GM Special Edition Trucks: Desert Fox

Earlier this week, automakers and enthusiasts from around the world congregated at the Dubai Motor Show. You know what that means! You don’t know what that means? Oh, neither do I. I didn’t even know Dubai had an auto show – not that I’m surprised. This is the city piloting (pun intended) a flying drone taxi service. So, they undoubtedly have some interesting ideas for the vehicles that stay on the ground, too. Somewhat surprisingly, it was GMC that made a splash at the show, with a one-off revival of the GM Special Edition Desert Fox truck. But it doesn’t actually quite live up to its namesake.

GMC Desert Fox

In 1971, GMC introduced the GMC Desert Fox. The special edition truck featured a unique paint job (Buckskin base with multicoloured stripes. Performance gear included dual CIBIE lamps, sport wheels, air conditioning, tilt steering, cruise control, etc…

Frankly the original Desert Fox looks much better than GMC’s new homage. That’s partly a consequence of the of the fact that the colour scheme shows much better in matte than gloss finish. And it’s partly a consequence that the shape of the new Sierra is far from retro (the black wheels don’t help either).

Check out this video which proves “the dunes are its playthings”– whatever the hell that means.

 

GM Special Edition

While the Desert Fox is probably an appropriate choice for the show, it’s not the most exciting GM special edition trucks they could have revived. Here are a couple trucks from the archives more deserving of their own renaissance.

Chevy Sno Chaser 1984

Could there possibly be a more suitable special edition for Saskatchewan? No, there could not. The super rare Chevrolet Sno Chaser of the 1984 model year was only sold in the snowiest American states. And some of them probably migrated north of the border to be closer to their natural habitat. The Sno Chaser was basically a Chevy Scottsdale ½ ton with (obviously) 4X4. Plus it had a unique cab spoiler and paint job.

Bring back the Sno Chaser!

GMC Jimmy Casa Grande

GM Special Edition Casa Grande

The GMC Jimmy Casa Grande is a Jimmy/Camper, and boy is it glorious. GM partnered with Chinook, a manufacturer of self-contained campers in the mid-seventies and they came up with the GMC Jimmy Casa Grande. As you can see from the photos, the Casa Grande had a completely unique colour scheme. More importantly, it had a dining area, a cooker, a fridge, and a sleeping compartment. It’s basically an Instagram pseudo-celebrity’s dream.

Only 1,800 Casa Grande/Blazer Chalets were ever produced, and very few have survived until the present day. To have GMC create a new Casa Grande special edition would be especially gratifying considering that they would first have to revive the beloved Jimmy nameplate.

Which GM special edition would you stick in your driveway (or sandbox)?

The 2018 Cadillac XTS: The New Face of Luxury

The 2018 Cadillac XTS

The Cadillac XTS was once the clear link between Cadillac’s recent past and its new direction. That’s a polite way of saying it was a bit outdated. Has time passed the long sedan by entirely? Not so fast. Cadillac has reimagined the big sedan for 2018, and the results are impressive.

The 2018 Cadillac XTS

Cadillac has completely reinvented the XTS and brought its design language squarely into the twenty-first century. Slouching shoulders and the ancestral bench seat are relics of the past. It is at once refined and muscular. With its angles and vertically stacked headlights, there is no chance that the 2018 XTS will be confused for graceful or polite. Instead, you might call it athletic or muscular. At the very least, it is undeniably modern.

Standard Luxury

In recent years, one of the most compelling reasons to buy a Cadillac has been the wealth of standard features. And that’s no different with the 2018 Cadillac XTS. The 2018 Cadillac XTS gets a standard 3.6L V6 delivers 304 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque. On the technology side, you get standard wireless charging and rear vision camera. Plus, you get an eight-speaker Bose audio system along with the next-generation CUE system, so managing smartphone media and apps easy.

  • 19” Pearl Nickel Premium Wheels
  • Brembo Front Brakes
  • Adaptive Remote Start

And comfort is a priority, too. The XTS is a Cadillac, after all.

Of course, things get really interesting when you upgrade to one of the premium trims available on the 2018 Cadillac XTS.

XTS Power

If you want even more power than the naturally-aspirated V6 allows, Cadillac also offers a twin-turbocharged 3.6L V6 that cranks out 410 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft of torque. Intelligent all-wheel drive with Haldex technology is available from Luxury models upward. It constantly changes the amount of torque delivered to each wheel in order to deliver maximum grip at all times. Other available performance features include:

  • Magnetic Ride Control
  • Intellibeam Headlamps
  • Reconfigurable Gauge Cluster

Smart

The 2018 Cadillac XTS is the most intelligent XTS ever. With the Driver Awareness Package, standard on higher trims, you get incredible features like pedestrian detection and following distance indicator. Other features include:

  • Low Speed Automatic Braking
  • Lane Change Alert
  • Side Blind Zone Alert

The Driver Assist Package is available on Premium Luxury and standard on Platinum models, and includes:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Forward/Reverse Automatic Braking,

XTS Platinum V-Sport

For 2018, Cadillac is also bringing the XTS into the V-Series family. The 2018 Platinum V-Sport boasts a 3.6L Twin Turbo engine with 410 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Inside, there’s a reconfigurable gauge cluster. To stand out on the road, Cadillac also includes standard 20” aluminum exclusive V-sport wheels with Sterling Silver premium paint and an exclusive V-Sport grille.

 

Best Car Features on the Christmas List

Best Car Features on the Christmas List

Christmas is almost here. It’s the time of year when tired copywriters slap together hackneyed seasonal frames for their blog posts. So, without further ado, here are the top five new car features you need to put on your Christmas list.

OnStar 4G LTE WiFi

While you white knuckle down an icy Highway 1 on the way to Gam Gam’s house for Christmas, your kids want to recline and stream Paw Patrol, or trade bitcoin on their iPads. Well, that’s easy thanks to OnStar 4G LTE WiFi. Standard on many new GM vehicles (often with a temporary, free subscription), WiFi lets you connect as many as ten devices to surf the web and stream music, movies, and audiobooks.

While you try to tell the difference between black ice and black pavement in the black night, at least your kids won’t be yelling at you.

Need For Low-Speed Automatic Forward Braking

What is low-speed automatic braking? If your vehicle detects an imminent forward collision while driving at a low speed, your vehicle will automatically brake. This will reduce the severity of a collision and can even avoid certain collisions entirely. If you’ve ever had someone suddenly pull out in front of you (that is to say, if you’ve ever driven, anywhere), you’ll understand why this feature is on the Christmas list.

Hitting people is bad; low-speed automatic forward braking is good. And it’s already available on many new GM vehicles including the 2018 GMC Terrain.

Best car features wishlist

IntelliBeam Headlamps

Listen, I love being blinded by strangers on the highway as much as the next guy. Wait, I don’t love that, and neither does the next guy. Fortunately, IntelliBeam Headlamps can sense traffic and will turn your high beams off the avoid blinding people on the road! They’re not just the future; they’re an available feature in most new GM vehicles.

It makes your life easier because you don’t have to keep switching your high beams on and off manually. More importantly, when other drivers have intelligent high beams, they won’t obnoxiously blind you (unless they have lazily installed HID headlights, but that’s a different subject)! I guess I would actually prefer if this feature was on everyone else’s Christmas list instead of my own…

Heated Steering Wheel

I don’t really need to explain this one, do I? A heated steering wheel is a steering wheel that heats up. It feels good on your hands when it’s cold. I don’t know what else to tell you.

Surround Vision

This is Saskatchewan, a province in which 93% of people drive full-size pickup trucks. I made that statistic up, (69% of vehicle purchases in Canada are light trucks!) but you get the point. We have a lot of large vehicles, and our parking lots, alleys, and downtown centres often leave us with little space. Maybe you’re the Da Vinci of parking, but for the rest of us less-Vitruvian men, a little bit of parking assistance is a good thing. Enter Surround Vision – one of the coolest car features currently available.

 

Surround Vision uses cameras to help eliminate blind spots when driving. If that sounds like a regular backup camera, you’re right. But I haven’t got to the black magic part yet. Surround Vision uses multiple cameras located all around the vehicle and stitches the images together. It’s sort of like the “panorama” feature on your smartphone. Except Surround Vision builds the image in real time, meaning that you can see a bird’s-eye view of your vehicle and the surrounding area. That makes parking and trailer guiding a snap (“a snap” is old people language for easy.

What vehicle features are at the top of your Christmas list? Oil slicks and an ejector seat?

 

GM Canada Headquarters

GM Canada's Green HeadquartersNearly every company in the world likes to tout their environmental friendliness. However, sometimes they only go as far as sticking a green label on their product with a name like “biorganica.” It’s hard not to be cynical, but some corporations can actually back up their eco credentials. So, here’s something you probably didn’t know about GM.

The McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve

The McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is a 108-acre habitat owned and operated by General Motors next to its Canadian headquarters. The Reserve, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario opened in 1990 and was named after GM founder Col. Sam McLaughlin. And, to credit its namesake further, the site was recently certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

According to GM, “The Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation Certification program provides a structure for cooperative efforts among management, employees and community members to create, conserve, and restore wildlife habitats on corporate lands.” In other words, the program encourages companies to use their land to protect animal life and biodiversity.

Biodiversity

Specifically, the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is home to 400 species of plants, trees, and flowers. Visitors might spot roughly 209 birds, several species of snake, frog, and turtle; as well as a number of mammals including the Red Fox, Ermine, Opossum, and the Nutria. The area was once densely forested, but is now an open marshland. However, when GM moved in, it was hardly a naturally paradise.

Since GM took over the site, they have invested a massive amount of work into the area. To start, GM engaged in a four-year cleanup operation to remove debris from decades of land use preceding GM’s tenancy. After they sufficiently cleaned the reserve, they began redeveloping. They planted tens of thousands of trees with the help of local volunteer groups, but allowed the majority of the space remain as an open marshland. Even planted emergent and submergent aquatic species to feed and protect wildlife in the area.

GM Headquarters

GM put the same care and attention into building its headquarters. It designed every facet of the building’s construction to protect the local environment. Because the area is an important corridor for bird migration, they limited the building’s height to four stories. GM also tinted the facility’s windows to prevent collisions. Energy efficient heating and cooling are priorities, too. More than a century after the area was clearcut, residents are finally giving consideration to living sustainably.

Remarkably, the McLaughlin Bay WIldlife Reserve is constitutes only a small fraction of the 5,000 acres of wildlife habitat GM operates over 14 countries. It has an industry-leading 70 certified sites with further plans to have all manufacturing facilities certified by the WHC in 2020: “With habitat loss and degradation as leading causes for diminishing wildlife populations, we can play a leading role through initiatives like the Wildlife Habitat Council conservation program in protecting and enhancing habitats that wildlife can thrive in,” said Doug Yates, Director, Environment and Energy, GM Canada.

GM Sustainability

But the certification of sites isn’t the only part of GM’s vision for a greener future. The company has committed to various other initiatives to minimise its environmental footprint. For example, the company plans to use renewable energy to power each of its facilities by 2050. GM is bringing EV technology to the masses with the Chevy Bolt. And GM also operates 152 landfill-free sites (meaning facilities that waste no material).

 

The 2018 Buick Encore

The 2018 Buick Encore

From a distance, the introduction of the 2018 Buick Encore might seem less exciting than the previous year’s model. In 2017, the Encore, along with the LaCrosse, ushered in Buick’s new design language. The compact crossover and the anything-but-compact sedan eschewed bulbous panels for sleek and sharp lines with an attractive new grille. While Buick may not have any flashy changes for 2018, they have taken a fantastic CUV and made it even better.

What Is It?

Whether you call it a compact crossover, CUV, MUV, or tall car, the 2018 Buick Encore is a small but practical vehicle. Even though it has a standard 1.4L turbocharged DOHC engine, it’s not going to win a Sunday drag race. And it’s not going to survive the Rainforest Challenge. But it is a smart pick for (sub)urban commuters. It has excellent fuel economy, great cargo space, and when equipped with 4WD offers some relatively rugged performance. Plus it has undeniable style – especially in Coastal Blue.

What’s New?

Not many features have been added to the 2018 Buick Encore. That’s largely because the 2017 model, as an ambassador of Buick’s new, modern philosophy, was a showcase for the latest technology and comfort features. Some of the new standout features include:

  • Available ionizing interior air cleaner
  • HD Radio
  • Standard capless fuel filler
  • Coppertino Metallic exterior paint

Inside

Despite its size, the 2018 Buick Encore manages to conceal quite a lot of space. In fact, with a standard flat folding passenger seat, it offers 1,370.54L of total cargo capacity making it perfect for weekend getaways. But when you need to move five people, you can do it with unrivalled comfort. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard and all surfaces feature premium materials. Plus, it’s remarkably quiet.

A Quiet Encore

Thanks to standard Active Noise Cancellation and Buick QuietTuning, every Buick Encore is supremely quiet. How do they work? Active Noise Cancellation emits negative soundwaves that counteract the sound of the engine and the road. QuietTuning, meanwhile, refers to all of Buick’s engineering techniques like acoustic-laminated glass, reinforced door panels, and sound-proofed dashboard that help keep your cabin at the peak of tranquility.

Advanced

The 2018 Buick Encore is one of the most advanced luxury CUVs on the market, OnStar 4G LTE WiFi is standard, but that’s not even close to being the most exciting piece of technology. The infotainment system features an 8” screen to help you manage messages, music, and navigation from your connected smartphone. You also get a standard Rear Vision Camera and there’s available Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert so that you can remain aware of everything on the road.