2016 Buick Cascada Convertible

Jack Snell, Flickr Creative Commons

2016 will see the introduction of the first new convertible in Buick’s storied line in twenty five years: the 2016 Buick Cascada. Needless to say the Cascada will incorporate 21st century engineering and styling to make it a stand out vehicle for all occasions. One of the innovations supplied with the Cascada is the spring-loaded, pyrotechnically-activated roll bars behind the front seats which are linked to the air bag system that are designed to protect the occupants in rollover situations.

According to Buick.com:

“The Cascada’s strategically reinforced body structure supports the roll bar system and is the foundation for the car’s strength and responsive driving experience. Elements include:

  • A-pillars featuring press-hardened steel in the inner structures and reinforced with high-strength, hot-rolled and cold-bent tubes within the pillars
  • Reinforced rocker panels with increased cross section
  • Underbody reinforcements including X-braces, V-braces and additional brackets
  • A reinforced “torsion box” bulkhead behind the rear seats that incorporates the pop-up roll bars

As a result of the structure’s rigidity, engineers were able to tune the suspension and steering systems with a high degree of precision, because they didn’t have to compensate for chassis flex.”


The roll bar system and the retractable roof are also designed in such a way that both the lines of the car are uninterrupted as well as trunk and storage space are largely unaffected. The individual rear seats also fold out of the way allowing up to 13.4 cubic feet of storage when the top is up, that space is reduced to 9.8 cubic feet when the top is stowed. Also, the top is stowed under a hard cover and can be lowered in 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.

Other features include a 200hp engine, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Park Assist, and the rear view camera. The 2016 Buick Cascada convertible will be an exciting new vehicle for all driving scenarios!


2016 Enclave Comes With Streaming!

James, Flcikr Creative Commons

Holy Family Vacation Batman! Buick has just announced that their 2016 model year Enclaves will feature OnStar’s 4G LTE Connectivity!  What this means is this will be a major upgrade in connectivity for families on the go. The 4G LTE comes with a Wi-Fi Hotspot that will support up to 7 devices simultaneously. Let’s face it folks, those days of license plate bingo, and the endless “Are we there yet?” questions are fading into a thing of the past. You see more and more cars on the road where everyone is on their device of choice, and now they’ll be able to connect on the road as well.

And now a little about 4G LTE. It is rated as the fastest and most up-to-date mobile network, and is advertised as being 10x faster than 3G and 100x faster than previous versions of OnStar service. As an added benefit, OnStar provides broader, wider-ranging coverage for smartphones than they can currently achieve through their cellular networks. Not only will you be able to stream on the go, but OnStar’s RemoteLink Mobile App will allow you to control several vehicle functions from your phone!  You’ll be able to send it directions and access information on the vehicle as well!

You’ll get 6 months of service as a standard, with an opt-in feature called FamilyLink which will allow you to receive vehicle position alerts, check location of the vehicle online, as well as stay connected with your loved ones while they’re on the road. If you choose the five year OnStar Basic plan, it comes with OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics which conducts monthly tests of all your vehicle’s systems and provides an alert if maintenance is needed. Also included is the RemoteLink Key Fob Service which will allow you to lock or unlock the doors, start the engine, honk the horn, turn on/off the lights from your phone anywhere you have a data connection! It’s a killer option.


Ed Bierman, Flickr Creative Commons

I love the 4th of July! You get to meet up with your friends and family, head over to the park, throw some beef on the barbie, and watch the kids spin themselves up waiting and waiting and waiting for the sun to go down so they can oooooo and ahhhhh at the fireworks. What a great holiday and what a great reason to have one. This is the 239th years since we told Ol’ King George that we just weren’t going to take it anymore, and that it was our steadfast belief that everybody was born equal, every one was born free, and we all come “with certain unalienable rights”. Do you realize how rare that concept is? 239 years ago Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and a couple other guys wrote that concept down on paper FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANKIND’S HISTORY. For all the previous millennia people were subjects, born owing their masters, their governments, their monarch a debt…themselves. There was no choice in the matter , you were a ruler or you were ruled.

But in the last 239 years the concept of personal freedom has been one that has been incredibly difficult to squash. Even under the most brutal of dictatorships, the idea of freedom blossoms. Adolf Hitler couldn’t kill it, Josef Stalin couldn’t kill it, Mao Tse Tung couldn’t kill it, and certainly not by more modern tyrants like North Korea’s Kim family.

America is a young country, America has certainly stumbled along the way, but more often than not the American PEOPLE have been as accepting and as willing to right the wrongs of the past as any you could hope for, it’s just a shame that the people we elect don’t do likewise with as much speed and good intent. So grab a hot dog, a beer, and a lawn chair and let’s all enjoy the FABULOUS FOURTH!

Test Drive GMC Canyon…online!

Cayobo, Flickr Creative Commons

GMC continues to be a leader in innovative ways to allow you to experience their products. For example, you can test drive the new GMC Canyon midsize pickup from the comfort of your own home! The “Canyon Experience” allows you to virtually drive a Canyon pickup in four different environments, the first of which is YOUR neighborhood! Thanks to Google Maps and Google Street View, you simply allow the Canyon Experience to use your current location to tailor an experience to where you are right now. One of the coolest things is to “park” your Canyon outside your house and see just how good that looks!

The four different environments you can select for your test drive are: mountain, shore, city, or rural. Not everybody lives in town, not everybody lives where it’s flat, but the Canyon can handle all environments with ease. The Canyon Experience will work with laptops, desk tops, tablets, and iOs and Android phones as well.

I gotta tell you, I enjoyed my drive through the mountains this morning. I could almost feel the lack of humidity and the un-Texas change in grade. Not only that but the Canyon looks pretty darn good parked in front of my house! Oddly enough it looked best in front of my house in the Quicksliver Mettalic color! I casually left the laptop open on the kitchen counter over night, and when my wife checked her email this morning, the first thing she said was, “Wow, that’s our house! That truck looks GOOD out there!” You could have knocked me over with a feather, I thought the whole “new truck” conversation was either going to be big trouble or was entirely forbidden.

So, if you have 10-15 minutes to explore online, and we all know you do, then give the Canyon Experience a try. You can try it yourself right here!

Buick, the Twin Wasp, and the B-24 Liberator

David Foster, Flickr Creative Commons

Not many of you may know, but Buick built over 74,000 Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engines for the Army Air Corps during WWII. These engines were air cooled, 14 cylinder (two rows of 7), and ranged between the 800 hp of the -1’s to 1350hp of the -94’s. They were called the Twin Wasp because the original Pratt & Whitney Wasp series of engines were single row radial engines, meaning that had one row of cylinders radiating from around the crankshaft.

The official name was the P&W R-1830, denoting a Radial engine of 1830 cubic inches. They were mounted to the two most produced US aircraft of the entire war: the Consolidated B-24 Liberator which mounted four Twin Wasps, and the Douglas DC-3/C-47 which mounted two. The high production numbers of those two aircraft caused the R-1830 to be the most widely produced aircraft engine in history with a total production run above 173,000!

Buick began building the engines at a government owned plant in Melrose Park, just west of Chicago, IL. The engines Buick built were exclusively for use on the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, and comprised 43% of total 1830 production! Over 18,000 B-24’s were built during the course of the war and were flown in every theater of that conflict. The B-24 had a fairly long post-war career as well being used to haul freight, aerial mapping (pre-satellites baby!), as well as flying suppression of wildfires by the naval variant (PB4Y Privateer) all the way into 2002!

Buick’s Twin Wasp engines are STILL out there in the world 70 years later, hauling freight in the US, Central America, South America, Alaska, Africa, Asia, and anywhere  that the old DC-3 is still operating. Who wold have thought that a product built and delivered for wartime would have such a long and successful peacetime career?

Buick’s Apple CarPlay

smoothgroover22, Flickr Creative Commons
smoothgroover22, Flickr Creative Commons

Buick has just announced at the C3 Connected Car Conference in New York that in 2016 all models of the Buick Regal and Lacrosse will be offered with Apple CarPlay, which will integrate smartphone technology through Buick’s IntelliLink System. This will allows hands-free voice communication, text communication, navigation, as well as entertainment options to be displayed on the eight inch IntelliLink panel.

“Buick understands the importance of connectivity integration in everyday life and this new connection technology provides drivers with a smart and simple way to have all the conveniences of their mobile devices safely at their fingertips,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick. “It’s another step in building and implementing technology that consistently puts our customers first.”

Apple CarPlay allows iPhone features to be displayed on the eight inch (diagonal) screen for quicker safer access during driving and can either be accessed by touchscreen or by voice vis Siri. There are also steering wheel mounted buttons to assist in interacting with this innovative technology. The goal of course maintaining connectivity in the vehicle in the safest, and most situationally aware capacity possible.

We’ve all seen the statistics for distracted driving-caused accidents, and the fact of the matter is the world is not becoming less connected. So Buick and Apple are striving to allow you to be connected, and at the same time focused on the task at hand which is arriving to your destination safely and ready to go.

From a more recreational standpoint, the interconnectivity of your iPhone with Buick’s ApplePlay technology will allow you to have hands free navigation service where ever you may wish to drive. Won’t it be nice to be able to drive through Yellowstone or Yosemite without worrying about getting lost and wasting precious vacation time worrying about getting to your destination?

Buick and ApplePlay at your service.

GMC Military Appreciation Month

David Gou, Flickr Creative Commons

Last month, GMC instituted their Military Appreciation Month and now that it’s June they’ve extended the special pricing until June 30! This offer is extended to ALL 22 million active duty, reserve duty, retired, veterans and spouses from each branch including the National Guard.

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, GMC and the US Military have had a long and successful relationship. From the days before WWI when the Army was in Mexico cashing Pancho Villa, to WWII when the GMC DUCKW was bringing troops ashore in the Pacific and the GMC Deuce and a Half was chasing Hitler all over Europe, to the trucks chasing Saddam out of Kuwait back to Iraq.

The GMC models, including the Denali trim, which are eligible for the GM Military Discount:

  • GMC Canyon midsize pickup, the newest member of the GMC family and winner of AutoWeek’s 2015 “Best of the Best” Truck award and Ward’s 10 Best Interiors
  • GMC Sierra 1500 – the most powerful light duty pickup on the market – and Sierra HD full-size pickups, all new for the 2014 model year
  • GMC Terrain small SUV and GMC Acadia large crossover
  • Yukon and Yukon XL full-size SUVs, all new for the 2015 model year
  • GMC Savana passenger vans

And this deal extends to 2 vehicles purchased under this program. If you’re buying more than two vehicles this year, the special savings will only extend to two vehicles per veteran.

You’ll need to supply current military ID, or if you are former military, a copy of your DD 214. And to prevent folks from flipping these cars, you’ll have to agree to have possession of the vehicles purchased under this program for a minimum of 6 months. Unfortunately not every dealer is a participant, so if you can’t get a dealer to work with you within this program, you are more than welcome to find any participating dealer!


GMC’s V-12 Engine Hauled Nukes!

Greg Goebel, Flickr Creative Commons

Did you know that GMC built a V-12 engine? They sure did, and despite the name “Twin Six” it was NOT two V-6’s bolted together. It was actually one long case, with FOUR V-6 heads mounted to it! Now why on God’s Green Earth would GMC build such a monstrous engine you ask? To mount in the tractor trucks used to haul Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. For real!!

In 1963 GMC designed special purpose tractors to haul the Boeing Transporter/Erector semitrailers used to haul the Minuteman I missiles. The trailers were 65 feet long, 10 feet wide, 13 feet high, had over 8,000 cubic feet of space, weighed almost 25,000 pounds when EMPTY, and they cost a whopping $700,000 1963 US Dollars each! The GMC tractor provided all the power to not only move this massive trailer, but also to run the climate control and air conditioning both during road journeys and while stored.

Of course those days of mutually assured destruction have faded somewhat, and the nuclear weapon proliferation hopefully has subsided…but those Twin Six V-12’s are popping up in rat rods and custom built speedsters the world over! An outfit in Australia for example has built a fiberglass Roadster with one of these humongous beasts up front. The engine is so long that the frame had to be cut and lengthened to be able to get the V-12 mounted. According to the hot rod shop, the Twin Six as mounted to their Roadster has an RPM redline of 2400 so the horsepower output is fairly anemic for the weight and only comes in at 275 hp. But, the that low RPM engine wasn’t made for whining screaming 14,000 RPMs like those Kawasakis and Hondas, no sir, this husky sucker was made to PULL. And brother, pull it does. Because at only 1600 RPM, this baby puts out over 630 ft/lbs of torque. So if you ever need a Roadster looking hot rod to pull your house over to the next block, well baby we have the engine for you!

Don’t Mess With Low Water Crossings!

Gavin Tapp, Flickr Creative Commons

And the hits just keep on coming! We’ve had eight years of real good old fashioned Dust Bowl era drought, and now here we are feeling like we’re getting all our rainfall back in just a couple months. A friend of mine texted me this morning and said, “My pool is about to crest so we got 4″ overnight” (Do you even KNOW how hard it was not to offer up the obvious “that’s what she said” response?)

But on a serious note here folks, it’s been heavy rains all spring long, with the worst coming in this last month and a half. First responders are over-taxed with their regular work servicing car accidents and the usual problems associated with bad weather without having to add water rescues, or even worse, recoveries to their pile. You’ve seen the signs, billboards, and TV spots: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” and “Arrive Alive”.

There’s a reason they have to tell you that bit of obvious information. It wasn’t so obvious to quite a few people before you. Moving water is a powerful force, that’s how hydroelectric dams work. Heck it’s how flour mills worked back in your great-great’s days. If flowing water can turn massive stone wheels to grind your great-great’s corn, or turn massive electric generators to create power…why would you think it couldn’t shove your car or truck around just a little bit?

So to beat this bit of obvious into your head a little bit, if there is flowing water over the road, find another way to your destination or just wait it out. There is nothing so important on the other side of the road.

Yeah, but…

But nothing. Even if your kids are in school on the other side of that low water crossing, the school KNOWS it’s raining and will plan accordingly. In these days of cel phones, there is almost nothing you cannot organize while you wait for the waters to recede. Don’t be selfish and put yourself, your property, or a first responder at risk by being in a hurry!

2016 GMC Terrain

mike krzeszak, Flickr Creative Commons

Well y’all, it’s that time of year when next year’s models begin to make their appearance in media so everybody can oooo and ahhhh over the new features, the new front ends, the new taillights, the new options, the upgrades, etc etc etc. Well the 2016 GMC Terrain is pretty exciting. Not only does the front end get an upgrade to a more updated contemporary look, but the Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are being offered for the SLE and SLT models this year. Other alerts include Rear Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and a Forward Collision Alert.

The Terrain is a compact SUV that seats five comfortably. Most models come with all-wheel drive, and a whopping 32 mpg on the highway! If you need to do some occasional towing, a V6 engine is available and a tow weight of 3500lbs is advertised.

Here is a more or less complete list of updates for the 2016 Terrain:

  • New front and rear fascias with C-shaped lower chrome trim that accentuates the Terrain’s wide stance
  • New, chrome-accented grille designs for SLE, SLT and Denali – including specific tri-segment grille texture on Denali
  • New power dome hood design
  • New LED daytime running lamps on uplevel models
  • New 18-inch aluminum wheel design offered on non-Denali models
  • New 19-inch aluminum wheel design offered on Denali
  • Revised instrument panel “center stack” with new storage shelf and updated control graphics
  • Revised model lineup: SL, SLE (SLE-1 and SLE-2), SLT and Denali
  • Premium cloth seat fabric now standard on SL and SLE models
  • New Saddle Up leather interior available on SLT
  • New Light Titanium/Jet Black interior combination offered on Denali
  • Front passenger eight-way power-adjustable seat offered on SLT (previously available only on Denali)
  • New, chrome-trimmed transmission shifter
  • Available Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert safety features on SLE and SLT (previous available only on Denali).
  • New White Frost Tricoat and Crimson Red Tintcoat premium exterior colors.


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