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 Cadillac XTS Platinum Vsport AWD

Having recently reviewed several Cadillac models including the SRX, ATS and now the XTS we can honestly say they are all a treat to drive.  Over the last few years, GM’s top brand has truly undergone a renaissance as a result of GM’s heightened attention to detail, design and performance.  Seriously, as car enthusiasts what’s not to love when the car looks good, luxurious and fast?

Cadillac XTS Vsport

2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

Designed to replace both the Cadillac STS and DTS, the XTS is slightly smaller than the DTS but larger than the STS. Production began in May 2012 at the Oshawa, Canada assembly plant and the model was officially launched in June 2012. The XTS is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.   Here in Canada, it’s very exciting that this beauty is made in our own backyard for the North American market.  In February 2013, GM began manufacturing the XTS in Shanghai, China for their domestic market.

Our XTS tester came in the top of the line AWD Platinum Vsport trim which includes GM’s new twin-turbo version of the 3.6L V6.  The new engine develops a whopping 410 horsepower and 369 lb ft. of torque.  All this power translates into a “pin you into the seats performance” but with the panache and demure of a 2014 luxury model. The six-speed automatic uses the same gear ratios as in the naturally aspirated XTS but with a shorter final-drive ratio resulting in a lively acceleration band. It’s so powerful I’m confident the XTS could go head-to-head with many of today’s twin-turbo V8’s offered by its German competitors.

And the truth is in the numbers, as the Vsport goes from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds and has a quarter-mile time of 13.6 seconds based on most tests. That’s super fast for a large four-door sedan.

In spite of its immense powerplant, the Cadillac is not a fuel hog by today’s standards with GM’s provided fuel economy ratings of (L/100 km): 13.2 city, 8.3 hwy. Now of course, the Vsport requires premium fuel but it’s totally worth it when you get behind the wheel.

Quite the booty

Quite the booty

As for pricing here’s the story.

Base price: $73,745 (XTS Vsport AWD Platinum)
Options:  Rear DVD ($1,995), Crystal Red Tintcoat ($1,295)
Freight: $1,700
AC Fee: $100
Price as Tested: $78,835 CDN

However, if all the Vsport’s power and features are not required you can purchase a base XTS model at a more reasonable price just above $50,000.

Plush leather interior

Plush leather interior

There is no mistake as the XTS interior is ultra luxurious with leather, wood and chrome trim blended together to create an elegant cabin environment. After driving it around town you start to feel you are commanding a rolling stateroom, only interrupted by the growl of its performance underpinnings. Some of these features include Brembo performance brakes, paddle shifters, electronic limited-slip-differential, magnetic ride suspension and an HUD (heads-up display) making the Vsport a bona fide luxury rocket-ship.

Cadillac interior

Cadillac interior

At the center of it all is the eight-inch touch screen seamlessly located in the dashboard and powered by Cadillac’s User Experience (CUE). Its features include capacitive sensing touch control with proximity sensing, haptic feedback, gesture recognition and enhanced voice recognition. This high-tech feature is very intuitive and designed for the younger tech savvy demographic Cadillac is targeting.

Cadillac XTS Vsport

Cadillac XTS Vsport

The XTS competes well with its big sedan brothers as its spaciousness is impressive with rear seat room large enough to do double duty as a chauffeur driven vehicle.  Also, it brings with it a massive trunk capacity of 509 litres/18 cubic ft. which is more than many of its competitors including the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8.

For those consumers who want performance in a full size sedan without reaching the over the top price tag of a Mercedes AMG or BMW M series, the Cadillac XTS Vsport is the car for you. As a Canadian made luxury cruiser with more ponies than you will ever need under the hood, the Vsport AWD Platinum model is an out-right bargain at $75,000 when compared to its European rivals.  Honestly, if I had the bucks I would love to wake up to the XTS Vsport in my garage.


  • Acura RLX
  • Audi A8
  • BMW 7-Series
  • Infiniti M
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Lexus LS
  • Mercedes S-Class
  • Volvo S80

We will be reviewing the XTS’ little sister the CTS Vsport later this summer so keep your eyes out for that review.

Superbowl Car Commercials

This past Sunday’s Super Bowl was not the best of games that’s for sure as it looked like the Broncos may have thrown the game.  As for the Seahawks I congratulate you as your team deserved the win and winning your first Superbowl is a very big deal.
As a car guy, the best part of the big game is seeing the new car commercials of which there were 15 this year, the same number as last year. Audi, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, VW, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Jaguar, Maserati, Jeep and Honda all splurged and spent the huge cash required for airtime during the big game. To check out all the ads see Autoblog Canada’s feature on the Top 10 Best Car Commercials from this year’s Super Bowl.  You can vote for your favourite one too.

2014 Cadillac SRX

The year 2013 was pivotal in Cadillac’s recent resurgence and although it’s still early it’s looking like their incredible momentum will continue through 2014. As GM’s top luxury brand and iconic symbol of the American auto industry, the stakes are high for Cadillac to change the playing field and re-establish itself as a top global brand.

2010 Cadillac SRX (10) (1)

During the 90s and early 2000s, the brand’s relevance took a major hit as rivals such as Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz offered some very compelling models. However, over the last few years GM has focused heavily on bringing stellar new technology and designs to Cadillac which has resulted in a series of award-winning models such as the performance focused V-Series, CTS and ATS.

2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

Last year, we reviewed the multi-award winning Cadillac ATS which was a dream to drive in the summer with its manual six-speed transmission. Well, now its winter and it made sense to take a look at Cadillac’s SRX crossover.

Cadillac SRX

Cadillac SRX

The SRX’s interior includes two rows of seating which provides ample space for five passengers.  The leather seats are very comfortable and include electronic extendable thigh bolsters in the front seats.  The wood trim and high-quality interior materials make for a high-end look and feel.

Interior of Cadillac SRX

Interior of Cadillac SRX

Under the hood all SRX models come with a 308-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes its peak torque at 2,400 rpm providing enough low-end torque to accelerate onto the highway or to overtake a slower vehicle. With a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds the SRX is quick for a vehicle that weighs in the range of 4,500 pounds.

Our tester was an SRX Premium AWD model, the top of line trim level available and comes in at $55,640 CDN  MSRP.  This is significantly higher than the base FWD model which starts at $40,285 MSRP so you need to weigh the value of all the extra features. However, both prices are in line with its current competition and the SRX’s warranty is very solid.

Our tester came equipped with some amazing features; GM’s very slick CUE infotainment system which includes enhanced steering-wheel and instrument-panel controls, plus an eight-inch touch screen interface. The touch-screen is motorized and can flip-up to reveal a hidden storage cubby. CUE can pair up to ten Bluetooth devices, and incorporates all the latest technology including standard HD radio and Bose’s Centrepoint® premium 10-speaker surround sound system. In addition, other features include Ultra View sunroof, three-zone climate control; adaptive forward lighting that swivels the headlamps in sync with vehicle steering; on-board power with 2 USB ports, SD card slot auxiliary input jack and 12-volt power outlet; a power lift-gate with adjustable height setting; and a dual-screen video system for rear entertainment.

Rear seats

Rear seats

Cadillac remains one of the most iconic brands in North America and as a result its place in pop culture is immense. There are so many musical cultural references to Cadillac from both past and present (Elvis Presley, Jay LenoLudacris,Travis Barker). However, the biggest one recently comes from Seattle rapper and recent Grammy winner Macklemore’s song titled White Walls which chronicles the singers’s love and appreciation for this American icon. The song’s video captures this vibrant Cadillac spirit as it showcases different Cadillac’s from various eras in all their restored glory.


The SRX is rated at 13.2L/100 km city 8.8L/100 km highway AWD *based on Natural Resources Canada’s 2014 Fuel Consumption Guide


The SRX includes 29.9 cubic feet of storage with seats folded forward or 61.1 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded down.  Our tester came equipped with the Cargo Management System which includes a U-Rail system, which uses a floor-mounted metal track and an adjustable cargo fence to help keep items in place. Also included are an innovative concealed under floor storage bin and an air-conditioned glove box.

roomy back area

roomy back area


The North American mid-sized luxury crossover/SUV market is a crowded one and Cadillac continues to have many strong competitors including; Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Lexus RX 350, Infiniti QX50, BMW X3 and Land Rover Evoque.

Final thoughts:

Despite the ever-increasing stiff competition, the Cadillac SRX remains a top option for consumers looking for a luxury crossover. It brings so much with its five-seat, front-drive/AWD options, latest technology, many safety and road refinement features, all matched with a luxurious interior style. It also does not hurt that many of its styling cues are taken from a mix of the beautiful CTS and Escalade.

Side view Cadillac SRX

Side view Cadillac SRX

Driving the SRX you really notice the amount of engineering that has gone into this vehicle from its lack of body roll to the enhanced power steering which combine to offer a European feel. Along with this, a spirited 0 to 60 time, the SRX’s size and ride height make the car feel solid and safe in all driving conditions.

Overall, the 2014 Cadillac SRX’s unique blend of luxury, refinement and driver confidence provides a top-notch choice for those consumers looking for a luxury crossover.

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.

GM announces new CEO

On Tuesday morning, GM named Mary Barra as its new chief executive. With this announcement, Mary will be the first woman to head up a major U.S. car company.

Mary Barra

Mary Barra – (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

She will succeed the current chairman and CEO, Dan Akerson, on January 15. Akerson will leave the company on Jan 15 to spend time with his wife, who is suffering from advanced stage cancer, according to GM.

Since February 2011 Barra has held what many say is the most important job in the company – senior vice president for global product development. She’s in charge of design, engineering and quality of all of GM’s vehicles across the globe and has shepherded most of the company’s recent new vehicle introductions.

Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering and senior staff positions, and is now in charge of reducing the number of platforms on which GM builds its vehicles. Her father worked as a die maker at GM (Pontiac) for 39 years.

This is great news for GM and the auto world in general.  We wish Mary the best of luck in her new gig!


2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ

As promised in our recent review of Chrysler’s 300C sedan, we said we would look at how two of North America’s top sedans stack up against one another. This week we will look at GM’s Chevrolet Impala LTZ.  Redesigned for 2014, the new Impala is built on GM’s Epsilon II front wheel drive platform (shared with the Cadillac XTS) making it larger and much more upscale than the existing model.

Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet’s full size flagship sedan is totally new from the ground up, providing a muscular appearance while also providing a nod to both its rich history and Chevy’s modern styling cues. This new Impala represents the 10th generation of one of the industry’s most enduring and iconic nameplates as the first Impala was introduced in 1958.  According to GM’s official press release, the Impala has been America’s best-selling full-size sedan since 2004, with total sales of more than 169,000 in 2012.

Front Seat Interior

Front Seat Interior

Our tester came in the top of the line LTZ trim and comes with a price tag here in Canada of $39,645 MSRP.  At this price you get a host of premium features including:

  • Leather-appointed seating surfaces
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Power 8-way front and passenger seat adjuster
  • 6-speed automatic with overdrive and Driver Shift Control
  • 10 airbags
  • Advanced Safety Package – includes Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Side Blind Zone Alert
  • 20-inch aluminum wheels with P245/40R20 all-season tires
  • Premium 11-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Chevrolet’s MyLink system with navigation
  • Rear Vision Camera
  • 3 USB ports
  • Remote vehicle starter system
  • Xenon High-intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Dual exhaust system with bright exhaust tips integrated into rear fascia
  • Sunroof – power tilt/sliding glass panel, with sunshade and express-open feature

The new Impala model provides consumers with innovative styling, greater interior spaciousness and a host of advanced technology goodies never available in earlier models.

Back end

Back End Side View

The Impala offers three powertrain choices which include the 3.6L V6, the new Ecotec 2.5L four-cylinder and the Ecotec 2.4L with eAssist. Our tester LTZ model was equipped with the 3.6L V6 engine which is rated at 305 horsepower and 264 lb. ft. of torque. The 3.6L provides the highest horsepower output in this segment from a naturally aspirated V6 engine and translates into a swift 0-60 mph time of only 6.8 seconds. Hence, our tester provided ample power for all types of acceleration requirements in both city and highway driving environments.

As for fuel consumption, GM provides highway numbers of 6.9 L/100 km and city numbers of 11.1L/100 KM for the 3.6L V6.  Over our week, we were a touch above those numbers but quite close overall.

As for comfort and convenience, the Impala LTZ impressed us in several key areas. First, the interior is very well-appointed making it feel far more expensive than its actual price tag.  Beginning with a rich looking instrument cluster that includes a 4.2 inch screen configurable color driver information center and ice-blue lighting which enhance the “upscale” feel of the interior. Second, the chrome trim with “bleed-through” ambient lighting further reinforces the cabin’s sophisticated flair.  On several occasions, both friends and family complimented how great the Impala looked overall.

The interior sound quality with acoustic glass in the windows, extra foam in the body, and added sound deadening material in the floor pan and trunk help create a serene bubble for its occupants.  GM has also recently made great strides in this area with its Buick Verano model.

As for interior space, the Impala brings its “A” game with an overall cargo space of capacity of 532L. It has a cavernous trunk and with the rear seats folded down provides an absolutely immense level of cargo space for the average family.



These seats give an ultra level of comfort and passenger space equal to that of an airport limo.  Not surprisingly, after our week with the Impala it started to feel like a modern version of Lincoln’s Town Car.  With Ford no longer building the Town Car we may see the airport limousine industry start to leverage the Impala as their future workhorse.

Having the opportunity to experience the Impala LTZ model in a series of different driving scenarios we can confidently say, it straddles both the full-size sedan segment as well as the entry-level luxury segment.

With its new technology, larger size and sportier exterior this new model should be taken seriously by both competitors and consumers.  As well, GM’s Impala pricing brings great value to consumers in this competitive segment as it is slightly lower than some of its competition.

As for our comparison to the Chrysler 300C, it really is not apple to apples as the latter is all wheel drive and the Impala is front wheel drive.  There is also quite a delta between the two sticker prices. However, both cars are equally impressive and have a ton of great qualities.  If you’re looking for a full size sedan this year, these two vehicles should be on your holiday wish list.

Overall, key segment competitors to the Chevy Impala LTZ are the Chrysler 300C as mentioned above, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Genesis and Buick LaCrosse.

GM to build newly designed mid-sized trucks in 2014

GM has announced it will build a new line-up of smaller pickups in 2014 targeted at the “recreational” buyer. The completely revamped midsize pickup trucks, will focus on gas mileage and features designed to take sales from Toyota’s market-leading Tacoma. These new trucks will replace the aging Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models. For the full details check out this story.

2012 GMC Canyon SLT Crew Cab

2012 GMC Canyon SLT Crew Cab

2012 Buick Verano Review

For a week in July, Team RedlineNorth had the opportunity to put a 2012 Buick Verano sedan through its paces.  As Verano is the Spanish word for summer it was rather fitting we reviewed it during one of the hottest weeks this season. Redesigned for 2012, the Buick Verano shares GM’s Delta II platform with the Chevrolet Cruze, and is the first compact sedan marketed by Buick in North America since the 1997 Buick Skylark.

Our silver 2012 Buick Verano review vehicle came in the 1SG trim package which includes the following:

  • 2.4L DOHC 4-cylinder engine with Direct Injection and Variable Valve Timing (VVT) making 180 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • 10 airbags
  • Leather heated driver & front passenger seats
  • Bose premium 9-speaker sound system
  • OnStar® with 6 months of the Directions & Connections Plan, Turn-by-Turn Navigation and OnStarRemoteLinkTM
  • 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.
  • 18 inch painted aluminum wheels
  • Trunk/storage space – 14.3 cubic feet– based on GM Canada’s vehicle information
  • $27,620 CAD MSRP from GM Canada’s website as of August 8, 2012 ($22,595 for entry level)

The interior lived up to all the hype with its luxurious leather seating, full colour touch screen display, sleek functional gauges and ultra modern ambient lighting. Dubbed as one of the quietest sedans ever produced, the Verano really delivers with its whisper quiet cabin and smooth classic sedan ride and feel.

With the average Buick owner in North America holding steady at age 59, GM is pushing hard to attract younger buyers and sporty new models like the Verano are a step in the right direction. The Verano’s sister model, the Buick Excelle was China’s best-selling passenger car in 2011 as China continues to be GM’s largest market for Buick and a great test ground for the development of new models.

Over the week, we averaged 9.7L/100 km (24 MPG) which is significantly higher than GM’s/Transport Canada’s official 6.2L/100 km (38 MPG) fuel consumption rating. However, this is based on the total mileage, which was more city based than highway miles so at the end of the day the fuel consumption was solid for the sporty sedan. Over the review, we took the Verano through a daily commute to downtown and traveled north to the heartland and farms of Georgian Bay’s Huronia region.

Our only complaints over the course of the week were during long drives the lower lumbar section of the front seats felt a bit awkward.  As well, at certain points in the acceleration curve the six speed automatic transmission seemed to be out of place resulting in lag. Nevertheless, in spite of these minor issues the Buick Verano delivered on its promise to provide a modern and more youthful experience from the oldest active American automotive brand.  And more importantly, we are quite sure Buick founder, David Dunbar Buick would approve of the direction GM is going with its 2012 Buick Verano model. Overall, we give it a 4.2 rating out of 5 in its class.

The main competitors to the Verano in the compact luxury segment are the Lexus IS 250, BMW 3 series, Acura TSX and the Audi A4 all of which start at a much higher price point.  That being said, the Verano also has competition from the Hyundai Sonota, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry especially with the lower entry level price of $22,600 CAD.

This places the Verano squarely in between both market segments and sales are quickly growing- surpassing 3,000 units in the US in May, over half of which were non-traditional GM buyers.

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.