The ergonomics are perfect not only for high-performance driving, but even just cruising in the city, I found the seating comfortable, with everything at perfect reach.

The trunk space is surprisingly large for a sports car, heck, nearly a supercar at this rate, making the Corvette a very practical vehicle for everyday duty if you so wish.

Of course all the latest tech is there, and it's easy to use - GM's newer infotainment systems seem to get better every year.  Responsive, intuitive with a display that's bright and high-quality.  The z06 offers forward, side and rear cameras, so that you can park The Beast without scratching it.

Behind the nav screen is a secret hidden compartment where you can store some valuables or place your phone with the provided USB connection for Apple CarPlay.

As nice as the interior is, and as mean and cool the exterior looks, the heart of The Beast is the biggest story here.  Push the start button and the power that this 6.2L V8 engine provides is immediately obvious.  At idle there is a lot of rumble from the exhaust, a little shake in the chassis and a lot of excitement from the driver.  Rev up the engine to hear the throaty quad exhaust note, and the car shakes from side to side as the 650 lb-ft of torque try to rip the engine out of the chassis.

By default the car starts in Eco driving mode, which offers the oh-so-hated skip-shift function, going from first to fourth gear on gentle starts in order to save some fuel.  Although it is a widely panned "feature", The Beast has so much torque that even when it forced the shift to fourth gear, had I not noticed the gigantic "4" displayed in the gauge cluster, I wouldn't have noticed it was happening.

In fact there is so much torque I mistakenly left the dealer lot in third gear without stalling or slipping the clutch!  That was also proof to me how tight the gears are together first gear, oddly, has more of a throw left than expected, most likely due to that seventh gear in the box.

With the manual transmission The Best is capable of 0-100km/h run in 3.2 seconds, and boy does it ever feel like it.  Mash the throttle - carefully or you'll quickly slip the tires and end up sideways - and the car launches forward with authority and the exhaust roars to life as the exhaust baffles open up to let it sing in sport mode.

This truly is the best Corvette GM has ever built.  It has all the pieces to make it a well-refined road-going production race car.  If you want to stand out you will be noticed in this car, and you will enjoy every minute you have behind the wheel or simply standing beside it admiring it.  Despite the answer seemingly always "Miata" when someone is in search of their next sports car, I have to disagree and say the answer is "Z06".

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2018 EquinoxBy Pedro Arrais, Times Colonist - If there was a list of desirable features people usually look for when buying a compact SUV, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox would surely hit all the boxes.

This market segment is the largest and has seen the most intense competition for consumers' attention.  General Motors has stopped at nothing to make sure its new entrant stands head and shoulders above the crowd.

First off, GM put the Equinox on the automotive equivalent of an extreme diet.  It shrunk by 118 millimetres in length.

While it used to be almost stuck in the grey zone, caught between compact and mid-sized SUVs, it is now firmly a compact - in the same segment as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and others.

In the process, the Equinox has shed close to 300 kilograms (it's now even lighter than the Honda CR-v).

But this is a formidable crowd and, if the changes are not done right, it runs the risk of taking the Equinox out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The base front-wheel-drive Equinox starts out at $25,195, and trim levels include LT and Premier. Canadians would likely opt for an all-wheel-drive vehicle instead, which drives up the cost by $2,400.  There are more trim levels for the AWD line, with the top being the Premier 2LZ at $37,195.

I drove a Premier 1LZ, which starts at $34,195.

My first impression on getting in the driver's seat was "Wow!"

The previous-generation Equinox was a vehicle that tried hard, but was utterly outclassed by its competitors.  It featured acres of hard plastic and reeked of a design by committee.

The pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction with the 2018 edition.  The new model reeks of quality and attention to detail.  Any interior designer would be proud to look around and appreciate the carefully laid-out cabin (in two-tone leather on some models).

Not only is the interior welcoming, the materials used have similarly received a substantive boost.  As my hand rested on the steering wheel, I noticed that even the spokes of the wheel are covered in a supple material that was pleasing to the touch.

The equipment kit reflects GM's desire to elevate the Equinox into territory it could never had imagined before.  My tester boasted a large panorama roof, 19-inch wheels, a Bose sound system, low-speed auto braking, forward collision alert, lane departure, lane-keep assist and auto high beam, surround cameras, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats, eight-way power front and passenger seats, and wireless cellphone charging - and that's only the highlights.

For the infotainment system, the Equinox features an eight-inch colour touchscreen with MyLink, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Sirius satellite radio.  The system is also a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, so that passengers can connect their tablets wirelessly on the road.  Buyers will also get an OnStar five-year basic plan.

Engineers tossed out the old V-6 and replaced it with a choice of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines - a 1.5- and a 2.0-litre.  I drove the 1.5-litre mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The engine may be smaller, but I daresay the Equinox feels more spirited, with 300 kilograms less to push.  The 1.5-litre produces 170 horsepower, about average in this segment.  But the kicker is the 203 foot-pounds of torque, which comes on as low as 2,500 rpm.  It is the most torque produced in the segment.  By comparison, the Ford's turbocharged 1.5-litre four produces 185 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,320 rpm.

The new engine is also much more fuel-efficient than the V-6 it replaces.  While it is not the segment leader, it still bests similar offerings, such as the above-mentioned 1.5-litre from Ford.  Technology in the form of a gas-saving stop/start function helps lower consumption.

The 1.5-litre will soon be joined by a more-powerful 2.0-litre and a more frugal 1.6-litre diesel in the months ahead.  The latter would be of interest for people who tow or for those looking for the best fuel economy.

The Equinox is quiet on the road, with a compliant ride and predictable handling.

Did General Motors produce a winner this time?  If you compare it to last year's model, there is no doubt this year's vehicle is superior.  But most importantly, the 2018 Equinox's blend of functionality, features and performance now makes it competitive against the best in the segment for the first time.  It is the best contender GM has fielded for a shot at the top.

THE SPEC SHEET

Type:  Compact SUV, front engine, all-wheel-drive

Engine:  Turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, 170 hp at 5,600 rpm, 203 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,500 to 4,500 rpm

Transmission:  Six-speed automatic

Dimensions (mm):  Length, 4,652; width, 1,843; height, 1,661; wheelbase, 2,725

Curb weight (kg):  1,580

Price (base/as tested):  $34,195/$40,740 (includes $1,700 freight and PDI and $100 AC tax)

Tires:  225/60 R18 on alloy wheels

Fuel type:  Regular

Fuel economy (L/100km):  9.8 city/7.9 highway

Warranty:  Three years/60,000 km new car, five years/100,000 km powertrain and roadside assistance

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Equinox

By Lesley Wimbush, Driving.ca - We're more than 3,800 feet above the Pisgah National Forest, where mist envelops the shoulders of the Appalachian Mountains.  Below us lies the Pink Beds Valley, a swath of lush growth tinted by the blush of blooming rhododendrons.

We'd been given the option of making our own way across the Carolinas, the only caveat being that we arrive intact by dinner.  My driving partner had a hankering to experience the Tail of the Dragon, 18 kilometres of serpentine road that's virtually a rite of passage for any driving enthusiast.  I pointed out that our trip gave us a chance to visit one of the remove, mountainous creeks where we could search for the elusive Hellbender, an exceedingly rare giant salamander, charmingly dubbed the "Snot Otter."

The Blue Ridge Parkway proved an acceptable compromise, though its abundance of looping curves had us yearning for a nimble two-seater instead of the crossover we're piloting.  To be fair, our Chevrolet Equinox handled the hairpin twists quite admirably, with none of the lumbering wallow once characteristic of this segment.

Completely revised for 2018, the third-gen Equinox returns with a shorter, stiffer platform, an available nine-speed automatic transmission and the choice of three engines.  Based on the same D2 architecture underpinning the Buick Envision, the Equinox sheds 400 pounds (180 kilograms) - a 10 per cent weight reduction - over the previous platform.

As with nearly every other vehicle in the industry-wide quest for better fuel economy, the chassis has been lightened by using high-strength and hot stamped steel, fewer welds and more industrial adhesives.  This gives the new Equinox an added bonus of great torsional rigidity and less flex, meaning a more stable ride.  The smaller body, shorter wheelbase and slightly lower ride height not only aid in the Equinox's stability, but also improve aerodynamics.  Visually, the Equinox isn't as compelling as the Mazda CX-5 or Ford Escape, but it is neat and tidy, if rather unremarkable.

In this segment, space and utility are paramount.  Despite its compact size, the Equinox's cabin space remains virtually the same as the outgoing model.  The rear seats have given up their ability to slide fore and aft, providing a more usable and flatter floor when folded.  Maximum cargo space increases to 1,798 litres, including a hidden compartment beneath the trunk floor.

The cabin's overhaul follows the same conservative yet functional design principles as the Cruze.  Premier models feature more soft-touch materials and leather, but cheaper plastics creep into use as you move down through the trim levels.  The Equinox follows Chevrolet's familiar packaging strategy by offering three models (LS, LT and Premier) and two packages (Confidence and Convenience, and True North) are available on the LT and Premier.

All trims are available in front- or all-wheel drive, but it seems Canadians prefer AWD, which accounts for 80 per cent of all Equinoxes sold here.  New for 2018, the AWD system can help conserve more fuel by directing power to just the front wheels when extra traction isn't needed, or torque to all four wheels can be manually locked in by the driver.

The mid-range LT AWD is predicted to be the volume seller, but even the base LS has a good level of standard features.  They include keyless entry with push-button start, Chevrolet's MyLink Infotainment system, rear-vision camera, Teen Driver (which lets you restrict and monitor driving habits), one-touch folding second-row seats, heated front seats and heated rear-view mirrors, a remote starter, start/stop technology and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Moving up through the trim lines adds extra goodies, such as a heated steering wheel and rear seats, HID headlights, a hands-free power liftgate, an eight-inch in-dash touch screen and 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, and wireless charging.  The Premier trim gets rear park assist, plus side blind-zone and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Available packages add forward-collision alert, 360-degree surround vision, low-speed automatic braking, safety-alert seat and lane-departure warning.  Only the True North package includes GPS navigation, which leaves the rest of the model lineup to rely on either OnStar's turn-by-turn navigation services, or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which rely on the user's own data plan.

Unfortunately, the new 2.0-litre turbo-four and the 1.6L four-cylinder turbodiesel engines weren't available yet and probably won't arrive until summer.  The diesel, producing 136 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, is rated to deliver 6.9L/100 km in combined city and highway driving for FWD models, or 7.4 with AWD.  The larger 2.0L turbo-four, producing 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, will be the only one paired with the new nine-speed automatic transmission.  It will deliver 8.7 L/100 km combined on FWD Equinoxes and 9.4 with AWD.  It will also offer a maximum towing capability of 3,500 lbs (1,588 kg), compared with 1,500 lbs (680 kg) for the other powertrains.

"There are advantages to using the nine-speed, from a fuel economy and from a performance standpoint," says Larry Mihalko, engineer and performance manager for Chevrolet's crossovers.  "But this segment is also price-sensitive, so if you want the nine-speed you've got to check the box and get the bigger motor.  But we've got pretty good fuel economy with the six-speed, and quite frankly, the diesel is the true fuel economy play on this vehicle."

Our sole available choice was the base 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic.  It seemed quiet enough on the highway, thanks to noise cancellation provided by the audio system and an abundance of sound-deadening material.  But it was slow to respond after braking through the tight turns, which was probably a combination of the engine's modest 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque, the transmission's limitations and perhaps the altitude's effect on the power output.

Given the Equinox's nicely controlled handling and the suspension's ability to soak up the bumps and potholes we encountered, the power output was rather disappointing.  Although it was possible to awkwardly induce shifts with the gear lever, I couldn't help wishing for paddle shifters in the corners.

While we'll have to wait to see if the Equinox's new powertrains match the impressive handling, the more compact size and better manoeuvrability should help it chase down segment leaders.  And with its all-in base price of $26,995, including PDI, is should finally be able to succeed.

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04-17-17

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By Andrew McCredit, Driving.ca - GM better add some more shelves to its trophy case.

The Chevrolet Bolt is the winner of the 2017 Canadian Green Car Award, presented at the Green Living Show in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

A panel of 13 top Canadian automotive journalists selected the Bolt, a groundbreaking electric vehicle with a 383-kilometre range, from among six category winners as the vehicle that best combines environmental benefits and mass-market appeal.

The other category winners include the Chevrolet Volt (Plug-in Hybrid), the Hyundai Ioniq (Conventional Hybrid), the Honda Civic (Efficient Internal Combustion), Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (Efficient Three-Row Family Vehicle) and the Jaguar XE 2.0D (Fun Car).

Andrew Horsman, executive director of Ontario Tire Stewardship, which recycles 95 per cent of Ontario's tires into a variety of useful and valuable products, presented the trophy to Matthew Stokes, assistant brand manager for Chevrolet Canada.

"It's a true honour for Chevrolet to be recognized with the Canadian Green Car Award for the second year in a row, with Volt in 2016, and now the game-changing Bolt EV in 2017," Stokes said.  "Chevrolet is committed to innovation and electrification and we are proud to sell more plug-in electric vehicles in Canada than any other brand.

According to Eric Novak of EnviroDad.com, the Award's Co-Creator and member of the Steering Committee, the Bolt EV was the clear choice of the judging panel, receiving 11 of 13 first-place votes from among the six category winners.

"Our list of category winners this year was exceptional, however in the end our judges felt that the Chevrolet Bolt EV, with its game-changing range and competitive price point, was most deserving of being named overall winner," Novak said, adding the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was the only other vehicle to garner first-place votes.

Ford's Fusion Hybrid won the inaugural 2013 Canadian Green Car Award, followed in 2014 by the Honda Accord Hybrid, the Kia Soul EV in 2015 and, last year, the Chevrolet Volt.

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04-13-17

WHAT MAKES THE NEW CAMARO MORE ENTERTAINING TO DRIVE THAN A 3 SERIES

2016-Chevrolet-Camaro-SS-vs-2016-BMW-340i-side-profile

REVELATION:  A CHEVY THAT'S BETTER THAN A BMW

By Angus MacKenzie, Motor Trend -  Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write:  The Chevrolet Camaro is better, more entertaining car to drive than a BMW 3 Series.  In more than 30 years of testing cars I have experienced several moments of dazzling, crystalline revelation: that the original Mazda Miata was the most sublimely, delicately, intuitively tactile sports car ever built; that underneath the seductive scarlet curves of a Ferrari 348 lurked a sulky, evil-tempered bunny-boiler; and that the Ford Raptor was one of the most original performance vehicle concepts from a mainstream automaker, an entertaining and engaging ride that was also uniquely and uncompromisingly American.

This one, though, was totally unexpected.

That's partly because I'd have never thought of driving Chevy's ponycar and BMW's iconic sport sedan back-to-back, over the same roads.  It is, after all, not an obvious comparison test; no one will ever cross-shop these cars.  However, the 2016 Camaro SS and BMW 340i were both contenders in this year's Car of the Year competition, and I just happened to drive one immediately after the other during our testing.  Then I went and drove them each again, just to make sure I wasn't imagining things.

I wasn't.  In terms of pure driver appeal, the 455-hp, naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter, V-8-powered, six-speed-manual Camaro simply outclassed the 320-hp, turbocharged, 3.0-liter, I-6 powered, six-speed-manual BMW.  The Chevy had more tactile and communicative steering, crisper throttle response, better brake feel, superior high-speed body control, and sweeter chassis balance.  It danced around the handling track, feeling remarkably light on its feet.  Turn-in response was quick and authoritative, and with all the electronic nannies off, it could drift through corners with Ken Block confidence levels.  I got out of the Camaro grinning.  When I exited the BMW?  Not so much.

Let's be clear:  The updated F30 3 Series, with revised front suspension and redesigned electric power steering for 2016, is a decent sport sedan.  But in the context of four decades of 3 Series evolution, there's something deeply elemental missing in this latest iteration.  From the long throw of the six-speed shifter to its heavy, gluey steering, the 340i lacks the insouciant precision that was once a hallmark of even base 3 Series sedans.  A lot of the fundamental BMW goodness is still there, but it's as if the whole lot has been dipped in molasses.  It's still quick, capable, and chuckable, but compared with the Chevy, the BMW demands bigger inputs from the driver when you want it to play.  You have to work harder at having fun in it.

I first drove a Camaro back in 1989, and was appalled by the unmitigated awfulness of the experience.  Going up Angeles Crest Highway, the engine wheezed like an old man on a StairMaster, and the brakes caught fire - literally - on the way back down.  It rattled and squeaked and shimmied and shook, and judging by the heaving, wallowing, corkscrewing motions through corners the body structure had all the torsional rigidity of overcooked linguine.

The previous-generation Camaro, which debuted in 2009 and was built off the Zeta architecture shared with the Australian-designed Holden Commodore, was a much more coherent vehicle.  But it weighed too much and the chassis was initially blighted by understeer for some inexplicable reason, especially given the Commodore's generally sound dynamics.  The Camaro's journey from 1989 to 2009 to 2016 has therefore been truly remarkable, and not just in terms of its engineering execution:  This is a car whose whole raison d'être has been transformed.

In 2016 the BMW 3 Series has hit middle age and it feels it.  The Chevy Camaro, by contrast, has been reborn.

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04-13-17

CHEVROLET BOLT EV WINS 2017 CANADIAN GREEN CAR AWARD

Bolt
By General Motors, Toronto - The Chevrolet Bolt EV was recognized today with the 2017 Canadian Green Car Award at the Green Living Show.  This is the second consecutive Car of the Year win for Chevrolet, after the Volt took home the award in 2016.

The Bolt EV, winner of this year's Zero Emission category, was selected by a panel of top  Canadian automotive journalists from among six category winners as the vehicle that best combines environmental benefits and mass-market appeal.  This year, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt won in the Plug-in Hybrid category.

The Canadian Green Car Awards recognizes vehicles, widely available in Canada, that combine impressive environmental attributes with strong mass-market appeal.  The assessments included criteria, such as fuel consumption, emissions and price, as well as the judges' evaluations of performance, driving experience, value, features and "green" qualities.

QUOTING:

"It's a true honour for Chevrolet to be recognized again with the Canadian Green Car Award, with Volt in 2016 and now the game-changing Bolt EV in 2017", said Matthew Stokes, assistant brand manager, Chevrolet in Canada.  "Chevrolet is committed to innovation and electrification and we are proud to sell more plug-in electric vehicles in Canada than any other brand."

2017 BOLT EV BACKGROUND:

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is on sale now in Canadian dealers and set the range benchmark for an affordable EV capable of going the distance by delivering up to 383 kilometres on a full charge.  Bolt EV starts at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $42,795 (plus $1,600 freight charge and $100 air conditioning tax), but excludes tax, title, license and dealer fees.  In Ontario, pricing can be as low as $30,406 after the eligible Ontario provincial incentive of $12,389.

About The Green Living Show

The Green Living Show is Canada's largest consumer show dedicated to simple solutions for leading a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.  This three-day event offers inspiration for all ages and features influential speakers; eco home, cottage and garden design; local and organic food and wine tastings; health, wellness and yoga pavilions; eco fashion and green beauty makeovers; electric and hybrid car test drives; nature exhibits and fun activities for the entire family.

About the Canadian Green Car Award

The Canadian Green Car Award is Canada's premier award recognizing vehicles with the greatest potential for environmental benefits.  The Award is an independent program developed by automotive journalists Eric Novak, Michael Bettencourt and Peter Gorrie, who comprise its steering committee.  The Award recognizes vehicles, widely available in Canada, that offer both impressive environmental attributes and strong mass-market appeal, since any product can have a significant impact only if it sells in large numbers.

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03-02-17

THE CHEVY TAHOE ISN’T WITHOUT FLAWS, BUT IT’S STILL ONE OF THE BEST BRIDGES BETWEEN SUVS AND PICKUP TRUCKS

2017 Tahoe

By Clayton Seams, Driving.ca - It was one of those blizzards where the snow mimics the view outside the Millennium Falcon as it goes warp speed and the stars blur.  The ditch was lined with cars less fortunate, and the worried voice on the radio urged people to stay off the roads if at all possible.  Hitched behind me was 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) worth of double-axle trailer and muscle car.

There wasn't a place in the world I'd rather be.  That's because my lucky behind was plopped in the driver's seat of a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ.  Not only was said behind heated by the comfy leather seat, but far underneath that seat sat a capable 4WD system, self-leveling rear air suspension and a torque 5.3-litre V8 to power it all.  I don't like towing trailers in the snow, but if you had to do it, this is one of the best choices.

This kind of foul-weather, heavy-hauling worst-case-scenario is where the massive Tahoe excels.  It feels cumbersome on tiny city streets, like an elephant being walked on a leash through a living room.  It has a remarkably small turning circle for its size and the sight lines over the dashboard are good, but thanks to the high belt line and small rear window, reverse parking is a graceless manoeuvre that involves squinting out the rear window and shamelessly relying on the rear-view camera, hoping that there are no unseen obstacles.  This is not an easy vehicle to park.

The Tahoe is happiest on the highway, there the six-speed automatic allows the V8 to chug along at a whiff over 1,500 rpm.  The ride on the highway is superb for something with a 10,000-pound towing capacity, and the sound insulation is better than many luxury cars.

Of course, that should almost be expected as the fully loaded tester costs a luxurious $82,900.  Loading up a Tahoe with this many options gets you close to the price neighbourhood of the GMC Yukon Denali, with its superior 6.2-litre V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission.  But the interior of the Tahoe LTZ is sumptuously appointed with nearly flawless attention to ergonomics, and all cheap plastics are well hidden from the driver's normal view.  The premium Bose sound system is impressive and the interior is littered with USB ports.  Yes, it's a lot of money but it feels like every penny of it.

You're going to need a lot of money to fuel this thing, too.  Driving like an absolute saint at a steady 105 km/h, the big Tahoe achieved a mere 13.8 L/100km.  When towing a 2,270-kg trailer, the mileage dropped to a truly dismal 21.4 L/100km.

My own 1999 Suburban averages 12.4 L/100 km on the highway and returns about 23.5 L/100km when towing a 2,270-kg trailer.  I know the 2017 Tahoe makes much more power and has 4WD, but that's not a huge improvement for an 18-year gap.

I grew up in a Chevrolet Suburban household.  My father owned in succession a 1975, 1983 and a 1999 Suburban, the latter of which I bought from him and still own and drive today.  After an entire life spent riding in the back of Suburbans, which are just long-wheelbase Tahoes, I've always though the newer models felt smaller inside despite growing outwardly.

Compared to a 1998 Tahoe, the 2017 model is 11.2 centimetres longer and 9.4 cm wider.  The two are within 1.5 cm of each other in height, and yet the 2017 model has a 22 percent smaller cargo area than the 1998 model.  Stronger pillars for rollover protection and more airbags have exacted their toll on interior space.

Part of the problem lies with the third-row seats.  They have an ingenious (and very entertaining) motor system that allows them to fold flat at the touch of a button.  The seats fold, but at the cost of a low, flat loading floor.  A removable third-row seat would offer better flexibility between seating capacity and cargo space.

The Tahoe is a flawed creation, but it remains one of the best bridges between a full-size pickup and an SUV.  It offers real-truck towing capacity, 4WD and extremely comfortable seating for seven.  I'd like to see more efficient interior packaging, but otherwise the Tahoe impresses on all fronts.

Pros:  Excellent interior materials, real truck-spec capabilities.

Cons:  Fuel use, interior volume, giant chrome wheels make ride more harsh than it needs to be.

Value for money:  Good

What I would change:  Smaller chrome wheels, removable third-row seat

How I would spec it:  Fully loaded LTZ trim with 4WD and that great maroon paint.

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02-28-17

2017 Cruze Diesel

By General Motors of Canada, Oshawa, ON - The 2017 Cruze Diesel Sedan offers a highway fuel consumption rating of 4.5 L/100km - the best of any non-hybrid vehicle in North America.

"The Cruze Diesel Sedan combines best-in-class fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive performance into a vehicle that offers compact car drivers yet another innovative alternative fuel option from Chevrolet," said Shane Peever, brand manager, Chevrolet Cars in Canada.  "With its unparalleled fuel consumption rating, the Cruze Diesel delivers durability and torque in a package that suits our customers' diverse lifestyles and driving habits."

The 2017 Cruze Diesel Sedan features a new Ecotec 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine offering an SAE-certified 137 horsepower (102 kW) and what is expected to be segment-leading 240 lb-ft of torque (325 Nm).  Cruze Diesel passed all stringent U.S. environmental standards and validation, including Tier 3 Bin 125 emissions standards.

Buyers will be able to option their Cruze Diesel Sedans with either a standard six-speed manual or a new, optional Hydra-Matic nine-speed automatic transmission that includes fuel-saving stop/start technology.

In addition to its segment-leading 4.5 L/100km highway fuel consumption rating, Cruze Diesel with the six-speed manual delivers a city rating of 7.7 L/100km resulting in a 6.3 L/100km combined.  Cruze Diesel with the nine-speed automatic achieves a rating of 7.6 L/100km city, 5.0 L/100km highway and 6.4 L/100km combined.

A suite of connectivity features complements the Cruze Diesel Sedan's inherent efficiency.  These include standard OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot as well as standard Android Auto and Apply CarPlay compatibility through Chevrolet MyLink*.

Pricing for the 2017 Cruze Diesel Sedan starts at $24,195 plus a $1,600 destination freight charge.  The Cruze Diesel Hatch will follow later this year as a 2018 model.

*Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are products of Apple and Google and their terms and privacy statements apply.  Requires a compatible mobile device, active OnStar service and data plan.  4G LTE service available in select markets.  Visit onstar.com for coverage map, details and system limitations.  Visit onstar.ca for coverage map, details and system limitations.  Data plans provided by AT&T.

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01-30-17

2017 CHEVROLET SONIC RS: BRINGING THE YOUNGER CROWD TO CHEVROLET

Chevrolet introduces the  2017 Sonic– a more expressive, sporty take on the brand’s fun-to-drive small car. The 2017 Sonic delivers a new design, more technology and more active safety coming Fall 2016.  

By Driving.ca - There are days when the gap between my Baby Boomer generation and those of the Millennial crowd becomes a gulf.  It's not as though I'm talking about truly important issues such as jobs with futures or affordable housing, but something as simple as what constitutes a good, inexpensive, fun-to-drive car.

The catalyst for my bewilderment is the suitably affordable ($17,845 to start, with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission), sporty-looking Chevrolet Sonic RS.  It's a nice, subcompact four-door hatchback, a body style that was very familiar to me when I was a 20-something.  Chevy acknowledges that the Sonic brings new, younger customers to the brand, "almost 20 per cent of them younger than 35" and the Sonic is "one of Chevrolet's top vehicles for first-time new buyers."

All well and good, I have no beef with that statement.  The subcompact segment, like most of the automobile side of things, is in a decline, thanks to the overwhelming popularity of crossovers and SUVs.  And the Sonic is in tough competition with the likes of Hyundai's segment-leading Accent, plus the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Nissan Versa, not to mention a couple of others.  It needs a hook to yank it out of the pack of also-rans and into the spotlight.

Now, being a gearhead, I thought maybe performance could be that hook; it worked for my group of scofflaw friends when I was just getting started in the work world.  After all, the RS nomenclature (which used to stand for Rally Sport when used on early Camaros) could indicate something beyond the norm.  And, to be fair, it's not like the Sonic is particularly deficient under the hood; the 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder (same engine as found in the larger Cruze) is as good as, if not better than, the Chevy's main competition.  Still there are possibilities not being exploited here (more on this later).

But with the redesigned 2017 model, Chevrolet downplays the RS's potential sportiness, instead highlighting "big technologies" such as a new MyLink system with segment-exclusive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hot spot and a seven-inch infotainment system designed to support the latest "connectivity technologies."

Sounds like a recipe for distracted riving to me.  Put the phone down, kids, and have some fun with the car.  Or is "connecting" what counts as excitement these days?

It's not as though the RS has an econo-car sadness to it.  Au contraire, there's a distinct athletic vibe, accentuated by an aggressive stance from all four 17-inch wheels being pushed out at the corners.  The RS package itself includes such dress-up items as front fog lamps, sporty rocker mouldings, rear spoiler, RS lettering, piano black accented instrument panel, flat-bottom three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrasting stitching, and carpeted front and rear deluxe floor mats.

Then there are the car's overall changes for 2017, including the redesigned hood, front and rear fascia, and new projector-beam headlamps with LED daytime running lights.  The tester's optional Arctic Blue Metallic paint doesn't hurt either.  In short, if GM decided to turn the Sonic into a bit of a pocket rocket - like Ford did in creating the Fiesta ST - it already has something to work with.

Now, being a dedicated three-pedal guy, I'd start with a good manual box.  But the higher level ($21,795) RS Premier trim (as opposed to the base LT) only comes with a six-speed automatic with manual shift ability - a pity, really.  As a slushbox, the transmission is fine; as a manual it's second only to GM's skip-shift (first-to-fourth) performance tranny for annoyance.  There are no paddle shifters or even a fore/aft motion of the gear lever to up- or downshift.  Instead, GM uses a thumb-actuated toggle on the side of the lever to move through the gears - peachy if you're doing drag-race starts off the line, but completely unhelpful in a twisty road setting.

And zipping along back roads is clearly within the Sonic RS's purview.  It comes with verve and little body roll; it might feel even faster in the turns if the front seats had just a teensy bit more bolstering to them.  There's excellent weight to the steering and good communication with the road.  On the other hand, the RS's ride is on the firm side; bumps, potholes, frost heaves and railway tracks are not to be toyed with.  Considering the car's budget-based roots and its short wheelbase, this shouldn't come as a surprise.

As for the RS's as-tested sticker of $23,085, it would be well in reason to consider a move up to a larger compact-sized hatchback, such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra GT or Mazda3.  However, while you would clearly gain more rear-seat legroom, such a move would likely be to a base or possibly mid-level model.

In Premier trim, the Sonic RS is quite comfortably equipped.  Push-button start, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, heated front seats, power driver's seat, power sunroof, cruise control and more are all standard.  On the safety side, stability and traction control systems are also part of the deal.  Other than $495 for the bright blue paint job, the only option added was the $695 Driver Confidence package, which includes forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and rear park assist.

To make more of a statement among the subcompact competition, the RS's 1.4-L Turbo would benefit from a power boost.  It wouldn't have to be as extreme as the hot hatch Fiesta ST's astounding 197 hp; just an extra 15 to 20 ponies to match its superior handling dynamics.  That's unlikely to happen - sigh! - but even as it sits now, the Sonic RS stands out as a genuinely fun and efficient ride, perky and sporty.  If I were a budget-constrained Millennial in the market for my first new set of wheels, I'd take a long look at this one.

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