The Truth About Cars » Chevrolet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:53:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Chevrolet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/chevrolet/ NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Rental Review :2013 Chevrolet Cruze LT/RS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/rental-review-2013-chevrolet-cruze-ltrs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/rental-review-2013-chevrolet-cruze-ltrs/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:30:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933994 This was supposed to be a rental racetrack review. The plan was to to challenge Watkins Glen with Daewoo GM Korea Chevrolet’s well-received not-so-compact sedan, letting the 1.4L turbo engine drag us from Turn One to the Bus Stop under full throttle before putting the brakes up on a pinball table and giving them the […]

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This was supposed to be a rental racetrack review. The plan was to to challenge Watkins Glen with Daewoo GM Korea Chevrolet’s well-received not-so-compact sedan, letting the 1.4L turbo engine drag us from Turn One to the Bus Stop under full throttle before putting the brakes up on a pinball table and giving them the ol’ Jodie Foster* in preparation for the Outer Loop. This would be excellent practice for me and brother Bark as we prepared for AER’s first race at the Glen and it would also reveal quite a bit about the dynamic character of the “RS” package, which in time-honored RS fashion is entirely cosmetic in nature.

Alas, it was not to be. We’d have to be content with 1,222 miles in just 72 hours. So what’s this? Another Cruze review like this one and this one and this one? Not quite, because this time around I’d managed to rent something that wasn’t rental-spec at all.

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To begin with, this Cruze had a sunroof! I can vividly remember the last time I got a rental car with an optional sunroof; it was 1996, in Los Angeles, and the car in question was an oddball Mercury Sable LS with partial-leather seats and the 24-valve Duratec. Rental agencies are so sunroof-averse that their resale operations will actually install one for you if you insist on it. I would trust an aftermarket sunroof installed by Enterprise Car Sales about as far as I would trust a Chinese condom with incomprehensible characters all over it and a weird cartoon drawing of something halfway between a sunflower and Mikhail Gorbachev’s birthmark.

No, wait, hold on, I’d trust the aftermarket sunroof less, because every aftermarket sunroof I’ve ever tried has leaked and every… you don’t want to hear about this stuff, do you? Our proven market research shows that TTAC readers mostly want to hear about small-sample reliability data extrapolated beyond any possible reason. I feel confident, therefore, in saying that because nothing went wrong with this Cruze during my seventy-two hours with the car nothing will ever go wrong with any of them, ever.

The funny thing is that I would trust a Cruze to hold up. I’ve now put about five thousand miles on at least seven different Cruzes and I’ve never seen anything that raised my eyebrows. Insofar as the manufacture and distribution of vehicles that are reliable and durable in the long term is the very thing that made Toyota’s reputation in this country, I have to wonder how many people will consider GM in the future because they’ve been exposed to a high-mileage Cruze that still looks and drives like a new-ish car.

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Which this one certainly did, even with an odometer that rolled 40,000 during my trip. The interior was a significant upgrade on the poverty chic of the last high-mileage Cruze I drove, in a rather impressive combination of chocolate brown soft-touch plastic and cream leather. Between that and the full touchscreen MyLink system fitted to this example, I started to think I was in a bit of an entry-luxury car. There was no noticeable wear on any surface. The seats look like I wish the seats on my 49,000-mile Boxster S Anniversary looked — free of cracking or shiny spots — yet I’m willing to bet hard cash that, unlike my Boxster, this Cruze hasn’t been garaged indoors its entire life and lovingly treated to Lexol cleaner and conditioner every month or so.

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For much of the weekend, the Cruze was asked to ferry three people plus my RainSong JM1000 in the passenger compartment, a task it accomplished without difficulty but also without much legroom. It’s not a small car in most respects but I can’t imagine that anybody in Korea actually gets chauffeured in their Lacettis; there’d be no point to the exercise. Might as well get driven around in a ’76 Celica with the seat shoved all the way back.

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The upgraded front seats in this example remain short in the bolster and curiously undersized as a whole. They’re like 9/10ths scale seats, Smokey Yunick specials to make the rest of the interior feel bigger. As a result, I found myself bracing my right leg against the center console, where it rolled the temperature control to “hotter than balls” every time I shifted my knee. The sound system in this LT/RS was tinny and oddly short on bass; it also sounded noticeably worse through the AUX input than with a compact disc. Even though the compact disc in question was Mumford and Sons’ “Babel”.

“I cannot stand this,” one passenger moaned, switching the stereo back to “Aux”.

“Is this ‘Kirk Whalum Plays The Babyface Songbook’?” Bark inquired.

“Well,” I replied, “I heard you like jazz.” My previous long-distance drives in the Cruze have been in the cheapo 1.8-liter Ecotec models, but this one is the 1.4L turbo. This is what it’s good at: creating the impression of a much bigger, more powerful, smoothly confident engine at full throttle; pulling small hills without a triple downshift; returning 33.8mpg over 400 miles of freeway usage. This is what it’s not good at: full-throttle acceleration; long hills where the relatively flat torque curve cannot disguise the fact that you’re asking a 1.4L engine to motivate something about the curb weight of an old BMW 733i; making reassuring noises at idle and after shutoff instead of horrible thermal clacking and cracking.

The numbers are close between the two available Cruze engines but assuming the smaller-displacement turbo mill isn’t a hand grenade waiting to happen I’d take it every single time. Combined with the heavy but self-assured steering and dynamics that come standard in every Cruze the effect is sort of like the cheapo BMW F80 variants in many ways. It certainly feels at home on the freeway. In limited backroad driving around the Glen, the Cruze RS proved to be unenthusiastic but capable at moderate cornering speeds.

Unfortunately for me, a previous renter had already treated this Chevy’s brakes with profound disrespect, so every touch of the middle pedal resulted in the kind of shuddering that is more typically the precursor to an exploding Space Shuttle. It got to the point that I chose to use the kinda-Tiptronic as a brake on long hills, a choice neither appreciated nor endured with much grace by the slow-witted six-speed automatic.

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No doubt about it, after the first day or so this review will be read mostly by potential used-Cruze buyers relying on search engines to bring them unbiased opinions on the vehicle. So to those readers, I give you a Cruze Checklist. If you want:

* High-quality materials and workmanship, with the exception of the ignition switch
* Quiet freeway ride
* Good but not spectacular fuel economy
* Reasonable front-seat comfort
* Decent trunk space

then the Cruze is for you. If you want

* Speed, power, excitement
* Maximum efficiency
* Rear seat space
* The best sound system and Bluetooth integration possible
* The smallest possible footprint for urban parking or storage

then you’ll want to avoid the Cruze, because it has none of those things.

Four years ago, I wrote of the Cruze, “It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways.” The Civic is refreshed and the Corolla is new since then, but I remain pretty steadfast about that statement. The Cruze has a lot of the common decency that was once the particular excellence of the post-1979 GM A-body sedans. Staid-looking, over-serious, unrelentingly unsentimental about things like sportiness and space efficiency, the Cruze continues to deliver what most Americans actually want in a small sedan, as opposed to what they tell people they want.

This RS version with all the gingerbread is worth seeking out in the used market. The question is: if these cars continue to hold up and perform well, will they still be a bargain? Maybe they’d be a bargain even at a higher price, assuming they don’t have any racetrack time on them.

Which reminds me: The reason I didn’t track the Cruze was simplicity itself. During my overnight drive to the Glen, I pulled in at a truck stop to get two hours of rest. It’s rare for me to be able to sleep more than about ninety minutes in a car without cramping or experiencing pain from all the places I’ve been cut up or broken a bone in the past. Imagine my surprise when I woke five hours later, too late to catch the morning street-car practice. So that’s the Cruze: too relaxing to be thrilling. Even with an “RS” badge.

* In all good conscience, I cannot toss off a joke in reference to The Accused without including a counterpoint — JB

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Reuss: New Chevrolet EV In The Pipeline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/reuss-new-chevrolet-ev-pipeline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/reuss-new-chevrolet-ev-pipeline/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930274 Looking to broaden Chevrolet’s green horizons, General Motors global product overlord Mark Reuss says a new EV is in the works, one that will join the Spark EV and the Volt. And just as TTAC reported earlier this year, the new vehicle will be based on the Chevrolet Sonic. Automotive News reports the vehicle will likely be […]

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Looking to broaden Chevrolet’s green horizons, General Motors global product overlord Mark Reuss says a new EV is in the works, one that will join the Spark EV and the Volt. And just as TTAC reported earlier this year, the new vehicle will be based on the Chevrolet Sonic.

Automotive News reports the vehicle will likely be based upon the B-segment Sonic, have a range of 200 miles, and will become a part of the Bow Tie’s model portfolio by 2017 at the earliest, all according to two individuals close to the source. Reuss, for his part, didn’t disclose more than the fact the vehicle will soon exist.

The EV may have been in development for some time: prior to his departure for greener groves in 2013, then-CEO Dan Akerson said GM was working on a vehicle that would deliver 200 miles of travel on a single charge.

As for where it might be sold, the Spark EV is currently available only in California and Oregon, though the brand’s customers around the country would like to put the electric subcompact in their garages, per Reuss.

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GM Puts Stop-Delivery Order On Colorado, Canyon Twins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-puts-stop-delivery-order-colorado-canyon-twins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-puts-stop-delivery-order-colorado-canyon-twins/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926401 If you ordered one of General Motors’ new mid-size pickups, your delivery may be a bit late, thanks to an airbag recall. Automotive News reports dealers received a note last week from GM informing them that the automaker had notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of an “upcoming safety and noncompliance recall” involving the […]

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Chevrolet Colorados + Car Carrier

If you ordered one of General Motors’ new mid-size pickups, your delivery may be a bit late, thanks to an airbag recall.

Automotive News reports dealers received a note last week from GM informing them that the automaker had notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of an “upcoming safety and noncompliance recall” involving the driver’s side airbag connection being incorrectly wired while the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins were on the assembly line:

This condition will cause the driver-side airbags to not function as designed and may adversely affect the crash performance of the driver-side airbags.

GM says it will deliver a software update to its dealerships “in the next few days,” allowing service techs to reprogram the affected airbag’s sensing and diagnostic module prior to delivery. That said, most of the affected are either at the Wentzville, Mo. assembly plant, in transit, or unsold on the lot.

Speaking of sales of the twins, the automaker reported 36 Colorados and 11 Canyons heading for the old dirt road to the beer-fueled barnyard disco in September.

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Valet Mode Data Recorder In 2015 Corvettes Could Bring Legal Trouble For Some http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/valet-mode-data-recorder-2015-corvettes-bring-legal-trouble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/valet-mode-data-recorder-2015-corvettes-bring-legal-trouble/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921601 Not too long ago, General Motors brought comfort to many a new 2015 Corvette Stingray owner with a feature that would do for them what teddy-bear cams did for concerned parents, recording audio, video and vehicle data when the key was given to the valet. Alas, the spyware could land the owner in legal hot […]

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Not too long ago, General Motors brought comfort to many a new 2015 Corvette Stingray owner with a feature that would do for them what teddy-bear cams did for concerned parents, recording audio, video and vehicle data when the key was given to the valet. Alas, the spyware could land the owner in legal hot water in a dozen states, to say the least.

Automotive News reports GM and Chevrolet will send a software update in October to address the problems that could await owners in two-party states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington — were the data recorder used without the consent of the valet. The automaker also notified dealers to inform their customers to not use the system until the update goes through.

The proposed fix could include removing audio recording from the feature, adding a warning informing valets that they’re being recorded, or another method under consideration.

Another notification, signed by GM senior vice president for global quality and customer experience Alicia Boler-Davis, instructs customers to refrain from using the valet mode, or to inform the valet they would be recorded upon taking the car, and to “obtain their consent.”

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Chevrolet, Honda Give CNG Passenger Cars Another Chance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chevrolet-honda-give-cng-passenger-cars-another-chance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chevrolet-honda-give-cng-passenger-cars-another-chance/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915178 Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike. […]

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Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike.

The Detroit News reports Honda recently introduced a new generation of its Civic Natural Gas model, featuring amenities like heated leather seats and premium sound systems the previous model lacked. Chevrolet, on the other hand, plans to bring a dual-fuel Impala to the party in a few months, being able to use either CNG or gasoline depending on the situation.

Though both brands are willing to give CNG passenger cars another shot, not too many others are as willing. Most automakers believe there’s no money or demand to be found in the alternative fuel, legislators are too focused on the in-crowd of energy solutions, and environmentalists are playing the long game instead of being in the present.

As for the vehicles themselves, both models will come straight from the factory with the same warranties as their gasoline-powered siblings, with the expectation of greater confidence in CNG from the consumer as a result. The Civic and Impala will likely drum up competition among other CNG vehicle manufacturers for the first time in a decade, as well.

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GM Mid-Size Twins Best Similarly Equipped Full-Size Pickups In Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-mid-size-twins-best-similarly-equipped-full-size-pickups-fuel-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-mid-size-twins-best-similarly-equipped-full-size-pickups-fuel-economy/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906401 As full-size pickups do their best to eke out as much fuel economy as possible, the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are set to deliver a combined 21 mpg once they leave the lot for the road. Autoblog reports the GM twin mid-sizers will net owners 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado + GMC Canyon

As full-size pickups do their best to eke out as much fuel economy as possible, the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are set to deliver a combined 21 mpg once they leave the lot for the road.

Autoblog reports the GM twin mid-sizers will net owners 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway in two-wheel drive models equipped with a six-speed auto mated to the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter direct-injection V6. For comparison, a Ram 1500 4×2 with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 sending power to the back through an eight-speed auto offers a rating of 17/20/25; the outgoing Ford F-150 4×2 with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and six-speed auto delivers 16/18/22 mpg; and the Chevrolet Silverado C15 4×2 brings 18/20/24 mpg through its larger 4.3-liter V6 and six-speed auto.

Those wanting all four wheels to do the climbing up that hill will find the Colorado’s and Canyon’s ratings falling to 17/20/24 mpg, though they still best the Silverado K15 4×4 (17/20/22), Ford F-150 4×4 (15/17/21) and Ram 1500 4×4 (16/19/23).

As for trucks closer in size to the duo, Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah says the two-wheel drive models are more than able to throw down against the Nissan Frontier 4×2 (16/18/22 mpg) and Toyota Tacoma 4×2 (17/19/21 mpg).

GM adds that a 2.8-liter Duramax is in the offing for 2016, with figures ready for perusing closer to launch time.

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Los Angeles Chevrolet Dealer Charging Six-Figures For 2014 Camaro Z/28 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/los-angeles-chevrolet-dealer-charging-six-figures-2014-camaro-z28/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/los-angeles-chevrolet-dealer-charging-six-figures-2014-camaro-z28/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905657 A 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 would set you back at least $75,000 MSRP were you to head over to your nearest dealership. One Los Angeles dealership, however, is charging a steeper price of admission for the honor of destroying everyone at Willow Springs and Irwindale. Jalopnik subsidiary Car Buying says Felix Chevrolet has a black-on-black […]

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A 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 would set you back at least $75,000 MSRP were you to head over to your nearest dealership. One Los Angeles dealership, however, is charging a steeper price of admission for the honor of destroying everyone at Willow Springs and Irwindale.

Jalopnik subsidiary Car Buying says Felix Chevrolet has a black-on-black 2014 model for the reasonable price of $106,165, a markup of just over $30,000. Though someone in Beverly Hills — or Justin Bieber — may be more than willing to pay that particular toll, the blog found a dealership 40 minutes away in Santa Ana charging $76,645 for a black-on-black Z/28 on its floor. Since Disneyland is nearby, the lucky owner can used the $30,000 they would have spent in L.A. to buy quite a few passes and souvenirs.

Other dealerships whose prices are in the five-figures include Good Chevrolet near Seattle ($86,150); Schumacher Chevrolet near New York ($74,995); and — with the lowest price of all dealerships in the United States — Lorenzo Bomnin Chevrolet in Miami ($66,999).

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Capsule Review: 2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-traverse-lt-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-traverse-lt-awd/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902794 My, haven’t you matured. You’re a few years removed from realizing that a society’s population must grow if it is to thrive over the long haul. Yet instead of traditional government tactics like recruiting doctors from the other side of the Atlantic and engineers from the other side of the Pacific, you made the hilarious […]

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2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWDMy, haven’t you matured.

You’re a few years removed from realizing that a society’s population must grow if it is to thrive over the long haul. Yet instead of traditional government tactics like recruiting doctors from the other side of the Atlantic and engineers from the other side of the Pacific, you made the hilarious decision to utilize an in-house solution.

You’ve expanded the population all right. By way of the womb.

Child number one brought with him a surprising amount of stuff. Child number two takes up a lot of space, as well. But it’s the third and fourth kids that suddenly made the first bungalow and the first CR-V seem so very small.

Odds are, you’re not about to buy a minivan.

In July, Americans registered 46,519 new minivans. The Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Dodge Durango combined for 53,467 sales. (Another 12,649 sales were generated by premium three-row crossovers from Acura, BMW, Infiniti, and Audi.)

And then there are the very popular Lambda platform crossovers from General Motors. Of the three, the Chevrolet Traverse stands out as the most likely minivan comparison tool because of its lower base price: $31,870 for an LS front-wheel-drive Traverse, $34,745 to add all-wheel-drive, $40,565 for an AWD Traverse 2LT with rear seat entertainment.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD profileOn paper, none of the three three-row crossovers which sell more often than the Traverse in the United States encourage as favourable a comparison with the ultimate family vehicle, the minivan. The Traverse offers greater available cargo space behind the third row, second row, and first row than the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot.

Not much wonder. The Traverse is 6.6 inches longer than the Explorer, 12.6 inches longer than the Highlander, and 12.3 inches longer than the Pilot. It’s longer than the Dodge Grand Caravan, as well, and comes within three-tenths of an inch of stretching as far as the Chevrolet Tahoe from bumper to bumper.

Traverses can also tow in quite a truck-like fashion, with a maximum rating of 5200 pounds, slightly more than the Explorer and Highlander; 700 pounds more than the Pilot.

The Traverse is more.

But as we know, less is actually sometimes more, and bigger is not always better.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT rearThe third row in the Traverse that GM Canada sent our way in August is more challenging to access than the third row in the Nissan Pathfinder, in part because of the Traverse’s flimsy second row levers. It’s roomy enough back there for typical third row occupants, but the seats themselves are torturous little items, hard and flat afterthoughts in what should be a contemporary minivan alternative.

Second row passengers are granted more space and comfort. Our test Traverse didn’t have the expansive glass roof, however, so one glance up reveals a fuzzy headliner. (One look around also reveals great deal of unfortunate grey-beige.)

For the driver and front passenger, there’s no arguing with the comfort level in highway cruise mode. This is a huge cabin with very adjustable seats. But almost all of the controls felt as though they were mounted too low, particularly in comparison to the very intelligent design of the latest Toyota Highlander’s cabin, where the screen is mounted high, a shelf holds items you want to easily grab hold of, and a massive centre bin swallows the lunch order for a family of eight.

GM’s MyLink is still slow, a trait which was admittedly exacerbated by the fact that during the Traverse’s stay, I also spent time with a Tesla Model S’s fast-acting touchscreen.

It’s not that there are any great complaints regarding the Traverse’s on-road behaviour. The ride quality could be slightly firmer, just enough to remove a hint of float. There’s something to be said for the way a modern near-5000-pound high-rider can handle. If 3000-pound sedans had made these kinds of advances over the last 15 years we’d be in awe. Even the brakes offer real bite, and the 281-horsepower 3.6L/6-speed automatic combo never struggles to adequately motivate the Traverse. More low-down torque would be appreciated, as thoroughly wringing out the V6 to locate that adequate motivation feels somewhat out of character for this not-a-minivan.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD interiorIn fact, the most significant dynamic issue isn’t found under the hood or near the wheels, it’s in the cabin. The steering wheel is pencil-thin, as if GM is saying, “You were never going to have fun piloting this behemoth, so we’ve made sure the steering wheel reminds you of the least sporting Oldsmobile you’ve ever driven.”

So the Traverse is vast, it doesn’t need to be expensive, and it remains surprisingly composed in motion. It nevertheless feels like a product designed as a Saturn Outlook for an introduction in late 2006. That was a while ago.

There’s a cheapness to the often-touched interior parts that’s out of keeping with the huge cabin quality increases we’ve seen over the last seven years. That roughness around the edges – from the gravelly second row seat operation to the crude operation of the driver’s armrest and a sliding panel in the centre console – would disappoint in a vehicle of any price.

Even with the 2013 redesign, the Traverse looks like a bloated second-generation Hyundai Santa Fe, which wasn’t ugly, but isn’t exactly current.

Although the fuel economy our Traverse achieved during a mostly low-speed week on the highway easily beat its EPA ratings, the all-wheel-drive Traverse is rated at 16 mpg in the city. The Pathfinder is rated at 19; the Highlander and stretched Santa Fe at 18. Consuming between 12% and 19% more fuel in city driving isn’t a way of winning friends, nor will it positively influence buyers.

The Traverse is undeniably showing signs of age. That it remains relatively competitive is perhaps a symbol of some level of inherent goodness. It may also relate to the idea that, for many family car buyers, bigger is simply better. Though you may frequently have doubts about how accurately that maxim applies to the size of your own family.

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Chinese-Market Chevrolet Cruze Makes Showroom Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chinese-market-chevrolet-cruze-makes-showroom-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chinese-market-chevrolet-cruze-makes-showroom-debut/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899546 As of Monday, the Chinese-market 2015 Chevrolet Cruze has gone on sale. CarNewsChina reports the Shanghai-GM-built compact sedan, ranging in price from ¥109,900 to ¥169,900 ($17,800 – $27,600 USD), is aimed at the Kia K4, Citroën C4L et al in the premium local market. The previous Cruze will continue on as the Cruze Classic, and […]

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As of Monday, the Chinese-market 2015 Chevrolet Cruze has gone on sale.

CarNewsChina reports the Shanghai-GM-built compact sedan, ranging in price from ¥109,900 to ¥169,900 ($17,800 – $27,600 USD), is aimed at the Kia K4, Citroën C4L et al in the premium local market. The previous Cruze will continue on as the Cruze Classic, and will be marketed like its North American cousin as a low-cost model.

On-board the new Cruze, a 1.5-liter with 112 horsepower/108 lb-ft. of torque or 1.4-liter turbo with 148 horses/173 lb-ft. of torque will send power to the front through either a five- or six-speed manual, six-speed automatic or seven-speed DSG depending on engine chosen. GM’s MyLink 2.0 infotainment system is also available, accessible via the Cruze’s 8-inch touchscreen.

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Ford, Chevrolet Begin Labor Day Battle Weeks Early http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/ford-chevrolet-begin-labor-day-battle-weeks-early/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/ford-chevrolet-begin-labor-day-battle-weeks-early/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=895386 Hold onto your wallets: Ford and Chevrolet are getting the jump on Labor Day sales weeks in advance of what most consider the end of the summer season. Automotive News reports the two brands are bringing their A games to the showroom, ranging from 0 percent financing for 72 months across most of their respective […]

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Ford Labor Day Sale 2014

Hold onto your wallets: Ford and Chevrolet are getting the jump on Labor Day sales weeks in advance of what most consider the end of the summer season.

Automotive News reports the two brands are bringing their A games to the showroom, ranging from 0 percent financing for 72 months across most of their respective lines, to Chevrolet offering deferred payments for the first 90 days for select models. Rather than wait until closer to Labor Day, however, Ford launched the first attack back in late July; Chevrolet kicked off its campaign last week.

The end game? Regain lost ground in sales from the first half of 2014. Ford lost 1 percent of its share of the market, dropping to 14.8 percent in comparison to 2013. Meanwhile, Chevrolet fell from 12.9 percent to 12.5 percent in the same period comparison.

Other combatants in the end-of-summer sales battle include Toyota offering 0 percent APR for 60 months on a handful of models, Nissan presenting 0 percent between 36 and 72 months depending on the model chosen, and Dodge giving buyers 90-day deferments on 2014 and 2015 models through Labor Day weekend.

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GM Will Set Base Curb Weight For Its Truck Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/gm-will-set-base-curb-weight-truck-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/gm-will-set-base-curb-weight-truck-lineup/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888617 The next time you visit a Chevrolet or GMC showroom to check out a full-size or mid-size pickup, you may find the truck’s curb weight to be heavier than once advertised. That’s because General Motors has decided it will no longer remove items to make payload. Autoblog reports GM will commit to a base curb […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 long box

The next time you visit a Chevrolet or GMC showroom to check out a full-size or mid-size pickup, you may find the truck’s curb weight to be heavier than once advertised. That’s because General Motors has decided it will no longer remove items to make payload.

Autoblog reports GM will commit to a base curb weight for its Silverado/Sierra and Colorado/Canyon twins after a number of complaints regarding its and Ford’s practice of removing items — spare tires, radios, jacks, center consoles — to lower curb weight for a boost in maximum payload capacity. Representative Tom Wilkinson says the move will bring curb weight on par with other truck makers for easier comparisons when consumers go truck shopping. Heavy-duty trucks will also have a base weight, though those numbers have yet to be finalized.

However, GM and everyone else says the truck’s Tire and Load Label should be consulted over curb weight ratings when it comes to maximum payload capacity. Meanwhile, Ford will continue use its temporary decontenting methods to determine curb weight.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-2500hd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-2500hd/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:05:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881746 This Duramax-powered 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD possesses an as-tested price that’s precisely triple the as-tested price of the 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback I drove around for a week back in late May. The Mazda had half as many cylinders as the Silverado HD, less than one-third the engine displacement, and no turbocharger. The Silverado […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LT

This Duramax-powered 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD possesses an as-tested price that’s precisely triple the as-tested price of the 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback I drove around for a week back in late May.

The Mazda had half as many cylinders as the Silverado HD, less than one-third the engine displacement, and no turbocharger. The Silverado has 20% more seating capacity, a wheelbase that’s within eight inches of the Mazda’s overall length, 278% more cargo bed volume than the Mazda has cargo capacity behind the rear seats, and 2.6 times the weight.

The Silverado’s 6.6L turbocharged V8 diesel produces 242 more horsepower while generating more than five times the torque. Yes, it’s not quite three times as heavy as the Mazda, but the Silverado has the torque of five Mazda 3s. Mazda’s 3 operates only as a front-wheel-drive vehicle, but the Silverado can send power to all four wheels. Both utilize a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Naturally, none of this should be taken as a reflection of my opinion on the Mazda 3, which is probably the best car in its class at this moment. Take it as a prelude to my father’s concerns about my financial well-being. After all, GM Canada supplied me with the Silverado HD for a week, but the Cains supply the fuel.

See, I had told my parents that I could pick up their first-born and his wife and two of their kids and all their luggage at the airport in the Silverado HD so the patriarch and matriarch wouldn’t have to take two cars in order to manage the load. I was told that it would be quite late, and since I get quite sleepy rather early; since it’s a slightly longer drive from my house to Stanfield Airport way outside the city; since they’re anxious to see a family they haven’t seen in a year, I should just stay at home.2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 long box

The next day, however, I found out it was actually because my father didn’t think I should spend the money on fuel. Indeed, later in the week when we appeared at their place in our own car and not the Silverado HD, he once again asserted the view that it was because of fuel economy concerns, despite the fact that in long-box form, the Silverado simply didn’t fit in their parking lot. I kid you not.

But in real world terms, the diesel Silverado 2500 crew cab only consumed twice as much fuel as the Mazda. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s certainly more than twice as capable.

Moreover, to what extent is (or should) fuel economy be a concern for buyers of a truck that costs $76,000 (before deep discounts) in Canada? That price, by the way, includes $23,040 in options on an LT-trim Silverado 2500, including the $11,115 Duramax diesel/Allison transmission combination, a combo which costs $8395 in the United States.

The Duramax isn’t installed in GM’s 2500/3500 pickups simply as a means of saving fuel. Diesels are the engines of choice in heavy duty pickup trucks because of the way in which their torque is delivered.

All of it comes on stream at 1600 rpm in the Ram Cummins, Ford PowerStroke, and this Duramax, although the Ram and F-Series diesels produce more torque, and the F-Series quite a bit more horsepower, too.2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD LT tow haul modeUnloaded and without a trailer, the Silverado HD didn’t so much feel like a torque monster as much as it felt like a very fast automobile. I can’t imagine how a full array of passengers, a fair amount of cargo, and anything less than a 6000-pound trailer would cause it to feel slow.

During its stay at our house, the Silverado didn’t max out its tow rating, I didn’t use a front end loader to throw a gigantic boulder into its bed like they used to in old Like A Rock commercials, and I didn’t transport five construction workers to a paving project on a main artery at rush hour.

This may have caused me to appreciate the Silverado’s range of abilities all the more, as its ride quality, mighty brakes, and genuinely normal handling by light-duty modern truck standards convinced me. I enjoy hushed cabins, comfortable thrones, masses of rear legroom, built-in bumper steps, and softly-sprung tailgates.

Outside of those extreme moments (of which there are surely more for the buyer of a truck like this) when the Chevrolet is pushed to its limits, this is a normal truck. And we live in an age in which normal trucks are very pleasant places in which to spend time. You won’t always tow a horse trailer. The bed will not always be loaded with lawn mowers and sod and mulch. I wanted to know if the Silverado HD was liveable, a normal vehicle to operate at times when it’s not executing abnormal job duties. It is.

I don’t like GM’s MyLink infotainment unit, because it’s slow, crawling through satellite radio stations like a snail who ingested too many of Colorado’s unique brownies. There’s quite a bit of disconnect in the steering for the first two inches or more on either side of center, though not an unexpected amount.

I’d like the HD version to be more stylistically differentiated from the 1500 trucks. The Z71 badges on the side of a bed this vast either need to disappear or grow large enough to look tough. Optional 20-inch wheels should look a lot more exciting than this quartet. If the front row’s middle occupant is going to be punished by a massive centre hump, couldn’t GM figure out a way to give them more than just a lap belt?

It’s also tough not to be tempted by the extra torque available in the GM twins’ two rivals. One might also assume that at some point, despite the goodness of their trucks, the concern analysts have over lost market share and the angst auto news writers have over recalls will cause GM’s actual buyers to rethink their own “time for a new Chevy pickup” notions.2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD LT woodsIncidentally, I did end up making it out to the airport. The neighbours and their 80-pound Husky/Border Collie didn’t want to pay to leave their car in long-term parking for nine days, and one morning they looked outside and saw an eight-foot bed attached to a four-door truck in the driveway next door. As you’d expect, the massive WestJet-approved dog crate and a load of luggage that included 50 pounds of meat for the dog didn’t test the cargo or payload capacity of the Silverado. Nor did the six pieces of eight-foot long quarter round trim I bought on the weekend.

Yet isn’t it interesting that the Duramax travelled 20.5 miles per gallon of diesel on that highway jaunt to the airport? (That’s about the same economy achieved by the Silverado 2500 HD in Winston Braithwaite’s hands.) Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea for the truck to complete the airport run earlier in the week, either, particularly considering the fuel economy of the Outback and Elantra that actually did make the trip: 23.5 and 31.4 mpg, respectively. Especially now that, in Nova Scotia’s regulated fuel market, diesel costs 23 cents less per gallon than regular gasoline.

Yes, this means instead of three Mazda 3s, you should buy one Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab.

In order to save money.

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Recalled GM Cars See Bigger Price Drop Over Other Used Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/recalled-gm-cars-see-bigger-price-drop-used-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/recalled-gm-cars-see-bigger-price-drop-used-vehicles/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882106 Are your children about to start college? Maybe it’s their senior year in high school? Looking for a cheap vehicle and don’t mind if it’s been recalled to death by its automaker? Then a vehicle caught up in the General Motors recall parade might be the one, as prices have fallen hard as of late. […]

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2009 Chevrolet Cobalt Kia Store

Are your children about to start college? Maybe it’s their senior year in high school? Looking for a cheap vehicle and don’t mind if it’s been recalled to death by its automaker? Then a vehicle caught up in the General Motors recall parade might be the one, as prices have fallen hard as of late.

Jalopnik reports a study by iSeeCars.com says the six vehicles that kicked off the parade — Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet HHR — saw their used car prices drop 14 percent between March and June 2014, compared with 6.7 percent for other used vehicles in the same period.

The biggest loss leaders were, of course, the Cobalt and its sister G5, with a 13.7 percent drop in price. That said, if you ever wanted a Cobalt SS coupe or sedan (or XFE for that Prius-esque fuel economy without the hipster connotations), or a Saturn Sky Redline, this might the time to pick one up.

iSeeCars GM Recall Price Drop Average Chart

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Capsule Review: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2015-chevrolet-silverado-2500hd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2015-chevrolet-silverado-2500hd/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:07:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873761 Time was, a pickup truck like this would have beat a man senseless. This heavy-duty Chevy can tow till your heart’s content. A big-rig underscore is provided by the 6.6 liter Duramax diesel and stout Allison 1000 transmission. Take off from a stop, and the variable-vane turbocharger goes “tweeeeeee” just like a mini Kenworth, and […]

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Time was, a pickup truck like this would have beat a man senseless.

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This heavy-duty Chevy can tow till your heart’s content. A big-rig underscore is provided by the 6.6 liter Duramax diesel and stout Allison 1000 transmission. Take off from a stop, and the variable-vane turbocharger goes “tweeeeeee” just like a mini Kenworth, and those vanes can also close down and act like an exhaust brake. With modern emissions controls, the diesel powertrain is clean, too. At least until some knucklehead makes it belch clouds of particulates.

This isn’t the only heavy-duty diesel pickup, everyone’s got one, but for now it’s the newest. Technology and engineering advances have given us 700 hp ponycars that are housecat tame and four-wheel-drive pickups with impressive press-release talking points.

  • 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque.
  • Allison 1000 6-speed automatic
  • 19,600 lbs towing capacity on the factory hitch
  • 23,200 lbs fifth-wheel capacity
  • 7,374 lbs maximum payload
  • Integral exhaust brake and trailer brake controller

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The Silverado 2500HD is a big slab of pickup. That’s no surprise, you expect a heavy-duty pickup truck to be rugged and capable; they always have been. The biggest surprise is how little it makes you pay for the ability to tow that 45-foot New Horizons Majestic you’ve had your eye on.

The Silverado HD will lighten your wallet efficiently. There it was on the sticker, a $60,000 bottom line. That’s not even fully-loaded, but a crew cab 2LT with some options including MyLink, navigation, and Bose audio. The four-wheel drive system is the kinder, gentler kind, actuated by electronic minions engaged by a knob on the dashboard. Refinement is also not new  to heavy-duty pickups, but the 2014 Silverado HD elevates the practice.

No matter how many phone calls I started with “hey, you know that car/trailer/scrap metal you need to move…?” I didn’t stand a chance of stressing the high payload or tow rating. The spray-in bedliner, soft-opening tailgate, hydroformed frame, factory tow hitch, front suspension made up of forged steel and cast iron control arms and all the other big-muscle details were forlorn and lonely. Instead, I basked in the way this truck serves as a refuge. Shut the door and the clamor of the jobsite is effectively sealed from the cabin. There is no transfer case lever protruding from the floor, the seats are ventilated and upholstered in perforated leather. An enormous center console with a row of USB ports and a 120-volt AC outlet sits in between the very comfortable power front buckets. The pedals power-adjust to meet you. A man could get used to this.

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Instead of pounding the kidney stones out of you, the ride is benign, even riding high on the jacked-up Z71 heavy-duty suspension. It’s a truck and you know it, but these things used to churn milk into butter. The easy way I could chew highway and achieve fuel economy around 20mpg has done nothing to blunt the dream of hauling some of Murilee’s highly-restorable Junkyard Finds back to the rust belt for fun and profit. Long miles pass beneath the Silverado 2500 HD without penalty. The 6.6 liter Duramax is strong, but feels laggy. You need to be firm with it if you need all the power, and the peak torque number trails the Ford and Ram offerings. The Allison transmission, on the other hand, is very smooth.

One area where the Silverado lets you down are the electronic extras. The audio system is slow to respond to the hard-to-find controls that are on the back of the steering wheel spokes. It’s a nice idea cribbed from Chrysler, but it’s not done as well here. It’s also a long reach to the tuning knob. The climate system has a bunch of small buttons with pictograms arrayed around the fan knob. It takes a second to figure out which one will give you what you want, and I have my doubts that it’ll be easy to operate with gloves. I also kept setting the alarm off when opening the door with the key. Weird.

It’s easy to get hung up on the facts and figures, or become offended by the idea of leather and navigation in a working truck, especially when the final tally pushes $60,000. There’s more configurability and choice in the truck market than anywhere else in all of autodom, and Chevrolet says the Silverado is the king of having it your way. You can configure this thing a zillion different ways, and the price drops to around $50,000 if you skip most of the options. Go for the gas engine instead of  the diesel and you’ll save over $7,000, putting you around $43,000 before the astounding incentives start. The Duramax is one expensive steroid, but have you seen the kinds of deals they’re making on anything with wheels lately?

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No wonder sales are juiced beyond belief. Get in on it now, before it totally collapses. If you do pull the trigger on a Silverado HD, you’ll get a brawny truck that can mix it up on the commute with surprising ease. You’ve got to take some care with the following distance and braking, but that’s because the Silverado 2500HD is so docile otherwise. It’s big, sure, but other than that, there’s little difference between driving a Malibu and this truck. That agreeable nature coupled with the quiet cabin and smoothed-over ride put the Silverado HD right in the middle of the field. A Ram 2500 Laramie with the 6.7 liter Cummins can be dressed up with an interior that feels more luxurious for around the same price. The Ford F250 Super Duty Lariat gets to diesel 4×4 with leather upholstery territory a few thousand dollars sooner, but it feels dated and cheap inside.

If all you want is a work truck from one of the leading brands, just throw a dart. They’ll all pull their guts out and get the job done. On the other hand, if you want something that straddles the line between burly mechanicals and baroque cabin luxury, the differences become more clear. On that measure, the Chevy is firmly in the middle of the road for the class.

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GM: Colorado, Canyon Aimed At Small Crossover, Pickup Shoppers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-colorado-canyon-aimed-at-small-crossover-pickup-shoppers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-colorado-canyon-aimed-at-small-crossover-pickup-shoppers/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874897 General Motors’ upcoming midsize truck twins — the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — look to do more than attract those seeking a smaller pickup by also seeking out small crossover consumers. Autoblog reports GM wants to go after crossover shoppers for their new pickups, going as far as to bring a Ford Escape for […]

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General Motors’ upcoming midsize truck twins — the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon — look to do more than attract those seeking a smaller pickup by also seeking out small crossover consumers.

Autoblog reports GM wants to go after crossover shoppers for their new pickups, going as far as to bring a Ford Escape for a competitive test drive at the automaker’s Milford, Mich. facility during the twins’ media day.

On paper, GM believes the interior quality and exterior styling will be the main draws for those looking at Escapes, CR-Vs and RAV4s. The pickups’ power and utility could also help sway those buyers, along with pricing similar to those on the windows of small crossovers. Mileage, on the other hand, may be less than what said consumers prefer, especially when the aforementioned trio delivers a combined 26 mpg.

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Review: 2015 Chevrolet Malibu Eco LS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-chevrolet-malibu-eco-ls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2015-chevrolet-malibu-eco-ls/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:45:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875249 Exterior photography by Rachel Gibbs What did the American people get for the fifty billion dollars they spent and the eleven billion they lost on the General Motors bailout? Well, they got stability, they got the retention of perhaps a million jobs, they avoided what might have been a last straw in what a posterity […]

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Exterior photography by Rachel Gibbs

What did the American people get for the fifty billion dollars they spent and the eleven billion they lost on the General Motors bailout? Well, they got stability, they got the retention of perhaps a million jobs, they avoided what might have been a last straw in what a posterity unblinded by the contemporaneous media’s Obama-as-messiah drumbeat will recognize as the greatest depression since the Great one, and they got the C7 Corvette.

All good things, if you ask me.

But they also got garbage like this.

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I thought the original Malibu was pretty okay. Its replacement, I felt, was worse, but I held out the possibility that a round of 2014-model-year changes might improve the situation somewhat. It has to be said that General Motors did a good job of getting its tame mouthpieces to spread the word about the “new” Eco drivetrain being just as efficient as the old-for-2013 edition despite the fact that it loses eAssist in favor of a simple stop-start system. For that reason I thought that perhaps the 2014 Malibu wouldn’t be a disaster.

Well, here’s the good news up front, for what it’s worth: I couldn’t get the 2013 Malibu LTZ four-cylinder to exceed 27mpg average. The 2015 Malibu Eco LS that I drove from Columbus to Evansville, IN and back did this:

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over this distance:

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That’s approximately what I saw in a 2014 Accord EX-L CVT. It’s not a surprise that General Motors, a company which has focused on the raw numbers when measuring competitiveness to a sometimes embarrassing extent, (cf.: the ads for the Pontiac 6000 where they compared it with the BMW 533i) has managed to come within striking distance of Honda’s four-cylinder fuel economy. It’s also not a surprise that the experience of operating the Malibu powertrain is, subjectively speaking, monstrously unpleasant in contrast to the Accord setup.

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On the move, the Malibu is spectacularly gutless, digging deep into the transmission with a herk and a jerk for the mildest grades. The Accord four is a rocketship compared to this. I’m not going to say it’s dangerously slow because it isn’t. However, we’ve come to take a certain amount of, shall we say, adjustability via the throttle in a modern car. As in: “If this merge is dicey I can jam the throttle and just get in front of this truck.” In the Malibu, you won’t have that adjustability. You’d better plan ahead. Not like you would in a 240D, but like you would in a three-liter Taurus from 1995. If your current car is an old four-cylinder Malibu, you’re unlikely to have any complaints. If it’s a four-cylinder Camry of recent vintage, you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised.

Everyone else will be unpleasantly surprised by the unbelievably cack-handed stop-start. Whatever nonsense you thought about stop-start when you first heard about in reference to the Insight or Prius or AMG E63 wagon or whatever — it isn’t reliable, it takes a bit of time to start, it’s noisy, it sounds like you’re wearing the car out — is actually true in the case of the Malibu Eco.

Most of the time, coming to a halt in the ‘Bu will cause the engine to fall dead and the tach needle to fall to “auto stop”. So far so good and other than a discernible drop in the efficacy of the A/C there’s not much about which you could complain. Release the brakes and the engine immediately spins up and delivers power, and off you go.

No, wait.

That’s how it works in other cars.

In the Malibu it goes WHIRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEAAARRRRRRRRGH and the engine reluctantly coughs into life like a freakin’ 1982 Citation Iron Duke and the car briefly shudders with the violence of it and THEN the car moves forward. It’s easily the least confidence-inspiring powertrain I’ve experienced in a post-Millennium automobile. In what should be perfect weather for this sort of system — eighty degrees and sunny — I had genuine concerns that the Malibu just wouldn’t come back to life at a given stop. Performing left turns across traffic and whatnot were made frightening, so I developed the “Malibu Pokey”:

You put your right foot in
You take your right foot out
It makes the stop-start start up
and run the engine
That’s what it’s all about!

As satisfying as the Malibu Pokey was while driving around downtown Louisville, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t do it very often because it wouldn’t let the Chevrolet post its best possible fuel economy. Left turns became exciting again.

The removal of the eAssist from the Malibu Eco was supposed to give us the trunk back, but if that’s the case I’d hate to see what it was like before. This has to be the smallest trunk in a mid-sized car by some amount; it’s significantly less useful than the cargo area in my Accord Coupe and the Altima I drove immediately after this Malibu shamed it in that regard. A normal-sized guitar hard case fits very awkwardly in this Malibu, to the point that I gave up and started putting everything in the back seat. I was willing to accept the old Malibu’s restricted storage room because I dug the minimalist aesthetic of the whole car, but this thing is to its predecessor like a ’77 Colonnade Monte Carlo is to a ’68 Chevelle, styling-wise. GM Design pulled out all the Malaise stops on this indifferently flame-surfaced disaster and the result is an odd combination of a Silverado, a Camaro, and a Pinewood Derby car. It literally couldn’t have any more front end on it, likely because GM wanted it to share “design DNA” with the trucks, and therefore it tapers to the back like one of those nightmare lantern-jaw fish of the unfathomable deep.

Things don’t improve once you get inside, particularly at night, where the trademark “GM Aqua LCD” color is extended to some, ahem, mood lighting. The General’s managed to do something unprecedented in human history: they’ve managed to make a color feel cheap. After well over two decades of indifferently-backlit aqua-esque instrument panels in cars that committed sins from subterranean resale value all the way to attempted-murder-via-ignition-switch-was-the-case-that-they-gave-me, the use of this color should require a “trigger warning” on the door jamb.

The seats are uncomfortable, the steering’s dead, the brakes are touchy, and everything you touch in this LS variant has the mark of cost-cutting Cain all over it.

In other words, this heavily-revised Malibu is significantly less pleasant to operate than an old Cruze. I cannot imagine than anybody would test-drive this and Ye Olde Daewoo Laecetti back-to-back and pick this. I cannot imagine that anybody would test-drive this and an Altima, Camry, or Accord back-to-back and pick this. I have no idea why anybody would buy this car. As tested, it’s $23,165. For that money you can get any number of decent cars, including a Cruze 2LT. If you can wait a few months, you can get the revised Cruze, even. Or you could take advantage of whatever incentives can be had now and you can buy a Cruze LTZ. There is no way in which a Cruze LTZ is not preferable to this Malibu.

That’s disappointing as hell because the Cruze is a Daewoo, excuse me, GM Korea, and the Malibu is a product of the home team and it’s a half-decade newer. We should be able to do better. We can do better. Go try out a C7 Corvette. It’s brilliant in ways I can’t describe without sounding like Dan Neil desperately firing the third spasm of the day into his battered thesaurus. Go check out a Cadillac ATS. The interior’s cramped and sucky but they’ve completely cracked the handling code. Take a look at a current Tahoe; it’s the finest, fastest, most spacious station wagon in history.

It isn’t that GM can’t make good product. It’s that sometimes they don’t try. So in the case of the Malibu, you shouldn’t bother.
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General Motors Issues Six Recalls For 720,000 Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872770 Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years. Autoblog reports the following have been recalled: 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats […]

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2014 Chevrolet SS in Red

Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years.

Autoblog reports the following have been recalled:

  • 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats may loosen on its own, if not fall out, allowing the seat to move freely; 414,333 recalled.
  • 2013 – 14 Cadillac ATS, Buick Encore; 2014 Chevrolet Caprice/SS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac ELR; 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra: Incomplete weld of seat hook bracket assembly, may require track replacement; 124,008 recalled.
  • 2011 – 13 Buick Regal; 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Single-bulb burnout of turn signal failing to notify driver of issue, reprogramming needed; 120,426 recalled.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala: Bad electric ground on power steering module of belt-driven electric steering models — caused by misplaced paint — may lead to sudden loss or reduction of steering power; 57,242 recalled
  • 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Spark: Improperly fastened lower control arm of Korean-built models could lead to separation from the steering knuckle; 1,919 recalled.
  • 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon Denali: Incorrect retaining nut in interior roof rail could puncture or tear roof-mounted airbags upon deployment; 22 recalled.

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2014 Chevrolet SS To Pace 20th Running Of Brickyard 400 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2014-chevrolet-ss-to-pace-20th-running-of-brickyard-400/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2014-chevrolet-ss-to-pace-20th-running-of-brickyard-400/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871274 Monday, we alerted you that the 2015 Chevrolet SS will come with a manual transmission and Magnetic Ride. Today, the current SS has thrown on some red and silver pace-car clothing to lead its tube-frame brethren over the strip of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th running of the Brickyard 400. Autoblog reports […]

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Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard

Monday, we alerted you that the 2015 Chevrolet SS will come with a manual transmission and Magnetic Ride. Today, the current SS has thrown on some red and silver pace-car clothing to lead its tube-frame brethren over the strip of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th running of the Brickyard 400.

Autoblog reports the driver behind the wheel of this SS will be none other than actor Chris Pratt, whose latest film, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” will be in theaters August 1. Pratt said it was “a dream come true to drive the pace car” for the Brickyard 400, renamed the John Wayne Walding 400 by sponsor Crown Royal in honor of the Army veteran who lost part of his right leg during the Battle of Shok Valley in 2008.

The silhouette Sprint Cup version of the SS is doing well for itself since the start of its racing career in 2013, winning 16 out of 36 races in the previous season, and claiming nine of the first 10 events in 2014. Meanwhile, the Camaro and Corvette will take up pacing duties for the support events around the Brickyard 400.

Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard

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2015 Chevrolet SS Order Guide Confirms Manual Transmission, Magnetic Ride http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-chevrolet-ss-order-guide-confirms-manual-transmission-magnetic-ride/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-chevrolet-ss-order-guide-confirms-manual-transmission-magnetic-ride/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870026 Those who were waiting for the Chevrolet SS to have a manual transmission to go with its Australian power, they can now breathe: The order guide confirms the 2015 model will that, as well as the Magnetic Ride suspension. Jalopnik reports one of their commentariat had looked through General Motors’ online Fleet Order guide when […]

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Chevrolet SS

Those who were waiting for the Chevrolet SS to have a manual transmission to go with its Australian power, they can now breathe: The order guide confirms the 2015 model will that, as well as the Magnetic Ride suspension.

Jalopnik reports one of their commentariat had looked through General Motors’ online Fleet Order guide when they came upon the revelations. In addition, more of the commentariat pointed out a number of new colors 2015 SS owners could drool over, including Regal Peacock Green and Alchemy Purple; Dodge and SRT may have to dust off a few oldies to keep up.

2015 Chevy SS Form A 2015 Chevy SS Form B

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From Czech Republic to Normandy in a Chevy Suburban http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/from-czech-republic-to-normandy-in-a-chevy-suburban/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/from-czech-republic-to-normandy-in-a-chevy-suburban/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866001 My Czech employer sent me to cover the 70th D-Day Anniversary celebrations in Normandy. And since I had to take three more guys with me, as well as massive pile of camera equipment, we decided I need a big vehicle. And the biggest thing we could find was my boss’ 2010 Suburban Z71. Which is […]

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My Czech employer sent me to cover the 70th D-Day Anniversary celebrations in Normandy. And since I had to take three more guys with me, as well as massive pile of camera equipment, we decided I need a big vehicle. And the biggest thing we could find was my boss’ 2010 Suburban Z71. Which is obviously an excellent choice for rural roads in France. Here’s how it went.

As you probably noticed from my previous articles, I’m a sucker for large, rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame boats with massive V8s under the hood. Unlike average European, I consider such a vehicle to be the norm and the ideal for the daily transportation. And it made me extremely sad to see the BOF sedan being wiped out from the American automotive landscape with the end of Panther production in 2011.

So, naturally, when I got the chance to spend a few thousand miles behind the wheel of the spiritual successor of the body-on-frame sedan/wagon. I was extremely interested in finding out how’s the Suburban in real life. I hoped that it would be close enough to a “modern day Caprice STW” for me to serve as a family car in the near future, when I’ll start caring about child seats, safety and space to put a stroller in.

Before we set off to Normandy, I had already driven the Suburban for a couple hundred miles to serve as a camera car for some motorcycle video shoots, so I had a general idea about how the thing drives, and how it works on (relatively) tight Czech roads.

My feelings about it were a bit mixed. The positive part was that the Suburban still retains the incredible maneuverability of the wagons of yore – with a narrow, longitudinally mounted engine, the front wheels can turn in an improbable angle, giving the truck a really excellent turning radius. Couple this with a squared-off body with easy to see extremities, and you can turn around or park in spaces that would present a severe problem for many European MPVs, SUVs or even larger wagons (imagine something like a Passat Variant).

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But there was also the negative. With all the “SUVs are the new wagons” talk, I kind of imagined that the Suburban, with all the improvements of the last two decades, will drive much like somewhat higher, more modern Caprice. But it doesn’t. Not in the slightest.

Those of you living in America will probably find it amusing, but I was quite surprised that Suburban drives like what it essentially is. A truck. Yes, you can think that I’m just stupid European, who’s used to driving our tiny little wagons, and thus I’m naturally flabbergasted by the sheer size of this Chevy. But remember that I consider a Town Car to be a perfect, ahem, town car, so I was a bit surprised that something not even a foot longer, using similar suspension and drivetrain, drives so much different.

I’m not even sure what exactly causes the difference. Maybe it’s the height of your seating position, looking eye-to-eye with bus drivers and truckers. Maybe it’s the heavy controls, which make you feel that you really have to manhandle a great deal of weight. And maybe the Z-71 off-road package did its part, making the car quite stiff. While the old Caprice or Cadillac did have its unique way of getting around, with ultra-assisted steering and huge wheel lock working together to make it extremely easy to fling the car around, the Suburban feels much more unwieldy than it really is.

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Packing up for the Normandy trip, we also saw the better side of the Suburban. If you need to carry four people and still keep enough cargo space for all the stuff you need for a six days of video shooting, the Suburban is one of the very few cars that will fit the bill. With third row seats removed, the trunk is absolutely bloody cavernous. With our remote controlled drone, cameras, tripods, more cameras, personal luggage of four people and many other things, we would be totally screwed if we used any European SUV. Touareg, Disco or X5 may look big in European traffic, but compared to this monster, they are like tiny little toy cars. The biggest problem of the Suburban was that if you put anything anywhere deep in the trunk, you have to climb inside to retrieve it – which, frankly, gets old very fast, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to haul so much stuff.

The huge cargo capacity also made up, at least partially, for the biggest practical drawback of the Suburban in Europe. After years of reading about wonderful fuel economy of the 5.3 Vortec, I was maybe a bit too optimistic about the amount of fuel needed for the 950 mile trip from my hometown of Pardubice to Merville in Normandy. I kind of expected that with all the developments in aerodynamics and engine technology made in the last two decades, the huge SUV can return numbers comparable to the old Caprices I have been used to driving.

But I was wrong. Very wrong. On the way to France, I tried to drive as gently as possible, keeping the cruise set at 70mph and hoping for something like the 20 mpg my old Caprice would get at similar speeds. The reality was 17 mph, which is not that terrible, knowing that an European SUV with gasoline V6 or large diesel engine would be just marginally better. But still, seeing the fuel needle falling with astonishing speed through the gauge was a bit shocking, as were several fuel stops on the way there, each costing about $200-250. As with the dimensions and maneuverability, I’m used to large American cars – but even compared to my Town Car, this was brutal.

On the other hand, if you don’t pay for fuel (which I didn’t), the cruising experience with the Suburban is pretty nice. Even on the stiff Z-71 suspension, it’s comfortable enough, and I imagine that some more comfort-oriented version would really soothe its driver with plushness.

Being used to the nearly silent 4.6 Modular under the hood of the Lincoln, I was a bit surprised by the levels of noise made by the Vortec. Not that I had anything against it – it’s still one of the best sounding engines available, and with its suprising (for OHV plant) hunger for revs, it was really fun to drive, especially in towns or on smaller roads. Power was more than adequate, even for a vehicle that, fully laden, must have weighed 6000 lbs.

When we got to Normandy, we were faced with a lot of driving on tiny, medieval roads, and I soon understood why so many people say that American cars do not fit European roads. In Czech Republic or Germany, most roads are plenty wide enough for fullsize American cars, and 5er BMWs, Ford Mondeos about the size of a Ford Fusion), VW Passats etc. are considered fairly normal cars. In France? Bark was right. Mini Coopers, DS3s, Peugeot 208s and other tiny cars everywhere. Most BMWs were 1 series, Audis were usually A3s etc.

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Even so, it was reasonably easy to drive. The same factors that help with parking in the Czech Republic helped in driving on narrow French lanes. I just had to drive really slow, if I wanted to avoid rolling over, or melting the brakes (which are, to be honest, awful). A less welcome surprise was the four-wheel drive, which I had to use when driving on Omaha and Utah beaches for the purpose of filming. In the sand, it worked well.

But when I forgot to switch of the “4Hi” mode and was greeted by terrible screeching noise in the first corner, I was a bit surprised. I doubt that typical Suburban owners anywhere will venture in any kind of off-roading terrain, but I’m pretty sure that lots of them will encounter icy roads, wet roads and other adverse conditions, which would make full-time 4×4 pretty useful. I know that Escalade has full-time four-wheel drive, and I guess that Suburban has it available as an option, butthis configuration makes it basically a huge rear-wheel-drive wagon with terrible fuel economy and center of gravity somewhere in the ionosphere.

All of this would be pretty much excusable, as the Suburban offers unbeatable space inside, making it perfect for long trips with lots of people and things. But the return trip, for which I finally relegated the driving duties to someone else and went to sleep in the second row of seats, revealed one last, and for me hardly believable downside of the huge SUV.

That there is no damned space on the second row seats. Maybe there’s some way to move the second row further rearward, but I haven’t found it and my boss, the owner of the truck, insists such thing is not possible with this configuration. Which means that the rear (second row) legroom is severely lacking for me (about 5′ 11”) to sit “behind myself”. Which would be excusable in a compact SUV, based on a B-segment car. Or in a large coupe. Or in many other things, but definitely not in a nearly 6-meter long behemoth of an SUV.

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So, what’s the verdict? I really wanted to like the Suburban. I wanted it to be a worthy Caprice STW replacement. I even wanted it to be my next family vehicle in a few years. But I don’t, anymore. The Suburban is, above all, the perfect illustration of why CAFE sucks. Had it not been for stupid regulations, America could’ve still produced large, practical wagons with reasonable fuel economy, reasonable handling and brakes good enough to stop the car more than once without overheating.

Instead, you got this. It’s not a bad truck per se. In fact, it’s pretty good at what it’s designed to do – haul or tow loads of stuff, look and sound imposing, and keep doing it for long time without breaking down. But as a family vehicle? It sucks ungodly amounts of gas, it doesn’t handle, it doesn’t brake and it makes you feel like a trucker.

Maybe it will be cool in 10 or 20 years, in the same way finned monsters from 50s or absurdly huge personal luxury coupes from 1960s and 1970s are cool now. But now? Nope.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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Clean-Diesel Sales Up 25 Percent In The US For 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869994 Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year. Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, […]

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Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year.

Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, according to Diesel Technology Forum. The group also noted the 25 percent jump is besting overall sales thus far in 2014, having only seen a boost of 4.2 percent in comparison.

As for the cause of the leap into oil-burning, consumers seeking better fuel economy find a 30 percent gain when the engine quietly purrs, especially when 27 of the 46 available clean-diesel models for the U.S. market are cars and SUVs. Winners include Audi and Chevrolet, both moving 8,100 and 3,000 units through the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, Volkswagen, lost 8 percent in sales during the same period, though still lead the way with 42,000 vehicles leaving the lot.

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Corvette Stingray Bests Viper, 911 In Sales Through First-Half Of 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/corvette-stingray-bests-viper-911-in-sales-through-first-half-of-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/corvette-stingray-bests-viper-911-in-sales-through-first-half-of-2014/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867178 The current Corvette is doing well for itself as of late, not only moving off the lot at a greater clip between January and June of this year than last, but also besting the SRT Viper and Porsche 911. GM Authority reports 17,744 Corvette Stingrays made it to the highway during the aforementioned sales period, […]

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The current Corvette is doing well for itself as of late, not only moving off the lot at a greater clip between January and June of this year than last, but also besting the SRT Viper and Porsche 911.

GM Authority reports 17,744 Corvette Stingrays made it to the highway during the aforementioned sales period, over three times what was sold during the first six months of 2013. Meanwhile, only 354 Vipers managed to do the same — thanks to its high price and the velvet rope surrounding the one or two models available in most showrooms — as well as 5,169 of Stuttgart’s finest during those months. Nissan’s 370Z, priced much lower than the Stingray, also fared poorly against the Kentucky-built thoroughbred, 4,114 sold this year thus far.

Within the Chevy dealership, 2,723 convertibles and coupes left the lot in June, down from 3,328 in May. National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts the Corvette Stingray is on pace to hit 35,000 sold by the end of 2014, aided by the improved 2015 model and the introduction of the Z06.

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Reuters: GM Ignition Woes Came As Early As 1997 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reuters-gm-ignition-woes-came-as-early-as-1997/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reuters-gm-ignition-woes-came-as-early-as-1997/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858601 It may have taken nearly 14 years for one ignition switch issue to finally find attention, but General Motors’ ignition woes go as far back as 1997, when Chevrolet Malibu owners had their own switch problems. Reuters reports one of the earliest complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was in April of […]

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GM RenCen Downtown Detroit

It may have taken nearly 14 years for one ignition switch issue to finally find attention, but General Motors’ ignition woes go as far back as 1997, when Chevrolet Malibu owners had their own switch problems.

Reuters reports one of the earliest complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was in April of that year, when a New Jersey woman said she had been stuck on the road seven times with her new Malibu due to the switch’s inability to turn and the key stuck in place. The defective part was replaced twice, but to no avail. Other complaints include the key being easily removable while the power was still on, and power suddenly cutting out.

By 2001, when the 2000 Chevrolet Impala experienced its own ignition issues similar to those in the Malibu and, further on, the Cobalt and Saturn Ion, GM sent a pair of service bulletins to its dealership network, offering potential solutions to remedy the problems in both vehicles. However, no recall would be issued until Monday’s order of 8.4 million vehicles.

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Capsule Review: 2013 Holden Commodore Ute http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853353   Luke Vandezande, Managing Editor of AutoGuide.com, submits his review of the Holden Ute. What if I told you that there’s a parallel universe where Europeans love muscle cars, have their own country music artists and care less for political correctness than Howard Stern in his heyday. Welcome to Australia. Holden is a subsidiary of […]

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Luke Vandezande, Managing Editor of AutoGuide.com, submits his review of the Holden Ute.

What if I told you that there’s a parallel universe where Europeans love muscle cars, have their own country music artists and care less for political correctness than Howard Stern in his heyday. Welcome to Australia.

Holden is a subsidiary of General Motors that develops, builds and sells cars for the island. Much the same as the fierce yet faded loyalty to old Detroit iron is found among Michiganders, Aussies harbor a passion for Holden as a beacon of the country’s once-glorious auto industry.

Now, most of Holden’s products are re-badged global products. For example, there’s a version of the Spark sub-compact and Colorado mid-size pickup truck bearing the lionized badge.

Genuine Aussie cars are failing to stack up against cheaper imported products. The Holden Commodore is one of the last legitimately domestic vehicles down under and it’s sold in several variations. There’s a sedan, wagon and most notably the uniquely Australian “Ute.” It’s a modern day version of the Chevrolet El Camino, muscle car status and all.

It also might be one of the most heavily hyped obscurities among automotive enthusiasts. It has all the right stuff: an available 6.0-liter V8 powering the rear wheels, a manual transmission and looks mean enough to curdle milk. With virtually no weight over the rear end, breaking the tail loose is easier than slipping back into smoking cigarettes.

Having spent over 30 hours travelling (including layovers), I couldn’t help but wonder if I was in for a disappointment. To a certain extent, I already knew things wouldn’t be as sweet as I had originally planned. The range-topping SS-V Redline model was booked by other members of the media until long after my planned departure. So instead I borrowed the SV6 model with an automatic transmission.

It seemed the sort of hooliganism I had been dreaming of for so long would have to remain a fantasy. Still, it will be a cold day in hell when I forget exactly how fortunate I am to be in the position to borrow cars in the first place. Color me grateful for the chance to drive one at all.

I set about familiarizing myself with the car by spending two hours bombing through the winding roads west of Adelaide. The 3.6-liter V6 and automatic does not disappoint. It makes about 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (converted from metric figures advertised there). It’s still worth noting that the stick is a better choice for more than the fun it offers. The SV6 is Holden’s entry-level sport Ute and as such it comes with a suspension better tuned for sporty driving than you’d expect. Manual models also come with a limited slip differential, but the automatic doesn’t.

I wasn’t in a position to drive anywhere near the point at which that sort of equipment would yield dividends, but it’s hard to ignore nonetheless. Consequently, I can’t speak to its merits. I can tell you how the slushbox V6 drives: surprisingly well.

Throttle tip in feels natural and linear. A light foot delivers moderate power while speed builds progressively when pressing the pedal further toward the floor. It allows driving for fuel economy to be easy without sacrificing any of the spirit that makes the Ute so much fun.

Electrically boosted steering essentially mutes feedback from the road, but the act of actually turning the tiller still feels responsive.

The SV6 model also comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, reverse traffic alert, sport seats trimmed in either faux suede or leather and a soft tonneau cover. A rear-view camera, parking sensors, hill start assistance, six airbags, trail sway control, dual-zone climate control and a remote starter (auto only) are also all included in the standard equipment list across the model range.

The blind spot monitoring and parking assistance are both welcome features in the low-slung vehicle with challenging sightlines. Large a-pillars can make it tough to see through tight corners and looking for oncoming cars while waiting to turn is equally tough. At least the rear-view camera and radar sensors both make navigating tight spaces easy.

Of course, it isn’t a full-fledged truck and its ability to serve in that capacity is limited. It has almost no ground clearance and a payload capacity well under one ton, meaning any legitimate pickup truck will beat it on a job site with one proverbial hand tied.

In an effort to test how the pseudo-truck drives with a heavy load, I put approximately 525 lbs worth of beer and wine into the bed. Yes, Australians love to drink. No, this wasn’t a normal Thursday. I was helping a friend prepare for his wedding the next day. Impressively, the car’s trip computer reported 9.1 liters per 100 kilometers in fuel consumption (25.8 mpg), including cargo that would make Bo and Luke Duke blush.

Even with the multi-link rear suspension squatting under such a heavy burden, passing tractor-trailers on the highway presented little difficulty. Everything about driving it feels understandably more sluggish when loaded up, but performance remains admirably intact. Six cylinders are enough; the other two are like Vegemite on toast. It’s a lot of extra flavor, but you might not want it every day.

The two-seat trucklet is pretty tight on cabin storage space depending on driver and passenger height. You’ll have some storage to speak of with the seats slid back for maximum legroom, but it’s sparse.

Even halfway around the world, General Motors’ penchant for “frugal” interior materials is alive and well. That’s probably not enough to scare off patriotic purchasers, but the widely-used hard plastics are a weak point. Cheesy checker-pattern faux carbon fiber accents don’t help though the light blue accent lighting in the interior door latches is a nice touch.

With power adjustable lumbar support for the driver and well-bolstered sides, it might be a bit of a tight ride but at least its comfortable. You’ll feel bumps and imperfections, but it’s a pleasant place to be; even over dirt roads littered with little ridges from rainwater.

With a relatively low entry-level price and the potential for hair-raising hoonage, it’s hard not to agree with the Holden Ute’s generally positive reputation. Despite that, it’s a far-fetched option as a primary vehicle. On the other hand, it would make a hell of a supplemental choice.

And to a certain extent, it’s priced that way. Holden dropped the price of its SV6 Ute by $5,500 (AUD) for a suggested starting tag of $32,990. Strangely enough, that means the base version and uplevel SV6 carry the same MSRP. For some perspective, an SV6 Commodore sedan costs almost $5,000 more.

In an unusual twist, the current VF Commodore is much cheaper than the VE it replaces. In some cases by almost $10,000. Holden’s big rear-drivers are struggling to sell and it’s a damn shame.

GM won’t ever offer what would likely be a new El Camino to the U.S., but if that ever changed it would sure be a tempting alternative for anyone with a taste for muscle cars and a need to haul heaps of junk.

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