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2015 GMC Canyon 4WD SLT Crew Cab Short Box

August 11th, 2015 No comments

“All New!  Sensibly Sized!” 

It happens to nearly every automaker. It begins by offering a successful car in a relatively standard package. When it comes time to replace that model in the automaker’s lineup the call goes out to make the next model have more interior space, more cargo room and more power. That newer model becomes more successful than the first. Subsequent generations continue the pursuit of ‘more is better’. Then, gradually and almost without notice, buyers start to wonder “what if there were a vehicle just a bit smaller, more nimble, more compact, and more efficient than this?” The automaker responds with an “All New!  Sensibly Sized!” new model that slots in where the original model was once targeted. This is the story of the 2015 GMC Canyon and its near twin, the Chevrolet Colorado.  Read more…

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Video Review: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line

December 18th, 2014 No comments

 

Back in the 1960’s, the Beetle was a car at the bottom of the automotive food chain.  If one wanted a cheap and reliable car the Beetle was an obvious choice.  Problem was, the Beetle offered very few comfort and convenience features.  VW replaced the Beetle with the highly successful Golf (known for a time as the Rabbit in the States).  When the New Beetle hit the roads in the late 1990’s it was fully modern in features and retro in style.  Problem was, it wasn’t the most manly of cars.  VW decided to replace the New Beetle with a more macho car, one that had finally grown up.  Indeed, this car is far more civilized and comfortable than any of its forbearers.  The question remains, has it improved enough in the last decade and a half to remain relevant? Read more…

Video Review: 2014 Hyundai Equus

December 18th, 2014 No comments

 

It is hard to believe that it has been 30 model years since Hyundai introduced the lowly Excel to the United States.  Priced at $4995 it pretty much was undercut in price (and quality) by only the Yugo GV.  The Excel has long left the market and Hyundai has slowly and surely been moving the top end of its brand upmarket.  Rather than introduce a separate marque to sell premium cars Hyundai has simply added the range topping Equus.  The ‘base’ Equus we piloted starts at $61,250.  For that type of money one could purchase a whole fleet of Excels if one were skilled enough to find any unlikely survivors.  And yet at just over sixty grand the Equus undercuts similarly spec’ed flagships like the 7-Series and A8.  This pricing strategy mirrors that of Lexus in its inaugural 1989 model year.  Has Hyundai truly refined its skills to offer a legitimate luxury cruiser capable of threatening the established BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus offerings?  Will the well-to-do be willing to shop for their Equus in the same showroom as those who are negotiating for low monthly payments on an Elantra?  Watch as we ponder these questions in the video above. Read more…

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Video Review: 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LT

August 28th, 2014 No comments

If there is one word that could describe the Chevrolet Tahoe since its introduction in 1995, it would be ‘capable’. Based on the full-size Chevrolet pickups, its towing, seating and cargo capacities have been among the highest in the industry. Alas, these capabilities have come at a price. High curb weight, barn-like aerodynamics and massive size have contributed to high fuel consumption and poor on-road agility. As a result, consumers have left the full-size SUV segment for smaller and less capable crossovers.  or 2015 Chevrolet has introduced its all-new Tahoe and Suburban. In doing so, Chevy has made some clear attempts to lessen the drawbacks of owning a traditional SUV, but is it enough to halt the consumer exodus to more compromising car-based crossovers? We inspect this shiny new truck from tire to luggage rack to find out.

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2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport

April 29th, 2014 No comments

Third Gen’s the Charm

Perhaps any previous declaration of Cadillac’s return to significance could be deemed premature. Certainly the original CTS banished the thoughts of the good-but-not-great Opel Omega-based Catera. Offering a manual transmission and distinctive styling, the 2003 CTS reminded America that cars need not look like the conservatively styled German autobahn cruisers. It was a giant step in the right direction. A powerful performance oriented V-series proved the car could keep up too. The second generation of the CTS absolutely obliterated the memories of the Cimarron from those with unforgiving hearts. Offering a full line-up of sedan, coupe and wagon in both standard and V-series forms, words like world-class began to be used even by journalists predisposed towards anything branded by an American manufacturer. But now, with the 2014 CTS, the Cadillac revival can be considered securely in place. We’ve driven the latest iteration of what once was Cadillac’s smallest sedan in its top of the line Vsport form. Read more…

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A History Lesson in Cadillac Coupes

February 17th, 2014 No comments

The unveiling of the 2015 Cadillac ATS coupe at the NAIAS is a significant car in more ways than one. First, it is a sign that Cadillac is serious about going head-to-head with the European premium brands by offering multiple body styles off with its lowest cost offering. Second, it shows that Cadillac is committed to the flair that a coupe body style offers to the buyer that is clearly buying more car than needed. For a short while it appeared Cadillac had given up on the coupe bodystyle having offered four coupes in 1992 to only one by 1994 only to surprise the world with its dramatic CTS coupe in 2010. Indeed, if we trace back the heritage bestowed upon the ATS coupe we see that this latest Cadillac has much to live up to.  Read more…

ATS Coupe Design Review

February 17th, 2014 No comments

The Cadillac ATS coupe may not seem like big news in the design world. After all, we have had a full model year to admire the ATS sedan on the roads. After witnessing the dramatic styling of the original CTS coupe with that car’s sedan counterpart, one could be forgiven into thinking that the new ATS coupe is nothing but the ATS sedan with few doors. To draw such a conclusion, however, would be to overlook the incredible attention to detail the Cadillac designers exhibited in creating the latest two-door Cadillac. The end result is a coupe that is readily recognizable as an ATS, and yet is simultaneously more expressive in design and more emotional to view. Certainly this is the type of design that once made coupes unquestionably more desirable than the sedans on which they were based. To help understand just why the ATS coupe is such an attractive design we can compare and contrast with the already handsome ATS sedan. Read more…

Categories: Design Critique Tags: , , ,

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Design Critique

January 14th, 2013 No comments
 
     We’ve never been given the task to design a car, much less one as sacred to the automotive faithful as the long running Chevrolet Corvette. The look of such a car must be a challenge to the designers in order to balance the continuation of the legend while reinventing and innovating to keep the car fresh and competitive. It is much easier for those of us on this side of the drawing board to praise or criticize each generation of Corvette. At the end, however, it is the consumer and enthusiast who decides the success and failure of each successive automotive generation. We’re critics though and we know what we like and we know Corvette history. Unfortunately this new car, which revives the Stingray name, did not immediately take our breath away. Even so we must remember our original thoughts when casting our gaze on the C5 Corvette, which is now considered the car that revolutionized what it meant to bear the beloved name. That car didn’t immediately strike us as beautiful then either. Certainly we can praise the upgraded interior and speculate on what it will feel like to row through seven gears. What we can’t predict is whether the C7 will grow better with age or be remembered as the car that broke the Corvette’s beauty streak.

2013 Toyota Avalon Design Critique

November 19th, 2012 No comments

  

      The Toyota Avalon has been with us for much longer than seems possible. When it debuted as a 1995 model, it was credited with being ‘Toyota’s Buick.’ Whether that was intended as an insult or a compliment depends on how you felt about Buicks at the time, but we’ll speculate those making the assessment weren’t referring to the LT1 V8-powered Roadmaster, but rather the somewhat smaller LeSabre or even the 13-year old Century. In any case, the Avalon has continued to be a plusher, larger, softer variation of the Camry. Like the Camry, the Avalon has remained fairly anonymous. Indeed, its styling was likely created with the intent of being used as a template for the ‘anycars’ used in various automotive supply advertisements.  Read more…

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2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco

September 8th, 2012 No comments

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

 Rental Car No More

     Several years ago, 2004 to be precise, GM began to unload the original front wheel drive Chevrolet Malibu as a rental car by stripping it of its Malibu nameplates and slapping the vague Classic lettering on the deck lid. Having worked as a rental car lot attendant, I can attest that this car was the backbone of the rental car world. Unfortunately, its reliability and non-descript styling were its best points. It seemed Chevrolet had decided to join the Japanese in offering a forgettable midsize sedan except every facet was executed with mediocrity resulting in unsupportive seats, carpet that separated from its rocker sills and a completely lifeless driving experience. The revised 2004 Malibu that went to retail customers rather than fleets was hardly an improvement with its numb electrically assisted steering. If the outgoing Malibu/Classic’s styling could be described as vanilla, its replacement was nothing more than French Vanilla. GM finally stepped up to the plate with the well-received all-new Malibu for 2007. Five model years have passed, and though it was hardly looking old, GM realized that a timely replacement would be necessary to maintain the Malibu’s newfound competitiveness.  Read more…

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