Monday, November 30, 2020

2020 GMC SIERRA 1500



I don’t know when pickup trucks started coming with price tags that used to be found only on top-end luxury sedans, but there is no question you can spend just as much on a workhorse vehicle these days as you can on a thoroughbred.

Not saying you have to, of course, because manufacturers tend to start with lower-end pricing, but they certainly can work their way up rather quickly.

All you have to do is start with their top-of-the-line models and start adding options and available packages and pretty soon you have a truck in the $60,000 to $70,000 range or even more.

A neighbor of mine who drives a very nice pickup for work can only shake his head and wryly smile when he looks at the bottom line pricing for trucks like the Denali edition of the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 that recently assumed temporary residence in my driveway.

Starting MSRP for the Denali is $58,200, which is a pretty big hunk of change in itself and soon balloons out to $71,850 when options like the CarbonPro Edition (carbon fiber box, HD surround vision, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and much, much more), a 6.2-liter V8 engine (in place of the standard 5.3-liter and available exclusivcely on 4-wheel drive Denalis ), and a special paint job (white frost tricoat) are added on.

The 6.2L V8 offers 420 horsepower, max torque of 460 pound-feet, and fuel economy ratings of 15 miles-per-gallon city, 20 highway, and 17 combined. The torque number equals that of the diesel engine. It is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Of course, you don’t have to go spend $70,000. Starting MSRP for the base 2020 Sierra 1500 is $31,195, but even that might stretch what used to be a typical budget for a pickup.

The Sierra 1500 is offered in six trims (Sierra, SLE, , SLT, AT4, and Denali) and is a slightly upgraded version the more popular Chevrolet Silverado, which, by the way, carries an MSRP that starts at just a tad under $30,000.

They both have the same engine options, which includes the previously mentioned V8s (5.3L and 6.2L) along
with a turbocharged 4-cylinder and V6 and a 3.0L turbo diesel, and they both offer configurations that include Regular Cab, Double Cab and Crew Cab body styles.

The Denali comes exclusively with the Crew Cab, which provided lots of room and creature comforts that created a more SUV-like ambiance.

To separate the Sierra from its sibling Silverado, GMC trims it with some upgraded interior materials and some other features, like a six-function tailgate that can serve as a work bench or provide easier access for loading stuff, are available only on the Sierra. That MultiPro tailgate is standard on the Denali, but the carbon-fiber bed is available in optional CarbonPro package.

Other standard features on the Sierra Denali include a Driver Alert Package (front and rear park assist, lane-change alert with blind-spot alert, and rear cross-traffic alert), a 2-speed transfer case for 4WD models, adaptive ride control, a trailering package, premium infotainment system with an 8-inch touchdown and navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth communications, Bose Premium Sound system, dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front bucket seats, a huge front storage bin, ventilated front seats, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, OnStar services, keyless open and start, wireless and USB charging, power outlet in the bed, 12 cargo tie-downs, LED headlamps and fog lamps, and dual exhaust with chrome tips.

One pretty neat feature is an available camera-based rear-view mirror that provides high-def images. It is included in the CarbonPro Edition suite of features.

What I liked about the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali: The rear camera mirror is really cool. You don’t have to worry about adjusting the mirror and the image is very sharp.The infotainment system controls are very user friendly as well. Hooray!

What I didn’t like about the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali: Not sure the extra cost over the Chevy Silverado is worth it when the main difference between the two seems to be the multi-purpose tailgate on the Sierra, but the tailgate is kind of neat. A full-size pickup (231.7 inches long with a 5-foot-8 box, 241.2 with the longer 6-6 box, and 81.2 inches wide), the Sierra is a bear to maneuver in mall parking lots.

Would I buy the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali? As I have mentioned many times, I don’t have a need for a full-size pickup, but if I did, I would be shopping this one. It is really difficult to separate the top models in the segment. It would come down to what the dealer offered.

Sunday, November 8, 2020



After spending a week in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris van, I have a new respect for drivers of commercial vehicles with enclosed rear cargo areas, and I intend to give them plenty of room when driving.

How they manage with just side mirrors letting them know what is going on behind them is beyond me. I never did get comfortable in the Metris without the typical interior mirror mounted above the windshield.

You might be surprised to learn just how much information you can gather from that little reflecting device that Ray Harroun mounted above his dash to allay fears from his fellw competitors in the 1911 Indianapolis 500 that he would be driving blind without a mechanic at his side as the other 39 drivers had. (Yes, 40 cars ran in the inaugural 500.)

You would think I would have gotten used to it when I owned a full-size conversion van that pretty much blocked my view out the back, but that had been long ago.

At least the Metris has a rearview camera that engages when the vehicle is put in reverse, which my van back in the mid-1980s and ’90s didn’t, so maybe I eventually would have gotten used to being without the interior mirror.

But at least for now I am not comfortable without it.

Mercedes-Benz introduced the Metris to a U.S. audience in October 2015 as a 2016 model with the Germans' marketing side billing it as a right-size mid-sized hauler.

Slightly smaller than the Mercedes full-size Sprinter, the cargo version of the Metris (it also can be had with seats to accommodate up to eight passengers) still offers up to a minimum 183 cubic feet of cargo space for the base Worker model.

The long wheel-base version that served as my test vehicle for the week is 211.4 inches long or 9.0 inches longer than the Metris Worker and offers 199 cubic feet of space in the back for cargo. It also can serve as a changing room for trips to the beach, as I discovered!

Both Metris models come with gasoline engine rather than the diesel version sold in Europe as the Vito with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

It is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles for manual gear selection. Equipped with rear-wheel drive, the Metris has a 5,000-pound towing capacity.

Standard features on the long wheelbase Metris include sliding doors on each side in addition to rear doors with a wide, 270-degree opening, adjustable (slightly) driver and front passenger seats, 4 cupholders, a 5-speaker audio system, air-conditioning, wood floor, and safety features that include crosswind and hill-start assist. Halogen headlights have an automatic setting as well.

Starting MSRP is $31,500 for the long wheel-base Metris. The Worker starts at $26,570.

Extras like the Premium Safety Package with Parktronic, a Premium Exterior Package, Driver Efficiency and Comfort packages and more ran the final bottom line for my test Metris to $41,161 including a $1,195 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van:
It is will equipped and not any more difficult to drive than a full-size SUV or a family minivan (though with one caveat noted below). It has a huge cargo area, and it is available in passenger configuration as well. The side doors open and shut effortlessly, gliding open or closed with a gentle tug. There is nothing sluggish about the drive, and the overall ride is comfortable enough. It’s seemed easier to get through urban parking lots easier than many full-size pickup trucks.

What I didn’t like about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van:
I simply could not get used to being without an interior rearview mirror. It was an uncomfortable feeling to look up above the enter of the windshield and see just a blank space. A hi-def camera-based mirror would be a welcome addition. That’s a feature seems to be a coming thing. Premium fuel also is required.

Would I buy the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van? Obviously, I personally have no need for a cargo van, but if I were running a business and wanted to impress clientele with the prestige and panache of a luxury vehicle manufacturer with the Mercedes star up front, it certainly is something I would consider.

Sunday, November 1, 2020



While Ford has given its redesigned Escape crossover an advertising push recently, the Ford Edge remains a nice option for car shoppers looking for something just a tad bigger but don’t care about three-row seating.

Around since its debut as a 2007 model, the 2020 Edge slots in between the Escape and familiar Ford Explorer in the company’s SUV fleet and though it would seem a third-row could be squeezed in, thankfully the company has avoided that temptation and provided pretty good cargo space behind the second row.

The 2020 Edge is part of the second generation introduced in 2015. The top-of-the-line ST trim that this review is based on replaced the Sport trim in 2019 and gets some new appearance options for this year.

Ford boasts that the turbocharged Ecoboost V6 engine is the most powerful in its segment with figures of 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque when the tank is filled with  93-octane fuel (91 is recommended with 87 as a minimum).

An aide here: filling a tank with premium fuel when regular octane (87) is all that is needed is a waste of money, but I’ve never figured out why if 91 or 93 octane is either recommended or required for the best performance from your vehicle that you would skimp to save a few bucks.

But I digress.

The V6 not only delivers more power, it isn’t all that thirsty either with ratings of 19 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway.  A 2.0-liter 4-banger is standard on other Edge trims (SE, SEL, Titanium) with fuel milage at 21 mpg city, 29 highway.

Both engines come with an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection via steering wheel paddle shifters, and the ST gets all-wheel drive as standard.

With the top position in the Edge’s pecking order, the Edge ST packs lots of standard feature in its starting $43,265 MSRP. Those include dual zone climate control, auto stop-start tech, a 12-speaker sound system, blind spot detection, a performance-tuned suspension (which some might find a bit too stiff), lane-keeping assist, push-button start, hotspot telematics modem, Ford Sync3 telematics, a rotary dial for gear selection, bolstered leather sport seats with suede inserts, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a Class II trailer towing package.

My test Edge ST came with extras that added to the whole image.

They came in two packages.

One that included a wireless charging pad (for youechies), evasive steering assist, panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, heated back seats and cool front seats, voice-activated navigation, hands-free voice activated liftgate, and remote start.

That package added $4,840 to the bottom line. The ST Performance Brake Package added another $2,695.

All in all, the total for this 2020 Ford Edge ST came to $51,195 with the $1,245 destination and delivery charge included.

What I liked about the 2020 Ford Edge ST: There is tons of space for both passengers and cargo. There is probably room to squeeze in a third row, but I’m glad Ford didn’t put one in. I prefer the 39.3 cubic feet of room for cargo. The infotainment system offers much in the way of the latest technology with an 8-inch touchscreen, and it is user-friendly. The V6 Ecoboost engine in the ST trim provides good punch and fuel economy.

What I didn’t like about the 2020 Ford Edge ST: There is a very sharp edge along the bottom of the front doors that actually can break skin if you happen to strike it with some force.

Would I buy the 2020 Ford Edge ST? Yes. Even with the interior room, the Edge is not all that difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. The interior is nicely trimmed out, and five-passenger seating fits all I need.