Archive | April, 2010

Review – 2010 Buick Enclave

We have heard time and time again that Buick is in a renaissance.  Some told us that the movement started with the Lucerne.  They were misinformed dearly.  The real renaissance movement began with the Enclave.  Buick debuted the Enclave concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2006.  That concept came to reality less then a year later debuting as a production vehicle at the L.A. Auto Show later that year.  So the question is simple: is this every bit the car Buick claims it is?  Lets find out.

The outside of the Enclave is really stunning.  From the front fenders that flow into the body to the rear fenders, which pick up and flow into the rear taillights— the lines are stunning.  The headlights are unique and look great both during the day and when lit up at night.  The twenty-inch chrome clad wheels were met with more chrome strewn about the exterior, from the door handles to the rear taillight surrounds.  Chrome was all over the exterior of this vehicle.  I did have one person tell me it was a little flashy for their tastes.  I however think it was tastefully done and not overdone in the least bit.  The traditional Buick waterfall grille still resides in the front reminding you that yes, indeed this is a Buick.  Though you might be shocked to find this out by looking around the vehicle.

Inside the stunning looks continue.  Wood is literally everywhere.  Well when we use the term wood we use that generously.  The wood is actually plastic with only the wood on the steering wheel being real mahogany.  With that said, it does not look bad.  The design is aesthetically pleasing and very upscale.  The center stack has an analogue clock at the top.  The climate control set up and the radio/navigation is shared with the other lambda-based vehicles (Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and the now dead Saturn Outlook).  The second row seats can be had in either a three-person bench seat or two captains chairs.  This is a no cost option and I personally liked the captain seating option, though it is not quite as practical since you lose a seat.  The third row folds flat and is standard.  This is mainly a space for children though an adult could manage for a quick trip across town.  The dual laminated glass keeps things extremely quite inside even on the highway.  Even with the third row up you still have room for luggage or groceries.  The interior—like the exterior—is definitely tastefully done.

The powertrain is shared with the other lambda vehicles as well.  Equipped with a 3.6 liter direct injection V6 that puts out 288 hp and 270 ft-lb to either the front or all four wheels.  The power is handled by a one-choice six speed automatic transmission, which does have a manual shift capability.  The steering is noticeably boosted and is light to the touch.  This is not a barnburner but it has enough power to get up and merge onto a freeway.  Though I would not suggest racing your next-door neighbors Porsche Cayenne to the country club for pinks, for you will lose.

The Enclave I had was  CXL-2 which is the top trim level.  Equipped with every option other then the all wheel drive the sticker price rang in at $47,355 including destination.  This included such options as the audio system with navigation and DVD, power sunroof with second row skylight and the twenty-inch chrome clad wheels.  The navigation system is the older touch screen unit supplied by Delphi, which is DVD-based rather then hard drive based.  This is a tad slower then the new hard drive based unit supplied by Alpine in the new Cadillacs.  I am hoping this gets upgraded soon.  Also the rear seat entertainment, which as part of the audio system package mentioned earlier, drops down from the roof that puts the screen right in the way of your rear view mirror.  The newer models from GM are using dual flip up monitors on the back of the front seats.  This too hopefully will be upgraded sooner rather then later.  Another feature that was missing was auto up windows.  Only the driver’s window was equipped with the auto up feature.  In this price range that is almost commonplace and a little strange.

One of the biggest downfalls of the lambdas is their weight.  They are almost obese, weighing in at almost 5000 lbs (4780 to be exact).  You can most definitely feel the engine pulling all this weight around.  The EPA rates the fuel mileage at 17/24 for the front wheel drive model I was in.  I did manage to average 17.3 mpg in the city and did not have the chance to truly test the highway rating.  These are fairly decent numbers especially compared to some of the competition.

In this price range you are deep in luxury SUV territory with players such as the Acura MDX and the Lincoln MKT, among others.  The question is simple: is the Enclave a worthy competitor?  I would say it is definitely a vehicle I would recommend, but it will not be for everyone.  The Enclave to me feels bigger then the MDX and is really just a different personality than MKT.  All three are really nice vehicles and the Enclave is definitely class competitive.  While some upgrades are needed as time has passed, the Enclave is still the competitive looker it was when it made its debut.


Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

Local Unveiling – The Tesla Roadster Comes To Minneapolis

The Tesla Roadster is coming to Minneapolis!  Tesla’s first local public unveiling will be held at EurocarsUS in Eden Prairie on  Saturday May 8 from 10am until 4pm.  In addition to the Tesla being on site, there will be food and drinks along with prizes ranging from key chains to car detailing coupons.  Bring your family and friends to check out this all electric sports car. Who knows when another might show up in the Twin Cities?

A quick run down on the Tesla Roadster:

The Tesla Roadster is an all electric car which delivers one hundred percent instant torque when you mash the go pedal.  The Roadster is powered by a 375 volt AC induction air cooled electric motor.  This all equates to 288 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque sent to the rear wheels through a one speed transmission.  Max RPM is at 14,000.  Let that figure sink in for a second.  Ok?  Now, what does this all mean?  0-60 comes in 3.9 seconds with a electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.  The Roadster’s range is approximately 236 miles, but of course, your mileage will vary with conditions and driving style.  Over 1000 roadsters have been produced as of January 2010 with more to come.


Full Disclosure-  EurocarsUS is a client of my employer SMCpros, though I was in no way asked to write this post for work.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 25: “Coming To America”

Episode 25 starts with introducing this weeks guest William Maley also known as realmudmonster on Twitter.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ I was in for the past week along with the Porsche Panamera 4S sitting in my driveway.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured the new Ford Super Duty Kumbaya clip. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing a poll about more Americans saying U.S. cars top Asian autos.

Last we plug our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Video – 2011 Ford Fiesta Media Debut

While I was not on hand at the 2011 Ford Fiesta media debut, TangentVector put together this video from that launch.  It is covers everything from why Ford brought this car to the U.S. all the way to the cars safety.

Key take aways from this video-

  • The car feels nimble and light
  • Great fuel economy
  • Lots of safety equipment standard
  • Well engineered
  • Fun to drive factor
  • Value preposition
  • Small cars can be safe

Definitely a decent use of four minutes of your time.

Source – TangentVector.  Also seen on AutoBlog

RoAB #32 – The ‘Grab Bag’ Episode

This week I had the honor to be a guest on the best second best darn auto podcast on the interwebs called RoundAbout Show.  It is truly a eye opening experience that everyone should experience at some point or another in their lives.  This week happens to be a grab bag.  This means each person brings a story to the table that gets submitted for discussion.  This week those topics included-

Top Gear America 3.0, maybe

New York car repair scam

Transparent Nissan 370Z

Operation Crash-for-Cash

Off-Road Chevrolet Corvette

Diesel Mazda RX-7 Rumors

Next up something they call “the blind spot.”  This week featured a Barbie Car Drunk Driving Bust

Moving on into the garage between the lot of us we had an Audi S5 and a Malibu LTZ.

We finish up the show with RoundAbout update which this week was the worlds worst parking job and also highway hearsay.

I want to thank Jeffrey RossMichelle NaranjoZach BowmanEric TrytkoCraig Cole and Ben Sanders for having me on the show.


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Off Road Chevrolet Corvette Fail

What do you find when you go up north to Duluth, Minnesota?  Well if you were me yesterday, up in the northern Minnesota town for a client meeting, a heavily modified C3 Chevrolet Corvette (if you could even call it that anymore).  This particular Corvette is lifted and obviously heavily modified.  It was equipped with a lift, large BF Goodrich All-Terrain A/T’s, dual pipes coming out straight from the rear, tubular bumpers and a ghost flame paint job to top it off.  This whole thing just smells of fail.  The reality is it might actually be a truck of some kind that had a Corvette body grafted onto it.  I wonder if this thing actually goes off-road or mudding? Or are they just shooting for that type of look?  Who knows – either way, it is an unique vehicle and I decided stopping to snap some pictures was necessary.

Review – 2010 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty

Up until recently trucks were not only work vehicles but also daily drivers.  With the rise of gas prices and the fall of the economy, things changed.  People are no longer buying trucks just to drive to work, leaving Detroit in a fierce competition to win over as many high-margin trucks sales as they can.

Exterior-

The 2010 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty is without question a looker.  Starting up front the grille on the heavy duty Ram is more upright than the grille on Ram 1500, playing a major role in the “tough” look of this truck.  The grille and bumpers are all chrome with other bright work scattered about the rest of the truck.  The fresh sheet metal has lines that are well integrated, with a strong line running off the headlight and into the front doors that disappears and then picks up again at the edge of the rear doors leading into the bed.  Without question there was a lot of metal to work with and I think the designers did their best to make the new heavy duty Ram look great.  I would say mission accomplished.

Interior-

The exterior of the Ram has never been its biggest drawback; instead that role was always given to the interior.  The interior has finally been redone and in a big way.  With new materials and a vastly updated design, we now have a Ram that is head and shoulders above its predecessor.  There are soft touch materials where necessary and everything looks great.  Fit and finish is also terrific all around. The Ram sports dual glove boxes along with enough storage cubbies to hold all your gear meaning you should never have stuff flying around.  The touch screen Uconnect setup for the radio works well and is hard drive based.  It was somewhat odd to me that you can only read music or rip music off a flash drive from the USB port on Uconnect head unit.  To use your iPod/iPhone you must buy the proprietary adapter that connects all the way over in the top glove box.  That seems anti-intuitive.  Also having your iPhone all the way in the glove box means you cannot use it as a phone outside of hands free with Ram’s Bluetooth.

Powertrain-

The heart of any heavy duty truck is the engine and this Ram 2500 did not disappoint.  Equipped with the optional 6.7 liter Cummins turbo diesel, this inline six puts out 350 hp and 650 lb-ft through an optional six speed automatic transmission.  Yes you read that correctly, the six speed automatic is optional.  The heavy duty Ram is the only heavy duty truck available with a manual transmission.  The Cummins turbo diesel engine is a $7,615 option.  The exhaust system in the Cummins diesel utilizes a DEF-free catalyst, which uses (expensive) metals that convert the NOx into nitrogen gas and water vapor.  This system was implemented back in 2007 meaning the Cummins diesel was ready for the 2010 emissions—not only before the competition—but before the new standards were even in effect.

Depending on how the vehicle is configured, such as long box vs. short box and crew cab vs. regular cab not to mention mega cab, the new Ram can tow between 17,000 and 20,000 lbs.  Payload is rated at 9,600 lbs, this again depends on your configuration.  While those are not small numbers by any means, the competition is releasing their updated heavy duty trucks this year and beat these numbers with output figures beating the Cummins.  What does that mean?  Well mostly bragging rights.  The competition will be able to brag that they have the most powerful or the most capabilities.  In all reality the numbers put out by the new Ram heavy duty, especially when equipped with the diesel, are more then adequate for almost any job.

The particular Ram 2500 I had was a crew cab long box SLT.  This particular Ram was optioned with-

•  40/20/40 bench seat

•  customer preferred package

•  2FG luxury group, automatic transmission

•  limited slip rear differential

•  6.7 liter Cummins turbo diesel

•  technology group and media center

•  17″ aluminum wheels

•  remote start system

Without question this was a nicely optioned truck.  After destination the sticker price rang up to a whopping $51,765.

I do want to take a second and talk about my personal experience with the truck.  Let’s be real, I am a city boy born and raised.  I live in the suburbs and work downtown.  I drove a 2500 heavy duty truck with four full doors and a long box in the city for a week.  That in itself was an interesting experience.  I made every effort not to change my daily routines, as I wanted to see how this thing could really handle my daily life.  Hard as I tried changes were necessary.  I changed certain streets I took on my way to work due to the turning radius.  Driving downtown was not as terrible as I imagined if only because people seem to get out of your way when you are in such a large vehicle.  Passing never became an issue because people literally just moved.  No one wanted to mess with such a large vehicle.  Parking became an issue and mainly because it took up one and a half spots, not to mention the turning radius when in small parking lots.  Three point turns became habit while moving slowly became another.  Overall driving the truck in the city was quite an experience.

This is without a doubt a heavy duty truck meant for heavy duty work.  The foreman of the site will be very comfortable working on his updates from within the well appointed interior, even on the lower trim trucks.  The workers will appreciate all the storage space and power from that Cummins turbo diesel.  Sure this is no longer the most powerful diesel option in the heavy duty truck segment and no they do not have the highest tow rating, though after spending a week with the new Dodge Ram Heavy Duty, I am not sure it needs those bragging rights to be a great truck.  With fresh new looks and a terrific interior… without a doubt the new Ram 2500 Heavy Duty is a truck anyone in the market should take a look at.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Chrysler

Is Saab Reaching With The New 2010 9-5 Pricing?

The all-new 2010 Saab 9-5 is almost here.  Yesterday, the pricing was announced and I was shocked at first.  The lineup will be launching with the range-topping Aero model, with a sticker price of $49,990.  That is a hefty chunk of money, and a nice increase to the Aero’s price.  Though this is a much larger and modern vehicle, the last generation 9-5 Aero started at $41,425 (not that anyone actually paid that price).  The Aero will be coming standard with the 2.8 liter turbo V6 putting out 300 horsepower via Saab’s XWD, which is an all-wheel drive system that features Haldex’s trick torque vectoring.  They mentioned it will feature a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, so apparently the Aero model (at least at launch) will not have a manual transmission.  The Aero model should go on sale in July.  The entry-level model will feature Saab’s 2.0-liter turbo and will have a base price of “under $40,000.”  That is all that was announced for the pricing on that model for now – it should be arriving soon after the Aero model.

With the increased dimensions of the new 9-5 and upgraded content (available heads up display, cooled glovebox, lane departure warning, and many others) the question is the pricing.  This is deep into midsize luxury territory.  With the 9-5 being priced right in the middle of the new Infiniti M37x, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and the Audi A6 3.0T, can it compete?  Is the price too high?  This car will likely have many things at that price level that the competition might not (though we have not yet seen the ordering sheet and option pricing).  Time will tell how this new vehicle fares, but without question Saab enthusiasts have been waiting for a rebirth of their brand and this might be the car to start that.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 24: “Ideas Episode”

Episode 24 starts with introductions including Justin Loyear from Cheers and Gears and this weeks guest William Maley also known as realmudmonster on Twitter.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon I was in for the past week along with the Chevrolet Equinox Colin was in.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured a Toyota Avalon plane TV commercial. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing ideas you would like to see on a Ford?

Last we discuss the past week on our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.  The week in review included- my editorial on negativity in the auto industry and my review of the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado.  Cheers and Gears had a post on a new Subaru Legacy commercial.  Colin had a post about by the numbers in Germany.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Video – 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Heads Up Display

Below is a video taken at Camaro5 Fest put on by Camaro5.  Chevrolet saw fit to bring out the second 2011 Camaro (2011 Camaro #00002) built which happens to have the newly optional heads-up display (HUD).  While the video does not show all the optional screens it does show the start up sequence and a few screens.

Source- Camaro5