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. Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:10:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Teased http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-chevrolet-malibu-teased/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-chevrolet-malibu-teased/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:29:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015130 Apparently, this is the next-gen Chevrolet Malibu. According to GM, the Malibu will shed 300 lbs and gain a 4-inch longer wheelbase – can you say “Chinese market”? The BMW Gran Coupe-like shape might be a bit too radical for buyers on our shores. Maybe they should call it “Malibu Maxx”.

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Apparently, this is the next-gen Chevrolet Malibu.

According to GM, the Malibu will shed 300 lbs and gain a 4-inch longer wheelbase – can you say “Chinese market”? The BMW Gran Coupe-like shape might be a bit too radical for buyers on our shores. Maybe they should call it “Malibu Maxx”.

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GM Retreats From Indonesia In Major Blow To Emerging Markets Strategy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/gm-retreats-indonesia-major-blow-emerging-markets-strategy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/gm-retreats-indonesia-major-blow-emerging-markets-strategy/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:29:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008714 Indonesia has long been touted as one of the next major emerging markets, and only four years ago, GM was set to make a major push in the Southeast Asian nation. But in a major about face, GM is essentially giving up on Indonesia, ending an 80 year manufacturing presence and transitioning solely to a sales […]

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Indonesia has long been touted as one of the next major emerging markets, and only four years ago, GM was set to make a major push in the Southeast Asian nation. But in a major about face, GM is essentially giving up on Indonesia, ending an 80 year manufacturing presence and transitioning solely to a sales and marketing arm.

According to Reuters, GM will shutter its Bekasi factory which was producing the Chevrolet Spin minivan, a product that GM intended to go up against market leader Toyota and its Avanza minivan. Toyota dominates 90 percent of the Indonesia market and the Avanza is Indonesia’s most popular car. Of the top ten selling vehicles in Indonesia, the Spin ranked in 8th place last year, with brands like Toyota, Honda and Daihatsu (another Toyota brand) dominating the market.

Indonesia is a particularly enticing market for many auto makers. It is the most populous nation in Southeast Asia and the largest economy in the region as well. It also has one of the lowest rates of car ownership, with 32 vehicles per 1,000 people, compared to 132 per 1,000 people in Thailand and 300 per 1,000 people in Malaysia. The locally built Spin was supposed to give GM a leg up in Indonesia, but as another Reuters piece notes, GM only advanced seven tenths of a percent in market share during their 80 year run in Indonesia.

Reuters claims that GM will pivot to a more SUV and truck focused brand, along with establishing a foothold for its Chinese affiliate brands like SAIC’s Wuling. But the minivan is Indonesia’s most popular vehicle, since it allows for carrying multiple passengers in comfort while the high ground clearance is suited for the frequent floods and rough terrain of the island nation. While Wuling offers some low cost vans, offerings like Chevrolet’s Trailblazer and Captiva will likely be more expensive while offering qualitative disadvantages.

GM’s Stefan Jacoby told the news service

“We could not ramp up Spin production to boost the volume as we had expected … although the product was really good. The logistics chain of the Spin was too complex; we had low volume so we could not localize the car accordingly, and from the cost point of view we were just not competitive.”

While the Spin is popular in Brazil and other markets, it was unable to dethrone the Avanza, which uses crude but cost-effective body on frame construction which means it can be manufactured in a relatively easy, inexpensive fashion. Jacoby claims that the end goal is to turn Indonesia “into a sustainable business model.” If the last 80 years are any indication, it’s not looking good.

 

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General Motors Cutting Production To Relieve Inventory Glut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008274 Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand. Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is […]

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Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand.

Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is responsible for the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, while the Flex line handles the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, Buick Regal, and Cadillac XTS.

The reduction in production comes amid consumer demand for trucks and crossovers over said vehicles, of which the Sonic and Regal hold the highest inventory levels at 216 and 213 days as of February 1, 2015. The Sonic’s inventory level is the highest since the subcompact’s August 2011 debut, while the Regal jumped to its level from just 96 days back on January 1.

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Autoleaks: Sixth-Gen Chevrolet Camaro Side-Panel Die Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/autoleaks-sixth-gen-chevrolet-camaro-side-panel-die-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/autoleaks-sixth-gen-chevrolet-camaro-side-panel-die-revealed/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003658 The side-panel die for the sixth-gen Chevrolet Camaro was revealed via a leak Tuesday, providing the best view thus far of the car’s evolving style. Appearing on Camaro6.com, the die has the roofline entering a more tapered angle than on the current model, with the rear quarter window gaining more distance between itself and the […]

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The side-panel die for the sixth-gen Chevrolet Camaro was revealed via a leak Tuesday, providing the best view thus far of the car’s evolving style.

Appearing on Camaro6.com, the die has the roofline entering a more tapered angle than on the current model, with the rear quarter window gaining more distance between itself and the fender line. The greenhouse remains cozy with the doorline, as well.

Meanwhile, AutoGuide says General Motors hasn’t set a date for when the new Camaro will debut, with speculation pointing toward the 2015 New York Auto Show now that Detroit and Chicago have come and gone without an appearance.

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Chevrolet SS May Gain Camaro 1LE Package If The Suit Abides http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chevrolet-ss-may-gain-camaro-1le-package-suit-abides/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chevrolet-ss-may-gain-camaro-1le-package-suit-abides/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003626 You can row your own and enjoy its magnetic ride these days, but more fun may be coming for the Chevrolet SS if the suits allow it. Motor Trend says the brand’s engineers want to bring the Camaro 1LE package to the performance sedan. The reinterpreted package would include a retuned suspension, new dampers, and […]

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You can row your own and enjoy its magnetic ride these days, but more fun may be coming for the Chevrolet SS if the suits allow it.

Motor Trend says the brand’s engineers want to bring the Camaro 1LE package to the performance sedan. The reinterpreted package would include a retuned suspension, new dampers, and different tires sized equally fore and aft instead of the standard staggered SS setup.

Given the green light, the engineers could bring the option onboard within three to six months. The only concern is whether those higher up in command — and the beancounters they employ — believe such a project is worth doing.

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Chicago 2015: Refreshed 2016 Chevrolet Equinox Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-refreshed-2016-chevrolet-equinox-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-refreshed-2016-chevrolet-equinox-revealed/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 18:17:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998234 Before arriving in showrooms this spring, the refreshed 2016 Chevrolet Equinox paid a visit to the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The crossover gains not only revised styling and a fresh set of wheels for the occasion, but also a larger touchscreen to better navigate its 4G LTE WiFi system, a standard rear-view camera for all […]

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Before arriving in showrooms this spring, the refreshed 2016 Chevrolet Equinox paid a visit to the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

The crossover gains not only revised styling and a fresh set of wheels for the occasion, but also a larger touchscreen to better navigate its 4G LTE WiFi system, a standard rear-view camera for all trims, and improved cloth upholstery. Power remains unchanged, derived from the base 2.4-liter four or 3.6-liter V6.

A bigger change for this year’s model is the elimination of the 1LT and 2LT trim levels, leaving just four from which to choose: L — which is now the new base model — LS, LT and LTZ. All trims gain projector beam headlights, LT and LTZ add daytime running lights with chrome accents, and LTZ brings new fog lamps to the party.

No pricing was announced as of this writing, though it may likely begin around $25,395 with delivery, the starting price for the outgoing base LS trim.

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Chicago 2015: Chevrolet Silverado Shows Off Custom Trim http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-chevrolet-silverado-shows-off-custom-trim/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-chevrolet-silverado-shows-off-custom-trim/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:49:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998210 Just like it did in Detroit, General Motors showed off a new trim package for the Chevrolet Silverado at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The Silverado Custom trim package — targeted at customers who want a fancier pickup without spending their life savings to do so — throws chrome all over the Silverado LS, including […]

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Just like it did in Detroit, General Motors showed off a new trim package for the Chevrolet Silverado at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

The Silverado Custom trim package — targeted at customers who want a fancier pickup without spending their life savings to do so — throws chrome all over the Silverado LS, including the bumpers, door handles and mirror caps. Body-color top cap and 20-inch aluminum wheels make up the rest of the exterior enhancements.

Inside, front occupants will be greeted by a 40/20/40-split front seat and access to the truck’s 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. Cruise control, power locks and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel complete the picture within.

The Custom trim will be offered with either 4.3-liter V6 or 5.3-liter V8 engines, with a well-equipped V8 model expected to start at $33,820.

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2015 Chevrolet Trax: Reviewed! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2015-chevrolet-trax-reviewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2015-chevrolet-trax-reviewed/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996354   The plan was simple. Fly into New York City at some ungodly hour, a time when only drunks and degenerates are still awake. Drive to Massachusetts. The wedding, my buddy Jay’s, with whom I grew up in Boy Scouts, started that evening. Drive back to New York. Fly back to LA at 9pm. Land […]

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The plan was simple. Fly into New York City at some ungodly hour, a time when only drunks and degenerates are still awake. Drive to Massachusetts. The wedding, my buddy Jay’s, with whom I grew up in Boy Scouts, started that evening. Drive back to New York. Fly back to LA at 9pm. Land at some ungodly terrible hour, thereby earning my jet-set stripes: from the Best Coast to the Beast Coast, sneering at flyover country the entire way. How trendy!


People were freaking out about the impending blizzard that I was flying into: twenty feet of snow, roads clogged with snowdrifts, cars abandoned in the street, New Yorkers huddled around barrels for warmth. Cats and dogs living together, you know. But it was not to be. By the time our flight landed, the mercury had risen to a positively balmy 35 degrees—any impending doom snow had conveniently turned itself to rain. The sort of thing East Coasters just shrug off underneath our Burlington Coat Factory peacoats. It was 5am. The world was aglow in amber, and the air was crisp yet warm, and I was landing with probably two hours of sleep—but there was to be no sleep til Brooklyn, so I climbed into the bright orange Trax LTZ AWD and set off.

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The Trax is a quiet little thing, for the most part. The engine doesn’t speak unless spoken to, and its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-banger musters 138 slightly frazzled horses. But there’s precious little sound deadening from below. And in the waning hours before the snowplows, every invisible chunk of ice explodes in the wheelwells like a landmine, ka-pinging across the cabin…

There’s an expansive view out of the windshield, coupled with an absurdly upright seating position where your legs will form perfect 90-degree angles, just the way your Catholic schoolteachers intended. But the headlights, for some reason, are painfully dim. And small side mirrors are strangely shaped, and 18-wheelers to disappear in the Trax’s blind spots—somewhere out there is one such truck, headed to Massachusetts, who helped remake Duel within the span of an on-ramp.

The Trax’s steering is full of feedback, building resistance evenly, a pleasant surprise. So too is the ride, nicely controlled and cushy. You can shift your own gears, but you wouldn’t want to. The Hydra-Matic 6T40 automatic moves slowly through six gears, via a dorky button on the side of the shifter: all the power and control, in your thumb! GM loves that, for some reason, in the Trax’s only transmission. Rowing your own is so passé.

For smartphone obsessives, there is one USB port tucked away in the upper glovebox. There’s no good place to put your phone where you can see it. This is a problem, because Chevy’s MyLink runs navigation from a smartphone app. It’s called BringGo. And it costs 99 cents, which might not seem much, but still smacks of nitpicky hidden fees: “I already paid for the car, now I gotta pay for this?

This press photo of the Chevy Trax shows all of the fun places where you can misplace spare change, iPhone cables, and half-empty tubes of ChapStick.

This press photo of the Chevy Trax shows all of the fun places where you can misplace spare change, iPhone cables, and half-empty tubes of ChapStick.

The lack of phone visibility is a strike against the supposedly car-hating #millennials to whom GM must grovel. The rest of the interior is straightforward, yet strangely forced: no armrest, sure, but two weird cubbyholes on either side of the center vents, which look like vents themselves, but are instead destined to store loose change and loose rectangles of Trident gum and not much else. Sonic-ish motorcycle-aping gauges make a welcome appearance. The steering wheel is wrapped in smooth leather, but the seats are faux leather, grippy cloth evidently too plebian for eager-to-impress, moneyed types buying Chevrolet’s cheapest CUV. The Bose sound system, however, is bitchin’—sharp and punchy, especially for 90s hip-hop.

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By 8am I was in Carroll Gardens, getting a coffee and a #saturdaymorningbagelrun sandwich with whitefish and smoked salmon, which shall all go on the record, Your Honor. (It was an “everything” bagel. No more questions.) For this urban-hopping business, the Trax is quite good. It’s easy to park and has a great turning radius, both boons to the snowed-in New Yorker who has a full 24-hour weekend solely reserved for standing in line to get brunch—the two-hour wait for the still-hungover Manhattan- or Brooklynite, compounded into various Bennies and unlimited mimosas, an epicurean wonder that lasts until 2pm and a good three meals.

#saturdaymorningbagelrun

A photo posted by Jeff (@jeffjablansky) on

I didn’t have time for this. I still had three good hours of driving, in shaky weather, to get through. So around 10am I jumped back into the Trax and headed up I-95 through Connecticut, where the snow was still falling. But the storm gathered a second wind by Massachusetts, and the fresh powder was racing the snowplows on the freeways—and, truth be told, the Trax doesn’t inspire very much confidence when the snow starts falling…

A photo posted by Blake Z. Rong (@bzrong) on

The front wheels tug at every little bit of slush, following like an excited bloodhound, and the steering wheel pulls accordingly. The AWD system is fairly rudimentary, sending half the torque to the rear wheels only when needed. (At $1,500, it’s Chevrolet’s cheapest AWD option.) LTZ also adds heated seats. So even if one were to buy a Trax as a winter beater, as I suspect an adolescent New Englander will in ten years to deliver pizzas to used-car lots, one minor detail prevents it from being weather-ready: the wipers don’t flip up. I readily noticed this when pulling into a parking lot of Harrington Farm, in the foothills of Wa-Wa-Wachusett Mountain, packed full of Subarus with their blades turned skyward like anti-aircraft guns. How more New England does that get?

Alright dogg let's get MARRIED! Let's get married to a LADY!

Alright dogg let’s get MARRIED! Let’s get married to a LADY!

“We ah gathahed heah today,” said the officiant, “heaht to heaht, foah the union of Jess and Jay—” Jay, it must be noted, had become an Eagle Scout with me, who once owned a Pontiac GTO and a Subaru Legacy Spec B, in that order. I’m never going to own anything front-wheel drive, he swore over margaritas the week before. That to me sounded like a good goal to have—to have and to hold, in sickness and in health.

The cutting of the ice cream cake. Because ice cream cake is awesome.

Ice cream cake is awesome.

The next day, I drove back to New York. I filled up on the way back and found 24 miles per gallon, most of which was bounding down freeways. (The AWD Trax is rated at 24/31 mpg, city/highway.) That’s what happens, I suppose, when Connecticut drivers will curb-stomp you below 75mph while the AWD system adds 400 pounds to a car resembling a squishy shoebox.

That Sunday night, I flew on a redeye to Los Angeles. (“JFK->LAX: #TodaysOffice,” and all that.) The next day, the real blizzard hit.

Before I left, I eyeballed the sticker on my LTZ, AWD Trax: $27,995.

Twenty-eight thousand Tricky Dick Fun Buxx for a plasticky, uncharismatic Sonic that resembles a children’s toy and deserves to be $5,000 cheaper, at most—that’s what it comes down to. That’s what you get for over $300 per month. It just so happens that immediately after my time with the Trax, two other young, #hip, #activelifestyle #millennials spent time with it. Jablansky drove a red one. Patrick George of Jalopnik drove an orange one. The exact same one as me, down to the window sticker, but Texas-plated. “You can do better,” George noted, before concluding: ” I’m sure the Trax will sell in respectable numbers, possibly even great ones. But I can’t say it’s a great choice to make.”

Jablansky spoke in similar terms. “Gutless,” he said, “and way overpriced. The Trax is dumpy, like a summer camp girlfriend: she’s durable but kind of flimsy. But Becca didn’t have AWD.”

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We all know the refrain, from our mouths to God’s ears: “there are no bad cars anymore.” No, there are no bad cars: twenty, thirty years ago, the only people brave enough to drive a Korean-built car through a snowstorm would be serial killers, presumably on the way to their next victims. But believe me, there is plenty of mediocrity, sheer and yawning mediocrity, and plenty of mediocre cars that leave no impression in its users, nothing particularly negative and certainly nothing positive. Mediocrity is the enemy of the car enthusiast, but it is also the bane of the daily driver. It is insidious to spend the second most amount of money anyone will shell out in a lifetime, on a car that doesn’t do anything particularly well.

Competent but never confidence inspiring, the Trax reflects the notion that sometimes, mediocrity is more expensive than you ever expected.

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Autoleaks: 2016 Chevrolet Spark Seen Before New York 2015 Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/autoleaks-2016-chevrolet-spark-seen-new-york-2015-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/autoleaks-2016-chevrolet-spark-seen-new-york-2015-debut/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995330 Can’t wait until New York to see the 2016 Chevrolet Spark? These leaked photos should do. AutoGuide reports the new Spark, set to bow at the 2015 New York Auto Show in early April, will get its looks from the Cruze, and feature the brand’s signature face. The compact will be underpinned by the same […]

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Can’t wait until New York to see the 2016 Chevrolet Spark? These leaked photos should do.

AutoGuide reports the new Spark, set to bow at the 2015 New York Auto Show in early April, will get its looks from the Cruze, and feature the brand’s signature face. The compact will be underpinned by the same platform the Opel Karl will wear when it hits the ramp at Geneva next month.

Aside from the above, the Spark will remain similar to the outgoing model as far as dimensions go, and will retain the former’s C-pillar-integrated rear-door handles. More details are likely to come closer to showtime.

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Grandma Review: Chevrolet Sonic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/grandma-review-chevrolet-sonic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/grandma-review-chevrolet-sonic/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:50:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995066 I haven’t owned an American car since 1992, but it’s been over 35 years since I’ve even driven a Chevrolet. In 1979, my husband bought himself a Caprice, with the biggest V8 engine available. Usually, we owned Chryslers, Dodges and once, a green V8 Mustang, like the one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt. There was also a Mercury […]

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I haven’t owned an American car since 1992, but it’s been over 35 years since I’ve even driven a ChevroletIn 1979, my husband bought himself a Caprice, with the biggest V8 engine available. Usually, we owned Chryslers, Dodges and once, a green V8 Mustang, like the one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt. There was also a Mercury Sable and a Ford Escort – a compact car that was probably smaller than the Chevrolet Sonic I rented in Florida.

When I booked the car, the rental agent told me that I’d be able to get a Honda Civic, but I ended up with this little black Sonic. I remember Derek went to drive the Sonic when it first came out, and he had good things to say about it. I don’t know if I liked it as much as he did.

I definitely like the hatchback style like my Honda Fit. It’s easier to see out of, though the Sonic felt nice and nimble and easy to park. The engine was a little quieter and a little smoother too, but didn’t feel as responsive as the Fit. I also like the way the Honda sits a little higher up.

The trunk space in the Sonic also couldn’t fit both my friend’s walker and the bundle buggy I use to carry my groceries, but it’s not really a fair comparison. The Sonic is a sedan, and can’t be expected to hold as much as a hatchback.

Two things I didn’t like: there’s no release for the fuel filler. You just press the door and it opens. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s very confusing for someone like me. It was also strange using a knob to turn the headlights on and off. It would have been easier if the rental company included the owner’s manual.

After driving the Sonic for a month, I never really warmed up to it. It’s a sharp looking car, and a lot better than what I expected from an American car, but I don’t think I’d want one over my Honda. So far, I have felt that way about both rental cars. Maybe if Derek lets me drive a Jaguar F-Type, I’ll feel differently (hint hint, Derek).

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Chevrolet Bolt Going Into Production In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chevrolet-bolt-going-production-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chevrolet-bolt-going-production-2016/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 13:42:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994330   Chevrolet’s Bolt EV will go into production in 2016, along with an Opel variant. Reuters reports that the Bolt will be produced at GM’s Orion Township plant in Michigan. Volume is expected to be in the 25,000-30,000 unit range. While TTAC sources initially expected the Bolt to take the form of a Sonic EV, the […]

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General Motors CEO Barra and Batey President of GM North America pose next to the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric concept car after it was unveiled during the first press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

 

Chevrolet’s Bolt EV will go into production in 2016, along with an Opel variant.

Reuters reports that the Bolt will be produced at GM’s Orion Township plant in Michigan. Volume is expected to be in the 25,000-30,000 unit range.

While TTAC sources initially expected the Bolt to take the form of a Sonic EV, the Bolt will indeed share the Gamma platform used by the Sonic. But the Bolt will be its own nameplate, similar to the Volt’s relationship to the Chevrolet Cruze.

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Dispatches do Brasil: Nonagenarian General http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-nonagenarian-general/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-nonagenarian-general/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:30:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990666 The first car Brazilians ever saw in their own country was brought in from France in 1890 by Alberto Santos Dumont of later first dirigible, plane and wristwatch glory. It caused quite a stir in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Soon, other wealthy men began importing cars and there are reports of street racing […]

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The first car Brazilians ever saw in their own country was brought in from France in 1890 by Alberto Santos Dumont of later first dirigible, plane and wristwatch glory. It caused quite a stir in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Soon, other wealthy men began importing cars and there are reports of street racing and accidents between the cars themselves, pedestrians and horses.

In 1903, the state of São Paulo promulgated the first laws pertaining to auto traffic. At the time only 16 cars were officially registered in all the state. It was a time of great change on Brazil. The Republic had been born in 1889 while all slaves had been set free just a year before. Immigrants poured into the country, helping the population to double then triple in a few short decades. Only the US and Argentina attracted more immigrants at the time.

Those immigrants proved instrumental to the development of industry and agriculture in Brazil. Though industrially the take off was slow, Brazil became the coffee king and the roaring 20s brought unprecedented wealth to the country. By 1923, the mark of 30 000 registered automobiles was reached.

This ebullition attracted the attention of a company based in far off Detroit. Interested in chasing the new found wealth circulating in this country, General Motors opened for business by registering itself at a Public Notary in São Paulo on January 26, 1925 under the name of Companhia Geral de Motores do Brasil. Or perhaps it was just chasing eternal rival Ford that opened up here in 1919 and began production of CKD Model Ts in 1921.

Just eight months later, the assembly line in a calm neighborhood in São Paulo was inaugurated. A Chevrolet delivery panel van was the first vehicle put together there. General Motors would produce other all of their brands here, so CKD Cadillacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Oaklands and Pontiacs were all assembled. Production was slow at first, just 25 cars a day. In the following year, production reached 40 vehicles a day. In 1928, the factory was up to a feverish 150 vehicles.

1927 saw the production of the 25th thousand GM car, another Chevrolet. To witness the event, very important people from the home office and New York bankers were invited. The record shows that car was put together in just 20 minutes.

At the end of the day, the 800 workers went home and the patio would be brimming with cars. The next day all cars would be gone. In that time GM had around 150 professionals called caravanistas. Their function was to drive the car from the factory to wherever the buyer lived, wherever that would be in the country.

In 1928, the city of São Paulo was inhabited by 700,000 people and the population of Brazil had grown to more than 34 million. GM produced its 50,000th car, again a Chevrolet. It had outgrown the capacity of their first industrial site.

They moved to São Caetano do Sul, then still a small, sleepy and bucolic city neighboring São Paulo. The huge facility completely dominated the cityscape. There, GM do Brasil has its corporate headquarters and factory to this day.

General Motors has been a fundamental company in the history of the automobile in this country. In 1957, the first fully Brazilian vehicle was built by GM, a light truck. In 1958, the first car in the form of a pickup, the Amazona or 3.100 taking advantage of President Juscelino Kubtischek’s program of stimulating local production. Under protective measures instituted by those policies, GM diversified and produced batteries, air conditioners, and the famous Frigidaire refrigerators (the gold standard in those days and more than 2 million units were bought by Brazilians).
In 1964,the grandad of present SUVs was launched, the C-1416 or Veraneio. After that, General Motors finally released its first Brazilian built car, the Chevrolet Opala. Based of the Opel Reckord, the Opala inaugurated a link between GM do Brasil and Opel, that would only be severed in the present century. In a negative side effect of the policies used to jump start the Brazilian auto industry, the Opala, launched in 1968, would last until 1992.

In 1973, the Chevette made its worldwide debut here. Though that was pretty exiting, the Chevette marked the emergence of GM Brazil as an engineering center for global GM, a position it still enjoys today.

In the 90s, the Brazilian market was suddenly wide open. GM was one of the first to take advantage of this and a rapid succession of thoroughly modern Opel products were launched in Brazil: Omega, Vectra and Corsa. This proved so successful that GM would occupy second place, seriously threatening Volkswagen’s lead.

Then a period of complacency. Administrating the crisis, several GM do Brasil Presidents would go on to lead global GM. Due to the trouble brewing at GM U.S., local GM starved for product and slowly, but surely, its line became uncompetitive. As the 10s started, Opel-based Brazilian Chevrolet products disappeared and were substituted by GM Korea products. Though that has left Opel-widows pulling their hair and wailing in the desert, the fact is the move has proved successful. So much so that Chevrolet is now claiming to be the most beloved auto company of Brazilians since if fleet sales (which include government purchases in this country) are discounted, Chevrolet is the most sold auto brand to private buyers two years running.

To celebrate GM do Brasil becoming a nonagenarian local and global GM top suits came to Brazil to show off GM’s new logistic center (double the size of the previous one and completely computerized). Global Chevrolet President Dan Ammann came down and detailed the 6.5 billion real investment announced on the occasion. It would be used to modernize motors and factories and develop a new 3-cylinder 1.0 and transmissions. He also highlighted that Brazil is Chevrolet’s second largest market worldwide, and GM’s third.

General Motors do Brasil has three car factories in Brazil. Besides the 80-year old unit in São Caetano do Sul, there is one in São José dos Campos and another in Gravataí. In Mogi das Cruzes there is another industrial site producing stamped components and parts, the logistic center is in Sorocaba, testing grounds in Indaiatuba and an engine factory in Joinville. In São Caetano do Sul, besides the factory and corporate offices, there is a technological center capable of designing and developing cars and motors from the ground up.

In 90 years General Motors do Brasil has produced over 14.5 million cars. From the humble beginnings in a warehouse in a calm São Paulo neighborhood, GM do Brasil has grown into a giant in the Brazilian car-scape and a vital part of global GM. It has earned Brazilian’s respect and manages to avoid the Fiat-Volkswagen rivalry, being one brand that seems to attract all Brazilians. It has launched hits and duds, has pushed the market and watched from the sidelines others fight it out.

With products like Onix, Spin and Cruze, and halos like the Camaro, General Motors do Brasil is living in prosperous times and, as always, is fundamental in keeping the mothership afloat.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-ii/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987546   Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism. Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in […]

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A Captiva audience?

Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism.

Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in Frankfurt as the Antara GTC.  Harley Earl may spin in his perfectly-proportioned grave…but I digress.

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Few Americans shall admit a speck of admiration for the Chevrolet Captiva SUV, but the similarly-Korean Cruze is a respectable machine to most.  Well, colossal DLO fail at both corners notwithstanding. No matter, its suitably upscale: Chevrolet Brasil offers it as their most premium sedan offering. (At R$75,020)

Strangely, the Cruze 5-door hatch is cheaper (R$71,860) than the sedan: usually it’s the other way in the US. Known as the Cross Sport 6, the Cruze Hatchback looks the business against the usual Brazilian subcompact. Here’s one driving past the scenic Vista Chinesa.

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While I have little complimentary to say of Chevrolet’s split plane grille, this Chevrolet Onix wears the face quite well.  Sure, the upper half needs to grow a good 1-2″ to meet the hood’s cut-line. Or better still, drop the cut-line instead. But the look is catchy, nicely proportioned on this small canvas.

Chevrolet Brasil made a fetching machine, but this white one in Leblon was kinda rare. And that’s the problem:

taxi

(photo courtesy: www.simcauto.com.br)

Chevys, at least in Rio, are heavy in fleet distributions.  Rio is nearly as taxi-centric as Manhattan, but the market wasn’t dominated by something Crown Victoria-esque. There’s Renault, Fiat and Citroen hacks too, so perhaps the Bowtie-branded Daewoos sporting that unique yellow/blue stripe paint scheme are a red herring.

And perhaps there’s no such thing as American Exceptionalism in car design. Not anymore, at least.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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NAIAS 2015: Chevrolet, GMC Add Paint & Chrome Packages To Silverado, Canyon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-chevrolet-gmc-add-paint-chrome-packages-silverado-canyon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-chevrolet-gmc-add-paint-chrome-packages-silverado-canyon/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=981817 Nissan, Ford, Toyota and Ram, even Hyundai, brought a lot to the truck party at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. So, what did General Motors contribute to the buffet? Paint and chrome packages for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Canyon. AutoGuide reports Chevrolet is offering a “Custom Sport” package for the 2016 Silverado LT and […]

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Nissan, Ford, Toyota and Ram, even Hyundai, brought a lot to the truck party at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. So, what did General Motors contribute to the buffet?

Paint and chrome packages for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Canyon.

AutoGuide reports Chevrolet is offering a “Custom Sport” package for the 2016 Silverado LT and LTZ. Said trim consists of body color-matching bumpers and chrome-accented grille/surround. Chrome door handles, mirror caps, side molding and 20-inch wheels complete the package, expected to retail between $1,950 and $2,950.

GMC, meanwhile, introduced the “Nightfall” package for Canyon SLE crew-cab buyers, which throws black paint all over the body. Polished exhaust tips, 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, and remote start make up the rest of the offering. No price was mentioned at this time.

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NAIAS 2015: Chevrolet Bolt EV Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-chevrolet-bolt-ev-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-chevrolet-bolt-ev-debuts/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=977977 For those saddened that the second-gen Chevrolet Volt looks more like a regular car than it did in its first incarnation, the Bolt EV is the next best thing in quirky green vehicle looks [Live photos now available – CA]. The $30,000 EV crossover concept boasts a range of 200 miles, though no specific powertrain […]

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For those saddened that the second-gen Chevrolet Volt looks more like a regular car than it did in its first incarnation, the Bolt EV is the next best thing in quirky green vehicle looks [Live photos now available – CA].

The $30,000 EV crossover concept boasts a range of 200 miles, though no specific powertrain was mentioned during the unveiling. DC fast-charging is supported.

Meanwhile, drivers can select from a range of modes based on their situation, whether its the long slog to the office park, or a weekend on the backroads. The modes adjust ride height, accelerator pedal mapping and suspension.

The design itself eliminates front and rear overhangs, which in turn makes for a spacious environment inside. Aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber and woven mesh knock the Bolt EV’s weight down to ensure its 200-mile range is achievable, with aero aids also contributing to the concept’s range.

The Bolt EV also has a smartphone app, dubbed Bolt EV Connect. Functions include the use of your smartphone as a key fob, ride-sharing management, and automatic park-and-retrieval, which allows the Bolt EV to park itself, then return to the driver autonomously.

Date of arrival for a production version of the Bolt EV may be as early as 2017, a year after the similarly priced Tesla Model 3 is expected to hit showrooms.

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NAIAS 2015: A Clearer View For The 2016 Chevrolet Volt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-clearer-view-2016-chevrolet-volt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-clearer-view-2016-chevrolet-volt/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 06:15:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=977329 Fuzzy photos from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show are one thing, official photos of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt are definitely another [Live photos now available – CA]. The second-gen five-passenger PHEV gets its motivation from a 1.5-liter DOHC I4 paired up with two electric motors that are 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter […]

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Fuzzy photos from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show are one thing, official photos of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt are definitely another [Live photos now available – CA].

The second-gen five-passenger PHEV gets its motivation from a 1.5-liter DOHC I4 paired up with two electric motors that are 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter than the first-gen’s single motor unit. Electrical power comes from a new 18.4 kWh battery pack composed of 192 cells — 96 less than the previous pack — with weight reduced by 21 pounds. Zero to 30 is achieved in 2.6 seconds, while nought to 60 arrives in 8.4 seconds.

Charging can now be set to exclusively occur at home via GPS, where owners can arrange 120V charging levels (either eight amps or 12), have charging occur immediately or at another time, and set a departure time for every day of the week. The settings only need to be entered once, and the Volt will default to those settings upon arrival at the home garage, which should take 13 hours at 12 amps; 240V charging reduces the time to 4.5 hours.

Range is 50 miles on electric-only driving, 420 miles when the 1.5-liter is in play. Fuel economy is 41 mpg, jumping to 102 mpg-e with the electric motors.

Other features include: Chevrolet MyLink; rearview camera; increased use of high-strength steel throughout the body; on-demand energy rengeneration; illuminated charging port; and a redesigned portable 120V cord.

The 2016 Volt is set to arrive in showrooms during H2 2015.

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New 200-Mile Chevrolet Bolt CUV To Debut At NAIAS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-200-mile-chevrolet-bolt-to-debut-at-naias/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-200-mile-chevrolet-bolt-to-debut-at-naias/#comments Sat, 10 Jan 2015 05:04:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975161 TTAC was the first to report on a new 200-mile EV being developed by GM, based on the Chevrolet Sonic. This low volume model, said to be a compliance car, is getting closer to reality, with the Wall Street Journal  reporting that a concept version will debut at Monday’s Detroit Auto Show – though according to […]

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TTAC was the first to report on a new 200-mile EV being developed by GM, based on the Chevrolet Sonic. This low volume model, said to be a compliance car, is getting closer to reality, with the Wall Street Journal  reporting that a concept version will debut at Monday’s Detroit Auto Show – though according to the WSJ, plans have changed.

The model will apparently be dubbed the Chevrolet Bolt, and be designed as a competitor to Tesla’s upcoming volume EV. The Bolt will apparently not be an “economy car” per the WSJ, but a crossover-like vehicle big enough to carry a family of four, but smaller than a Model S. The battery will still be built at the LG Chem plant as previously reported. A crossover-style Volt has previously been shown, but this would be a pure EV vehicle. Mules based on the Orlando have been spotted testing, giving further weight to the rumors.

While there’s no word on whether the vehicle will still be made in the United States, doing so would allow GM to claim regulatory credits for building such a vehicle in a domestic plant, something that will help them offset vast sales of trucks and SUVs.

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Car And Driver Thinks This Is A Mid-Engine Corvette Mule http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/car-driver-thinks-mid-engine-corvette-mule/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/car-driver-thinks-mid-engine-corvette-mule/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 21:15:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974074 Car and Driver thinks that this Holden Ute/Batmobile/Mad Max thing is a mule for a mid-engine Corvette. I’ll believe it when I see it. Then again, it looks like I was wrong about the upcoming Ford GT revival.

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Car and Driver thinks that this Holden Ute/Batmobile/Mad Max thing is a mule for a mid-engine Corvette. I’ll believe it when I see it. Then again, it looks like I was wrong about the upcoming Ford GT revival.

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Owner-Built Engine Program For Corvette Z06 Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/owner-built-engine-program-corvette-z06-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/owner-built-engine-program-corvette-z06-returns/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973569 Buying a new Corvette Z06 soon? Would you like to build its engine? Chevrolet has a plan to make that happen, if you got the cash and the time. Beginning in March, new Z06 owners will have the opportunity to participate in Chevrolet’s resumed Engine Build Experience. The $5,000 option — code PBC, for Bowling […]

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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06

Buying a new Corvette Z06 soon? Would you like to build its engine? Chevrolet has a plan to make that happen, if you got the cash and the time.

Beginning in March, new Z06 owners will have the opportunity to participate in Chevrolet’s resumed Engine Build Experience. The $5,000 option — code PBC, for Bowling Green Assembly’s Performance Build Center, where the build will occur — allows owners to spend an entire day building the Z06’s supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 under supervision by a PBC engine assembly tech. A personalized plaque on the engine and photographs of the day complete the package.

That said, the engine won’t necessarily be placed in the owner’s Z06 right away. Corvette product manager Harlan Charles says the owner-built engines will take its place in line with the rest of the engines, flowing into “the scheduling process for vehicle assembly, which depends on a number of logistical variables.”

Those who don’t mind the wait and want to spend more time in Bowling Green, Ky. can also check-off option R8C, which allows owners to pick up their completed Z06 at the National Corvette Museum across the street from Bowling Green Assembly.

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Piston Slap: The U Body, The Relay Bad Idle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-u-body-relay-bad-idle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-u-body-relay-bad-idle/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:26:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970665   TTAC Commentator APaGttH writes: Sajeev! Long time listener, first time caller. The patient: a 2005 Saturn Relay FWD3 with 151K miles, GM 3.5L V6 and 4-speed automatic. I am the fifth owner and this is our grocery getter and general abuse vehicle. I’m the longest owner – 4 years and about 55K of those […]

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U Relay Got A Problem? (photo courtesy: APaGttH)

TTAC Commentator APaGttH writes:

Sajeev!

Long time listener, first time caller. The patient: a 2005 Saturn Relay FWD3 with 151K miles, GM 3.5L V6 and 4-speed automatic. I am the fifth owner and this is our grocery getter and general abuse vehicle. I’m the longest owner – 4 years and about 55K of those 151K miles have been in my garage. I can’t comment on how well it was cared for from year 2 to year 6, but I have done everything by the book since 96K miles.

The Saturn developed a rough idle of sorts about a year ago. I swapped out the spark plugs, changed the fuel filter, and flushed the fuel injection. The car continues to idle rough. No CEL and no CEL history.

Rough idle doesn’t start until the engine is warmed up. There is an occasional difficult hot start, but nothing that falls into, “crap, I’m going to be left for dead because this won’t start,” hard. The rough idle isn’t shown on the tachometer, which is as steady as a rock. But the engine definitely feels like it is vibrating for a lack of a better way to describe it, and far beyond the general coarseness of the GM “high value” 3.5L V6.

The hood is resonating and making metal vibrating noises from it – which isn’t as alarming as it sounds as the fit and finish on the panels isn’t as tight as it should be. Put a few finger lightly on the hood and the noise goes away. The vibration is worse under load, like when the AC is running, and reaches a point you can feel it in the car seats. Acceleration is perfectly normal, driving is perfectly normal, and fuel economy is perfectly normal. No issues outside of idle. There is no rotten egg of burning match smell, and van recently passed emissions. Another thing we’ve noticed – living close to sea level, the problem is worse. If we cross the mountain passes and go to altitude, say about 2.5K feet or higher, the problem goes away. If I give the car light gas at idle, to say 1.2K RPM, the vibration goes away.

I’m stumped. Possible candidates in my mind include the IAC has gone, or is going bad, vacuum leak Hell, bad motor mount, or a dirty MAF and/or throttle body. Given the book value is under $4K and my plan is to drive it to 200K or death, whichever comes first, I’m not interested in pouring a ton of money into the van at this point, but I would like to get this addressed as it feels like something I can’t ignore.

Sajeev answers:

You “relay” should scan the computer to see if there’s a latent code that isn’t triggering the CEL.  And U “relay” should consider the smooth idle of LS4-FTW instead of this High Value LX9’s bad idle.

The engine vibration turning into body (hood) problems means that the mounts to the body are the problem. But perhaps new mounts aren’t in your budget, as you’re saving up for LS4-FTW, obviously. In the meantime, there was a TSB with a recalibration resolution to address the hot-restart issue. Get that done first, if applicable.

If that doesn’t cure the bad idle, or if it isn’t applicable? Well… maybe the Relay “relay” needs new mounts, especially the torque mounts (I forgot their name) as seen in the photo below.

Very professionally highlighted in red. (photo courtesy: gtcarlot.com)

Basically, LS4-FTW is the only answer.  We gotta believe, we must ensure the notion of a bad-ass V8 U-body actually turns into a trend.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2016 Chevrolet Volt Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2016-chevrolet-volt-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2016-chevrolet-volt-revealed/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 05:07:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971153 Here it is folks. The 2016 Chevy Volt revealed at CES.

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Here it is folks. The 2016 Chevy Volt revealed at CES.

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GM Files For ‘Crossvolt’ Name For Possible Volt-Based CUV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/gm-files-crossvolt-name-possible-volt-based-cuv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/gm-files-crossvolt-name-possible-volt-based-cuv/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=969225 Over four years ago, Chevrolet introduced a Volt-based crossover concept that hinted at the style the brand would have crossed someday, had not the resources been diverted to the Cadillac ELR. That day might now be sooner than never. Fox News reports General Motors made a new filing for the trademark Crossvolt in August of […]

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Over four years ago, Chevrolet introduced a Volt-based crossover concept that hinted at the style the brand would have crossed someday, had not the resources been diverted to the Cadillac ELR.

That day might now be sooner than never.

Fox News reports General Motors made a new filing for the trademark Crossvolt in August of this year, abandoning a previous filing made in 2011 that the current application — published for opposition just before Christmas — duplicates.

As for the Volt-based crossover that could end up wearing the nameplate, a mule based on the Orlando was spotted last year among a handful of Volts undergoing testing, a hint that a second model based on the upcoming Volt set to bow at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show is in the works.

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Capsule Comparison: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 Vs. 2014 Chevrolet SS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-comparison-2015-dodge-charger-srt-392-vs-2014-chevrolet-ss-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-comparison-2015-dodge-charger-srt-392-vs-2014-chevrolet-ss-2/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:16:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964130 (Please accept my apologies for this long-ago-promised and painfully overdue comparison. -DK) With the demise of the Chrysler 300 SRT, Americans are limited to two choices for a domestic sports sedan. And neither of them are built in America. The Chevrolet SS, as we all know, is built in Port Elizabeth, Australia. Based on the […]

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(Please accept my apologies for this long-ago-promised and painfully overdue comparison. -DK)

With the demise of the Chrysler 300 SRT, Americans are limited to two choices for a domestic sports sedan. And neither of them are built in America.

The Chevrolet SS, as we all know, is built in Port Elizabeth, Australia. Based on the Holden VE Commodore, the SS gets the best of what Holden has to offer: a rear-drive Zeta platform, an LS3 V8 engine and styling that many find to be far too restrained and understated – to me, that’s a big part of the appeal.

When Bark M drove this car a year ago (to help kick off our Reader Ride Review program), he was diplomatically lukewarm about the car, praising the small-block V8 and the 7/10ths handling prowess, while criticizing the car’s balky gearbox and Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tires. I was dumbstruck. As a big fan of the Pontiac G8 (and Australian rear-drive sedans), I wanted to believe that Bark’s impressions of the SS were colored by the fact that he drives a Boss 302 on a daily basis. It turns out he was right.

While GM nominally describes the SS as a limited production sports sedan, it’s easy to understand why sales of this car are in the toilet, marketing support or no marketing support. The G8 was a brilliant last stand from a dying brand when it was introduced in 2009. Driving the SS today just shows how the competition has moved on.

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Yes, the interior with the big MyLink touch screen and the heads-up display is a vast improvement over the old G8. There’s lots of space for passengers both fore and aft. Flimsy paddles aside, everything is high quality, pleasing to the touch and sufficiently upscale – if you can ignore the bright red “SS” emblems stitched into the seats. The trunk is made for an Australian family, which is to say, it’s huge.

I wanted to like this car so, so badly, but the driving experience fell utterly flat. Yes, you get big thrust and a nice small-block soundtrack from the LS3 (finally a proper LS, unlike the 6.0 mill in the old G8). A naturally aspirated V8 is fast becoming an endangered species, and this is one of the best. But the transmission can’t keep pace.

Nor could the rest of the car, for that matter. On the winding backroads around Summit Point Raceway, the SS just didn’t feel that special. At a hair under 4000 lbs, it’s lighter than the Charger SRT, but you’d never know it. The SS isn’t as buttoned-down in turns as the Charger, while the uncommunicative steering doesn’t flatter the car’s size or heft. In the brilliant shade of metallic black, the SS seemed to be the closest thing available to an old moonshiner’s hot-rod. It also drove like one too.

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If you want the top-performing American sports sedan, you’ll have to opt for the Charger SRT 392, which is actually built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. It’s not as elegant as the SS, though I bet that many people will prefer its more aggressive looks. The new for 2015 restyling tones down some of the overly-aggro snout on the outgoing car, but there’s no mistaking it for the V6 SXT you’ll find on the Avis lot.

At nearly 4400 lbs and just under 200 inches long, the Charger is, as they’d say in the Antipodes, “a big fucker”. The lighter SS makes do with less power  – 6.2L and 415 horsepower versus the Charger’s 6.4L and 485 horsepower -, but the seemingly minor differences are deceptive on paper. Sort of like how there is but a mere millimeter difference between a 9mm and a 10mm handgun cartridge, but one is used by police forces while the other can stop a grizzly dead in its tracks.

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The SRT V8 is not as refined or as smooth as the storied LS3, but the extra output, combined with the utterly brilliant 8-speed automatic means that the Charger 392 has the Chevrolet beat hands down for aural drama and straight line performance. The soundtrack is a masterpiece of pyrotechnic sounds that mimics the AMG 6.2L V8s NASCAR-esque notes, and the engine is as strong between 60 and 100 mph as it is from a dig. If that weren’t enough, the 2015 SRT adds the Hellcat’s massive Brembo brakes (15.4 inch rotors up front, 13.8 inches in the back) and a whole suite of adjustable driving modes for the suspension, throttle, gearbox and traction control. There’s also an updated interior with better materials and the excellent UConnect/Alpine stereo system – I concur with Baruth when he says it might be the best mainstream audio system in the business.

With the SS getting a 6-speed manual and an updated suspension for 2015, a rematch is only fair. But driving the two cars back to back opened my eyes to the possibility that, aside from CAFE and a shrinking market for full-size cars, there’s a reason we’ve never gotten the Commodore as a mainstream Chevrolet product: it’s just not good enough to compete. Right now, FCA has the full-size rear-drive mainstream sedan segment all to itself, and its sales are still strong, even after all these years. For an Americanized-Commodore to steal sales away from the LX cars – and the Taurus, and Avalon and Azera and the Impala- it would have to be extraordinarily compelling. Right now, I can’t say that about the SS, no matter how much I like the idea of it.

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Detroit 2015: Next-Gen Chevy Volt To Gain Corvette Styling Cues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-next-gen-chevy-volt-gain-corvette-styling-cues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-next-gen-chevy-volt-gain-corvette-styling-cues/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963834 Can you see a C7-era Chevrolet Corvette in that new Volt’s face? There’s a reason for that. Autoblog reports the second-gen PHEV will be taking some styling cues from the Corvette Stingray, including the latter’s taut hood lines and hexagonal tail lamps, as part of a new design strategy to link Chevrolet’s next-gen models — […]

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Can you see a C7-era Chevrolet Corvette in that new Volt’s face? There’s a reason for that.

Autoblog reports the second-gen PHEV will be taking some styling cues from the Corvette Stingray, including the latter’s taut hood lines and hexagonal tail lamps, as part of a new design strategy to link Chevrolet’s next-gen models — including the Cruze and Malibu — to the seventh-generation Corvette.

Returning to the Volt, the PHEV will also sport the regenerative-braking system currently generating power for the Cadillac ELR. The system allows the driver to adjust the amount of energy recovered as the situation calls for it.

Other expected changes for the new Volt include a 1.5-liter four-pot, longer electric-only range, more power — thanks to the addition of a second electric motor — and a larger battery.

The PHEV — sans dancing hipsters — will roll down the ramp January 12, 2015 during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

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Junkyard Find: 2001 Chevrolet Tracker ZR-2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-2001-chevrolet-tracker-zr-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-2001-chevrolet-tracker-zr-2/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961497 The second-gen Chevrolet Tracker, a badge-engineered version of the Suzuki Vitara and the descendent of the Geo Tracker Suzuki Sidekick sibling, was sold all over the world with many nameplates. It was never much of a big seller in the United States, so this ZR-2 is an unusual Junkyard Find. It will tow a semi! […]

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09 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe second-gen Chevrolet Tracker, a badge-engineered version of the Suzuki Vitara and the descendent of the Geo Tracker Suzuki Sidekick sibling, was sold all over the world with many nameplates. It was never much of a big seller in the United States, so this ZR-2 is an unusual Junkyard Find.

It will tow a semi! It’s like a (Suzuki) rock!
18 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember when the Culture Wars were all about flag-burning? Here’s an early-to-mid-2000s artifact of those days for you.
01 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ZR-2 option package was all about off-roady stuff. I wonder if any base-model Tracker owner will grab all the skid plates and stuff off this one.
04 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine is gone.
15 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s probably not so much demand for worn-out Florida State tire covers.

01 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 2001 Chevrolet Tracker Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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