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2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT TB Crew Cab: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

With big pickup trucks like the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, it’s  about little things and loyalty.

Full-size pickups, of which there are six currently marketed in the U.S., do essentially the same things. They carry big loads, tow heavy trailers and serve as family conveyances. When you check the price tags of some models, you also realize they can substitute for luxury cars.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss

In addition to the Silverado, they are the GMC Sierra, Ford F-Series, Ram, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. Each has its cadre of loyal followers. Many Ford owners would summarily reject a Chevy or a Titan, Ram devotees might sniff at a Silverado, and a Tundra guy would possibly ignore a GMC.

With brand loyalty and muscular hauling as givens, full-size pickup manufacturers seek to win new and conquest sales by concentrating on smaller things like tailgate design, interior luxury appointments and styling, built-in storage boxes, or even marginal increases in fuel economy.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss

In addition, the all-new Silverado seeks to impress potential buyers with its off-road capabilities, which is the sort of activity usually associated with smaller vehicles like Jeeps, sport utility vehicles and even some crossover SUVs.

That was the point of an introductory exercise that Chevrolet organized to advance the notion that the Silverado, despite its humongous size — more than 19 feet long and weighing over 5,000 lbs — could conquer a dedicated off-road course.

It was located at the Monticello Motor Club in New York state, a vehicle-oriented country club for wealthy members who enjoy wringing out their exotic rides on a 4.1-mile road racing course. The complex also includes a moderately challenging off-road course where the racing is mostly limited to single-digit speeds as vehicles churn their way over ditches, berms, steep hills, creeks and frame-twisting mounds.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss

Tested on that course for this review was the 2019 Silverado LT Trail Boss Crew Cab, powered by a 355-hp, 5.3-liter V8 engine that makes 383 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force, transferred to the dirt through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

It came with the Z71 off-road equipment package that included a driver-selectable four-wheel drive system with a low range for tough terrain, along with a two-inch suspension lift, brawny shock absorbers, skid plates, automatic locking rear differential, hill start assist and hill descent control, and off-road tires on 18-inch wheels.

With all that and practiced drivers, the Silverado made short work of the off-road course. But it also is an accomplished pickup on the public roads with what Chevrolet claims is best-in-class cargo volume of 63 cubic feet in the short box on the four-door crew cab model, enough to carry 2,190 lbs of cargo. Properly equipped it can also tow up to 11,600 lbs.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss

Chevrolet, in its running battle with the all-aluminum Ford F-150, also emphasizes that the 2019 Silverado’s cargo bed uses a higher-strength steel floor than the previous model, along with a dozen tie-down points and a choice of four tailgate variants: standard manual lockable with key; lockable with lift assist; power lockable with automatic release, and an exclusive power up and down version.

Most big pickup trucks, and the Silverado is no exception, offer dizzying numbers of choices in how they are equipped. Besides the 63 cubic feet for cargo, the tested LT Trail Boss had a whopping 139 cubic feet of space for the driver, four passengers and indoor lockable storage cubbies.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado High Country

Of course, many Silverado buyers with no need to venture off the pavement likely will forego the Z71 off-road package, which is available as an option on any of the eight models. They range from a basic two-door work truck to the High Country version, which is equipped as well or better than some ultra-luxury cars, making for serene long-distance highway jaunts.

The GMC Sierra, essentially a fraternal twin of the Silverado in the General Motors family, also lards on the luxury touches in its full-size pickup line, especially in its Denali versions. Not to be undone by the Silverado’s four tailgate choices, it offers a six way tailgate that can double as a small table or chair for outdoor events.

There’s solid imperative for the Silverado and other full-size pickup trucks to pay attention to all the details. In 2017, highly profitable big pickups, including heavy-duty models, accounted for more than 2.4 million sales in the United States — or 14% of the entire car and light truck market.

 

The Durabed truck bed, standard on all 2019 Silverado 1500 models, includes larger cutouts in the GM-exclusive CornerStep bumpers to better accommodate steel-toed boots.

Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss Crew Cab pickup truck.
  • Engine: 5.3-liter V8; 355 hp, 383 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 19 feet 4 inches.
  • Height: 6 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 139/63 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 5,008 pounds.
  • Payload: 2,190 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 11,600 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 16/22/18 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $49,795.
  • Price as tested: $57,285.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss

Photos (c) Chevrolet

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2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST Edition: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer 

In any automotive era, the hot-rodders will eventually rise to the bait, as they have with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST Edition with its 6.2L Performance Package.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s post-World War II gear-heads stuffing V8 engines into 1930s Ford Model A coupes, or modern street racers hopping up old Honda Civic Si hatchbacks. Someone will always figure out a way to dredge artistry and performance out of pedestrian machinery.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

That’s expected, but the hop-up imperative has become institutionalized. The German luxury manufacturers — Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi — all have performance divisions to inject their already hot machines with ever more power.

Now, with the new Tahoe RST, Ford’s Raptor pickup truck and the mind-boggling Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the blastoff mindset has insinuated itself into the biggest of the big vehicles that were originally designed to simply tow, carry and haul lots of stuff on and off the road.

Which brings us to the Tahoe RST (rally sport truck), a monster SUV based on the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck. It comes with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine that delivers 460 lb-ft of torque through a new 10-speed automatic transmission. 

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

It has four driver-selectable drive modes: two-wheel drive for leisurely highway cruising, full-time all-wheel drive for nasty conditions, and locked four-wheel drive with high and low ranges for off-road forays. In short, there’s not much it cannot handle. Moreover, it can tow loads up to 8,100 pounds. 

Equipment also includes GM’s magnetic ride control, an active suspension setup that takes readings of road conditions and electronically adjusts the shock absorbers in milliseconds. It works in concert with gloss black 22-inch aluminum wheels.

Still, don’t expect a cushy ride. This fundamentally is a truck outfitted for performance despite its monster size, so the ride gets harsh and choppy except on pool-table smooth surfaces. If you’re a truck person, you’ll grin from ear to ear. If you have more of a comfortable sedan or crossover SUV orientation, it likely will produce a frown.

Chevrolet Unveils Tahoe RST

The biggest drawback — or enhancement, depending on your preference — of the Tahoe RST Edition is its sheer size. It stretches 17 feet in length and weighs 5,631 pounds. With that big V8 engine it doesn’t bow to anything — zero to 60 miles an hour arrives in less than six seconds — but don’t expect to toss it around like a sports sedan or performance-oriented crossover.

Nope. The RST works best when it is driven deliberately, in slow motion with well-planned moves. That way, with practice, its bulky dimensions come under control. Moreover, it is surprisingly docile in urban traffic given the power lurking under the hood. 

2015-Chevrolet-Tahoe-InteriorPowerFoldFlatSeats-004If you must demonstrate performance, it’s best to do it in a straight line. Punch the pedal at a stoplight and all those horses will pin you back in the seat. Choose either two-wheel drive or automatic all-wheel drive. Either way, the RST Edition gets off the line with little or no wheel spin. 

For all of its truck and performance credentials, the Tahoe RST Edition comes equipped as well as many luxury cars. There’s tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, heated and ventilated front seats, rolling WiFi, head-up display, wireless smart phone charging, and an eight-inch center screen for navigation and infotainment functions,   including Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

None of this, of course, comes cheap. The tested RST Edition had a starting price of $66,425. With the equipment mentioned, along with other options, the bottom-line sticker price came to $78,450—not a territory for many middle-class buyers.

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ

However, if you are not captivated by the awesome performance, which by the way takes its toll in fuel economy, there are lesser Tahoe versions that would be more friendly to the family budget. The RST has a city/highway/combined fuel consumption rating of 14/22/17 miles to the gallon.

The tester was a seven-passenger model with two captain’s chairs in the second row. Working with the power tailgate raised, a touch of a switch folds the rear seatbacks and the third-row seats to produce a flat load floor with nearly 98 cubic feet of cargo space. 

Seats in the first two rows deliver comfort and support. But the  third-row seats are impossible for anyone but small children, watermelons or backpacks. There’s little knee room and no help because the second-row seats do not adjust fore and aft.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST Brembo brake package

Specifications

    • Model: 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST Edition four-door sport utility vehicle.
    • Engine: 6.2-liter V8, 420 hp, 460 lb-ft torque.
    • Transmission: 10-speed automatic.
    • Overall length: 17 feet.
    • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 122/15 cubic feet.
    • Weight: 5,631 pounds.
    • Towing capability: 8,100 pounds.
    • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 14/22/17 mpg.
    • Base price, including destination charge: $66,425.
    • Price as tested: $78,450.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

Photos (c) General Motors.

Chevrolet Truck 100th Anniversary: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Fort Worth, Tex. — Chevrolet celebrated 100 years of truck manufacturing here with snorting hot-rod pickup trucks screeching around an autocross course, high-speed cops and robbers chases, and a spectacular helicopter drop of the company’s 2019 Silverado onto the infield of the Texas Motor Speedway.

The event featured a folksy interview with retired champion stock car race driver Dale Earnhart Jr., who now is a NASCAR analyst with NBC Sports. As might be expected, he emphasized his preference for, and his family’s long relationship with, Chevrolet. He drove onto the stage in his personal 1988 Chevy S10, a replica of his first pickup truck.

Chevy100_(8_of_10)Hundreds of Chevrolet truck owners from the surrounding area attended the celebration Saturday (Dec.16) along with a gaggle of automotive journalists, who in addition to getting rides in antique Chevy pickups and the hot rod trucks with professional drivers, rode shotgun with police officers in simulations of high-speed chases.

The police chases took place at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Training Center, named for a former Fort Worth mayor. The sprawling facility, with several buildings each the length of six football fields, provides training for Fort Worth officers in tactics, high-speed driving, computers and firearms skills, among others.

Chevy100_(7_of_10)Journalists, equipped with helmets and anti-whiplash restraints, rode with officers in Chevrolet Tahoe Police Pursuit SUVs. In a bit of subliminal symbolism, two of the Chevys chased a fleeing “suspect” driving an old Ford Crown Victoria.

Officers explained that in a high-speed chase the object is not to catch the car but to keep it in sight and the pressure on until the suspect, preoccupied with his pursuers, inevitably makes a mistake that leads to a stop and an arrest.

Chevrolet also used the occasion to introduce the new Tahoe RST Edition with a performance package that included a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, Brembo racing-type front brakes and Chevy’s Magnetic ride control.

Chevy100_(1_of_10)Later the journalists were given rides in a variety of older Chevrolet pickups, some modified. The trucks included a 1926 Chevy pickup, meticulously restored to better than its original condition. It had a top speed of about 35 miles an hour.

Again wearing helmets and anti-whiplash restraints, they also careened around the autocross course, tires lighting up and smoking, with the professional drivers at the wheels of the low-slung, modified pickups with powerful V8 engines.

Chevy100_(9_of_10)The event’s climax, following the Earnhart interview, came when a cargo helicopter bearing the Chevrolet “bow tie” emblem arrived overhead with a bright red 2019 Silverado LT Trailboss four-door pickup hanging from cables. It hovered and deposited the truck in the Texas Motor Speedway’s infield, where a driver jumped in and drove it onto the stage.

Alan Batey, president of General Motors North America, introduced the truck, saying it was being seen publicly for the first time. It will be formally introduced in January at the North American International Automobile Show in Detroit, Mich.
Speaking to the assembled Chevrolet truck loyalists, Batey said,

“We wanted to recognize the customers who have made Chevrolet part of their lives, and have them help kick off the next 100 years of Chevy trucks.”Chevy100_(2_of_10)

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

With the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel sedan, General Motors places a long-odds bet that oil-burning passenger vehicles have not met their end of days in the U.S. marketplace.

Except for heavy-duty trucks and long-distance 18-wheelers, Americans have never fully embraced diesels, remembering the days in the latter half of the 20th century when most diesels were smelly, slow and often wouldn’t start in cold weather.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

Those negatives have gone away. Modern diesels, especially in luxury cars, behave unobtrusively and most drivers would be hard put to distinguish them from gasoline-engine automobiles.

Yet the old prejudices continue, now augmented by the scandal in which Volkswagen faked emissions tests for nearly 11 million diesel-engine vehicles world-wide, including about 500,000 in the U.S.

About half of the passenger vehicles in Europe use cheaper diesel fuel and get about a 30% improvement in mileage over comparable gas burners. They also get high marks for durability. But it is becoming increasingly expensive to scrub the foul emissions. The CEO of Sweden’s Volvo said recently that the company likely would not develop a new-generation diesel engine.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers the design, engineering and technological advancements of the 2016 Cruze sedan in a functional, sporty package with added cargo space.

Moreover, the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens have announced that they planned to ban diesel cars and vans from the centers of their cities by 2025 to reduce air pollution.

Cities in the U.S. have an easier clean-air pathway because only about 5.3 million of the 264 million passenger cars and light trucks on the road nation-wide are diesel-powered. In 2016, less than 1% of the total 17.5 million light vehicles sold were diesels.

It was a poor diesel sales year partly because of the Volkswagen scandal, which now has caused the German manufacturer to eschew diesels entirely in the U.S. That opens the way for Chevrolet and a few others to fill the gap for the remaining diesel enthusiasts, who might account for several hundred thousand annual sales.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280-2The Cruze is an ideal candidate for diesel power. It is a sedan (or hatchback) that resides in the compact class, just a few cubic feet shy of the interior space that would get it a midsize classification. Unlike its predecessors, the forgettable Cobalt and Cavalier, it was so carefully designed and engineered that it won one of the “10 Top Picks” in the Consumer Reports 2017 Annual Auto Issue.

Most impressive, according to CR, was that its testers managed 47 mpg in highway driving, though the EPA gave the Cruze a 42-mpg rating. That was with the standard 153-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with 177 lb-ft of torque.

The EPA rated the city/highway/combined mileage of the diesel Cruze tested here at 31/47/37 mpg. It is powered by a 137-hp 1.6-cylinder diesel (also turbocharged) that develops 240 lb-ft of torque.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers 47.2 cubic feet of rear cargo room with the back seats flipped down.

That number is what gives this Cruze a sense of performance in acceleration off the line because the torque, or twisting force, makes itself felt at lower engine revolutions than with the gasoline engine. A new nine-speed automatic transmission efficiently sends the power to the front wheels. (A more engaging six-speed manual gearbox costs $1,600 less).

But it’s no drag racer and it is encumbered somewhat by a mileage enhancing stop-start system, which builds in a bit of hesitation moving away from a stoplight. Unfortunately, it cannot be turned off but can be defeated by simply lifting a foot slightly off the brake pedal.

The first ever Cruze Hatch blends sporty design with the versatility of a hatch making it adaptable for urban to outdoor adventures.

There are other minor downsides to the Cruze diesel. Its engine noises are raucous—more so under hard acceleration. Its equipment is similar to the midlevel LT trim, which means it does not have automatic climate control or sun visors that slide on their support rods to adequately block sunlight from the side. That omission adds a couple of bucks to the profit margin, but why? Curiously, previous Cruze models did have a sliding sun visor—only on the driver’s side.

Other than that, the tester had a high level of equipment for its base price of $26,270. It included full safety equipment, pushbutton starting, air conditioning, a Wi-Fi hotspot, SXM satellite radio, navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Options added lane departure and blind-spot warning, a motorized glass sunroof and leather upholstery for a $29,655 sticker.

Given the outstanding fuel economy of the gasoline Cruze, the question is whether buyers will spend the extra $2,795 for the diesel-engine model. But it’s there for those diesel devotees and others who might want one.

The first ever Cruze Hatch blends sporty design with the versatility of a hatch making it adaptable for urban to outdoor adventures.

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel four-door sedan.
  • Engine:6-liter four-cylinder diesel, turbocharged, 137 hp, 240 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and front-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 4 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 94/14 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,172 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 31/47/37 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $26,270.
  • Price as tested: $29,655.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280Photos (c) Chevrolet.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox AWD: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Like a Major League Baseball team with strong hitters, Chevrolet continues its winning streak with the 2018 Equinox compact crossover sport utility vehicle.

Moreover, there hasn’t been a strikeout or even an error in a string that includes the Impala, Malibu and Cruze. It is the strongest lineup that the General Motors mainstay has fielded in its history.

2018-Chevrolet-Equinox-018When it was introduced as a 2005 model, the Equinox was something of an anomaly: a bit bigger than a compact crossover like the sales-leading Honda CR-V but smaller than the midsize versions like the Ford Edge.

For 2018, it slots neatly into the compact class, which, along with its crossover brethren, constitutes the most popular vehicle configuration in the U.S. market. Compact and midsize sedans are no longer the champs.

Equinox hasn’t lost any interior space but is nearly six inches shorter and almost 400 pounds lighter than its predecessor. One result: there no longer are any six-cylinder engines in the lineup; the tested Equinox uses a 170-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 203 lb-ft of torque. Later in the model year, a 252-hp 2.0-liter four-banger and a 137-hp diesel engine will be added.

2018-Chevrolet-Equinox-016The 1.5-liter engine — tiny by traditional measures — is used in other Chevrolets as well, including the desirable new-generation Malibu. To send the power to the front wheels or all four wheels, Chevy installs its competent six-speed automatic transmission.

Short on muscular power, the Equinox feels quicker than its sub nine-second 0-to-60 mph acceleration time. Turbo lag is nonexistent. The torque, or twisting force, is more than adequate for stoplight sprints, on-ramp acceleration and freeway lane-swapping. To enhance fuel economy, it uses a stop-start system to shut down the engine at stoplights.

Many stop-start systems tend to be annoying, restarting the engine with a shudder or with so much hesitation it feels as if the engine bogs down. That’s not the case with the Equinox. It engages instantly and smoothly, so there’s no anxiety getting a jump off the line. That’s a good thing, because the stop-start system cannot be disengaged.

2018-Chevrolet-Equinox-023The Equinox also shines with effortless handling. There’s good grip and almost no lean around corners and it changes lanes smartly and smoothly without tossing passengers around.

Inside, the Equinox delivers generous head and knee room for five people, plus 30 cubic feet of cargo space that expands to 64 cubic feet if the rear seatbacks are folded flat. There’s also a bit of extra out-of-sight stash space under the cargo floor. A power tailgate can be adjusted for height from a button on the driver’s door.

Front seats are supportive for long-distance comfort with modest bolsters on the seatbacks to hold the torso in cornering. Outboard back seats offer full comfort and even the center-rear position, a punishing place on most vehicles, is half-way decent thanks to a flat floor and minimal intrusion of the front console, though the seat itself is flat and hard.

2018-Chevrolet-Equinox-017Tested for this review was the topmost Premier trim line with all-wheel drive. It’s a bit pricey for a compact crossover with a starting sticker of $35,330 and, with options, a bottom line of $39,645. However, the interior had an upscale look with quality materials and trim.

Equipment included full basic safety equipment plus forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic low-speed braking, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, and a rearview camera with an overhead view. However, there was no radar cruise control.

Other items: a panoramic sunroof with one of the biggest openings anywhere, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with GM’s OnStar communications system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation system with an eight-inch touch screen, SXM satellite radio, HD radio, dual-zone climate control, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, electric parking brake and 19-inch alloy wheels.

2017-Chevrolet-Equinox-Pothole-Awareness-06Also included was Chevrolet’s innovative teen-driving parental control, which can set speed limits and audio volume, as well as produce a report card on the teen’s behavior behind the wheel.

One critical note: If you shut off the Equinox and forget to put the transmission in “Park,” the vehicle will roll as if it is in neutral. It should automatically shift into park. However, a chime sounds and a message appears to remind the driver to shift.

On the praiseworthy side, a chime and message reminds the driver to check the back seat when the Equinox is parked. It could save a child’s life.

2018-Chevrolet-Equinox-015Specifications

  • Model: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier 1.5T four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 170 hp, 203 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual-shift mode.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 3 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 99/30 cubic feet. (64)
  • Weight: 3,640 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 24/30/26 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $35,330.
  • Price as tested: $39,645.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

2018-Chevrolet-Equinox-013Photos (c) General Motors.

2017 North American International Auto Show: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Detroit, Mich.—Bucking the tide of compact crossover sport utility vehicles, three new sedans from Japan’s Toyota and South Korea’s Kia captured onlookers’ attention here at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, which runs through Jan. 22.

A few manufacturers introduced new compact crossovers, which have taken over as the hottest category in U.S. sales—mainly at the expense of midsize and compact sedans. But they were few and overshadowed by three four-doors.

They are the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry, the 2018 Lexus LS500 from Toyota’s luxury division and the 2018 Kia Stinger, a new midsize sports sedan that looks as if it could threaten some of Europe’s best.

On the small crossover front, Nissan unveiled the new Rogue Sport, a smaller version of its compact SUV. It is based on the Nissan Qashqui, which is sold in other world markets. Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-new GLA and Chevrolet presented its redesigned Equinox, a compact crossover that tilts toward midsize.

But that was about it unless you count the new Chevrolet Traverse, a full-size, three-row crossover, the stretched Volkswagen Tiguan—also with three rows—and the smaller performance-oriented Audi SQ5.

toyotacamryDespite the booming popularity of compact crossovers, manufacturers still obviously believe in midsize sedans. The Camry, despite losing 40,737 customers between 2015 and 2016, still topped the midsize field with 388,618 sold in 2016.

The 2018 model, seeking to mitigate the Camry’s reputation as durable but bland, boasts styling changes and improvements across the board. It is longer, lower and wider, with a lower center of gravity for better handling.

As before, there are four versions: LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. The LE and XLE models have a different grille from the S and XSE versions and are oriented toward comfort. The S and XSE models have a more sporting personality. Power choices are a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.5-liter V6 and a hybrid.

For 2018, all Toyota Camry models get the company’s Entune 3.0 connectivity system, which includes navigation and a host of other state-of-the art features.

lexusls5502Over at the Lexus display, the attention grabber was the all-new LS500, which at 17 feet 2 inches long is bigger and classier than ever, rivaling the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS500 is powered by a 415-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers, a 10-speed automatic transmission and a predicted zero-to-60 mph acceleration time of 5.1 seconds.

Among other things, its standard and optional features include a 12.3-inch center screen with navigation and handwriting recognition, air suspension system, heated, cooled and massaging front and rear seats, and a detection system that can trigger braking or steering around a pedestrian.

kiastinger2Most of the excitement among enthusiasts, however, focused on the Kia Stinger, an all-new car with a new name. It marks a milestone at the South Korean manufacturer, which delivers high quality cars, crossovers and even a minivan.

The midsize Stinger is a performance-oriented Gran Turismo four-door with a fastback design and a rear hatch, not unlike the larger Audi A7, which competes among cars that can cost up to $80,000.

Few Stinger details were available at the introduction, including the price, but it likely will be way less than the A7’s—more competitive with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars.

With rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive with torque vectoring for improved handling, the Stinger will offer two power plants: 225-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters for a manual shifting mode. No manual gearbox was considered.Vice President Joe Biden Visits 2017 NAIAS

Photos and Logo (c) NAIAS.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

It is fair to conclude that the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt constitutes an electric automobile revolution.

There already are many electric cars. But usually they have drawbacks of one kind or another: too expensive, don’t travel far enough, take too long to re-charge or are cheaply built.

Chevrolet, however, has produced an honest, popular priced, entertaining electric that looks and feels like a real automobile with few shortcomings—except for sun visors without sliders to adequately block sunlight from the sides. The Bolt resembles a four-door hatchback, less than 14-feet long yet with the interior space of a midsize car. Chevrolet argues that it is tall enough to be a crossover SUV, though it has front-drive and no all-wheel drive. The feds classify it as a small wagon.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Never mind. It carries five passengers with plenty of room for four big adults and a fifth in the center rear, although that person suffers with a hard cushion and intrusion from the front console.

Cargo space under the rear hatch totals 17 cubic feet. For extra space, the rear seatbacks fold flat and expand the cargo area to nearly 57 cubic feet.

The Bolt’s strength lies in its powertrain. It uses an electric motor that delivers 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. It is fed by a 60-kWh battery pack that nestles under the front and rear seats and is an integral part of the body structure.

The combination enables the 3,563-pound Bolt to travel an average of 238 miles when fully charged. Some drivers will do better, some worse. A display tells how the driver is doing. For this review, a varied run of about 50 miles produced 3.9 miles per kWh, which worked out to 234 miles of driving.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

The EPA rates the Bolt at the city/highway/combined fuel consumption equivalent of 128/110/119 mpg-e.

That doesn’t tell the entire performance story. Electric motors deliver maximum torque, or twisting force, the instant they are switched on, eliminating the need for a conventional automatic transmission. On the Bolt, the electronic shifter signals the electric motor on how to behave.

The Bolt bolts to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, according to Chevrolet. Top speed is 92 mpg, though the tester bettered that slightly at 93.

Straight-line highway cruising is quiet and effortless as the Bolt tracks true without many steering corrections. It handles smartly, with barely any body lean, on twisting mountain roads. Throttle response is instant.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

The Bolt also is set up for single-pedal driving. It has a regenerative system that, on deceleration, sends power to the battery pack. That happens constantly.

But if the driver chooses, the regenerative braking can be enhanced in two ways: Shift into Low and the braking becomes stronger. Also, depress a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, which makes the regenerative braking even stronger.

Because the regeneration switches off when you mash the brake pedal, the system is designed to let the driver use the Low range or the paddle, or both together, to bring the Bolt to a stop without touching the brake pedal. It takes a bit of practice but maximizes the range.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Full recharging with an optional 240-volt charger takes about 9.5 hours. With a standard household 120-volt outlet, a full charge takes 59.5 hours, or four miles per hour. An overnight charge of 15 hours delivers 60 miles of range. The battery carries an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

There are two Bolt versions: the tested LT, with sturdy and comfortable cloth upholstery, has a base price of $37,495. The tester had options packages with such items as heated seats and steering wheel, and auto-dimming headlights, which brought the tested price to $38,640.

Top of the line is the Premier, with a base price of $41,780, including the destination charge. With its two options packages, it comes to $42,760.

However, Chevrolet points out that the Bolt qualifies for a $7,500 U.S. tax credit, plus whatever incentives are available from state and local governments. However, a tax credit is something that is part of an individual’s tax return. It is not money refunded at the point of sale.

Some might argue that an extended range electric or plug-in hybrid with an onboard gasoline engine—like Chevrolet’s own Volt—makes more sense. But if a pure electric is your preference, the Bolt is the way to roll.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt LT four-door small wagon.
  • Motor: Electric with gear-set, 200 hp, 266 lb-ft torque with 60 kWh battery pack.
  • Transmission: Motor controlled by electronic shifter.
  • Overall length: 13 feet 8 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 94/17 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,563 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined equivalent fuel consumption: 128/110/119 mpg-e.
  • Average range: 238 miles.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $37,495.
  • Price as tested: $38,640.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) General Motors.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

What once was a slur of contempt now has become a badge of acceptance, as the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback can confirm.

Not long ago, hatchback was a dirty word—at least as far as most U.S. consumers were concerned. They overwhelmingly preferred traditional sedans with trunks, though the practical hatchback body style was popular in Europe and other areas around the world.

Hatchbacks actually did fairly well on these shores in a surprising number of iterations once you investigate. But manufacturers shied away from calling them hatchbacks. Somewhat the same thing happened with station wagons, which once ruled the American roads along with big Detroit sedans.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers 47.2 cubic feet of rear cargo room w

A few manufacturers soldiered on steadfastly with their hatchbacks, notably Volkswagen’s Golf. Others, like the Mazda3, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Ford Focus, came in both hatchback and traditional notchback sedans.

Luxury Europeans BMW and Mercedes-Benz tried hatchbacks like the 318i and C-Class, and then dropped them. In recent years, though, more hatchbacks have been sneaking through. Among them: Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic and Spark, Hyundai Accent and Elantra, Kia Rio and Forte, the former Scion xA and xD, and Subaru Impreza.

Now there’s a new atmosphere, aided immensely by the runaway popularity of small crossover sport utility vehicles, most of which are tall hatchbacks with a choice of front-drive or all-wheel drive.

The first ever Cruze Hatch blends sporty design with the versati

It now has gotten to the point where manufacturers no longer are ashamed to embrace the once dreaded hatchback designation. The two most notable contenders for 2017 are the Honda Civic and the subject here, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT four-door.

The Cruze, as a four-door sedan, succeeded the undistinguished and forgettable Chevrolet Cavalier and Cobalt compact cars. Introduced as a 2009 model, the Cruze has found increasing acceptance and, in 2015, had 226,602 U.S. sales, in third place behind the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

Sales have dropped off in 2016 but the new Hatchback models are poised to give the Cruze some newfound popularity as buyers appreciate the advantages of well-designed hatchbacks.

There are two versions, both with options packages that further distinguish them: the tested Hatchback LT with the RS appearance package, which starts at $22,115, and the top-line Hatchback Premier with a starting price of $24,820.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers unexpected segment-exclusive technol

The Premier comes with a six-speed automatic transmission as part of the standard equipment. With a full set of option packages, it tops out at $29,465. So equipped, it resembles a near-luxury car with a high-quality interior slathered in leather and state-of-the art safety, connectivity and convenience features.

But you can get the same fundamental good stuff in the tested Hatchback LT with the RS appearance package, which is distinguished by a different grille, rear spoiler and other body treatments.

You’ll have to forego some of the luxury, infotainment and entertainment items, but you’ll sit in comfortable and supportive seats upholstered in quality cloth for a way-lesser tested price of $22,965. The base price is $22,115.

The basics, which are the same in all Cruze models, include a 153-hp 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 177 lb-ft of torque and city/highway/combined fuel economy of 28/37/32 mpg with the either the six-speed manual gearbox or the optional six-speed automatic transmission.

The first ever Cruze Hatch blends sporty design with the versati

Interestingly, the Cruze Hatchback LT is priced almost the same as the 2017 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback. The two cars have nearly the same passenger and cargo space, but the Civic is more powerful with a 180 hp 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with 177 pound-feet of torque and 30/39/33 fuel economy.

Both cars come with comfortable cloth seats. However, the Cruze LT has a more extensive level of equipment, including SirusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and Chevrolet’s OnStar connectivity with automatic crash notification and turn-by-turn navigation.

The main thing distinguishing the two is that the Civic is more sporting and driver oriented while the Cruze is softer and better appointed. Its manual shift linkage and clutch are not quite as slick as the Honda’s, but they work well – and you won’t notice much difference unless you compare the cars together.

Both have handsome exterior styling but different approaches. The Civic has a sloping body that resembles a modern sedan while the Cruze has a distinct hatchback look.

Chevrolet’s culture no longer tolerates ordinary cars destined for rental fleets. Two examples are the new Malibu, a midsize standout, and the Impala, selected by Consumer Reports as its top pick among large cars.

The new 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback rolls easily into that parade.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers the design, engineering and technolo

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT w/RS four-door.
  • Engine: 1.4-liter four cylinder, direct injection, 153 hp, 177 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 7 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 94/23 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 2,910 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 28/37/31 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $22,115.
  • Price as tested: $22,965.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) General Motors.

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