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    Review: 2016 Buick Cascada Premium & Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible


    • Dropping the tops of GM's latest convertibles

    Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?

    Exterior:

    There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 

    On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 

    One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 

    Interior:

    Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.

    In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.

    On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 

    Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 

    Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.

    The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.

    Powertrain:

    Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 

    The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.

    Ride & Handling:

    Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.

    The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.

    Price:

    The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.

    If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 

    Verdict:

    Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.

    But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
     

     

    Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2016
    Make: Buick
    Model: Cascada
    Trim: Premium
    Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
    Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
    Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
    Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
    Base Price: $36,065
    As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00

    Year: 2016
    Make: Chevrolet
    Model: Camaro Convertible
    Trim: SS
    Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
    Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
    Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
    Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
    Base Price: $48,300
    As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
    Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
    Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
    Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
    20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00

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    Maybe GM will fix all issues with the Cascada either next year or the year after.  That 4cyl has to go though, since it is as weak as any motor as they always push in displacement-constrained European markets.

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    Of the two the Camaro woudl interest me the most, but I much prefer the Camaro as a coupe.  I have no bias against convertibles, but with both the Camaro and Mustang, the proportions of the current convertible seem slightly off visually.  I am kind of glad in a way that the MOPAR boys have not followed suit and built a Challenger convertible.

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    The Cascada, being Astra based, should naturally get the new Astra's dashboard. 

    cq5dam.web.1280.1280 (3).jpeg

     

    The 1.6T is a perfectly fine engine... it's just not enough for this particular application. I would have loved to see this engine as a mid-level engine in the Verano, an optional engine in the Encore, and possibly even the base engine in the Regal.  In a car that isn't so heavy, it reportedly gets fantastic fuel economy and the power band is excellent. 

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    1 hour ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    The Cascada, being Astra based, should naturally get the new Astra's dashboard. 

    cq5dam.web.1280.1280 (3).jpeg

     

    The 1.6T is a perfectly fine engine... it's just not enough for this particular application. I would have loved to see this engine as a mid-level engine in the Verano, an optional engine in the Encore, and possibly even the base engine in the Regal.  In a car that isn't so heavy, it reportedly gets fantastic fuel economy and the power band is excellent. 

    I do like that Dashboard!

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    15 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

    The new Camaro pricing has gotten awful ambitious. 

    I think GM is showing a change of attitude.... they care less about volumes and more about profit. They feel they can set the price, and if they sell fewer of them (them being just about any model except full-size trucks), then they are fine with it.  They're no longer building cars just to keep the lights on like they were 10 years ago. 

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    A friend on another site(facebook) son just bought a 2016 or 2017 1SS with 10k off sticker, walked out for only 28k. Freakin' great deal!

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    39 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    I think GM is showing a change of attitude.... they care less about volumes and more about profit. They feel they can set the price, and if they sell fewer of them (them being just about any model except full-size trucks), then they are fine with it.  They're no longer building cars just to keep the lights on like they were 10 years ago. 

    Yes, but it is obviously costing them sales. Neither Chevy store I've worked at in the last 2 years sell Camaros for crap. Not even much interest in them. There's no markup in them. The incentives are terrible. The back seat is now almost unusable. The visibility is still poor. And Ford is selling Mustangs hand over fist. And I'm a GM guy.

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    41 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

    Yes, but it is obviously costing them sales. Neither Chevy store I've worked at in the last 2 years sell Camaros for crap. Not even much interest in them. There's no markup in them. The incentives are terrible. The back seat is now almost unusable. The visibility is still poor. And Ford is selling Mustangs hand over fist. And I'm a GM guy.

    But are they now more profitable for GM even at the lower rate of sales?  That's the point I was trying to make.  If GM can get $5,000 profit per car (completely made up number) selling 50,000 of them a year, but would have to mark it down $4,000 to sell 70,000 of them a year... where is the financial incentive to do so?  They make more money selling fewer cars at a higher price. 

    They are also likely making more per unit than Ford because of the fact they are using a platform shared by 2 other vehicles (both of which are in the premium segment), so the amortization costs of the platform will be much lower. 

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    29 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    But are they now more profitable for GM even at the lower rate of sales?  That's the point I was trying to make.  If GM can get $5,000 profit per car (completely made up number) selling 50,000 of them a year, but would have to mark it down $4,000 to sell 70,000 of them a year... where is the financial incentive to do so?  They make more money selling fewer cars at a higher price. 

    They are also likely making more per unit than Ford because of the fact they are using a platform shared by 2 other vehicles (both of which are in the premium segment), so the amortization costs of the platform will be much lower. 

    Therefore the prices could be more aggressive, while GM still made money. 

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    4 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    But are they now more profitable for GM even at the lower rate of sales?  That's the point I was trying to make.  If GM can get $5,000 profit per car (completely made up number) selling 50,000 of them a year, but would have to mark it down $4,000 to sell 70,000 of them a year... where is the financial incentive to do so?  They make more money selling fewer cars at a higher price. 

    They are also likely making more per unit than Ford because of the fact they are using a platform shared by 2 other vehicles (both of which are in the premium segment), so the amortization costs of the platform will be much lower. 

    That entire platform has sold less than the mustang last I looked. So while it gets spread out it still sells less units. 

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    2 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    That entire platform has sold less than the mustang last I looked. So while it gets spread out it still sells less units. 

     ATS + CTS + Camaro - yes at the moment that is correct.  As of August they are at 72,963 while the Mustang alone is 80,829.   But Cadillac is getting some of the highest transaction prices in its respective classes (even higher than BMW), so that means they are pulling in much higher transaction prices than Mustang. The mustang, quite honestly, is often to be found as an option at the rental car counter while I can never seem to find a Camaro.  That isn't a judgement against the car (I actually quite like the Mustang overall), it's just a reflection of what's behind the sales numbers. 

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    After 2 years, 3 max as they get their special models out, I believe they will have to start piling incentives on the Camaro just to move it.  I hate that as it is an excellent driving car, but it also has a lot of little issues such as visibility.  Looking at coupes and particularly if I was in the market for a turbo 4 or 6, I would look for a gently used ATS coupe.  My brother got a loaded 15 ATS could for the low 30s with only 4900 miles on the clock.  It was an AWD with the V6 too with driver assist and ever option Cadillac offers.  That is slightly optioned 1LT Camaro territory. 

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    On the Cascada, why not put the 2.0T in there?  It would probably get better FE too as it shouldn't have to stay quite as far in the boost all the time to keep it going.  The 1.6T would be reat in a maybe a sporty Cruise or even Sonic model.  I agree with the Encore (and Trax) too. 

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      Inside, the ATS-V is a bit of a disappointment. For the nearly $80,000 price tag of our tester, you would think that it would look and feel the part. In certain areas, the ATS-V does. Cadillac has appointed parts of the interior with carbon fiber and suede to give it a sporty feel. Our tester featured the optional Recaro seats which are the first set I actually liked sitting in. A lot of this is due to how you could adjust seat bolstering to make yourself actually fit into the seat, not sitting on top of it. 
      But this where the good points end with the ATS-V’s interior. Despite all of the premium touches Cadillac has added, it doesn’t feel like it is worth the price. Take for example the center stack with CUE. It is just a sheet of piano black trim and makes the interior feel somewhat cheap. You’ll find more piano black trim throughout the interior which reinforces this. The instrument cluster is the same that you’ll find in the standard ATS only with a different font. It would have been nice if Cadillac could have pulled the 12.3-inch screen setup they use on the CTS-V as it looks nicer and would provide the key details needed for a driver. CUE still hasn’t gotten any better in terms of performance and overall usability. Yes, Cadillac has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to CUE. But we had issues with CarPlay with the system not recognizing our phone and apps crashing. The back seat? Just use it for storage. Trying to fit someone back there could cause you to be accused of cruel and unusual punishment.
      Power for the ATS-V comes from a twin-turbo 3.6L V6 with 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. This can be paired with either a six-speed manual or our tester’s eight-speed automatic. Start up the engine and it delivers a meaty, if somewhat muted growl. Don’t let that fool you, this engine will throw you in the back of your seat with no issue. Yes, the turbos do mean you’ll have a moment or two for that rush of power to arrive. But once the turbos spool, hold on. Power comes on at a linear rate and never lets up. The eight-speed automatic delivers crisp upshifts, but it does take a second or so for it to downshift. If you’re wondering about fuel economy, the EPA rates the ATS-V automatic at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 18 mpg.
      Where the ATS-V truly shines is in the handling. The first time I took the ATS-V down a curvy road, I was gobsmacked at how well it hustled around the corners with no issues. Enter into a corner and ATS-V hunkers down thanks to sticky Michelin Pilot Sport. There is little body roll and the steering provides quick and precise turn-in. The ATS was already a pretty decent handling car, but Cadillac knew that it could be better. The stiffness of the chassis has been increased by 25 percent and there is the newest version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system that is faster when it comes adjusting the damping characteristics of the shocks. Three modes (Touring, Sport, and Track) can vary the stiffness of the shocks along with the behavior of the engine and steering. 
      When you decided that you had enough fun and it is time to go back to the daily grind, the ATS-V turns into a comfortable cruiser. With the vehicle in Touring mode, the ride is compliant with some bumps making their way inside. Road and wind noise is kept to very acceptable levels.
      One item that we were disappointed not to have on our test ATS-V was blind spot monitoring. This is part of a $1,500 Safety and Security package that also adds lane keep assist, forward collision alert, rear-cross traffic alert, and more. For a vehicle that begins that begins just a hair over $62,000, you think blind spot monitor would be standard. It should.
      Cadillac has been making great strides since the first-generation CTS-V and the ATS-V is the beneficiary of it. The powertrains will nail you to your seats and the handling can match or surpass the class leaders. But Cadillac is still stumbling over some simple things such as the interior materials and the infotainment system. It is an amazing driving vehicle, but it is let down by the interior.
      At the end of the week, I couldn’t deny this is an impressive vehicle even with the interior issues. It was very much worth the long wait.
      Cheers: Jaw-Dropping performance, Sharp handling, Looks that make it stand out from the crowd
      Jeers: Carbon Fiber package isn't worth the money or worry, Interior doesn't feel like it is worth the price, CUE
      Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the ATS-V, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Cadillac
      Model: ATS-V Coupe
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 3.6L SIDI DOHC Twin-Turbo V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 464 @ 5,850
      Torque @ RPM: 445 @ 3,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 3,803 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $62,665
      As Tested Price: $79,205 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carbon Fiber Package - $5,000.00
      Recaro Performance Seats - $2,300.00
      Luxury Package - $2,100.00
      8-Speed Automatic Transmission - $2,000.00
      Performance Data Recorder - $1,300.00
      Power Sunroof - $1,050.00
      18-inch Polished Wheels - $900.00
      Dark Gold Brembo Calipers - $595.00
      Sueded Microfiber Steering Wheels and Shifter - $300.00
    • By William Maley
      Over the weekend, General Motors published and then deleted the power figures for the new 6.6L Duramax Diesel V8 that would be appearing in the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD. Today at the Texas State Fair, GM revealed everything about this new engine.
      We'll begin with the most important detail, power output. The numbers that GM revealed match the numbers posted to their powertrain site - 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the current Duramax V8, the new engine produces 48 more horsepower and 145 more pound-feet of torque.
      How was GM able to pull this off? They basically went through the engine with a fine tooth comb and made various changes. GM says 90 percent of this engine has been changed. Some of the changes include new electronically controlled, variable-vane turbocharger, revised cylinder heads, improved cooling, and revised fuel delivery system. The updated Duramax can also run B20 bio-diesel.
      Figures for payload and towing will be announced at a later date.
      Source: Chevrolet, GMC
      Press Release is on Page 2


      DALLAS — Chevrolet today announced the redesigned Duramax 6.6L V-8 turbo-diesel offered on the 2017 Silverado HD. This next-generation redesign offers more horsepower and torque than ever — an SAE-certified 445 horsepower (332 kW) and 910 lb.-ft. (1,234 Nm) — to enable easier, more confident hauling and trailering.
      Along with a 19 percent increase in max torque over the current Duramax 6.6L, the redesigned turbo-diesel’s performance is quieter and smoother, for greater refinement. In fact, engine noise at idle is reduced 38 percent.
      “With nearly 2 million sold over the past 15 years, customers have forged a bond with the Duramax diesel based on trust and capability,” said Dan Nicholson, vice president, Global Propulsion Systems. “The new Duramax takes those traits to higher levels.”
      The new Duramax 6.6L shares essentially only the bore and stroke dimensions of the current engine and incorporates a new, GM-developed control system. The Duramax’s signature low-rpm torque production hasn’t changed and still offers 90 percent of peak torque at a low 1,550 rpm and sustains it through 2,850 rpm.
      “Nearly everything about the Duramax is new, designed to produce more torque at lower rpm and more confidence when trailering or hauling,” said Gary Arvan, chief engineer. “You’ll also notice the refinement improvements the moment you start the engine, and appreciate them as you cruise quietly down the highway — with or without a trailer.”
      Additional highlights include:
      New, stronger cylinder block and cylinder heads New, stronger rotating and reciprocating assembly Increased oil- and coolant-flow capacity New EGR system with single cooler and integrated bypass New electrically actuated/electronically controlled turbocharging system All-new advanced solenoid fuel system All-new electronic controls New full-length damped steel oil pan that contributes to quietness New rocker cover/fuel system acoustical treatments B20 bio-diesel compatibility SAE-certified 445 net horsepower (332 kW) at 2,800 rpm SAE-certified 910 net lb.-ft. of torque (1,234 Nm) at 1,600 rpm A new, patent-pending vehicle air intake system — distinguished on the Silverado HD by a bold hood scoop — drives cool, dry air into the engine for sustained performance and cooler engine temperatures during difficult conditions, such as trailering on steep grades. Cooler air helps the engine run better under load, especially in conditions where engine and transmission temperatures can rise quickly. That allows the Duramax to maintain more power and vehicle speed when trailering in the toughest conditions.
      The intake design is another example of the advanced integration included in the 2017 Silverado HD that makes it over-the-road capable.   
      A strong foundation
      As with previous versions, the new Duramax block features a strong cast-iron foundation known for its durability, with induction-hardened cylinder walls and five nodular iron main bearings. It retains the same 4.05-inch (103mm) and 3.89-inch (99mm) bore and stroke dimensions as the current engine, retaining the Duramax’s familiar 6.6L (403 cu.-in./6,599 cc) displacement.
      A deep-skirt design and four-bolt, cross-bolted main caps help ensure the block’s strength and enable more accurate location of the rotating assembly. A die-cast aluminum lower crankcase also strengthens the engine block and serves as the lower engine cover, while reducing its overall weight.
      The new engine block incorporates larger-diameter crankshaft connecting rod journals than the current engine, enabling the placement of a stronger crankshaft and increased bearing area to handle higher cylinder loads.
      An enhanced oiling circuit, with higher flow capacity and a dedicated feed for the turbocharger, provides increased pressure at the turbo and faster oil delivery. Larger piston-cooling oil jets at the bottom of the cylinder bores spray up to twice the amount of engine oil into oil galleries under the crown of the pistons, contributing to lower engine temperature and greater durability.
      A new, two-piece oil pan contributes to the new Duramax’s quieter operation. It consists of a laminated steel oil pan with an upper aluminum section. The aluminum section provides strength-enhancing rigidity for the engine, but a pan made entirely of aluminum would radiate more noise, so the laminated steel lower section is added to dampen noise and vibration.
      There’s also an integrated oil cooler with 50 percent greater capacity than the current engine’s, ensuring more consistent temperatures at higher engine loads.
      Segment firsts
      Re-melt piston bowl rim Venturi Jet Drain Oil Separator Closed-loop glow plug temperature control Stronger pistons with remelt
      A tough, forged micro-alloy steel crankshaft anchors the new Duramax’s stronger rotating assembly. Cut-then-rolled journal fillets contribute to its durability by strengthening the junction where the journals — the round sections on which the bearings slide — meet the webs that separate the main and rod journals.
      The connecting rods are stronger, too, and incorporate a new 45-degree split-angle design to allow the larger-diameter rod bearings to pass through the cylinder bores during engine assembly. They’re forged and sintered with a durable powdered metal alloy, with a fractured-cap design enabling more precise cap-to-rod fitment. 
      A new, stronger cast-aluminum piston design tops off the rotating assembly. It features a taller crown area and a remelted combustion bowl rim for greater strength. Remelting is an additional manufacturing process for aluminum pistons in which the bowl rim area is reheated after casting and pre-machining, creating a much finer and more consistent metal grain structure that greatly enhances thermal fatigue properties.
      Additionally, the Duramax’s pistons don’t use pin bushings, reducing reciprocating weight to help the engine rev quicker and respond faster to throttle changes.
      Lightweight cylinder heads, solenoid injectors
      The redesigned engine retains the Duramax’s signature first-in-class aluminum cylinder head design, with six head bolts per cylinder and four valves per cylinder. The aluminum construction helps reduce the engine’s overall weight, while the six-bolt design provides exceptional head-clamping strength — a must in a high-compression, turbocharged application.
      A new aluminum head casting uses a new double-layer water core design that separates and arranges water cores in layers to create a stiffer head structure with more precise coolant flow control. The heads’ airflow passages are also heavily revised to enhance airflow, contributing to the engine’s increased horsepower and torque.
      The Duramax employs a common-rail direct injection fuel system with new high-capability solenoid-type injectors. High fuel pressure of 29,000 psi (2,000 bar) promotes excellent fuel atomization for a cleaner burn that promotes reduced particulate emissions. The new injectors also support up to seven fuel delivery events per combustion event, contributing to lower noise, greater efficiency and lower emissions. Technology advancements enable less-complex solenoid injectors to deliver comparable performance to piezo-type injectors.
      Electronically controlled, variable-geometry turbocharging system
      A new electronically controlled, variable-vane turbocharger advances the Duramax’s legacy of variable-geometry boosting. Compared to the current engine, the system produces higher maximum boost pressure — 28 psi (195 kPa) — to help the engine make more power, and revisions to enhance the capability of the exhaust-brake system.
      Along with a new camshaft profile and improved cylinder head design, the Duramax’s new variable-vane turbocharger enables the engine to deliver more power with lower exhaust emissions. It uses a more advanced variable-vane mechanism, allowing a 104-degree F (40 C) increase in exhaust temperature capability. The self-contained mechanism decouples movement from the turbine housing, allowing operation at higher temperature. That enables the engine to achieve higher power at lower cylinder pressure. Additionally, it has lower internal leakage, allowing more exhaust energy to be captured during exhaust braking.
      The integrated exhaust brake system makes towing less stressful by creating added backpressure in the exhaust, resulting in negative torque during deceleration and downhill driving, enhancing driver control and prolonging brake pad life.
      Venturi Jet Drain Oil Separator
      A new Venturi Jet Drain Oil Separator employed with the Duramax 6.6L is the first of its type in the segment and is designed to ensure oil control in sustained full-load operation. The totally sealed system collects the fine mist of oil entrained in the blow-by gas and uses a small portion of the boosted air generated by the turbocharger to pump the collected oil back to the engine oil sump for re-use by the engine. Less sophisticated systems are not able to return this oil during full-load operation, which can result in oil carryover into the cylinders during combustion.
      Cold Start System
      The new Duramax also provides outstanding cold-weather performance, with microprocessor-controlled glow plugs capable of gas-engine-like starting performance in fewer than 3 seconds in temperatures as low as -20 degrees F (-29 C) without a block heater. The system is enhanced with ceramic glow plugs and automatic temperature compensation — a first-in-class feature providing improved robustness and capability. The automatic temperature compensation assesses and adjusts the current to each glow plug for every use, providing optimal temperature for cold start performance and durability.     
      Electronic throttle valve and cooled EGR
      Unlike a gasoline engine, a diesel engine doesn’t necessarily require a throttle control system. The Duramax 6.6L employs an electronic throttle valve to regulate intake manifold pressure in order to increase exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) rates. It also contributes to smoother engine shutdown.
      Additionally, a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system enhances performance and helps reduce emissions by diverting some of the engine-out exhaust gas and mixing it back into the fresh intake air stream, which is fed through the cylinder head for combustion. This lowers combustion temperatures, improving emissions performance by reducing NOx formation.
      The exhaust is cooled in a unique heat exchanger before it’s fed into the intake stream through a patented EGR mixing device, further improving emissions and performance capability. An integrated bypass allows non-cooled exhaust gas to be fed back into the system to help the engine more quickly achieve optimal operating temperature when cold.
      B20 Biodiesel Capability
      The new Duramax 6.6L is capable of running on B20 biodiesel, a fuel composed of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent conventional diesel. B20 helps lower carbon dioxide emissions and lessens dependence on petroleum. It is a domestically produced, renewable fuel made primarily of plant matter — mostly soybean oil.
      Manufacturing
      The new Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel engine is produced with locally and globally sourced parts at the DMAX Ltd. (GM’s joint venture with Isuzu) manufacturing facility in Moraine, Ohio.
      Allison 1000 Automatic Transmission
      The proven Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission is matched with the new Duramax 6.6L. A number of refinements have been made to accommodate the engine’s higher torque capacity, including a new torque converter.
      The Allison 1000’s technologically advanced control features, such as driver shift control with manual shift feature and a patented elevated idle mode cab warm-up feature, haven’t changed. Also, the Tow/Haul mode reduces shift cycling for better control and improved cooling when towing or hauling heavy loads.
      There’s also a smart diesel exhaust brake feature that enhances control when descending steep grades.

      View full article
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