Wednesday, February 21, 2018

HYUNDAI HITS THE MARK WITH 2018 ELANTRA GT SPORT, A HATCHBACK WITH SOME POP


A staple in the Hyundai lineup going on three decades, the Elantra ranks as the South Korean automaker’s best seller and, in fact, is one of the top sellers in the U.S., checking in at the No. 20 spot for 2017 despite a slight dip of 4.9 percent over 2016 numbers.

It was first introduced as an economy sedan and since 2013 also has been offered in hatchback form under the label Elantra GT.

For 2018, the Elantra GT comes in two flavors, a base model and the far more attractive Elantra GT Sport. With a 201 horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo-4 under the hood, the Elantra GT Sport offers a bit of fun behind the wheel as well as providing even better fuel economy than the base model.

The base Elantra GT with its 2.0-liter normally aspirated 4-banger is rated at only 161 hp and 150 pound-feet of torque (to the Sport’s 195 lb.-ft.). With a 6-speed automatic transmission, it earns EPA figures of 24 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway, and 27 combined.


Even with its power advantage, EPA figures for the GT Sport with its 7-speed dual clutch transmission are 26/32/28.

OK. That’s not a huge difference, and the numbers when equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission slightly favor the base over the GT Sport, but with such a power advantage you would expect the GT Sport to be a bit thirstier.


My impression of my week in the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport may have been influenced a bit by the fact that I had been driving some large pickups and SUVs in the preceding weeks, but I found the GT Sport a lively performer even with the double-clutch tranny (essentially an automatic). I can only imagine that manual models are even more fun.

Paddle shifters are included as standard so that’s a plus, though I must confess that driving on South Florida’s mostly flat terrain I find little use for them. Driving in “sport” mode is more convenient and adds performance. 


The cabin is nicely appointed for its class and roomy as well. In fact, cabin capacity is a generous 96.5 cubic feet, resulting in legroom of over 42 inches in the front and just under 35 in the back and a cargo area of nearly 25 cubic feet behind the back seats.

Fold those back seats and the Elantra GT Sport enjoys a big advantage over its competitors with a maximum 55.1 cubic feet of storage space. According to Hyundai, the only competitor that comes close to that is the Volkswagen Golf with a max 52.7 cubic feet. Others offer from 16 to 25 percent less max cargo availability.


So you’re getting both performance and functionality — and technology and features to enhance the overall driving experience.

Standard features in the Elantra GT Sport include an 8-inch display for the 8-speaker audio system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual automatic temperature control, push-button start, electronic parking brake with auto hold (it’s a mystery to me why more manufacturers don’t offer this feature), leather seating surfaces with heated front seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone, 18-inch wheels, full LED headlights and taillights, blinds-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, and a rear window wiper and spoiler.

All that is included in a starting price of $24,350 with the double-clutch tranny, which is $4,000 more than the base Elantra GT’s MSRP of $20,350.


Adding options like a Sport Tech package that includes a navigation system and Hyundai’s Blue-Link services plus the $885 destination and delivery charge and the total of my test Elantra GT Sport came to $28,210.

That’s a good jump up from the base Elantra GT starting MSRP of under $20,000 with a manual tranny and just over $20,000 for the base equipped with the 6-speed automatic, but it’s competitive in its class when you take into consideration all the features the GT Sport has to offer.

What I liked about the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport: The GT Sport has quite a bit of technological features for its class, and they are easy to operate. Hyundai has a knack for making life simple. 

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport: Not a lot to complain about here. Designers might want to sacrifice a bit of the spacious cargo area to add an inch or so of legroom in for occupants in the second-row seats.

Would I buy the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport? Yes. The extra features of the GT Sport make it worth your consideration in the compact segment.

Friday, February 16, 2018

DODGE MAKES DURANGO SRT LATEST COMPETITOR IN HORSEPOWER WARS


At a time when every manufacturer seems to be adding hybrid drivetrains to about every model they put out, electric cars are seen as the future, and self-driving vehicles (ugh) are getting closer and closer to practicality, it’s refreshing, even encouraging, to see that some automakers have yet to drop out of the horsepower wars.

They continue to up the ante when it comes to performance, and I’m not speaking here of strictly sports cars or so-called “sports” sedans and coupes.

Dodge, which gave us the 707-horsepower, Hellcat versions of its Charger and Challenger sedan and coupe, has given the SRT treatment to its Durango SUV for 2018, a 475-horsepower behemoth that the company bills as the most power three-row SUV on the market today.


Equipped with a 6.4-liter HEMI V8, the Durango SRT 392 is rated at 470 pound-feet of torque at 4300 rpm that moves its 5,550 pounds from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, according to company clockers. It is mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a sport mode that increases shift times and delivers up to 65 percent of the power in the all-wheel-drive configuration to the rear wheels.

It has up to seven driving modes, including a Track Mode that favors the rear wheels with 70 percent of the available torque.


Yet it still retains the things you buy an SUV for, which is seating capacity (6), towing power (a best-in-class 8,700 pounds with a special package), and 17.2 cubic feet of storage space behind the third row, 47.7 behind the second.

In a news release, Tim Kuniskis, head of Passenger Cars Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT – FCA North America, says “This is what you get when you take everything great about the Durango and combine it with the performance of the Charger SRT: a 12-second quarter mile, 8,700-pound-toy hauling, three-row muscle car.”

He might have meant “tow,” not “toy,” but either works I guess.

What Dodge has done with the Durango SRT 392 (392 refers to the engine displacement of 392 cubic inches, SRT for Fiat Chrysler’s Street & Racing Technology division) allows you to have your automotive cake and eat it, too. It’s a fully functional family vehicle that also gives you a thrilling driving performance.

It gave me the feeling behind the wheel that not only could I crush anything in front of me, I could outrun it as well.


About the only thing it lacks is the fuel economy you might like for your family vacation. It is rated at 13 miles-per-gallon city, 19 highway, and 15 combined with premium 91 octane fuel recommended.

Dodge hasn’t forgotten the amenities. Leather front seats are power-adjustable eight ways and are ventilated as well as heated. A Beats premium sound system is standard as well as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The UConnect 4C Nav system features an 8.4-inch display screen, always a welcome feature for those who like to see everything at a glance. Second-row captain’s chairs are heated. The standard 20-inch wheels are shod with run-flat Pirelli tires.

That and more is included in the past MSRP of $62.995. Adding in options like special Laguna leather seats, an optional package that includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and cross-traffic detection, and full-speed forward collision warning, special SRT interior appearance touches, a second-row console, a power sunroof and the $1,095 delivery charge ran my test Durango SRT up to $75,550, which is a lot more than I ever thought I would see on a Durango widow sticker in my lifetime.


But the availability of three-row SUVs with anything approaching the performance the Durango SRT 392 delivers could run you into the six figures so in that the Durango SRT could be considered a bargain.

What I liked about the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392: Obviously, the power is a big draw, and the interior is classy as well with lots of soft-touch and nicely textured materials. Spartan was the adjective that used to come to mind to the interiors of many previous Dodge models, but not so much any more. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting there. The UConnect infotainment systems remains one of the most pleasant to use.


What I didn’t like about the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392: Fuel economy leaves a lot to be desired, but then you’ve got to sacrifice something to get all that power.

Would I buy the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392? Let’s face it. It’s out of range for my personal budget and I don’t need a three-row SUV. But if that’s not the case with you, I’d say go for it. 

Friday, February 9, 2018


BUICK ADDS IMPRESSIVE NEW TOP-OF-LINE AVENIR MODEL TO ENCLAVE LINEUP FOR 2018


Buick takes its Enclave mid-size crossover SUV to a new level in comfort, functionality, and luxury touches with the debut of its 2018 Enclave Avenir.

This is an SUV that should be on your “look at” list even if you are used to shopping in the luxury class. Make that “especially” if you are used to shopping luxury midsize crossovers. The Buick Enclave Avenir is that good and could save you money as well.


Designers gave the Enclave Avenir a distinct mesh grille, 20-inch six-spoke wheels, special inside touches, a wood-accented steering wheel, five premium exterior colors, and Avenir-scripted sill plates in addition to making standard such features as forward collision and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and warning, a rear camera that mirror that can function as a traditional mirror or camera to eliminate rear-seat obstructions (like people or headrests), low-speed auto braking, blind-spot warning, leather-appointed seating, LED headlamps, hands-free liftgate, wi-fi hotspot, a dual moonroof, and navigation with an 8-inch display screen.


Think GMC and its Denali trim pickups and SUVs here.

The cabin has an upscale air about it and lots of room for seven passengers, even offering up to 33.5 inches of legroom in the third row. The second row gets 38.9, the front up to 41.2. This makes the Enclave Avenir an ideal vehicle for road trips with friends.


Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 266 pound-feet of torque at 2800 and is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission that is smooth as a CVT. It’s not going to give you neck-snapping takeoffs, but it’s enough for daily driving.

Start-stop technology supposedly helps the fuel mileage, which is rated at 18 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 21 combined with front-wheel drive. That seems to fall about in the middle of its class competitors.

It is offered in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations.


With a optional trailering package installed, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, which Buick publicists note is more than enough to tow a 21-foot boat.

All this in an attractive vehicle that just might draw the envy of your neighbors.


MSRP for the Enclave Avenir with front-wheel drive is $54,390 including the $975 destination and delivery cost. Adding options like an advance technology package that includes adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking in place of low-speed forward automatic braking, and premium suspension), a trailering package, and other features can run the final total to $57,175.

That’s a good bit more than the base Enclave, which starts at just under $45,000, but is still a good chunk of change under what similarly equipped luxury imports may run.

What I liked about the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir: Most three-row crossovers skimp on cargo area, but the the Enclave Avenir offers 23.6 cubic feet behind the third row with an underfloor hidden storage bin offering 3.1 cubic feet. Fold the third row (by pressing handy buttons in the rear area) and cargo volume increases to 58 cubic feet. Folding the second row results in  maximum 97.6 cubic feet. The infotainment system is easy enough to operate (though I would like a separate knob to surf the radio dial), and there are lots of soft materials covering touch points.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir: I looked and looked and could find no way to turn off the Start/Stop technology that is standard. The only way I could find to defeat it was to gently ease off the brake just enough to engage the engine without allowing the vehicle inching forward at the intersection. Also, this is getting real nit-picky, but to get into Reverse, you must mover the lever on the center console up and to the left. Not sure I see the point of that little detour. Is there really a problem with people accidentally putting the transmission in Reverse? You get to Park by pressing a button at the top of the knob, which is fine.

Would I buy the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir? Yes, definitely. Unless you love luxury imports so much you like to spend thousands extra for, this could be the crossover for you.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

FORD RAISES PERFORMANCE LEVEL

OF F-150 RAPTOR PICKUP WITH 2018 MODEL


Zero-to-60 mph times are not usually something to be concerned about when dealing with pickup trucks.

Towing and hauling capacity, endurance, technology, maybe fuel mileage and/or range mostly come ahead of getting from one spot to another as quickly as possible.

But then the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor is not your usual pickup truck.

Added to the popular F-150 portfolio for 2010 joining other “special trim” models like the Harley-Davidson, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum, the second-generation 2018 F-150 Raptor takes truck performance to a new level with zero-to-60 clockings of 5.1 and/or 5.3 seconds depending on who is handling the stopwatch.

That’s at least a second or two quicker than any other pickup and challenging sport sedans for the honors.


The surprising thing is that the Raptor is putting out this kind of performance not with the largest engine in the Ford F-150 fleet — that would a 5.0-liter V8 — but a 3.5-liter, high-output Ecoboost V6, a turbocharged beauty rated at 450 horsepower at 5000 rpm and a whooping 510 pound-feet of torque at 3500.

That’s roughly 55 hp and 110 lb.-ft. more than the V8 and a boost of 40/80, respectively, over the previous Raptor.


You should check your pulse if you’re not impressed with the get-up-and-go the new Raptor delivers.

That power gets to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission that is shiftable via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, resulting in EPA mileage figures of 15 mpg city, 18 highway, and 16 combined. Not impressive but hey! You’ve got to sacrifice something to get that power. Towing capacity is listed as 13,200 pounds.

Wrapped around this drivetrain is a really nice truck, bold and aggressive in appearance, starting with the unique front grille, but with a sense of decorum on the inside. You can enjoy the muscle car-like sound that emits from the dual exhausts, or you can be slightly less vigorous in pushing the gas pedal and relish the more quiet, dignified response and ride.

It is more than off-road capable with its 4X4, shift-on-fly system and hill descent control, yet comfortable on city streets and highways as well. There aren’t the bumpy ride you can experience in many pickups.


Standard equipment on the Raptor includes Ford’s Boxlink system to aid in cargo handling, a unique Raptor front bumper, auto LED headlamps, running boards, trailer sway control and trailer tow package, manual climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a unique Raptor center stack, paddle shifters, and 17-inch wheels. You get that with the base MSRP of $49,520 (including the $1,195 destination and delivery charge).

Add such available items as an equipment group package that includes a 360-surround view camera (well worth it considering the size of the vehicle), SYNC Connect, and remote start plus a technology package that adds adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, and lane-keeping assist and the total cost comes to $61,685.

Yes, that’s a lot for a Ford F-150, but the Raptor is a special vehicle.

What I liked about the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor: The power at your disposal is impressive and makes for a great driving experience when cruising on the highway. The looks are impressive as well, and the cabin is roomy and comfortable. It’s not luxury, but it’s not spartan either. The Sync 3 system is great for operating infotainment functions

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor: Driving in city settings — i.e., parking lots — is not easy. The Raptor is wide, almost 97 inches including the mirrors and still 83.5 inches with them folded, and it can get uncomfortable in tight situations.

Would I buy the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor? Well, $60,000 is a lot for a pickup, and even the base price is close to touching $50,000. If I had the opportunity to do a lot of off-roading (and the budget), I’d give it a close look.




Wednesday, January 24, 2018


MINI COOPER S E COUNTRYMAN GETS PLUG-IN POWER AS NEW HYBRID MODEL FOR 2018


The MINI Cooper is not yet at the stage where it needs to be upgraded to the “MAXI” Cooper, but it seems to be moving in that direction.

Launched in 1959 as a trend-setting, two-door sub-compact that was 120.25 inches long —not much more than the wheelbase for many large vehicles — and weighed in at just over 1,300 pounds, the MINI now is available as a four-door wagon that is four feet longer and weighs in at twice the original hardtop’s heft.

Yet it still evokes the same carefree, fun attitude of its smaller predecessor.

And now it’s electric.

Well, sort of.

I’m not sure how many points a range of 25 miles or so on a fully charged battery is going to get from the greenies, but that’s what the pairing of the turbo-charged 3-cylinder engine and electric motor in the 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 will get you at speeds up to 78 mph to earn it an MPGe rating of 65 miles-per-gallon.

A plug-in hybrid, the power train is new for this year as MINI’s first serious dip into the electric world since the limited-production MINI E of 2008. With that kind of limited range, though, it’s kind of like sticking your toes into the pool to test the water temperature before jumping in.

If you are already mentally doing the math to see just how far it’s going to take you on electric juice alone, fear not. After the 7.6 kilowatt, lithium-ion battery poops out, the Countryman S E runs on gas only, drinking fuel at a rate of 27 mpg, and you still have 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque to work with.

When running in tandem, the electric motor and gas engine have a combined 221 hp and 264 lb.-ft. of torque, more than enough oomph for a competitive driving experience.


The SE Countryman ALL 4, as the “4” designation might clue you, is an all-wheel drive vehicle with front wheels getting power from the gas engine and the electric motor delivering its 87 hp and 122 lb.-ft. of power to the rear. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard.

One of the more surprising things to first-time occupants in the MINI is the amount of interior space it provides. As the largest in the MINI portfolio, the Countryman delivers there.

Even the rear-seat passengers get up to 37.6 inches of legroom. It’s the cargo area that gets the short stick with less than 16 cubic feet of space available, though up to 48.5 cubic feet is available with the second-row folded.


The cabin has a premium feel about it as might be expected of a product out of parent company BMW’s luxury stable. Not that you are going to confuse the MINI with a Bimmer. The large circular display at the top of the center stack keeps you very much aware that you are in a MINI.

The Countryman S E rides on standard 18-inch wheels and gets LED headlights and fog lights as standard along with features like dual-zone climate control, heated front sport seats (which some might find too snug), a rear camera, and more included in the MSRP of $36,800 (plus the $850 destination charge).


There is the usual laundry list of upgraded features available like a premium Harmon Kardon sound system and automatic climate control, but the only extras on my test vehicle that came with a charge were $500 for the melting silver metallic exterior color, $500 for the parking assist system, $750 for the head-up display, and $300 for the SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription.

That ran the total up to $39,700, which pretty makes the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 the most expensive of its class.

What I liked about the 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4: It has good interior space for passengers and the hybrid system provides plenty of power. I really wasn’t conscious of any lag. The torque number is impressive for a vehicle of this class.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4: The infotainment system is not particularly complicated, but getting through various functions does take some extra steps at times — not surprising, since BMW models can be annoying in that aspect. The head-up system isn’t worth the cost and the display, with what looks like a piece of plastic sticking up from the dash, detracts from the cabin’s appearance. Oh, and I don’t really get the appeal of going through the hassle of plug-in recharging. 

Would I buy the 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4? Probably not. It’s a good car, but a bit on the expensive side. It’s fun to drive, yes, but I’m certain you can find competitors that offer a pleasant experience behind the wheel and will look good and save you a few bucks in the process. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


GMC TAKES TERRAIN  INTO SECOND GENERATION WITH NEW ENGINE CHOICES


Introduced for 2009 as a companion for its bigger brother Acadia crossover, GMC’s Terrain moves into its second generation for 2018 with three new turbo-charged engines, two different 9-speed transmissions, and many design features that take this compact crossover to a new level for sophistication and performance.

Those refinements come in a package that is slightly smaller than its predecessor (at 182.5 inches it’s 3.2 inches shorter) and lighter (200 pounds or so depending on the model) and with available safety features like a surround vision camera, forward collision alert and low-speed automatic braking, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert.

Yes, the 2018 Terrain steps up its game and makes it a more attractive option if you are shopping the compact crossover segment.

The Denali trim, which steps up the game in GMC models across the board, even makes it worth a look if you are shopping in the luxury segment.


The 2018 Terrain Denali gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that ups oomph to 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque from the 170/203 of the 1.5-liter turbo that is standard in SL, SLE, and SLT trims while still producing decent fuel economy figures of 21 miles-per-gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive.

The 1.5-liter’s fuel economy numbers are 24/28 with AWD. The 1.6-liter turbo diesel is rated at 28/38 with all-wheel drive with power figures of 137 hp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 2.0-liter and 1.5-liter each get its own version of a 9-speed automatic transmission. The diesel gets a 6-speed automatic. One quirk: gear selection is via buttons at the bottom of the center stack with the “L” setting providing the opportunity for manual gear selection. I’ve seen buttons used for gear selection, of course, but not in this location.

The 2.0-liter turbo in the Denali I had certainly boasts enough power for everyday chores, and the torquey diesel probably is up snuff as well. I did not have the opportunity to drive it or the 1.5-liter, though.

As the top-of-the-line offering, the Denali’s interior comes with lots of features that add to the comfort and convenience of occupants. In addition to standard items like perforated leather appointed seats, dual zone automatic climate control, a Bose 7-speak premium sound system, and adjustable lumbar support for both the driver and front-seat passenger, a Comfort Package for $525 (ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, wireless device charging) and Driver Alert Package for $495 (low speed forward auto braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning) ups the luxury ante even further.


Standard technology includes an infotainment system that comes with an 8-inch touchscreen display with navigation, a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The OnStar system includes a 5-year basic plan plus a limited trial of guidance plan with automatic crash response.

Exterior standard features include 19-inch ultra-bright, machined aluminum wheels, LED headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, LED taillights, power handsfree liftgate, and dual exhaust with bright tips. They give the Terrain a bolder, more aggressive look.


Including the optional packages plus a panoramic Skyscape sunroof with power sunshade $1,495) did add to the final MSRP for my test vehicle but not overly so. Base MSRP was listed at $39,270 and the options plus destination and delivery ran the final tab to $44,470. 

You can get out for less, of course, and still have a Terranin. The base SL with front-wheel drive, however, starts at $25,970 including destination and delivery, and you can get a FWD SLE for $28,795. SLT models start in the low $30,000 range. Diesel versions of the SLE and SLT have MSRPs that are $3,770 (SLE) and $2,845 (SLT) more than gas models.

What I liked about the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali: This is a comfortable vehicle with lots of room in both rows of seating. It provides an overall satisfactory driving experience as well.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali: A couple of cubic feet of cargo space was lost on the redesign. The Terrain’s capacity of 29.3 cubic feet behind the second row lags behind some competitors, but the 63.3 with the back seats folded is not bad. The placement of the buttons to operate the transmission is odd.

Would I buy the 2018 GMS Terrain Denali? Certainly. The improvements made both in looks and functionality over the previous model make this a viable option for those who don’t want or need a three-row crossover.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

DENALI TRIM TAKES 2018 GMC 

CANYON PICKUP TO A HIGH LEVEL


When I was growing up, pickup trucks were pretty much utilitarian vehicles good for hauling construction supplies and for farm chores, two-passenger conveyances that could squeeze in a third person if they were good friends or the extra person was on the small side. Like a child.

But my how times have changed.

Many pickup trucks today are more like borderline luxury SUVs with an open box in the back behind a second row instead of an enclosed cargo area with a lift gate. They are still good for hauling and towing as they ever were but in a much more comfortable, and efficient, package.

Case in point is the 2018 GMC Canyon with Denali trim that I recently drove for a week. You never would have seen something like this coming when I was in high school. The interior is roomy and features high quality materials and is packed with enough technological features to satisfy all but the geekiest of us. It’s truck on the outside, SUV on the inside.

It’s a more refined version of its nearly identical cousin, the Chevrolet Colorado. How much more refined? Well, for the last four years, Kelley Blue Book has awarded its Brand Image Award for Most Refined Brand to GMC, citing in particular the tweaks and attributes the company has given its top-of-the-line Denali trims.


Though the Canyon is referred to as a “small” pickup in some circles, as far as I’m concerned there is nothing “small” about a vehicle you have to use a running board to pull yourself up to to get into, and there certainly is nothing “small” about the Canyon’s attitude.

With the 2.4-liter turbo diesel delivering 369 pound feet of torque at 2000 rpm, the Denali has a towing capacity of 7,600 pounds and its base curb weight (with 4-wheel drive) is a healthy 4,508 pounds.


Small? I don’t think so. Even the base Canyon is well over two tons.

The Canyon has been around off-and-one since 2004 though it was out of production for a span from 2012 to when it was re-introduced as a 2015 model. GM brought it back as a larger version than its predecessor, though it wasn’t until the next year that the Canyon got diesel power.

Buyers have had a tendency, perhaps fueled by Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” scandal, to shun diesels. But if you want a lot of torque, which is a more accurate measure of pulling potential than horsepower, you have to consider diesel.


Modern technology has made diesels easier to start in cold weather, and they are more fuel efficient, which helps make up for the difference in fuel price at the pump, not to mention increasing your driving range.

Fuel efficiency in the turbo diesel in the Canyon Denali is rated at 20 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway and 23 overall with 4-wheel drive compared to 17/24 with the gas-powered 3.6-liter V6 and 19/24 with the gas-powered 2.5-liter 4-banger.


The Canyon Denali is packed with many standard features, by the way, but one of them is not the diesel engine. That’s an extra that adds $3,730 to the base MSRP of $43,670, so that’s a pretty big chunk of change.

But you can probably do without the special color (dark slate metallic) that adorned the Canyon I had for a week, and that will save you $395.

The standard features include a 2-speed transfer case (though the Canyon’s off-road capability hasn’t gotten good reviews), a trailering package, power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, steering wheel controls for cruising and audio, leather appointed front seating, heated and ventilated front seats, 4 USB ports, Bose premium audio, and an 8-inch color touchscreen for the navigation system.


The Denali also gets 20-inch wheels, projector headlamps with LED signature lighting, fog lamps, a spray-on bed liner, a cornerstep rear bumper, and a wi-fi hotspot.

Total cost came to $48,190 for my test vehicle, but the Canyon starts at a more affordable $21,100.

What I liked about the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali: The infotainment system is intuitive to operate, and the 8-inch screen is of a size that is easy on the eyes. You can operate both the audio and climate systems with buttons as well. Throttle response is good.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali: Maneuvering in tight mall parking lots is easier than with a full-size pickup, but that doesn’t make it easy.


Would I buy the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali? I really don’t need a truck, so no, I personally wouldn’t. But it should be on your list if you are shopping for one. If the Denali price tag is too high, the SLT model might fit your budget and includes most of the popular equipment.