First Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado

“New from hood to hitch”

The Chevrolet Silverado is all-new for 2014.  With new muscular definition on the exterior and luxurious comfort on the interior, the Silverado is designed to do it all, at home and work, from dawn till dusk.  On the interior, the crew cab doors are larger, easing entry and exit.  The new hood features twin power domes to manage air flow and reduce cabin noise.  Leather seats, increased legroom and other upscale features make the interior feel almost like a small sedan.  Comfort was considered on the exterior as well, with a novel new addition to the bumper called a CornerStep.  A cutout foothold and handhold on each rear corner makes climbing in and out of the bed a breeze for men, children and women — even while wearing high heels!  Many new exterior body details were also added to improve aerodynamics, and the stronger foundation and redesigned box bring the Silverado’s towing capacity to a best-in-class 11,500 pounds.  Even with three cab, box and trim configurations, and the slew of all-new features, the 2014 Silverado will carry its base pricing over from 2013.  The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is available now, with a premium model, the High Country, debuting later this year.  Don’t miss them at the 2013 Connecticut International Auto Show!

First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

It’s the Mercedes-Benz for the masses. 

Starting at an astonishing $29,900, the CLA is the definition of “entry level.”  The front-wheel-drive CLA possesses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, resulting in 208 horsepower and a hearty 258 pound-feet of torque.  An all-wheel drive option will be available in 2014.  Bluetooth is standard, as is a 5.8-inch display serving as the multimedia interface that includes mbrace2, Mercedes’ infotainment system.  A 7-inch display, along with a navigation system and a premium audio system are optional. A panorama-style sunroof, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and safety features including pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and parking assist are also available.  The car-buying public would like to congratulate Mercedes on their new baby Benz.  The all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 will hit dealerships in September.

The Most Muscle

Which one of these powerful cars has been eating their spinach lately?  Check them all out and decide for yourself at the Auto Show!

Chevrolet Camaro: Highly customizable, the Camaro is offered in a variety of packages based on the focus of the buyer.  The road-racing-inspired 1LE model has been updated for 2013 with track-ready features.  All SS models now offer variable-effort electric power steering and a dual-mode exhaust system, both of which were introduced on the Camaro ZL1.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1:  Now available as a convertible for those who desire a highway blowout, this supercharged Camaro achieves 580-horsepower.  Billed as an “everyday supercar,” it boasts 0-60 mph in four seconds, a top speed of 184 mph, and it lapped the Nürburgring in 7:41.27.  The ZL1 name is derived from the all-aluminum racing engine of the same name, which was developed and installed into a handful of regular-production Camaros (69 total) in 1969.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: The fastest production model ever offered by General Motors, with a top speed of 205 mph, the ZR1 is the ultimate expression of Corvette’s technology-driven performance legacy.  Even more exciting than its production specs is the fact that customers who opt for the Corvette Engine Build Experience can participate in the assembly of their engine at the General Motors Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan.

Dodge Charger: The Charger is efficient and smooth; paired with the award-winning 292 horsepower 3.6-liter aluminum Pentastar V-6 engine, new models with eight-speed automatic transmission deliver refinement, improved performance and best-in-class 31 mpg (highway).  That transmission debuted on the Charger in 2012, and was the first of its kind among domestic sport sedans.

Dodge Challenger: Delivering an impressive 27 mpg (highway) for its 305-375 horsepower, the Challenger’s 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine is legendary.  The iconic muscle car offers unique exterior personalization, and three specifically engineered suspension and wheel and tire combinations: sport-tuned, performance-tuned, and Super Track Pak.  This detailed architecture results in impressive ride and handling, and braking performance.

Ford Mustang: One awesome new feature for 2013 is a 4.2-inch LCD screen loaded with Track Apps, which enable the driver to monitor performance measures such as g-forces and shows acceleration and braking times.  Additionally, the Ford SYNC connectivity system now comes standard on the Mustang Boss 302.

First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S & Subaru BRZ

Years of collaboration between Subaru and Toyota have resulted in the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, a standout for both manufacturers.  The mechanical twins feature a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-4 engine that sends 200 horsepower to the rear wheels only.  The engine is mounted extremely low, giving the car a dynamically low center of gravity comparable to some exotic supercars.  They are rear-wheel drive and feature a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed “boxer” four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic with steering wheel shift paddles and rev-matched downshifts is optional.  These twins are fraternal, however, as each manufacturer offers slightly different features and small styling cues.  For Subaru, the lightweight sports coupe is the only front-wheel-drive vehicle offered in the United States, bringing a sporty flair to its lineup.  For Scion, the FR-S, which stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport, is an excellent addition to its youth-targeted audience.  The FR-S starts at $25,255, while the BRZ is $25,495.  Both achieve a combined MPG rating of about 25/30.  Compare and contrast this exciting joint development at the Show!

2013 Subaru BRZ copy 2013 Scion FR-S_10 copy

First Drive: 2013 Cadillac ATS

Cadillac’s new compact sedan is the first vehicle to be built on GM’s new Alpha RWD platform.  The 2013 Cadillac ATS is a five-passenger, luxury-oriented sport sedan that is offered in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Performance and Premium. Inside its cabin, the 2013 Cadillac ATS boasts a variety of high-quality materials, including tasteful wood and metallic accents. The available CUE infotainment interface features large icons and operates like an iPhone or iPad, which is to say it operates by tapping, flicking, swiping or spreading your fingers — making it familiar for many users.  Don’t miss it at the show this year!

First Drive: 2013 SRT Viper

The most famous vehicular serpent returns to the road in 2013!  The Viper will once again grace highways and racetracks across the country, thanks to its reintroduction under the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) brand from the Chrysler Group, which focuses on delivering flagship performance.  The mid-engine Viper debuts an all-new aluminum 8.4 liter V-10 engine, delivering about 640 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque, which is the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports car engine in the world.  On the outside, the exterior has been modeled to evoke classic Viper styling with modern interpretation, while inside, the interior is designed to provide and comfort and an enhanced driver experience.  The SRT Viper will hit dealerships in 2013, with pre-orders beginning this November.

First Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Impala

The 10th generation of one of America’s most iconic sedans will be available in early 2013.  The redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Impala features a new, sculpted body and flowing interior, as well as three engine choices, including eAssist.  The 2014 Impala’s redesigned center console also features an eight-inch touch screen with the Chevrolet MyLink system.  Other available features include full-speed-range adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear camera and rear-park assist.  The 2014 Impala is a modern interpretation of classic American style and luxury.

First Drive: 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi

Hybrids are old hat by now, and range anxiety proves that consumers aren’t quite ready to switch to pure electrics just yet.  That leaves a new middle ground for hybrid plug-ins, like the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi.  A marriage between the best of both technologies, these vehicles plug in to charge, but when the electricity runs out, fall back on hybrid engines to keep the car running.  The C-MAX Energi has three driving modes: EV Now (electric only), EV Auto (electric/gasoline blend), or EV Later (gasoline only).  It achieves a combined fuel rating of 95 MPG-e (its sister, the C-MAX Hybrid, achieves 47 MPG).  Check out the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi at the Show this year, and see how it stacks up against its strong plug-in hybrid competition, like the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-In.

First Drive: 2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Mr. Bond’s other Aston.

The DB5 may be the most iconic vehicle in its history, but in a year  that brings the debut of the latest 007 adventure, Aston Martin also  ushers in a revival of the Vanquish.  The sleek head-turner made it’s  first splash (literally) in 2002′s Die Another Day (no, seriously —  remember the melting ice palace?), buoying it to the upper ranks of  movie cars.  The new Vanquish evolves from the DBS, with luxurious  inspiration from the the exclusive One-77.  The lavish attention to  detail on the interior (such as hand-stitched leather) is carried overto the mechanics under the hood (or “bonnet”, as Bond would say).  Aston Martin’s flagship V12 engine has been tweaked to deliver 565 bhp and 460 lb-ft of torque, resulting in 0-62 mph in 4.1  seconds and topping out at 183 mph.  Utilizing an updated Touchtronic 2 transmission that’s shaken, not stirred, the Vanquish is only available as an automatic.  The Vanquish is set to conquer these shores next year, estimated at around $300,000.  In the meantime, pay homage to 007 in November’s Skyfall, and check out the current Aston Martin lineup at

First Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart

What’s the hottest segment in the auto industry right now?   Forget the SUVs and people carriers of old, because compact  cars are on fire.  With their small dimensions and light weights,  compacts have become the consumer’s weapon of choice to combat  rising gas prices.  With the stylish 2013 Dart, Dodge aims to make a  splash in the compact segment and appeal to younger, economical  buyers.  The brand’s first vehicle to be built on Fiat technology, the  Dart is highly customizable, with unbundled options.  Buyers can choose  from 12 exterior colors, 14 interior color combinations, 4 grilles, 6 wheels, and 3 engines and transmissions.  It also offers affordable luxury, with standard features like a back up camera starting for under $20,000.  With an entry model that achieves 160hp and 36mpg (all without sacrificing safety features like 10 standard airbags), the 2013 Dart is an excellent red-hot addition to a segment that has traditionally been ruled by the most boring shades of beige.  Don’t miss it at the Show this year!