Showing posts with label Test Drives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Test Drives. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Chevrolet Blazer test drive.




I think the Chevrolet Blazer is one of the best looking mid-sized SUV out there. (and the wheels on the RS trim look great) It is much more modern looking than the Ford Edge. And a cleaner design than the Murano. It also looks downright futuristic next to the Honda Passport that came out at around the same time.
It looks pretty big in person. But at 191 inches, it is about the same size as its platform cousin, the Cadillac XT-5 and the Honda Passport.  But longer than the Edge, and shorter than the Murano.

These mid-sized SUV/Crossovers seem to be in a bit of trouble these days. Squeezed between the ever-growing "compact SUV" crowd like the CR-V or RAV-4. And the increasingly popular longer 3-row models.
It seems that, for most people, roomy compact models are large enough if you need 4 or 5 seats only.

GM only sold around 58 000 of them last year. While the Edge was much more popular with over 138 000 units sold in 2019. While the Honda Passport was kind of a disaster with only 36 085 of them sold.


The interior is kind of a mixed bag. At least in the "sporty" RS version, I was driving. I really don't like any red trim (But that's just me...) So these big plasticky red trims around the air vents are not for me. (I guess they would be metallic other on other versions)
The dashboard looks fine but nothing seems impressive here. the whole thing is just OK, and not very special.


The center vents are really low. Just like in the Camaro. Trying to draw a connection between the legendary sports car and this SUV I guess. But they just end up blowing air from under your arms mostly. Which is a bit weird.
A few of the switches are also scattered all over the place. Like the ones in between these lower vents. And a few more on each side of the screen.
The top part of the door is also covered in hard plastic, something you don't really see anymore.

Otherwise, the whole thing does feel very solid.




The front seats, while very comfortable, are also very flat. With about zero side bolstering. Which is fine. But this is supposed to be the "Sporty" trim. With plenty of "red stuff" inside to remind you.
The seats are anything but sporty...


The back seat is also comfortable. And very roomy, with a nice flat floor.




And there is really big cargo space. Even with the rear seats up.


The first thing I notice is the engine. The 3.5 Liter V6 was just not as quiet as in the XT-5, or a few other GM cars. It seems it really wants you to know you are in a sportier type of SUV. It is not noisy or rough, just not as quiet. The steering is a bit heavy at first. But gets lighter as you drive.
That drive is quite comfortable, but again, not as much as in the XT-5. It actually moves more like a truck-based SUV at times.
You also sit pretty high (A bit too high for my taste). Even in the lowest position available. 




The Blazer RS AWD V6 is rated at 19/26 MPG. A usual with a big V6, it is quite impossible to average 19 around town. More like 16/17. But you can easily get 30MPG on the FWY.



The RS version of the Chevrolet Blazer seems to have a personality problem.
Basically, the Blazer is more luxurious than sporty. No matter what. The steering, suspension, transmission behavior is geared toward relaxed driving. Which is just fine. The seats alone let you know you won't be turning fast any time soon.

I think other versions of the Chevrolet Blazer would be much more attractive. to most. It might look sporty, but it's not. The RS version is also quite expensive. At over $48 000 my RS model was pretty loaded. Bust still didn't have a sunroof. You can save a few thousand by choosing another "non RS" modeL with different options, but no matter what, a loaded Blazer will be over $45 000.

The Blazer is a nice and comfortable SUV. But, even with the RS trim, it has zero personality. 
Which is fine for most people anyway. 

The Chevrolet Blazer is a nice comfortable SUV. Worthy of consideration if you can get some incentives. 
But it is not as special as it looks...






Click on the pic above to see all the pricing details of the Blazer RS.


 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Driving the new Acura TLX: video...





The new Acura TLX is a joy to drive. And a very nice looking car. 
This is just a short video, trying to show the car inside and out.

Shot in Hollywood and Malibu.

Click HERE to watch.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Acura TLX Test Drive.

 




The new Acura TLX is a great looking sedan in the flesh. 
The RWD proportions look fantastic. And the overall design is much simpler and cohesive than the RDX. It also does look more upscale than the Honda Accord. (as it should)
The version I was driving for a week is the SH-AWD with the Advance package. So it is the loaded model for $48 300. Or about $10 000 more than the basic FWD TLX.










The interior is one of the best I have experienced in a long time. You are just surrounded by high-quality materials everywhere you look. With beautifully finished details. (The open-pore wood/metal trim on the console is just fantastic)

The general setup is reminiscent of the RDX, with a prominent driving mode switch in the middle. And the infotainment trackpad on the console. But the whole thing sits much lower and gives the interior a much more open feel.
The front seats look a feel great. With tons of adjustment (At least on the Advance model) Although they might feel a bit tight for some larger people. As no matter how I adjusted it, I could always feel the side bolsters being a little bit tight and was wondering how comfortable that would be for someone of larger stature.



Acura's trackpad system and the lack of a touch screen takes a few minutes to master.  But it's actually quite amazing. And you can even configure the main screen to just display your favorite radio stations if you want. AM, FM, and Sirius. All on one screen. Which ends up being very convenient.

As usual, Acura's high-end stereo (ELS 17 speaker system in my test car) is just amazing . And one of the best I have ever heard.
A convenient volume knob is located on the console. easily available to both driver and passenger.



The rear seat was a bit of a surprise, As it is not as roomy as expected. The legroom is a bit tight for a car this size. I was able to fit behind myself, but anyone taller than me would have a problem ( I am just 5'11")

Strange for a FWD based car. There is less room back there than in the Honda Accord. Or the RWD Cadillac CT-5 I was driving a few weeks ago. (The Acura is actually about an inch longer than the CT-5.
While the Accord is a bit longer than both.)




The trunk is really roomy, and the rear seats fold flat. But the actual opening of that trunk is pretty small. Due to the slick fastback design. So it is actually hard (and sometimes not even possible) to get large packages in. Even if they could technically fit inside. These super-slick fastback sedans should really have a hatchback...


The first thing you notice when you start the car is how super quiet and smooth the engine is. 

The 2.0 Liter is even quieter than in the Accord. And actually quieter than the 3.0 Liter V6 in the Cadillac CT-5.
Only when pushed hard do you really notice it. It is not on par with a silky 6 cylinder of course. But as far as 4 cylinders go, this is one of the smoothest and quietest around.

The 10-speed auto is also very well behaved. Quite a different experience from the 3.0 Liter CT-5 where you can hear every shift in an attempt to sound and feel sporty. The TLX has a pure luxury feel. 

In the Comfort Driving mode, the car is really luxurious. With a very smooth ride. And you just basically feel like driving it like a luxury car. The steering is light and precise, everything feels very solid and the ride is very quiet.
In sport mode, the steering has of course a much firmer feel. But the ride isn't that much different. That sport mode also comes with a fake exhaust sound. While it seems much more natural than the one in the Honda Insight, it can still be a bit annoying after a while. 
The transmission also gets a bit sharper in the Sport mode,  and there is always plenty of power. 
I think it actually has more power than most people will ever need in this car. 



The Acura TLX AWD is rated at 21/29 MPG. I achieved around 18/19MPG around town. Which is fine for a powerful mid-sized luxury sedan.
But I easily got 34/35MPG on the highway most of the time. Which is excellent.

I also think Acura could find a way to use a version (with a bit more power) of Honda's excellent Hybrid system as an option in the TLX. 
(I easily got 50MPG in the Accord Hybrid last year.) 


The Acura TLX is an excellent luxury sedan. Many have compared it to the Honda Accord, but Acura has been able to make the TLX a very different car. 
It truly feels much more upscale and luxurious than a loaded Accord. 

There is always plenty of smooth and quiet power available. The ride (in comfort mode) is extremely smooth.  Everything feels rock solid. The low dashboard gives it a very nice open feel. Reminiscent of older Honda"Acura models. Which is great.
This is just a very refined car that is a pleasure to drive.

I am actually curious to see how the base model is. With a lesser stereo system, and a non-adjustable ride

At $ 48 300, the TLX is much cheaper than its similar-sized competition from Germany. (An Audi A6 starts at around $55 000!)
But it is quite close to the Cadillac CT-5. End a bit less than the new Genesis GV80 or the revised Jaguar XF (Now starting at $45 000)
This is really a great car that deserves an audience. I am afraid that Acura is pushing the sporty side too much in the way they advertise the TLX.
 The upcoming Type S will be sporty enough for those who want "sporty".

As it is the new TLX is a wonderful luxury car at a great price. 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Acura TLX test drive: coming soon...

 

I will be driving the new 2021 Acura TLX sedan this week.

The version I have is a loaded SH-AWD with the Advance package. 

So far, the car looks very nice in real life. The interior is also very luxurious in person. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have...

Monday, November 23, 2020

Cadillac CT5 3.0 test drive.





The Cadillac CT-5 is one of these cars that does look much better in real life. It is a modern and rather simple design. A very good looking sedan with very nice RWD proportions. 

The only let down is the black plastic rear side window. Which, of course, should really be a bit larger and made out of glass.
Although it was harder to notice on my black colored test car. And, IMO, it also should have been a hatchback, like the Escala concept.






At first, I thought the interior looked a lot like the smaller and cheaper CT-4. But it is actually very different. As soon as you get in, it feels like a much more expensive car than the CT4. (My loaded CT5 was only about $3000 more than the CT4-V I was driving a few weeks ago.
Everything feels really solid and well made. 

It also looks really good, especially with the color combo I had. Too bad it came (again) with this carbon-fiber lookalike (or is it real?) finish on the dashboard and doors. It seems every Cadillac has this now (Although I have seen the CT-5 with real wood finish) 

The interior is a great place to be. But in late 2020, its main problem is the recent competition.
Especially the one from the new Genesis G80 sedan. And the fantastic interior of the redesigned 2021 Jaguar XF. When compared to these, the CT-5 is just not up to that level.
Cadillac really needs to revamp all their interiors with a design similar to the new Escalade. 
Which is one of the best and most modern around...
As it is, the CT5 has a very nice interior, but it needs to be more special.


The rear seat is actually surprisingly roomy. And very comfortable. But again, the rear of the center console isn't as upscale as in some of its newer competition.


The model I had for a week was powered by the 3.0 Liter V6 Turbo, which is a $3500 option on all CT5 models (Except the CT5-V). 
With 360HP, there is basically always more power than you need. 

While the 10-speed auto is very responsive, it is also not invisible, at all. While the shifts do feel very smooth, you do hear them quite a bit. As the engine revs up quite a bit with every upshift. And that is in the normal mode, not in sport.
This makes the engine a bit noisy around town, where there is a lot of shifting going on.
It would be fine in Sport mode of course.  But not in the regular mode. As this makes the car feels a bit too sporty for a luxury sedan.
In general, the 3.0 V6 isn't as quiet as it was in the CT6 I test drove last year.

It is still mostly very smooth and quiet, but as I said, the whole thing is a bit sportier than expected. Which, at least to me, doesn't make much sense in the "Premium Luxury" version. Especially when Cadillac offers a "V" version.
This should just be super luxurious...
( I guess this is still the result of previous years under Johan de Nysschen who was trying hard to turn Cadillac into BMW...)


Once on the road, the CT5 is extremely quiet and comfortable.
It has a very nice steering feel. And the suspension soaks up almost all bumps. (But it is still not a magic carpet)

The CT5 V6 is rated at 19/26MPG.
As usual, I did struggle to match the city rating with only 17 to 18MPG. But easily got over 31MPG on the FWY.

The CT5 is a great car to drive and be driven in. 
But the competition isn't resting. At around $37 000 to start, it is priced well under other sedans in its class. (It is even cheaper than the new Acura TLX!)
My loaded car was priced at $56 770. Or around $53 000 with the 2.0 Liter engine. 
Which is still less than the new G80 (the Genesis can also get much more expensive w options) 
And a bit more than a loaded TLX.
And Jaguar lowered the price of the XF to $45 000, with that great interior. 
Otherwise, all of its German competition costs much, much more.

I think the CT5, like most current Cadillacs, is too afraid to just be a luxury car. And is trying too hard to be sporty. Sport should be for the "V" models.  But anything called "Premium Luxury" should just be luxurious. There is nothing wrong with that, especially for a Cadillac.
No one would blame a Cadillac for being focused on Luxury...

As it is the CT5 is a great sedan. It just needs a more spectacular interior, like the Escalade.
I was told at the Escalade event last year (Or was it early 2020?) that it will happen. All Cadillac models will eventually be getting a similar interior. 

Let's hope it comes soon...








 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Cadillac CT5: video drive...

 




I will be posting my thoughts on the Cadillac CT5 I was driving last week.

Until then, you can watch this video shot in the amazing Red Rock Canyon park, in California.
Quite an amazing place that I didn't know about until last week.
(also where scenes from the movie "Capricorn One" was shot)

The video is HERE



Monday, November 02, 2020

Cadillac CT4 V test drive: not the "real" V...

 




I know looks are subjective, but I think the new Cadillac CT4 looks quite nice in real life.  I have to say, I thought the same of the old ATS when I drove it about 6 years ago.
The CT4 is basically a heavily updated ATS. The CT4 does look different, but not necessarily better in my opinion.




The interior is all new. Everything looks nice and the materials are all of high quality. Everything feels solid and very well put together. 
The Cadillac infotainment is very easy to figure out. And the Bose stereo sounds great. 

While the interior does look nice, it doesn't seem very special. Something I would expect from a Cadillac. 
Especially after seeing the new Escalade for myself a few months ago. After sitting in the new Escalade, you realize that every single Cadillac model should have a similar, spectacular interior.
At least the dashboard with its amazing curved OLED screen.
I was told the Escalade interior design will trickle down to their other models, but it might take some time...




My test car had a "Sangria" leather interior. Which was actually quite nice looking. Especially for a sport sedan. The seats were firm but comfortable. 
Unfortunately, the headrests were a bit too hard and not adjustable forward. It seems GM is using the exact same headrest design on every single car they make these days. I miss the ones from just a few years ago, with 4-way adjustments. (Especially since the ATS did have them)


The rear seat is tight. But there was actually enough legroom for me behind the driver's seat. With about an inch of legroom to spare. 
The rear part of the center console is also pretty plain looking...





The trunk is very roomy. And the rear seats can be folded down for even more cargo space.


When driving the car, the first thing I noticed was how thick th steering wheel is. And how low the seating position is. (Again, similar to the old ATS)

The 2.7 Liter engine is quite smooth and quiet even when you start the car in the morning.
But it also can sound a bit rough when pushed. Which is actually OK when used in this "V" version.
I think most people ordering the "for now" sportiest version of the CT4 won't mind the added soundtrack.

The suspension is quite smooth in the "tour" mode. And not that much harder in the other sportier modes.
The steering feel is always firm. And more so in "sport".

The 2.7 Liter Turbo always has more power than you need. At any speed. The car does feel very fast all the time.
But it doesn't feel like what most people would expect of a "V' model. 
A "real" V is coming out soon. This means there will be more Sporty versions than Luxury versions of the CT4 available.
Which, to me, is a really bad way to dilute the Cadillac brand image... Do that many people want a sporty Cadillac???


Another thing the CT4 has in common with the ATS is a weird road noise that seems to be coming from the rear of the car. Like if a rear window was slightly open. ( I remember noticing that in the ATS years ago)
Weird GM didn't fix it in the redesign...



The new Cadillac CT4 V is a great and fun driving car.
But in my opinion, it is not really a Cadillac. Or a "V". (On top of that, the 2.7 Liter engine is available in the regular CT4 as an option anyway. Replacing the V6 option from the ATS)
The real, more powerful V version is coming soon. Which will make this version quite irrelevant IMO. 
At the same time, as a Cadillac, the CT4, in general, should feel more special.
The interior is fine but not special enough. 

The CT4 with the 2.7 Liter engine is rated at 20/29MPG.
The best I got around town was 18MPG. But around 33MPG on average on the freeway.

It seems like Cadillac is trying very, very hard to make their cars feel like  BMWs. But I am not sure that's what people want in a Cadillac. I feel that even in 2020, there is a market for super smooth/comfortable cars. And that is what Cadillac should do.
One crazy powerful V model in the lineup is fine. And enough.

The CT4 V actually reminded me a lot of the Chevrolet Camaro 2.0 Liter with the "track pack" package I drove last year. Which is not surprising since the two are related. The CT4 V feels a lot like a 4 door version of that car.

As you can see, my "almost" loaded CT4 V was priced at about $51 000. (click on the pic bellow for details)
The base CT4 starts at around $34 000. Which I think is expensive. Since it is more than the German competiton like the Mercedes A-Class or Audi A3. 
And only $3000 less than the larger (an much better) CT5 sedan.
I think Cadillac made a great move by pricing the CT5 aggressively,. And they should have done the same thing with the CT4. 

Either way, it is a very nice car. But ultimately, not special enough to be a Cadillac...