I can say with all honesty that I’ve never been a huge Corvette fan. I know that’s heresy coming from a so-called “car guy”, but I’ll endure the fallout. Save for the C4-generation ZR-1, there’s been not a single one that has aroused my passion. Every generation has had its foibles and fame, but for me the Corvette as a brand only truly crystalized when I witnessed the C7 rolling across Chevy’s debut stage at last year’s Detroit show. Here was a car that not only looked fantastic on the outside, but finally had an interior to match. As ever, powertrain and chassis accommodations were not found to be lacking – 460 horsepower and a torque figure to match in a car weighing less than 3,500 pounds are enough to set any driver’s loins afire. Quality on preproduction show cars is hard to judge, though, so I waited until I had a real life example to see if my initial excitement was justified.
The current truck market is hot ? you can tell because I’ve heard from friends that many people are deciding to look into 4WD hire in Australia to try out all of these awesome trucks. The combined competence of my recent spate of pickup loaners can attest to that. You can also tell from the significant efforts (and development dollars) truck makers have been throwing at these “cash cows” over just the last year. The GM twins, the Chevy version of which you see before you, were brand new for 2014. Ford recently introduced an all-new 2015 F-series at the Detroit show, photos of which can be seen further down our front page. The RAM models received a light freshening, and a six-cylinder diesel was introduced for the light-duty 1500 model ? a combination capable of achieving 28 mpg on the highway, a feat considered decent even by small sedan standards not so long ago. The Toyota Tundra, which I sampled a few months ago, also benefited from a significant revamp for 2014, and to take on the stalwart Tacoma ?tweener, GM is bringing the like-sized Colorado and Canyon twins back from the dead for 2015. It doesn?t take a rocket surgeon to see that the pickup market is back with a vengeance, and there?s plenty of room for manufacturers to line their shareholders? pockets. Nothing wrong with that.
It’s hard to believe, but the Lambda platform architecture that underpins the GMC Acadia Denali tester seen here is now more than seven years old. As part of the product onslaught that kicked off GM’s current renaissance era, the Lambda (also recognizable as the Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave and now-defunct Saturn Outlook) was ushered in just before two other heavy-hitters of the General’s new quality image: the 2008 Chevy Malibu and 2008 Cadillac CTS.
As a young car enthusiast, I bought into the notion that there were certain vehicles that I was obligated to hate, lest my “car guy card” be stripped forcefully from my still-timid grasp. The list changed depending on what branch of car culture I found myself exploring at the time, but there was always an established pecking order. And since most of my early exposure was to fans of European and Asian import brands, I believed from the very start that there was no self-inflicted punishment more severe than the purchase and possession of a domestic vehicle.
Baffling as it is in a country where $4.00 per gallon gasoline is the norm, pickup trucks are increasingly called upon to serve double duty as both mobile workstations or tow rigs, and family haulers. Look no further than the rise to prominence of four-door crew cab body styles over the last fifteen-odd years – I’d wager the “crew” that occupies these crew cabs more often consists of a wife and kids than four flannel-clad roughnecks. Even as modern haulers become more and more gadget-laden and luxurious, fuel economy continues to rise. EcoBoost Fords and the high-feature naturally aspirated V6s powering the latest RAM and GM base trucks get fuel efficiency figures that would rival most full-size sedans from just a few years ago.
The family sedan – a uniquely American automotive mainstay that has spent the last decade or more on the back burner during the rise of the crossover – is experiencing a massive resurgence. Almost every key player in the midsize segment has been comprehensively revamped within the last model year or two, and the large sedan segment is equally fresh. In 2012, a new Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera hit the market, and the new Kia Cadenza will start reaching showrooms around this writing. Domestic competition is fresh as well: the Taurus got a nip and tuck for 2013, and a new Chrysler 300 special edition gets rolled out seemingly monthly. Now, a brand new Impala will join the full size fray for the 2014 model year.