Valerie Menard

Valerie Menard is a freelance writer and published author with 16 years of reporting about the auto industry for Latino publications.

Jul 182017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota)/Lexus is recalling approximately 1,760  2017 Lexus ES 350 vehicles. The right-hand side tie rod lock nut may loosen over time. If the lock nut loosens, the tie rod may separate causing a loss of steering and increasing the risk of a crash.

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the lock nut and, if it is found loose, replace the lock nut, steering gear assembly, and tie rod assembly, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on July 17, 2017. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331. Toyota’s number for this recall is HLC. For the most up-to-date Safety Recall information on Lexus, Toyota, and Scion customers should check their vehicle’s status by visiting http://www.toyota.com/recall and entering their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Jul 142017
 

The 2017 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, Robinson Canó of the Seattle Mariners, with his new Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, presented during the MVP award ceremony Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. Chevrolet is the Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball. (Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

MIAMILatino Traffic Report has learned that the 2017 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, Robinson Canó, chose a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport during the MVP award ceremony presented by Chevrolet at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday night.

Chevrolet, America’s most-awarded car company gave the Dominican Republic native, who went 1-for-2 in the contest with a home run, RBI and a run scored, his choice between the 460-horsepower Corvette Grand Sport or the trail-ready Colorado ZR2.

This is Canó’s first All-Star MVP award and the third Seattle Mariners player, joining Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. (1992) and Ichiro Suzuki (2007). His solo home run at the top of the tenth inning proved to be the game-winner.

“Robinson Canó turned in a tremendous performance tonight and is an excellent example to all baseball fans, and especially our kids, that hustle, determination and teamwork are what wins, and that is why Chevrolet is proud to present the MVP award,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet.

Chevrolet U.S. Vice President Brian Sweeney (right) presents 2017 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Robinson Cano, of the Seattle Mariners, with a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport.

Chevrolet has been the Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball since 2005 and through its Chevrolet Youth Baseball program has donated more than 135,000 equipment kits, renovated more than 9,400 parks and impacted more than 6.7 million boys and girls across the U.S.

“At Chevrolet, we appreciate the positive effect that playing sports has on our kids and that is why it is so important for our brand and our dealers to support baseball at every level,” said Sweeney.

The Corvette Grand Sport that Canó chose features heritage-inspired design cues combined with a track-focused chassis and suspension elements that build on a legacy established in 1963, when five Grand Sport race cars were built under the direction of the Corvette’s first chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov. The Grand Sport offers estimated 0 to 60 mph performance of 3.6 seconds and quarter-mile capability of 11.8 seconds at 118 mph, with the available Z07 performance package and available paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission.

Jul 102017
 

My parents bought a new Buick LeSabre every ten years for three decades. Soon after that nameplate was retired in 2005, the LaCrosse was born and for 2017, the third generation has emerged. On a recent weeklong test drive of the 2017 LaCrosse Premium by Latino Traffic Report, the elegant sedan fairly floated along Austin’s highways and byways.

Earning a full-size classification from the EPA with the last generation, the newest version is even longer, lower, and wider than the previous model. That translates into a roomier interior, specifically, 42 inches of front legroom, 40 inches in the rear, and 15 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. The 60/40 split rear seat also folds to extend cargo space further. It also bears the new face of Buick, featuring a new design on its waterfall grille including the return of a three-color Buick tri-shield insignia, accented by wing-shaped elements.

Trim ranges include: LaCrosse, Preferred, Essence, and Premium. While the test model was front-wheel drive Premium, it can also be configured with all-wheel drive. Like any big sedan, the LaCrosse offers a smooth ride and takes it to another level on the Essence and Premium, with the available electronically controlled Continuous Damping Control active suspension with selectable Touring and Sport modes.

All LaCrosse models are powered by a new 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 282 lbs.–ft. of torque. Paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, featuring Stop/Start and Active Fuel Management, the 2017 LaCrosse FWD has an EPA estimated fuel economy for is 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I achieved an average mpg of 20.1 mpg on the test drive.

The Buick IntelliLink (left) infotainment system with a frameless eight-inch-diagonal color touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and OnStar guidance for three months, OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot integration three-month data plan, and OnStar five-year basic plan with limited vehicle mobile app features, monthly diagnostics report, and dealer maintenance notification are standard on all trims,

All models also include dual-zone air conditioning,  AM/FM stereo with up to 60 preset channels and two USB ports, Bluetooth, cruise control, driver and front passenger eight-way power seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Rear Park Assist.

Really posh features on the Premium test model, like massage controls in the heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Head-Up display are standard.

Innovative safety technology from General Motors includes the Teen Driver feature allows parents to set controls, review driving habits, and encourage safe driving habits even when they are not in the vehicle is standard on all trims. Additional standard safety features include a rear vision camera.

The Premium brings safety technology like Forward Collision Alert, Head-up Display reflected onto windshield above steering wheel, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Safety Alert Seat, Side Blind Zone Alert. The test model added the Driver Confidence Package 1 with Rear-Cross Traffic and Blind Zone Alert.

The test model was also equipped with an automatic rear sunshade with the Sun and Shade package ($1,550), adaptive cruise control and Automatic Parking Assist, via the Driver Confidence Package 2 ($1,690), and navigation and a Bose stereo from the Sights and Sounds Package ($1,145).

Pricing for the 2017 Buick LaCrosse starts at $32,990. The as-tested price came to $48,395.

: Larger, more luxurious, and better looking, the all-new 2017 LaCrosse embodies the full-size sedan that Buick lovers expect.

No: Safety features like a blind spot monitor should be available on more trim levels.

Jul 062017
 

Honda Odyssey

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has just learned that Insure.com’s annual ranking of the least and most expensive vehicles to insure named the Honda Odyssey as the least expensive for the second year in a row, while Jeep set a new record with its models taking up a whopping 50 percent of the top 10. On the high side, the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG convertible was the most expensive. The rankings were compiled from a recent review of insurance rates in every single state for more than 2,800 different vehicle models.

Insure.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to calculate average auto insurance rates for 2017 models. Averages were calculated using data from six large carriers, such as Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm, in ten zip codes per state. Not all models were available, especially exotic cars.

Least expensive rankings were based on the best-performing trim line of each model. The worst performing trim line of each model determined most expensive rankings.

Least Expensive Vehicles to Insure

Jeep Renegade Sport

When it comes to cheap vehicles to insure, nothing has changed with the Honda Odyssey LX remaining at the top of the list. According to Insure.com: “Minivans have always been popular on our inexpensive to insure list. In 2011, all four of the top spots were minivans and every year since at least one minivan has been in the top five, with the exception of 2013.

What minivans lack in sex appeal, they make up for in safety and for a family vehicle, that’s where the emphasis should be. Safety features, a great safety rating, and extra cautious drivers lead to fewer accidents, claims, and lower rates. The Odyssey has received an overall five-star crash rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Second place goes to the Jeep Renegade Sport, the Jeep Wrangler Black Bear ranks No. 3 with the Honda CR-V LX earning the number four spot and the Jeep Compass Sport rounding out the top five.

While some may be surprised to see Jeep included so heavily in the list—in addition to the ones listed above, the Jeep Cherokee Sport took the No. 7 spot and the Patriot Sport tied for eighth place—it’s not so odd, according to Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com.

“When people think of Jeeps, they typically think about ruggedness, not bells and whistles. The Jeeps on the list are the entry-level and thus would cost less to repair or replace than a car that comes with lots of expensive luxury features,” notes Gusner.

Top 10 Cheapest Cars to Insure

Rank Make\Model Average annual premium
1 Honda Odyssey LX $1,112
2 Jeep Renegade Sport $1,138
3 Jeep Wrangler Black Bear $1,148
4 Honda CR-V LX $1,170
5 Jeep Compass $1,183
6 Subaru Outback 2.5l $1,187
7 Jeep Cherokee Sport $1,188
8 Buick Encore (tie) $1,190
8 Jeep Patriot Sport (tie) $1,190
10 Subaru Forester 2.5l $1,196

 

Most Expensive Vehicles to Insure

Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG cabriolet

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the most expensive cars to insure list is mainly made up of sports cars that are designed to be driven fast, or high-end luxury cars.

As usual, Mercedes-Benz dominates the most expensive to insure category with nine vehicles in the top 20. The Dodge Viper drops from No. 1 to 2 and Maserati breaks into the top 10 for the first time as the Quattroporte GTS slips into the fourth spot.

While most of the cars on the list are out of the average person’s price range, sticker price is not always a reliable indicator of insurance costs. In many cases, less expensive but higher performance cars cost more to insure.

Dodge Viper GTS

As an example, the most expensive car to insure (Mercedes S65 AMG convertible) is indeed the most expensive car on the list with an MSRP of $247,900. However, the second most expensive car to insure (Dodge GTS Viper) is a relative bargain with an MSRP of $87,895.

Six of the nine Mercedes models on the most expensive to insure list are convertibles. Prone to more theft and break-ins, a convertible’s insurance rates will typically also be higher, plus convertibles, as a body style, can cost more than their siblings.

It’s not just high performance that jacks up the rates though, a sky-high sticker price and the accompanying repair costs also impact premiums. “It’s no coincidence that many of the vehicles on the most expensive insurance list are more than just Mercedes models—they’re among the most expensive versions of those models, and consequently the most expensive to replace and possibly to repair,” points out Joe Wisenfelder, executive editor with Cars.com.

Top 10 Most Expensive Cars to Insure

Rank Make/Model Average annual premium
1 Mercedes S65 AMG (convertible) $3,835
2 Dodge GTS Viper $3,779
3 Mercedes S63 AMG 4Matic (convertible) $3,624
4 Maserati Quattroporte GTS $3,547
5 Mercedes S550 (convertible) $3,502
6 Mercedes C43 4Matic (convertible) $3,418
7 Mercedes Maybach S600 $3,355
8 Mercedes SL65 AMG (convertible) $3,322
9 Nissan GT-R Nismo $3,313
10 Audi R8 5.2L V10 Quattro $3,267

What Affects Insurance Rates

According to Insure.com, the three factors that most affect insurance costs are repair costs, claim rates, and vehicle type. Accident avoidance features, like airbags and restraint systems all impact rates. Anything that reduces the risk of damage to the vehicle and injury to the people inside, results in less expensive insurance.

The good news is that affordable insurance no longer exists only in the compact or family sedan category. It’s now possible to affordably insure minivans, SUVs, and pick-ups.

The common dominator in the least expensive to insure category is safe drivers. “Notice that all of these are essentially family vehicles that, overwhelmingly, will be subjected to normal driving in the hands of responsible parental types,” observes Wiesenfelder.

While SUVs had their problems in the past, mainly with rollovers, the safety ratings of SUVs have improved dramatically over the years. Safety features and accident rates have made a big impact on rates. Still, average rates are for comparative purposes only. Your own rate will depend on personal factors.

Jun 252017
 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling certain 2017 Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEV) for two issues.

• The affected vehicles have diodes in the Power Inverter Module (“PIM”) that may fail due to an overvoltage condition. If the diodes fail, the vehicle will not move under its own power.

• The tire placard on the affected vehicles incorrectly lists the seating capacity as six occupants rather then seven occupants, with a combined weight of 950lbs rather than 1,100lbs. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

A vehicle that suddenly cannot be driven, increases the risk of a crash and the incorrect tire label may cause customer confusion, potentially resulting in vehicle overloading, increasing the risk of a crash.

Chrysler has not yet finalized its remedy plans for the PIM recall. The recall is expected to begin on July 24, 2017. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is T34.

Regarding the tire placard, Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace tire placard label, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 28, 2017. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is T37.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Jun 192017
 

From station wagons to crossovers, family vehicles have evolved to accommodate the needs of modern households. Most manufacturers have major players in every segment, but a few still don’t. Volkswagen is the latest to join the midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) crowd with the all-new 2018 Atlas. Latino Traffic Report recently attended the launch in the Texas Hill Country.

“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen. “The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”

Atlas Premium display.

Atlas SE display.

Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the seven-passenger Atlas is available in five trim levels—S, SE, SE w/Technology, SEL and Premium SEL—and is scheduled to appear in dealer showrooms in the spring of 2017. At the launch, the four top trim levels were available, i.e. all but the S were there. The SE and Premium are separated by more than $10,000 in price and the driving experience, particularly the interior, reflected that.

The Premium offers a digital TFT gauge cluster, while the SE uses traditional hardware. The digital 12.3-inch display can also be customized, a feature usually reserved for premium vehicles, no pun intended. The Atlas Premium interior also includes heated leather seats while the SE comes with leatherette upholstery.

Still, all Atlases offer utility with three rows of seats, including second and third rows that can fold flat to provide a maximum cargo volume of 96.8 cubic feet behind the front-row seats.

For those a little more concerned with fuel economy, the Atlas will offer a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque. For families who’d like more power, the Atlas can also be outfitted with a 3.6-liter VR6 that delivers 276 horses and 266 lb.–ft. of torque. Both are matched to an eight-speed transmission. The maximum towing for the V6 is 5,000 lbs. with a factory-installed hitch. The standard Start/Stop technology on both engines that cuts the engine off at a stop, also helps conserve gas and while noticeable, it was less jarring than other systems.

While the Texas Hill Country can’t match the curves and climbs along some California highways, it did provide enough of a challenge to test the V6 engine and it reformed successfully. The turbo wasn’t available at the launch. Both engines are available on all trims with the exception of the Premium SEL, which is only offered with the VR6 engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD). While there was no off-road course at the launch, Atlases with AWD do come with Driving Mode Selection or settings for handling road (and off-road) conditions—Onroad, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad—plus, within the “Onroad” setting come additional options—Normal, Sport, Comfort and Individual.

EPA testing is still underway, but the front-wheel drive VR6 models are expected to earn around 18 miles per gallon (mpg) in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway. As the 2.0-liter engine will have late availability, no mpg information is currently available.

Family vehicles need to be packed with safety features as well as utility. Setting the Atlas apart is the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which is standard on all models. Unavailable on the base model, the following features are standard based on the trim level. A blind spot monitor is standard on the SE and above while Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning with emergency braking and pedestrian warning, and Lane Assist come with the SE w/Technology and above. Park Distance Control is only standard on the Premium.

Standard convenience features include a rearview camera, two-zone (first row and second/third row) climate control, cruise control, the MIB II infotainment system, and a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display.

Forging its way into a crowded field, the Atlas may not shake up the segment, but it will certainly carve out a niche.

Pricing for the 2018 Atlas starts at $31,425. The as-tested pricing on the 2018 Atlas SE and Premium trims at the launch came to $36,225 and $49,415, respectively.

 

Jun 162017
 

Photo Credit: Art Eugenio

AUSTIN, TXEl Rey Network will air the “Baja Desert Championship: San Felipe 250,” hosted by Baja Champion Tavo Vildosola, professional BMX rider Mike Escamilla and car artist Cherry Martini, on Sunday, June 18 at 5:30pm EST.

A Mexican professional off-road racer and entrepreneur, Vildosola will share expert knowledge and enthusiasm for all things off-road has made him an international fan favorite whether he is behind the wheel of a SCORE Trophy Truck, a TV microphone or both. With over 16 off-road racing championships, he is also the CEO of Mexicana Logistics and as worked on occasion as guest co-host for the CBS SPORTS Network’s SCORE International Off-Road Racing

Tavo Vildosola

Escamilla spent the last 25 years changing the sport of bmx and traveling all over the world. From setting Guinness world records on his bike, being a New York Times photographer, and a Hollywood stuntman, Escamilla  has crashed and exploded all over the silver screen in some of your favorite movies like Captain America Winter Solider, American Sniper, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2.

El Rey Network, a 24-hour, English-language lifestyle network targeting “Strivers,” viewers who hold strong core beliefs about the importance of family, independence, hard work, craftsmanship, and legacy and founded by maverick filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, will air the entire 2017 SCORE off road series, which will also include the historic SCORE Baja 1000 Fiftieth Anniversary race that takes place in November and covers over 1,300 miles between Ensenada and La Paz.

The legendary SCORE Baja 1000 has attracted the world’s best racers and teams to participate in what has been described as the “Top Motorsports Event” in the world. “Baja Desert Championship” is built around the races, and includes the stories of racers and teams in each division. People from all walks of life modify or build their own vehicles to join the race, including motorcycles, stock Volkswagen, production vehicles, buggies, trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The modified cars, extreme conditions, terrain and speed lead to captivating drama and suspense.

Mike Escamilla

All races in the four-race 2017 SCORE off road series, along with the special SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience and qualifying for the SCORE Baja 1000 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway will air for the first time on El Rey Network.  The spectacular shows feature not only SCORE Trophy Truck coverage, but also top action and highlights from many other classes of trucks, cars, UTVs, motorcycles and quads – making sure that the most exciting footage and most compelling stories continue as part of each race event broadcast.

Capping off the 2017 broadcast season, the SCORE Baja 1000 broadcast on El Rey Network will air as a two-hour special.

ON THE AIR

2017 El Rey Network

  • SCORE San Felipe 250
  • SCORE Baja 500
  • Rosarito Beach SCORE Desert Challenge
  • SCORE Baja 1000 Qualifying @SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience
  • SCORE Baja 1000 (two-hour special)

 

 

Jun 092017
 

Like it or not (Mr. President), the clean energy train has left the station, which means alternative fuel vehicles will continue to arrive at a dealership near you. This year Hyundai bolstered that prediction with the introduction of its all-new hybrid, the 2017 Ioniq. Latino Traffic Report recently attended the regional launch in Durham, North Carolina to drive not one, not two, but all three versions.

Rather than wait years to complete the lineup, Hyundai will build three powertrains on one dedicated platform, the Ioniq Hybrid, Electric (with a range of 124 miles), and a Plug-in Hybrid (available in 2018). All three were at the launch where they performed nicely, and like the name, a cross between “ion and unique,” the Ioniqs displayed distinctive good looks.

Ioniq Electric

I appreciated its sporty accents, like LED daytime running lights, and while the arched roofline may resemble that of other hybrids, it’s a functional necessity to maximize aerodynamics and achieve an industry-leading 0.24 coefficient of drag.

According to WardsAuto, in the United States, “Total EV sales grew to 79,915 units from 72,374 in 2015. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales, counted in a separate category, totaled 71,329 units, up 63 percent from 43,815 in 2015, and hybrid sales totaled 373,359 units in 2016, up from 341,792 in 2015.” Hyundai believes that millennials will energize the market further, increasing sales, according to Brandon Ramirez, senior group manager, product planning at Hyundai Motor America.

A recent addition to the segment, the Ioniq gets the benefit of bringing up the rear, improving on what the first hybrids started, like offering the best combined fuel economy in its class, 58 miles per gallon (mpg) with the Ioniq Blue trim (non-Blue trims should achieve 55 mpg combined). At the launch, I averaged 51 mpg with the Ioniq Hybrid Limited trim. A new 1.6-liter direct-injected Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine powers the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrids, delivering an estimated 104 horsepower and an estimated 109 lbs.–ft. of torque. On the Hybrid, it’s matched to a quick-shifting six-speed double-clutch transmission, an electric motor that delivers an estimated 43 horsepower with an estimated maximum torque of 125 lbs.–ft., and a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery (with a lifetime warranty). With an 8.9 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, the Plug-in Hybrid provides an all-electric range (before the gas-powered engine kicks in) of more than 27 miles while the Ioniq Electric offers an estimated driving range of 124 miles with a 28 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery . Mated to a single-speed reduction-gear transmission, the electric motor has a maximum output of 118 horsepower and 218 lbs.–ft. of torque. The Ioniq Electric has an EPA-estimated 136 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) rating, better than any electric vehicle sold in the U.S.

Range anxiety plus the length of time needed to charge can discourage potential buyers. The Ioniq may offer some solutions. Charging the Ioniq Electric to 80 percent should take approximately 23 minutes using an SAE Combo Level-3 DC, 100 kW fast charger. An integrated In-Cable Control Box also allows drivers to charge their Ioniq using a standard household electric socket.

Enhancing the car’s fuel efficiency and dynamic driving characteristics, the driver can select either SPORT or ECO modes. On the launch, the SPORT mode did add oomph but it was the Plug-in Hybrid and Electric models that offered noticeably smoother rides.

The Ioniq reflects a deeper commitment to green from Hyundai with its use of recycled or ecologically-sensitive materials, like interior door covers made of plastic combined with powdered wood and volcanic stone.

Innovations continue on the inside with a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster that displays all gauge functions and Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system, which is standard on the Electric model for three years. Placing the battery underneath the rear seats also adds extra passenger space on the Ioniq hybrid, an estimated 122.7 cubic feet and best-in-class cargo of 26.5 cubic feet, plus it gives the Ioniq a lower center of gravity for better road hugging. Handy features, like a rearview camera are standard, but safety technology, like a blindspot warning system, remain optional, even on the more expensive Electric model.

Looking to the future, Hyundai and the all-new Ioniq will continue to attract consumers to the green car segment. Pricing for the Hybrid and Electric (pricing for the Plug-in was not available) models should start at $23,035 and $30,335 respectively, and the Electric will be eligible for government tax credits of $7,500, according to the IRS.  

Ioniq Hybrid

 

May 302017
 

On college campuses across the country, May is moving month. For the parents of these college students, this is when a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) can earn its sticker price. While moving my niece from Bryan, TX to San Antonio to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, I had the opportunity to test the cargo-carrying ability of the redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia AWD SLT-1 for Latino Traffic Report. We took full advantage of every cubic foot of available cargo room the SUV had to offer.

As the word implies, a redesign starts on the outside and the all-new Acadia displays a more refined look with a dimensional grille, wraparound halogen headlamps, and standard LED lighting. GM invested $167 million at the Spring Hill, Tenn. assembly plant to support production of the 2017 Acadia and additional vehicles.

While SUVs aren’t known for their fuel efficiency, the new Acadia is 700 pounds lighter, which should help stretch a gallon of gasoline a little farther.

A 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder with direct injection and variable valve timing is new for 2017. It offers an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon (mpg) highway for front-wheel drive models. The test model, however, came with all-wheel drive and the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 310 horses and 271 lb.–ft. of torque and has a city/highway EPA estimated fuel efficiency of 18/25 mpg. During the weeklong loan that included a 185-mile road trip, I averaged 32.4 mpg on the highway and 17.2 in the city.

The test model also included the All Terrain package with badging throughout, an advanced Active Twin Clutch AWD system, 20-inch aluminum wheels, a cargo management system, and seating for five. While the Acadia can offer seating for seven, the All Terrain package replaces the third-row of seating with covered storage bins and a cargo management system in the rear cargo floor. For this trip, we focused on storage above the floor. The second row deployed easily to expose 79 cu. ft. of cargo space. We had room for multiple boxes and bags, but most impressive, was that the Acadia also fit a twin mattress. We didn’t need to tow but if we had, the Acadia included a Trailering Package ($650) that gives it a maximum towing capability of 4,000 pounds.

All Terrain models are also distinguished with a body-color grille surround, black chrome trim and unique wheels on the outside.

The user-friendly GMC IntelliLink system has been enhanced to include phone integration technology via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The test model also included navigation, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, OnStar, and SiriusXM Satellite radio for three months, as well as a panoramic sunroof. The shade, however, snaps back with some force so little fingers may need to beware.

Other standard convenience features on the Acadia include cruise control, keyless open and start, a rear vision camera, remote keyless entry, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Safety features will always matter, particularly on a family vehicle like the Acadia and GMC features two new standard technologies—a Rear Seat Reminder that alerts the driver to check the seat before locking the car and the Teen Driver system that allows parents to program the Acadia to allow certain features to encourage safer driving. It prevents certain safety systems from being turned off and even provides parents with a report on their teen’s driving habits.

More common safety technology, like a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, are available on the SLE-2 trim and are standard on the SLT-1 trim and above. Advanced technology like forward collision alert and the safety alert seat that vibrates to warn the driver, come with the Driver Alert Package II, standard only on SLT-2 and Denali trims.

The starting price for the 2017 GMC Acadia is $29,995. The as-tested price, that included several packages, came to $47,465.

: The Acadia offers the versatility and convenience that’s expected of an SUV.

No: Safety features, like a blind spot monitor, should be available across the lineup and not just reserved for higher trim levels.

May 232017
 

 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain 2017 Audi Q5 vehicles. Due to a manufacturing defect within the gearbox, despite selecting the Park position, the vehicle may still unexpectedly roll, if the parking brake is not applied, increasing the risk of a crash.

Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the gearbox in the affected vehicles, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2017. Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 37K6.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.