This winter has been particularly brutal, with record snowfall in many parts of the country, despite the fact that we’re only into February. And according to that pesky groundhog, we have got six more weeks of miserable weather ahead of us, so don’t go putting away those shovels just yet..
For many years, I played Russian roulette, driving through the snow in my rear-wheel drive car, complete with summer tires. Not the smartest idea in the world, but I was young and dumb. Now when it came time to buy a new car a few years ago, I decided to purchase an all-wheel drive car, and I even got a separate set of winter rims/tires. Needless to say, I have no problems getting around in the snow anymore.
I recently had the chance to attend a winter driving experience at Lime Rock Park, courtesy of our friends at Chevrolet. I was excited to get to brush up on my winter driving skills, with expert instructors giving us crucial winter driving tips as I drove around the closed snow-covered course behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Trax. They also had a a mixture of Chevy Traverses and Equinoxes as well.
We learned how to maneuver a vehicle in a wet, snowy environment, manage emergency braking, and quick lane changes, among other things. The experience was fun (who wouldn’t have fun hooning around a snow-covered course in someone else’s car?), but we also drove away with some important winter driving tips that are sure to keep us safe in inclement weather.
In addition, to demonstrate the benefits of AWD vs FWD, they had us drive up an icy hill in a Chevy Equinox. In FWD mode, the front wheels just spun and we didn’t go anywhere. When we pushed the AWD button, we scooted up the hill like it was nothing. That’s the beauty of all-wheel drive, being able to deliver power to the wheel(s) that have traction so you don’t get stuck.
Overall, it was great getting a chance to practice my winter driving skills in a controlled environment, and it was definitely eye-opening to see how well these Chevy SUVs performed in the snow, despite the fact that they were running on factory all-season tires. Impressive, to say the least.
If you’ve got to venture out in the snow, here are some winter driving tips to help you stay safe and prepared on the road, courtesy of Chevrolet:
BE PREPARED BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD
Don’t drive on Empty: Bad weather can cause unexpected delays, so keep your gas tank at least half full and your cell phone charged.
Prepare your car for winter: Have your dealer or a trusted mechanic do any scheduled service. Make sure your battery, tires, lights, wiper blades and other critical parts are ready for winter. Check tire pressure, as it can drop as the weather gets colder.
Consider winter tires: Winter tires provide added traction in snow and ice, even for vehicles with four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. If you drive regularly in winter weather, a set of winter tires can be a wise investment.
Know your vehicle: Review the sections of your owner’s manual covering antilock brakes, traction control, and four- or all-wheel-drive (if equipped) to make sure you are comfortable with their operation. For quick and easy access to your owner’s manual, check out the myChevrolet app.
Stock your car: In addition to a snow brush and ice scraper, it’s always a good idea to carry a snow shovel and abrasive material such as sand or cat litter. Jumper cables, a flashlight and emergency flares can help if you encounter unexpected problems. Cold weather clothing and emergency blanket or sleeping bag can be critical if you are stuck or stranded.
WHAT TO DO WHEN BEHIND THE WHEEL
Maintain your momentum: If you must travel up a hill in snowy conditions, it’s important to leave enough room in front of you and maintain your momentum while traveling up hill. Stopping in the middle of a hill can result in the driver becoming stuck.
Changing lanes: If you are going to change lanes, you should look for patches of snow covered pavement, these areas often provide better traction for maneuvers. Once you signal for your turn, and begin to move to the next lane, if the vehicle slips it’s important to remember not to overcorrect or panic, the StabiliTrak® system will assist in your maneuver.
In case of a skid: Don’t pump the brakes. Look in the direction you want the car to go and steer smoothly in that direction. For modern vehicles with antilock brakes, don’t pump the brakes. Rather, maintain pressure on the pedal and let the ABS system modulate the braking.
If the vehicle gets stuck: Depending on your vehicle’s ground clearance and the snow conditions, you can sometimes gently rock the vehicle free. Turn the steering wheel left and right to clear the area around the front wheels (or using a snow shovel). Turn off any traction system. Gently shift back and forth between reverse and a low forward gear, spinning the wheels as little as possible. This creates a rocking motion that may help free the vehicle. However, if after a few attempts you are unsuccessful, it’s important to know when to call for help.
If the vehicle is stranded: Call OnStar for assistance (if you’re driving a GM). The winter driving section of owner’s manual has detailed instructions for intermittently running the vehicle to keep the interior warm. Be sure to clear snow from the base of the vehicle, especially any snow blocking the exhaust pipe. Open your window about two inches on the vehicle side away from the wind to bring in fresh air.
Hopefully these tips will help you stay safe out there this winter season.
Photo credit: Kenny Rodriguez for Chevrolet
2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo Blurs The Line Between Coupe And Wagon
BMW seems determined to change the definitions for automotive segments. All of their even-numbered X vehicles, for example, are “sport activity vehicles”–not quite crossovers and not quite coupes. The new BMW 640i Gran Turismo is along that same vein, being not quite a four-door coupe and not quite a station wagon. It’s something in between that.
The BMW 640i GT is, regardless of what segment it fits within, a beautiful car. For a week, we drove the Gran Turismo and were glad to see that it wasn’t the odd mashup the old 5 Series GT had been. This new GT is based on the 6 Series sedan, so it’s a bit larger and more powerful.
The 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo is powered by the same 3.0-liter turbocharged six that is in the 640i Gran Coupe. That engine produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. The GT needs that power, as it’s fairly bulky, weighing in at over 4,200 pounds at the curb. It’s size and weight are balanced by a long wheelbase of 121 inches, though, and the engine produces its power early in the RPM band, making for quick acceleration.
From zero to 60 mph, the BMW 640i GT sprints to speed in about five seconds. That’s a pretty fair shake in anyone’s book. Handling in the 2018 640i Gran Turismo is also good, thanks to that long wheelbase and bulk, which translate to predictable glides through turns and easy power delivery thanks to AWD. There are better, faster options for fast driving and cornering, of course, but given its size and versatility, the GT does very well for itself.
Where this new BMW really shines is in everyday driving. The 640i GT is really comfortable, confident, and easy to live with. It gives enough feedback on the road to remain engaging, but doesn’t insist on spirited driving at all times or that the driver and passengers feel every road bump and crevice. It’s smooth and well-balanced. Add on the Dynamic Handling package and it gets even better, with more road-hugging (still sans the jarring) and steering appeal.
There’s a single trim level for the 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo, but it’s very well-equipped in its base $70,000 price point. It includes things like LED lighting, 19-inch wheels, keyless everything, rear air suspension for load-leveling and road absorption, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, and infotainment. That tech is on a big 10.2-inch touchscreen with two USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Not to mention a 12-speaker stereo system. Forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are also standard.
In the upper crust, all-the-goodies model we drove, the price jumps to about $84,000, but adds the Dynamic Handling package, aluminum interior trim, power-adjustable rear seats, 360° parking sensors, automated park assist, seat massage, Harman Kardon/Bowers & Wilkins sound, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and more.
The 2018 BMW 640i GT has a great feel on the road, is exceptionally comfortable inside, and has a bit more style and versatility than a standard sedan. It’s fastback look is unique and really cool, compared to the standard sedan or a larger hatchback. Cargo space stands at about 45 cubic feet with the rear seats up and about 60 cubes with them folded down.
Seating in the back is great for adults, if there aren’t more than two. Three across is a bit of a squeeze and the center seat doesn’t have much legroom either. Kids will be fine in the back of the BMW 640i GT.
The 2018 640i Gran Turismo is a great vehicle that’s a big step up from the 5 Series-based GT it replaces. It’s nicer to look at, more enjoyable to drive, and uniquely cool in its own right. We’ll take it.
The 2019 Acura NSX Receives Mild Facelift, Better Chassis, And Orange Paint
It has only been a few years since the Acura NSX was finally released, but not content to sit on their laurels, the company has introduced a handful of updates for the 2019 model to make the high-performance supercar even better than before!
Visually, you’ll be able to distinguish a 2019 Acura NSX model from it’s new body-color front grille (in place of the silver one) and high-gloss treatments for the front grille surround, front air intake mesh and rear bumper outlet mesh. High-gloss treatment is also applied to the available carbon fiber decklid spoiler and carbon fiber exterior package – including a front chin spoiler, side sill garnish and rear diffuser.
But that’s not all. The 2019 NSX is also available in a striking new color called Thermal Orange Pearl (shown above). Buyers can further accent the NSX with optional carbon ceramic metallic brakes with orange calipers. Standard brakes can now be fitted with red calipers.
Inside, the 2019 NSX can be optioned with an Indigo blue Semi-aniline leather and Alcantara theme. Buyers can also add a red color option for the semi-aniline (non-Alcantara) power sport seats, in addition to ebony. Additionally, a number of features (navigation, premium audio, front and rear proximity sensors, etc) are now standard options.
What we’re most excited about though is the improvements to the car’s performance, which build on an already impressive platform and turn it up to 11. While the powertrain remains the same (573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque) engineers modified chassis components, tires and software tuning to make NSX even more responsive to the will of the driver, elevating performance driving in all circumstances, from daily driving to the circuit.
Chassis enhancements include larger front and rear stabilizer bars (increasing stiffness by 26 percent in front, 19 percent at the rear) and 21 percent stiffer rear toe link bushings. Rear hub rigidity has increased 6 percent. Software calibrations to the NSX’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit, active magnetorheological dampers, electric power steering and VSA settings capitalize on this new hardware, as well as the grippier tire setup.
The 2019 NSX rides on new Continental SportContact 6 tires, developed exclusively for the NSX. The new tires feature a revised tread pattern, construction and rubber compound for improved handling performance in all conditions—including wet weather driving. The track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R remains an optional dealer-installed tire.
So how much will the new model set you back? The 2019 NSX starts at $157,500 (an increase of $1,500 over the 2018 model) with $4,700 in previously optional content now standard. So you’re actually saving money on the 2019 model.
The 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster Makes It’s World Debut At Pebble Beach
Now one year later, BMW returns to Pebble Beach to unveil the all-new 2019 BMW Z4 M40i First Edition, the latest chapter in the history of BMW Z Roadsters. And while it doesn’t look quite as dramatic as the concept, the production Z4 retains the athletic proportions and new emotional design language that takes the classic roadster concept into the world of tomorrow.
The open-top two-seater was designed with sporting intentions, with a central sitting position for the driver, a low center of gravity, and perfectly balanced 50:50 weight distribution.
Vertically stacked headlights, the BMW kidney grille sporting a mesh design, a long clamshell hood stretching over the front wheels, large air breathes on the front wheel arches and the distinctive spoiler integrated into the rear lid all contribute towards the characteristic look of the new BMW Z4.
The BMW Z4 M40i First Edition offers a number of unique accoutrements over a “regular” Z4, including a Frozen Orange Metallic paint job, a textile soft top in anthracite with silver effect, 19-inch alloy wheels in a two-tone design, and black mirror caps. The 2019 Z4 First Edition also includes a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, two high-resolution digital displays, and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.
Powering the Z4 M40i First Edition Roadster is an updated version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder engine. While BMW hasn’t finalized output numbers just yet, we expect something around 380HP and 370lb-ft of torque, good for an (estimated) 0-60 time of under 4.4 seconds. A BMW M tuned sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport braking system and an electronically controlled M Sport rear differential should make for one fun and exciting ride in the twisties.
The BMW Z4 M40i will arrive in dealerships in the second quarter of 2019, and full details on the Z4 will be announced on September 18, 2018.
What do you think of the 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster?
Photo credit: BMW