Tag Archives: Cadillac

Maybe Money Can Buy Happiness

You know what they say, money can’t buy happiness. Well, it seems sometimes it can come darn close. This short video shows how you can get peace and quite in your house with a simple purchase of one Cadillac Escalade. While I do not support or condone this type of gift, I can say, this is quite hilarious.

Source – YouTube

First Drive – 2010 Saab 9-5: Holy Crap Saab’s Alive!

Do you remember a car company called Saab? Don’t worry, I won’t fault you if you don’t. Just this past year they almost shuttered their doors forever. Crazy when you think about it. Well, they didn’t close the doors. In fact, they were bought by another car company called Spyker. Some of you haven’t heard of Spyker either, but that is for another post.

When Spyker bought Saab, the new 9-5 was already done, ready to roll down the assembly line and into dealerships. The production process was shut down during negotiations and then restarted once the deal with Spyker was inked. With new 9-5’s showing up in dealerships right now, I was eager to get behind the wheel and take one for a spin. Let’s go for a quick drive.

Exterior-

It’s funny, because I swear I’ve seen this look before. Oh that’s right, the new front end is very similar to the Aero X concept from a few years ago. The headlights have a light pipe on the bottom and the entire lens has a blue tint to it. The front clip is aggressive but not overly so.

There is slight sculpting on the side, tightly integrated near the bottom of the doors, while a character line runs the length of the vehicle. The rear is just….gorgeous, With the Saaby (yes, that is now a word) C-pillars and light pipes that run the entire width of the rear, I’m in love. The tail lights feature LEDs which play a part as a significant design element. The rear deck lid is short, but not odd looking in person. Overall, the exterior is a huge win.

Interior-

Take a Saab 9-5 interior that you imagine, throw great materials in it, terrific seats and a flat bottomed steering wheel. You now have the new Saab 9-5 interior.  And yes, there is a flat bottom steering wheel! The navigation unit is a touch screen, but it has plenty of buttons to get you around.

While the ignition is now a push button, Saab has not forgotten its roots. The ignition button is on the console in between the driver and passenger, just like it used to be. The night panel button (another Saab tradition) also remains. Let’s not forget about the green lightning and egg crate vents with single rotating knobs. There is a few GM parts bin items, like the wiper and turn stalks, but they work just fine. The gauge cluster has that trick round center screen also found on the Cadillac SRX. The rear seats have plenty of legroom for people over six-feet tall.

There is a lot of black surfaces in the new 9-5. This leads to a somewhat darker cabin. That isn’t a bad thing, but it is something I noted. The heads up display was easy to see in sunlight and you can turn it off if it proves distracting. Did I mention the comfy seats? I’ve gone on and on. The interior isn’t perfect, but it is worlds better then the last 9-5.

Powertrain-

The first 9-5’s will come in the highest trim level (Aero XWD) with the 2.8-liter turbo V-6 as standard. This setup puts 300 horsepower to all four wheels. 2010 is a very short model year for the 9-5, and the 2011s are slated to show up very soon. MY 2011 will bring a lower priced model, with a standard 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making 220 HP. It will be available in front-or all-wheel drive forms.

The 2.8 liter turbo in my tester builds speed quickly, hitting 0-60 in around 6.8 seconds. This isn’t a “OMG that’s fast” feeling. It is more of a silent thrust forward. You will never be thrown into the back of your seat. While I haven’t had the chance to drive the 2.0-liter turbo yet, I heard that might be the engine for the enthusiasts. While down on power, it is also down on weight. Also, you can get the smaller engine with a six-speed manual – the turbo V6 is available only with a six-speed automatic.

The bottom line? This is the car that is supposed to help save Saab. It was developed by General Motors and is being launched by the new owners Spyker. With the right marketing this car could work. Of course, the company can’t survive off one car, but that is another story. The new Saab 9-5 is everything I hoped for. Comfortable, sporty and darn good looking.

Fallon Dumps Chrysler and Signs Cadillac Account

Word on the street is Fallon here in Minneapolis just signed the Cadillac account.  Supposedly to do so they had to dump the Chrysler account.  This is just another shake up for the Cadillac marketing account as it just went to Bartle Bogle Hegarty five months ago.  Of course no one will comment on the situation (Fallon, Chrysler or Cadillac).

Source- Adweek

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 29: “The Luxury-Like Redux Episode”

Episode 29 starts with introducing this weeks guest Drew Dowdell owner of CheersandGears.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Chevrolet Camaro Colin was in for the past week.  We also take time for a special report on the Local Minneapolis Fisker Karma unveiling that I attended last week.  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 Toyota, finally, although indirectly, is now acknowledging their safety failures for the first time in an ad  which Features their new Star Safety System. This system includes ABS, Electronic Stability Control, and the much needed brake over-ride system. (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing Mercury’s death and Lincoln’s future.

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

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The First Time I Met The 2011 Fisker Karma – Thoughts And Impressions

I have read all the brochures and online materials, I have seen all the pictures – and the reality is none of that does the Fisker Karma justice.  I could sit here and list all of its specifications, but I won’t.  Mainly because that is not what this post is about.  Many of you have not had the opportunity (yet) to see the Fisker Karma in person.  When you do, you will remember it.  The lines and curves on this car are just gorgeous.

Lets back up a minute.  What the heck is a Fisker and what is the Karma?  Funny you should ask.  Fisker Automotive is a new car brand founded by Henrik Fisker, who is also the current CEO (funny how that works).  He was previously known for being the design director for Aston Martin and the president and CEO of BMW’s Designworks USA.  Maybe that does not mean much to you, but it equates to this: he is responsible for cars such as the BMW Z8 (one hot piece of metal), Aston Martin DB9 and the V8 Vantage (also both hot pieces of metal).  Needless to say, he has a sense of style when it comes to designing a car.

The Karma is the first car from Fisker Automotive.  With demo cars arriving at the end of the year, production should (if it stays on track) start in the very beginning of next year.  The car will be built overseas in Finland initially.  In fact, it will be built in the same factory as some Porsche’s and other vehicles.  In 2012 production will move to the Wilmington Assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware.  This plant was recently purchased by Fisker from General Motors.  With the plant already up to date with tooling and a local trainable workforce, it is an ideal location.  The plant was previously producing the Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT.

One last thing before we get to the actual Karma –  If you have not seen pictures I will tell you that this the car is a saloon.  It will fit two sets of golf clubs in the trunk, but getting in and out of the rear seat isn’t exactly graceful.  Another car is coming in 2012 from Fisker, and it will be a more mainstream, higher volume vehicle.  Currently the project is code named Nina and it will be a midsize sedan.  I was informed it will be about the size of the BMW 5 Series, but with much more usable interior space (read really practical).  The Nina should come in somewhere around $45-48k.  Also coming sometime between the 2012 Nina and 2011 Karma is the Karma Sunset.  The Karma Sunset is essentially a convertible version of the Karma, featuring a retractable hard top.

Upon seeing the Karma in person, I really was stunned.  Yes, from the front it looks somewhat like the Joker from Batman.  It still looks great though.  Some of the design cues from the front translate to the rear and interior.  This gives the car an overall cohesive design.  Each rear fender has a “fuel” door.  On the passenger side is the gasoline, while on the driver side is the plug-in for the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack.  The front headlights feature LED running lights, while the rear tail lights are also LED.  The roof features a full length solar panel to help charge the car and provide cooling for the interior cabin while the car is parked.  I remember the early 2000’s Audi A8s had this as an option on their sunroof.  The wheels are 22 inches (!) and are made from a  lightweight alloy.  The brakes are the same Brembo setup used in the Cadillac CTS-V.  The door handles have a electronic push pad under each handle that you merely push and the door opens.  This is similar in concept to the Chevrolet Corvette and new Cadillac CTS Coupe.  As you can see in pictures, the exterior is just gorgeous.  Some might say breathtaking.  I do suppose some could say it is controversial but I am in the “it is definitely gorgeous camp.”

Ok, I can understand how someone might be mixed on the exterior of this car, but the interior is simply stunning.  This is a whole new take on luxury.  This interior feels so different from all the other luxury sedans out there.  When I think of high end luxury cars (we are not talking small volume cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom), I think of cars like the Audi A8, Lexus LS 460 and many others.  This car is completely different inside.  To be honest, when I got inside of the Karma I felt like I had just stepped inside one of the older Chris Craft boats.  With rich thick leather and real wood, the interior just felt so natural and polished, yet elegant.  Keep in mind this was a pre pre-production car.  The 10.2″ center touch screen, which controls most of the cars functions (A/C, Radio, etc) was stuck in a black loading screen (I’m guessing the software was not ready) and the car could not turn on, though the gauges were lit up and the windshield wipers worked (I checked).  Oh something to note, the engine in the Karma is being sourced from GM – though that is not the only thing.  I noticed both the turn signal/cruise control stalk and the windshield wiper control stalk were both parts bin GM.  In fact, I am 99% sure they are the very same stalks in the Cadillac STS.  Whether these are the exact stalks found in the production sedan is yet to be seen.  Also, the rear view mirror is GM sourced too.  The gear shift level (if you could call it that) has a button on the left that I assume starts the car due to it’s power symbol and the lack of any other power button on the console or near the steering wheel.  The right hand part of the gear shift level is actually a switch that gets flipped into different positions to select your gear (PRND).  Down the center of the interior is the battery pack, but it is packaged beautifully behind glass and leather.  The front seats are downright sporty, comfy and are terrific.  The rear is awkward to get in and out of, but once in the car, the seats are comfortable.  Leg room is acceptable but not amazing.  The roof line does cut into rear headroom.  Overall, the interior is stunning.

The power will come from a battery pack with a 50 mile range.  Beyond that 50 mile range, the 2.0 liter turbo range extender engine kicks in and produces 260 horsepower.  This motor is sourced from GM and is the same engine used in the Saturn Sky Redline and the Pontiac Solstice GXP.  The total range between the battery and the gasoline engine is 300 miles.  You can forget range anxiety –  this is a series hybrid just like the upcoming Chevrolet Volt.  That means the gas engine is in no way driving the wheels. Rather, the engine is connected to the battery which powers the two electric motors connected to the rear wheels.  We will get into all the technical stuff in another post some other time.

The cars sticker price before tax rebates is $89,000 and change.  I know there is a government tax rebate and certain states (I think Minnesota does) also has tax rebates on qualifying vehicles.  The dealership here, which is the one and only one for the state of Minnesota has pre-sold and took deposits for 3 Karmas.  I was told varying numbers for how many total cars the dealership has pre-sold, but the most common number I heard was 17.  Not bad at all.

So what are my final initial impressions?  Well, I can not wait to get my hands on a production model.  Considering I did not get to drive or start this one, and the infotainment system did not work, I cannot give a full impression post.  I can say it does not feel “kit car” in anyway.  The interior is just ridiculous (in an amazingly good way).  The exterior I love, but some will not.  This is for sure a legitimate automobile with a company that I frankly hope succeeds in many ways.  As for the Karma, I’ll see you soon!

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 28: “Boondoggle Episode”

Episode 28 starts with introducing this weeks guest William Maley also known as realmudmonster on Twitter.  Moving into the garage we talk about the Buick LaCrosse I was in for the past week along  We then discuss the MAMA spring rally that I attended this past week.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

This week we bring back the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured Mercedes-Benz: Sorry. (Link)

Next came our main topics which we have a discussion about the going to go over some government boondoggles we’ve been seeing cropping up in the news. We actually got the idea from jalopnik which did a recent post about the world’s safest cars that were built here in America

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

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First Drive – 2010 Lexus RX350

The Lexus RX350 is the class leader, the segment champion, it is what all others are measured against.  You get the idea.  Without question the competition is trying to knock this vehicle off its podium.  Most “car guys” hate the RX350 and for one reason, it is the essence of beige.  What’s beige you ask.  Beige is boring, bland, not dynamic, uninspiring and overall just blah.  Yet that seems to resonate with the general public in the U.S.

The RX350 is a cross-over utility vehicle that is front-wheel-drive based with optional all-wheel-drive.  The 2010 is the third generation of the RX cross-over.  The second generation RX was very evolutionary while the third generation is a slightly more drastic change, but still in many regards evolutionary.  Though, being evolutionary is not a bad thing, when you are the segment leader.  Lexus is doing something right with the RX and rightfully would like to keep the sales momentum going.  Losing market share over a huge redesign would be a nightmare.  So what is the reason this vehicle sells so well?

The entire experience of both riding and driving the third generation Lexus RX is easy.  Everything is easy: from the ingress into the vehicle, to the light steering, to the simple yet good-looking gauge cluster.  Things seem intuitive and easy to operate.  Everything has a buttery smooth feeling while operating the RX.  The transmission is smooth and never seems to have a rough spot, while the powertrain is refined. The ride is never harsh either.  The dual pane windows make the RX especially quiet as well.  The leather is soft and supple while at the same time the seats are supportive.  The family will definitely be very comfy cruising to the coffee shop in this cross-over.

As I mentioned above the exterior on the RX continues as an evolutionary design.  The styling is called “L-Finesse design” by Lexus and is used across the whole brand.  Highlighted by soft curves and flowing lines the CUV is not “sharp” like the Cadillac SRX styling.  Instead, it’s soft and inoffensive.  The whole front end of the RX does have more sculpting overall then the previous generation.  From the side view, the front fenders have a shoulder like line that continues down the side of the CUV to meet the rear taillights continuing into the rear bumper.  The rear has an integrated rear spoiler, which hides the rear wiper when not in use.  In my opinion, the exterior overall is improved from the last generation mainly due to more sculpting and more character lines that flow into each other.

The interior of the new RX has had a complete overhaul.  The center stack now has a swoosh starting in the center stack that goes across the front passenger seat onto the dash.  The center stack has a LCD screen in the upper brow that shows the radio and climate control information.  The materials all feel terrific with soft touch pieces placed almost over the entire cabin.

There was however, one piece of plastic that felt particularly out place.  This piece felt so out of place I wanted to make a point to talk about it.  The piece of plastic on the center console right to the left of the gearshift and it runs down into the center console between the seats.  This is the lone piece of plastic that felt ridiculously cheap and it was very hard.  It was out of place next to the soft touch dash materials.

Note The Ridiculously Cheap Feeling/Looking Piece Of Plastic

The gauge cluster had a cool blue hue that bled down from the top of the cluster.  The rear seats slid fore and aft to either increase rear seat legroom or rear cargo room depending on preference.  The seats also fold flat at the pull of a handle.  This is a feature I noted on the new Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain that I thought was especially clever.  This feature is notably absent from the new Cadillac SRX.

The powertrain as I mentioned was very smooth.  The sole engine choice in the RX350 is a 3.5L V6 putting out 275 hp and 257 ft-lb to either the front wheels while all wheel drive is optional.  The power it channeled through the six-speed automatic with manual shifting capabilities.  Rated at 18/25 mpg in front wheel drive I saw an average of 18.5 mpg.  There is an eco indicator that comes on when you are driving gently.  The RX350 I drove was front-wheel-drive and exhibited little to no torque steer (tugging of the steering wheel under hard acceleration).  Going around corners the suspension is soft and you will feel some body roll.  This is not a sports car or even a sporty CUV, though it makes no such claims.

The RX350 I had was equipped with both packaged and standalone options.  The premium package costs $2,400 and added things such as: USB audio connectivity, front seat memory, moonroof, power rear hatch and auto dimming mirrors.  Standalone options included: the integrated back up camera system which tied into the rear view mirror for $350, wood and leather steering wheel and shit knob for $330, heated and ventilated front seats for $640.  The total sticker price after destination came to $42,220.

Personally I never loved the last generation Rx350. Admittedly I liked it more then the first generation.  I somewhat feel the same way about the new third generation.  I am not in love with it but it is better then the second generation.  Clearly, I am not the correct demographic for this vehicle.  This makes sense as it would not be high on my personal list of vehicles to own.  All that said, I would have absolutely no hesitation recommending this vehicle to someone looking for a luxurious crossover to get from point A to point B.

Would it be my top recommendation in the competitive luxury CUV segment?  Only if the RX is what the person already wants to buy because really I have no reason to say it is a bad vehicle.  I just wish there was more engagement to the driving dynamics.

In the end, I can see why this is the class leader in the segment. With this third generation the Lexus RX has the goods to continue holding the sales segment title.  If I were to use cooking as a metaphor for the RX: the third generation has certainly had a bit of spice added for additional flavor, but the chef has not deviated too far from the winning recipe that made it the sales success it has enjoyed.

Full Disclosure- Vehicle was from a local Lexus dealership.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 21: “Luxury Like”

Episode 21 starts by introducing this weeks guest, Justin Loyear joining us from Cheers and Gears.  Justin kicked us off by telling us a little about himself along with Cheers and Gears.  Moving into the garage Justin had a Camaro SS recently which  he discussed and I talk about the Silverado 1500 I was in for the past week.  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 Chryslers new heavy-duty Ram ads.

We continued with our newer section called tweetmeme.  This week we focused on the leaked photos of the upcoming 2012 Ford Explorer.

Next came our main topics.  This week the topics included discussion on the future direction for Cadillac and the possible partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.

Last but certainly not least, we discuss the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls.  The week in review included- my Chevrolet Equinox V6 review and Name That Car: Sebring or 200C?, along with the post on Colin’s blog about Pump Prices.

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AutoBird Podcast – Esp 19: “Commercial Wars”

Episode 19 starts by diving right into 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 newer 2010 Lexus Hybrid Commercial: ‘Milestones’

We continued with our newer section called tweetmeme.  This week we focused on the recent cases involving the Toyota Prius and unattended acceleration.

This week the topics included cop car wars, new commercial van wars and also the recent heavy duty truck announcements.

Last but certainly not least, we discuss the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls.  The week in review included- my 2010 Minneapolis Auto Show write up, my First Drive of the 2010 Corvette ZR1, along with Colin’s By the Numbers post.

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2010 Minneapolis Auto Show

2011 Audi A8

The Minneapolis Auto Show has finally arrived.  I must admit that I look forward to the show every year.  The show is not large compared to others and, in reality, many concept cars go to the larger shows and skip us.  The reason I like our show is it is local and I am on my own time.  I can go with my friends with no scheduled agenda.  The big shows like Chicago and Detroit are a lot of fun but this is just different having a show near home.

The show was busier then I expected.  I talked to quite a few people that noted how the attendance numbers were up from last year already on the second day of the show.  The economy is in a slightly better place and car sales are starting to pick up and the attendance at the show is reflecting it. I am guessing that Ford was a major sponsor this year as many new Taurus’s were strewn about outside of the entrances.  I overheard several consumers commenting on how they liked the look of the new Taurus and most didn’t even know what it was.

Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Concept

Some of the highlights included the special edition Synergy Green Camaro and the Silverado ZR2 Concept truck from Chevrolet.  Though many General Motors concept cars were missing, I was surprised to see the Cadillac Converj concept at the Cadillac Stand.  Ford had the new 2011 Edge along with the new 2011 Fiesta Sedan.  The updated 2011 Shelby GT500 Mustang was on the show floor with the hood open and, although the doors were locked, it was what was under the hood that was important.  Audi had the mighty R8 5.2 in a copper brown color with carbon fiber side blades.

2010 Audi R8 5.2

Some things I noted about the show: BMW, Porsche Infiniti were all absent.  While a few talked about Porsche, I’m not sure anyone noticed Infiniti was gone and the largest complaint of the show that I heard was “Where’s BMW?”  I spoke with one of the local BMW dealerships and they said that their research indicates that they do not sell enough cars by being at the auto show to warrant the expense. This absence just gave the competition such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz a chance to have BMW owners sit in their cars.  Another anomaly was Nissan.  They found it important to have the GT-R with a base price of $80,790 but not to have a 370Z, which starts at $29,990.  I was told that the reason was, “That is what they sent us…”.  Not a terribly good answer in my opinion.

Ross Testing the Man Step

I personally think many manufactures should take notes more from Ford.  They have been building terrific booths at the shows lately.  They engage the consumers and have a lot to look at, and I am not just talking product.  There are interactive games such as foosball and driving simulators not to mention the computers filled with information.

Overall the show was better then last year.  With more manufacturers in attendance and consumer attendance up, the atmosphere was a bit more upbeat.  The Minneapolis Auto Show’s tag line is “Your License to Dream” and I believe that is exactly what this show did for many consumers this year and with the products coming in the next year, I am sure next year will be even better for consumers.