techshake

Techshake Survey: North American Car and Truck of the Year

By Charles Krome

The annual North American Car and Truck of the Year honors offer a unique take on the whole trophy business. Instead of being awarded by just a single media outlet or company, it’s a group of 49 journalists from across the U.S. and Canada that select the winners here. And while that won’t happen until just before the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, the finalists for the awards were announced today during an American Press Association luncheon.

The previous award winners were the Ford Transit Connect and Ford Fusion Hybrid.  This year, there won’t be a sweep by any manufacturer, though it’s a certainty that a Detroit-based automaker will win the truck award.  Interestingly, the Grand Cherokee and Durango are platform-mates, and the Volt and LEAF are in many ways competing for the very same buyers.

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CTS-V Coupe Brings Cadillac Back to the Track
Dec14

CTS-V Coupe Brings Cadillac Back to the Track

By Charles Krome

After already establishing itself as one of the most powerful coupes on the road, the Cadillac CTS-V is now out to prove its mettle on the race track: Cadillac has recently announced that it would field two race-prepped CTS-V Coupes in the SCCA’s American World Challenge, billed as “North America’s top production-based race-car series.”

It’s the logical next step for the brand, albeit one that has payed mixed dividends in the recent past. Cadillac developed LMP racers that ran in ALMS events and the 24 Hours of Le Mans beginning in 2000, but high costs helped put an end to that experiment after the 2002 racing season. During that period, the Cadillac race cars never finished higher than ninth in the endurance classic, although teams scored a number of podium finishes (but no wins) in the ALMS series. I can again provide some inside insight here, as I was at GM at this time, and there was a fair amount of bitterness at having to give up on Cadillac’s goal of eventually racking up an overall win at Le Mans—which was supposed to remind people that the brand was still the “Standard of the World.”

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The New Chevy Aveo Sonic, Take 2

By Charles Krome

Our head savant did a nice job detailing the General’s name game with the Chevrolet Aveo, but I wanted to get my pair of pennies in, too. (Also, I had already written this over the weekend, before I saw his article.)

My starting point is Chris’ comment about how the current Aveo is “not a horrible car”—because that certainly applies to where it sits in the sales standings.

Let’s do a bit of a blind test on some key players in the subcompact segment, shall we? First, here are the year-to-date numbers from three mainstream entries:

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Is the Honda CR-Z already DOA?
Dec08

Is the Honda CR-Z already DOA?

By Charles Krome

Although it must have seemed like a good idea at the time—to somebody—the Honda CR-Z is already shaping up to be the Pontiac Aztek of the hybrid world: Everything about the car seems to have been designed by committee to meet the needs of a different segment of the marketplace, with the result being that it’s making no one happy.

That includes the folks at Consumer Reports. They recently put the CR-Z into a mini comparo with three other newish/greenish vehicles, including the VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI, MAZDA2 and Ford Fiesta. And Rik Paul, automotive editor for CR, sang a familiar refrain: “The CR-Z tries to be the sporty hybrid and it’s not outstanding in either category. It’s not fun to drive and the fuel economy is not what you’d expect from a hybrid.”

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Volt, LEAF Powertrains Among Ward’s 2011 “10 Best Engines”
Dec08

Volt, LEAF Powertrains Among Ward’s 2011 “10 Best Engines”

By Charles Krome

The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF continue to rack up the awards, with the propulsion systems from both being named to the annual “10 Best Engines” list put together by Ward’s.

Per the editor’s, the former’s “‘Voltec’ propulsion system is brilliant—a technological masterpiece,” with editor-in-chief Drew Winter adding that “General Motors engineers have changed the course of history by creating an electric vehicle with true mass appeal.” But is it really an EV? Well, Ward’s says “Some consider it a glorified hybrid while others just don’t understand it.” Make of that what you will.

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