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G. David Felt Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com 2016 Buick Envision Test Drive! June 23rd 2016 started off like most days, up at 4am, in the shower, on the 4:48am 511 bus into Seattle, breakfast at my desk while reviewing email. Work focused and getting things done. A little over 3 hours later I get a call from my local Buick GMC dealership that the Buick Envisions they got in last week are all ready and on the lot for people to come see, test drive, etc. Text message to my sister who has a 2002 Mazda 6 that she is ready to retire that the Buick dealership had the Envision in stock, equipped the way she wanted it and we could test drive it. Her desire is a mid-size to compact CUV with AWD, heated steering wheel, zone control for temp, auto lift gate in back, ability to connect her phone via Bluetooth minimum that she can use for work as she is a Hospice in home nurse and for getting away to the mountains for skiing. Her choices of auto’s to consider is the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4, Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX 350 and she was willing to look at the Buick Envision. Being the family auto nut, I have helped everyone in my family buy their auto’s even if it was not something I myself would buy. Test drove over the weekend the Honda and Toyota and they were crossed off her list as they did not have certain features she was wanting plus NOISY. Yup they are very noisy compared to other auto’s out there. She test drove then the Chevy and GMC to compare, GMC was too butch for her, she liked the Chevy but wanted to finish test driving her list. Next came the Cadillac SRX, except for the gas mileage it hit everything on her list including she loved the seat extensions that support long legged people as she is 6’2” tall average size for my family. Next was the Lexus, solid drive but again gas mileage was a concern for her as she lives in her car driving it all over daily. The inside front seat area was nice but she saw I was straddling the seats in front, rear seat room is lacking for tall people and no zone temp control or radio like much lesser models from other vendors. The amount of hard plastic inside was also very disappointing as the CUV is considered a luxury level but had a very Toyota look and feel to it. We headed to the Buick dealership to only be informed that the person who told me on the phone they had the Envision in stock was wrong and they had none. As it was a late long Saturday, we headed back to my house and she stopped at the Acura dealership to check out the RDX. That became a failure from the word go as the sales person when asked about things like heated steering wheel, heated and cooled seats, rear zone control, etc. he just said no no no no. So she wrote off even taking a test drive in the Acura. So 6 days later after starting this quest of test driving and answering questions for my sister on CUVs we finally get to test drive the Buick Envision. We were both excited to see how this stacked up against all the other CUVs she had driven to date. The dealership had 3 Envisions in stock, two black models one with Premium and one with Premium II and a Red or what they call Saffron Red Premium in stock. Editorial Note: For some reason my old Note 3 phone did not take as sharp as it had in the past photos and I did not realize this till this morning. The dealer pulled the Premium II Black model into the showroom for us to check it out as it was a torrential downpour. Started off with the Engine bay, a nice clean package of the Turbo 4 SIDI motor. Nice that they have gone back to the Dual shocks to hold the engine hood up. Everything seemed to be clearly marked and easy to check for maintenance. I did notice and check out that all fuses are in the engine bay now on the right side behind the battery and to the right of it. Everything else was pretty simple to identify, check for fluid levels etc. I noticed that Buick built a double wall insulated hood. Next was onto the inside. Navigation system was nice, easy to manage and use, all screen controls responded with no lag time and all tactile buttons were very nice and did what they were responsible for. Dash was lovely with the wood trim and everything else was either leather or soft rubber squishiness. It gave a solid feel to the touch and yet warm also, nothing being cold and hard. Cup holders were lit by LED lights for easier viewing especially at night. There was plenty of USB outlets with two on the back control section for temperature and still included the traditional cigarette lighter plug. The two vents for either heat or cooling worked very well and were whisper quiet. The center storage system was nice with the two USB plugs, stereo jack plug and the SD card slot plus the Cigarette outlet. As you can see in the picture below, split armrest allows for you to still get into the storage even when the passenger is resting their arm on the rest. Over all flow was very good for the center stack. Doors had nice leather accents, everything was soft and tactile feel warm to the touch. Nothing hard about the interior for either the front or rear seating people. The rear seats were also the most comfortable out of all these CUV’s and the hardest least comfortable was the Lexus. Surprising that the Toyota Rav4 rear seats were more comfy than its luxury cousin. Surprise of many was that with the seat in the front set for me, I got into the back and still had about 4 inches from my knees to the back of the front seat. Compared to all the other CUVs Lisa had test drove so far, the Envision has a huge amount of rear leg room. People will be very comfy for the long drive. You can even recline the rear seat, two settings and get even more comfortable. Also if you do have the rear door open and need to put down the rear seats so you can get something long into the auto, Buick made it very easy with chrome plated pull handles, one on each side of the rear storage area wall which auto puts down the seat, headrest etc. giving you a very large interior storage area. Access to the rear tire was easy and they had a large variety of storage areas under the rear storage floor for your use. Driving started with a surprise, while very quiet from outside the car when running, you cannot hear the motor inside the car. Since the Sales rep pulled the car out of the dealership sales floor, my sister and I got into the car just outside for her to drive it. I sat in back. She started it up then the sales guy wanted to go over the auto with her. So she stopped and listened to him. When we finally went there was a noticeable little rumble but that was it. She pulled down to the street to go and took off. This little Turbo 4 has plenty of get up and go power. Never strained and you can feel the Torque where it counts in the seat as you feel a gentle push back into the chair. We took it onto the freeway where the Envision showed no strain at getting up to highway speed and moving about. My sister loved the blind spot warning in the side mirrors, she also loved the rumble seat reminder when she got close to either side lines on the road. Exiting the freeway a few miles down the road impressed me with just how quiet Buicks Quiet package is, you do not have wind noise, nor do you have street wheel noise coming into the cabin. Overall a very quiet, serene ride. Next we hit the local neighborhood and she was able to try out the backup camera in a parallel parking attempt. This has always been a problem for my sister and yet on the first try, she got parked using the side mirrors which turn down in reverse and the backup camera. She felt the rear of the seat rumble as she got close to the car behind her. She ended up being about 8 inches away from the curb. Overall a success for her first attempt. With this done, she went to pull out and for the 3rd or 4th time felt the little rumble and finally asked what that was. The sales guy said what was what, but I realized it was the auto start / stop of the engine. Since we were only idling at the parallel parking spot and she had it in drive, the engine had turned off. It did this in the local heavy traffic also trying to save fuel,we then headed back to the dealership. One last final surprise was a mini cooper pulled out of a side street and clearly did not see us and yet the Buick Envision handled it with total confidence. The drive was a tranquil, serene success. Wish I had taken more pictures, but you guys have for the most part seen everything from Buick that has been posted. Hit me up with Questions as the 1hr time spent with the Envision left me with a WOW facture of just how great Buick has stepped up to offer a CUV that clearly trumps the competition.
G. David Felt Alternative Fuels & Propulsion writer www.CheersandGears.com Today started out as a day dedicated to my wife and kids as an early mothers day due to family scheduling issues and left me with a WOW factor after driving the new 2015 Escalade ESV. So how did I end up on the Bellevue Cadillac dealership lot, My wife wanted to spend some time shopping with our Daughter Amy and our son's girlfriend. So I dropped them off at the Bellevue Mall and headed to Auto Row to see what was new and interesting. Spotted this new SUV on the front corner. It had a whopping total of 1.4 miles on the spedo when I sat in her and I left her with 24 miles total when I left. Initial impressions are WOW Cadillac hit this one out of the ball park. The leather is top notch, dash is just amazing and the attention to fit and finish through out the interior is truly World Class Leading. This model was a 2015 White Diamond Tri Coat model with standard running boards and the 22" gun metal grey rims. I will start off with the dash, this Escalade has the HUD system, I was impressed to see that the HUD gave you the following options of display, MPG plus XM info, MPG plus Speed Limiter setting, MPG plus compass, or MPG plus RPM. The dash is a 21st century marvel of technology in it's presentation. It was very clear on how to change the Dash Monitor display from a computer style to an Analog style or a mix in between for me. The steering wheel had a great layout for the buttons and was very responsive. The center stack as all touch pad for your AC, Heat, Stereo, etc. You had the standard backup camera that came up on the large NAV display unit. Best part was that while this Escalade had Cruise sense braking, lane drift attention or blind spot lane changing how ever GM markets it, you had a screen that allowed one to turn off all the nanny devices. Default setting on the drive line is AWD, but you do have the option to go into true 2WD or lock in for 4WD. One thing that was interesting to experience is the vibration in the drivers seat either on the left side or right side depending on if the sensors feel you might hit something on either side. You can experience this just by parallel parking or backing up. Also, a great improvement to keep from marking up either your back or front bumper is that with the sensors built into the bumpers you also get a graphic display in the dash showing you exactly how close you are to the specific corner or full front or rear bumper. This will save many blemishes I think unless the person really is that inattentive to their surroundings. On the dash you have the AC/Heat control stack just under the NAV unit. If you just press on the large brushed V it lifts this whole center stack up to expose a hidden large compartment that could hold 4 Samsung Note phones and has a clear USB 3 Blue port for plugging in and charging your phone but also allowing you to tie it to the stereo so you can play the music if for some reason you do not use the Bluetooth connectivity. One thing I did like about the new Nav/Radio unit was that you just slide you finger on the brushed aluminum bar and it increased or decreased the volume if you did not use the buttons on the steering wheel. There is also an additional storage compartment on the floor center stack that can hold many things but has a traditional cigarette style outlet for chargers. The one thing I found interesting in the large center storage bin and arm rest was a SD card slot and 2 USB ports plus the 110 electrical port. You will find this also on the back by the middle seating area where you have the middle zone temperature controls and radio controls. In this same area is the traditional banana plugs for connecting a XBOX or other game console. Ports are also available back at the 3rd row seats and in the far back cargo area. Plenty of places to plug into 110 outlets or USB ports. The over head dual entertainment system was very impressive as it is only about 1/2 inch thick sticking down from the roof compared to what you would find in the 2006 Gen 1 version which was 3 inches thick. Screen is much larger looking to be about 10 inches for both units and the remote stores up in the unit so it is out of the way when you close the screen. The control can store in either the 2nd row or 3rd row unit. Second row seats as well as 3rd row were totally comfortable for me at 6'6" tall. Drastic improvement over the Gen 2 Escalade and best of all they drivers seat now goes back down all the way to the floor giving maximum headroom. I found that with the drivers seat set for myself, I could still get in and be comfy for a long drive in the second row as well as even the third row seats. Electronic push of a button folds the second row as well as the third row seats. There is no more manual intervention or removal of the 3rd seat to maximize cargo capacity. A very impressive Item I found was the BOSE stereo system. This 16 speaker with sub-woofer was outstanding in sound and was very cool to find two speakers built into the chairs facing the occupant so that each person if you had 6 people riding each had their own total surround sound experience. Exterior was a tight fit and finish and no where did I find any blemish on the auto. I loved the Rear tail lights that run from the bumper up to the roof as they fully light up to reveal a nice tribute to the long vertical Cadillac tail lights.You also get a great bright yellow LED line up of lights from the bumper to the bottom of the rear glass as your turn signals. No one should miss this at all. Big improvement is that they got rid of what I have always thought was an ugly brick of chrome in the center of the rear door and was found to have rust issues when I looked at them. You now have a great Cadillac emblem still with the crest and a nice chrome accent strip along the bottom of the rear window. From the front you have the LED Headlights and the daytime marker lights which are also found on the 2015 CTS but only larger on the Escalade. It really gives it an amazing look. Big Chrome grill and the stance is just WOW! Detail is amazing as you find the Cadillac name and emblem in the smallest of places on the lights both rear and front and even on the ceiling where you get day light equal LED reading lights. The interior lighting is just as impressive as the exterior lighting. This Escalade had the standard running boards, I feel it should be a standard not an option for the self hiding running boards, but that is a minor gripe. The engine was the 6.2 L with 6 speed transmission. I was surprised to find it had where the battery is standard on Gen 1 and 2 Escalades in the upper left from corner when you fact the motor is actually empty with electrical connections sitting there as the battery is not in the right rear corner. Based on the electrical connections in this empty battery bay, one would have to make the assumption that GM is clearly going to be putting a diesel into their full size SUV's finally. What other reason would you have for having battery terminals / electrical connections here. This Escalade had the new push button start/stop. The engine turned right over on the initial push and was whisper quiet. I was expecting some noise and yet with the Bose Noise Canceling system that is built into the Escalades that have the Bose premium sound system, it was amazing to see that you barely heard the road nose from the 22" rim/tire combo they had on this auto. With the radio on, I heard nothing from the engine or outside noise, just pure sweet music. Taking off from the dealership lot, it was a solid silky smooth transmission that amazed me as you really did not pick up on the shifts. Both driving around Bellevue and on the freeway, the auto was solid, quiet and had a pose that just stated I am the best. The auto just moves with a ton of power and conviction that you are truly driving the standard of the world. I challenge MB or BMW to build something this size, this quality for this price. Price was $84,799.00 I took pictures and will add them once I figure out why I cannot seem to attached pictures or add them to the gallery. I truly love this auto on how it drove, handled and the over all fit and finish. If you have any questions just hit me up and I will answer them.
William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com August 14, 2012 A new study conducted by Maritz Research finds that 11.4% of new car buyers are skipping the test drive. The implication for skipping the test drive are due to more consumers doing their research on the internet (8 out of 10 consumers the study found) and the universal dislike of the car sales practice. "I just find it quite fascinating and a little baffling. As cliché as perhaps it sounds, there's that new-car smell that needs to be experienced firsthand and cannot be experienced over the Internet," said Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting for Maritz Research. Dealers aren't happy with this news. The test drive is one tactic used to get people excited enough to part with their hard earned cash. "My manager said, 'The feel of the wheel will seal the deal,' " said Philip Reed, a former dealership representative who now serves as senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. The test drive can also tell a potential buyer whether they're making the right decision or not. "Everything that you read isn't necessarily true. There's nothing online that tells you how that car feels. I enforce it with the salespeople that they have to at least offer a test-drive with every customer," said Ken Thomas, general manager of Telegraph Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Taylor, MI. Source: Detroit Free Press William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com August 14, 2012 A new study conducted by Maritz Research finds that 11.4% of new car buyers are skipping the test drive. The implication for skipping the test drive are due to more consumers doing their research on the internet (8 out of 10 consumers the study found) and the universal dislike of the car sales practice. "I just find it quite fascinating and a little baffling. As cliché as perhaps it sounds, there's that new-car smell that needs to be experienced firsthand and cannot be experienced over the Internet," said Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting for Maritz Research. Dealers aren't happy with this news. The test drive is one tactic used to get people excited enough to part with their hard earned cash. "My manager said, 'The feel of the wheel will seal the deal,' " said Philip Reed, a former dealership representative who now serves as senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. The test drive can also tell a potential buyer whether they're making the right decision or not. "Everything that you read isn't necessarily true. There's nothing online that tells you how that car feels. I enforce it with the salespeople that they have to at least offer a test-drive with every customer," said Ken Thomas, general manager of Telegraph Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Taylor, MI. Source: Detroit Free Press William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article