Category

AUTOMOTIVE

Category

Welcome to the Family Buick Envision

Bringing a new life into the world can be both exciting and terrifying for new parents. Even though you may have months to prepare for the arrival, the unknown and the what-if’s to come can be unnerving. As one might imagine, I spent most of my pregnancy researching and acquiring all the baby products I felt we needed for Maxwell in her first few months of life and quickly realized at the end of the summer that I may need a new vehicle to match my new lifestyle as an “Urban Mum”.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter

I have had my license for 20 years ( and you can stop trying to calculate my age right now!) and consider myself to be a great driver but let me tell you something, nothing scared me more than the thought of being behind the wheel of a car with a newborn baby. Most of my anxiety came from not trusting the other drivers out there. I literally became fixated on finding a car that came with as much safety technology as possible to protect us on the road. I also realized quite quickly that this new vehicle would have to be adequate in size to accommodate all the new (and mandatory) things I now needed every time I left the house. Not to mention, one with cool-air ventilated front seats to help me get me through the end of summer and fall because I’ve been a sweaty mess for months thanks to my hormones. And if I can be completely honest with you, I needed a car that also just looked pretty damn cool. The “Mum” title can immediately put you into a category of un-coolness, especially when it comes to vehicles. What I wanted was something sleek enough for my city events, roomy enough to handle long road trips plus all the extra crap that comes with having a baby, next level safety features and tech savvy to handle my work needs on-the-go because a traditional maternity leave doesn’t quite exist for me. That seems like a tall order I know, but the 2017 Buick Envision miraculously ticked all the boxes, making it the perfect addition to the family just before Maxwell’s arrival.

So many of you commented and private messaged me on social media about the Envision. Some of you surprised. Most of you intrigued. Just like the old adage, “you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” the same can ring true about Buick’s latest fleet of vehicles. They are far from the Buick’s of the past but I know for many, it’s hard to call them a luxury brand since it occupies something of a middle ground between mainstream and high-end. Turns out, the Envision easily competes with other cross-overs in it’s class like the Lexus RX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and it’s natural rival the Acura RDX, providing more value for money in my personal opinion. Here’s what has me hooked on the 2017 Buick Envision during our first month with the vehicle so far – making it worth a look if you’re in the market for something new, safe and stylish as a new mom or mom-to-be.

Heavy on Safety and Tech Features

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The Envision has more features than you could possibly imagine. I kid you not, even the base model at $35k has a rear camera, OnStar telematics, 4G WiFi hotspot, active noise cancellation, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, 4 USB jacks and an 8-inch LCD center stack, XM Satellite radio, just to name a few. With my newly acquired anxiety about vehicle and driving safety with my baby, it was a no brainer to go with the Premium II version, which comes in around $50K, that literally comes with every single alert and assist feature possible available on a vehicle in today’s market:

  • Forward Collision Alert (FCA) System to help avoid front-end crashes by alerting the driver with flashing alerts and a pulsing seat if you’re approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly.
  • Forward Automatic Braking designed to automatically engage the brake system if the car detects you may crash into a vehicle ahead of you.
  • Lane Keep Assist helps to avoid crashes due to unintentional lane shifting/departures and just like a guardian angel will assist by gently turning the steering wheel to keep you in your intended lane, if it detects your drifting towards another lane without using a turn signal in that direction.
  • Plus, surround vision cameras which gives you a 360 view around the vehicle and comes with the car’s Driver Confidence Package.

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

What has me hooked…

I will never stop singing my praises for wifi connectivity in Buick’s. I have raved about this feature many times driving media fleet vehicles from GM Canada but now that Maxie is here, I am able utilize our wifi access to play lullaby’s for the her via Spotify and YouTube. We’re currently obsessed with “Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay”. The front camera has come in pretty clutch too, and helping me navigate into tight parallel parking spots downtown that I would previously never attempt. Oh, and by simply pressing the blue On-Star button, I get access to a 24 hour operator who can do everything from suggest the best Italian restaurants within 10 kms, send turn by turn directions to the car if I am lost and even acts as emergency roadside assistance.

Size & Design

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The SUV market has something for everything I believe in terms of size. For my current needs, I was looking for something compact but still roomy. I also preferred a more comfortable ride over sporty handling for obvious reasons. Nestled perfectly between the brand’s subcompact Encore and the larger three row Enclave is where I found the Envision. During my final weeks of pregnancy I was patting myself on the back for not choosing a full size SUV knowing I would have struggled climbing into the driver’s side. The Envision’s height made it easy for me to get in and out of the car, even a week past my due date. It also turned out to be the perfect height for my pup and little nephew to climb in on their own as well.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision Buick Style - So Sasha
Left rear bench is reclined back to reveal the option of additional space for back seat passengers

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

2017 Buick Envision
A hidden storage compartment makes it easy to store vehicle and personal items

A compact crossover it may be but rear seat passengers will find the extra few inches desirable in the back as the rear bench slides back and reclines to allow more leg room; a feature we will no doubt enjoy on upcoming road trips. As for the trunk space…quite impressive for a compact crossover. More than adequate for our little family now with 27 cubic feet available, although I have only tested out the space with our Bugaboo stroller chassis. The trunk easily converts to 57 cubic feet when one of the rear seats is folded down into a 60/40 split. I am sure over the coming months I will have plenty of opportunities to test out the different space configurations. To ensure I have optimal storage space back there for larger items like the stroller, there is a hidden compartment underneath the floor of the trunk perfect for storing personal items. It’s actually also a brilliant way to hide any valuables in the car that you wouldn’t want seen and potentially stolen. When it comes to small(er) SUV’s, it’s not uncommon to find small sunroofs…one of my pet peeves. A panoramic moonroof extends into the car’s rear cabin making the interior bright and airy even with my dark leather appointed interior.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision

What has me hooked…

While warm days with sunlight streaming through the windows and moonroof is great for most passengers, it’s not always the most ideal for teeny tiny babies confined to their car seats in the back. However, the size of the Envision’s moonroof allows me to close the moonroof cover half way to provide shade for Maxi in the rear but to still allow ample sunlight in the front cabin. My hidden storage compartment in the trunk is one of the best things since sliced bread. I have used these compartments in recent weeks for extra diapers, wipes and drop sheets for Maxie instead of stuffing more than necessary into her diaper bag. I have even left clothes, extra shoes to change into if my feet start getting sore on the road and even my laptop between meetings.

More Bang For Your Buck

I know this all sounds amazing but the question on everyone’s mind is always the pricing; and rightfully so. The base model starts in and around $35k with freight while there is four other trim line’s (Preferred, Essence, Premium and Premium II) ranging from $36-50K. With the base model coming in so strong with all it’s features, it’s actually a better choice and more bang for your buck over the Preferred trim line which only offers a dozen or so additional minor features . But if music, enhanced safety, and heated (front and rear)/ventilated seats are your thing, then the top two tier trim lines would definitely be for you.

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter
Photography by Elaine Fancy

We no doubt have tons of adventures ahead in the Envision and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to start creating our first family moments and share them with you guys. For more information on the all new Envision or other vehicles within the Buick line-up head to Buick.ca.

The New “Head Turning” Generation of Buick

If you were born sometime in the eighties, chances are you had a grandparent, or knew someone who had a grandparent, that drove a Buick. Why? Being the oldest active automotive brand in North America and a car once known as the “Moving Couch” because of it’s plush interiors – Buick tended to attract a population of people 65 and over. But fast forward about three decades later, the brand is starting to reap the benefits of all their hard work and efforts in repositioning Buick not only as premium, but as vehicles attractive to a much younger target demographic.

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Lacross - So Sasha

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Lacrosse

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Lacrosse
Napa Valley California in the 2017 Buick Lacrosse. Photo by Lauren McPhillips @ThisRenegadeLove

A feat thought to be impossible by many is slowly becoming more and more realistic year after year with serious financial investment from General Motors and most importantly a well appointed design team. Car companies live and die by two measures – product and pricing. Over the last couple of years, Buick has seen much success by employing a very basic strategy in regards to both: Do what others aren’t. Meaning, manufacturing high quality vehicles at a price point affordable to those who can’t quite make the leap to the luxury category. This has helped the company’s fleet not only gain the attention of the hard to impress car geeks on the auto show circuit but also attract a whole new, refreshing demographic, which I just happen to fall into – women between the ages of 25-45. As I’ve gotten older, or shall I say more mature, with major “adulting” lifestyle changes no less, I am now drawn to different vehicle amenities and attributes. I’ve bid adieu to the notion that my vehicle’s laniard symbol on the grill is the most important thing, followed by speed or where it falls within the luxury class. I remember when the BMW 3 series and Benz C-Class was the car everyone wanted post university to symbolize they’ve found their first good paying career job. Whereas now, I’m interested in seeing more value for (my) money in a car instead of it simply coasting off the prestige of it’s brand name providing the same offering as a base model Accord. Sorry Honda!

Sasha Exeter - 2017 Buick Envision
Sonoma Valley, California – Beringer Estates with the 2017 Envision. Photo by Lauren McPhillips @ThisRenegadeLove

Last year my interest was seriously piqued when I made the trek to Napa Valley, California with Lauren of This Renegade Love, for 36 hours to learn more about Buick’s 2017 Lacrosse sedan and it’s newest compact luxury SUV, Envision. The vehicle’s design cues, elegance and technology features drastically elevated the expectations of what a Buick can be.

Sasha Exeter - NYIAS - Buick Enclave Avenir
NYIAS – Javits Centre (NYC) April 2017

This month, I kept the travel a bit closer to home for the much anticipated reveal of Buick’s piéce de resistance…it’s first ever vehicle in family-oriented luxury; the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir, which debuted at the New York International Auto Show. Similar to most other women in my age bracket, I’ve developed an interested in smart innovation and technology features but not at all prepared to sacrifice style for either of those things. So yes, I guess you can say I want it all.  Turns out, all come standard in the new Enclave Avenir and will play an integral role in setting the stage for Buick to successfully claim it’s deserved place in between the mainstream and luxury categories. How?

To make the new Enclave, we spent time in the homes of our loyal customers and the homes of competitive buyers, learning how they use their vehicles with an eye for making their lives more better, easier and more satisfying! – Global Buick Vice President, Duncan Aldred (shown below)

The exterior, which comes in five premium colours, visually sets itself apart. It’s sleek and slightly deceiving when it comes to size. Slimmer and lower bodied than it’s predecessor, plus roomier than it has been in the past. You wouldn’t guess this seven passenger SUV has more room behind it’s first row of seats than the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and the QX60. However, it’s the interior that oozes premium, with it’s Avenir Chesnut and Ebony colour way, wood accented steering wheel and super luxe embroider first-row headrests. Pretty much what you would expect to find in vehicles 2.5 times what I predict the Avenir Enclave to be priced at, which won’t be revealed until later into the year.  And these well appointed design details are no fluke, but rather carefully curated and planned 3-4 years in advance by Buick’s highly skilled team; who looks at trends in fashion, interior and even furniture design industries to help develop a luxurious aesthetic that is also highly functional. In a way, creating consumer demands eons before we could ever dream of needing these attributes. Half a decade ago, would you ever think that you would need wireless charging capabilities for your phone, a 360-surround  vision camera system for easier parking, or a rear camera mirror that can function as a traditional mirror or a camera; virtually eliminating potential obstructions of the past like oversized headrests or passenger heads? And of course, I can’t forget access to 4G LTE wifi and Apple Car Play. All available now in the Avenir and select Buick models.

But what really blew my mind are the little things that the special teams thought to include that really enhances a family’s lifestyle and makes life easier. Think, second row SmartSlide Seats that provides easy access to the rear third row – normally a nightmare to access, especially when you have a car seat in the mix. It now has pitch slide functionality to allow you to fold the row down, even with an empty front facing child seat in it. How brilliant is that for growing families? My favourite lifestyle enhancing feature announced at the reveal is the Enclave’s air ionizer that not only eliminates odours but also provides better overall air quality – reducing bacteria, dust, viruses, pollen and debris, plus it turns out, all can significantly improve driver alertness. Are you thinking about the hassle of maintenance for this feature? I sure as hell was, but Buick has managed to find a way to manufacture this thing in a way that it requires no maintenance or filter replacement.

The most standard response from those who have seen the latest from the brand is, “That’s a Buick?!” which has ironically been their tag line and social media hashtag since switching into high gears of it’s brand repositioning. This little sneak peek across the border has left me itching with anticipation to get behind the wheel of the Enclave Avenir and the rest of the new fleet roll-out. So let’s just say my fingers are crossed for some adventures with Buick this summer!

Head to Buick.ca for more details on the 2018 Enclave Avenir or the rest of Buick’s current six car line-up.

A Peek into the Future of Cadillac

If you’re between the ages of 29-44 and in the market for a new vehicle, chances are the criterial for your next set of wheels is a far cry from what buyers  would be looking for two decades ago. Sure, back then there were those who looked for performance or prestige in a vehicle but one would never have expected to find  both at the same time in one car. The number one purchase decision isn’t just finding a car that can get you from point A to B. Although we are still concerned with reliability and comfort, seeing as though the average commute time for drivers have quadrupled in recent years, we now also look at what we drive as an extension of our personal style and must reflect our lifestyle.

I will never be shy to admit my love affair with German vehicles (Porsche will always have my heart!) but my fondness for American cars have grown over the years after getting behind the wheel of several cars within General Motor family. There has been a lot of change going on in their portfolio of brands but the most impressive to date has been the $12 billion investment from General Motors to re-establish everything about Cadillac – from brand image and messaging, dealer experience, to even it’s vehicle naming system and product portfolio, which consists of plans to release 9 (yes, 9) brand new vehicles by the year 2021.

The future of Cadillac design and technology – The Escala

There has been much talk about what these 9 cars may be but they are rumoured to consist of the following; a sub sedan (CT2 or CT1)  to compete with the Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz CLA-Class, a reimagined version of the ATS (CT3) to rival the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS, an ultra luxury full size flagship sedan, a fifth generation Escalade, a B segment sub compact crossover to compete with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, a C segment compact crossover to rival the X3, Porsche Macan and Mercedes GLC-Class, an entry full size crossover to tackle the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and last but certainly not least, a full size flagship crossover , the Pièce de Résistance of the brand’s crossover lineup which will be a high end full size, three row CUV to rival the current Mercedes GLS-Class and upcoming BMW X7 and Audi Q9.

I got recently got acquainted with the new XT5 for a week, interested…knowing it’s job was to replace the brand’s first CUV, the SRX; with it’s sleeker exterior and sophisticated, contemporary interior. But mainly because I know the vehicle will foreshadow the future of Cadillac SUV’s to come. Inside, the cabin was surprisingly roomy, seats even proved comfy to my boyfriend during our drive to Prince Edward County, who often gets irritable during road trips. For those looking for extra cargo space for urban or out-of-town adventures, this XT5 will definitely surprise you. It seats five however when more space is needed, the adjustable rear sliding seats also fold into a 40-20-40 split for extra storage space, with a metal divider in the back that slides and locks in place to keep cargo from moving about There’s even a brilliant hidden storage compartment under the floor that is sure to please those meticulous, Type A personalities that love to keep things super organized.

The XT5′s V6 engine includes an active fuel management system that cuts down to four cylinders under light loads which is brilliant, but a less attractive feature is the “stop/start” that puts the engine in idle when you’re at a traffic light. Unlike other vehicles that also offer this feature, the XT5 does not allow you to disengage this feature, that could become a bit of an annoyance if you are not into the abrupt start every time the light turns green in rush hour traffic.

Although comfortable than most behind the wheel, winter driving can still prove to be nerving for me at times, but I felt super comfortable in my AWD model, which has three settings; front wheel drive only, sport (needed for extra handling and traction control) and AWD tasked to maintain continuous all wheel power for even the most slippery roads. For those young families concerned about safety, the Platinum edition is packed with amazing technology features within the Driver Awareness Package that also includes the most talked about tech piece, the rearview mirror camera, unique to the Platinum version. It works as a regular rear view mirror but with one simple switch, it converts into a video screen using a feed from, wait for it…a self cleaning camera in the lift gate. And the best way to give your loved ones the best passenger experience – Cadillac CUE Infotainment System with Apple Car Play capability and 4G LTE wifi hotspot.

But you’re probably thinking, “what’s up with that Escala? And when’s that coming out?” Beautiful vehicle I know, but for now just the brand’s latest concept car that has been making the rounds on the auto show circuit with it’s very own handler. Sounds a bit high maintenance, but if you’ve seen this beast in person, you would probably be more understanding of it having a babysitter.

I sat in an exclusive panel discussion put on by Cadillac during Toronto Auto Show week, moderated by Design Exchange President Shauna Levy who spoke with two of brand’s design team members, who dished the design details behind the Escala. Based on what I’ve been hearing and reading since the concept car’s debut at Pebble Beach, the goal of the Escala is to point in the direction Cadillac’s heading in and some of the features could very well be things the automotive company will debut on product models in the very near future. Could this be a prototype for the next CT8 flagship sedan model? Possibly! But what I do know is Cadillac’s design process starts three to four years in advance and inspiration is pulled globally from fashion, architecture, interior design to even accessories, to put them ahead of the game in producing colour and fabrication options. Assuming something close to this comes to market, it’s safe to say interested buyers who desire large, opulent transportation would shell out a lot of money for a car like this, so the designers have spared no expense with every single detail.

The exterior colour, called Gaia, is made up of nine layers of paint and changes colour in different lighting conditions. The spacious interior – surprisingly uses fabric, reminiscent of what you may find in bespoke suit, evoking fine tailoring and actually turns out to be more inviting and interesting than leather. A complex and labour intensive stitch pattern was created using special thread that brings the fabric to live where it meets the luxurious leather.  As for technology, the features are a marriage of understated sophistication with two curved OLED screens layered into the dash but controlled via what designers call the “Goddess Dial” located in the arm rest. Not to be outdone by the cockpit, mix modality plays throughout the rear seat entertainment system as well. Oversized screens are nestled in the two front seats and retract into the headrests, leaving only a sliver of the bottom display in view to reveal a more streamlined finish. In this mode, the passenger only sees the basic necessities – time, weather, estimated time of arrival, etc. And if that’s not enough for you, the Escala design team employed famed American designer Jason Wu to create a custom set of travel sized bags and totes specifically to appeal to what we imagine the Escala driver to be…a purveyor of luxury lifestyle who needs chic luggage for their private G5 flight.Photos by JessBaumung.com and GM Authority

Stay up to date on all things Cadillac and view vehicle portfolio and pricing at CadillacCanada.ca

2017 GMC Acadia Whistler, BC Experience

With fast paced lifestyles being the norm these days and car consumers becoming far more discerning each year, it’s not surprising that drivers are looking for much more out of vehicles now more than ever before. We need more cargo/storage capacity. Additional space for more passengers. Want better fuel efficiency. Desire a luxury aesthetic with premium finishes. We’re intrigued by next generation technology (who ever thought we would be living in a world with 4G LTE wifi in cars?!). Or require 4WD capabilities for winter driving conditions. I mean, the list of Canadian customers reasons for purchasing a vehicle can just go on and on. In the past I viewed cars similar to the way I looked at real estate and men. It sounds odd and funny but ti’s true. I believed that there was no perfect vehicle, house or man – and finding one that ticked all the boxes wasn’t realistic. For years car customers have sacrificed in one way or another. Twenty years ago, if space was high on your priority list, you were probably sacrificing on style by having to choose a minivan to accommodate a family of 7. Wanting better performance meant a heavier vehicle frame and increased engine size; resulting in poor fuel efficiency. Japanese and German vehicles were known for their style and design, but it was the American manufacturers that were known for comfort. Fast forward two decades and we may be moving towards a world where it’s possible to get your whole wish list in one vehicle.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

Last week I ventured all the way to beautiful Whistler, British Columbia for a couple days of adventure and to discover the all new 2017 GMC Acadia. Our drive from Whistler commenced from Vancouver Airport, where we headed up the scenic Sea to Sky highway, giving us our first taste of the brand’s most innovative Acadia to date. On our itinerary during our surprise filled visit with GM Canada…an unbelievable outdoor experience that included learning how to ride like the mountain bike pros on the GMC sponsored Pump Track, an exclusive ride inside the Guinness World Record Breaking Peak to Peak Gondola that spans the entire distance between Whistler and Blackcomb, lunch overlooking a breathtaking vista of snowcapped mountains at Christine’s on Blackcomb, an ATV off-road excursion with RZR Tours at Cougar Mountain and dinner at Whistler’s premier dine dining and award winning restaurant Bearfoot Bistro. And if that wasn’t enough, after our delicious four course meal at Bearfoot, we headed to the restaurant’s lower level where patrons will find the Ketel One Ice Room – the world’s coldest vodka tasting room and only sub-zero vodka room in Canada. If you followed my trip on snapchat, you most likely saw our group donning white Canada Goose parkas to help us brave the -32C (-25) temps in there, while we sampled a few of the vodka’s in their 50 plus collection.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

GMC, a brand known for it’s professional grade heritage, bold features and craftsmanship, has refined the latest Acadia with the help of premium finishes, innovative features and tons of space options for both passengers and cargo. Here’s a quick look inside the 2017 GMC Acadia:

The revised mid-sized SUV’s exterior has modern updates with sculptural lines that made our motorcade of Acadia’s stand out as we made our way up the winding highway. But it’s the car’s interior and tech features that really stand out in my opinion. It may not look like it from the outside, but this cross over fits up to 7 passengers quite comfortably despite losing a bit of interior room compared to it’s previous year’s model, thanks to premium seating and the vehicle’s easy access to it’s 3rd row. How? With the assistance of Acadia’s fold flat 2nd row seats that allows you to be ready for whatever your next adventure might be. You can go right ahead and file the enhanced second-row Smart Slide® seats under “Mind Blown”. This row can tip, pitch and slide forward even when a child seat is attached. Shocking I know! And this should go without saying, but this feature is only recommended when a child is NOT strapped into it’s car seat. If more cargo space is what you really need, designers have placed built-in seat release levers to make it super simple to fold the second row seats completely flat from the back of the car.

For those of you have have kiddies or nieces and nephews you look after on weekends like I do, the comprehensive suite of available Driver Alert and Active Safety Technologies to help protect drivers from the unexpected on the road, would blow you away. With the increase in deaths of babies being inadvertently left behind in cars, the Acadia has the industry first “Rear Seat Alert System” that reminds drivers that items and/or children may still be in the vehicle’s 2nd or 3rd row seats. Knowing you have the added safety of sensors, radars and cameras to help detect potential crash situations, can bring comfort to drivers with young children and babies on board. Other notable technologies that are a first for the Acadia that can even probably help with yearly insurance fees are the Front Park Assist, Lane Change Alert and Lane Keep Assist, Knee Airbags and much more.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always a fan of anything that makes long road trips bearable or working on the road manageable and GM’s fleet was ahead of it’s time introducing 4G LTW wifi connectivity via OnStar, Apple Car Play capabilities (allowing drivers to utilize all the functionalities of their iPhone or Android devices to make calls, send texts, listen to music and access maps all displayed on an 8″ colour touch audio system), plus Five USB ports ensures everyone is happily connected and charging.

A common worry for those moving from a car to cross over or SUV is no doubt gas mileage and rightfully so. Advanced design and engineering as allowed the 2017 Acadia to be over 700 lbs lighter than it’s predecessor, resulting in better fuel economy. You will find fuel range for the Acadia different depending on the model and engine size of course. For car buyers who’s priority is fuel efficiency the clear choice is the 2.5L engine getting drivers 11.0/9.2/10.2 L/100km (City/Highway/Combined). If fuel efficiency take a back seat to performance, then the 3.6L V6 engine with 310 horsepower plus active fuel management is the way to go with 13.0/9.3/11.3 (City/Highway/Combined) L/100km.

The 2017 GMC Acadia is already available in showrooms now in Canada and price points for the base 4-cylinder front drive only Acadia SL start at $29,995, with the top line Acadia Denali AWD starting at $47,845. For more information on all Acadia models head to GMCCanada.ca

#CityEvocation: 2016 Range Rover Evoque

Sure, I may get the opportunity to work with a lot of car brands but don’t make the assumption that my affinity for luxury cars stems from partnerships through my blog. I am almost embarrassed to admit that my final paper in my International Business class in university was on the impact of entry luxe vehicles making it’s way into the automotive industry. I know, nerdy right but hey some girls like handbags and shoes, I just really love cars. Over the last 15 years, I’ve watched just about every premium car manufacturer add a moderately priced entry level vehicle into their line-up. What does this mean exactly? A 20something climbing the corporate ladder no longer has to wait 10 years to have the vaunted badge of a Mercedes on the hood of their car. They can now afford one for almost the same price as a fully loaded Acura or Nissan – crazy right?

2016 Range Rover Evoque

So does getting an extra luxe whip mean you’re getting entry level quality in regards to finishes, features, power, speed and after purchase service? Well the assignment I submitted to my prof many moons ago argued yes, but lot’s has changed in the industry over the last decade. Case in point, Range Rover’s tiny but mighty 2016 Evoque. Honestly, I was a bit reluctant to accept the keys to this vehicle in fear I would be underwhelmed.  “What happens if the vehicle doesn’t match up with the rest of the brand’s impressive line-up? And how can a compact SUV that is such a departure from the design of the much beloved LR4, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models measure up?” These are the kind of questions that immediately swirled around in my mind when the opportunity came my way.  I mean, if it failed to impress, that would have made for an awkward blog post. BUT…the Range Rover Evoque is proof that one shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover or in this case, a low(er) price tag! The “Baby Rangie” launched in 2011 and is Land Rover’s most successful model ever. Shocking, isn’t it?! After reading this little fact online, I then started taking stock of the cars I saw on the streets here in Toronto. I swear, 1 in every 5 SUV’s seemed to be an Evoque. After spending quite a bit of quality time in the vehicle, it’s easy to see why it’s been a hit…a whole lot of tech, capability, and style has been crammed inside this compact SUV.

Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque

The sleek shape of the exterior turns heads on the road for sure, but it’s the car’s interior, handling and performance that won me over and more importantly sets it apart from it’s competition in the crossover category. Attention to detail was definitely paid here with brushed aluminum finishes and gorgeous double stitched oxford leather upholstery. If you’re the market to purchase, here’s a tip on interior leather choices. Go with black. Although beautiful, the lunar (white) coloured leather seats literally absorb colour from your clothes, with denim and dark coloured bottoms being the biggest stain culprits. The classy cabin layout closely resembles other Range and Jaguar models and is pretty well equipped with plenty of extras you can add on like; the luxury seating package for $1,700 (front seat heating/cooling and massage; rear seat heating), Driver Assist ($2,700) which includes parking assist, lane keeping assist, surround camera, blind spot monitor etc, in addition to a panoramic roof, privacy glass and heated steering wheel. All a must in my books, but be careful, these extras can add up quite quick. The slab sides and smaller windows gives the car a sportier aesthetic than the Audi Q5, even though it’s taller. However, the rear window is extremely shallow so I found it a bit difficult to see out of when parking, but I guess that’s what the rear cam is for, right?

Range Rover Evoque

Looking good and handling well on city streets is one thing but the true test for the Evoque was whether it can handle like a capable off-roader like it’s older siblings the Land Rover LR4, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover. Similar to the LR4 I took on my Land Rover Canada Off-Road Adventure in Montebello, Quebec earlier this year, the Evoque comes equipped with Hill Decscent Control, which gradually eases the car down a steep hill and Terrain Response, a technology that automatically changes the car’s settings for off-road driving, allowing it to easily navigate snowy, icy and hilly terrain.

Range Rover EvoquePhotography by Nathalia Allen

So here’s the skinny; my feelings towards the exterior design of the Evoque is not the way I feel about the Range Rover Sport (which I LOVE!) but it handles well, has beautiful interior design features, a size perfect for urban roads and the occasional road trip, Plus the technology I would look for in a luxury vehicle minus the hefty price tag. The price of this entry point SUV comes in at $49,990 for the base model, almost $60K less than the standard wheelbase Range Rover, which starts at $108,490 (my HSE model comes in around $56,490). To learn more about the Evoque and Land Rover’s portfolio of vehicles, head to LandRover.ca.

Land Rover Canadian Off-Road Adventure – Montebello, Quebec

Hibernot

Most car owners learn the basics of their vehicle when they purchase it – and I mean basics. Let’s face it; learning to navigate the infotainment system, pairing your iPhone and which gasoline is best suited for your engine is usually as far as it goes. However, things seem to be a little bit different when you own a Land Rover. The British luxury automotive manufacturer offers owners of it’s vehicles an opportunity to learn all the capabilities of their newly acquired Land Rover or Range Rover at one of the brand’s 32 global driving centres.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Hibernot

Hibernot

A few weeks ago I got an off-road experience of a lifetime in quaint Montebello, Quebec, where Canada’s only Land Rover Experience School can be found nestled within the grounds of the Fairmont Chateau Montebello. Although Canadian, I’m not typically a lover of the outdoors during the winter and much prefer sun and the beach, but Land Rover Canada’s #Hibernot adventure reminded me that winter time in the north isn’t so bad. And it turns out, late night sleigh rides, ice skating and curling can be fine when you have the right group of people with you. But in all honesty, winter activities aside, I was really just there to see what Land Rover’s fleet of vehicles could do off-road.

Hibernot

The conditions on day two were absolutely perfect with a fresh blanket of thick, white snow on the ground. I was eager to explore the 65,000 of unspoiled nature that was somehow perfectly designed for car enthusiasts like Moi to navigate the technical woodland obstacles. Land Rover vehicles have a strong blood line.  For over 60 years their SUV’s have tackled the most difficult terrain across the globe. To help guide us through this experience, we had a group of expertly trained instructors who all had in-depth knowledge of our 2016 fleet; Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Evoque, LR4 and the Discovery. They helped guide our white convoy to our training destination, but stopped midway to apply winter chains to our tires. It was at that point I realized that this was not going to be a “basic” off-road drive program.

Hibernot

Hibernot

After being assigned to my white LR4, I immediately got an “Intro to Off-Roading” from my instructor. Proper seat settings, the importance of having driver arm rests raised and out of the way, so it’s not a hinderance when navigating the terrain. Where you look is naturally where you will steer the vehicle, therefore making sure to always look 10 feet directly in front of the vehicle while driving will allow drivers to keep the car from going into a ditch – eeeek, and most importantly, “drive as slow as possible, as fast as necessary“. We typically think when driving in snowy conditions that it’s best to increase speed for momentum when in deep snow to avoid getting stuck. Turns out, that’s the absolute worst thing you can do. Increasing speed when your tires are immersed in show actually increases your probabilities of either spinning out entirely or digging yourself into a deeper hole. Keeping the vehicle moving at a deliberately slow and consistent pace is the key to winter driving success and avoiding venturing off road into a ditch in real life driving situations.

HIbernot

The LR4 has come some way since my Mother had the SUV’s predecessor the LR3. The exterior similar but more sleek and refined but it’s the interior where I saw a lot of the upgraded details. A reverse traffic detection with blind spot monitor and closing vehicle sensing. Surround camera system – so yes ladies and gents, this camera doesn’t just give you a rear camera view when backing up, you have access to 360 vision allowing you to view in front and also the sides of the car. For those of you who have always loved the vaulted roof of Land Rovers, you will really love the extended moon roof that brings in so much light into the vehicle it’s almost like your driving a cone

Hibernot

Ok, so the aesthetics are on point but what about the performance right? The 340hp, V6 engine has an eight speed automatic transmission that drives on all four wheels making it possible for the LR4 to expertly tackle the most treacherous driving conditions and toughest trails in the wilderness. Besides it’s adjustable air suspension, the car is equipped with some sophisticated technology in it’s arsenal that blew myself and the other media away. Terrain Response allowed us to manually choose the driving surface we were only for more control, which was really useful in deep snow but there was also an automatic option where the car intuitively detected it on it’s own. Most impressive was the HDC (Hill Descent Control) which allowed for a smooth and controlled descent in the rough terrain without me having to touch the break pedal at all – how crazy is that? When it’s turned on, the Land Rover descends using the ABS brake system to control each wheel’s speed.

Hibernot

Thank you Land Rover Canada for an amazing experience and giving me a deeper appreciation for these awesome vehicles. Want to learn more about the brand’s beautiful and powerful line-up? Find more details at LandRover.ca.

Full Sized Luxury | The 2015 Jaguar XJL Sedan

Jaguar XJL

I’ve been behind the wheel of many luxury cars; Porsche’s, Mercs, Range Rovers, Cadillac’s Audi’s, BMW’s – you name it, I’ve probably driven it. However, it’s been quite some time since I have been in one of Britain’s automotive icons. If you were to take a look at Jaguar’s current (and may I add pricey)  line-up of vehicles, you would understand the difficulties I had choosing my first test drive car from the luxury automotive manufacturer. I prefer to stay away from most brand’s “entry-level” cars, even though Jaguar’s version of this, the XF, appears to be anything but that, I opted to get acquainted with the pinnacle of Jaguar’s sedan portfolio, the 2015 XJL.

Jaguar XJL

The XJ series has been knocking about since 1968 and most versions of the vehicle looked relatively the same until roughly 15 years ago when the Ian Callum designed model was first introduced. While many car enthusiasts may have mocked the vehicle’s new modern design, it truly marked the rebirth of the brand. I had my loaner, the long wheelbase version of the full size XJ, for about a week. Just long enough to get attached and not want to return it back to it’s rightful owners. With the standard edition starting in and around $89,490, mine was the base XJL with AWD starting around $96,490. If you’ve seen this car anywhere on the road, you are well aware of the intimidating length of it’s stately exterior.  The standard version is big, approximately 17 ft, but this beauty had five more inches in both wheelbase and legroom, so you can only imagine the space in the rear. Unless your a Head of State living at 10 Downing Street or a British pop-star, chances are you won’t have the luxury of being chauffeured so you can experience the outstanding comfort of the rear cabin. But as a consolation prize, both the driver and passenger seats have it’s own luxurious perks. The centre stack features an 8-inch touchscreen that houses the vehicles’s infotainment system where you will find the Nav, climate and seat functions – heating, cooling and yes even massage options with five different programs and intensities. The latter without a doubt was the most welcome interior feature, that made long commutes in traffic much more bearable.

Jaguar XJL

Jaguar XJL

Other notable mentions that may have a consumer justify the sticker price; soft grain perforated leather seats, Meridian 825 watt surround sound system with 14 speakers including two subwoofers, blind spot monitors with Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection via rear cam, soft grain heated steering wheel, rear coat hooks, electric rear window sun blinds and manual side sun blinds, JaguarDrive Control with winter and dynamic modes, rear air suspension, hydraulic power steering and much more.

Jaguar XJL

Jaguar XJL

What I’m Wearing: Hooded Wrap Coat courtesy of Sentaler // Distressed Skinny Denim courtesy of Paige Denim // Turtleneck (old) courtesy of Banana Republic // Toque courtesy of Cosure Clothing Company

So here’s the skinny, the XJL looks premium and drives super smooth but for those of you who geek out on more detailed power train info, you may be disappointed to learn the basic XJ only produces 340 hp and 332 lb/ft torque. I will admit, I was shocked when I discovered this however I had to kindly remind myself that this sedan isn’t intended to rival a 911 and does have many other visual and auditory pleasures for both the driver and passengers to enjoy. For those craving a bit more power, the next model in the line-up has a 470 hp supercharged 5.0 litre V8 engine and the XJR has a 550 hp supercharged V8 and can sprint to 100km/hr in just 4.6 seconds but brings with it a hefty price tag of $122,990. Also, the rear camera quality and the dated graphics in the infotainment system wasn’t exactly what I expected from a vehicle at this price point and doesn’t compare to the XTS, Cadillac’s luxury sedan, which is also equipped with 4G LTE wifi. The fuel economy was right around where I thought it would be and where ratings predicted at 14.7/9.6 per 100 ams (city/hwy). The XJ does come with Intelligent Stop/Start technology which turns off the vehicle when you’re stopped at lights or in traffic to help conserve some fuel, but I found myself wanting to turn off the option after all the stopping and starting during rush hour traffic.  Plus, I think it’s safe to say that anyone who purchases a $100k + vehicle won’t really be concerned with these little savings.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetPhotography by Jillian Botting

That being said, the plush carpets, leather covered everything and copious amounts of wood trim made every single one of my passengers fall in love with the car almost immediately. And as someone who loves being behind the wheel, the AWD system and wheel mounted paddle shifters made this beautiful behemoth a pleasurable and engaging driving experience. To learn more about the XJ series and Jaguar’s portfolio of vehicles head to Jaguar.ca

Sentaler | Canada’s New Leading Luxury Outerwear

Sentaler

If you live in a city that has sub arctic temperatures between the months of November and April, chances are you take your outerwear very seriously.  I used to believe I had to sacrifice fashion for function to keep warm during the winter, until I was introduced to Canada’s luxury outerwear brand, Sentaler. Over the past few years I have seen Sentaler’s beautiful coats made from Peruvian Alpaca, on women all over the city and started to become intrigued about this little Canadian brand that has started to make a splash internationally.

Sentaler

Sentaler

Sentaler

Fast forward a couple year’s and I had a chance encounter with the beauty and brains behind the brand, Bojana Sentaler, this past summer. Funny enough, our paths did not cross at a fashion event, but rather on a track day at Mosport Racetrack with Cadillac, where I was learning to race cars and Bojana was filming a video feature for the luxury automotive company’s Dare Greatly campaign. Not too long after the event, we connected back in the city at the designer’s minimalist office. Here we chatted all things Sentaler and discovered our joint love for fashion and cars. It’s not often do I meet another young lady who admires cars as much as they do clothes. Or better yet, prefers to drive a manual stick shift over automatic transmission vehicle. Similar to myself, Bojanna finds parallels in vehicle design as she does with clothing, part of why she agreed to collaborate with Cadillac on Dare Greatly. The Dare Greatly campaign  sought out Canadian leaders in their field who dare to drive the world in their field and naturally she made the cut as a hot, emerging designer. Here’s a sneak peek at the designer’s story shot earlier this summer courtesy of Cadillac.

As part of a way to get out of the office and get better acquainted, I took the beautiful Toronto designer for a spin in the new Cadillac ATS V Coupe, the same vehicle we both had on the track back in June. Finding similarities in different areas of design has always intrigued me. It’s interesting that the same level of care Bojana takes creating her designs, is very similar to what Cadillac’s design team does with the vehicle’s interior. The cut and sew treatment of the interior’s leather is an element the team borrowed directly from the fashion industry.

Sentaler

Sentaler

Sentaler

Cadillac ATS V Coupe

SentalerAbove in Sentaler’s long coat with baby alpaca fur collar (limited edition) 

In 2009 Sentaler was born. But not from the fashion educated roots of most designers. Pre Sentaler, Bojana was worlds away in Dubai working on economic investment reports (yep you read that correctly). While living way out in the luxurious desert region, she had an opportunity to meet and chat with Karl Lagerfeld and this conversation left her so inspired that she had decided that she wanted to finally pursue her passion within fashion. After leaving Dubai, Sentaler then headed to South America where she came across the alpaca fibre and spent time in Peru learning all about the alpaca fabrics amazing qualities and how to design with it. “When I launched my first collection six years ago, I loved my product and truly believed in it. I wasn’t considering failure as an option because I was so passionate about what I was doing”.

SentalerSentaler’s Shawl Collar Poncho Wrap 

So why has Sentaler’s outerwear been gaining so much notoriety as of late? Personally, I think consumers have dabbled in quick and fast fashion for such a long time and have so much access to trendy fashion at high street stores but are coming to understand again the importance of a proper investment when it comes to classic and chic outerwear. These coats are far from a seasonal fad and one can last you a lifetime. However, if you ask the likes of “Suits” actress Meghan Markle, “Sex and the City’s” Kim Cattral, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and yours truly, one Sentaler coat is just not enough. I am already plotting on what I am going to acquire next after getting the label’s uber functional hooded wrap coat in grey. Sentaler’s full collection is ultra versatile and there is literally a style that suits any body type and style preference. The thing I love the most is that each piece can also be toned down into a more casual look depending on what you pair with it. On another note, alpaca seems to be trending as of late. On a recent trip to Quebec City I visited an Alpaca farm and learned a bit more about these cute animals that produce such excess soft fur that is now being used for everything from socks, sweaters, gloves and jackets. Like most, I always thought wool was the warmest fabric but surprisingly alpaca is much warmer but lighter in weight, making it an easier fabric to wear during transitional seasons. Bojana uses only baby alpaca for her Sentaler jackets which comes from the first shearing of a young alpaca.  This is the softest and most desired fibre – which makes Sentaler coats so silky and soft to the touch.

SentalerSentaler’s Hooded Wrap Coat

The future is bright for Bojana and I am excited to see what 2016 has in store for this young and super talented woman that I am now lucky to call a friend. Busy filling stock and custom orders for the current season, Sentaler is also keeping herself busy designing her next collection citing that she draws most of her inspiration from her travels, “Inspiration comes from everything around me. And when I step away from my everyday work, my mind is free and my creative thoughts arise.”

SentalerPhotography by Danielle Reynolds

Sentaler’s fabulous collection can be found at Holt Renfrew locations across Canada, the team’s Toronto showroom and online, where she ships internationally – thank God! For more information on Sentaler, to view the entire collection and to purchase online head to Sentaler.com.

#FindNewRoads in Chevrolet’s 2016 Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro Six

Over the last few years, I have test drove various vehicles and have been on countless journeys but test driving one of America’s most classic cars across the desert states was an incredible way to get acquainted with the all new Chevrolet Camaro. Chances are you are too young to remember the first generation that was introduced back in 1967, but it was an instant hit and an integral part of the muscle car era and road racing. To this day, the ’67 Camaro with orange houndstooth interior is amongst my top 10 favourite cars of all time. We got the chance to spend 36 hours on an epic road trip with a pre-production car to celebrate the launch of the sixth generation Camaro.

Find New Roads Camaro

We departed Toronto last week with a quick connection in Denver to New Mexico. Here is where we commenced our “Oprah and Gayle” adventure to ‘Find New Roads’ and help Chevrolet take this special fleet of new Camaro’s across all 48 contiguous states along with over 100 other media and journalists. With very limited guidelines or rules from brand, we were challenged to learn as much as we could about the vehicles features, while trying to hit as many points of  interest within the sphere  of our driving leg.

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

We touched down in Albuquerque just in time for sundown and took the opportunity to explore the city by foot before the all the driving started the next morning. If you’re a fan of “Breaking Bad”, you would have been completely geeking out. Majority of the hit show was filmed within a 10 mile radius of where we were staying. The next morning the Chevrolet brand team informed us that the cars would be given out at random to the media and journalists on this leg of the drive. This news immediately created anxiety amongst myself and the rest of the male auto journalists. There was a mix of automatic and manual transmissions, V6’s and V8’s and one or two SS’s thrown into the mix. My desire for a manual transmission v8 came as a bit of a surprise to the rest of team. Unfortunately this time around luck was not on my side and I ended up with a Summit White V6 2.0L Turbo with an 8 speed paddle-shift automatic transmission. I mean, not a bad consolation prize but I was dying to test out the 6 speed manual. However, when we pulled out of the hotel parking lot and I heard the deep throaty sounds coming from the twin exhaust pipes, my FOMO started to disappear. This V6’s guts and responsiveness took me by surprise – in a good way.

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

With our ride packed, which we fondly called Walter White in honour of Breaking Bad’s leading character, we hit the road for five hours across New Mexico to Alamangoro to White Sands. Located at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies the Tularosa Basin. Rising from the heart of this basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the white sands of New Mexico. Great wave like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert here and created the largest gypsum dune field in the world. We originally had other plans to drive up north to some points of interest in Colorado but when we found out about this little gem, we diverted from our plans and headed out for a little adventure. The dunes, brilliant and white, are ever changing. They grow, crest but always advance thanks to strong southwest winds.

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

The brand portfolios within General Motors has always impressed me with their advanced technology and entertainment features, which were definitely welcomed as we racked up all that windshield time. We relied heavily on the Camaro’s OnStar system and Apple CarPlay, which you have heard me rave about before in my most recent Chevrolet posts. With just a touch of the Blue Button located on the rear view mirror, we had highway concierge at our disposal during our trip, that helped us find where we were going and even find a place to stay at our next destination in Arizona before we left White Sands. With 4G LTE Wifi and Apple CarPlay, we were able to cruise the desert and be connected to our beloved social media channels while also being able to use our iPhone functionalities that were paired through the vehicle’s instrument panel; directions via Apple Maps, sending/reading and receiving iMessages, making calls, listening to our fave tunes from both our phones and Spotify. In very remote areas there was no cell phone reception and at times the wifi signal in the car was not strong enough, but we were thankfully able to receive turn-by-turn directions to the vehicle in the wee hours of the morning to help us navigate our way across state lines.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Find New Roads Camero

After venturing off our pre-planned route to explore the white desert sands, we were left for a quiet and lonely 9 hour ride to Sedona, Arizona. To say it was desolate was an understatement. All the towns we passed through had closed down by 7pm. Stores, restaurants and gas stations…all closed. No street lights.

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads Camaro

Find New Roads CamaroPhotos by Nathalia Allen www.amillionminds.ca

We arrived in Sedona after 3am so we had no idea what was around us when we arrived in this adorable town until we woke up the next morning and discovered that we were surrounded in the most beautiful of landscapes. With less than four hours of sleep we woke up and took advantage of the little time we had before having to hit the road to our final destination and did a bit of hiking around Red Rock.  When we got to the summit, the views of the rocky red terrain left both Nathalia and I breathless. Suddenly I became jealous of having skyscrapers as my playground at home instead of mountains. The change of scenery was just what we needed. Here’s a sneak peek at the #CamaroSix:

So here’s the skinny: in my opinion the transformer-esque coupe has an appealing body type and is significantly light, roughly 200 lbs lighter vs the 5th generation. This is partially because it rides on a version of the Alpha platform that also works well with the Cadillac ATS and CTS. Both the driver and passenger seats provided the comfort we needed during our long highway drives but as you probably imagined, the rear seats are purely ornamental and can be compared to those of a Porsche 911. Non-existant. Also, the HVAC vents were oddly placed quite low in the centre stack, so it channeled the air low towards my hand on the gear shift. It’s low profile and open front grill helped keep the Camaro grounded on all the winding desert and mountain roads. I also loved the standard features like the new Driver Mode Selector that gives you Snow/Ice, Tour and Sport modes allowing for easy adaptation to changing driving conditions plus  the leather wrapped flat bottom steering wheel was easy on the hands after several hours behind the wheel at a time.

For more information plus pricing on the 2016 Camaro 2.0L Turbo and it’s 6.2L V8 and 3.6L V6, click here. 

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt: Going Green Never Looked So Good

2016 Chevy Volt Advemture

I may know a thing or two about cars but I will be the first to admit, I am no expert when it comes to the topic of EV’s (Electric Vehicles). Never one to turn down an adventure, I said yes to venturing to Quebec City with the Chevrolet Canada team to learn more about the new and improved 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Absolutely stunning during this time of the year, the quaint town of Scott played host to us for 48 hours for our extended test drive. Our mission over those two days was to simply experience the true benefits of being a Chevrolet Volt owner and attempt to take in the beauty of the local area.

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

Upon arriving at Aeroport International Jean-Lesage de Quebec, we were driven up to our hotel La Cache a Maxime to get acquainted with our Volt in a meeting with the brand team and begin our road trip journey. Our first stop was to a traditional Quebec City family owned restaurant, La Poulette Grise in Sainte-Marie before heading onwards to Alpagas des Appalaches, a real life alpaca farm. This may seem like an odd and random pitstop to make but in the coming weeks you will discover why I was interested in learning more about these cuddly and cute animals that closely resemble Llamas – trust me, they are trending! It was unbelievably cold on the farm that day but the owner’s gift shop was full of locally made clothing and accessories made from their alpaca’s fur. Surprisingly, much warmer than wool, I wore an alpaca scarf over my trench that kept me toasty all afternoon.

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

We literally could have stayed and played with the alpacas all day but in effort to get more time behind the wheel of the Volt, we decided to take a drive to Old Quebec City to stop in some of the town’s charming shops and cafes. Seeing as this was off our agenda for the day, we relied solely on the car’s OnStar system to get us to our next points of interest. By simply pressing the blue OnStar button located on the rear view mirror, we were patched through to an operator who was able to give us a list of rustic charming shops in the area for us to choose from. After selecting a spot, the turn by turn directions were then transferred directly to the vehicle by the operator, making our off the beaten path adventure seamless.

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

2016 Chevy Volt ExperienceWearing Canadian Designer Mary Young’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month Bralet for designed for ReThink Cancer

For most, the category of EV’s is a bit of a mystery. Not to be mistaken for a full electric vehicle, the 2016 Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid vehicle that uses two different power trains 1) an electric motor that let’s drivers go a certain distance (up to approximately 80 km’s) and 2) generates additional electric power through a gas powered generator that kicks in once the electric motor is depleted. Vehicles that are solely electric; like the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric and Tesla Model S have no  alternate engines to help out when their batteries run out of juice. This is primarily why many drivers have apprehensions exploring the options of EV’s, not knowing that there are other options like the Volt which is essentially an electric car with a backup plan

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

I first saw the new Volt debuted earlier this year at the Toronto International Auto Show amongst other journalists and current Volt owners, so I was already familiar with the car’s refined and upscale exterior design, that sits a bit lower and longer than it’s predecessor. But it’s what goes on inside the vehicle that really blew us away. The Chevrolet brand team took feedback from existing Volt customers and made the interior more friendly and inviting with more rear passenger room moving it to the 5 passenger seating category and high tech, intuitive controls featuring an 8 inch colour cluster, 8 inch center stack touch screen and what I have grown to love in new GM vehicles – 4G LTE wifi.

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

2016 Chevy Volt ExperienceA closer look at the 2016 Chevy Volt’s Power Flow Screen

After a busy first day and four course dinner at the hotel’s steak house, day two was more of a relaxed day. We spent the morning exploring the vast grounds of the hotel, that includes 20 beautiful cottages, a spa and main hotel building, with our Volt’s to get a better understanding of the vehicle’s value added functionalities. Advanced safety features such as; Lane Keep Assist, which gives the driver a small nudge back into their lane if drifting is detected and advanced technology features such as wireless charging for mobile devices and everyone’s new favourite – Apple Car Play. This system integrates your iPhone apps with the car’s digital system, allowing you to control them and your device more easily. This allows the driver to use the functionality of their phone without having to fumble around with it or take their eyes off the road. Throughout our driving experience, we were able to use our iPhone’s messaging and phone capabilities, play our iTunes music and Spotify, navigate with Apple maps (if we wanted to) and even watch videos. If you’re purchasing an EV or EV hybrid, chances are you want to know how you car is using the power it generates and the “Power Flow Screen” shows you exactly where the energy is going during your drive. As if all this was not enough, the “Regen on Demand” braking system by far was the most impressive feature to me. Through steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, I was able to decelerate the vehicle with performance characteristics similar to downshifting in a manual transmission vehicle. Not only does this make for a more fun and active driving experience, engaging the paddle-shifters also regenerates energy from the vehicles motion and stores it in it’s battery all while slowing the car down.

2016 Chevy Volt Experience

While our Volt’s re-charged at the hotel, we decided to do some recharging ourselves in Noah Spa’s Watergenic Pool. Using water in different states; liquid, steam, ice and water at different temperatures, this hydrotherapy method is known to purify, tone and revitalize the body while also diminishing aches and pains. As a non- EV driver, I’ve often wondered what the charging requirements were on these types of cars. Is is difficult to find charging stations in public? And what about at home? Are there specific charging options at home that a new Volt driver would need to install? Turns out, the Volt can be re-charged using just a standard 120-V outlet with portable cord overnight or in approximately 13 hours. However, with a professionally installed 240-V charging system, the car can be fully charged and ready to go in just 4.5 short hours.

2016 Chevy Volt ExperiencePhotos by Vanessa Cesario of TheBrunetteSalad.com

So here’s the skinny on the new Volt…in comparison to Gen 1, drivers can expect a lot more from the 2016 version. More range – up to 85 EV km’s, fuel efficiency, more value as the new version no longer requires premium gasoline, more space and of course safety features. The only thing you will find less of in this vehicle is noise due to it’s quieter engine. Click here for a complete deep dive into the 2016 Chevrolet Volt Electric Vehicle and for more information on the brand’s fleet of vehicles, head to Chevrolet.ca

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: