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
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Gets A Substantial Power Boost, Higher Redline
When we drove the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, it didn’t take long for us to fall for it, as it offers one of the purest driving experiences out there. In fact, we described the ND as “the most fun you can have for under $30K”. And that’s a statement I’ll stand by today.
If you’re looking for a car that will deliver maximum smiles per hour as you go flat out through the twisties, it honestly doesn’t get much better than this. Seriously, if I lived in an area with fun roads (and less snow), there’d be a Miata parked in my garage right now.
Still.. a little extra power would be nice, as the Miata only has 155 horsepower on tap, which is less than the Fiat 124 Spider, even though they’re essentially the same cars!
But that’s about to change. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a substantial bump in power, with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, with a richer torque curve throughout the car’s entire rev range. And the redline has increased from 6,800 rpm to 7,500 rpm.
While an additional 26 HP might not sound like much, it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio. The Miata is a lightweight car in it’s own right, weighing in at 2,300 pounds and change, which is 1,000 less than most “regular” cars. Coupled with the better torque curve, it’s going to make a HUGE difference in the way the car drives. Zoom-Zoom!
Mazda says the new MX-5 is quicker, more responsive and aims to be more engaging to drive, adhering to Mazda’s unique Jinba Ittai — “horse and rider as one” — engineering philosophy.
Beyond the engine improvements, the 2019 MX-5 introduces an available brown canvas soft top, new black metallic 17-inch wheels, a newly telescoping steering wheel (30mm of travel), easier-to-open doors and revised door stops and revised cupholders and seat levers. There are also some additional safety features.
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 will be available in the U.S. this fall, with pricing, packaging and full specifications to be announced closer to on-sale timing.
Of course, the age old question.. Go with a new 2019 Miata, or get a left-over ’18 model for a big discount? Decisions, decisions..
The 2019 BMW 8 Series Is The Luxury Super Coupe We’ve Been Waiting For
When BMW unveiled the Concept 8 Series last year, it caused quite a stir for obvious reasons. After all, it had been nearly 20 years since the last 8 Series rolled off the production line back in 1999, and we had long given up on BMW ever bringing back the storied nameplate.
But was the Bavarian car company just teasing us with another sexy concept that wouldn’t see the light of day, as is so often the case?
Today, we got our answer, with the introduction of the all-new 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe, a luxury sports coupe that is ready to take on the competition with outstanding performance, beautiful design and state of the art technology.
The directive for the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s design was to provide a thrilling driving experience. Body, powertrain and suspension were honed to achieve the agility, precision and poise expected of a top-class luxury sports coupe.
Styling wise, the production model stays fairly true to the concept, exuding “a very modern form of sporting appeal beautifully blended with an air of exclusiveness and sensual allure.” The 8 Series is the first model to show off BMW’s new design language that is focusing on modernity and emotional engagement.
The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window pillars, a roofline with a distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and wide track are the defining elements of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s proportions.
The first variant to launch, the BMW M850i xDrive, is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that puts out a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, launching the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. And it will serve up an enthralling soundtrack along the way.
As the name suggests, the BMW M850i is equipped with xDrive rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive, and it’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that has been updated with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Shift paddles on the steering wheel are included as standard for manual gear selection, while a Launch Control function allows for accelerating from a standing start with maximum available traction.
Being BMW’s flagship vehicle, the car will come loaded with luxury features and technology, more than there’s space for here to go on about. But rest assured, you’ll be rolling around in the lap of luxury, and the envy of all of your neighbors.
Pricing for the BMW 8 Series Coupe will be released closer to its launch date this Fall.
What do you guys think about the 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe?
New 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 Would Get Carroll’s Stamp Of Approval
When the 2018 Ford Mustang launched last Fall, there were a number of models for buyers to choose from (EcoBoost, GT, Performance Pack 1, Performance Pack 2, Bullitt). But one model that was noticeably absent from the list was the track-ready Shelby GT350.
Like many others, I figured that Ford Performance was focused on the upcoming 2020 Shelby GT500, and that the Shelby GT350 would ultimately get phased out. But Ford surprised us the other day when they unveiled a new 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 at a media event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.
As you can see from these photos, the Shelby GT350 doesn’t adopt the 2018 Mustang’s styling updates, continues on with the same exterior design as before. Nor does it receive any changes under the hood, sticking with the glorious 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 that puts out 526HP at 8,250 rpm and 429 lb-ft. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So what is new? Ford Performance engineers and designers incorporated the latest advances in tire, aerodynamics and chassis technology into the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350.
Working exclusively with Michelin, the team also engineered new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a Shelby GT350-specific tread pattern and different compound to deliver more grip for significantly improved acceleration and lateral acceleration, as well as braking. These tires are wrapped around new 19-inch aluminum wheels.
An all-new rear spoiler with optional Gurney flap and optimized grille closeout was designed and tuned with experience gained from wind tunnel development of the Ford Performance Mustang road course racing cars and upcoming Shelby GT500 model. Together, they deliver significant rear greater aerodynamic efficiency when equipped with the new optional Gurney flap on the rear spoiler, which will be available after launch.
Upgrades to Shelby GT350’s standard MagneRide active suspension complement the aero and tire enhancements with recalibrated springs and revised damping to take full advantage of the improvements.
Stopping power is provided by six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper Brembo brakes. For added control and improved driver feedback, Shelby GT350’s electric power-assist steering and three-mode electronic stability control settings feature enhancements taken from Ford Performance’s hundreds of hours of competitive track testing.
The result of all of these tweaks and adjustments? A more balanced, higher-performing car on the straightaways and especially in the corners.
“The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs.
Honestly, I didn’t think the Shelby GT350 could get any better than it already was, but clearly I was wrong. The new model will be the benchmark for the competition, and I can’t wait to get some seat time with it.. hopefully on a race track!