The LTR Second Annual Truck Guide

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Apr 032018
 

Nissan Titan XD Single Cab

Based in the Lone Star State, home to the top truck market in the country, the Latino Traffic Report (LTR) team appreciates a nice pickup. A voting member of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), LTR’s editor also helps choose the Truck of Texas each year—the Ford F-150 is the current winner. Each year we offer an overview of the trucks we test. Here’s the list for 2018.

GMC Canyon Denali

Denali doesn’t just refer to a mountain in Alaska. It’s also the name of GMC’s top-of-the-line trim and as such, expectations can be high.

GMC returned to the midsize truck market with the 2015 Canyon. It added a diesel engine in 2016 and the Denali trim for 2017. LTR recently tested the 2018 Canyon Denali Crew Cab.

On the outside, a unique chrome grille and 20-inch aluminum wheels distinguish the Canyon Denali. Though they were a nice idea, the standard chrome running boards were unnecessary considering that the Canyon sits lower than a half-ton. All Canyon’s include convenience features like a sidestep in the bumper and a locking tailgate.

Fancy features inside the test model included leather seating with heated and cooled front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Bose stereo system, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, the GMC Intellilink infotainment system with navigation, and an eight-inch touchscreen.

Capability on the truck came from the 2.8-liter Duramax turbo diesel engine with 181 horsepower and 369 lb.–ft. of torque, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain has a maximum tow rating of 7,700 lbs. and during the test; the 5.2-foot bed proved to be the right size to carry a lawnmower that needed repair. A 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder is the base engine and a 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed manual transmission are also available.

Few trucks can claim bragging rights for fuel economy but the Canyon’s diesel powertrain helps enhance its performance. The two-wheel-drive (2WD) model offers a segment best fuel economy of 31 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, while the four-wheel-drive (4WD) has an EPA estimated city/highway rating of 20/29 mpg. The 4WD test model achieved a city/highway average fuel economy of 21/25.5 mpg.

GM safety features included signature tech like the rear seat reminder—it chimes when the ignition’s turned off to remind the driver to check the rear seat—Onstar, and Teen Driver. But the lack of a blind spot warning system was a noticeable exclusion, particularly on a Denali.

Pricing for the 2018 Canyon starts at $22,095. The as-tested price of $48,190 included options like the engine and transmission that cost more than $4,000.

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro*

Hecho en San Antonio, Texas, the Toyota Tundra comes in more than four-dozen possible configurations. LTR tested the Tundra Limited with the TRD Pro 4×4 package built for the off-road enthusiast. For 2018, the TRD Sport Package gets new distinctive exterior design cues including a body-color surround for the honeycomb-style grille, 20-inch silver-painted aluminum alloy wheels with black accents, and the TRD Pro bedside graphic.

When it comes to functionality, the test Tundra had a towing capacity of up to 9,800 pounds and payload capacity of up to 1,560 pounds. During the weeklong test, the TRD Pro exhibited that capacity by helping out Cine Las Americas during the nonprofit’s annual film festival, and delivering a truckload of donated Dos Equis. Maximum towing and payload on the Tundra when properly equipped can reach 10,200 and 1,730 pounds, respectively.

All Tundra’s are powered by either of two V8 engines. The test model came with the 5.7-liter i-Force V8 engine, with 381 horsepower and 401 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six speed automatic transmission. It had an EPA estimated fuel rating of 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. It averaged 14.7 mpg during the weeklong test.

While most Tundras come with three cab styles and three bed sizes, the TRD Pro is available only in Double Cab and Crew Max models. LTR tested the latter matched to the shorter 5.5-foot bed.

The test drive remained on road, but the TRD Pro did demonstrate its off-road capability at last year’s TAWA Truck Rodeo. Tundra 4X4 models use the electronically controlled 4WDemand part-time 4WD system with 4×2, 4×4 Hi, and 4×4 Lo ranges.

For added climbing ability, the TRD Pro sits two-inches higher than its siblings and lacks running boards. While that enhances ground clearance, it can be hard to climb onboard, especially for the vertically challenged.

All Tundra models come standard with a backup camera, essential equipment on a truck, and Toyota Star Safety is now standard for 2018. The test model added a blind spot monitor and parking sensor as part of the Entune Premium package ($785).

Pricing for the 2018 Tundra starts at $35,395. The as-tested pricing came to $51,589.

 

RAM 1500 Lone Star

Recognizing the top position that Texas holds in national truck sales, Ram created the Lone Star package in 2002, specifically for the Texas market. Not surprisingly, it’s become the top-selling Ram model in Texas and the Ram 1500 earned the Truck of Texas title for 2013 and 2014 from TAWA.

With eleven possible models, the Lone Star sits in the middle of the lineup along with the Big Horn, so that it includes additional features beyond its distinctive badging, like dual-zone climate control, a front and rear parking sensor, a 60/40-split folding rear bench seat with underseat storage, and fold-flat load floor storage.

The test model, Ram 1500 SLT 4×2, also included welcome features like a rearview camera (standard on all 2018 Rams), and Uconnect infotainment and GPS navigation with an 8.4-inch touchscreen ($795).

Powered by the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine, with 395 horsepower and 410 lb.–ft. of torque, the Ram has an estimated EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 15/22 mpg. It achieved an average fuel economy of 20.3 mpg during the weeklong test drive. The Hemi and eight-speed transmission on the test model added around $2,000 to the price. A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 and 3.6-liter V6 are also available.

Some folks prefer an open bed on a truck, others like a lid. The test model came with the latter, specifically a three-fold tonneau cover ($595) to shield the 5.7-foot bed. It proved useful while moving my nephew to San Antonio for the summer. The load included cargo that presented a flight risk, even if strapped down, so while the tonneau may limit cargo height, it was perfect for our needs and easy to maneuver. The bed also included the innovative Ram Box Cargo Management System ($1,295).

Towing and payload capacity for the test model topped out at 10,330 and 1,700 lbs., respectively.

While leather seats may reflect a premium status, cloth seats can make more sense on a truck, plus the standard cloth seats on the Lone Star showed some attention to detail.

With a Ram redesign on the horizon for 2019, there’s still time to grab a Ram with the current look, particularly for fans of the crosshair grille.

Pricing for the 2018 Ram starts at $27,990. The as-tested pricing came to $45,760.

 

Nissan Titan XD Single Cab**

Blazing a new trail in the truck market, Nissan positioned its Titan XD (all-new for 2016) between a half-ton and super duty. It did so by giving it more capability by virtue of its 5.0-liter V8 Cummins turbo diesel engine that produces 310 horsepower and 555 lb.-ft. of torque. The move so impressed TAWA members that it named it the 2016 Truck of Texas. For 2018, a factory-authorized suspension lift kit will be offered on select models of the TITAN and TITAN XD.

The Cummins is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission but a seven-speed automatic is available on the 5.6-liter V8. The unique position the XD holds also excludes it from fuel economy ratings by the EPA but on the test drive, it averaged 14.3 mpg.

Available in three cab configurations, Single, Crew, or King, the Single is the newest and was featured on the test model, as well as an eight-foot bed, one of two available bed sizes on the Titan. Built to appeal to entrepreneurs, the Single Cab earned the TAWA 2017 Commercial Truck of Texas title in 2016. It has a payload capacity of 2,910 lbs., a maximum towing capacity of 12,640 lbs. (when properly equipped), and a super dampened tailgate that practically lifts with one finger.

The understated interior on the test model included cloth seats, a tiny display for the AM/FM/CD stereo. As a single cab, interior storage was limited but there was seat back and underseat storage in the rear.

The test model, Titan XD SV, was also equipped with 4WD, remote keyless entry with push button start, plus the SV Comfort and Convenience Package ($1,360) that added a rear view monitor and parking sensors, dual air conditioning, a blind spot warning system with rear cross traffic alert, running boards, and 20-inch alloy wheels.

All Titan XDs are covered by Nissan’s “America’s Best Truck Warranty” featuring bumper-to-bumper coverage for five-years/100,000-miles, whichever comes first.

Pricing for the 2018 Titan XD Single Cab starts at $33,335. The as-tested pricing came to $46,625.

With redesigns on the way for the Ram, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra, 2019 will be a model year for trucks. A new Truck of Texas could be in the mix.

Note: All prices include destination fees.
*Toyota recently announced separate safety recalls in the United States of approximately 8,800 Model Year 2017 Tundra and approximately 65,000 Model Year 2018 Sequoia and Tundra vehicles. For more information, go to toyota.com/recall and enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  Safety Recall inquiry by individual VIN is also available at the NHTSA site: nhtsa.gov/recalls.

**Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain 2016-2018 Nissan Titan, 2016 and 2018 Nissan Titan XD vehicles. The recall is expected to begin on June 16, 2018. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-867-7669 or NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Click here to find past recall notices posted by LTR.

SUV Review: 2017 GMC Acadia

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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.

Favorite Family Vehicles, SUVs and CUVs Offer Versatility and Value

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Oct 242016
 
2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

Sport and Crossover Utility Vehicles (SUVs and CUVs) claimed family vehicle status long ago, and sales reflect that. According to statistics published by The Wall Street Journal, while car sales dropped significantly in September, year-to-date (YTD), sales of CUVs and SUVs rose more than seven percent totaling nearly five million units. Compact or full size, these vehicles help families transport themselves and their cargo with varying ease. I test-drove several models for Latino Traffic Report this year. Here are snapshot reviews of seven of them.

Crossovers

Audi Q3 2.0T quattro Tiptronic

2015-10-20-audiq3Compact CUVs comprise one of the fastest growing segments. The smaller size may mean a sacrifice in cargo and people carrying but it’s replaced with better fuel economy and maneuverability in an urban landscape. Audi’s entry in this segment adds premium appeal, from seating to technology.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine and six-speed Tiptronic transmission should achieve 2015-10-20-audi-q3-dashan EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. I averaged 21.1 mpg.

The Audi Quattro signature all-wheel-drive (AWD) system was included on the test model, providing better grip on the road and improved handling.

All Q3s include standard heated leather front seating—on the test model, it was a delicious Chestnut Brown shade—a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, and a rearview camera. The test model added the Prestige package ($4,900) with navigation, Audi connect in-vehicle Wi-Fi, a power tailgate, and ventilated front seats.

2015-10-20-audi-q3The five-seater comes with a 60/40-split second row that folds flat automatically with the push of a button, no need to negotiate clunky levers. With the seats folded, cargo volume reaches 48.2 cubic feet (cu.ft.). Another striking touch was the interior lighting strips that changed color, from red to white to blue.

The digital instrument cluster can be configured to display different information and a seven-inch touch screen pops up from the center of the dashboard to reveal several functions, from audio to navigation. Audi’s combination of a dial and push buttons on the center stack for programming entertainment functions is a little labor intensive.

Pricing for the 2016 Q3 starts at $32,750. The as-tested pricing came to $41,975.

Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

2016-03-29-santafefrontCrossovers are by far the most popular segment, selling more than three million YTD. Like Baby Bear’s porridge, the segment is just right for families.

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers various configurations so that it can meet its owner’s particular needs. It can be configured to seat five, seven, or six passengers like the test model that had the captains chairs rather than a second row bench. It also included Hyundai’s active on-demand AWD system.

Powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission, it had an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 17/22 mpg. It also had an Eco button to enhance fuel economy further. I took full advantage of it and averaged 19.2 mpg during the week-long test drive.

2016-03-29-santafe-rearAdvanced safety features, like a blind spot monitor, tend to be included in a package or more expensive trims and the Santa Fe is no exception. It was standard on the up-level Limited that I drove. All Santa Fes include remote keyless entry, a rearview camera, a roof rack with side rails, the Driver Selectable Steering Mode, and SiriusXM activation with a three-month trial subscription.

The test model added the Ultimate Package ($4,650) with a panoramic sunroof, ventilated/cooled front seats and heated rear seats, a rear parking sensor, and a heated steering wheel.

Pricing for the 2016 Santa Fe starts at $31,295. The as-tested pricing came to $42,385.

 

Highlander Limited Platinum AWD

2016-03-14-h-lander-fr-licIf the Highlander had sliding doors, it could be a minivan. But it’s not. It’s a crossover SUV and that only increases its appeal. Regarding capability, it doesn’t pretend to have an SUV’s off-road bravado but it does offer families the versatility and convenience they’re after.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Highlander has a city/highway EPA estimated fuel economy of 18/24 mpg. I averaged 19 mpg on the test drive. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder is the base engine.2016-03-10-highl-camera

Offered in five trim levels, the Limited Platinum is the top-of-the-line model and as such, it includes a few striking features, like a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, heated and cooled leather front seats, heated second-row seats, the Driver Technology Package that includes a pre-collision system with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Entune cover art displays on the eight-inch entertainment touchscreen.2016-03-14-high-rear

Safety features carry particular clout on a family vehicle. The Highlander includes its signature Star Safety System with traction control, anti-lock braking, etc, plus a backup camera and Hill-start Assist Control. The Platinum test model also included a blind spot monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and rear parking sonar. It’s unfortunate that these features remain so exclusive.

The versatile SUV can seat up to eight or seven like the test vehicle, and the rear seats are split to fold flat for expanded cargo carrying space of 83.7 cu.ft.

Pricing for the 2016 Highlander starts at $31,390. The as-tested pricing came to $45,390.

Lexus RX 350 F Sport

2016-03-08-lex-rxsideWhen Lexus first introduced its RX premium CUV, some say the luxury CUV segment was born. Four generations later, Lexus redesigned the RX, now the RX 350, for 2016, in a big way. The new exterior adds style to what had been a fairly vanilla design.

Like its siblings, it bears the spindle grille, but the floating roof design is unique. On the inside, the attention to detail, enhanced further with the F Sport exclusive Rioja Red leather seats on the test model, an available 12.3”-display screen, a mouse control for selecting onboard functions like audio, navigation and others, set it apart.2016-03-08-lexusrxfrseats

It’s a five-seater but the seats are split 40/20/40 to fold flat for extra cargo room of 56.3 cu.ft.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the test model had an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/26 mpg. I averaged 21.8 mpg on the test drive. Drive select modes also improve performance, allowing drivers to select among Sport, Eco, and Normal settings. The F Sport added the Sport+ mode and Adaptive Variable Suspension for better handling.

2016-03-08-lex-rxrear-licStandard safety features include a Smart Access Remote key, and Lexus Enform Safety Connect, the onboard emergency alert system. As we’ve seen, more advanced safety features tend to be grouped as a package but for a mere $500 extra, a blind spot monitor was included on the test model as a stand-alone option. Nice but at this price point, it should be standard.

Pricing for the 2016 RX 350 starts at $43,995. Equipped with AWD, the as-tested pricing came to $56,775.

 

SUVs

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2016-04-05-4runner-licMidsize SUVs are far and away the most popular SUV segment, more than 700,000 had sold in September YTD according to The Wall Street Journal. The 4Runner emphasizes the sporting side of an SUV and the TRD Pro is the sportiest model of all. It easily takes to off-road challenges as well as cruising on city streets.

The test model came in a unique TRD shade for 2016, Quicksand, that many seemed to find attractive, based on the comments I received.

2016-04-05-4-runner-dash3Powered by a 4.0-liter V6 matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, the TRD has a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds. Happily, a tow hitch is included as a standard feature. Don’t expect fuel efficiency, however. I earned 17 mpg on the test drive.

Built for off-roading, the TRD offers plenty of ground clearance, assisted by its 17-inch wheels—it did make climbing in and out of it a bid challenging for the short statured like me. Off-roading equipment on the TRD included a part-time four-wheel–drive (4WD) system with Active Trac, a locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select, Crawl Control, and Hill-Start Assist. Besides the TRD badging,, the package included special shocks and stamped aluminum front skid plates.2016-04-05-4-runnerrear-lic

The 4Runner offers seating for five or seven and split second and third-row seats that fold flat for a maximum cargo capacity of 89.7 cubic feet.

Pricing for the 4Runner starts at $34,750. The as-tested price came to $42,800.

 

Dodge Durango R/T

2016-09-20-durango-fr2The Dodge Durango brings a sporty option to the large SUV segment and the R/T trim level takes that sportiness to the next level. Add to that its rear-wheel-drive configuration and the Radar Red Nappa leather seating on the test model that I drove, and the Durango R/T carries unique appeal.

Improved for 2016, the Durango achieves better fuel economy with engine stop-start technology on models with a 3.6-liter V6. Powered by the available 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that delivers 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque, the R/T zoomed through traffic and on the highway. 2016-09-20-duranago-seatsMated to an eight-speed automatic transmission it had a maximum towing capacity of 7,400 lbs. With an EPA city/highway estimated economy of 14/22 mpg for the R/T, fuel economy does suffer a bit. I averaged better than expected, however, earning 20 mpg in the city and 24.9 on the highway.

The R/T does come with a parking sensor and backup camera but more advanced safety features like a blind spot monitor and Cross Path Detection are grouped in the Customer Preferred Package ($1,995).

2016-09-20-durangorear-lic Standard creature comforts on the top-of-the-line R/T included heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, tri-zone air conditioning, and the Beats premium audio system. Additional options on the test model included a rear DVD entertainment system ($1995), second-row captains chairs and a third row of seating ($995), and a power sunroof ($1,195).

Pricing for the Durango starts at $31,490. The as-tested pricing was $49,170.

 

GMC Yukon Denali XL

2016-07-19-yukonThe Denali name stands for luxury throughout the GMC lineup. The brand’s largest offering, the Yukon XL, also stands at the top of the lineup when it comes to capability, including seating, cargo room, and maximum towing.

The trade-off will be fuel economy. Powered by a choice of two V8 engines, I drove the 6.2-liter version with 420 hp and 460 lb.–ft. of torque and matched to an eight-speed transmission. Available with 4WD and two-wheel-drive configurations, I drove the former with a maximum towing capability of 8,100 pounds when properly equipped. It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 14/20 mpg. I averaged 19.2 mpg.

2016-07-19-yukon-seats2As the top-of-the-line model, the Denali includes a healthy list of standard features, including advanced safety technology like a blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and my favorite GM innovation, the safety alert seat. It buzzes on the right or left of the seat to warn of potential danger, from lane drifting to a potential collision. The test model added more than $9,000 in additional packages and options, including GM’s signature Head-Up display ($425).

2016-07-19-yukon-rear2-licOne of the roomiest SUVs on the market, the XL stretches the wheelbase even further. It has seating for nine and both the second and third row fold flat to create 121.1 cubic inches of cargo room.

Pricing for the Yukon starts at $49,510. The as-tested pricing came to $81,045.

Family vehicles need to be tough and versatile to make the grade. This list meets that criteria, and in some cases, surpasses them.

The LTR Annual Truck Guide

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Mar 242016
 
Tundra.TRD(3).crop

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Thanks to lower gas prices, the light duty truck market has rebounded—the latest figures in the Wall Street Journal show a year-to-date increase of 9.8 percent, 4.4 percent for pickups. Last year saw many new innovations, including an all-new 5.0-liter Cummins diesel that allows the 2016 Nissan Titan XD to straddle the half-ton and heavy-duty segments in capability. Auto writers were so impressed with it that they named it the Truck of Texas for 2015.

The midsize segment also gained attention with the entry of two new models from GM and a redesigned segment leader from Toyota.

Here’s an overview of the trucks that received test drives in 2015 at Latino Traffic Report.

 

Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad

2015-11-03 tacoma5Redesigned for 2016, the Tacoma holds the top-selling position in the midsize truck segment. The new version should help keep it there.

Available with two engines, a 2.7-liter four cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6, I drove the latter during the weeklong test drive. Producing 278 horsepower and 265 lbs.–ft. of torque, the V6 also uses Variable Valve Timing with Intelligent Wider Intake for better performance. It was matched to a six-speed automatic but both engines can be matched to manual transmissions.

2015-11-03 Tacoma.storageThe TRD is an off-road model but the Tacoma redesign as a whole emphasizes its improved capability. Maximum towing has increased to 6,800 lbs.

All Tacoma 4×4 models are equipped with 4WDemand part-time four-wheel drive (4WD) with an electronically controlled transfer case and Automatic Limited Slip Differential. The TRD Pro I tested included an off-road tuned suspension equipped with Bilstein shocks. For 2017, Toyota will build a TRD Pro version of the Tacoma.

On the inside, the sport grey heated cloth seats with orange accents also offered additional storage under the back bench that lifts up. The test model arrived in the exclusive Inferno exterior color.

2015-10-31 Tacoma.DashEquipped with the Premium and Technology Package ($2,330), the test model added creature comforts like dual-zone climate control, and safety features like a blind spot monitor.

The Tacoma is built at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio.

Pricing for the 2016 Tacoma starts at $24,200. The as-tested pricing came to $37,610.

GMC Canyon 4WD SLE Long Box

2014-11-19 CanyonWith three new entries, 2015 could be called the year of the midsize truck. The 2015 GMC Canyon is the higher end or premium version to its sibling, the Chevy Colorado.

The two available engines, a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V6, also offer the segment’s best highway fuel economy of 27 miles per gallon (mpg) for the 2.5-liter two-wheel drive (2WD) and 26 mpg for 3.6-liter 2WD, when properly equipped. I averaged 20.3 mpg with the 3.6-liter 4WD.

2014-11-19 08.49.06On the inside, the Canyon has a more refined interior, distinguished by premium materials and convenience features like air conditioning, power windows and a rearview camera.

What really makes the Canyon standout, however, is OnStar with 4G LTE and the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot mobile hub, available on all but the base model.

2014-11-19 08.53.03 The beauty of pickups is their configurability and the Canyon’s no exception with three body styles—an extended cab model with a six-foot two-inch bed, a crew cab with a five-foot two-inch bed, and a crew cab with a six-foot two-inch bed. Borrowing from the Sierra, its larger sibling, the Canyon includes the segment-first CornerStep rear bumper design, plus a dampened liftgate.

It adds versatility with thirteen configurable and four stationary tie-down locations throughout the bed for use with available, removable cargo tie-down rings

2014-11-19 08.46.00The maximum payload can reach 1,620 pounds plus it has the segment’s best trailering rating of 7,000 pounds when properly equipped. For 2016, the Canyon offers a segment first 2.8-liter Duramax turbo diesel for added capability—maximum towing climbs to 7,700 lbs. properly equipped.

Pricing for the 2016 Canyon starts at $21,880. The as-tested price that included the All-Terrain Package came to $38,915.

 

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

2015-08-16 TundraTRDRedesigned in 2014, the Tundra lineup added an off-road model for 2015, the TRD Pro.

The package includes a suspension upgrade that raises the front of the vehicle two inches for a level ride height. While that may help on an off-road course, it makes climbing into the truck tough, especially for the vertically challenged. A grab handle on the driver’s side would help.

2015-08-16 TundraTRD.sideLarger diameter TRD-tuned Bilstein High-Performance shocks further amplify the ride and handling.

Available in three colors, the test model also arrived in the TRD-Pro exclusive shade of Inferno (like the Tacoma TRD Offroad) that begged for a photo against the backdrop of The University of Texas at Austin. It’s brighter than burnt orange but it’ll do.

Sitting on 18-inch TRD black alloy wheels, the TRD’s other unique exterior features include a blacked out grille, bed panel stamping, matte satin black badges, and black headlight bezels.2015-08-19 tundra-dash

The TRD Pro makes its presence known with a loud 5.7-liter V8 accentuated by a dual exhaust system and a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds when properly equipped. The other available V8 on the Tundra is the 4.6-liter i-Force.

The TRD-Pro includes the on-demand, electronically controlled four-wheel drive system to provide 4×2, 4×4 Hi and 4×4 Lo ranges.

2015-08-16 TundraTrDdecalDesigned in Michigan and California, the Tundra’s also built in the USA at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio.

Pricing for the 2016 Tundra starts at $31,145. As-tested pricing for the 2015 Tundra TRD Pro, with a couple extra features like a bed mat and center console storage tray, came to $43,159.

 

Sierra Denali 1500 4WD

2015-04-28 gmc.sierra2For GMC, Denali stands for luxury and the Sierra Denali 1500 has the stuff and price tag to prove it.

Technology like front and rear park assist, OnStar, and 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot are standard on the Sierra Denali.

2015-04-29 gmcsierradashAnother impressive standard technology, magnetic ride control, enhances ride and handling every millisecond, triggering damping changes via electronically controlled shock absorbers.

Convenience features like heated and cooled leather front seats, a heated steering wheel, Bose stereo, an eight-inch-diagonal Customizable Driver Display, and a factory-installed spray-on bed liner add to its premium status.

2015-04-28 17.59.21Design cues on the outside also distinguish the Denali. A unique chrome grille, 20-inch wheels, a polished stainless steel exhaust outlet, projector-style headlamps with LED signature daytime running lights, and body-color front and rear bumpers accentuate the exterior.

With two available V8 engines, a 5.3- and a 6.2-liter, the test model included the latter matched to the eight-speed automatic transmission, new for 2015.

2015-04-28 gmcsierrabedIt should achieve an EPA estimated combined fuel economy of 17 mpg. I managed to get 18.5 mpg. The base model Sierra comes equipped with a 4.3-liter V6 matched to a six-speed transmission.

The Denali may be luxurious but it maintains its capability with a 12,000 maximum tow rating.

Pricing for the 2016 Sierra Denali starts at $52,285. The as-tested price came to $57,820.

 

Chevrolet Silverado High Country 4WD

2015-03-11 chevy.hc.frontIn 2014, Chevrolet introduced a new luxury model to the Silverado lineup, the High Country.

2015-03-11 chevyhcseats1Standard features on Chevrolet’s first premium truck include halogen projector headlamps, along with chrome body side moldings, door handles and mirrors, a chrome grille and 20-inch chrome wheels.

For premium trucks, however, the inside is where you really feel it. The High County includes plush saddle brown leather seats with beige piping and heated and cooled perforated premium leather front bucket seats with High Country logos on the headrests.

Standard technology completes the effect with Chevrolet MyLink connectivity on an eight-inch touch screen, Bose premium audio, and front and rear park assist, an essential feature on a truck.

2015-03-11 09.Chevy.h.count.All High Countries come in a four-door or Crew Cab configuration and 4WD or 2WD, and there is a choice between two bed sizes, five feet eight inches or six feet six inches.

Powered by a choice of two V8s, a 5.3- and 6.2-liter, its capability includes a maximum payload of 2,060 pounds and a 12,000-lb. trailering capacity. I drove the powerful 6.2-liter V8 matched to an eight-speed transmission and averaged 17.5 mpg.

Pricing for the 2016 Silverado High Country starts at $50,935. The as-tested price that included options like a rear-seat entertainment system, sunroof, and Premium package with the Safety Alert Seat came to $59.035.

 

GM Recalls Certain Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, and GMC Models

 Recalls  Comments Off on GM Recalls Certain Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, and GMC Models
Oct 172015
 
2015 Camaro

2015 Camaro

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2015 Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Malibu, and GMC Terrain vehicles. The affected vehicles have front seat-mounted side impact air bags whose inflator may rupture upon its deployment.

2015 Cadillac XTS

2015 Cadillac XTS

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of one or both of the side impact air bags, the air bag’s inflator may rupture and the air bag may not properly inflate. The rupture could cause metal fragments to strike the vehicle occupants, potentially resulting in serious injury or death. Additionally, if the air bag does not properly inflate, the driver or passenger is at an increased risk of injury.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the side impact air bag modules, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 19, 2015. Owners may contact

 

2015 Buick LaCrosse

2015 Buick LaCrosse

Buick customer service at 1-800-521-7300, Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020, Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006, or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM’s number for this recall is 01320.

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.

GM Recalls 2.42 Million Vehicles in Four U.S. Recalls

 Recalls  Comments Off on GM Recalls 2.42 Million Vehicles in Four U.S. Recalls
May 182015
 
2008 Pontiac G6 GT Sedan

2008 Pontiac G6 GT Sedan

DETROIT – In a continuing effort to quickly address emerging safety issues, General Motors announced today it is recalling about 2.42 million vehicles in four separate U.S. recalls. The recalls are for:

  • 1,339,355 Buick Enclave,
    2015 Buick Enclave

    2015 Buick Enclave

    Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia medium crossovers from the 2009-2014 model years and Saturn Outlooks from 2009-2010 because front safety lap belt cables can fatigue and separate over time. In a crash, a separated cable could increase the risk of injury to front seat passengers.

 

  • 1,074,932 of the previous generation 4-speed automatic transmission
    gm.malibu

    2008 Chevy Malibu

    Chevrolet Malibu from the 2004-2008 model years and Pontiac G6 from the 2005-2008 model years because of a shift cable that could wear out over time, resulting in mismatches of the gear position indicated by the shift lever.

 

 

  • 1,402 Cadillac Escalades and Escalade ESVs
    2015 Cadillac Escalade

    2015 Cadillac Escalade

    from the 2015 model year because an insufficiently heated plastic weld that attaches the passenger side air bag to the instrument panel assembly could result in a partial deployment of the air bag in the event of a crash.

 

  • 2015 GMC Sierra 2500

    2015 GMC Sierra 2500

    58 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD full-size pickups from the 2015 model year because retention clips attaching the generator fuse block to the vehicle body can become loose and lead to a potential fire.

There have been no fatalities associated with these recalls.

GM has added 35 product investigators since the beginning of 2014, and, including those announced today, has initiated 29 safety and non-compliance recalls in the U.S. so far this year. Two of the recalls involve fewer than 100 vehicles.

In the full-size crossover recall, the flexible steel cable that connects the safety belt to the vehicle at the outside of the front outboard seating positions can fatigue and separate over time as a result of occupant movement into the seat. GM has told dealers they cannot sell new or used models of the vehicles until repairs are made.

The previous generation Malibu, Malibu Maxx and Pontiac G6 were added to an April 29 recall for certain 4-speed transmission Aura models from the 2007-2008 model year. The Malibu and G6 vehicles equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission have a condition in which the transmission shift cable may fracture. When the fracture occurs, the driver may not be able to select a different gear, remove the key from the ignition or place the transmission in park.

GM is aware of 18 crashes and one injury among the 4-speed Malibu and G6 population. Dealers will replace the shift cable and attachment bracket at no charge to the customer.

GM stopped sale of the 2015 Escalade and Escalade ESV and sent overnight letters, called and emailed the 224 customers who had taken delivery of the vehicles and instructed them to not let occupants sit in the front passenger seat until the vehicle has been serviced. GM knows of no crashes or injuries associated with the Escalades.

The passenger airbag module is attached to a chute adhered to the backside of the instrument panel with an infrared weld that was not sufficiently heated. The issue has been corrected at the supplier and Escalade production is under way at the Arlington, Texas, Assembly Plant.

In the heavy-duty truck recall, certain 2015 model year Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD model vehicles equipped with a 220 Amp Generator have a condition where the retention clips that attach a fuse block to the vehicle body can become loose, allowing the fuse block to move out of position and lead to a potential fire. No crashes or injuries are known to be associated with the trucks.

GM expects to take a charge of up to approximately $400 million in the second quarter, primarily for the cost of recall-related repairs announced in the quarter. This amount includes a previously disclosed $200 million charge for the five recalls announced May 15.