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

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...




Friday, October 30, 2020

Cadillac CT4 V: a video...

 

I was driving a new Cadillac CT4 V earlier. And though I would share this short video.

Driving around Los Angeles and Malibu. A full review is coming very soon. Head over HERE to watch the 4K video.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Cadillac CT4 V: test drive coming up...


 Just got a new Cadillac CT4 V for a week.

I have only driven it a little bit around town so far. But I will try to answer any questions you might have.  So far, it is a very pleasant and fun to drive. The "Tour" mode is actually quite comfortable around town. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

It's the week-end: time to drive!


 I filmed my drive down Highland Ave, through Hollywood, a few days ago. (Starting on Ventura Blvd in Studio City)

You can see the video HERE. (Best on a 4K TV)

My favorite part has to be driving by the wonderful Hollywood Bowl. (no music there these days, but a really cool place to vote!) 

But also passing by the old Hanna-Barbera studios along Ventura Blvd. This was the birthplace of The Jetsons, The Flintstones and so many other shows. I was actually very fortunate to visit the place back when it was still open. And even took some classes there. Many years ago... It is now a Gym, but at least, most of the building still looks the same from the outside...

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Buick Encore GX Test Drive

 




The all-new Buick Encore GX looks very nice in person, inside and out. Since it was designed a few years ago, it still has (at least to me) a bit of an Opel look to it (The previous Encore was sold in Europe as the Opel Mokka)
The proportions are very nice, and it just looks good from every angle.





Same thing inside. Everything looks good and feels really solid and quite upscale (almost every single plastic trim is soft)
The metal trim on the dash is OK, and I would have preferred an interior with more color than the all-black on in my test car, but that's just a matter of taste.
The seats are comfortable but a bit firmer than I was expecting. The headrests are pretty hard and uncomfortable. And they are position too far back to be of any support during long trips.

The stereo in my test car didn't have a "Bose" branding but did sound really good (Apparently the Bose is a stand alone option, somehow not included in my loaded $35 000 FWD version)
The armrest is positioned very high. Which was fine for me. But is not adjustable. Another feature I would expect for the price.
Cooling seats are also not available.

I was also surprised by the lack of a drive mode selector. (Which is available in the cheaper Chevrolet Trailblazer)




The Encore GX is very roomy for its size. There is plenty of room for 4 or even 5 people with a good amount of luggage.
Once the rear seat is folded, there is aslo room for 2 people to camp in the car.



On the road, the 3 cylinder Turbo engine is smooth and quiet. (Almost silent at idle)
The steering is fine if a bit artificial. It feels like it is on a non-existant "sport mode".
Same thing for the suspension. Which is mostly comfortable (especially on the highway) but pretty firm. And can actually be uncomfortable on rough city roads.
Again, the whole thing feels like you switched it to "sport mode". Even though there is no mode dial.

I really think Buick should offer a choice of a "normal" or "touring" setting. A firmer steering is always nice, but the ride is not what I would expect from a Buick. A dial mode would be a very easy fix.




My test car was a loaded Essence model, but didn't have AWD. Which was never a problem. Since this is not the kind of car you would take off-road anyway. And there is no real torque steer problem either.

My car was equipped with the optional 1.3 Liter engine  (a $395 on the FWD model), and the CVT (9 speed auto standard with AWD)
The CVT was smooth and quiet. And it is basically a perfect match for the car.




The FWD/1.3 Liter/CVT Encore GX is rated at 30MPG city and 32HWY.

30 is a high number for city driving and I wasn't able to match it. In real-world city driving, I got 27/28MPG. Which is already great. But I had no problem getting over 35MPG on the Highway. (Almost got 40MPG on a long stretch) Which is an almost hybrid-like level of fuel economy for a compact SUV.


I really like the new Encore GX. But at the same time, I do feel it should be tuned a bit more on the luxury side. Since this is what Buick is trying to be (or so it seems)
It really needs a more comfortable ride (Again, a dial mode would give you that choice)
And the seats should be a bit softer and more luxurious.
For $35 000, cooling seats and an upgraded stereo should also be standard.

But, in the real world, these cars usually come with serious discounts. Which would help a lot.
You can price a very nicely equipped model for a bit under $30 000. Before any discounts.
At these more realistic prices, the Encore GX should be on everyone's shopping list if you are looking for a compact, very car-like crossover.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Buick Encore GX: let's drive to the desert!

 

I took the new Buck Encore GX for a road trip to the desert.

Even though my test car is a FWD model, it had no problem tackling a few rough roads. And it was big enough inside to sleep in during the camping trip.

I will post my review and many photos soon. Meanwhile, you can watch the short video HERE.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Buick Encore GX test drive coming up.

 

I just got a Buick Encore GX Essence-FWD for the week.

I will be taking a small camping trip with it in a couple of days. So far I have only driven around town. All I can say is that it is very quiet. And does have quite a smooth ride. It is a loaded version with a bunch of options for a total of almost $35 000. For some reason, CarPlay doesn't seem to be wireless. (it was in the cheaper Chevrolet Trailblazer I was driving earlier)

As usual, I will try to answer any questions you might have...


Chevrolet Trailblazer test drive.

 




The new Trailblazer has a very nice and pleasant design. Which gives it a friendly personality. I have actually seen a few people noticing it while I was driving it. And it seems to be one of the fastest-selling cars these days, so I would say most people really like the design.





Same thing inside. Chevrolet did a great job with the interior. Not only does it look good, but the materials are top-notch. And I really like the various materials used (like the grey cloth mixed in with the leather) The stitches on the seat and dash do look great and quite premium (they don't always do..)

I was also pleasantly surprised by how solid everything feels. The switchgear especially.
And the doors have a very solid an reassuring sound when you close them.

The Trailblazer really makes quite an effort to make you think you bought a more expensive car...

The main gripe I have with the interior is the placement of the remote charging mat. Which is right under the climate controls, in a very dark area. And since this means the phone is never physically connected to anything (thanks also to wireless Carplay) I actually forgot the phone in the car a couple of times. 
I think you should still be able to see your phone.

Although that is probably something you get used to if you drive this every day...


As usual, a panoramic glass roof is a great option. Something you cannot have on the Mazda CX-30. Or most of the competition. 



The rear seats and cargo area are very roomy. Especially for its size. 


On the road, I was really curious about GM's new 3 cylinder engine.
My test car had the larger 1.3 Liter option. And the 9-speed auto (which is standard on the AWD models)

I have driven cars with 3 cylinder engines before. Like the Ford Fiesta. And, especially, the super cool Citroen Cactus I rented while in Europe a few years ago.

The engine sounds wonderful. It is super quiet and smooth 90% of the time. And of course, not so much when you push it hard. (although it is almost completely silent at idle)
But the sound you do hear is very pleasant. At least to me. It is different and actually gives the car quite a personality. To me, this, when pushed, sounds better than most 4 cylinder engines. 

But, this is not a car that is meant to be pushed or driven fast. Just like all of its competition. These are sold as small crossovers. I think the smooth and quiet engine also has plenty of power for what it is.
It does feel much faster than the Honda HR-V. And maybe about the same as the Hyundai Kona Turbo.
But really, you would have to drive these cars back to back to really be able to tell.


  The 9 speed auto works perfectly. It always seems to be eager to downshift if you want a bit more power.

The first thing I noticed was how artificial the steering feel was. Of course, you get used to it after a while, but it never feels that great...

The suspension is always comfortable, although a little bit on the firm side. Even with the thicker, more off-road-oriented tires on the Activ version.
Which brings me to the major issue I had with the car: road noise.

It starts creeping up at over 35MPH around town. But it does get really bad at freeway speed. Surprisingly bad...
(The tires on the Activ version are Hankook Dynapro AT2 all-terrains.) 
I really like the look of the Activ version, inside and out. But unless you are willing to always turn the sound system up a bit when you drive, I would steer toward the more on-road-oriented versions of the Trailblazer.
And by the way, the Bose system on my test car sounded pretty fantastic...


One small detail I kept noticing while driving, was how square the front side window design was. A very retro feel in such a modern car. 


The Trailblazer AWD 1.3 is rated at 26 City and 30HWY MPG. 
Being careful, I was able to get  25/26 around town. But had no problem getting about 34MPG on the freeway.

I really enjoyed driving the new Trailblazer Activ. It actually has a bit of a personality. (Mostly because of it s great engine)
But the road noise would keep me away from getting the Activ version. (Unless you are used to a Jeep Wrangler or something that noisy)

Althouugh the Trailblazer starts at a really low $19 000, my loaded Activ model was priced at $33 000.
(Active AWD starts at $27 000)
Which is quite a bit of money. And just a few $1000s aways from larger very well equipped Crossovers.

Be carfeul with options, watch for discounts, and you'll be getting a really good car.