Archive for July, 2013
Note: This interview is being republished after having been awarded an International Automotive Media Award gold medal in the interview category. The original interview took place in December of 2011, and the original article was published in January of 2012.
By Jim Gorzelany
2015 Cadillac Escalade Review and Prices
The large and luxurious Cadillac Escalade full-size SUV, along with its stretched equivalent, the Escalade ESV, are expected to undergo their first major revision in eight years for release in spring 2014 for the 2015 model year. Both will continue to be based on the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, as will its less-posh equivalents, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The previous gas-electric Hybrid version and the pickup-like Escalade EXT were discontinued from the lineup for 2014 and should not return with the redesign. We expect the standard-length Escalade will come powered by a new 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 engine with a stronger 6.2-liter V-8 optional there and likely to be standard on the extended Escalade ESV for heavier duty use; both should come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with pavement-friendly all-wheel-drive optional. Styling changes should be more evolutionary than revolutionary – this will likely remain a large and boxy chrome bedecked vehicle in the old-school tradition. Expect the vehicle’s leather-clad interior to receive a total makeover with extensive use of wood and chrome trim to distinguish the Escalade from its lesser relations at Chevy and GMC.
The authors of a Consumer Guide online article and a feature article in CG’s companion automotive-history magazine Collectible Automobile earned gold medallions when the 22nd International Automotive Media Awards (IAMA) were announced July 29.
Consumer Guide Automotive (CGA) Publisher Tom Appel struck gold in the Internet Interview category for “Challenges on the Front Line: Selling Cars During a Recession,” a talk with Chicago-area multibrand dealer Colin Wickstrom. It was the fourth Consumer Guide Automotive article to win IAMA gold in five years and the second such award for Appel.
Meanwhile, in the History: Single Marque or Manufacturer category for magazine writing, freelance writer Gary Witzenburg carried off his second consecutive gold medallion for a CA-published story. This time it was for “Black Ops: The Story of the 1982-87 Buick Grand National and GNX,” which appeared in the August 2012 issue. Overall, it was the third year in a row that a Collectible Automobile feature article won gold in the awards competition.
In addition to these honors, silver medals were presented to another CGA writer and to the bimonthly magazine. Senior Auto Editor Damon Bell earned his in the Internet New-Model Introduction category for “First Spin: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1,” making him an IAMA medalist for the third straight year. The October 2012 Collectible Automobile garnered its award in single-issue judging within its circulation class, the publication’s 10th medal in the category since 2002.
The new-for-2013 Veloster Turbo adds some much-needed horsepower to the flashy-but-slow base Veloster, Hyundai’s genre-bending compact hatchback that debuted for 2012. As is customary for performance variants of regular-line vehicles, the Veloster Turbo gets a few exclusive appearance features that give it a racier look than its naturally aspirated sibling. Up front is a unique fascia with a larger grille and round fog lights, along with standard projector-beam headlights with LED accents. The rocker panels sport “ground effects” side sills, and the Turbo-exclusive rearview mirrors have integral LED turn-signal indicators. A roof-mounted body-color spoiler, LED taillights, and unique rear fascia with a diffuser and oversize exhaust tips bring up the rear.
However, the Veloster Turbo’s most unusual appearance feature might be its flat-finish paint option. Matte finishes have been trendy on custom cars and the one-off show vehicles at the SEMA aftermarket industry show for the past few years, and luxury brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have recently offered low-gloss “satin” finishes as part of expensive option groups or on pricey limited-edition models. Smart also offered a matte green finish on its tiny, low-volume ForTwo for 2011, but Hyundai is the first mainstream automaker to dip a toe in the flat-paint pool.
Allow me to brag a little: I am master of the 11-point turn. Sure, most of us learned three-point turns in drivers ed, but how many of us, I wonder, have experienced the sheer joy of reversing the course of a too-long vehicle on a far-too-narrow road? I have, and it’s entirely my father’s fault. You see, my father is the worst navigator in the world.
Now, at any given time, asking my father for directions is a mistake. This is because my father is incapable of simply sharing with you the simplest route anywhere. My father is a font of alternative routes, time-of-day time-saver shortcuts, and unnecessary backup plans. He is, however, incapable of providing a simple, straightforward route in less than 20 minutes. In fact, his directions for getting from the front of his house to his mailbox just 120 feet away include a late-day mosquito-avoidance bypass, a weather contingency plan, and two changes of footwear.
It’s actually called Magic Body Control, and this newly optional feature of the redesigned 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is really quite amazing . . . or at least it was in the demonstration the company held on a specially paved road (!) at a recent press preview.
The general idea is that stereo cameras at the top of the windshield (placed a bit apart so as to be able to “triangulate” and determine distance, just as your eyes do) can “see” long speed bumps in front of the car. Through the miracle of electronics, the system directs the air suspension to compress and extend so as to effectively erase the bump.
We first hit the six-foot-long trial bump at about 30 mph without Magic Body Control engaged. The results were as expected: The car jumped into the air, porpoising along the top of the bump before thudding back down on the other side. Then we tried it again with Magic Body Control engaged. Virtually nothing; it seemed as though someone had steamrolled the bump flat. There wasn’t much more than a subtle thump at the leading and trailing edges of the bump.
By Jim Gorzelany
Some might say it’s long overdue, but Lexus reportedly will be entering the burgeoning compact-luxury-SUV market for the 2015 model year with a brand-new model—said to be called the NX—that will be based on the Toyota RAV4’s architecture. Both a conventional NX 200t version, which would be powered by the brand’s first turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and a NX 300h gas/electric hybrid model are expected to debut in world markets in late 2014 or early 2015, though it’s not clear from this standpoint which version the U.S. might receive first, or whether both will be introduced here simultaneously. Styling might resemble a cross between a taller version of Lexus’ CT 200h 4-door hybrid hatchback and a smaller take on the midsize RX crossover SUV. Either way, expect lively performance along with the requisite luxury features.
My dad is a pretty lousy car shopper. He has established a pattern of deciding he wants to buy a car, then delaying the purchase as long as possible, then buying something too quickly. Somewhere in this process, he decides what he wants to buy, despite continuing to look around at other cars. If you’ve been enlisted to help him through this process, you’ll want to bring along some off-brand acetaminophen.
The term “rental car” usually conjures images of ordinary 4-door sedans, SUVs, and minivans used simply as a means of conveyance by business travelers or people on vacation.
Some of the graying—or maybe balding—ex-children who once imagined their favorite toys coming to life will soon get a chance to see what that would have been like. The legendary 1970s “Snake” and “Mongoose” Plymouth funny car dragsters—famously rendered in miniature as coveted Hot Wheels toys—will make a short tour in the U.S. in August and September.
The two fiberglass-bodied flip-top funny cars, which depict a yellow Barracuda that was driven by Don “The Snake” Prudhomme in match races against a red Duster piloted by Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, are being shown by collector-car auction house Barrett-Jackson and by the producers of the upcoming film Snake and Mongoose. The cars and their matching Dodge flatbed haulers will first be on display August 8-10 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada, site of a Barrett-Jackson auction held in conjunction with the annual Hot August Nights automotive festival.