I was invited to attend this auto show by GM, likely because we bought the S10 in 2000 and the Silverado in 2002. In any case we arrived there at about 3:30 today. We had 2 and a half hours to test drive any of 150 available vehicles. I decided that I wanted to 'critique' the vehicles we beat on, er I mean test drove.
2004 Pontiac GTO - The highlight of the show for sure. More people were in line for this vehicle than any other. It's an impressive mix of luxury and performance, something Pontiac is damn good for. In any case, the specs. The GTO has a 5.7L V8 in a car that looked the size of a Cavalier, 350 horses under the hood, and a choice between an automatic or a 6 speed manual. Major droolage. First and foremost, we test drove the manual. This car, for some reason, was a dog. We believe that they seriously hindered what the car is capable of so people didn't kill themselves on the track. It went into second at 2000rpm, wtf? I didn't like the stick for one reason, I had the seat up as far as it could go and I could *barely* get the clutch all the way down. We weren't sure if the GTO has the pedal adjustment feature (Which might have been part of the game-boy looking screen/computer that asked for our preferences). We didn't have time to really play aroun with the gadgets as several people were in line to test drive it. Not that it mattered, on the course you really couldn't go faster than 25 or so, so the only shifting done was between first and second. The automatic had a lot more power, but still seemed slow. When we downshifted into 1st gear (yes in the auto), you could *really* feel the power. This car should be wicked fast, and after doing the downshift test, we were positive that they fucked with the computers to keep people from spinning out on the course.
As far as the GTO went, it gets points for comfort, and style. The seats were great, the dash was gorgeous, and the 6 disk CD-player was a nice touch. For handling, well, to be honest, the car was okay. Not good, not bad, it held the road well, but how much can you really tell on a track that's got so many twists and curves you can't get faster than 35mph for long. The steering was sloppy, when we went around the turns, we had to turn the wheel far too much for comfort's sake. If it were tighter, it would have been a much better car. Overall, I liked it, but being it's a small two-door, it's not practical for my lifestyle.
2004 Bonneville GXP - This was the third car we drove, after the two versions of the GTO. I liked this car a lot. The interior was very posh, and the HUD was COOL. Unfortunately, my height ruined it once more as I was just barely tall enough to see the HUD. Again, we didn't get a chance to play around with the interior options because of the lines behind us, and I didn't find the ability to lift the seat up like many other vehicles have. In any case, the car itself was a great and smooth drive. The GXP has a 275HP Northstar V8, ironically for the size of the car it's smaller and less powerful than the GTO's engine. And it showed on the course. The car, while having a nice, smooth ride, was a dog. It had terrible acceleration, but perhaps not for a car of it's size. It got Kudos for the seats and the HUD, but otherwise it's too slow and grammaish for my tastes.
2004 Impala SS - Being a fan of the mid 90's Impala SS's, I've never been too impressed with the newer version, especially since it only has a V6 in it. But what a V6 it has. I think the Impala SS was the best passenger car we drove. It was very quick, it handled awesome, and the steering was dead on where I want it. It's not too big, but not too small, and the interior was very nice and comfortable. I really really liked the Impala SS overall.
2004 Pontiac Vibe - Compared to the other cars we drove, this... this literally was a piece of shit. Don't get me wrong, I Think it would be a fun little car to own, and I bet the Vibe GT's are a lot nicer, but we only got to drive the standard version, with the 4cyl. It's great if you like underpowered little rice rockets. It was 'peppy', but it wasn't fast, it was okay for handling, and the steering was nice and tight. Speaking of tight, so was the interior. After my ass got used to the leather of the previous vehicles, it didn't like the Vibe's little hard cloth seats.
After we putzed around with the passenger cars, we hit the trucks. Oh yeah baby, this was what I was *waiting* for. As many of you know, I'm a BIG 4x4 fan.
I had a lot of fun on this course, and I beat the hell out of these trucks as much as I could. This course had less curves, so we could actually acelerate moreso, but being that they were trucks, we couldn't get up to speed like we could have with the passenger cars.
2004 Chevrolet Colorado - This is the replacement for the S10. Instead of being a compact, it's a mid sized truck and directly competes with the Dodge Dakota and similar trucks. Before the Auto Show, this was my truck of choice. After the auto show, I found this truck was a gutless pile of cheap crap. Okay, it's not *That* bad, it was better than some of the other trucks and cars they were showing, but the only available Colorado they had to drive was a work truck with nothing in the way of options. The seats were hard, the cabin wasn't as roomy as I hoped, and it was gutless. Keep in mind this wasn't in any way a high end truck. My S10 could whip the pants off this truck, and I probably wasn't giving it a fair chance since I was comparing it to my old truck. In any case, it handled very well, even around the sharp turns. Overall, good truck, but definitely NOT better than the old S10s.
2004 GMC Canyon - Same truck as the Colorado? Certainly not. I liked this truck a lot. The Canyon they had was gutsy and had decent pep. It was obviously a higher end model than the Colorado. This had the Z71 package, but wasn't a 4x4. That's right guys, the Z71 is no longer a 4x4 only package. I don't think it was even AWD. But it was a nice truck. It had a 6 disc CD player and power leather seats. It was also the higher end 4 door model. As far as driving goes, it was similar to the Colorado, but did handle better. I liked it, but it's not the truck for me.
2004 GMC Sierra Denali - One word: Damn. This truck had the Quadrasteer option, and DAMN does it make a difference! No truck could keep up with this one. It had the Vortec 6.0L V8, and it could out corner and out-handle EVERY other truck there (including the Fords, Nissans and Toyotas). The interior was the LT package, 6 disc CD, dual climate controls, heated leather seats, -the works-. If I had the money to get any vehicle, sunshine this would be it.
2004 Cadillac Escalade EXT - This is the Cadillac "Avalanche", or the SUV that converts to a truck. I wasn't too impressed with this vehicle. It was obviously top of the line, and definitely something you'd expect from Caddy. It had the trim and overall love that screamed "Luxury Truck". But in handling, eh, it wasn't much better than the rest. The interior was awesome, but I didn't notice much ofa difference between it and the Sierra. Overall, not bad, but not something I'd consider getting.
2004 Nissan Titan - Incase you were wondering, GM allowed competitor vehicles to be driven so you could compare the GM's with the other brands. Let me say one thing about the Titan compared to the other trucks: HAHAH you've got to be kidding! Ok the Nissan had one thing over the others, it had good aceleration to start. It handled okay for a big clunky truck, and overall had a smooth ride. It did drive like a big ass boat though, and was difficult to keep on the track. The interior was the ugliest thing I've see in a long time, I felt like I was sitting in a bus. The dash was godawful, and the 'top compartments' were a ripoff of the Silverado. Overall: bleh.
2004 Silverado Regular Cab Shortbed - Two words: Fast Truck. This truck had the same bad ass 5.3 V8 that the other Silverados had, cept this one had much less weight. This was by far the fastest truck they had out there, but it couldn't outhandle the Sierra Denali, and that made it lose it's quickness on the course. Same interior as the Sierra, so not much else to say there. I didn't like the crampedness of the regular cab, so it's not the truck for me. I'd definitely trade speed for space.
After we had fun with the trucks, We decided to hit the highlight of the show, the SSR/Corvette Course. I was really looking forward to driving an SSR, because #1 I like the way they look, and #2 I knew I'd never get to touch one again. So we head over to the course, unfortunately Bow and I couldn't ride together as they made sure an attendant was in these cars with us, and they're two seaters. All the other cars we got to drive sans attendants, but it didn't matter. After I hopped into the SSR, the attendant with me told me to punch it. The truck was likely one of the fastest things I drove, and I made my attendant hang on for dear life as I took the turns (ironic neh?). I love the interior of this truck, and the gauge cluster. I just wish I could afford one. I love the retro look. It handles exceptionally well for what it is, and it's very fast for how much it weighs (4400lbs or so).
Bow decided to drive the Z06 Corvette, I wasn't interested as we all know Corvettes are the best of the best as far as speed and uselessness goes (For GM cars). He loved the speed and unbelievable handling of it.
Overall we had a lot of fun. I wish we had more time, because we missed out on taking a hummer out, or luxury cars like the Buicks and Caddies. We're thinking about going back tomorrow to finish up what we couldn't do today. In any case, we had a great time and learned a lot about various cars we'd previously never consider getting.