GMC was founded in 1901 as the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company inPontiac,Michigan, by the Grabowsky brothers, Max and Morris. In 1905 the brothers, sensing a good deal, sold up to the originators of thePontiacbrand. Both, or all three, were gobbled up in 1908 by Walter Durant and his burgeoning General Motors company, and the rest, as they say, is (GM) history. The car side retained its name ofPontiacand the truck side was renamed General Motors Commercial. It would be an exaggeration to say that it’s been a picnic for GMC ever since, but where’sPontiac now? Whereas 111 year-old GMC sails serenely on, making upscale Chevys and big profits for the parent General.
Of all the cars to have recently attracted the scorn of the motoring press, the hapless Chevy Aveo was right up there with the Pontiac Aztek, if not quite in the same stratosphere of opprobrium as the peerless Yugo. I rented an Aveo once, and have completely forgotten what the driving experience was like, although I believe it extended over several days and across three or four Midwestern states, sufficient indication in itself of automotive insignificance. Well, the Aveo is history, unless you’re desperate for some really cheap wheels fresh off the used-rental lot, which is where you’re likely to find your average pre-owned model. But I’d skip it, because there’s good news in the affordable-car realm, and its name is Chevrolet Sonic.
The Prius C? I could own one. And to think that I once disparaged the average Prius owner as a dork, or worse! Not entirely without reason, mind you. The original Prius was undeniably dorky in appearance, a kind of bizarre science project lacking in automotive virility or style. It was the kind of car you’d drive only if you didn’t like cars, and dorks don’t like cars. I’d have never owned a Prius back then. But now I would. Well, I might. What changed? The Prius itself, for one thing. The family has grown to four members: the original liftback Prius; the Prius V, a pleasant wagon version; the plug-in Prius; and now, the brand-new miniaturized version, the C. I’ve changed, too, having become something of an armchair expert on these cars after test-driving all iterations, close relatives in disguise. Like many others who initially disparaged the Prius, I’ve come, albeit grudgingly, to admire its efficiency, packaging, reliability, and, of course, fuel economy—real-world fuel economy, that is, not the vaporous fantasies of PR departments. Plus, the newer models just look better; there’s more design esthetic there.
Edge? Why Edge? Why not “Corner,” or “Side,” or “Top”? Because we’re not talking about that kind of edge. Let’s not get all literal. This Edge is all about cutting edge, edginess, and the eponymous member of the band U2: Coolness, in a word. The Ford Edge is so-called because it wants us to see it as representing the cutting edge of automotive fashion. And in a way it does, as a member of that trendy species, the crossover SUV, and now, in EcoBoost guise, as belonging to that even trendier subspecies, the fuel-sipping turbo-4, hopeful successor to the V6 and V8 guzzlers of yore, available in the new Explorer, too, and in more members of the Ford family and relatives in due course. The manufacturer claims the engine attains the giddy heights of 30 miles per gallon on the highway; EPA estimates concur. Pretty good for an SUV-type vehicle. Is it true? Well, I devoted my attention to this and other urgent questions over the week during which a handsome metallic-green Edge EcoBoost Limited was my daily driver.
“No paired phones detected!” lamented the driver info display, taking me aback, since I’d never asked it to detect phones, paired or otherwise. The message soon disappeared, then, a few hours later, elbowing aside actual useful information (MPG, fuel range, that kind of thing) the screen flashed the warning that my truck’s engine would shut down in 50 miles—49—48—unless I replenished the diesel exhaust fluid right away. Now, the Ford F-250 I was driving was a diesel, a species I’m not used to, so I consulted the driver’s manual to see what to do. My concerns were founded – I was worried about running low on the stuff en route to a distant purveyor—there being none within a 25-mile radius of my home–and enduring the humiliation of having the truck shut down to idle speed which, apparently, it would do soon after the prescribed 50 miles (46—45) had elapsed….