You may probably have heard the legend: Los Angeles Area has the highest rate of armed robberies in the Western World. Why? It is because no matter where you are, you will easily find a connection to the extensive network of highways. I do not know if the robbers take into consideration also the morning and evening rush hours.
History of Los Angeles
The city, Los Angeles has a long history of highways: Today’s Pasadena Freeway (named by then The Arroyo Seco Parkway), opened in 1940 is usually considered as the first urban freeway. By today’s standards its snake-like twists, missing lanes for acceleration and deceleration and faulty exit ramps are hardly acceptable. The Angelenos are among the most addicted drivers in the world and spend most time in their cars. Los Angeles Metropolitan Area is one of the most amazing examples of urban sprawl and public transportation is far too weak. So, the automobile remains the only viable solution in “town”.
I wanted to be part of this mobility experience for a few days and chose the GMC Terrain, a compact SUV as my “road-mate”. I drove the Terrain, equipped with a 3-liter V6-264 HP engine with six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive for about 300 kilometers across the Los Angeles Area. The MSRP of this model in California including options such as leather upholstery is around 39K (USD).
Apart from its angular and unique design, the Terrain is well-built inside with good quality materials and good craftsmanship. Something we observe in almost all GM products since 2007.
To be honest, I was not very much impressed by its driving performance. I usually had the impression of having a four-cylinder power plant under the hood, instead of six. Maybe I should partially put the blame on the automatic transmission. You either switch to manual mode or provoke a downshift with a strong acceleration. The steering lacks a road feel in low speeds. The turning radius could be smaller for a compact SUV of this size.
GMC, founded in 1901 by Max Grabowski and part of General Motors since 1909 is one of the oldest producers of trucks and commercial vehicles. During WW II, GMC manufactured 600 thousand trucks for the American Army. In Turkey (and probably in many other countries) those trucks were used and partly still in use for many decades. In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, GMC survived as the second biggest brand of GM after Chevrolet while Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer died. In the last five years, GMC launched two car-based SUV’s, the Acadia and the Terrain to diversify its model range and to reduce its dependence on commercial vehicles. The Terrain, introduced in 2010 is a derivative of its Chevrolet sibling, the Equinox. It is produced by CAMI, a GM Facility in Ingersoll, Ontario. Respecting earlier criticisms, The Terrain has an entirely different look from the Equinox. The sales figures reveal that this was a wise choice.
That’s all about the vehicle. Back to the City of Angels. As an urban cowboy, I criss-crossed LA stretching from the Hollywood Mountain to the Sunset Boulevard, from Rodeo Drive to Beverly Hills and the Olvera Street where the city was founded.
It makes perfectly sense to start your tour with the birthplace of Los Angeles. 44 Mexican settlers founded a pueblo (village) in 1781 on the orders of Carlos III of Spain, who needed food for the troops guarding Alta California, Spain’s faraway province. The Spanish & Mexican heritage of Los Angeles is so much visible when you wander the brick path of Olvera Street, a pedestrian marketplace with Latino vendors and small restaurants offering all kinds of Mexican food cheaply and quickly.
This humble and colorful neighborhood is very different from Rodeo Drive, Probably the world’s coolest shopping street. Among other fashion brands, I passed by Bijan and saw his one million dollar plus Bugatti Veyron parked in front of his boutique. Bijan Pakzad, known simply as Bijan was an Iranian designer of menswear and fragrances. His boutique is known as the most expensive on the planet. He sold to presidents, statesmen and rich celebrities his very unique products such as; a pair of socks for 2,500 dollars made of the finest cotton from Egypt, woven in Italy and sewn in Switzerland. After his death in 2011, his family runs the business.
When you visit Beverly Hills, just stay on the Boulevard. Tour busses are not allowed anymore to intimate side streets where the residences of Hollywood celebrities are located. They were disturbed and initiated a ban imposed by the Municipality.
A visit to Los Angeles is never complete without the Griffith Park and the Observatory with its view of Los Angeles and Mount Hollywood with its famous sign.
Spend at the least half a day at the Universal Studios, Hollywood’s biggest dream factory. The waiting times are long but maybe worth waiting. Immerse into 3-D experiences of Hollywood blockbusters such as: Jaws, Jurassic Park, Waterworld and many more.
Finally, to feel the breeze of the Pacific Ocean and enjoy some “people’s bath” visit the Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
To know more about GMC Terrain, you can visit here.