Review: 2011 GMC Terrain AWD SLT-2
Apr05

Review: 2011 GMC Terrain AWD SLT-2

By Charles Krome

Frankly, I didn’t hold out much hope for the success of GMC when General Motors decided to make the truck-only division one of its core brands. Not only did I think truck sales in general would begin slipping, but I also thought it would be particularly difficult to make a go of things in the post-bankruptcy auto industry with a lineup that essentially duplicates the Chevy Truck roster. Well, I was obviously wrong on the first point (at least so far), and that made me especially curious about the second.

Today, I can consider that curiosity satisfied, because I just spent a few days living with a fully loaded 2011 GMC Terrain, provided to me with a full tank of gas by the friendly folks at General Motors.

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UAW Ready to Trade Wages for Jobs?
Mar30

UAW Ready to Trade Wages for Jobs?

By Charles Krome

Some time later this year, the folks at GM’s Orion Assembly plant, located in Orion Township, Mich., will start putting together the all-new Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano. It will mark a significant change in the General’s usual strategy of building its small cars in other countries with reputations for low labor costs, but that’s because it marks a significant change in the UAW’s usual strategy, too. As some readers may already know, as part of its efforts to support GM’s recovery from bankruptcy, the union agreed to institute a two-tier wage scale at the plant. While veteran workers will continue to earn their usual salaries, newcomers will be hired in at pay rates some 40 percent lower.

And now the Detroit media are reporting that the UAW will consider extending the two-tier system to other GM plants, again in return for the promise of more jobs. It’s just the latest news about what this fall’s union negotiations with the Detroit Three will likely bring, but it’s also one of the few areas in which the UAW is expected to cut the OEMs some slack.

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Review: 2011 Toyota Avalon Limited
Mar28

Review: 2011 Toyota Avalon Limited

By Charles Krome

When fellow Savant Roger Boylan reviewed the 2011 Toyota Camry at the beginning of March, he kicked things off with a relatively controversial point: That Toyota’s midsize sedan suffered from a sort of reverse snobbism, with customers (and critics) automatically complaining about how bland and un-engaging it is based solely on the badge it wears. Well, not only do I think he’s spot on with his analysis, but I’m also going to extend it to what’s often considered the epitome of Toyota’s soulless creations, the 2011 Avalon—which I recently drove for a week courtesy of the fine folks at Toyota.

The Avalon is aimed at buyers who prefer what’s loosely termed “traditional American luxury.” That means vehicles that offer a relatively large footprint, strong straight-line acceleration, restrained styling and presence, and a boatload of comfort and convenience features. It’s a shrinking niche, but the number of potential cars that fit the bill is shrinking even faster, so volume does remain for the automakers that continue to reach out to these customers.

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Hey, There’s a Cool Car: Audi allroad
Mar21

Hey, There’s a Cool Car: Audi allroad

By Charles Krome

Yep, that lowercase “a” is correct. I guess it’s sort of like “quattro” or, on the other hand, LEAF or JUKE. But the car I saw while out making a doughnut run over the weekend is notable for being more than just an early entry in the goofy capitalization sweepstakes. This is actually Audi’s first crossover.

The 2001 Audi allroad 2.7T reached our shores in the second half of the year 2000 to fill a huge hole in the automaker’s lineup. And by “huge,” I mean about the size of a Ford Explorer. Although this was the same year that the Blue Oval’s SUV would find itself mired in a controversy over rollover accidents, it also marked the vehicle’s high-water mark in sales, with 445,157. Needless to say, sport-utility sales had taken over the U.S. marketplace.

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Review: 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS FWD
Mar14

Review: 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS FWD

By Charles Krome

It’s amazing how quickly time flies in the auto industry. There was a moment back in January of 2010 when the Hyundai Tucson represented the cutting edge of South Korean automotive culture here in the U.S. It was the very first of the new-school Hyundai models—beating the Sonata to market by a matter of weeks—and was light years ahead of the outgoing Tucson. Today, however, it’s a different story. With the pace of automotive advances accelerating so quickly, and expectations for Hyundai products rising in lockstep, the Tucson could end up disappointing some customers—depending on how they approach it. At least that’s my takeaway from a recent test drive with a 2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS FWD, provided to me by Hyundai with a full tank of gas.

Now, I’m just going to start with the bottom line here: The Tucson that ended up in my driveway had an MSRP of $21,845 (although it’s listed on the website at $21,995) and the only options it had were the $100 carpeted floor mats. Add in a $795 destination charge, and you end up at $22,740. That’s a bargain price in today’s marketplace, especially when you consider how unlikely it is that anyone would be paying the full MSRP for the vehicle. And it’s not like this was some stripper model, either. It had all the usual “safe” driving technologies, like electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, downhill brake control and hill-start assist, along with 17-inch alloy wheels, a nice-ish AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM sound system, some leather interior accents and Bluetooth compatibility.

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