By on April 27, 2017

2017 GMC Canyon - Image: © Timothy Cain

We drove in and around the city in a 2017 GMC Canyon Duramax Diesel for 120 miles, then took a 180-mile journey to Prince Edward Island, and have since driven around that island 120 miles.

The result: 30.2 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale, a miserly 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres. It doesn’t hurt that, around these parts at the moment, diesel costs roughly $0.25 USD less per gallon versus regular.

The 2.8-liter four-cylinder under the hood of this GMC Canyon, with a paltry 181 horsepower but a stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm, is one of a handful of diesels General Motors has installed in U.S. market vehicles. The 6.6-liter Duramax V8 in heavy-duty pickup trucks is the one you hear rumble most often. But GM is also inserting the Cruze’s 240-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbodiesel into the third-gen Chevrolet Equinox and second-gen GMC Terrain.

With diesel engine offerings in two pickup truck lines, a compact car, and a pair of small SUVs, can General Motors — not Mazda, not Mercedes-Benz, not Skoda — be the North American diesel-lover’s answer now that Volkswagen committed its unclean diesel transgressions? Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

Image: Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport VR

Last week, I asked you to think back to your formative years and your driving experiences therein. Many of you responded with tales of when your nervous fingers first gripped the wheel, and the happy experiences (sometimes dangerous if you’re Chris Tonn) you had in whatever vintage automobile you piloted that first time.

Now it’s time to talk about even further back. Knowing how old most of you are though, hopefully we can keep the stories of Conestoga wagons to a minimum today. What vehicle brought you home from the hospital, your first-ever actual ride in a car?

Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

[Image: IMCDB]

Never mind muscle cars and sexy Italian exotics. Nothing sparks atrial fibrillation in the hearts of motorists like seeing a black-and-white Ford Interceptor, Dodge Charger or Chevrolet Tahoe parked by the roadside up ahead.

Your chest tightens. Your eyes dart to the speedometer in the hopes of finding a reading that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of “sedate.” More often than not, you suddenly find yourself as the commanding officer in charge of Operation Slow Down Without Brake Lights or Nosedive.

When outfitted with heavy duty components, hidden armament and a healthy does of The Law, a normal sedan you’d never look twice at in the Ponderosa parking lot transforms into the most menacing vehicle on the road. Some do it better than others. Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

Dildo, NL Road Sign, Image: shankar s./Flickr

Mercifully, at least to those of us living in the Snow Belt or in the Great White North, the official start of summer is only 57 days away. You know what that means: swimming pools, grilling meat, and — for gearheads — road trips.

I’m of firm belief the journey is half the fun, especially if you’re taking the Queen Family Truckster somewhere new. The countries on either side of the 49th parallel are filled with random and bizarre roadside bric-a-brac, some of it fit for discussion on this website, some of it — as we shall see — is straight from Hugh Hefner’s imagination.

Read More >

By on April 21, 2017

exp

I had an interesting conversation with a old friend of mine over the weekend. When I met this fellow, he was past 30 years old, unemployed, living with his mother, lacking both a goal and a direction. He stayed that way into his early 40, when another friend of mine and I pulled some strings to get him a tech job. I exhaustively back-filled his resume with imaginary work and ensured that at least some of it would check out if necessary. For about six months, I surreptitiously trained him on-the-job and picked up his slack while he learned the trade. I figured he would thrive from there …

… and I was right, In fact, he wound up as a Very Important Executive Type for a major tech firm. He’s so important now, and so well-compensated, that he has become bored. Much of our Sunday brunch consisted of him lecturing me about all the opportunities I was missing out in California, both financial and, er, gynecological. The only response I had to this was that the most important opportunity in my life is the opportunity to be a present-and-accounted-for father to my son, so I was gonna stay in Hicksville, Ohio, until that particular job is finished.

Having agreed to disagree on the future desired course of our lives, we made small talk about various tech-industry trends and buzzwords. “As a platform architect,” he noted, causing me to choke a little bit because my allergen-buzzword-receptors became permanently overloaded around the time people started adding the phrase “as a service” to everything, “I’ve come to realize that my job is actually to limit choice. You can’t give people a bunch of choices, even if there are several very good options available. You narrow it down. My job is to narrow it down into a decision that any idiot can safely make, because most executives are idiots who were promoted solely on the basis of their height.”

It was then that I experienced what the Buddhists call satori, or enlightenment, in the matter of the Ford EXP and Mercury LN7.

Read More >

By on April 20, 2017

Pontiac Aztek - Image courtey Doug Demuro

The Pontiac Aztek was widely regarded upon its 2000 debut as one of the ugliest new vehicles to ever set wheel on pavement. Between 2000 and the last sales trickle in 2007, General Motors sold just under 120,000 Azteks in the United States.

Americans were admittedly gung-ho for SUVs in the early part of this century, but not to the extent they are now. In 2002, for instance, when Aztek sales peaked, passenger cars still accounted for nearly half of all new vehicle sales. They account for just 37 percent now.

2017, not 2002, is the time for SUVs and crossovers. And while we’re not advocating for the return of the Pontiac Aztek, we wonder whether the Aztek would be far more successful now than it was then, and not just because everybody and their dog is now choosing an SUV/crossover instead of a car.

No, we wonder whether the Aztek would succeed in 2017 because, to be frank, there are already a wide variety of decidedly unattractive SUVs selling rather well today.  Read More >

By on April 19, 2017

04 - 1985 Chrysler New Yorker Fifty Avenue Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

Think back in time, and then back a little further. Think about when you were between maybe 14 and 18 years of age; when the Kool-Aid was sweet, the lawn darts were shiny, and your personal tablet was an Etch-A-Sketch. It was then you had your first formative driving experiences, whether it was with a driving instructor, or perhaps a relative who reluctantly handed you the keys to their Electra 225.

Today, it’s story time.

Read More >

By on April 18, 2017

{Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Most of us are slaves to convenience, but there’s a good number of motorists who long to relive a nostalgic chapter from their younger days; back when cars were less sterile (externally, anyways), and less overburdened with all-thinking, all-knowing technology.

“Those were good days,” they think, their minds drifting back to a warm, hazy period washed clean of all the bad things they’d prefer not to remember. “Cigarettes were ten cents a pack. I didn’t have the government choking things up between my carburetor and tailpipe.”

There’s no going back to the days before seatbelts and airbags, nor would anyone want a return of car bodies that fold like wet cardboard during a crash, but there are some extinct features we’d like to see again — even if it’s just to satisfy a tiny, memory-filled recess of our overburdened brains. Read More >

By on April 17, 2017

Cars & Coffee; St. Pete, Florida

Ever since I was a lad, growing up maturing getting older in a community of about 1,200 souls and 90 minutes from any sort of car dealership, I’ve been fascinated by cars. Grasping every copy of a car magazine that found its way into our rural mailbox with my grubby little hands, I’d read each one cover to cover until the pages fell out. I knew what each person in our town drove; when someone showed up with new wheels, I’d invariably appear in their driveway asking if I could look at it. That wouldn’t fly today. Good thing everyone knew each other.

Thanks to this dearth of youthful car-related entertainment, 30 years later I now find myself checking out every single car show I happen to find, quenching a long simmering thirst for cool wheels.

Read More >

By on April 13, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - Image: FCAThe 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon produces 808 horsepower; 840 if you find some racing fuel.

I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong. I like fast cars. I like fast SUVs. I like fast minivans. I like quick acceleration, high top speeds, rapid shifts, prodigious tire smoke, and burbly exhaust.

But outrageous horsepower numbers are almost becoming boring. They’re so common. So ordinary. So…

Easy.

Anybody can throw a few hundred extra horsepower at a decade-old muscle coupe. But what else can you do to impress me? Read More >

By on April 12, 2017

2010_Suzuki_Kizashi. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Last week, I asked about vehicles which managed to turn up the Suck Dial between generations. The overwhelming response to this question compared to the opposite question asked a week earlier (about generational improvements) showed me how you all love being negative and trashing cars.

Thus, about six weeks ago, the genesis for today’s question was put into print. At that time I asked about your favorite automotive success story. But today we’re going to be much, much more negative.

Tell me your favorite automotive flop.

Read More >

By on April 11, 2017

Yards Across America

You can always spot a gearhead on vacation. They’re the ones arguing with the people at Hertz over the type of tires on their rental or, at the bare minimum, running up and down the Emerald Aisle at National like a kid in a candy store.

Serious car freaks, like all hands writing for this august establishment and (I’m wagering) a good percentage of our readers, start seeking out car-related “events” at their destination at the earliest opportunity.

Me? I usually end up digging through the Yards Across America.

Read More >

By on April 10, 2017

ROLLS-ROYCE WRAITH AT THE GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED 2015, Image: Rolls-Royce

Three and a half years ago, I found myself blitzing down Wilshire Boulevard behind the wheel of what was then the only Rolls-Royce Wraith in the country. There was much to admire about the car: the saturnine (as in Saturn V, not the dour deity) thrust of the blown V-12, the transcendent sound system, the Starlight Headliner that makes every late-night date a romantic one. Truth be told, I expected all of that. What I did not expect was to be utterly smitten by the Wraith’s two-tone paintjob.

What was the last mass-market passenger car to be sold in the United States with an optional two-color finish? Don’t tell me that it was the ’90s Explorer Eddie Bauer, because I don’t want to think about that despicable slug of a trucklet. Perhaps it was the ’80s Town Car? The bustleback Seville? And could two-tone paint jobs ever make a comeback? I think they might, and I’ll tell you why.

Read More >

By on April 7, 2017

[IMCDB.org]

One of the great things about childhood is the feeling that unlimited possibilities will arrive the moment you turn 18. Rich and famous? Adventurer? Carefree private eye who lives in a trailer by the beach? All of those future lifestyles exist in the realm of possibility when you’re a kid.

You’ll make it happen one day. First, you just need to grow up.

Adulthood, of course, has a way of stepping in and saying, “Whoa there…. whoa, whoa, whoa. Easy now. Have you thought about coding? Plastics? Think, son — what about your retirement?”

Adulthood is one giant buzzkill after another. Read More >

By on April 6, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 - Image: Cadillac

Cadillac is in a curious state.

Many would rightly argue that Cadillac’s products are more competitive now than they’ve been in decades. Cadillac is making headway in China, a market which accounted for slightly more than half of Cadillac’s global volume in the first-quarter of 2017. Cadillac’s average U.S. transaction prices are also above the norm thanks in part to a high percentage of its sales being produced by the high-dollar Escalade.

But sales in Cadillac’s home market continue to slide. U.S. volume has fallen by a fifth over the last decade and has decreased in two of the last three years, falling to a four-year low in 2016. More recently, U.S. sales at Cadillac are down 5 percent in early 2017 after decreasing on a year-over-year basis in six of the last twelve months.

Long gone are the days when Cadillac could sell new vehicles in America at the same rate as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Lexus. Indeed, Cadillac is well back of Audi now, as well. To put an exclamation point on Cadillac’s difficulties, little ol’ Infiniti — also historically reliant on the U.S. market and rather weak globally — outsold Cadillac by a margin of more than 40 percent in March.

What’s next? Which brands will be outselling Cadillac in ten years, or even five, or even two? Read More >

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