First Experience: The 2019 Cadillac XT4

We cannot stop talking about the XT4, Cadillac’s exciting new luxury SUV. It’s the newest addition to their current lineup and Capital Cadillac was honoured to attend the first showing of it last month (August). We sent Sales Manager, Dillan Kuntz and our Cadillac Manager, Kevin Gatschene to Calgary, AB for a first-hand experience. Dillan explains just how amazing it was:

Understanding Fuel: Gasoline vs Diesel

gasoline vs diesel in GMC vehicles

Diesel fuel: does it evoke figments of black smoke and sad environmentalists? That’s because the diesel industry has been dealing with scandals from automakers like Volkswagen, attempting to blindfold drivers from the realities of their vehicles. However, in the GM world, several diesel vehicles are being introduced in 2018 and 2019 to bring back diesel customers that have been wronged by VW. With better technology for diesel-burning vehicles, increased emissions standards, and upfront honesty, GM is aiming to improve diesel vehicles’ bad reputation.

Gasoline has been a frontrunner in the auto industry for a very long time. Is it finally time for diesel engines to have their spotlight, rightfully this time?

The New Buick Enspire Concept: Bold EV Crossover

2018 Buick Enspire Electric Crossover

Take one look at the current Buick lineup and you’ll see no resemblance to the stodgy, rounded leisure cruisers of preceding decades. Since the introduction of the new LaCrosse, Buick has begun to consistently deliver attractive, relevant products without alienating loyal followers. The new Buick Enclave and Regal are stunners. But the new Buick Enspire crossover concept is out of this world – well, after being announced at Auto China in Beijing, it’s at least on the other side of the world.

Why China?

Revealing the new Enspire in China makes a ton of sense. First, in 2017, Buick sold 1.2 million vehicles in China. That’s roughly five times as many as they sold in the United States.  Further, China is a better market for EVs in general. The nation has a huge pollution problem and is forcing automakers to increase the number of emissions-free vehicles in their lineups. Meanwhile, North America has lagged behind in EV adoption. So, we shouldn’t feel too jealous that Buick chose China to reveal its most exciting vehicle in years.

The Buick Enspire

Evidently the good people of Buick have run out of words that begin with “EN,” so they’ve started making some up. What about entourage, endeavour, encephalitis? Or, maybe the conspicuous “e” is a tip of the cap to the fact that this is a purely electric vehicle. Yes, the Buick Enspire is a premium all-electric SUV, the holy grail of the battery-powered world. And, despite being a concept, it’s no fantasy.

Per Buick, the Enspire’s motor can generate 550 horsepower. That’s right, 550. And, as long as you’re not constantly taxing them all, it has a driving range of 

600 kilometres. That huge number, if achievable for the real market, would certainly put “range anxiety” to bed. Impressively, the Enspire is also outfitted with GM’s Super Cruise technology that delivers the safest commercially available semi-autonomous driving experience. In fact, it’s the first vehicle outside of Cadillac to be fitted with the new tech. On mapped roads, drivers can take their hands off the wheel and enjoy the ride (as long as cameras detect they’re still paying attention).

As smart and powerful as the Enspire is, the looks are arguably just as impressive. From the recessed blue mesh grille with meter-wide badge and predatoryheadlights to the subtly chamfered sheetmetal, the Enspire looks great. Five years ago, no one would believe you if you told them it’s a Buick. Maybe that’s why the company broke its promise to stop printing its name on the back of vehicles for this special occasion. That could also be the reason the steering wheel features an illuminated tri-shield badge. Still, you may not notice it with the head-up display that spans the entire windshield like something from iRobot.

Just a Concept

For now, the remarkable Buick Enspire is merely a concept vehicle. There’s no word on whether it will even be more than a show piece for the Chinese market. If Buick brought it to market and priced it consistently with the rest of its lineup, it could be a definite threat to prohibitively expensive entries from Tesla, BMW, and Jaguar. But, even if the Enspire crossover is just a statement of intent, it will reassure fans that Buick has not lost the desire to innovate which brought us its current crop of stellar vehicles.

The 2018 CT6: Cadillac’s Flagship Sedan?

Cadillac CT6 V-Sport

Don’t Call It a Flagship

The 2018 CT6 sits at the top of Cadillac’s sedan lineup. At 17 feet, it’s a veritable land yacht, fit to compete with the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class for a fraction of the price. Its seats are made of premium hand-stitched materials and feature 15 massage functions. The 2018 CT6 also offers some of the best technology in the automotive industry. But is it worthy of being Cadillac’s flagship? Let’s find out.

Power

The Cadillac CT6 gives drivers a choice of three powertrains. The first is a 2.0L turbo with 265 horsepower and 295 lb/ft of torque and the second is a 3.6L V6 with 335 horsepower and 284 lb/ft of torque. Both are capable and efficient. But if you’re going to splash for a full-sized luxury sedan, you should really get the right engine to match.

The “right engine,” of course, is the meaty 3.0L twin turbo with 404 horsepower and 400 lb/ft of torque. Paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, acceleration is smooth and assured, invariably giving you total confidence when powering down the highway. However, while its powertrain is sublime, it’s not the CT6’s greatest feat of engineering.

Innovation

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 features so many great innovations that it’s tedious to go through them all. For example, you may not have heard about Night Vision which uses thermal cameras to help you see in the dark. You get a completely new perspective in your surroundings that even the best headlights can’t provide.

Then, there’s Active Rear Steering. At speed, your rear wheels turn the same direction as the front wheels in order to provide the agile handling of a small car. At low speed, the wheels can turn opposite directions to help maneuver into tight parking spots. The degree to which the rear wheels turn is also affected by the driving mode.

And you can’t forget about the about the 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system. Quite simply, it’s one of the most engrossing and refined audio systems in the automotive industry. It even uses speakers mounted inside the front headrests. Paired with Bose’s Active Noise Cancellation, you get a pristinely quiet cabin. But none of these are the CT6’s best feature.

Super Cruise

The piece de resistance is SuperCruise, the best commercially available autonomous driving system. It allows you to take your hands off the wheel while your CT6. It maintains speed and distance from other cars and keeps you in your lane. It also tracks your face to make sure you’re paying attention. SuperCruise only works on mapped highways (per its map, Cadillac has even mapped most of the Ring Road in Regina) and it uses sensors to ensure that you remain focused on the road.

Whereas companies like Tesla allow owners to test unfinished systems, Cadillac is taking a more conservative approach: “While it is technically possible for the technology to drive hands-free on other kinds of streets and roads, we feel strongly that this targeted approach is the best to build consumer and regulatory confidence” -Barry Walkup, chief engineer. If that’s the safest approach to implementing autonomous driving, I’m on board – so to speak.

Clearly, the 2018 Cadillac CT6 is an objectively great car. And for now it’s fit to rule an excellent sedan lineup – at least until Cadillac brings the Escala concept car to life in 2021…

What Is a Turbocharger? Capital GMC Service Corner

What Is a Turbocharger

The 6-cylinder engine is in decline. Fewer and fewer cars and SUVs are being outfitted with inline and V6s in response to tightening fuel economy regulations and cost savings. V8s are even rarer. Across the industry, these gas-loving engines are being replaced by turbocharged four cylinders that offer similar power and better fuel economy. But, for those who have been harangued by an 02’ Civic with a petulant exhaust, the word turbo may connote something obnoxious or inefficient. Let’s take a look at what a turbocharger is and why you shouldn’t worry if you’ve got one under the hood.

How Does an Engine Work?

Here is the simplest (the simplest!) explanation of what’s going on in your engine. In a standard engine, a combination of fuel and air go into the combustion chamber. A spark ignites the mixture and the explosion drives the piston down. The motion of the piston rotates the crankshaft and, for all intents and purposes, “drives” the engine. When the piston is pushed down, exhaust (a wasted byproduct of combustion) is also released from the engine. The piston rises again and the process repeats. But turbocharged engines do not waste the exhaust. 

What Is a Turbocharger?

Instead, the released fumes spin a turbochargers turbine as they leave the combustion chamber. The turbine forces the induction of more air into the combustion chamber allowing the allowing the engine to generate more power with less fuel. A turbocharger is a really simple machine, when you think about it. But how effective is it?

Fuel Economy

Adding a turbocharger to a traditional engine improves its fuel economy by roughly 2 to 6%. That sounds insignificant, but only because we’re now comparing two engines with different amounts of power. It makes more sense to compare a smaller turbo engine to a larger, naturally aspirated engine that generates the same power.

So, if you consider that a turbo four is replacing a traditional V6, the fuel savings are greater. Four cylinder engines are lighter and smaller than their six cylinder counterparts, making the vehicle more fuel efficient overall. This is the main reason we’re seeing turbo fours in the majority of passenger vehicles.

Any Downsides

In the public discourse, turbochargers are associated with short engine life and engine failure. Why? If you take fewer cylinders and force them to complete more combustion cycles they won’t last as long. But this was mostly a problem for engines with aftermarket turbochargers. Considering most manufacturers have common sense, they only pair turbochargers with engines built to withstand extra force. That means lots of high-strength steel.

Another problem of older and aftermarket turbos is cooldown. Turbochargers can spin up to 150,000 rpm and they get extremely hot! If you drive your turbo hard and then shut it off immediately, oil would coke and ruin your turbocharger. But modern engines feature water cooling and cool much more effectively so you usually don’t have to worry about things like idling your vehicle before your shut it off.

Ultimately, the turbocharger is a useful innovation for getting more power and using less fuel. They’re no longer just for modified Civics with race decals, and they won’t destroy your engine.

 

GM’s Self-Driving Taxis: Cruise AV

Cruise self-driving vehicles

General Motors and Cruise AV are currently in the pole position to dominate the self-driving vehicle market, with a plan to deploy a fleet of 2,600 autonomous taxis in 2019. But they need some help from the government. Taking steering wheels and pedals out of vehicles contravenes some national safety regulations. So, Cruise needs to petition the American government to grant it an exemption.

Cruise AV: Self-Driving Taxis

The Cruise AV is a heavily modified version of Chevrolet’s Bolt EV. It boasts 383 km of range. However, the sophisticated computers and sensors in the Cruise AV are guaranteed to draw a significant amount of power form the 60 kWh, lithium-ion battery. So, you can expect its range to be shorter. Of course, that’s not a problem for a fleet that will be operating within the city. Plus, Cruise won’t have to waste money paying drivers to go fuel up. They will, however, need to invest in a fast charging network wherever they deploy their robot taxis.

Cruise teamed up with GM in 2016. In a few short years, they have developed working self-driving prototypes that look ready to revolutionise the driving landscape. But the prototypes (consciously) flout a number (specifically, 16) of NHTSA safety regulations. Reportedly, the NHTSA has approximately 16 regulations that GM would be unable to meet without having drivers, pedals, and steering wheels. For example, the NHTSA requires that all passenger vehicles have airbags located in the steering wheel. Obviously, that’s pretty tough for GM to achieve without a steering wheel. Of course, it can just install the same type of airbags that go on the passenger side.

Ironically, the chief counsel of GM’s mobility division, Paul Hemmersbaugh, is the former chief counsel for NHTSA. The regulations he helped build now stand in his way: “We’re seeking to maintain the same, equal safety but to achieve the safety objectives of some standards in a different way. We can’t achieve them without a human driver or without a steering wheel.

The Tech

So, how can Cruise AV guarantee total safety while replacing the human driver? With tons of sensors: “Each car alone has 10 cameras that take pictures at 10 frames per second. The car sees more of its environment at once than a human driver can, and therefore can respond more quickly and safely.” Cruise trains the software and sensors by driving on real and test roads. But they can also simulate “horrific traffic accidents” without cost or danger. That way, each self-driving Cruise vehicle will have been exposed to many more driving scenarios than the average person.

The Future

It’s unclear when the Cruise AV will make its way north of the border, but within a year of the American debut seems reasonably conservative. However, fruits of GM’s investment are already visible in the current GMC lineup. On the 2018 Yukon, for example, GMC offers available features like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control among other advanced safety features. With all of its sensors and cameras, it can basically drive itself on the highway. So, the idea of driverless taxis being a year away isn’t actually that surprising or aggressive.

Would you take a ride in a modified Chevy Bolt with no pedals or steering wheel? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Cadillac Technology

Cadillac Features and Technology

According to Johann de Nysschen, Cadillac’s Executive VP and President, Cadillac will continue to lead the entire GM portfolio: “Cadillac in the future will be the technology lead brand for General Motors. Technologies will debut in Cadillac first and then cascade down to the other brands.” That idea will be no surprise to Cadillac owners who have been receiving GM’s cutting-edge technology before anyone else. In fact, the brand has been raising the stakes in recent years under the banner of the new Dare Greatly campaign, and many of the Cadillac features and technology lead not only the GM lineup, but the auto industry in general. So, here’s a quick look at some of the most remarkable features you’ll find in the current Cadillac lineup.

Super Cruise

Super Cruise is the world’s first hands-free driving system for the highway. When you engage Super Cruise, a green band on the steering wheel indicates you can take your hands off the wheel. From there, the system is in complete control. It will adjust your speed, brake accelerate and keep you in your lane. Plus, embedded cameras in the dashboard to ensure you remain focused on the road in case you need to retake control. It’s standard on the 2018 CT6 Platinum and optional on the CT6 Premium Luxury.

Front Pedestrian Braking 

Another of the standout Cadillac features is Front Pedestrian Braking. The system uses cameras and sensors to identify pedestrians on the road ahead and alerts the driver to their presence. If a collision is imminent, your Cadillac will brake automatically to mitigate or even prevent the crash.

Bose Panaray sound system 

The Bose Panaray Premium Audio System is simply one of the best automotive sound experiences. You get 34 strategically-placed speakers, including four UltraNearField speakers in the front seat headrests, powerful bass speakers beneath the floor, and a number of clustered, articulated arrays. The sound is clear and precise. Plus, Bose Active Noise Cancellation helps reduce the sound of the road and wind.

Night Vision

Night Vision uses thermal imaging technology to highlight animals and pedestrians at impressive distances in total darkness. Of course, you won’t find this technology on any other widely available passenger vehicle. 

Rear Camera Mirror

Cadillac features

Cadillac’s unique Rear Camera Mirror has made traditional rear view mirrors obsolete. A camera at the rear of your vehicle streams live HD video of the road behind your Cadillac to the spot where most vehicle have a rear view mirror.

Auto Vehicle Hold

Auto Vehicle Hold is another great feature available in most new Cadillacs. Once you come to stop you can remove your foot from the brake. Your vehicle won’t resume moving until you press the accelerator. You don’t need to suffer leg fatigue at long red lights or traffic jams.

Cadillac Escalade

As the brand’s flagship, the 2018 Escalade synthesizes most of these Cadillac features, and plenty more that we don’t have the space to discuss. Perhaps more impressively, it combines the cutting-edge technology with unmatched style and comfort. Standard 20” chrome-plated wheels, LED lightblade taillamps, and heated/cooled seats won’t save your life, but they do elevate the driving experience. And the simple value in that can’t be understated for a vehicle billed as the King of SUVs. And don’t worry, with a 420-hp, 6.2L V8, it drives like it deserves the crown.

If you have any questions about the availability of these features, or about the Cadillac lineup in general, please talk to one of our knowledgeable product experts.

GM Marketplace: Buy Coffee From Your Center Console

GM Marketplace

GM Marketplace

Millions of GM vehicles in the United States just received a wireless update to their infotainment software. This achievement is impressive in itself. It’s only possible because GM included OnStar 4G LTE WiFi in nearly all of its 2017 vehicles. But the purpose of the update was to add the GM Marketplace application. Per GM, Marketplace “allows drivers to browse deals and place orders through an in-dash touchscreen with several major brands such as Starbucks Corp., TGI Friday’s, Priceline.com and Dunkin’ Donuts Inc.” In other words, drivers will be able to do things like order coffee and pay for gas before they arrive, making errands significantly more convenient.

GM decided to partner with businesses that makes sense for users. In North America, coffee is part of 80% of commutes (I made that figure up), so partnering with Starbucks makes sense. And allowing people to complete small errands without exiting their vehicle makes sense in a world obsessed with convenience… and commuting: “The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving. Leveraging connectivity and our unique data capabilities, we have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back,” said Santiago Chamorro, vice president for Global Connected Customer Experience, GM.

The ability to order Tim Horton’s in your car would shorten the 7:50 drive-through line, and thrust GM into the rarefied Canadian air previously reserved for Alexander Graham Bell and Wayne Gretzky. Well, that’s if we can ignore the overwhelming safety concerns.

Distracted Driving

Ostensibly, adding more reasons for drivers to stare at a screen instead of the road concerns safety advocates. Each year, the “infotainment” screens in cars get bigger. In a Tesla, drivers control all functions ancillary to driving on a center-mounted touchscreen. It has no knobs or buttons. Without any tactile differentiation, you can’t just reach for a familiar control. While that technology becomes normalised, the average driver insists that it’s no problem and that he is capable of multitasking.

However, I’ve met the average driver. Let me assure you, he’s incapable of changing the radio station while remaining in the center of his lane. Consequently, asking him to order a soy milk latte with an espresso shot would be like asking a straight-jacketed Houdini to file your taxes as he drowns in a glass box. Although, in that analogy, the only person in danger is Houdini, instead of the countless drivers and pedestrians around him.

Self-Driving

Within ten years, ordering coffee may be one of the least complicated tasks you can do in your car. That’s because self-driving vehicles are about to take over the roads. GM has partnered with Cruise Automation to make sure that their autonomous vehicles are among the first. Their current prototypes have already demonstrated complete autonomy in closed environments. Before long, they’ll be heading out on the open road. Then, their former drivers will be free to do whatever they like during their morning commute.

GM Marketplace is not yet available in Canada. So, you’ll still have to sit in the drive-through and yell your order over the rearward diesel rumble like a caveman. But you can content yourself with WiFi, wireless charging, Bose Audio, automatic high beams, automatic braking, automatic parking, and Surround Vision for the time being.