Posts from ‘GMC’
Between the Chevrolet Silverado and similar GMC Sierra full-size pickups, GM will net more than 700,000 high-profit sales in 2012. That’s not a number to be taken lightly. So any time the company looks to redesign those pickups, it’s a big—and important—deal.
And that’s just what GM will do next spring when the redesigned 2014 Silverado and Sierra are due to go into production. To whet our appetite, the company revealed prototypes of the new models at a recent press preview in Detroit.
In the styling department, GM played it safe. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, we’ll make no comment other than to say that the trucks don’t look radically different from their predecessors. That’s probably by intent. It’s risky to give a major makeover to vehicles that were already selling well, and there’s a certain tradition to be maintained. Since it is aimed at a more upscale audience, the Sierra differs mostly in sporting LED headlight surrounds and a more ornate grille texture. Also, in place of the chrome used on other models in both the Chevrolet and GMC stables, Sierra offers an All Terrain trim level dressed with body-color bumper and grille surround.
A couple months back, our illustrious publisher, Tom Appel, opined about how the “potential to pay a huge sum of money for an option-laden vehicle has never been greater.” In Content Creep, he focused (no pun intended) on the 2012 Ford Focus and Explorer versus the same models from 10 years prior.
This “content creep” is not something that’s strictly limited to Ford. I wanted to expand upon this concept by looking at other brands whose vehicles can suffer from the same affliction. At the same time, I’m keeping my perspective limited to the current model year, as you’d be surprised at just how large a gulf there can be between entry-level and loaded examples of cars that can be found side-by-side in the same showroom. I also wanted to select vehicles that are plenty good even without high levels of equipment.
More and more, airbags are protecting occupants from contacting the perimeter of a vehicle’s interior in the event of a collision. Now GM is taking that a step further with a front-center airbag that’s available in the updated 2013 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave.
This additional airbag is mounted on the inboard side of the driver’s bucket seat. When triggered, it inflates to fill the area between the front seats and runs roughly from the top of the center console to just below the inside surface of the roof.
Its purpose is to protect a front passenger in a side impact when a collision occurs on the opposite side of the vehicle from where he or she is seated. It also helps protect front-seat occupants from striking each other in side impacts. GM developed this new airbag in cooperation with supplier Takata; it is not in response to a federal government safety mandate.
In 2009, I wrote a piece called The Five Best Connected Auto Brands to highlight the car companies that were at the forefront of in-vehicle connectivity.
Three years isn’t necessarily a long time in the automotive industry, but it is a lifetime when it comes to technology. We are seeing an explosion in the development and implementation of in-vehicle “infotainment” systems. With the number of smartphones exceeding that of “feature” (read: dumb) phones, it’s only natural for carmakers to want to integrate them into their products.
Recent developments in vehicle smartphone integration are the perfect impetus for revisiting this list. First, however, a couple notes are in order. I didn’t make as many changes here as I thought. Three of the five companies who earned a “Best Connected” distinction in 2009 are returning in 2012.
Let me briefly touch on the two companies that lost their spots.
Note: Also see Ed’s What Would Mario Drive? (And Other Nintendo Characters).
Today we shift from the eldest of the three primary video game console companies to the youngest. Microsoft entered the home console market in 2001 with the original Xbox, which had the largest footprint of any such device since the Atari 5200. Redmond’s (Microsoft’s hometown in Washington state) large black monolith sported some forward-thinking features, including a built-in hard drive and the first centralized online community, Xbox Live.
With a more advanced feature set and a year’s head start on Nintendo and Sony, the Xbox 360 became the platform of choice for the hardcore crowd. With it, both classic franchises and new, original IPs (intellectual properties) have found homes.
Let’s take a look at some of these characters and see what types of vehicles you might find in their garages.
Horst-to-the-what now? Viva Piñata might not be the first game that comes up when you think of Xbox 360 titles, but it was surprisingly popular. In the game, you basically tend a mystical garden inhabited by colorful piñatas. It even spawned a 52-episode cartoon show. While there’s no single main character in the game, Horstachio, which looks more like a donkey than a horse, is the “face” of the franchise.
It has been a busy couple of years here in new-car land. All sorts of interesting stuff is hitting dealer lots for the first time, and a fair amount of not-so-interesting stuff is being filtered out through the sometimes-cruel process of automotive attrition.
In case you’re keeping score, I have created a list of SUVs and crossovers that you may or may not have realized were gone—or on the verge of going away soon.
But, worry not. Take solace in the fact that in each case there’s a better vehicle out there that serves a similar need and is, generally, a much better vehicle.
2007-2009 Chrysler Aspen
According to Chrysler, market research suggested that new-car customers were much more likely to associate the word Aspen with a city in Colorado than with an unloved Dodge from the Seventies. What the research didn’t suggest was that no one would buy a Dodge Durango rebadged as an Aspen.
Buy Instead: The excellent Dodge Durango. Redesigned for 2011 after a 2010 hiatus, the new Durango is about as good as a large tow-ready SUV gets.
Summer car-show season is in full swing across the country, and for fans of unmolested factory-original cars, one of the best shows is right in our neck of the woods: the Bloomington Gold Survivor car show. The 2012 edition of the show took place late last month at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois. The Bloomington Gold organization is best known for its Corvette shows and certification processes, and in recent years it has branched out by creating a show and judging criteria specifically for original-condition cars of all types.
The Survivor show might best be summed up by the saying “A car can be restored many times, but it can only be original once.” The Survivor show’s expert judges meticulously examine each participating vehicle for factory originality and correctness. Instead of absolute show-car perfection, the focus is on preserving as much of the vehicle’s from-the-factory condition as possible— even minor dents/damage, wear/patina, and the shortcomings of mass-assembly construction. Properly preserved factory-original cars serve as time-capsule historical artifacts in a way that no fully restored vehicle can.
Sarcastically, it was called badge engineering. Basically, it’s the process by which an automaker amortizes development costs by retrimming an existing vehicle and selling it under another name—usually through another brand channel, or channels.
Many of us can recall the Chrysler Corporation’s “Grand Fifthlomat” of the Eighties, a single vehicle that came to the public thinly disguised as the Plymouth Grand Fury, Chrysler Fifth Avenue, and Dodge Diplomat. Three cars on one chassis ain’t bad, but General Motors has done better—much better.
Behold here the most recent and most egregious example ever of badge engineering: the RainTrail Asscendavadavoy-X.
Actually a fine truck by most measures, the RainTrail Asscendavadavoy-X (all six corporate variants, that is) disappeared ahead of schedule not because the buying public raged against the obvious product cloning, but because gas prices were rendering largish body-on-frame SUVs obsolete.
To be fair, GM did a better than decent job of keeping each vehicle distinct, as the photos below demonstrate. Still, it’s hard to argue that the company wasn’t seriously pushing its luck.
For 2012, Consumer Guide Automotive bestowed Best Buy Awards to 59 vehicles in 18 classes. That list has been widely distributed, but with one omission: It did not include where the vehicles were built.
Polls have determined that roughly one-third of Americans will only buy cars built by U.S. automakers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler), and many others are concerned about where the cars are assembled. For example, the Ford Fiesta is built in Mexico, but the Honda Accord is assembled in Ohio.
For those car shoppers who bleed red, white, and blue, I compiled a list of All-American Best Buys—CGA Best Buy Award winners that were manufactured by Ford, GM, and Chrysler and assembled right here in the US of A.
2012 All-American Best Buys
Compact Car: Ford Focus
Premium Midsize Car: Cadillac CTS
Large Car: Buick LaCrosse
Sporty/Performance Car: Ford Mustang
Premium Sporty/Performance Car: Chevrolet Corvette
Premium Midsize SUV: Buick Enclave
Denali models are loaded with luxury features, and the 2013 GMC Terrain Denali is no exception. Genuine wood trim, leather upholstery, 19-inch chrome alloy wheels, a driver-seat memory system, forward-collision warning . . . all these features and many more can be had on the Denali version. In addition, the entire Terrain lineup gets a new V6 engine, upping horsepower from 264 to 301.