04-11-18

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

10-11-17

CHEVY CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF ICONIC TRUCK DESIGN

Iconic Chevy

By General Motors, Dallas - One hundred years ago, Chevrolet introduced the 1918 One-Ton, setting the stage for a century of iconic trucks.  To commemorate this milestone, the brand is looking back on 10 of the most iconic designs in Chevy truck history.

While Chevrolet truck design has changed radically over the past 100 years, one thing has always been true: Form has followed function as the trucks evolved to meet the customers' changing needs.

"Today, the Chevrolet truck design studio is focused on purposeful design that creates personality and customization options for a wide breadth of truck customers," said Rich Scheer, director of Exterior Design for Chevy Trucks.  "Looking back on the past century of truck design, I realized that Chevrolet designers have been focused on the same goals since the very beginning."

Here are 10 of the most iconic Chevy trucks in the past 100 years, along with a design perspective for each from Scheer:

  • 1918 One-Ton: The first production truck from Chevrolet was inspired by vehicles used in plants to move parts and pieces from place to place.  In the simplest terms, this is an example of form follows function.  It was a rolling chassis featuring an open cab, an inline four-cylinder engine and an open frame allowing customers to install the body that fit their unique needs.  One striking design element is the beautiful badge, which was clearly a designed element of this truck.  The front, the proportions and the dark blue, almost black color make a very sophisticated bowtie, even by today's standards.

1929 International1929 International Series LD: The 1929 was the first Chevrolet truck to feature a closed cab, which created the potential for what we know as interior design today.  As with all designs, once the functional elements were defined, more comfort- and style-focused features started to become important for truck buyers.  It's amazing how fast they went from the purpose-built 1918 truck to a more styled, closed-cab truck.  This is also the time when we started to introduce color.  The color combinations on Chevrolet cars and trucks from this period are something I still love today.

19381938 Half-Ton: This was the first truck designed in the newly formed Art and Colour department, which was later to be known as Design Center, by Harley Earl and his team.  (Earl became GM's first design chief.)   This year also saw the designs of cars and trucks deviate, as Design realized the need for trucks to have their own identity.  As such, it is arguably the first example of Design's influence on trucks.  The proportions really evolved from the earlier designs, creating a lower and longer truck with a styled grille and elegant, swept fenders.

19471947 3100 Series: This is one of the most iconic designs in automotive history.  If you mention a vintage Chevy truck, I think almost everyone will picture this model in their mind.  It was such a departure, advertisers coined the phrase "Advance Design," because it was bigger, stronger and sleeker than ever before.  The five-bar horizontal grille is a departure from vertical grilles of the past and was the very beginning of what became a signature of Chevrolet truck design.  You can see that the fenders are more integrated and the lamps are on the wide part of the vehicle instead of inboard, giving it a wider, stronger presence.  The result is a very handsome design with great proportions.

19551955 3124 Series Cameo Carrier: Known as the Task Force truck, the Cameo Carrier is Chevy's first Fleetside design.  The bed surface is flush with the cab and fender, making for one complete, elegant shape from front to back.  It was also Chevrolet's first bumper-to-bumper styled truck, as styling didn't stop at the back of the cab.  During this time, styling became a selling point for cars, inspiring more focus on design for trucks as well.  This was definitely the heyday of American automotive styling and ornamentation.

19671967 C10 Fleetside: This is the first truck that I really fell in love with.  It's a beautiful, sleek design with a hint of wheel flare.  I also really appreciate the line that flows away from the top of the bed line and the beautiful balance with the front of the vehicle.  This is a feature that can easily go wrong, but the designers of the time did it so right.  The body side has a strong shoulder that tapers toward the rear.  The Chevrolet bar on the front fascia connects the headlamp center with the bowtie - a design element that is still consistent today.  This time period is also when metallic paint was introduced, which highlighted the subtleties and body lines that weren't as obvious before.

19731973 C30 One-Ton Dually: This third-generation C/k square-body truck was the first crew cab dually to market, and many consider it to be the first modern Heavy Duty Truck.  The design reflects a dramatic increase in capability for customers who used their trucks for both work and recreation.  It is simple, tough and purposeful, similar to the earliest Chevrolet trucks.

 

19881988 C/K 1500: The C/K 1500 was the first truck design influenced by aerodynamics.  This generation had great design reach, meaning it looked very advanced for its time.  That is especially true for the new interior design, with a low instrument panel, pod-like setup and even buttons that looked futuristic.  This truck still looks modern and sophisticated 40 years later.

1999 Silverad1999o 1500 LT Z71: This was the first generation that used the Silverado nameplate.  It also introduced many of the modern design elements that customers associate with current Chevy truck design, especially the iconic Chevrolet front end.

 

 

20072007 Silverado 1500: The 2007 Silverado is simple, modern and powerful, featuring exaggerated wheel flares and a clean body side.  It's another evolution for Chevrolet trucks in creating their own identity on the road, with distinctive front and rear ends.  This truck brought back the "tough truck" look and feel, even though it was still heavily influenced by aerodynamics.

Read More

09-28-17

THE BEST VEHICLES FOR USING A CAR SEAT

2018-VW-Atlas-child-seatsen

By Auto123.com - One of the factors families shopping for a new vehicle should take into account is the ease of installation and use, as well as the effectiveness, of infant or child car seats.  Is the seat easy to install?  Is the anchoring system user-friendly?  Can you get your child in and out easily?  Will the child be comfortable?

A highly practical annual ranking published by Cars.com rates vehicles by these and other measures.  Right in time for Child Passenger Safety Week, we take a look at the new 2017 list for you!

Explains Jennifer Newman, editor-in-chief at Cars.com and a certified child passenger safety technician, "Proper car-seat installation can be a daunting task for many parents.  Automakers have added Latch systems to make the process a little easier and less stressful, but not all of these systems have been created equally.  That's why we test them in nearly every new vehicle.  We want parents, grandparents and caretakers of young children to understand their options and which ones are the easiest to use."

In total, 65 different 2017-2018 models were evaluated beginning in September of last year, but only the 10 best-performing models, which have earned the best possible A rating in each criteria, made the final list.  In addition, each of these models offers sufficient space to fit at least two car seats.  The list runs the gamut from outdoorsy vehicles like the Impreza to utility models like the Equinox and the Atlas, as well as luxury models from Lincoln, Mercedes and Genesis.

  • 2018 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2017 Genesis G90
  • 2017 GMC Acadia
  • 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
  • 2017 Lincoln Continental
  • 2017 Mercedes-Benz C Class
  • 2017 Subaru Impreza
  • 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
  • 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2017 Volvo S90
Read More

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

Read More

07-20-17

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

Read More

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.

Read More

06-21-17

CANADIAN SALES MORE NUMEROUS THAN EVER IN MAY 2017; CANADIANS PAID MORE THAN EVER, TOO

2017-Honda-Civic-hatchback-1977-honda-civic-hatchback-1-610x407

By Timothy Cain - Canadian auto sales surged to record levels in May 2017, surpassing the previous monthly record from April of last year by an 8-percent margin and topping 200,000 units for just the second time in history.

You know it's going well when, in a virulently anti-car market, passenger car sales increase, year-over-year.  And in the fifth month of 2017, car sales did indeed improve, growing 3-percent beyond May 2016 levels.

You know it's truly going well when, in a market that had already seen pickup truck market share climb to 20-percent, pickup truck sales jumped 38-percent to form 22-percent of the industry's volume.

And you know it's going exceptionally well when, in the span of just one month, the relatively small Canadian market purchases and leases 217,000 new vehicles at significantly higher prices than in the past.

According to Desrosiers Automotive Reports, Canada's auto industry climbed above 200,000 sales for just the second time in history.  Up to 11-percent, year-over-year, Canadian sales improved by roughly 22,000 units despite outside-the-norm declines from BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Volkswagen.

While losses at a handful of its brands - including a 30-percent dive at Jeep and a 25-percent downturn at Chrysler - clearly diminished some of its potential, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles still says the automaker sold more vehicles in May than ever before.  FCA volume was up 5 percent to 33,186 units.

The Ford Motor Company led all automakers with 34,475 sales, a 17-percent year-over-year improvement that drove the company to its best May since 1989.  General Motors' 36-percent improvement to 31,149 sales produced the best May for GM since 2009, including the best month in Cadillac's history.  Record sales were a common theme at numerous other auto brands as well, from Audi to Honda to Porsche.

That incentives are high is not news to Canadian car buyers.  According to J.D. Power figures revealed by Automotive News Canada, the average new vehicle discount in May 2017 measured $5,800 2-percent higher than in May 2016.

But the typical new vehicle transaction price grew by roughly $1,400 in May 2017, driving the average transaction price above $37,000.

Selling more vehicles, and selling them at a higher price?  Automakers will take that.  Not only are Canadians optioning up existing vehicles, but redesigned vehicles are arriving in Canada with base prices that reflect the weakening Canadian dollar.  The 2018 Honda Odyssey, for instance, sees its MSRP rise 12 percent.

At the heart of the market, where affordability is key, the Ford F-Series - Canada's leading line of vehicles - reported its second-best month ever in May.  Ram P/U sales reached record levels, nearly catching the No. 1 Ford.  The Honda Civic, Canada's top-selling car, was up 5-percent to 8,616 sales, 11-percent of all car sales.  The Ford Escape, a historic Canadian favorite, reclaimed its old position and led all SUVs/crossovers thanks to a 26-percent jump to 5,397 sales.

Meanwhile, May's extraordinary Canadian auto sales achievements, particularly in the light of steady incentives and rising ATPs, have led forecasters to increase their annual forecasts.  Canadian auto sales reached record levels in each o the last four calendar years.  Through the first five months of 2017, Canadian auto sales are up 5 percent.

If that rate of growth continues, Canadians will, for the first time every, buy and lease more than 2 million new vehicles in 2017.

Read More

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.

Read More

05-31-17

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".

Read More

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

Read More

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.

Read More

mm_gal_item_c2_b60c_img_resize_img_stage__0

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

03-08-17

CONSUMER REPORTS NAMES ITS TOP 10 CARS, TRUCKS FOR 2017

2017 ImpalaBy Chris Woodyard, USA Today - Two car models from Detroit's Big 3, both Chevrolets, have worked their way onto Consumer Reports' list of most recommended new vehicles for 2017.

The Chevrolet Cruze becomes the Top Pick for a new compact car, knocking off the Subaru Impreza that held the spot for the past few years.  It joins the Chevrolet Impala, which remains the non-profit organization's most recommended selection for a large car.

Consumer Reports, because of its notorious independence, is one of the most highly regarded sources of advice when it comes to new cars.  The organization buys all the cars it uses for testing, rather than borrowing them from automakers, as one way of making sure that its results are similar to those that would be found by the average motorist.

But cars from the Detroit 3, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, have had a tougher time than the import brands making the recommended lists despite steady improvements in design and quality.  This year, however, the list shows some variety.

It's not dominated by Japanese brands.  Rather, the list includes a vehicle from South Korea's Kia and Germany's Audi.

Cruze not only was tops in the compact category, but it beat out such Japanese-brand mainstays as Honda Civic, a redesigned model that has been a hit among buyers and Toyota Corolla.

"The Cruze is impressive.  With such a smooth ride and quiet interior, it feels like a much larger car, and reliability has been solid right out of the gate," says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' director of automotive testing, in a statement.

The testers also gave high marks to Honda's redesigned Ridgeline pickup, which they said drives more like a car than a truck and had decent gas mileage of 20 miles per gallon overall.

The list wasn't just based on reliability, the ratings for which Consumer Reports is best known.  It also factored in road-test performance, owner satisfaction, and safety.

SUBCOMPACT CAR:  Toyota Yaris iA, $17,570 US

COMPACT HYBRID:  Toyota Prius, $27,323 US

LUXURY SUV:  Audi Q7, $68,695 US

SPORTS CAR:  Mazda MX-5 Miata, $29,905 US

SMALL SUV:  Subaru Forester, $27,145 US

MIDSIZED SUV:  Toyota Highlander, $41,169 US

COMPACT PICKUP TRUCK:  Honda Ridgeline, $36,480 US

COMPACT CAR:  Chevrolet Cruze, $23,145 US

MIDSIZED SEDAN:  Kia Optima, $25,860 US

LARGE SEDAN:  Chevrolet Impala, $39,110 US

Read More

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.

Read More

02-16-17

CHEVROLET CRUZE DIESEL GETS PRIUS-LIKE FUEL ECONOMY

2017-Chevrolet-Cruze-Diesel-023

By Jodi Lai, AutoGuide.com - The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Sedan has been officially rated by the EPA to get 52 mpg on the highway.

To put that into perspective, the Toyota Prius gets a combined rating of 52 mpg.  Chevrolet says the Cruze Diesel's fuel economy is "the highest highway fuel economy of any non-hybrid/non-EV in America" when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.  In the city the manual Cruze gets an official rating of 30 mpg, for a combined city/highway rating of 37 mpg.

The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Sedan is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with 137 horsepower and a stout 240 pound-feet of torque.

In addition to a six-speed manual, a nine-speed automatic with stop/start is also available.  Equipped with the automatic transmission, the Cruze is rated at 47 mpg highway and 31 mpg city for a combined 37 mpg.

Pricing for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Sedan starts at $24,670US including destination.  A hatchback version of the diesel Cruze will be available for the 2018 model year, and with Volkswagen no longer selling diesel vehicles in North America, the Cruze is the only diesel option in the compact car segment.

Read More

Contact Us:

Name:
Email:
Message: