Impatient Camaro driver clips oncoming Volvo

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A number of years ago, I remember reading a Q & A with then Sgt. Cam Woolley, when someone asked when it was ok to pass on a rural road. The not so obvious answer was that on a single yellow line, one can pass provided it is safe to do so. Then there were the obvious dotted line discussions and the fact that you may never, ever pass on a double yellow line. Common sense that one.

When that double yellow is on a twisty canyon road, it shouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that you should stay in your own lane, even if there is a local turtle ahead of you. Last weekend in California, a current generation Chevy Camaro driver felt that the law and common sense didn’t apply to him. #becausecamara ya know.

Reddit user humanwire was out for a drive and had a couple of cameras on board.

Went out this Saturday to hit up my favorite canyon road with some friends, but it ended up being closed once we got there. Hesitantly, we decided to give a Malibu canyon road (Decker Canyon, aka Route 23) a try on the way back, so the whole day wasn’t a complete waste.
I was quickly reminded why I don’t like driving on Malibu canyon roads, and why I head out much further away from Los Angeles for some frisky driving.
A group of three cars came barreling up behind us; a black Comaro, a red Mazdaspeed 3, and a black M3, unable to wait a second for a turnout.

Completely ruined the fun mood of the trip, and my friends and I turned around almost immediately so we wouldn’t be associated with that group. Wouldn’t want a CHP call to go out including us with that group.
Too many dickhead drivers. Too much traffic. Too many police patrols. Less than stellar roads (not all of them).

Pony car boy gets fed up with idling along behind a slowpoke in a Ford Explorer, and decides to pull out and pass, on a blind corner. He actually clips a Volvo that was headed in the opposite direction. Things could have very easily been a deadly incident, so everyone involved were very lucky.

Here’s to hoping that the local police get hold of this and track the moron down.

Source: YouTube via Reddit

On board at Interlagos in a V8 powered Chevy Sonic

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When most North Americans think of the term stock cars, we tend to think of NASCAR style taxi cab racing. In Brazil however, the cars used for the Stock Car racing series are V8 powered silhouette racers that are more like Aussie V8 Supercars.

Likewise, when we think of a Chevrolet Sonic, what comes to mind is a diminutive five door sub-compact car.

Things in Brazil are just a bit different than they are here.

Ozz Negri, usually a driver for Michael Shank Racing in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, made a trip to his home country over the weekend to take part in a race at the Interlagos Formula 1 track. Negri, at the wheel of a beastly sounding Sonic, finished in P14 out of 33 starters. Mid-pack may not be so bad when you consider that the field contained names like Rubens Barichello, Nelson Piquet Jr., Raphael Matos, Bruno Senna, Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Zonta among others.

The folks at RACER set up a GoPro in Negri’s Chevy for a lap.

Source: RACER via YouTube
Image Source: Vickie Miller via Twitter

15 Seconds With: 2014 Chevrolet Trax

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We all have certain needs when choosing a new car. Some need space, while others need something that sips fuel. Then of course there are those of us who just want to go fast. The Chevy Trax offers those a bit of utility for those who need it, but want it in a package that is easy to manage around town. While I prefer something with a manual transmission and with a bit more power, I found myself grinning like a fool just about every time I drove Chevrolet’s tiny tripper.

The biggest shame is that our U.S. readers can’t buy one, as this puppy is Canada only.

How To Buy a New Car, Part I

2013 Chevrolet Cruze RS

If you are here at The Garage, chances are you love cars. And we share your passion for them. As a car journalist, I consider myself a pretty lucky guy. I have a brand new car at my disposal every week. But that’s me. My wife’s 2010 VW Jetta’s lease was coming to an end, and we needed to find a replacement. I won’t mince words-I do not like the new Jetta, which has been cheapened and dumbed down for the American market. Needless to say, the current Jetta, which is selling well, was off the list.

 

Shopping for a new car is a daunting experience. Apart from your house, or your child’s college education, it is one of the largest financial commitments you will make in your lifetime. Personally, I prefer to lease. Yes, you can argue that I never actually own the car, and you are right. But, like most people, I do not have $25,000 under my mattress to buy a new car.

 

My requirements were simple. A 36 month lease, 12,000 miles a year, nothing down. Also, I had two things working in my favor. I sold new and used Hondas before I went away to college, so I know how the system works. But the biggest weapon I brought to the table was you, our readers. And I made it perfectly clear that I would be naming names, and fully documenting my car shopping experience. You might think this would have them scared straight, right? Think again.

 

My wife loves the TV series Hawaii 5-0, and on that show one of the lead characters drives a Chevy Cruze, in a pretty Crytal Red paint job. She fell for the car, and the Cruze was one of our early candidates. I’d driven a Cruze Eco, and came away impressed. I have never owned an American car, but I deemed the Cruze good enough to be the first.

 

As a member of the auto media, I do have access to employee pricing. Yes, it is a perk of being in the business, but when you are a car journalist, people do ask what car sits in my driveway. And that answer has enough gravity that the car companies are willing to extend that discount to me.

 

And so, I contacted General Motors offices in New York City, asked, and received, the discount. Authorization code in hand from my printed e-mail, I marched down to Chevrolet of Milford at the end of July. I was given pricing. I said I was not ready to buy, since my lease did not terminate until the end of August. Come August, I requested new pricing. Amazingly, with the 2014’s on their way, Chevy of Milford added $500 to the price originally quoted days before.

 

The story gets better. Because of my employee pricing, GM gave me a link to see what my discounts would be. For a 2013 Chevy Cruze, I was entitled to a $2,000 discount. Also, since I am a member of USAA, I was eligible for an additional $500 discount, for a total of $2,500 off sticker price. I study the paperwork from Chevy of Milford. My discount is nowhere near that amount.

 

Frustrated, and feeling like I am being jerked around, I e-mail my contact at Chevy of Milford. I tell him I have physical proof of the discounts I am entitled to, and ask why he is not honoring them. He asks if I can e-mail him the documentation, which I was more than happy to provide. I scanned and e-mailed seven pages of print outs showing the pricing I was qualified for. A day passes. His boss e-mails me, wanting to talk about the benefits of buying a car over leasing one. Not a word of honoring the discount GM promised me. And nevermind the fact I never wanted to buy, I wanted to lease.

 

Since I was having trouble at Chevy of Milford, I contacted McDermott Chevrolet just outside of New Haven, CT. They had a Crystal Red Cruze like we wanted, and I had requested pricing, again explaining that I would be writing about my buying experience. As with Chevy of Milford, I provided McDermott Chevrolet pages of documentation of the discounts I was entitled to, but the dealer was not allowing. After sending McDermott the documents, three days pass without a word, until the sales guy asks if I am still interested in the car. The answer was a curt ‘no’.

 

So, Chevrolet of Milford and McDermott Chevrolet refused to honor the pricing General Motors promised me. And I warned both dealers if they did not cooperate, I would call them out. Which is exactly what I did. And, this is the part that breaks my heart. Chevy has never built a compact car I would ever consider owning, until now, with the Cruze. It’s that good a car.

 

But this is where my world meets your world-in the showroom. I am not at a fancy catered event in Manhattan, or a car show, where the car company has total control over their message. It is the dealership that for the car buying public is the face of the company.Yes, Chevy likely spent a few hundred million dollars developing the Cruze, with thousands of hours of development to make it as good a car as it is. All that money, and all that work was for nothing, because Chevy of Milford and McDermott Chevrolet failed to agree to the terms General Motors themselves had offered me.

I threatened to rat both dealers out to General Motors, and I gave them clear warning. It made no difference. So I followed through with my promise. I let GM’s corporate communications office in New York City know exactly what happened. Horrified, my contact asked if it would be ok if one of her superiors were to contact me. I said that would be fine, and within hours I get a call from the head of Northeast Chevy dealers, stating that the dealers must have misunderstood the discounts. Excuse me? SEVEN PAGES of documents show I was owed $2,500 off of list price. And GM tells me that two dealers did not understand? Do they really think I am that stupid?

Knowing that I am about to disclose these two dealerships and how they were screwing me over, I continued to get phone calls from GM, begging me to reconsider. I think the unreturned phone calls said enough. This could have been very simple, but over the matter of a few hundred dollars profit, both dealers shot themselves in the foot. And the crazy thing is, I told them if they did not honor the discount and screw me over, I would tell my thousands of readers, and the corporate leaders at General Motors about it. And, sadly enough, both dealers proved to be so arrogant and ignorant, they simply did not give a damn.

Fast forward a couple weeks later, and I am sitting on a sky top lounge overlooking Chelsea Piers in New York City. On my right is the Hudson River, to my left, the Manhattan skyline. In front of me is the drop dead gorgeous Cadillac Elmiraj concept car, fresh from its Pebble Beach Concours debut. But GM brass wants to talk to me about the Cruze disaster. I am frank, and honest, and explained that as a journalist, this is my story, and I am sticking to it. In GM’s defense, I said I would mention that the company tried to do good, but in reality, is that only because they knew I was a car journalist? With connections to their superiors?

Thanks for reading, and be sure to tune in for Part II for the conclusion of my car buying experience.

Review: 2013 Chevy Spark

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Let’s face facts-Chevy has been very awkward about sub-compact cars since the 1980′s, when they started importing Korean cars badged as Chevy’s. There was a total disconnect from the brand with these little cars, and it did not help that the cars themselves were, at best, average. But with a post-bailout GM, the light bulb seems to have been lit. An entry level subcompact needs to be offered in a mainstream brand like Chevy, but it has to, in simple terms, be a Chevy. The Spark comes to us via South Korea, but does it have enough of an American accent to give the Spark an identity the car’s that followed it lacked?

The Spark is tiny, narrow, and quite tall. Practicality is the name of the game here, but that doesn’t mean Chevy designers were not allowed some fun. The headlight bezels that stretch nearly to the edge of the windshield is pretty outrageous. The flared fenders offset by handsome 15″ machine faced alloy wheels gives a sporty look. Nice details like blacked out integrated rear door handles is a clever trick. But most important, the Spark is instantly recognizable as a Chevy, something it’s ancestors cannot claim.

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In a radical departure from the past, the Spark offers a colorful and fun interior. Yes, hard plastics abound but you never feel like you are sitting in a penalty box. The black and red leatherette seats with red stitching work to add a warmth not often seen in this class of car. The high seating position makes you feel as if you are sitting on, not in the Spark. The Spark features Chevy’s MyLink smartphone integration for navigation, and Pandora radio. Unfortunately, I found the sound quality of the six-speaker audio system to be sub-par, which is critical to the Spark’s target market. Otherwise, the Spark is a fairly pleasant place.

The Spark is available only as a five-door hatchback, with one engine on offer. That engine is a 1.2L four cylinder rated at 84hp. Buyers can choose from a five speed manual or four speed automatic. The Spark is less powerful than its competition, and the 32/38 EPA City/Highway fuel economy figures are decent, but not stellar. Thankfully, The Garage’s Spark was blessed with the five speed manual, which Chevy claims can go 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds. Opt for the automatic, and 0-60mph goes to a lazy 12.2 seconds. Around town, the Spark had plenty of pep, the handling was docile and the manual tranny was a breeze to operate. The Spark is a city car, not a long distance highway cruiser.

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Our Spark was the top of the line 2LT, and to Chevy’s credit, it comes well equipped. GM’s OnStar, XM radio, Bluetooth, heated seats, remote keyless entry, rear spoiler, fog lamps and chrome exhaust tip tally’s up with an as delivered price of $15,795USD. This represents a fantastic value for the content provided.

Chevy sees the Spark competing against the stylish Fiat 500 ,the Scion iQ and Smart. I do not. These cars are more fashion statements, while the Spark distinguishes itself as a useful, four door car, and far more practical. The Spark is Chevy’s best effort yet for a sub-compact car, and it meshes perfectly with Chevy’s brand image.

Danica goes green for St Pattie’s Day

In case you live under a rock, today is St. Patrick’s day. Today is also Saturday, which means there is a NASCAR Nationwide Series race this afternoon. Combine the two and there will be a lot of green beer being consumed at Bristol. The marketing team at JR Motorsports decided to have a bit of fun with Danica Patrick‘s Go Daddy Chevy in honour of the day too.

The #7 Impala has been sprayed with the same metallic green as the 2010 Camaro, and adorned with shamrocks and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day message. Obviously, the team is hoping the luck of the Irish will rub off on their St Patrick.

We’ve got video and images of the car after the break.

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Review: 2012 Chevy Tahoe

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a teenager, working at a high-end audio store in tony Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and all of a sudden this quiet downtown formally filled with Volvo’s, BMW’s and the like were suddenly replaced with wealthy stay at home mom’s wielding 2-1/2 ton V-8 full-size Chevy Tahoes. Walking across the street on my lunch break for my favorite hamburger had become a risky proposition. But that was twenty years ago. Fast forward to the present, where I tell my friend at GM I am headed to Pennsylvania with my wife and son in tow for an early Christmas, and I’m going to need something that can haul cargo. GM promptly answered that a 2012 Chevy Tahoe LTZ would be at my disposal.

The Tahoe in its current state has been around since 2007, and has remained true to what it is-a full-size SUV. Yet Chevy has managed to keep the Tahoe looking fresh with clean, crisp lines, and a no-fuss exterior. Finished in Silver Ice Metallic complimented with 20″ polished alloys, the Tahoe looked smart and well-proportioned.

Inside, the Tahoe proved to be a quiet retreat from the maddening traffic we faced just skirting New York City. The quality of trim, fit and finish were both excellent. While not well-bolstered, the seats were very comfortable over the long haul. Chevy’s Nav/infotainment touchscreen was a cinch to use, and we appreciated the quality of the Bose audio for Christmas songs. With the three of us, the Tahoe was a joy to be in, but there was a problem. It being Christmas, we had our own gifts to haul down, and we would need to have seating as well. Not a problem for such a huge SUV you say?

Allow me to explain. Our top-spec Tahoe LTZ seats two up front, with two captain’s chairs in the second row, and a third row that Chevy claims will fit three people. The third row is removable, but because the two front rows had seating for four, I knew I had to keep all three rows. That said, the Tahoe’s cargo bed was loaded to the hilt with the third row folded up, just for a weekend trip. Once in Pennsylvania, with five passengers in this massive SUV could barely contain our grocery shopping. My wife who stands at a towering 5′ tall sat in the third row and was not at all comfortable. For all it’s size, the Tahoe just seemed impossibly impractical for what I needed.

Our Tahoe was powered by a 5.3L V-8 rated at 320hp, paired to a six-speed automatic. With an estimated average EPA fuel economy of 17 MPG the Tahoe is one thirsty girl, but in spite of its truck-heritage, the Tahoe is actually an exceptionally refined ride. The towing limit on the Tahoe was 7,200lbs. Our LTZ had standard Autoride suspension, which I am sure helped, but the truth is the Tahoe was a cinch to eat up mile after mile of interstate. Passing power was never a problem, the V-8 ready and waiting. Yes, the steering feel was dead on arrival in terms of feel, but that’s what you expect on a large SUV. With my wife and son nodding off, I was simply astonished at how the Tahoe remained completely composed as I sliced through traffic.

Our Tahoe LTZ was well equipped, with leather seats that were heated and cooled up front, heated steering wheel, XM Radio, Navigation, three-zone climate control, and power liftgate. Our Tahoe was optioned with the Sun & Entertainment Package, which added rear seat DVD entertainment and sunroof, heavy duty cooling package and trailer brake controller for a total of $59,135USD including delivery.

On our return trip to Connecticut, the Tahoe was positively exceptional, but for nearly $60k there are better options out there for the average family. But if you need to tow, go off-road, and haul folks the Chevy Tahoe more than fits the bill.

Review: 2012 Chevy Sonic

As a card carrying member of Generation X, by the time I was glued to car magazines in the 1980′s, I always had the impression that Chevy loathed subcompact cars. Sure, Chevy sold them, but they could never be bothered to actually design one themselves-no, it was always a rebadged Suzuki or Daewoo that were barely competitive. The thinking seemed to be ‘why should we waste our time on thin profits on small cars while we’re making a fortune selling Suburbans?’ Well, that mentality landed General Motors on their knees in front of the US Congress begging for a government bailout or face bankruptcy.

It is now 2012, and we’re living in a post-bailout GM world. Wisely, GM decided it would serve them well to design, for the first time, a subcompact car for North America. Not an afterthought. Not a lousy import with a Chevy bowtie slapped on it. For the first time, Chevy is actually being sincere about the subcompact car. Enter the Sonic. Designed in, and made in America.

The Sonic is available as a four door sedan or five door hatchback. Our test car was a four door sedan, finished in Summit White. Which was a shame, I thought, since our Sonic looked more like a kitchen appliance than an interesting car. While the sedan is a handsome car, the white literally washed out all design detail and character lines. The five door hatchback is more cutting edge, and is a real stand out with some real spicy colors available that make the Sonic stand out from the rest. I’ve seen other Sonics, and it was just unfortunate our test car looked so…average, because I know the car looks fantastic in other colors.

Thankfully, our bland wrapper revealed an interior full of character. Starting with the gauge cluster, Chevy uses an analog tachometer flanked by a digital speedometer, containing other vital information. Honda does the same thing with the Civic, but in an awkward two-tier dash. Chevy took the same concept and perfected it by going side-by-side. It’s cool, different from anything out there, and it looks far better than Honda’s application. The Sonic’s cabin is roomy, comfortable, and feels of very high quality given the price. The attention to detail here is unlike any Chevy I’ve been in. Our test car’s black and brick interior was comfortable and contemporary, even striking in appearance. I loved the contrast between the black and brick hues, along with the matching brick piped floor mats, chromed door handles and silver plastic accents all added up to a surprisingly hospitable interior, the best in its class I’ve seen yet.

In the engine room, the Sonic comes standard with a 1.8L four cylinder rated at 138hp, with a choice of a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic. There is an optional 1.4L turbocharged four cylinder, also rated at 138hp, but offers more torque and better fuel economy than the larger, normally aspirated standard engine. The turbo is available only with a six-speed manual. Our test car had the 1.8L four with a five-speed manual. For a subcompact, the Sonic is at the top of its class for power, and its light weight makes the car feel quick and nimble around town. The Sonic’s handling was perfectly competent, steering inputs positive, and the clutch and gearshift were easy to modulate. All in all, the Sonic is both an easy and fun to drive car.

The Sonic is offered in three trim levels, LS, LT, and LTZ. Our test car was the middle of the line LT. Our LT sedan has an MSRP of $15,695USD, and includes a six speaker premium audio system with CD and XM satellite radio, power windows, and power heated exterior mirrors. All Sonics come standard with ten airbags, OnStar, remote keyless entry and 15″ alloy wheels.

With the Sonic, Chevy has made a serious attitude adjustment in its approach to the subcompact car. In the past, Chevy was like the guy who showed up to your party carrying the cheapest six-pack of beer he could find. The message was ‘Well, I’m here, but I really don’t care’. Chevy has finally wised up, and instead of passing over another carmaker’s design, took ownership and delivered what is an excellent subcompact car, one I would easily recommend over the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. Welcome to the party, Chevy-and thanks for not going on the cheap this time!

Chevy shows Korean Miray concept in The D

For any gearhead worth his or her salt, concept cars are pretty much the most exciting part of going to any auto show. It doesn’t even matter if they have been shown before, all that matters is that we get to dream about what could be.

The good folks at Chevrolet know this, which is why they brought the Miray concept to Detroit. While it shared little or anything in common with anything else in the Chevy booth, the concept, which was originally shown in Seoul last year, drew onlookers even during the media preview. The drop dead sexy machine has design cues very loosely based on Chevy heritage while motivation is of the gas/electric hybrid variety.

Behold to glitter of the Miray after the break, along with a video from the folks at Sick Rides.
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