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2019 Chevrolet Silverado

The third-generation Silverado wasn’t flashy in appearance or construction — in fact, it looked similar to its predecessor. Whether that was strategic or not, the old model came across as a familiar friend that was a bit technophobic and a little too set in its ways.

This all-new 2019 Silverado 1500 treads an altogether more aggressive path. It’s here to strut its stuff with a bold new look and gobs of tech — both under the hood and in the cabin. And yet, after a few days behind the wheel in this latest model, the Silverado seems like it’s held on to the essence of what made the old truck so endearing.

GM hasn’t abandoned what worked in the past. Instead the company has taken a hard look at the Silverado’s genetic makeup and executed substantial and effective changes throughout. The 2019 Silverado finally feels like the brand-new truck that it is.

Before I even get on the road, though, I have to discuss the Silverado’s new appearance. It’s… not for everyone. While the old model looked like a safe, evolutionary facelift of the previous-generation pickup, this new truck is unlikely to be confused for its forebear. Its bluff, upright new nose has swagger by the bushelful.

The way the design’s fenders wrap into the face is particularly likely to polarize opinions. Those steel fenders jut decisively into the grille, underlining the Silverado’s newly narrowed, glowering headlamps. The protrusions look a bit like anthropomorphized versions of the eye black that football players wear. Those same fenders extend downward, resting over the bumper fascia in unusual fashion thanks to integrated air curtains that guide currents around the front wheels to curb drag. (Despite hitting an inch higher, airflow has has improved on the new truck by seven percent.)

Combined with the 2019 Silverado’s more prominently sculpted wheel arches and a longer wheelbase, the visual takeaway is that this is one massive pickup. Even though its overall footprint is similar (it’s only around 1.5 inches longer), the Silverado looks larger than before, and more imposing than its Ford and Dodge rivals.

This Chevy’s appearance might not sit comfortably with everyone, but I suspect it’s going to go over well with pickup shoppers. In an unsubtle age where tailgates are emblazoned with billboard-sized brand lettering and today’s lifted brodozer style has even infiltrated Whole Foods parking lots, it’s a look that should find plenty of fans. If nothing else, given the Silverado’s ubiquity (Chevy sold nearly 600,000 last year), the design’s initially jarring quality probably won’t last.

I mentioned the 2019 Silverado 1500’s longer wheelbase, and indeed it’s stretched its legs by up to 3.9 inches. Ride quality is improved, and fortunately the Silverado’s front overhang has been shortened to avoid making its turning circle larger, improving the arrival angle for improved off-roading in the bargain. A shorter front overhang and reworked steering geometry mean that this longer truck doesn’t necessitate a bigger turning circle.

That bodywork isn’t just more deliberately sculpted, it’s smarter, too. The Silverado wears aluminum swing panels — its doors, hood and tailgate are skinned in Al13. The entire truck’s makeup is an impressively optimized mosaic of varying grades of high-strength steels and aluminum. Chevy’s engineers have scalpeled away 88 pounds from the bodywork and a further 88 pounds from the chassis, too.

After years of producing overweight vehicles, GM finally accepted the gospel of lightweighting a number of years ago, and has since become a leading disciple. Chevy says when you compare crew-cab V8 models, this new rig tips the scales at around 450 pounds less than its predecessor, the result of an exhaustive gram-by-gram analysis.

If its newfound lightness has you thinking this 1500 is somehow less capable, think again. Nowhere is that more evident than in its bed, which benefits from a clean-sheet overhaul. New stamping methods and higher-grade steel has enabled a bed that’s not only stronger, it’s seven-inches wider and it’s deeper, too. Compared to last year’s model, the resulting roll-formed Durabed offers 10 more cubic feet of space in short- and standard-box guise, and a whopping 14 more cubes in long-box form. Depending on configuration, the Durabed is around 20 percent more capacious than rivals.

There are lots of changes outside, but the 1500’s new interior might just be its biggest quality-of-life upgrade. The outgoing Silverado’s cab was a decent place to spend time, especially because for most of its life, it was the quietest truck in its class.

However, the old truck’s cabin had a number of fundamental blind spots, including its lack of a telescoping wheel, or keyless entry and start. It may sound trivial, but it’s amazing how old a vehicle can feel simply by forcing you to push a button on a separate fob to unlock a door — let alone requiring slotting and twisting a key in the ignition to bring its engine to life.

GM has remedied those deficiencies, and added higher-quality materials and contemporary finishes. There’s also new available tech including a smartly executed multicolor head-up display, USB-C (and standard USB) ports and so on. Chevy seems to recognize that more and more people are stepping out of luxury cars and climbing into high-end pickups and SUVs, and it’s unwilling to sacrifice connectivity and features while doing so.

The Silverado’s new infotainment system combines crisper, more modern graphics and fonts with minimized latency between commands. While base models receive seven-inch touchscreens, many models will feature eight-inch units, and the available navigation system features single-line address entry and sharper-looking maps. Apple CarPlay and Android auto are aboard, too. The new system isn’t as visually impressive as the optional gargantuan 12-inch vertical Uconnect hub in the Ram, but it’s plenty big.

It’s not just front-seat passengers that are treated well. The Silverado’s aforementioned larger cab primarily works out to three inches of added rear-seat leg room on four-door crew cabs (swelling from 40.9 to 43.9 inches). Whether you regularly ferry backseat passengers or not, that extra floor space will come in handy when it comes time to stash groceries or tools out of the elements. And speaking of stashing, the entire cabin has more stowage space, including twin gloveboxes and novel second-row seatback storage bins.

While most shoppers will select mid-grade models such as Custom and LT (we drove the LT), the 2019 Silverado offers a broader array of trims to better tailor appearances and capabilities to your needs. There’s a new RST street-truck model with body-colored detailing and massive 22-inch wheels, as well as the new Trailboss. The latter adds a two-inch factory lift atop the Z71 Off-Road pack, kitting it out with skid plates, Rancho shocks, knobby tires and a burlier appearance.

GM will offer the 1500 with the buyer’s choice of a new 2.7-liter turbo four-cylinder, its aging 4.3-liter V6 or an updated 5.3-liter V8. The High Country is spec’d with GM’s full-house 6.2-liter V8, featuring a seamless new Dynamic Fuel Management cylinder-deactivation system that lets it run on anything between one and all eight cylinders as demand warrants.

GM claims city mileage figures will climb around five percent higher on V8 models, noting that a four-wheel-drive 6.2-liter V8 like my test truck is earmarked to get 16 mpg city, 20 highway and 17 combined.

A 3.0-liter Duramax diesel will also be offered soon.

An infotainment app on the optional Advanced Trailering System allows for the creation of different trailer profiles. ATS not only presets the brake gain for specific trailers, it keeps track of mileage, fuel economy and transmission temps, too. Once you’ve got your trailer hooked up, there’s an option group that uses additional sensors to keep tabs on trailer tire temperatures and pressures for added safety.

Another tech topic where the old Silverado lagged rivals was in terms of both active and passive safety gear. The new model greatly improves things. It’s available with forward collision alert with low-speed automatic emergency brake, lane-keep assist and blind-spot alert. Plus, this new truck offers significant technological improvements in visibility, including more powerful LED lights with automatic high beams, an available surround-view camera system and a digital rearview mirror.

The (big) bottom line

Sadly, much of the active safety gear remains optional, even in top trims. And of course, none of this technology comes cheap. MSRPs on base 2WD Work Trucks start a smidge under $30,000.

2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

It’s no wonder that Enzo Ferrari is credited with saying “Jeep is America’s only real sports car.” For more than 70 years, Jeep evolved with the constant changes of modern eras without forgetting their roots, subsequently developing one of the most capable vehicles both on and off the road. The latest addition to this do-anything family of vehicles is the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, the pinnacle in luxury and off-road capability.

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2019 Dodge Durango SRT

Most of us daydream of owning a Dodge Challenger SRT Demon or maybe even a Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk, but many of us need something a little more practical for the everyday grind. But who ever said practical has to mean boring?  Thanks to the folks at Dodge, it doesn’t have to.

You might never take your 2018 Dodge Durango SRT to a race track, but knowing that you could, and it wouldn’t disappoint, is reason enough for many. Owning one of the baddest SUVs ever created, is another good reason.

No, this doesn’t have the full-on Hellcat HEMI of its Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk relative, but it does have SRT’s 6.4-liter naturally-aspirated version, here with 475-horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. And while on paper, that looks far shy of the supercharged Trackhawk’s 707-horsepower insanity, once you nail the Durango’s throttle, you probably won’t notice much of a difference between stop lights, as it feels every bit as fast.

A healthy seven drive modes, allow you to tailor the experience to whatever you have in mind that day. For us it was, Track mode; which sets the suspension to its stiffest setting, dials back the traction control, and quickens steering, as well as increases shift speed in the 8-speed automatic.

The lowered suspension doesn’t help the Durango feel any lighter; however, it does help it feel extremely well-planted, and Dodge was wise enough to not eliminate all of the traction control nannies for it can be a handful under stress.

When not in Track or Sport mode, it mostly feels like what you’d expect an all-wheel-drive big box Charger Hellcat to feel like, if such a thing existed. But also much like your everyday Durango, there’s sufficient comfort; and enough luxury features for passenger pampering, as it remains an amazingly comfortable highway cruiser.

It also feels nimbler on the highway than classic Detroit SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, and new Ford Expedition; and somehow more European as as well in the way it soaks up bumps with little fuss.

There is an aggressive exhaust note, but even it backs off the noise, when you back off the throttle; quite civilized indeed.

There’s plenty of room inside for hauling cargo, or a few understanding friends not opposed to whiplash; and perhaps most impressively, it still tows 8,700-lbs.

For hauling of a different sort; dial in your preferred launch RPM, step firmly on the brake, engage launch control, floor the accelerator, then release said brake. If the stars align correctly, you’ll jump off the line, and be at 60 before you know it, or 4.5–seconds in our case.

Somehow, it manages to handle all of that power going to all four wheels quite easily, staying amazingly smooth for the whole ¼-mile. Shifts are fast and aggressive, accompanied by a nice throaty pop from the exhaust. We cleared the ¼ in 13.0-seconds flat, travelling 104 miles-per-hour.

Inside, they’ve done a great job of keeping the 3-row, 6-passenger interior current even though the basic architecture has been around since 2011. No complaints about the Uconnect multimedia system as usual, and the steering wheel is chocked full of fingertip controls.

Amazingly, it really wasn’t that long ago, that we were wondering whether the Durango was going to be around or not. And now, not only are SUVs back, but they’re turning into exciting performance machines like this one.

But, poor Government Fuel Economy Ratings are the nature of this beast; 13-City, 19-Highway, and 15-Combined, which we matched exactly, on Premium fuel. That’s a very poor Energy Impact Score of 22.0-barrels of oil burned yearly with 9.7-tons of CO2 emissions.

Now, you could spend $31,090 on a base Durango and perfectly enjoy it; or you could say the heck with that, and drop $64,090 on this Durango SRT. You probably won’t regret either choice, but one of them would be a whole lot more fun, and even a much more sensible answer to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

In fact, most of us here, would prefer the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT over Jeep’s Trackhawk. It’s just a better all-around cruiser with more than enough power, as well as plenty of practicality; a true sleeper for sure, and further proof that Dodge just doesn’t do boring.

UScooter Electric Scooter

Normally the term “electric scooter” brings up images of Segway-like vehicles complete with pretentiously obnoxious riders. The uScooter Electric Scooter may redefine the stereotype though. Its wheel base is slightly longer than the Razor scooter of yore, but it provides comfort to riders over long distances and offers far better stability thanks to the front and rear shock absorbers. In terms of range, this scooter boasts a radius of 21 miles on a full charge, with a max speed of 18 mph (although we’ve seen up to 21 mph on a downhill stretch).

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2018 BMW X3 M40i

The ultimate driving machine adds a new pony in it’s stall of German thoroughbreds — the BMW X3 M40i. Spritely, tall, and refined the X3 M40i is as posh in the vineyard as it is on the track.

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2018 Cadillac CT6

When first introduced, there was a lot of hand-wringing over what niche the CT6 was supposed to fill. The large engine, large price tag and girth of the vehicle all posed an existential question to Cadillac. However, after spending a week with one of these specimens, all doubt has been erased. With speed, size and comfort at your disposal it’s safe to say this buggy checks all the boxes.

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2018 Audi S5 Sportback

Four-door coupes have always been tough to pull off — see also the first-generation Porsche Panamera — but Audi has achieved nothing less than a miracle with the design of the similarly-styled A7. Fans of the four rings who have always liked the power of the S7 but wished it were just a little bit smaller on the outside are in luck: Audi finally brought the S5 Sportback to the States, after this four-door coupe was offered for a full generation back in Europe.

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2016 Audi A7

Audi has faced criticism about its cars all looking the same in different sizes, like matryoshka, those Russian nesting dolls. Consider the A7 a counterpoint. A large hatchback sedan based on the A6, it doesn’t look like the A6 or even the not-for-the-U.S. A5 Sportback. Every crease is its own, and the overall shape is informed by 1970s and 1980s sports cars.
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2015 Ford Mustang GT

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT is pretty amazing. Take a look at a snippet of our time with it in the movie above. From the storied pedigree of a brand that knows muscle cars, the 2015 Ford Mustang is no frills. Music by Jamaican Queens.
Hint: Turn up the volume. Full Screen.

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