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

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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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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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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.

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12-22-16

2017 CHEVROLET CRUZE DIESEL STARTS AT $24,095

2017-Chevrolet-Cruze-media-drive-exterior-026-1024x707

By General Motors, Oshawa, ON - The all-new 2017  Cruze Diesel Sedan will be priced from $24,095, plus a destination freight charge of $1,600 when it goes on sale in Canada at the start of 2017.

"The Cruze offers Canadian customers the only clean diesel engine option in a compact car," said Laura Pacey, brand director, Chevrolet in Canada.  "In addition to innovative safety and technology features, Chevrolet delivers the efficiency and dependability of a diesel engine."

The all-new Cruze diesel sedan offers an exceptional suite of included equipment like the Teen Driver feature, a rear vision camera and heated seats.  Additional standard features include the Chevrolet MyLink radio with a 7-inch-diagonal touch screen, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and OnStar 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Coupled with a 1.6L turbo-diesel engine and standard 6-speed manual or available 9-speed automatic transmission, the Cruze Diesel is fun to drive and gives customers a smooth and quiet cabin experience.  The Cruze Diesel Sedan extends the Cruze lineup and continues to offer exceptional connectivity and a suite of innovative safety technologies.

FAST FACT:  The DEF system of the 2017 Cruze Diesel Sedan was engineered and tested at the Canadian Technical Centre in Oshawa.

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