GM Testing the Waters of Smaller Engines

The 2019 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups will be the first in a fleet of new full-sized pickup trucks from automaker GMC that will feature a four-cylinder engine option. This will represent a major sea change for some loyal customers. Ford’s success with its v-6 EcoBoost engines may have already proven that a V-8 engine doesn’t have to be the standard. And modern advances in engineering have made smaller engines in larger vehicles a very real option.

The new 2.7 liter, inline four-cylinder will feature what GM is calling Active Fuel Management. This technology will allow the engine to switch over to a two-cylinder mode for “light load conditions.”

The new engine represents a keystone moment for General Motors as it is the first time they will put a four-cylinder engine in a full-size pickup and it is the first engine in a pickup to use the AFM two-cylinder technology.

The new inline four turbo engine is rated at 348 pound-feet of torque and 310hp with an 8-speed automatic transmission. GM hopes to compete in fuel efficiency against Ford’s F-150 that features an aluminum body and V-6 EcoBoost engine.

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars IV

Want a vehicle with the fewest annoying problems? I asked Jody Victor®  to finish up his list based on a survey of customer satisfaction in the first 90 days from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: Here we go! The last installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 IV

For our final installment, Jody Victor®  has saved the best til’ last. Here he is with the rest of the best quality cars for 2012 from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: I think you may be right, Joe. There’s some great all-around vehicles in this last part from an article by Cliffor Atiyeh of  msn.com.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

 Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check some of these out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 Part IV

The last group did include some of my favorites. Cant’ wait to see what Jody Victor® will include this time from an article by Clifford Atiyeh from MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Yes Joe, we saved the best for last. Here is our last installment on the best of the best for 2012.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

 

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Cars for Summer Sports II

Summer is just around the corner so if you have a favorite activity you like to do all summer long you may want to choose your vehicle to match your sport. I aksed Jody Victor  to tell us more about it from an article by Claire Martin of MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor: Hey Joe, it certainly makes your activities a lot more fun when the vehicle you use gets you there and back with ease. Here’s the last five that could make your weekend fun, even more fun!

Kayaking | Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen

The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is watertight, thanks to a special hot-wax treatment that fills in the tiniest nooks and crannies, which means no rust, even if you routinely expose your car to saltwater and sea air while traveling to your favorite kayaking destinations. Heavy-duty floor mats and a trunk liner keep your wetsuit and other gear from wetting down the fabric or carpeting after a paddling session. Roof rails accommodate an aftermarket kayak rack, and the panoramic sunroof lets your passengers keep an eye on your boat while you drive.

ATV Riding | Ford F-250 Super Duty

Few pickup trucks have beds long enough to accommodate an all-terrain vehicle without the tailgate down. The F-250 Super Duty, with an 8-foot bed, is one such vehicle. This allows you to load your ATV with several inches of room to spare. The F-250’s V8 engine also makes it well-qualified for towing, if that’s your preference. Telescopic rearview mirrors let you keep an eye on your trailer. A 6-speed automatic transmission helps you navigate the diciest of terrain as you make your way to sand dunes or desert flats.

Rock Climbing | Subaru Forester

The Forester has just the right amount of room for ropes, carabiners, shoes and a cooler to store après-climb refreshments. The extra ground clearance is essential for when you tackle dry riverbeds or seemingly vertical mountain roads to get to the best climbing spots. The car’s symmetrical all-wheel drive (as opposed to a front-wheel-drive car with added rear-wheel capabilities, or vice versa) provides peace of mind along the way.

Sailing | GMC Yukon Denali XL

When you’re hauling boats, you need the extra horsepower of a vehicle such as the Yukon Denali XL. With a 6.2-liter V8 engine that provides 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque, you won’t have to worry about whether it can handle your diminutive Sunfish sailboat or a bigger yacht. With a cargo area that’s 81 inches long and that boasts 109 cubic feet of storage space, you’ll have plenty of room for your sailing gear and other accessories. An integrated trailer-brake controller helps you apply the appropriate amount of brake force when you have a boat in tow.

Fishing | Ram 1500

Fishing is dirty business. You need some serious cargo space for rods, tackle, buckets, bait and all the other gear for a day out on the water, and you want it to be ventilated — fish stink. And if you’re going fly-fishing in some remote locale, you’ll need something pretty rugged to find the most productive fishing holes and tackle the dirt roads leading to them. The Ram 1500 is perfect. It is one of the most versatile half-ton pickups on the market, with plenty of power from the all-new 305-horsepower Pentastar V6, which is 20 percent more efficient than previous engines, a smooth ride on or off road, and slick styling. Plus, Ram offers some cool truck-bed storage options.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

 

 

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Vehicles For Your City

Around the world, the city car is having a moment. Small, moderately peppy and easy-to-park models such as the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ would seem to be natural choices for the planet’s growing population of urban dwellers. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it from an article by Erik Sofge of MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor: The United States isn’t the rest of the world, and its city drivers tend to see their cars as more than daily transportation. Instead, they’re seen as ready-to-launch escape pods, with features as useful for extreme-weather commuting as for a day trip through the local wilderness. Here are the msn.com picks for the vehicles best suited to conquering America’s biggest urban jungles, and parts thereabouts, in two parts.

City: New York | Vehicle: MINI Cooper

Don’t worry, most of our choices aren’t as obvious as this classic city car. But for the most densely packed of U.S. cities, the MINI is the inevitable choice. It’s the appropriate size for parking and for squeezing past herds of double-parked offenders, but without being golf-cart small. What it lacks in cargo space (most New Yorkers aren’t hauling around lawn fertilizer and sheets of plywood), it makes up for in retro style. Since performance is wasted on the Big Apple’s cab-choked streets and cramped highways, stick to the base 1.6-liter 121-horsepower 4-cylinder trim, possibly in a hatchback for those biennial trips to IKEA or the beach out east.

City: Los Angeles | Vehicle: Nissan Leaf SL

There are a lot of places where the Leaf isn’t worth the cost, or the hassle of finding public car-charging stations, or the stigma of driving something that makes a Prius look sexy. In L.A., none of the above apply. In a city defined by standstill traffic, the all-electric Leaf qualifies for the prized HOV sticker (standard hybrids no longer do). Finding chargers within the Leaf’s 100-mile range is easy, and the SL trim can be fast-charged, cutting refuel time exponentially. In a city brimming with sports cars, this Poindexter of a compact is sort of sexy.

City: Chicago | Vehicle: Honda CR-V

The Windy City’s drivers don’t care about a stiff breeze. Rather, the nemesis of all car-owning Chicagoans is the cratered, moonscape condition of its potholed roads, among the worst in America. This compact SUV can handle snow and slick roads, and survive year-round abuse from below. Honda’s CR-V has the all-wheel drive to handle wintry commutes, enough elevation to clear the deeper chasms and, in one of the only comprehensive studies on pothole damage, Hondas came out on top. So what if the study was based in the U.K.? Any hope is better than none.

City: Houston | Vehicle: GMC Sierra 1500 Denali

There’s nothing particularly punishing about Houston’s weather or roads — a Camry would do. But Texas is truck country, where well-appointed 4-door pickups were born to roam. The Sierra doesn’t have the towing capacity of a Ford F-150, but it’s able to pull 9,600 pounds with its 6.2-liter V8 engine, more than enough to trailer a boat down to Trinity Bay. And it’s the classiest cargo-hauler in the business, with standard Bose speakers, heated and cooled leather seats, a remote starter and other features almost too fancy for any self-respecting truck.

City: Philadelphia | Vehicle: Ford Fiesta

Warmer and less cluttered than New York, but more quintessentially American in its history, Philly deserves a city car that’s more than a little patriotic. The Ford Fiesta is our pick, a car from the one Detroit automaker that didn’t ask for federal charity, and whose financial resurgence has a lot to do with its bold new designs, including the Fiesta. The critically acclaimed compact now gets up to 40 mpg on the highway with the more aerodynamic Super Fuel Economy package and, despite its entry-level sticker price, it comes standard with a voice-activated SYNC system.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor