Archive for December 2016

2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD


The “Jamsa” brand, as it is pronounced in Turkish is part of my childhood memories.

GMC’s history in Turkey is much more prevalent than many of us think or imagine. People of my generation who were born in late fifties and early sixties will remember the military trucks in national parades. When I was at the primary school, my mother took me to August 30th (Victory Day) and 29 October 29th (Day of the Republic) parades with tens of GMC trucks filling Vatan Caddesi, the big boulevard in Istanbul. Following the Korean War, United States donated a bunch of these trucks to the Turkish Army. Even if these trucks are gone long ago, the fact that GMC has produced about 600,000 trucks for the American army in the Second World War reveals its importance in producing commercial and professional vehicles.


The name GMC was created as an abbreviation for “Grabowski Motor Company” by Mark Grabowski as the founder of the company. Although very few can remember or even know his name today, General Motors foresaw the bright future of this company in 1909 and only eight years after its foundation. GMC today, is mostly known with its full-size (Sierra) pickups, a derivative of their Chevrolet (Silverado) cousins. GMC has significantly differentiated itself from Chevrolet in the last four years and has expanded its market segment into the SUV segment with Acadia and Terrain. GMC also survived the 2008 crisis when GM killed two iconic brands, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. Today Grabowski justifies GM’s decision as a well performing brand of “professional grade”.

Almost all GMC models are a derivative of the Chevrolet cousins, but differentiate themselves by addressing more professional cuts with the brand “professional grade” slogan. On the other hand, models like Terrain and Acadia are out of traditional commercial vehicles.

We tested the Acadia, GMC’s representative in the very competitive mid-size SUV market.

In its first-generation GMC Acadia, debuted in 2006 as a 2007 model was a cousin to Chevrolet Travers, Buick Enclave and the now-extinct Saturn Outlook. These vehicles were big or oversized crossovers GM created while leaving the minivan segment.

In its second generation, the Acadia is an entirely different vehicle. It is smaller in size, yet more dynamic and fun to drive. Now, it is a big player in the midsize SUV segment and competes with established players like Ford Explorer.

Engine & Driving Impressions

We tested the top of the line Denali version with the 3.6L V6 engine delivering 310 horsepower. With 271 lb-ft of torque and a six-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle never feels under-powered. With active fuel management, cylinder deactivation (reduced to four) and capability for AWD, this SUV feels much more like a car than its predecessor. Our average fuel consumption was just north of 14L and was significantly higher than the “official” combined fuel consumption of 11.3L. Nevertheless, I asked myself why GM did not opt for a more modern and efficient 8-speed transmission.

To me, the magnetic suspension makes the biggest difference in ride comfort. With some exaggregation, I would say it floats on the road surface like a boat.









In the last ten years, like almost all other OEM’s, things at GM changed significantly. The quality of interior both in material and workmanship is ages better. The dashboard and the instrument cluster, a balanced outcome of digitalization and conventional displays, is very easy to use and navigate. In the Denali version with six leather seats, comfortable long journeys are not a problem except the limited trunk space when the third row is used. However, whoever is not fully satisfied may consider the bigger Yukon or even Yukon XL.

One unique and trailblazing feature is “Rear Seat Reminder,” designed to avoid those tragic instances when a child or pet is left in a hot vehicle. It is activated when the second-row doors are opened before the vehicle is started. Then, once the vehicle is turned off, an audible reminder in the form of five quick horn blasts sounds – It has the potential to save several innocent souls and should be adapted by other manufacturers.



With a model portfolio of SUV’s from Terrain to Acadia and Yukon, GMC is well equipped and prepared on a SUV-hungry market. And the brans new Acadia will only strengthen GMC’s market position.

If you are looking for a mid-size SUV, you will most probably short-list this vehicle.

The Specifications

Type of vehicle: Mid-size SUV
Engine: 3.6L DI, DOHC, V6 W/VVT
Transmission: 6-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): $54,695 / $62,845
Destination charge: CAD 1,700
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.3 city; 9.5 highway;11.6 combined
Optional features

Technology package: (Adaptive cruise control, automatic front braking, surround vision $1,975

Skyscape dual-panel sunroof: 1,685

Continuously variable real-time damping suspension: $1,395

White frost tricoat paint: $1,195

Engine block heater: $100

Total Price as Tested: $62,845

Article: Varol McKars

Pictures: Varol McKars, Basak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by GMC Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.

2017 Buick La Crosse Premium AWD


President-elect Donald Trump may be somewhat angry about China. Somebody should tell him (if not already) that one of the most iconic American brands owes its survival to China: Buick is alive and stronger than ever thanks to its success in China. In 2008, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, GM maintained Buick while killing Oldsmobile and Saturn.

The new generation LaCrosse, launched in September is a large sedan designed for China and North America.

Driving Impressions






















In my one-week test drive with the most expensive 3.6L, AWD Premium version, I was convinced that this GM brand may have a bright future. The five-link rear suspension is a determining factor for smooth ride.

This top-of-line engine with direct injection and variable valve timing generates 310 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 282 lb-ft of torque at 5200 rpm. The intelligent All-wheel drive system monitors the driving and road conditions and smartly delivers and changes the torque to the wheels.


The 3.6L V6 engine is silky smooth and the silence in the cabin is comparable even to the most luxurious brands in this world. The legroom in the rear is so generous that it would host any president or CEO without any complaints.(Note to ordinary and curious man: The rear seat comfort in China is so important that Volvo will make vehicles that sacrifice right-front seats for the “well-being” of the rear passenger)
































In the front, the dashboard and the centre console designed and executed perfectly with leather and wood treatment, complemented with high-quality plastic. The small-shift-by-wire lever occupies less space and enables a more-user friendly centre-console with more storage. The seats are very comfortable and and deserve their fair share in creating this level of luxury and comfort.























In an era of rising SUV’s in each category, LaCrosse symbolizes the beauty of the classic American sedan. And Buick needs a new group of buyers who can appreciate that. Despite the transformation and a portfolio of high quality vehicles, Buick’s buyers has the highest average age among the American brands. And Buick puts its efforts to reach more auto fans from the digital age. How much fruit these efforts will bear, remains to be seen in the next few years.
















As a car lover, I am so happy to see brands like Buick to adapt to the new times, and become successful.And the LaCrosse is a promising example. The biggest challenge for Buick is solidify its position as a luxury (I am not saying premium) brand within the GM Group and the world markets. Keep in mind that even Cadillac of the same group is and will be a tough competitor.

Somebody should tell President-elect Donald Trump that starting a potential trade war with China is a bad and dangerous idea.

The Specifications

Type of vehicle: Full-size Sedan
Engine: 3.6L DI, DOHC, V6 W/VVT
Transmission: 8-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): $47,400 / $53,640
Destination charge: CAD 1,650
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 11.6 city; 8.1 highway;10 combined
Optional features

Sun and shade package (Power panoramic moonroof and power rear sunshade): $2,135

Driver confidence package: (Adaptive cruise control, front automatic braking, automatic park assist) $1,860

Ebony twilight metallic paint: $495

Total Price as Tested: $53,640

Article: Varol McKars

Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.

2017 Chevrolet Volt LT

A Better Volt in every aspect

I simply loved this car. Because I love the idea of driving an EV without range anxiety. It is as simple as that.

I already had tested the first generation Volt about three years ago and was very satisfied. And, in the second generation, the Volt only got better and more attractive in design.

The principle remains the same: You have an electric car, drive electric all the time and, thanks to a gasoline engine as range extender, do not have to worry about range anxiety.

The car has a firm, yet comfortable ride, accelerates like a sports car, thanks to the instantly available maximum torque and brakes well. It offers a very quiet ride, due to not only being an EV but also good sound insulation. I think that also the tires deserve some credit for that.

The Volt has four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Mountain and Hold. The latter saves electric range for later use, which really alters its driving character.











For this amount of money, you own a car with a mature and advanced technology, attractive design that gives you great driving pleasure. GM optimized the design aerodynamically following a hard work in the wind tunnel. And it only makes sense for an EV. And if you look at the car’s face, it is unmistakably a Chevrolet.

Driving Impressions

General Motors says that the electric motor drive unit is now 12 per cent more efficient and is 45 kg lighter, while battery capacity has been increased to 18.4 kWh despite having 96 fewer cells than the unit in the first generation car. The new pack has also been lightened by 9 kg.










As the most distinguishing feature of a Volt, a gas-powered 1.5-litre four cylinder range extender is part of the power generation.Combined gas/electric output is rated at 149 horsepower delivering 294 lb-ft. of torque.

With the improved efficiency, now, you can drive the Volt pure electric for up to 85 kilometers.And our one-week nearly 400 kilometers’ test drive between Burlington and Toronto took place almost pure electric with a single visit to gas station (which was a our discretion but not necessary.

Every evening, we plugged in the car and charged from the ordinary residential outlet.

As one of the weaknesses of the Volt (and is still a problem for EV’s), full charging with the regular 120-Volt outlet may take up to 19 hours. however, if you have a good, well-thought driving plan, you can live with that and may even forget that the car has a range extender.


The improvement in the interior with much better materials and workmanship is very obvious. The cheap, white plastic of the previous generation is history. Heated cloth seats, a heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel, a leather-finished shift knob, an easy-to-use 8-inch MyLink infotainment touchscreen display surround you a give the feeling of a premium car. Most importantly the instrument cluster has a much better layout which is much more similar to a classic dashboard. The thin-film transistor display is very easy to read. If you remember the dashboard in the first generation Volt, you will greatly appreciate the difference.

Unfortunately, the uncomfortable, tight rear seat sticks to the current generation as well. Due to the T-shaped layout of the battery the middle seat in the rear is virtually non-existent and the Volt is practically a four-seater. Even for the two rear-seat passengers the legroom and headroom are limited and better suited for the kids.


Obviously, this technology that brings the best of two worlds together, doesn’t come cheap. Our very well equipped test vehicle’s MSRP exceeds 40 Grand. As a relief, buyers of Volt in Ontario, BC and Quebec can receive government rebates of up to almost 13K, which is significant.











The Volt makes a great, second car for families of four, like us. for a single person or a childless couple, it would meet every driving need, unless you have SUV-obsessed.

Of course, you have to crunch the numbers, do your math and decide based on your annual mileage calculations. The Volt is still “slightly expensive” even after generous government rebates.

The Specifications

Type of vehicle: Mid-size Hatchback vehicle
Engine: 1.5L DOHC gasoline engine as range extender, Lithium-ion battery propulsion (18.4kWh)
Transmission: 1-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): $38,390 / $40,545
Destination charge: CAD 1,600
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 2.2 (electric only), 5.6 (gasoline only)
Optional features: Siren red tintcoat: 455

Total Price as Tested: $40,545

Article: Varol McKars

Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars, Chevrolet Canada

Test vehicle was provided by General Motors Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.

2016 Ford Focus HB RS: Go To The Track


The racing and motorsports legacy of the Ford Escort is not well known in North America. For beginners, Escort is the predecessor of the Focus. Although this name is still in use in China, in Europe then name Focus replaced Escort at the beginning of this century.

The Escort won numerous awards in it Cosworth version in the eighties and nineties and this model, to us carries the flag to another era.











We tested the Ford Focus RS with all-wheel drive (AWD). It is the first RS that comes with AWD. Thr most powerful Focus around has a 2.3L Ecoboost engine, which produces 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. It is borrowed from Mustang. Although 350 horsepower sounds a little bit high for a “hothatch”, with 1.6 tons, this compact car is quite heavy for its class. At the end of our five-day test drive we recorded an average consumption of 13.8L. This is significantly higher than the Government of Canada measurement, even if this difference is not a surprise.

The Focus RS has three main competitors: The Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, and VW Golf R. They all have all wheel drive and turbocharged engines. Finally this is a niche market that attracts young drivers who want to be fast on the road and track.


Even though the interior looks high quality, they still use hard plastic and it is almost identical with the mainstream Focus. RS badges all around the interior, and Recaro sports seats with RS badge still remind you that you are not inside your every day Focus. We find the cushion of the seats really uncomfortable, even for the track. If you are a porker, this is not the best car for you to drive. Overall, the interior is slightly better than the STI, but not as good as the VW Golf R.

In Canada, the Focus RS comes fully loaded and the only option is nitrous blue quad coat for $995. The standard features include, among other things, navigation, Sirius XM, heated steering wheel and seats, and start-stop function.


This is where the Focus RS really shines, compared to its competitors. The body kit looks really muscular with enlarged front air vents, and rear wings. It comes with 19” wheels along with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 track tires. So, it fully deserves the RS badge.


This car is one of the most “tail happy” AWD cars on the road. It can send up to 70 percent of its torque to the rear, and 100 percent of that torque can be transferred to either side. This is the most advanced AWD technology ever made, and it is surprising to us that Ford uses this advanced AWD technology in a compact car.

There are four different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Track and Drift mode. The comfort level is acceptable in Normal and Sport mode. However, the suspension is very stiff if you choose the Track mode. The suspension is overly dampened and not great for daily driving. We think this is the weakest point of the car. It doesn’t have to be super stiff to be fast. Obviously, there is no body roll, but you have to sacrifice road comfort to achieve this super stiff ride. Also, you will have to deal with snap oversteer if you push it to the limits, since the suspension is so stiff, sometimes it can be dangerous for new drivers.


The MSRP for our test vehicle is just shy of $51.000. You can buy two “regular” Focus for that price. Nevertheless, when we consider the prices in this niche category the Focus still has the upper hand. The price is the same with fully loaded Subaru Impreza STI, while Ford offers the versatility and practicality of a hatchback. We understand that that no one will buy the Focus RS just to go from A to B. It is worth this money considering the performance and the fun factor on the track. And it is good to know that you can leave behind even a super sports car when the red light turns to green at an intersection.

Always obey the traffic rules and respect the speed limits in your daily commuting. Wait your track day for speeding.



If you choose the Focus RS, you probably know, what you are looking for and the chances are; you’ve found it.

The Specifications

Type of vehicle Hatchback 5-door compact car
Power 2.3L, 4-cylinder, inline, turbocharged GTDI gasoline engine, 350 horsepower  (6000 rpm), 350 lb-ft torque (3200 rpm),

Transmission Six-speed manual, AWD
Brakes Four-wheel Brembo discs with ABS
Price: base/as tested $47,969 / $50,664
Destination charge $1,600
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km)  12.1 city, 9.3 highway, 10.8 combined

Tires: Michelin 235/35R19
Standard features :Almost everything is standard
Options Nitrous blue quad coat (995)

Article: Varol McKars, Dan Gunay

Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars

Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada via BHG Media

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, visit:

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website ( are allowed.