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GeorgeKennedy

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  1. (photo courtesy paratic.com) George Kennedy Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com 7/18/2016 When you think of celebrity cars, a number of high-end vehicles come to mind. Be it a Lamborghini pulling up to the red carpet or a millionaire’s grocery getter like the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, there is a certain type of vehicle (and associated price point) that goes with the world’s most famous actors, athletes, and celebrities. But Clint Eastwood is different from your typical celebrity. Famous for playing hard-nosed characters like Dirty Harry and The Man with No Name, Eastwood owns that persona off the big screen as well. While other stars opt for Lambos and Land Rovers, he opts for a certain GMC. And while the uninitiated may want to call this a stingy or low-rent move, they clearly know nothing of the GMC Typhoon. Despite being one of the biggest automakers in the world, General Motors occasionally takes some big chances in making cars that don’t fit into the normal mold. Vehicles like the HHR, SSR, El Camino, Grand National, and Saturn Sky all didn’t really fit into their time or place. In 1991 one of GMC’s most radical ventures started hitting dealerships. It may have looked at first like and ordinary Sonoma compact pickup, but the GMC Syclone was anything but. Keen eyes will notice the lower ride height, red lettering and more street-oriented tires. Looking inside, the bucket seats with red piping and raised center console tunnel might also hint to onlookers this was no ordinary truck. Open the hood and there’d be no question you were dealing with something special. The Syclone featured a turbocharged/intercooled 4.3-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharger was sourced from Mitsubishi (which was in still actually making fun cars at the time) and the intercooler from Garret. Power was sent through a 4-speed automatic transmission to an all-wheel drive system with a Borg Warner transfer case. It would put 35% to the front wheels and 65% to the rear. In our modern horsepower wars, where cars are routinely making upwards of 600 and even 700 horsepower from the factory, 280 hp might seem meager, but in ’91, this thing was a world beater. It could do 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and blast through a quarter mile in 14.1 seconds with a crossing speed of 93 mph (figures from Car and Driver’s original testing of the Syclone.). At the time, that was Ferrari and Lamborghini-quality speed, and faster than the Corvette of the day. In 1991, only 2,995 examples of the Syclone were produced, and they were only available in black. In 1992, some were sold in a wider array of colors, and that same year, the truck was joined by a heavily modified GMC Jimmy SUV, bearing the same powertrain. The GMC Typhoon was produced from 1992 to 1993, during which 4697 examples were built. Car and Driver also tested the Typhoon, and found it slightly slower, but still an impressive 5.7-second 0-60 time and a 14.5-second quarter mile time (crossing at 95 mph). Reviewers compared the ‘Phoon to cars like the Ferrari 348, Chevrolet Corvette, and Nissan 300ZX Turbo. This put it in rarified air, and caught the eye of many performance junkies. The Typhoon came with a starting price of $29,970, which is nearly $50,000 in 2015 dollars. And Clint owned multiple models. We know because we’ve seen him driving different colors of the Typhoon. For reference, here are the color breakdowns of the Typhoon: 1992 Black on black (1262 built), Black w/ gray (130), Frost White w/ Gray (518), Apple Red w/ Gray (345), Bright Teal w/ Gray (132), Forest Green Metallic w/ Gray (82), Aspen Blue w/ Gray (28), Radar Blue w/ Radar Blue (2), and Raspberry Metallic (2). Those last two were test colors, included in the totals. 1993 Black w/ Black (1,008), Black w/ Gray (98), Frost White w/ White (532*), Frost White w/ Gray (115), Apple Red w/ Apple Red (77), Apple Red w/ Gray (101), Forest Green Metallic w/ Gray (210), Garnet Red w/ Gray (24), Royal Blue Metallic w/ Gray (35*) Based on photos, we can tell, that he has owned one that was Red and grey, the other forest green and gray. What’s great is that he really drives these things. A 2012 Los Angeles Times article references the green one: "Son of a gun," the 82-year-old muttered as he leaned over his beloved 1992 GMC Typhoon and dragged an index finger over the mysterious inch-long scratch marring the forest-green paint just above the grill. You don’t get scratches like that keeping a rare care hidden away from the world in a storage facility. You get it out in the open, driving it often. We laud Jay Leno for taking his rare cars out on the open road, but he’s got more than 100 in his massive garage. He can take any of those cars out without sweating it. But to take out such a rare, high performance variant of a GMC Jimmy? That’s the type of car enthusiast we’d like to meet. We’d just ask he leave his .44 magnum at home. Want to know more about what makes these super-trucks and super-SUVs so great? Check out this Top Gear segment from when the Syclone was new, if only to see how young Jeremy Clarkson looks:
  2. George Kennedy Contributor, GM-Trucks.com 7/14/2016 It seems like everything is going “biggie-biggie” these days. From Big Box Stores to massive iced coffees, everything has to get bigger to match our tastes. Cars, trucks, and SUVs are no different, with models growing every time they are redesigned. We automotive experts call this “generation bloat,” and it seems like it is inevitable when a new vehicle comes out. But GMC did the unthinkable when it redesigned the new 2017 Acadia SUV, and actually made it smaller. The second generation of GMC’s full-size (available) three-row crossover is 7 inches shorter, 3.5-inches narrower, and has a 6-inch shorter wheelbase. GM says this new footprint, which is based on the C1XX platform (which will underpin the new Cadillac XT5), is 740 pounds lighter than the outgoing model and has a tighter turning radius. Put it next to the first generation Acadia and it appears considerably smaller from the outside, but what it loses in size, it gains in style. The first-gen’s styling was inoffensive enough, but the Lambda-platform vehicles had rather bulbous styling–not exactly in line with the brawny “Professional Grade” image that GMC tries to portray. But the new-look Acadia has a well-defined visual character, with an upright grille and brooding headlights. Thankfully GMC left off the indented faux fender flares of the Terrain. Despite the smaller footprint, the Acadia retains a lot of its cabin space. You sit slightly closer to the passenger beside you, but first and second row passengers have plenty of head- and legroom. The Acadia is available as a 5-passenger (delete 3rd row), 7-passenger (3rd row with 2nd row captains chairs) or 8-passenger (2nd and 3rd row benches) configurations. The second row features GMC smart-slide seating. One handle, one motion slides seat forward for easy access to the 3rd row. GMC says customers asked for more usable space and lots of places to put things, so they delivered, with plenty of cupholders and pockets for all your gear and devices. The re-proportioned styling also resulted in improved visibility, so you’ll use the standard backup camera as an aid rather than a crutch. The weight loss also gave GMC room to employ technologies like lightweight sound deadening, contributing to a quieter cabin A GMC model would not be complete without a Denali trim, and the Acadia does not disappoint. True to form the Acadia Denali features 20-inch wheels, hands free power liftgate, and the usual slathering of chrome to the exterior. New for 2017 is the Acadia All-Terrain. For starters, it loses the 3rd row, resulting in 79 cu ft. of storage space. The chrome of the Denali replaced by black accents, for a more menacing look. But the real development of the All-Terrain is beneath the skin, there an Active Twin-Clutch AWD System transfers torque from front to rear or from left to right. Our sources at GMC say this model is targeted at Jeep Grand Cherokee customers and its capability seems to back that up. You won’t be crossing the Rubicon trail in one of these, but the AWD can get you to the ski loge, camp site or out on to the beach with ease. The Acadia delivers a ton of standard and available technology to you’re your life easier. The automatic rear lift-gate opens simply by having your keys in your pocket swinging foot under the rear bumper. This is crucial when you’re hands are fully of groceries and can’t reach your keys. GMC has also baked a whole host of new connectivity into the Acadia, highlighted by three new apps that are accessed via the large available touch screen. The first one is Glimpse, which allows users to send their location to friends. Other Glimpse users can see you on a map, which is very handy when picking up someone from a busy airport terminal. Next up is At Your Service, which is an OnStar-type app that lets you search local businesses and it will bring up relevant deals and coupons. Finally, there’s the Weather Channel app. Seems simple enough to have a weather app on your smartphone, but this app layers on top of navigation, and will give weather related warnings and adjust travel times accounting for the weather. The base engine is a 2.5-liter inline-4 making 194 hp and 190 lb ft of torque. This engine features auto-stop-start and is good for 21 miles per gallon city, 25 highway, 23 combined (for AWD) The more powerful engine (and likely more popular choice) is the 3.6-liter V6, developing 310 hp and 272 lb ft. This engine has Active Fuel Management, which turns a V6 to a V4 when less power is needed. This engine returns fuel economy of 18 city, 25 highway, 20 combined (AWD). Power is sent through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels or available all-wheel drive. Acadia features Traction Select, which adjusts throttle response, transmission shift points, steering feel, and suspension stiffness (if equipped). You can chose from Sport, Snow, all-wheel drive, off-road, and trailer/tow drive modes, all with the push of a button. In Sport mode, the Acadia has brisk acceleration, but we found the 6 speed automatic sometimes had trouble deciding which gear to stay in. This could be chalked up to pre-production teething. Steering was well-weighted and the suspension was responsive, while still soaking up bumps in the road. An innovative feature is the available Tow Vision Camera. All models have the backup camera, but the Tow Vision Camera offers unique angles and guidelines perfectly suited for towing up to 4,000 lbs. (when equipped with V6 and towing package). The Acadia also has all of the latest advanced safety tech, including Lane Keep assist, front park assist, pedestrian detection, front auto braking, (low speed front auto braking) adaptive cruise, and forward collision alert. The 2017 Acadia is also equipped with Rear Seat Reminder: when you close doors and turn off car, there will be five reminders to look back into the rear seat. This is to prevent parents from leaving kids in the back seat on a hot day. This feature is defaulted on, but can be toggled off in the settings menu. Base MSRP for the 2017 GMC Acadia is $29,995 for the SL trim, $33,375 for the SLE-1, $39,275 for the SLT-1, and $45,845 for the Denali. The pricing suggests the Acadia wants to move upmarket in the large SUV space, and the svelte new look actually makes sense in the process. Acadia buyers seeking a premium vehicle with upscale features had more than enough space, but needed more luxury. The new Acada has that luxury in spades, and trims the fat, resulting in a stylish, well-equipped SUV with head-turning looks and a cabin that will be a pleasure to sit in for hours and hours of freeway or back road alike.
  3. George Kennedy Contributor, GM-Trucks.com 3/28/16 The New York International Auto Show plays a unique role in the auto show circuit. When compared to Geneva or Detroit auto shows, NYIAS is not as large and doesnt always have the big-ticket debuts. But for the American market, it is the last major auto show before the 2017 model year vehicles arrive in large numbers, and so it is the last show for automakers to finalize their lineups for the upcoming year. With that in mind, NYIAS is one of the most important shows of the year. One vehicle that debuted immediately prior to the show was the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic. Chevys littlest hatch has ditched the large headlights in favor of very Camaro-inspired cues. It seems the era of grafting overly large headlights and grilles onto small cars might be coming to a close. Frankly the smaller, more aggressive headlights and thinner grille suit the Sonic much more. The updates go beyond skin-deep, as the Sonic gets some of the latest GM technology, such as the latest version of the Chevy MyLink infotainment system, featured on the available seven-inch touchscreen, and thats just the tip of the tech iceberg. Theres also available gear such as 4G LTE access with Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear park assist, and rear view camera. Under the hood, the standard engine continues to be a 1.8-liter inline-4 or the available 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4, which makes 138 horsepower. Output from either engine is sent to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The RS trim is the one you see above, with menacing black wheels and revised lower front fascia. It makes the Sonic one hot-hatch runabout! Speaking of runabouts, the Buick Encore was another stout, utilitarian vehicle that went under the knife for the 2017 model year. It features sharper headlights, and the move away from the large slatted grille of older Buicks. The new grille still has the Buick "slats" but are thinner and meant to be a more subtle design cue. This new looks has a more sporting appearance, and from the looks of things, less of an emphasis on the two-tone look of the 2012-2016 Encore. The result is a very clean look that clearly positions the Encore for a younger demographic. Inside, the cabin improvements have centered on a rearrangement of the infotainment, climate, and audio controls. The large 8-inch touch screen for Buicks IntelliLink is no longer perched high up on the dash, but is rather now in the center stack, right at the drivers fingertips. As such, redundant controls can be reduced, and the system has a simplistic set of tactile controls similar to that of the new Chevrolet Camaro. The Encore goes on sale in the fall of this year, and will be available with one of five trim levels: Base, Sport Touring, Convenience, Leather, and Premium models. Most trims will be available with the 1.4-liter turbo-four, which will include stop-start technology. The Encore also comes standard with Buicks exclusive QuietTuning technology, and features Bose active noise cancellation. The Encore will also be available with safety tech such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear park assist, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It is a lot of safety tech to pack into a compact SUV, proving that the Encore boasts style and substance! Last up is the GMC Terrain Nightfall Edition-the latest GMC vehicle to receive this treatment. The Nightfall Edition is basically Murdered Out, which is to say, the excessive use of dark colors in place of the typical chrome found on GMCs models. To learn more about this vehicle and others, we spoke to GM Product Manager Jeff Giacobbe. "With this edition," explained Giacobbe, "It plats into GMCs bold styling, Especially the Terrain. One of the most important parts of a Terrain buyers purchase decision is styling. With the 2016 and previous models there has been a fair amount of chrome on that vehicle so we decided to take it in another direction, so for 2017 we decided to take it down a notch with the chrome." According to Giacobbe, this led directly to the decision to offer the Nightfall Edition for the terrain. "With Terrain," explained, "We've never done this black look. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback, so we're excited to get it out on the market and see how it does." According to GMC, the Nightfall Edition models are intended to appeal to more youthful buyers, as opposed to the more mature and well-heeled Denali buyers. The Nightfall Edition will be available on the SLE-2 and SLT trims of the Terrain and available in one of four colors (Onyx Black, Summit White, Graphite Gray, and Crimson Red). But the conversation was not limited to the latest edition of the Terrain, but also potential future special editions, including even a more off-road-oriented version of the Terrain. "One area we've been looking at," continued Giacobbe, "Is what can we do in terms of off-road capability. We explored this with the Acadia All-Terrain Edition. Its got the appearance elements, but also the hardware to back it up with the advanced all-wheel drive system, including the twin-system." "In the compact SUV space," he continued, "You could say Jeep right now is the front runner, they have several products. That's an area that we see that we can excel at. Its on our horizon for us to up our game. The Acadia All Terrain is a great first step, but well explore this for other vehicles." So will we see a Terrain All-Terrain (if that's what they call it)? It sure sounds like it- only time will tell!
  4. One vehicle that debuted immediately prior to the show was the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic. Chevys littlest hatch has ditched the large headlights in favor of very Camaro-inspired cues. It seems the era of grafting overly large headlights and grilles onto small cars might be coming to a close. Frankly the smaller, more aggressive headlights and thinner grille suit the Sonic much more. The updates go beyond skin-deep, as the Sonic gets some of the latest GM technology, such as the latest version of the Chevy MyLink infotainment system, featured on the available seven-inch touchscreen, and thats just the tip of the tech iceberg. Theres also available gear such as 4G LTE access with Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear park assist, and rear view camera. Under the hood, the standard engine continues to be a 1.8-liter inline-4 or the available 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4, which makes 138 horsepower. Output from either engine is sent to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The RS trim is the one you see above, with menacing black wheels and revised lower front fascia. It makes the Sonic one hot-hatch runabout! Speaking of runabouts, the Buick Encore was another stout, utilitarian vehicle that went under the knife for the 2017 model year. It features sharper headlights, and the move away from the large slatted grille of older Buicks. The new grille still has the Buick "slats" but are thinner and meant to be a more subtle design cue. This new looks has a more sporting appearance, and from the looks of things, less of an emphasis on the two-tone look of the 2012-2016 Encore. The result is a very clean look that clearly positions the Encore for a younger demographic. Inside, the cabin improvements have centered on a rearrangement of the infotainment, climate, and audio controls. The large 8-inch touch screen for Buicks IntelliLink is no longer perched high up on the dash, but is rather now in the center stack, right at the drivers fingertips. As such, redundant controls can be reduced, and the system has a simplistic set of tactile controls similar to that of the new Chevrolet Camaro. The Encore goes on sale in the fall of this year, and will be available with one of five trim levels: Base, Sport Touring, Convenience, Leather, and Premium models. Most trims will be available with the 1.4-liter turbo-four, which will include stop-start technology. The Encore also comes standard with Buicks exclusive QuietTuning technology, and features Bose active noise cancellation. The Encore will also be available with safety tech such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear park assist, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It is a lot of safety tech to pack into a compact SUV, proving that the Encore boasts style and substance! Last up is the GMC Terrain Nightfall Edition-the latest GMC vehicle to receive this treatment. The Nightfall Edition is basically Murdered Out, which is to say, the excessive use of dark colors in place of the typical chrome found on GMCs models. To learn more about this vehicle and others, we spoke to GM Product Manager Jeff Giacobbe. "With this edition," explained Giacobbe, "It plats into GMCs bold styling, Especially the Terrain. One of the most important parts of a Terrain buyers purchase decision is styling. With the 2016 and previous models there has been a fair amount of chrome on that vehicle so we decided to take it in another direction, so for 2017 we decided to take it down a notch with the chrome." According to Giacobbe, this led directly to the decision to offer the Nightfall Edition for the terrain. "With Terrain," explained, "We've never done this black look. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback, so we're excited to get it out on the market and see how it does." According to GMC, the Nightfall Edition models are intended to appeal to more youthful buyers, as opposed to the more mature and well-heeled Denali buyers. The Nightfall Edition will be available on the SLE-2 and SLT trims of the Terrain and available in one of four colors (Onyx Black, Summit White, Graphite Gray, and Crimson Red). But the conversation was not limited to the latest edition of the Terrain, but also potential future special editions, including even a more off-road-oriented version of the Terrain. "One area we've been looking at," continued Giacobbe, "Is what can we do in terms of off-road capability. We explored this with the Acadia All-Terrain Edition. Its got the appearance elements, but also the hardware to back it up with the advanced all-wheel drive system, including the twin-system." "In the compact SUV space," he continued, "You could say Jeep right now is the front runner, they have several products. That's an area that we see that we can excel at. Its on our horizon for us to up our game. The Acadia All Terrain is a great first step, but well explore this for other vehicles." So will we see a Terrain All-Terrain (if that's what they call it)? It sure sounds like it- only time will tell!
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