Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Chevrolet Cruze test drive


 The all new Cruze is a really nice looking car in the flesh.

I was a little underwhelmed when I first sat in one at the Auto show. I thought it was just OK.
But this top of the line Premier model I had for a week was much nicer.
And much more upscale looking.

The design isn't breaking any grounds (lots of people see a lot of the previous Civic in it), but it is pleasant from any angle.


 Inside, what they call "Jet black/Kalahari" combo looks great.
And there isn't too much of that fake metal trim that most car have. It's mostly a piano black finish.
(Which looks nice but is also a magnet for finger prints...)

The only details I didn't like was the small metal trim bits left. They are just way too shiny, still.
Most car makers now are using a more satin finish which gives the cabin a more upscale look.
I know it's a detail...

Overall the new interior looks great. Everything seems very well made and solid.
Everything is where it is supposed to be.
AND, this is the first GM car I've had in a long time where CarPlay worked flawlessly with my iPhone.


The 6 speaker stereo sounds good. But not great. ( I guess that's what the extra cost Bose system is for)

 The back seat has plenty of room.
It's not "Jetta Huge", but it's really fine. And roomier than most premium compacts from BMW and Mercedes.

 As you can see, the 110Volt plug in the back makes for a perfect road trip.


 The first thing I noticed was how quiet the engine is.
The new 1.4 Turbo is always quiet and smooth. No matter how I pushed it. When you hear it, it sounds very refined.
And there is always plenty of power for all uses.

The new Cruze comes with a Stop/Start system. It works all the time when the A/C is off.
(When it's on, it only works a few times.)

It is pretty much invisible with A/C off. Only a very slight shutter in the steering wheel.
It works very quickly and there is really no delay. So it doesn't affect normal driving at all.
I could feel it a tiny bit more when the A/C was on.


 The steering is a bit light for my taste. Off center feeling can be a little loose.
But it's no worse than most modern cars. They all mostly feel like a video game in that regard...


 The drive is smooth and quiet, pretty much all the time.
It really feels like a more expensive car. And makes you wonder why anyone would spend more money on a mid-size car.

I really enjoyed my week with the new Cruze.
Comparing it to the other compact I drove a few weeks ago, the Nissan Sentra, this is light years ahead.
The Sentra's seats are some of the worst I've even sat in. While the ones in the new Chevrolet are very comfortable.
The Cruze is so much more refined. It also drives much better and even gets much better gas mileage.

The Cruze is rated at 30/40. (For some reason other models of the Cruze are rated at 42HWY. But not the Premier)
I got around 45 on the Highway.
But "only" 28 around town.
These are great numbers.
( I got 23/38 with the "CVT Sentra".)

So, yes. I would definitely recommend the new Chevrolet Cruze for anyone looking for a very nice compact sedan.
It does everything very well.
As far as style, it kind of fits in between the super conservative Jetta and the over styled Civic.

Which might just be what people really like.

I can't wait to drive the all new Hatchback version soon.
And there is also a Diesel version coming up.
Here are all the specs of the car I had for a week.
You can click on it . See what happens....

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Buick Cascada test drive coming up.


I just got a new Cascada to drive for a week.
This is a car I was really waiting for.

I really loved it when it was introduced as an Opel in Europe a couple of years ago. And I was one of these people who was hoping it would end up here as a Buick.
Well, here it is...

First thoughts:
I still love the design. It looks really great in person.
Like everyone has said before me, the interior is nice, but in a "3 to 5 year old GM" sort of way.
Lots of buttons, smallish screen weirdly angled back etc...

Otherwise so far it seems really quiet, and feels as solid as the good German car that it actually is.

I will report on it very soon. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

VW Jetta GLI Test Drive


 The current Jetta came out almost 6 years ago.
Yes, 6 years.

And for all that criticism of being boring and uninspired, I have to admit it has aged very well.
Which is usually what happens to "conservative" designs.

It is a pretty good looking car. And the GLI version I had for a week looked quite upscale.
(The 18 inch wheels helped a lot).

I had actually a couple of "non car fans" friends who though it looked great.

Inside, not much has changed in the past 6 years.
(They really missed the opportunity with the 2014 "facelift")

Some bits are still a bit too cheap. Although the dash is now covered in soft plastic (At least on the GLI) And the piano black finish looks much better than the horrible fake metal finish I've seen before (Which might well be still around in other versions)

Everything feels very solid and well put together. And the doors to have that solid "german car sound" when you close them.
It's no Audi A6, but it does feel more substantial than the Japanese competition.
The rear seat is as roomy as ever. In effect, the current Jetta is about as roomy as most mid sized cars around.
Carplay is now standard. And it works great.
The Fender system is still fantastic.

The first thing I noticed, as usual with most new VWs, is the sound of the 2.0 Liter Turbo engine.
It does have a gravely sound that most other small engines don't have.
And it still does sound like a quiet diesel a bit. (Especially when pushed)

People blame that sound on Direct Inection. But I don't, since other manufacturers also have Direct Injection engines and they are much quieter and smoother.

Although once warmed up, things are Lexus quiet at idle.

The steering is still a little bit too light. Especially for the sporty GLI version.
It is precise, smooth and turns really well. But it could have a little more weight to it.

The shifting is really smooth. But just like all VW's 6 speeds (Not the 5 speed for some reason), 1st gear is a bit hard to engage at times.
The clutch is very smooth and forgiving.

Now for what I think is actually the worst part of the car: The ride.
Of course it will be firm, which is expected. But most of the time, it is just uncomfortable.
Unless the road is smooth as glass.
The worse is for the rear passengers. Where it really becomes bad.
Everyone I had in the back were complaining. Most hadn't felt such a hard ride in a long time.

I do prefer a firm ride, especially in a sporty car. But to be that uncomfortable for passengers is not great. Especially in a roomy sedan.
Where people, and small kids might ride in the back.
(I would hate to see a small child shaking around in a car seat back there...)


The Jetta GLI was quite a joy to drive for a week.
It is a very engaging car.

After a while, the gravely sound of the engine became a "charming personality trait".
But the rough ride was never described as "charming". Ever...By anyone...

The GLI manual is rated at 23City/33HWY.
I did get 23 in the city but had no problem getting 41/42 on the highway.


The model I had was a GLI SE.
Which came pretty loaded, with heated seats, the great Fender stereo, Carplay, a sunroof etc..
And it was priced at $27 740 including destination ($820)

I think this is a lot of car for the money.
I mean this is a similar engine Audi uses an most of its (Much more expensive) models.
And one of the rare sedans you can actually get with a 6 speed manual.
The design has actually aged very well, and could be described as "pretty classy" now.

The problem is, I am not sure when a next one is out. I mean, 6 years is a long time for a car.
And we haven't heard anything about a next generation yet. (Which means it's probably still a couple of years away...)

But for now, the current Jetta GLI is just a fun car priced right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

VW Jetta GLI Test Drive. Delivery notes


Again, I just got this and will be reporting on it during the week.
And I got lucky. As i is the 6 speed manual version.

There there will be some fun this week!

So far, it does feel a bit less powerful than the GTI (Like someone commented/explained on my previous post)
Shifting is easy and quick.
Steering is still a bit light. There doesn't seem to be much difference between this and the regular Jetta.

More to come.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Chevrolet Volt test drive. Part Three


 Here are a few more observations about the new Volt, after driving it for a full week.

I do like the design a lot. Even though I do understand people who miss the more original 1st generation.
It is a little bit blender, but still very modern.
More so than most other compacts out there. And, it is still a hatchback. But looking more like a 4 door coupe now.
it is really slick looking. And has a more upscale feel and look to it.

 Inside, the first thing you notice is the new screen.
The first thing I wanted to do with it is angle it more toward me. But it's not adjustable.
(So don't ever try that. I'm begging you!)

So it lays a bit flatter than it should. But it's actually fine, and not much of a problem to get used to.
Plus, it is quite large and very sharp. And perfectly positioned above everything else on the dash.

The shiny bits have more of a satin finish now. Which is much nicer, and again, more upscale.
The plastics are hard, but everything does look and feel very solid.
(Except the super cheap feeling and sounding turn signal stalk)

The doors still have that heavy feel to them, which I like.

 There is enough room for 4 adults. As you can see. There is a seatbelt for a 3rd human in the back seat, but I cannot imagine how legs would even fit.


 The one thing still missing, is a sunroof. Or some kind of glass panel. At least as an option.
As the roof is pretty low.
GM still gives the "weigh excuse". Which I don't buy. (The new Hyundai ionia will offer a sunroof)

The Bose stereo sounded very good. Although, like most Bose car systems lately, it wasn't very loud.

Overall, I loved my week with the new Volt.
It feels as solid and sporty as the old one.
But it is much quieter when the all new gas engine comes on.
And when it does, power seems to be almost the same as in the EV mode.
The ride is very comfortable, and the car feels super solid over any surface.
The steering is really nice, a little bit on the heavy side, which is a welcome change from most other cars.

As I mentioned before, I got 56 miles out of a full charge (it is rated at 53)
And my gas mileage when the battery was empty was 46 on the freeway and 42 in the city.
Which is, again, better than the official numbers.

I think the Volt is the best way to get into an EV right now.
As a range of almost 60 miles of pure EV is plenty for most people.
Plus, once it's empty, you end up with a very comfortable, quick car that gets great mileage anyway.
It is truly the best of both worlds.
Until we can charge a 300 miles battery everywhere in 15 minutes, the Volt is the best option.
(The Model S is still a rich guy's toy)






BUT....
There is one thing that drove me crazy, most of the time.
As you can see, the stereo system had a lot of trouble recognizing songs from my phone.
As most playlists showed "empty".

When switching to Apple CarPlay, things were different.
But NOT better. As  playlists after the letter "B" were non existent.
Using a different phone, different cables, restarting the phone never fixed the problem.
It would work one time, and nothing a few minutes later, etc..

I checked various forums online, and it looks like quite a few people have that problem.

A few of the solutions included upgrading to the latest version of iOS.
( I did have iOS 9 already)
And, weirdly enough, getting rid of the Pandora app.
I did all these, but it was too late to really check it.
It was working the last evening I had the car.

After mentioning this to GM, they decided to send me another Volt for a few days in a couple of weeks.
Which is really nice.

So I will check this again.
I hate to be picky, but the car is , in general,  my favorite place to listen to music. And I do want to make sure this isn't a general issue with this otherwise great car.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chevrolet Volt test drive. Part one.

 I got the Volt yesterday. For a week.
It had an EV range of 45 miles when delivered to me. (Not the full 53 I was hoping for...)

Still, plenty for a few day-drives.
I was curious about the gas mileage when the car is not in EV mode.
So I used the "hold" mode, which saves "the juice" for later. A very cool feature.

 As you can see. For these few miles, MPG was very impressive.
But I also noticed that it did use some of that juice. By the end of the day, in the "hold" mode, my total EV range was only about 39 miles...
(The picture above was taken today, after charging)



At the end of the day, I plugged it in. At a regular 120 outlet. So technically, it should take about 13 hrs to get a full charge.
Which I didn't need since it still said "39".

But, about 13hrs later, I was still at "just"  49 miles. Not the 53 miles advertised for the full charge.
Maybe that plug at the lot where I parked the car was defective? Or something else...
Who knows.

 
 The rear hatch is really big. And quite heavy.
But the inside cover is just a rather flimsy cloth sheet. Unlike the solid stuff found in most other hatchbacks. Maybe to save weight?
 Someone was asking me about rear legroom. so here it is.
I am 5'11" and drive pretty far from the steering wheel, and that's what's left behind me.
Which isn't bad. Technically, the new Volt has a bit more rear legroom.

And here is what it looks like whith an actual super good looking human.

Someone was also asking about visibility. 
And I was mentioning the rather high position of the rear window.
So this is what it looks like when you turn around. 

Not that you really need to, since it comes with a back up camera.

So far there is plenty of power all the time. If you drive in a relaxed manner, the engine almost never comes on during normal city driving.
And when it does, it is much quieter than before. It just seems to be far away...

Next, I will try to compare MPG when the battery is completely empty.
And, of course, check the actual range of the full EV mode.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Chevrolet Trax test drive


 The little Trax is pretty familiar by now.
I remember back when GM didn't want to sell it in the US. (For a while it was sold in Europe and Canada. While the US was only getting the Buick Encore version)

But with a bunch of newcomers like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3, GM needed something cheaper than the Encore in that segment.

I do like the look of the Trax. It reminds me of a little bulldog. And I actually got nice comments from strangers about the "Orange Rock Metallic" color.




 Inside, everything is just fine. Simple and well laid out.

The version I had for a week was an LT FWD. So seats didn't have leather.
But the vinyl/cloth combo looked good. And they were very comfortable.

The Bose stereo (part of the well worth $1400 Sun & Sound package) sounded great.

 The only thing I really hated inside was the stupid placement of the USB plug.
Inside the top glove compartment. So you either cannot see your phone. Or you have to leave the compartment open for the wire.
Pretty bad.

Maybe things will be better once Apple Car Play is offered on the Trax. (Or just move the USB to the console!)
 The back seat is pretty much what you'd except in a compact.
It's actually fine for most people.
 A roomy truck is what you get.
 On the road, the first thing I noticed, was a pretty bad case of the "video game style steering feel".
I guess most people don't mind anymore. Since it reminds them of the games they play all day.

I still have a problem with it...(Maybe because I don't play video games...)

But, as usual. I did get used to it. Kind of.
The Trax is very easy to drive. The engine feels pretty "peppy". At least around town.
And I never had problems on the freeway.

The ride is always very comfortable. The car feels really solid on any road. (Although the doors feel a bit tiny when you close them)
The whole thing was also very quiet all the time.

The Trax is rated at 26City/34HWY. After a week of driving I did get 26 in the city.
But had no problem getting 39 average on the freeway.
I really enjoyed driving the Trax for a week.
It feels like the right car for the right price. At least the one I got.

Mine was an LT FWD with the "LT Plus package" and the previously mentioned "Sun & Sound package". For a total of $25 215.

I'd say this is really a good price for a nice car with a sunroof and great Bose stereo system.
It's no sports car but it doesn't pretend to be.
I never felt it was too slow.
It is comfortable and quiet. And gets really good mileage for a small SUV. And it does have a nice, friendly personality to it.

The Honda HR-V seems like the more conservative choice in that segment.
But the new Mazda CX-3 is the one to watch.
As a top of the line Grand Touring model is about the same price as the Trax I was driving.
And it includes GPS, Sunroof, Bose and leather.

So, I do recommend the Trax. If you can get a good deal on it.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

GMC Canyon test drive



 After a week driving the big Silverado, I was wondering if the smaller Colorado/Canyon would make more sense.
I mean, the Silverado is fun (kind of...), but it is quite a chore to drive around in the city.
And that horrible ride on the freeway...

So GMC sent me a loaded version of the new Canyon.
I think it looks great. (Especially with the Emerald green color, a $495 option).
And the oversized GMC grille seems to work on the smaller truck.

Even though it feels like a compact after driving the Silverado, it's not. The "short bed" version I had is still over 10 inches longer than a Chevrolet Impala.
A long bed is available and that adds another 12 inches!
Plus, at least my AWD model, it is really high. Almost a foot taller than the Impala.

So it is still a "big thing" to drive around. It might be "mid sized for a truck", but still bigger than a full size sedan.
 The one GM sent me had a dealer installed tonneau cover. A $615 option.
Which makes this truck more like a car, since now you have a lockable trunk.
But it's not that easy to remove when you need to carry big things. (Which is kind of the point of a truck..)

 Inside, it feels much more like a car than the Silverado. Mostly because of the console and the shifter between the seats. But also the "more normal" size.
Everything looks nice and simple. And it all feels very solid. (except the turning signal stalk)

The optional Bose stereo sounds good. But still, to me, not worthy of the Bose name. (It's not better than some really good base systems.)

The seats are very comfortable.

 The back seat is pretty roomy. But not nearly as much as in a (shorter) large sedan.


 The whole thing is very nicely finished. It's not luxury sedan level, but it doesn't pretend to be.

 The 1st thing you say when you turn around is "Thank God for rear cameras". (As a matter of fact, you'll say it every time you turn around)
The top of the headliner is really high. And without the camera, it would be really tough to see a car.
A pet, ot a small child.
 The first thing I noticed was how much nicer the ride was, when compared to the 2 door Silverado.
It is still trucky, and even a bit hard sometimes. But that's expected.
It is just fine for every day use.

The V6 is pretty quiet. Although not as super quiet and smooth as the big 4.3 Liter from the Silverado.
It does a great job moving the truck around in the city.

But things do change when you get on the freeway. For some reason, it seems that most of the 305 horses from the 3.6 Liter engine are taking a break. A very long break...
Combined with a transmission that doesn't really like to downshift, and you get a very frustrating experience. You basically have to push it most of the time to move.
It's really bad on long hills. Where the whole thing feels like a 4 cylinder.
(I cannot imagine what the actual 4 cylinder is like.)

The version I was driving (V6, 4WD SLT 4 door) is rated at 17MPG city and 24 Hwy.
I did get 17 in the city, but up to 28 on the freeway.
Which is actually really good, I think.

The version I drove was loaded at $41 785. Which, at first, seemed really expensive to me.
Until I compared it to the 4 door loaded Silverado (High Country) I drove last year. With pretty much the same equipment (plus a V8 of course). It was $52 000.
Mileage was 14/20.
So by going for the "small guy", you are saving about $10 000. And even more on gas.
Sure, the High Country is roomier and carries more stuff.

But for most people, I think the Canyon/Colorado is really the way to go...