Update

On the heels of my last post that highlighted how Ford and GM need to bring their newest, most curvaceous small trucks to the US.

Well, read all about how GM is bringing that sweet Colorado, along with a couple of other cool cars to the US, here.

Here’s another couple of Retro Reviews:


2007 GMC Yukon

07yukon_2

Redesigned Big Ute Is Easy On The Eyes And Pocketbook

by James E. Bryson

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or hiding in a Pakistani cave, you know by now that gasoline will never again cost less than $2 a gallon and that hybrids are selling like hotcakes, for a niche market. You also know that the worst vehicles for fuel economy are big, heavy SUVs and ultra-high-performance sports cars.

Enter the 2007 GMC Yukon.

If you were a GMC engineer/designer and you had to come up with a new model that could make or break your brand you might redesign the Yukon with few hard angles and many organic shapes to make the new truck stand out and add a gas-saving feature to the 5.3-liter V8 that shuts down 4 cylinders while cruising on level surfaces, where not a lot of power is needed to keep the rig moving.

Redesigning the Yukon must have been a difficult task indeed, since the styling of the previous model was new at least five years ago and there is so much stellar competition out there. What the stylists and designers delivered was handsome, taut lines with wraparound fascias front and rear and nary a plastic add-on in sight. The design team should be commended for putting a handsome and sleek SUV of this size on the road.

One industry-wide accepted measure of build quality is the size of the gaps between the doors and the hood and fenders. We were quite impressed and a bit surprised with the small gap widths all around the Yukon. We kept marveling at the lengths the engineers must have gone to to get those lines in line, so to speak.

The new front fascia has a more refined look with a sloping grill and integrated bumper that looks like it is all one piece, because it is. This huge difference compared to the old vehicle is like night and day. The new truck looks like it was made from one piece of metal and plastic that belies its frugal price, at least in the vehicle we drove.

That high-quality look and feel followed through to the interior.

What surprised us most upon taking delivery of our test vehicle was the cloth interior. Not only was it cloth (can’t emphasize that enough) but the seating surfaces were top notch. Not since the mid-90s, to our recollection, has the General been able to put a seat out that was this comfortable and supportive.

After a few days driving the Gray Dane around, we decided to head out to wine country; so the tank was topped off and we noticed we got 19 miles per gallon in mixed driving. Considering the shear heft of the Yukon, that ain’t half bad. We also like watching the display switch from V8 to V4 and back as we drove around. And remember, don’t try this at home, we are trained professionals (or so we like to think).

Driving through rolling hills and reducing radius curves show that the Yukon has come a long way since the beginning of the SUV craze. It’s no GTO or Saturn Sky, but the Yukon gets going pretty good and there’s not a trace of wallow or too much body roll-like SUVs of old.

Switchgear is top-notch. All have a soft, tactile feel and soft detents that give this base-model truck a classy, luxurious feel.

One really neat feature is the lighted visible detent on the climate controls. During the day it is a mild-mannered dark spot on the bright chrome-like dial, telling you where your blower and output is set at. By night, it is a cool blue showman, ready for the next gig and willing to give it all for a great performance.

One gripe we have about SUVs in general that this Yukon was without was a third row of seats. There are certain vehicles, like the Yukon XL and Suburban, that can do with the extra seating capacity without infringing too much on cargo space. Our tester did without this “convenience” and we were much appreciative to have the space t haul whatever we wanted without worrying about where to store those extra seats.

Our two-wheel-drive Yukon tester stickered at $34.690, including $875 for delivery, with no chargeable options. Included on the standard feature list was the 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and flex-fuel capability, four-speed automatic transmission, dual front airbags with passenger sensor, OnStar, Stabilitrak stability control/four-wheel ABS, remote keyless entry, 17-inch aluminum wheels, power heated outside mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio, auto dimming mirror with temperature and compass and driver information center, to name just a few.

For the dough, we got a capable vehicle with towing and hauling ability matched by only a few other vehicles in a stylishly handsome body and newfound fuel frugality. Add to that the flexibility of using an ethanol blend and you have a smart package that should appeal to the eco-friendly among us as well as the staid SUV driver that wouldn’t have it any other way.


2007 Chevrolet Tahoe

07tahoe

New Tahoe Is Grand In Size And Price

by James E. Bryson

Pulling out all the stops on redesigning its fleet of cars and trucks, Chevrolet is making it clear that it will not lose any more ground (nee, market share) to any and all of its rivals by bringing more new product to life this year. We got a chance to spend a week with the all-new 2007 Tahoe and what a ride it is.

Redesigned from the ground up, the Tahoe now has rounded lines and tight seems where it had angular surfaces and plastic cladding to hide behind for the last 10 years or so, it seems.

What the designers and stylists have done is give the old girl a much-needed facelift and tummy tuck. The lines have been smoothed out and the muscles are showing, not bad for a vehicle that can trace its lines to the 1930s.

In stark contrast to the ’07 GMC Yukon we recently drove, the Tahoe we were given to test was tops of the line with four-wheel-drive, leather captains chairs all around and three rows of seats, making this one a seven-passenger. While this is close to what you might get with a Suburban, the space behind that third row is not very useful, where the extra inches the ‘Burb carries goes directly to the cargo area, making it much more efficient at carrying all those people and their stuff.

And don’t misunderstand, the Tahoe is no slouch at carrying seven passengers, as long as the rearmost row is full of little people and they don’t need silly things like clothes and toiletries.

The new look features clean lines and softer styling, while keeping a similar look from years past; think of it as an evolution not revolution.

Up front, the grill is given the now-standard Chevy treatment of a strong crossbar with integrated Chevy bowtie, tying the design with the other Chevy products. Also, the domed hood and aggressive angles of the headlight clusters give the new Tahoe a snarl that seems to say “get of my way or I’ll roll over you.”

As with the Yukon, gaps are controlled and smaller, giving truck a more quality, carved-from-one-piece-of-metal look. Add to that the all-black luggage rack and running boards and the Tahoe seems to be moving uptown, with interior accoutrements to back that assumption up.

Speaking of the interior, the four captains chairs are comfy and make long rides something to look forward to. Heated seats are always good and these were well bolstered and much better than the bench in the Yukon.

The new dash design is quite handsome and the materials were the best we’ve seen in a Chevy truck. Everything also felt very familiar, like they updated the look and feel, but didn’t stray far from the previous design. Again, evolution.

One thing we found particularly neat was the rain-sensing wipers. These systems have been around for a few years but we weren’t expecting it to show up on a Chevy, let alone a Tahoe. We figured it out on a day when the rain was spotty. We turned on the wipers to get the windshield clear and wondered why they didn’t keep running every minute or so (as we had set the intermittent interval for). Then, a few raindrops and the wipers sprang to life! How glorious it felt to not have to keep adjusting the timing, or to turn the wipers on when a little rain fell. Talk about a home run for “America’s brand”.

And speaking of rain, that same day, as we were out and about in a heavy downpour, we actually got the big Tahoe into a four-wheel drift by hitting the go-pedal a bit too hard and inducing wheelspin. The only non-fun part was the intervention of the traction control system, which we immediately shut off for some more good times.

Handling for such a big vehicle is always in question and the Tahoe answers by giving good feedback through the controls and keeping most body motions to a minimum, as the laws of physics will allow. Wit that said, this new truck with its improved structure with fully boxed frame, wider front and rear tracks and a lower center of gravity handles like a vehicle half its size. We found ourselves driving hard a fast through areas we would never had thought to do in the old Tahoe, which brought us to the conclusion that it’s a little big for rallying but what a blast it might be out there!

Power is good enough to get you moving to highway speeds without too much fuss (5.3-liter V8, 320 horsepower/335 lb.-ft. of torque), just not good enough to push you deep into your seat. But with gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon, it’s good to know that the Tahoe we drove, with Active Fuel Management that shuts down four cylinders when at cruising speed, should save trips to the gas man, just not as many as we’d like. The EPA rates the 5.3 in our test Tahoe at 15 city and 21 highway, compared with 14 city and 18 highway for last year’s model.

Pricing on the Tahoe is in the stratosphere for non-luxury SUVs, but you do get a lot for what you pay. The base price on our four-wheel-drive LT was $37,665.00, which included such niceties as four-wheel antilock disc brakes, the flex-fuel 5.3-liter V8 with active fuel management 17-inch aluminum wheels, a review mirror with autodimming, compass and outside temperature, tow package, luggage rack and heated outside mirrors.

Add to the lofty price our options (LT3 equipment group ($3650)—leather bucket seats; 12-way power seats for driver and front passenger; radio with MP3-capable six-disc changer, Bose speakers and XM; power adjustable pedals; head curtain side airbags; rear parking assist; outside power folding mirrors with auto-dimming and turn signals and triple-zone climate controls.); three-passenger third row seating ($860); second row bucket seats ($490) with heat ($200); power liftgate ($350); P265/70R17 all-season tires ($125); rain-sensing wipers ($95) and a destination charge of $875.00 and the as-tested price for our loaded Tahoe was $44,605.00. Whew!

If you’re looking for a solid truck-based SUV to haul/tow/wreak havoc, the Tahoe is your stead, and the saddle is comfortable enough to keep you going long after the ride is through.

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James E. Bryson

Cars make the world go 'round!

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