Jay Leno Gets Up Close With New Corvette Z06

King of comedy and legendary car collector Jay Leno gets up close and personal with this review of the new 2015 Corvette Z06 convertible.  After watching this video it sure makes me want to head down to my local GM dealer and put my order in. The whole clip is worth watching but make sure you check out the 20:35 mark when the Popo makes an appearance…..

2014 Chevrolet Volt

Having  reviewed the 2012 Chevrolet Volt back in the summer of 2012 we were curious to see how it compared to the new 2014 model. Upon first glance the two models are very similar in look and feel but after driving the 2014 version for a week it does seem more stately overall.

Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt

Throughout both experiences I really enjoyed driving the Volt and most of all it is just so fun and convenient not have to go to a gas station.  Unlike pure battery electric cars like the Nissan Leaf or even the Tesla Model S, the Volt plug-in hybrid can be driven straight across the country if you desire, while only having to fill up the gas tank every 500 km or so.  Behind the wheel, the driving mechanics of the Volt are top-notch with ample torque through acceleration and a low center of gravity which provides a sporty “eco” feel.  As well, for a small sedan it feels sturdy and carries a genuine confidence even on our snow-covered winter roads.

During the test week, I drove back and forth to work for five days while plugging it in a few times in my garage. The cost for the overnight charge is approx $2-3 according to most industry sources so it’s not exactly going to put your utility bill through the roof. In addition, the number of public charging stations is only going to rise as there are now ~ 200 stations in Ontario with more coming all the time. For full details on  these public charging station locations see the following map.

Having a short commute of only 20 kms round trip makes the Volt a perfect vehicle for the city dweller like me. However, one thing I did notice was the electric range was slightly effected in the cold December temperatures which is to be expected with electric power. The Volt’s gas engine actually turns on initially when the car is started in below zero degree temperatures (Celsius) to assist with heating of the engine.  However, in spite of this, the fuel use was negligible as after the week the fuel gauge had not moved.

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt interior

The news just keeps getting better for the plug-in 2014 Chevrolet Volt which now costs $3,000 less than it did initially since Chevy Canada cut the price from $41,545 to $38,595. However, along with the healthy $3,000 drop, there is also the combined purchase incentives available in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia that increase the Volt’s value. For example, here in Ontario, the current incentive value is $8,231 (CAD) resulting in the Volt’s starting price being reduced to $30,364 (CAD).  At this price, it’s surprising GM is not selling more Volts as it really is a practical car for a variety of consumer audiences.

Something else consumers should be aware of is the fact that the government of Ontario also offers up to $1000 towards the purchase and installation of a level 2 home charger as well as the green licence plate which provides access to the HOV lane network even with only one occupant up until June 30th, 2015.
Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

Many people are not aware of the Volt’s overall practicality as a four-door, four-seat hatchback with tons of storage space.  Having packed the Volt with our Christmas gifts along with ski and snowboard equipment, I can honestly say it has almost as much room as our 2008 Ford Escape.  With the rear seats folded down it is quite cavernous in the back compartment.  The only real drawback as a result of its electric power is the loss of the middle rear seat which is taken up by the multiple batteries.

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

The Volt’s interior is very luxurious and includes the typical bells and whistles we have come to expect from a car priced in its range including; electronic stability control, seven-speaker Bose® audio system with subwoofer, 7 inch touch screen display with Turn-by-Turn Navigation, SiriusXM®4 Satellite Radio and the very cool Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users.

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

Having reviewed two different models years, I can say with honesty that the Chevrolet Volt is a great all around car with tons of functionality for almost all drivers.  It’s certainly worth looking at closely if you are in the market for a four door sedan. One additional deciding factor about the Volt vs. an efficient gas-powered vehicle is the lower expected maintenance of electric vehicles as a result of them having less moving parts. This theory will be tested by the industry over the next few years as more plug-in electrics hit the market but most experts agree costs maintenance costs should be lower. As well, GM Canada is offering a 160,000 KM or 8 year warranty on the battery which provides owners with piece of mind.

Currently, there are several key competitors for the Volt including the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Motors’ i-MiEV which are both full battery electric vehicles. The Ford Focus EV and the plug-in version of the Toyota Prius also provide more competition on the plug-in side while the new BMW i3 is expected to be available in Canada by mid 2014 although it is priced slightly higher than the Volt.

2014 Silverado Z71 1500 Review


Pickup trucks as a market segment are among the best selling vehicles in Canada.  The case for trucks in a rural area, or from a work perspective are crystal clear.  However, what about those drivers looking for the best of both worlds such as, hauling lumber, gravel or plants for landscaping and home reno projects while still having the finesse and utility as an everyday vehicle for the family without breaking the bank?

Well, the 2014 Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LT Crew comes close to bridging this possibility of balancing these many needs.

RedlineNorth recently had a chance to test drive the 2014 Silverado 1500 with crew cab and Z71 off-road package.  The base price for the Silverado 1500 with crew cab is $30,995 while the Z71 package with 4WD on the LT model brings it to $41,855 and provides additional features such as auto locking rear differential and Rancho brand shocks.  Our test vehicle also included the special edition package and some additional extras which brought the sticker price to $48,835 CAD. A description of our Silverado’s key features include:

  • 6 speed automatic transmission with powertrain grade braking and tow/haul mode
  • Battery run down protection
  • Autotrac transfer case
  • Stabilitrak electronic stability control
  • Electronic immobilizer
  • Power heated outside mirrors
  • MYLINK audio with voice activated technology for radio and phone
  • Tire pressure monitor
  • ‘Stadium Style’ rear split folding bench seat
  • 3 year 60,000 KM new vehicle limited warranty
  • 5 year 160,000 KM powertrain component warranty
  • 5 year 160,000 KM roadside assistance with courtesy transportation

The additional features included in the Z71 Off-Road package are:

  • Auto locking RR differential
  • Rancho brand shocks
  • Underbody shield for transfer case protection
  • Front fog lamps
  • Hill descent control
  • Trailering package

The Special Edition package also brings:

  • 10-way power driver seat
  • Remote vehicle start
  • ECOTEC3 5.3L Direct Injection V8 with active fuel management and variable value timing
  • Rear vision camera
  • MYLINK 8″ inch touch screen
  • 110V AC power outlet
  • Rear window defogger
  • P265/65R-18 All Terrain Tires
The special edition package includes 18 inch wheels

Our test vehicle had P265/65R All Terrain Tires

The Silverado with the crew cab comes with two box options, the newly available 6-foot 6-inch cargo box and the 5-foot, 8-inch box.  Opting for the 6-foot 6 inch box does bring the Silverado within a sliver of 20 feet long, however, the extra interior room in our opinion makes up to it. For those urban cowboys with families this means the ability to install three car seats with ease. Even rear facing seats that notoriously require additional space fit well in the back of the cab. The additional length, does make it a bit of a challenge to find suitable spaces in parking lots however, for many the trade off is likely worth it.


Rear seating – space in the extended crew cab was plentiful

The crew cab with extended box brings the Silverado just a sliver below 20 feet long

The crew cab with extended box brings the Silverado just a sliver below 20 feet long

As mentioned, the Silverado 1500 comes available with many luxury features that rival sedans, such as rear back up camera, 8″ touch screen with satellite radio, heated seats, and a 12V and 120V accessory charging plugs along with three USB ports. This pickup truck is for more than just hauling lumber and tools from the job site. Additional stand out features of the 2014 Silverado include the supportive drivers seat, advertised as having all day comfort and we would have to agree; dynamic suspension that provides just enough rigidity when needed and flexibility when not, along with an expansive interior with inlaid triple-sealed doors, and a more aerodynamic windshield that acts to provide a very quiet cabin.


USB, 12V and 120V charging ports are a nice touch.

The ECOTEC3 engine in the 2014 Silverado automatically switches from V8 mode to V4 mode when less power is needed during the driving cycle.   The transition is seamless and the only way the driver can tell this is happening is by looking for the V8 or V4 symbol on the display.  This technology translates into a rated fuel consumption of 13.3 liters City and 9.0 litres Highway with an estimated annual fuel cost of $2,941.  During our week with the truck, this was very close to what we experienced and we are pleased to see this innovative fuel technology being incorporated into the Silverado.


Fuel efficiency is aided by the active fuel management system

The 2014 model year also provides some aggressive styling cues with its chrome front and side accents along with the dome hood. Sight lines in the cab are better than expected, although the rear camera is a needed accessory in our opinion. The CornerStep bumper and pocket hand grips in the tailgate are also a nice cosmetic and functional touch.


Interior storage space is more than plentiful for both front and rear passengers and driver. The 8 inch LCD screen offers plenty of screen space and uses GM’s MYLINK platform. While we are not always a huge fan of current in car infotainment systems, MYLINK does a reasonable job of providing required information and functionality with minimal hassle.

The transmission in the Silverado was a little bit awkward at lower speeds, especially when shifting from first to second. When entering the highway you did have to hammer the acceleration to get all 355lbs of HP and 383 of torque to engage close to the redline, but when they did it was obvious there was plenty of power under the hood.

The cabin was spacious and the 'all-day comfort' seats live up to their name

The cabin was spacious and the ‘all-day comfort’ seats live up to their name

Towing capacity of our test vehicle with the Max Tow package was a massive 5216 kg (11,500 lb) providing the ability to tow a large boat, or RV trailer. Upgrading to the EcoTec3 6.2L V8 available this fall increases that capacity to a monstrous 5443 kg (12,000 lb.)

Key competitors to the Silverado are the GMC Sierra 1500, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan, Ford F-150 / F-150 SVT Raptor and the Toyota Tundra.  Even among this stiff competition the 2014 Silverado 1500 is worth serious consideration, and with the Z71 off-road and the special edition packages, the Silverado 1500 is hard to beat at its $48,835 CAD sticker price.

The Siverado 1500 Z71 is a powerhouse both both at the job site and at the shopping mall

The Siverado 1500 Z71 is a powerhouse and it works well both at the job site and the shopping mall

2013 Chevrolet Trax

Sold in over 140 markets around the world, the 2013 Chevrolet Trax is a smaller sized, five seat CUV/SUV. Powered by a 1.4L turbocharged engine paired to a FWD drivetrain or intelligent AWD system the Trax is well suited for both city and country terrain. Our tester came with the AWD system, an absolutely fantastic feature to have during the biggest snowstorm of the season here in Southern Ontario.

  front shot

The Trax provides drivers with a unique combination of nimble, smaller sized CUV designed for the urban reality along with a hearty, adventurous core for when the going gets tough. During our test week, its smallish size made life easy for parking in various tight spots throughout the city.

The 1.4L turbocharged engine was quite peppy in both city and highway situations and provided a stellar level of overall power.

Fuel Economy

A very good fuel miser, our AWD Trax tester model delivered fuel economy numbers of 8.6 L/100 kms (27 mpg) in a combined highway and city environment.GM Canada’s fuel ratings are based on FWD model at 7.8 L/100 km city and 5.7 L/100 km highway ratings*.

One key interior feature making the Trax come to life was its premium Bose stereo with amplifier, a must have with SiriusXM Satellite Radio™.  Having recently reviewed several other comparable vehicles, the stereo was quite exceptional for its overall price range.

Back seat

Interior Space

The Trax provides a generous amount of interior and storage space as a result of its flexible design and roomy seats. With its 60/40 flip-and-fold rear seat and fold-flat front passenger seat the Trax is totally up for any challenge from drivers who travel with lots of gear. With the rear seats upright, cargo space is 530 litres and with the rear seats folded down it provides a spacious 1,371 L  of cargo space*.  Along with ample cargo space, the Trax provides a varied range of storage including; several cup holders, door and seat pockets and several hidden compartments.

*Based on GM Canada’s vehicle information

storage space

Our 2013 Chevrolet Trax review vehicle came in the 2LT trim package which includes the following features:

  • 1.4L turbocharged ECOTEC® I-4 with VVT
  • Horsepower – 138 @ 4900 rpm
  • Torque – 148 lb.-ft. @ 1850 rpm
  • 6-speed automatic with tap up/down shift control
  • 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • StabiliTrak® – electronic stability control system
  • Cloth/Leatherette Seat Trim
  • Wheels: 16″ x 6.5″ aluminum
  • 10 airbags
  • Air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors and cruise control
  • Power sliding glass panel sunroof
  • Premium audio Bose® 7-speaker system with amplifier and SiriusXM Satellite Radio™
  • Rear vision camera
  • Chevrolet MyLink  TouchTM –  with 178mm (7-in.) colour touch-screen display, picture and movie viewer, AM/FM stereo with seek-and-scan and digital clock, includes auxiliary audio input jack and Stitcher SmartRadio™ compatibility
  • $25,500 MSRP* CAD from GM Canada’s website as of February 17, 2013

One thing we did dislike which was similar to some other GM models we have recently reviewed is the fact there was no armrest for the front passenger which is a real bummer on a long road trip.

Another interesting point for Canadians is the fact that the Trax is it is not sold in the United States. Apparently GM’s decision is based on American buyers tending to prefer larger vehicles and the availability in the US of the similar sized Buick Encore model.

Back shot


The key competitors to the Chevrolet Trax in the smaller CUV/SUV segment are the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke and Suzuki SX-4. All of these competitors offer similar trim levels and sticker prices resulting in the segment being ultra competitive.  Time will tell who comes out as the sales champ but the good news for GM now is its latest Chevrolet product can hold its own among the competition. The Chevrolet Trax is a solid vehicle providing great overall value and should be on all new car buyers’ lists looking in this segment.

2012 Chevrolet Volt Review

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle which has been offered by General Motors since 2010. It is the first full production modern electric vehicle (EV) GM has developed and builds on their experience from earlier electric vehicle pilots, such as the EV1 in the mid-1990s. As the description of the vehicle implies, drivers can plug-in their vehicle to the electricity grid to recharge the battery which enables them to drive entirely on electricity. Does this game changing technology live up to all the hype? And how does it compare to conventional gasoline powered vehicles? Read on to find out.

2012 Chevy Volt

The Numbers:

The MSRP for the 2012 Chevy Volt is $41,545 (CAD) and it is eligible for government incentives in a number of jurisdictions. In Canada, the province of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia all offer purchase incentives.  In Ontario, the incentive value is $8,231 (CAD) resulting in the starting price of the Volt being reduced to $33,314 (CAD).

So what does the post incentive price of the low $30k get you? More than you may think.

The Volt is powered by a dual 111 KW electric motor producing 149 hp along with a 1.4 liter, four cylinder, gasoline engine producing 85 hp. While the Volt’s acceleration won’t win you any races at the track, it is still quite impressive. When entering the freeway you only have to nudge the accelerator to get you up to cruising speed.

Officially, the Volt’s acceleration time is 9.2 seconds running on electric-only mode, and 9.0 seconds with the gasoline engine assisting propulsion and overall top speed is 160 km/h (100 mph).

2012 Volt: Charging Port

The all important stat for electric vehicles is the range. The Volt’s range is approximately 40-80 kms (24 to 50 miles) on the electric battery and over 500 kms (310 miles) using the gasoline ‘range extender’ engine. It should be noted factors such as driver behaviour, ambient temperature, road conditions, terrain, etc… can all have an impact on the total distance that can be driven in electric only mode. This is common to all electric vehicles.In total, Volt drivers get up to 580 kms (360 miles) of range from both the battery and gasoline engine combined as it has a 35 liter (9.25 gallon) gas tank. This combination is the real differentiator for both daily commute driving and those all important road trips.

The Driving Experience:

Although the Volt is a compact car it provides users with a lot of pep. This was in fact evident since the RedlineNorth Team was impressed with the power behind the wheel off the line, largely thanks to the large amount of torque the electric motor provides.

2012 Volt: Eligible for a green licence plate providing access to High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in Ontario, Canada

While braking does feel different in an electric vehicle largely due to the regenerative braking technology, overall the brakes felt as responsive as traditional brakes. And after a few days driving the Volt, the unique characteristics of the regenerative braking became so familiar we were not aware of the difference.

Cut away of the Chevy Volt showing the location of the lithium batteries

As a result of the batteries being located along the bottom of the vehicle (see picture above) the Volt has a low center of gravity and really hugs the road when cornering. Once the electric battery has been depleted the car automatically shifts into ‘range extender’ mode utilizing the gasoline engine. This switch is seamless for the driver and there is only a slight hint of engine sounds once it kicks in, much less overall noise than in a conventional combustion vehicle.


2012 Volt: Rear two person seating

The Volt seats four, as the back middle seat is taken up with the 16 kWh battery. Our Volt tester came with all the available interior features including a premium trim package consisting of leather wrapped steering wheel, heated driver & passenger seats all in a supple black leather. During the test period, we used the Volt around the city for transporting the whole family, including an infant. The installation of the car seat was easy thanks to the UAS and the lack of a middle seat didn’t provide much inconvenience. There was also sufficient trunk space for all the extra ‘stuff’ that comes with transporting young children. However, families with two young kids going on an extended trip may find storage space limited. Similarly, rear leg room is somewhat limited, but legroom and trunk space are largely on par with other compact class vehicles.

2012 Volt: Location of the Level 1 charger in the trunk along with tire repair kit

The location of the Level 1 (120V) charger under the trunk floor, where a spare tire is typically kept (the vehicle comes with a tire repair kit and air compressor) could be a bit inconvenient on multi-day trips. Since the current design requires you to unload the trunk in order to lift up the trunk floor to access the charger. Having a split trunk floor lid requiring only one side to be free of trunk contents in order to access the charger would likely be a better design.

The infotainment system in the Volt is fairly standard for its class and includes; a 6 speaker system with SiriusXM satellite radio, standard Bluetooth hands free phone and audio connectivity, remote starter, OnStar®, USB ports and an Android and iOS compatible app (OnStar® Remote Link) that provides key vehicle information, including current state of charge.

Optional equipment in the test vehicle included a rear vision camera and parking assist. The parking assist uses ultrasonic frequencies to let you know while backing up when you are nearing an object. A warning symbol also appears in rear view monitor showing what side of the vehicle the object is located, a really nice feature for the urbanite. However, while the rear camera option is a positive feature from a safety perspective, when parking in tight spots, such as a downtown parking garage, the warning beeps can become  distracting and at times we were wanting a mute button. Nevertheless, this is only a minor nuisance and did not significantly detract from the overall driving experience.

2012 Volt: Dashboard display providing battery, total range and fuel efficiency information. Note the fuel efficiency calculation of 1.1l/100km

For those so inclined, pressing a button on the dash provides a wealth of information on your driving characteristics. There is real time feedback on your driving style in the form of a round green ground ball in the instrument panel that will shift upwards if you are draining energy and stay stable or move downwards if you are recovering energy, through the brakes for example. It can be quite addictive to try and drive in such a manner as to keep the ball steady or move downwards.

Charging (Time and Cost):

The Volt comes with a Level 1 (120 V) charger standard with the vehicle. Plugging the vehicle into to a standard wall socket will charge the 16 kWh battery in approximately 10-12 hours. Volt owners also have the option of upgrading to a Level 2 (240V) charger (think the type of plug your clothes dryer uses) which drops the recharge time down to approximately 4 hours. It should be noted the times are for a completely depleted battery to 100% charge. If you are simply topping up the battery at night charge times would be less. As mentioned previously a fully charged battery will allow you to drive approximately 40 to 80 kilometers. Enough for the average urban commuter to get to work and back, plus perform a few extra side trips along the way.

The cost of recharging the battery will vary based on the electricity prices in the region, but in Ontario, Canada they will range from $1 to $2 depending on the time of day and state of battery charge. The vehicle allows owners to delay their charging to take advantage of time of use billing differences (in jurisdictions that have it). In other words, if an electricity provider reduces their rates starting at 8 pm Volt owners can program their vehicle to start charging after 8 pm despite plugging it in earlier.


2012 Volt: Sporty Styling

The Volt’s appearance has an understated sportiness to it and the RedlineNorth Team remains partial to the look of the Volt tester in black. Overall, the style of the Volt has a modern look and feel with extremely clean lines and a square back end. The interior trim in the test vehicle was a glossy white plastic and initially it looked attractive, but after a while you felt like you’re riding around in a giant iPod and that look may not be for everyone.

2012 Volt: Front dashboard


Over the course of the week the RedlineNorth Team test vehicle was recharged three times and used approximately $9 in gasoline (the Volt requires premium gasoline). Total estimated cost for the week based on $1.45/litre ($5.50/gallon) of premium gasoline and 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity was just under $13.

A number of people have commented that the pay back period on gasoline savings alone on EVs is prohibitively long. Based on gasoline prices only that may be the case depending on the scenario, however, other factors such as reduced maintenance costs, along with non-monetary considerations such as the quiet ride, high low end torque, convenience of filling up at home and peace of mind around reducing your tailpipe emissions all contribute to the attractiveness of the vehicle. Focusing solely on the potential savings from fuel fill ups is a single dimensional argument that misses the point. Consumers that are buying the Volt are buying the total package and its an attractive package at that.

Electric vehicles such as the Volt are remarkable in that they are unremarkable. They feel like you are driving any other similar gasoline or diesel fueled vehicle. The Volt doesn’t feel like you have sacrificed any performance or features for its class in order to be able to drive around town on electrons. Once you get over the type of ‘fuel’ that is powering the vehicle whether it’s diesel, gasoline or electricity you sit back and enjoy the ride.

With GM already selling more than 22,000 Volts to date globally we look forward to seeing more of the Chevy Volts on our roads. So keep your eye out for this innovative, high tech piece of auto machinery as the new 2013 Chevrolet Volt will be arriving in select GM showrooms soon.


Currently in Canada, the main electric vehicle competitors to the Chevrolet Volt are the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Motors’ i-MiEV which are both full battery electric vehicles. The upcoming Ford Focus EV and the plug-in version of the Toyota Prius will also provide the Volt with additional competition later on this year.

Chevrolet Camaro to debut in NASCAR in 2013

Last week, Chevrolet announced they will have a new entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year as the Camaro will make its series debut in February 2013 at the Daytona International Speedway.

Leading its segment in US sales in both 2010 and 2011 and currently in 2012, the Camaro will continue the proud heritage of Chevrolet performance vehicles in one of America’s most prestigious racing series.  Chevrolet has more wins, more manufacturers’ championships and more driver’s championships than any other manufacturer competing in the Nationwide Series.

The Camaro race car model incorporates a strong front grill, halo light rings and a bulging hood taking its style cues from the mean street car it is today. We look forward to seeing it in action next year.  For more information, check out the full press release.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Review

Earlier this month, we accepted GM Canada’s offer to provide us with a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ test vehicle to do a one week evaluation. In doing the review we drove the Chevy Sonic in both urban and rural environments to experience first hand what GM’s newest subcompact product is all about.  And I have to say, it did not disappoint and exceeded our expectations overall of what a subcompact car should be.  From its unique and distinctive styling, well appointed interior, powerful turbo engine, fun, six speed manual transmission and eco-friendly footprint it really is a solid car able to compete with the best cars in its class.

Our tester was a top of the line 5 door LTZ model which comes with all the bells and whistles including:

  • 1.4L Turbocharged ECOTEC four cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 2500 RPM
  • 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive
  • Air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB port and auxiliary audio input jack, and Bluetooth: hands free phone and audio connectivity.
  • 17 inch painted aluminum wheels
  • Trunk/storage space – 19 cubic feet with rear seats up and 30.7 cubic feet with rear seats folded down – based on GM Canada’s vehicle information
  • $20,495 MSRP based on GM Canada’s website as of May 27, 2012

Some key facts about the Chevy Sonic:

  • Currently built in GM’s Lake Orion, Michigan plant, the Sonic is the only Subcompact car sold in North America manufactured within the United States.
  • This is really great news for us in North America as it signals more good things to come from GM in the way of innovative and high quality products.

With its modern, machined metal look and driver focused feel the Sonic’s interior has the appearance of a much more expensive automobile inside.  

We found the Sonic’s driver and passenger visibility to be very good overall which is reassuring since there has been some recent criticism about driver visibility within the subcompact vehicle segment.

And with a highway fuel consumption rating of 5.1 L/100 KM as based on GM Canada’s manufacturer information the Sonic is very fuel efficient even for its class.  An effective eco-feature with the six speed manual transmission is a notification on the dash of when to shift to a higher gear in order to save fuel.  While it’s hard to say if this feature will really change anyone’s driving behaviour, it is very cool to know what the optimal shift times are.

The nimble Sonic is a blast to drive. When accelerating off the line it felt solid, ready to give you more. The engine is very responsive as is both steering and braking.  The ride is elegantly quiet and smooth.  Literally, the only complaint over the week was the fact that there was not an armrest on the passenger seat, or a high enough centre console for the passenger to rest an arm – not exactly a big deal in the whole scheme of things.

Competitors to the Sonic in this subcompact class include the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa and the Mazda 2.

Our overall rating for the Chevrolet Sonic is a 4.5 out of 5. With this type of stellar performance, it should be at the top of your list if you are in the market for a new sporty subcompact.

2012 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – Super Car Killer

The days of Chevrolet Corvettes being the vehicle your grandfather would drive to a cruise night are long gone with the rise in power and speed of the new models.  According to the GM website, the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is the fastest, most powerful car GM has ever produced. It was also the overall winner of the 2010 Car and Driver Lightning Lap competition, which pitted the ZR1 against the fastest cars in the world.

Specs are as follows:

  • Handcrafted LS9 supercharged V8
  • 638 horsepower
  • 604 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Test track top speed of 205 mph
  • 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds
  • 103-foot stopping distance at 60 mph

With more horsepower than an Enzo Ferrari and about 1/5 of the price it really is the ultimate bang for your buck sports car. See it in action as it hits the Nürburgring.

Built and assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with the engine being created at GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, the ZR1 really is America’s most powerful sports car.

I personally love this ad  – bring on the Americana!!

GM has high hopes for 2013 Impala

GM’s Chevrolet brand is trying to resuscitate sales of big sedans with a sleek, new version of the Impala.The family hauler is the last model in Chevy’s lineup to be revamped. When it hits showrooms early next year, it will replace an Impala that was last updated in 2005.

Chevrolet thought about changing the Impala’s name, but decided it had significant recognition after 50 years on the market and more than 16 million in sales.

The 10th generation Impala gets much of its design from other Chevrolets. Its body slopes from back to front. It has high doors, low-profile side windows and large wheels. The company says the car is quiet. It has sound-deadening insulation and laminated glass in the windshield and windows. The roomy interior has upgraded materials.

UNDER THE HOOD: Buyers can choose from three engines, all mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder will produce 195 horsepower, while a 3.6-liter V-6 will have 303 horses. There’s also a 2.4-liter four with GM’s eAssist system that halts the engine anytime the car stops and uses a small electric motor to help the gas engine get better mileage. All three have direct fuel injection in which the air and fuel are mixed in the cylinder surrounding the piston. That’s more efficient than older engines that mix outside the cylinder.

INSIDE: It seats five and has a spacious rear seat and lots of legroom. It has 10 air bags and numerous safety options such as radar-guided cruise control that brakes the car if the driver gets too close to another vehicle.

FUEL ECONOMY: GM says the model with eAssist will get about 32 mpg on the highway. Mileage testing on the other two engines hasn’t been finished, the company says.

PRICE: Chevrolet won’t release it yet, but it’s bound to be more than the current model, which starts at just under $28,000 CAD.

Check out Consumer Reports review from this week’s New York Auto show.