All Aboard the Health Train
Health is all the rage right now. Eating kale and quitting sugar are constant topics of conversation but have you ever considered the health of your vehicle? Taking care of your car is the same as taking care of yourself:
Car maintenance is not about waiting for your dashboard to light up, your brakes to squeal, and your power steering pump to fail. Conscientious car maintenance is about being proactive and preventing those things from happening. But that requires you to practice a number of good habits. Here are some great car maintenance tips that you should try to keep in mind all the time!
In recent years, Cadillac has become known for delivering aggressively-styled sedans with true sporting performance. Even the base model engines provide robust performance. But the real star of the lineup has been the V-Series track-oriented models. And, of course, the Escalade remains a fixture of the lineup, as well as of the luxury SUV market generally. The lineup has been a little imbalanced, favouring cars. But that will soon change as Cadillac trims its sedans and adds some SUVs, starting with the new XT4.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To an amateur (like me), auto maintenance sometimes seems like a dark art. If you ask ten different people a question about a cabin air filter, you’ll get eight different answers and two confused stares. A lot of the car-care information bouncing around in the public discourse is outdated and even plain wrong. I would tell you to read your owner’s manual from cover to cover and refer to it faithfully, as it contains the best information for keeping your car in great shape. But you probably won’t do that. So, here are a few common maintenance myths.
If you asked most people 10, or even five years ago, they would probably tell you to change your oil every 5,000 kilometres. But that’s not really the case anymore. But our engines, and the oil they use, are constantly improving. Most cars use partially synthetic oil and many use full synthetic oil. These products last far longer than conventional oil. The engines using them are more efficient, too. Considering all of these factors, how often should you change your oil?
Well, as with most aspects of vehicle maintenance, it’s best to trust your owner’s manual. It will give you a good recommendation – often around 7,500 kilometres. If you’re using full synthetic oil, it will be closer to 10,000. Although, you must remember that driving habits affect those estimates. If you have a lot of cold starts, accelerate aggressively, drive quickly, or drive through dust and smog, you will need to change your oil more frequently.
Look outside your front window on a weekday morning in winter and you’re bound to see a few ice-encrusted vehicles idling in a cloud of exhaust. Some of those vehicles will idle for longer than it takes to commute. Old wisdom used to support this kind of behaviour. That’s because old engines needed to warm up before reaching peak efficiency – especially in colder conditions. Modern engines, however, don’t require prolonged idling.
In extreme cold conditions, you should only idle your engine for roughly a minute. Beyond that, idling provides no benefit. Moreover, its detrimental to the environment. As long as your windows and mirrors are clear, you’re fine to begin driving. It’s the best way to warm up your engine. Just don’t accelerate hard or drive too quickly right off the start.
We’ve all suffered from a dead battery once or twice. And, after receiving a boost, we’ve all been told to let the car idle for around 30 minutes to let the alternator recharge the battery. Your engine idles at low RPM. The power generated is insufficient to recharge a dead battery. If you want to recharge your battery, your engine should be running at 2000 RPM. That’s most easily achieved by driving at highway speeds.
However, no amount of driving will restore a dead battery as effectively as a multi-stage battery charger. These inexpensive devices are designed to restore your battery to maximum capacity, they monitor the health of your battery and actively adjust the current to guarantee the best charge. An alternator cannot do this, and will never properly recharge your battery. So, if you’re worried about the health of your battery, invest in a proper charger.
Some people fill their tires to the air pressure listed on the sidewall of their tires. This is wrong. That number is the maximum pressure under which the tire can support your vehicle’s load. Instead, you should heed the tire pressure number listed in your vehicle’s door jamb, your tire manufacturers pamphlet, and (unless you’re not using recommended tires) your owner’s manual. This air pressure has been tested to deliver the best braking, handling, fuel economy, and safety.
In the 2019 Sierra AT4, GMC finally has its own off-road specific variant. Don’t get cynical, this isn’t a base model truck with big tires and some aggressive decals. The Sierra AT4 is built, from the ground up, to deliver excellent performance in adverse conditions. And of course, that capability is combined with what makes GMC unique among pickups, genuine luxury features and first-class comfort.
According to GMC’s vice president Duncan Aldred, “The 2019 Sierra AT4 is designed for the customer who wants an elevated presence on the road and the capability to venture off life’s beaten path. It’s also the beginning for the AT4 brand, which will be seen on every vehicle in our lineup in the next two years.” Clearly, the AT4 name will become a counterpart to the Denali badge. Instead of elevated luxury, the AT4 badge will guarantee rugged, off-road performance.
Sierra AT4 performance starts with the standard 5.3L V8 engine and 10-speed gearbox. Other engines are available, but the standard setup is confident and efficient. It times the shifts well and improves acceleration. You also get a factory 2” suspension lift and Rancho monotube shock absorbers for better performance on tough terrain.
For superior handling and style, GMC’s off-roader comes with standard 18” wheels, but 20” wheels are available. Both sets are exclusive to the Sierra AT4 and feature a unique, machined-face, dark tinted appearance. By default, the AT4 comes with 33” all-terrain tires. However, 33” Goodyear Wrangler mud tires are also available. I would personally recommend the 20” wheels if only for the fact they more naturally fill out the new Sierra’s massive wheel cut-outs.
GMC also confirmed that the Sierra AT4 would get the new Multi-Pro tailgate as standard equipment. If you don’t know, the Multi-Pro is the most innovative tailgate ever. You can configure it in six different ways, serving as a standing workstation, load stop, extendable step/bench, and more. For an everyday workmanlike truck, it’s hardly an essential feature. But it helps set the Sierra apart in a tightly contested segment.
Other standard equipment includes:
If you want to take the Sierra AT4 to the next level, you can add a bunch of advanced features. Take Surround Vision for example. It uses a series of cameras to generate a live image of your surroundings. It makes navigating tight spots easy – extra useful if you’re driving around rocks and trees. There’s the segment-first multicolour HUD. It projects critical vehicle information like speed, fuel level, and more. It’s also customisable, so you can see the information you need without taking your eyes off the road.
With the massive success of the Denali brand, GMC knows better than anyone that high-spec pickups are a veritable goldmine. And while there is stiff competition from off-road specific vehicles like the Ford Raptor, the Sierra AT4 is a really aggressive statement of intent. It will be interesting to see how its combination of rugged performance and premium style resonates with buyers.
Dashboard lights allow your car to speak to you. Some symbols are intuitive, and others are… less intuitive. Responsible drivers pay attention to the lights on their dash and act immediately when their car warns them about potential faults. However, many drivers ignore each dashboard light as if it was a McAfee software update reminder. Here are a few of the most common (and serious) dashboard symbols and what they signify.
As a disclaimer, this is a general guide that applies to most vehicles. However, your vehicle may use a slightly different design, or have a unique way of calling service items to your attention. Always consult your owner’s manual. It details all the symbols that appear on your dashboard and how to interpret them.
It may seem obvious, but many people don’t realise that colour is an important part of interpreting dash warning signs. In general, green
and blue lights are used to indicate that a system is active or working. Yellow symbols indicate that something requires your attention and likely needs to be serviced soon. Finally, red symbols indicate that there is a serious problem and your vehicle is in need of immediate attention.
If you see the oil can symbol on its own, it means your oil pressure is low. You may have an adequate amount of oil, but there could be a problemwith
your bearings or oil pump. But if you see a wavy line beneath the symbol, it simply means the oil level is low. Wait, why is your oil level low? When is the last time you got an oil change? Or is there an ignored oil slick in the middle of your garage? I’m not mad, but I am disappointed.
This symbol, which looks like a thermometer in water, refers to your engine’s temperature. If the symbol is red, it means your engine is too hot. Obviously, you should pull over and turn off the engine immediately to prevent serious damage. If the same dashboard light is blue it means that the coolant temperature is too low. This is probably less serious than the alternative, but you should still bring your vehicle in for service.
This symbol is part of your tire pressure monitoring system. If you see the symbol, one of your tires is at least 25% below its ideal air pressure. If you see that symbol while you’re driving, pull over and check your air pressure. Your tire may be actively leaking. If not, you’re still at risk of a blowout, and having four tires is kind of important.
Although, you should keep in mind that temperature fluctuations change air pressure. So, if you’re moving from the cold outdoors to a heated garage, the system may detect the change in pressure. In this situation it’s a good idea to check your tires, anyway. Their ideal pressure can be found on the sidewall of your tire or in the owner’s manual.
If you see the battery warning symbol you either have a depleted battery or a faulty alternator. Either problem will cause your vehicle to stop running in the near future. Fortunately, both are straightforward fixes. If you don’t know how to diagnose the difference between battery and alternator problems on your own, bring your vehicle in for service immediately.
Despite looking like a daisy with an exclamation point, this dashboard light is a pretty serious indicator. If you see this symbol, your vehicle’s computer has detected a problem with your powertrain. Of course, the powertrain is a complicated system that contains a number of parts, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly what the symbol is referring to. But, considering the system that moves your vehicle forward is pretty important, any issue should be taken seriously. Bring your vehicle in for service immediately.
These symbols refer to two of the most common brake problems. The first dashboard light, a circle surrounded by some curved dashes, refers to your brake pads. When the system detects that your brake pads have limited remaining life, it will trigger this warning symbol. Your brake pads are the friction material that presses against the brake rotor to bring your vehicle to a stop. Letting your brake pads wear completely will severely affect stopping distance. And, you’ll have metal on metal contact that will destroy your rotors and cost you more money.
The second symbol, a brake with some wavy liquid at the bottom, indicates that you have low brake fluid. Brake fluid transmits your foot pressure to the to the calipers in order to stop your car. If you didn’t have brake fluid your lines, you simply wouldn’t stop. Your system may be using a greater volume of brake fluid if your pads are worn out. Or you may have a leak somewhere in the brake system. Either warrants immediate service.
These are only a few of the many symbols that inevitably will pop up on your vehicle’s dash. It’s not necessary to memorise them all, but it is important to take them all seriously. Timely and preventative maintenance always saves you money down the road.
Finally, the Envision has joined the rest of Buick’s lineup by embracing the new-generation styling. Although the 2019 Envision has only technically received a “model refresh,” the changes are pretty dramatic. The most obvious alteration is the new grille with the split-wing badge. The Envision is the last Buick to receive the signature look, and it couldn’t have come soon enough.
The other major improvement to the front fascia is the inclusion of Bi-LED headlights on all turbocharged models. They cast a brighter, purer light; use less energy, and last longer. Plus, the arrangement is a bit more aggressive and stylish. The new grille and headlights blend quite well into the Envision’s architecture. While the overall shape hasn’t changed, the revised front and rear fascia make it seem a bit more elegant.
A vehicle that looks as premium as the 2019 Envision, should feel premium inside. I’m happy to report that the 2019 Envision is spacious and comfortable for all passengers. Of course, the Envision features standard heated seats and OnStar WiFi. Plus, QuietTuning engineering help mute the sound of the road and the engine for a pristinely quiet cabin. There’s even a standard hands-free power liftgate to help you load and retrieve cargo with ease.
When it comes to performance, Buick hasn’t made many alterations for 2019. But that’s not a bad thing. All-wheel drive remains standard on all Canadian models, so expect assured performance in all conditions. The standard engine is a 2.5L naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder with 197 horsepower and 192 lb/ft of torque. It’s a capable and efficient engine, but it’s hard to recommend when the available turbo is so good. That engine delivers 252 horsepower and 260 lb/ft of torque. It’s active and solid powertrain that gives you great acceleration and highway passing speed. And the increase in power actually comes with an increase in fuel efficiency (9L/100km combined vs 9).
Now, the Envision, and the rest of the Buick lineup, is more distinctive than ever. And that’s important because Buick also just announced the removal of its name from the trunks and hatches of its future vehicles. It’s not exactly clear why Buick has made this decision, but some speculate the absence makes space for the Avenir trim level badge. Others have posited that customers are sufficiently familiar with the tri-shield logo to make the lettering redundant.
However, a more cynical interpretation of the move is that Buick wants to divorce its attractive new vehicles from lingering perceptions of the brand’s history. The new vehicles (just look at the redesigned Regal) are sleek and modern, whereas previous design generations have been… overwhelmingly conservative. So, getting rid of the Buick badge could help customers get over their preconceptions and prejudices.
Of course, this is all speculation, and five letters on the trunk won’t make much of a difference to anyone. What we know for sure is that the 2019 Envision is shaping up to be an excellent crossover. It will be available starting this summer, so check back at Capital GMC Buick Cadillac for the latest information.
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.
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.
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.
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…