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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

2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 actually is a compact crossover sport utility vehicle. But its lead exterior designer prefers to call it an Escalade puppy.

Robin Krieg was talking about the all-new XT4 at its national introduction. He said the challenge was to design a new small crossover for an audience that mainly thinks of Cadillacs as always big.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

The Escalade certainly qualifies. It’s a full-size body-on-frame traditional SUV, 17 feet long and 6 feet 2 inches tall, built like a pickup truck. He said it was a challenge to translate that concept into the XT4, a small unit-body crossover, built like a car.

Some of the result was immediately apparent at first look. The XT4 is an inch over 15 feet long and 5 feet 4 inches tall. Moreover, it has styling that hints at a pickup truck, mainly looking at the wheels.

In an era when luxury crossovers often emphasize performance, the wheel openings are usually filled with big wheels and fat tires. The XT4’s wheel openings, however, have wheels and low aspect-ratio tires that look small, more like they belong on a sports sedan or roadster.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

Krieg said the look was deliberate, aimed at imparting an impression that the XT4 was light and agile. Given its size, it would seem like that in any case, but the space around the tires does remind one of a pickup truck.

However you look at it, the XT4 puppy is another step in an offensive at Cadillac, which plans to introduce a new model every six months through 2020. Right now there are seven — four sedans and three SUVs, including the Escalade, Escalade ESV, XT5 and, now, the XT4. Many will go to China, now Cadillac’s top market.

The XT4 represents an all-new Cadillac architecture, designed to compete in the compact luxury class against the likes of the Volvo XC-40, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3 and the BMW X2. Its tidy dimensions make it a nimble partner in modern dense traffic.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Premium Luxury

But it also manages to be roomy with midsize sedan passenger space of 101 cubic feet, plus 22 cubic feet for cargo behind the rear seat. The rear seatbacks fold flat to expand the space to 49 cubic feet. A temporary spare wheel and tire lies under the cargo area.

Front-seat passengers get supportive and comfortable power seats and, in the case of the tested Sport model, a massage function for both front seats. Outboard passengers in back get decent head and knee room, though the seatbacks do not recline. The center-rear passenger is disrespected with a hard cushion and big floor hump.

A new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels or all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode.

To enhance fuel economy, the middle two cylinders deactivate during sedate highway motoring. Also contributing to a city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 22/29/24 mpg on all-wheel drive models, the XT4 uses a system in front that can disconnect the driveshaft and rear wheels.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

Though there’s a bit of a steering wiggle off-center, the tested XT4 handled securely, abetted by twin clutches at the rear axle that can send 100% of the available torque to either wheel depending on conditions.

The XT4 is comfortable, and remains mostly quiet except under hard acceleration, when the engine gets a bit raucous. On harsh surfaces, some road noise also intrudes, though wind noise is mostly nonexistent.

There are six versions: Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport, available with front-wheel drive or, for an additional $2,500, all-wheel drive. The focus of this review is the Sport, which carried a base price of $40,290 and, as tested with all-wheel drive, $56,835. Both prices include the destination charge.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

Not many customers are likely to order the base model. The tested AWD Sport came with $15,915 worth of options, including the all-wheel drive. They included forward collision alert with pedestrian braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, perforated leather upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, automatic lift gate, XSM satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Cadillac deserves congratulations for an opaque sunshade for the motorized sunroof. Too many luxury cars and crossovers these days follow a fad of using sunshades made of perforated cloth that allows heat and too much sunlight to intrude on passengers.

Overall, this Escalade puppy aims to please — and does.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 237 hp, 258 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 1 inch.
  • Height: 5 feet 4 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 101/22 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,900 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/29/24 mpg (premium fuel).
  • Base price, including destination charge: $40,290.
  • Price as tested: $56,835.

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

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

Photos (c) Cadillac

2017 Buick La Crosse Premium: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

The 2017 Buick La Crosse fulfills its traditional role at General Motors as a luxury car without the cachet of a Cadillac but a satisfying alternative and less expensive to boot.

While a new Caddy CT6 can run well over 90 grand, the top trim La Crosse Premium tested for this review came with a starting price of $41,990 and, with options, topped out at $48,395. That’s with front-wheel drive; if you want all-wheel drive it costs an additional $2,200.

2017-buick-lacrosse-032

The La Crosse, a comfortable full-size four-door sedan, comes in four trim levels: base, starting at $32,990, Preferred, Essence and Premium. Only the Premium can be ordered with front drive or all-wheel drive; the others have front drive.

Redesigned for 2017, the La Crosse is longer, lower, wider and lighter than its predecessor. It is down about 300 pounds, mainly because of the use of more expensive, high-strength steel and state-of-the-art sound deadening materials.

A new 300-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine, with 282 lb-ft of torque, provides the motivation, sending the power to the pavement through an eight-speed automatic transmission. To complement the lighter structure, fuel economy is enhanced by cylinder deactivation, where the engine switches to four-cylinder operation (Buick calls it active fuel management).

2017-buick-lacrosse-040

Also contributing to the city/highway/combined fuel consumption ratings of 21/31/25 mpg is an engine stop-start feature, which is one of the better systems around. When the engine re-starts after shutting down at a stoplight, for example, it is barely noticeable, though it does cause a brief hiccup in acceleration — as do all stop-start systems. However, the system can be switched off.

On the road, the La Crosse Premium delivers relaxed and serene long-distance cruising in quiet comfort. Power is more than adequate for freeway merging and passing, and the La Crosse tracks steadily with little need for steering corrections. It is capable on twisting roads as long as it is not unduly hurried.

2017-buick-lacrosse-026

In the tested Premium trim, the La Crosse comes with a classy interior highlighted by faux wood grain trim and leather accents. The seats are comfortable, covered in perforated leather, though the front seats lack lateral support in cornering.

A welcome feature for the driver is a lumbar support that massages the lower back. Seats are heated and ventilated, and the steering wheel is heated as well. Spacious comfort in the back outboard seats nearly matches the front seats but the center-rear fifth seat, as in most automobiles these      days, is a hard perch that restricts headroom and is severely compromised by a big floor hump. Either splay your feet on both sides or sit with your knees up near your chin. A power shade for the backlight keeps unwanted sunshine at bay.

2017-buick-lacrosse-029

The La Crosse sends driver information cleanly with a combination of analog and digital instruments, abetted by a comprehensive head-up display reflected on the windshield. A comforting safety message shows up at shutdown in the instruments, reminding the driver to look at the back seat to determine whether a child is in the car. In the center of the dash, a large touch screen for radio, navigation and other functions is intuitive and easy to operate.

An unusual shifter for the automatic transmission requires the driver to press a button, push forward and then to the left to engage reverse gear. It’s awkward at first but easy to use with practice.

Out back, there’s a shallow though roomy trunk. A panel provides access to the battery, which is installed there for improved weight distribution. One indication of a cost-based compromise: the trunk hinges are not covered or otherwise isolated so could damage luggage or other content.

2017-buick-lacrosse-024Equipment on the test car included forward collision alert with automatic braking, front pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, rear vision camera, rear cross traffic warning and a cool feature that vibrates the driver’s seat when the car gets too close to other objects.

All La Crosse models also get GM’s OnStar communications system, as well as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Other comfort and convenience items on the test car included Apple Car Play and Android Auto, SXM satellite radio, wireless device charging and a premium Bose audio system.

For anyone whose taste favors full-size luxury cars, the La Crosse competes handily with cars like the Kia Cadenza and Toyota Avalon — and even the more expensive Cadillac CT6.

2017-buick-lacrosse-037

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Buick La Crosse Premium FWD four-door sedan.
  • Engine:6-liter V6, direct fuel injection, 310 hp, 282 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with front-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/truck volume: 102/15 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,958 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 21/31/25 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $41,990.
  • Price as tested: $48,395.

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

Photos (c) Buick.

2017-buick-lacrosse-001

2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Cadillac creeps closer to parity against Europe’s high-performance luxury brands with the 2017 CT6 full-size sport/luxury sedan.

Though there likely are some aficionados who yearn for the days of the Cadillac de Ville or Fleetwood, the company now is committed to befuddling the public with alphanumeric designations—just like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Audi.

That’s how it stays hip, while also testifying that the venerable American purveyor of softly sprung land cruisers now delivers models that travel in the same grid with the best from Germany, Japan and Great Britain.

2016 Cadillac CT6, Los Angeles, CA

It started in 2003 with the rear-drive CTS, which gladdened the hearts of American chauvinists because it was the first modern Cadillac to butt bumpers with the German performance sedans.

Since then it has gradually upped its game with overachievers like the CTS-V. But it has not totally abandoned the potbellied gentry who in days of yore drove their Fleetwood sedans majestically up to valet parking at the country club.

The company still produces the big XTS, with a personality that carries hints of earlier times. It comes with front-wheel drive, as had most Cadillac models following the General Motors rejection of rear-wheel drive more than a decade ago.

2016 Cadillac CT6, Los Angeles, CA

Now the pendulum has swung again. To deliver a proper high-performance contender, rear-drive — or, increasingly, all-wheel drive — is mandatory.

The 2017 CT6 qualifies. Depending on the model, it is available either way. Tested for this review was the CT6 Platinum AWD, which parks at the top of the lineup. It had a starting price, including the destination charge, of $88,490. With options, it came with a suggested delivered price of $91,580.

As might be imagined, that sticker covers a lot of stuff, starting with a 404-hp 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers that makes 400 lb-ft of torque. The power gets to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel.

cq5dam-web-1280-1280-3

There’s enough power to move this 4,370-lb sedan to 60 mph in an estimated five seconds — as long as you first turn off the stop-start system that shuts the engine down at stoplights to conserve fuel. Even with all that power, there is a hint of turbo lag when you punch the pedal to downshift and pass at highway speeds.

Handling is enhanced by magnetic ride control and a rear-wheel steering system that makes turn-ins quicker on curving roads. Straight-line cruising, depending on the road, requires steering corrections. Loafing along on a smooth freeway is quiet and relaxing, though the ride can get lumpy on undulating pavement.

The CT6 is a big car, a couple of inches longer than its garage-mate, the XTS, and a few inches shorter with slightly less passenger space than the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series. Inside, it has ample space for four passengers, who sit on soft leather perforated to deliver heat and cooling.

2016 Cadillac CT6, Los Angeles, CA

The driver’s seat is equipped to deliver en route back massages and the back seats recline comfortably like those in upscale movie theaters. On the tested Platinum model, outboard back seat passengers get their own entertainment screens nestled inside the front seatbacks.

A console containing function controls and cup holders divides the back seats. It can be folded up out of the way to expose a fifth seating position, but it’s not worth the bother. Headroom disappears as you park your bottom on a hard cushion, and a giant floor hump eliminates foot space.

cq5dam-web-1280-1280-2

Overhead, there’s a panoramic sunroof. A large touch screen resides in the center of the instrument panel, controlling a variety of functions with swipes and touches. There are no buttons or knobs, though a pad on the console supplements the touch screen controls.

An unusual feature is a rear-view camera embedded in the inside mirror. It delivers a clear picture and a wide view behind the car. But it is mostly distracting because the driver’s eyes must re-focus every time they shift to glance at the mirror, and double vision often results. Fortunately, the camera can be switched off for a normal view.

Another minor annoyance: the power seat controls are mounted on the doors, similar to those found on Mercedes-Benz models. They are awkward to use, not as intuitive as controls mounted on the sides of the seats.

Overall, the new CT6 comes across with a personality more akin to that of a big sports sedan than that of a boulevardier like the XTS.

2016 Cadillac CT6, Los Angeles, CA

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD four-door sedan.
  • Engine:0-liter V6, twin turbochargers, 404 hp, 400 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 17 feet.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 107/15 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,370 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/26/21 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $88,490.
  • Price as tested: $91,580.

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

Photos (c) Cadillac.

2016 Cadillac CT6, Los Angeles, CA

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