Friday, November 21, 2008

2009 Cadillac CTS

Cadillac brought one of its most popular cars to the show. The CTS designed to be more European inspired which is supposed to mix the values of an American luxury sedan with the performance of a German performance sedan is back. From the outside, the car looks stylish and refined. The headlights and huge trademark Cadillac grill definitely announce its presence. Trimmed in red, the car looks poised as a luxury brand should with a hint of performance hinted at by the large wheels and the trimmed exhaust hiding under the rear valance. The car looks square a much welcomed change from the jelly bean designs of most automobiles these days.

Inside the car, the passengers are welcomed by comfortable seats trimmed in leather and nicely appointed wood. Seats are very comfortable with separate heating and cooling functions for both driver and passenger. The center stack between the two front passengers is full of buttons and dial which can easily confuse some drivers. If you are at home in the car and have memorized the location of all the buttons, then you are set, but be prepared to answer questions from your passengers who are trying to play DJ from the right seat.

Interesting point of note is that the screen that houses the display for the radio actually extends out of the dash to reveal a much larger screen that houses the navigation and auxiliary functions. The screen is bright and easily read while moving.

Now, while moving, you are motivated forward by a 3.5L V6 engine pumping out 304hp. Stabs at the gas pedal will motivate the rear wheels to move faster than the car will allow. Our testing 'partnership' was not pleased when we left tire spinning out of the parking arrangement. The engine is a bit slow to respond once moving, but it's adequate to get you up to speed. Cruising is effortless with the power plant under the hood. However, while cruising, you will notice that something is not right. Remember the German inspired performance sedan they were shooting for? Well, they missed the mark just a tad. While driving, the suspension feels confused and never quite right. It's not Caddy smooth, but no where near as performance oriented as a German counterpart. The suspension is firm without a doubt and on smooth surfaces does the job it is supposed to do. However, over uneven transitions and bumps the suspension feels overwhelmed by the mass hanging over it. Rattle through the steering wheel lets the driver know what the front wheels are doing, but often they are lost as well with a numb feeling as they transition over difficult roadways.

The CTS is a good car, but not all it is hyped up to be, it definitely has Cadillac built into it's history, but it is pushing for a new direction. It needs to go further down the road of knowledge before it tries again though. Now, there is also a "V" edition of this car available. We are waiting for testing of that vehicle to become available... and hopefully those 558HP will be much easier to control and deal with.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2009 Pontiac G8 GT Sedan

New for 2009, the Pontiac G8 GT Sedan explodes onto the scene with a massive presence. With a starting price of $28500, this is a car that is a force to be reckoned with. Exterior presence screams performance with functional ducts on the hood and a front facia that screams move it or lose it. Underneat that hood, sits a 6.0L V8 pumping out 361 very furious horses which are ready to run on command. Flex your ankle and your heart will start to race as the tachometer starts to the swing to the right and the rear tires struggle for grip. Nice thick black marks are left on the road way as you quickly hurtle yourself up to speed. The only thing left in your wake is tire smoke making even performance sedans costing twice as much envious.

Keep your foot in it and transmission shifts are met with smooth changes before engaging the next gear and the symphony of engine growl continues to chase you down the roadway. The growl that is chasing you is something akin to an American performance sedan. Not loud of obnoxious, but something smooth and deep which makes you want to dip into the performance band each and everytime you pull away from a stop light or a fancy sedan which thinks they are the baddest boy on the block.

Suspension refinement soak up bumps without overly upsetting the chassis. The firm suspension however does communication with the driver and it lets you know when something is wrong. I can only imagine that this car would be very talkative at higher speeds or traction limits. At docile roadways speeds, it is compliant enough to make driving comfortable.

The interior is nothing spectacular to write home about, but it gets the job done. Functional buttons combined with a large screen center mounted in the console make it easy to see what is being done at all times and buttons are easy to push and feel sturdy.

Our only complaint with this car is that massive engine under the hood has massive exhaust tubes which run down the center of the car and after lots of blistering runs tends to make the center mounted tunnel very 'warm'. You'll need to make sure the A/C is set to circulate air both top and bottom so your legs don't feel the heat. Well, as the saying goes, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

This car is a blast to drive and with plenty of room for your friends, is definitely something to be considered if you are looking for a combination of practicality and speed combined into a satisfying package.

Oh... and there is a GXP version coming out next year that will be equipped with a 450HP motor and a six speed manual transmission. If I were you, I'd start buying stock in tire companies now... cause that monster is going to roast the tires off of the best performance sedans out there.

2009 Hummer H3T Alpha

New for 2009, Hummer is releasing the H3T Alpha. It is a cross between a Hummer that we are all used to seeing and a truck. Powered by a 5.3L 300hp motor, it doesn't feel very fast, but I'm sure it's got enough torque to pull a tree out of the ground. Gas efficiency wasn't all that wonderful and was not listed on the spec sheet, but I'm sure it is not on the top of people's minds when buying a vehicle like this. The truck is equipped with a four speed automatic transmission with super tall gearing giving a low cruising engine speed but pretty much eliminating the though of 'quickness' being associated with it.

Inside is typical Hummer. Nothing exotic to write home about. You do get four doors, and a some what comfortable cabin, but seats are a bit tough and the ride provided by the monster is every bit you would expect from a truck. We were not expecting luxury sedan smoothness, but chassis flex and ripple was easily aparent over the smaller road undulations. The bed was big enough to be considered usable. They lose points forever for making small 'look-a-like' air intakes on the hood a-la it's H1 big bretheren.

Wearing massive rims and off-road tires, this vehicle is best suited off-road. It should only be really used on paved road to go from on off-road location to another and even then, you should think about twice about it. Sad part is, it will probably be used to haul soccer moms around urban shopping malls or to the park to pick up little Bobby from soccer practice.