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I was at the AutoShow in Motion in Philadelphia this past weekend. For those who haven't been to one of these events, I highly recommend it. If you do go, get there early to save yourself the frustration of waiting in long lines. Anyway, here are my reviews of the cars I got a chance to drive. I'll also give the viewpoints of my brother, who has no strong loyalty to GM and was considering a BMW 330. Currently, he drives an Envoy and the last generation Nissan Maxima. I'm still in grad school so I've had to make do with used Cavaliers and Altimas.

Before my quick reviews, some notes about the event:
Four different courses were set up (all were a bit short, but adequate for testing handling and acceleration) - a course for the Vette and the SSR, a truck course, a passenger car course, and an offroad H2 course.
They required that you drive at least one other car before driving the Vette and SSR. You also had to drive at least one truck before the H2.
Cars that were available: CTS, Aveo, Scion xA, Park Avenue, Vibe, 9-3 Aero, 9-5 Aero, GTO, Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Grand Prix Comp G, Bonneville GXP, Camry, Accord, BMW 325i, MB C320, Impala (I think it was an SS). I might have left out a few.
Trucks: Didn't spend too much time here, since I'm shopping for a car and not a truck. Just drove a Silverado Crew Cab with the Z71 package and then off to the H2 course. There were also, to the best of my memory -- Rendevous, Rainier, Envoy XL and XUV, Jeep Liberty, Equinox, Sierra Crew w/ Z71, Sierra w/ Duramax, Escalade ESV and EXT, SRX, Explorer, Tahoe, Expedition, BMW X5.

My brother's and my impressions (remember, he was pretty set on getting a BMW):

Cadillac CTS: only the 3.6 was available. I don't think either CTS that was there had the sports package. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with the ride quality and handling ability. My brother thought body roll could have been less, but I reminded him that they didn't have the sport suspension. Interior quality was decent, but visually, something is lacking -- perhaps it's the gauges. Of the sports sedans we drove (325i, C320, CTS, 9-3), this was my brother's second favorite. He thought he was going to get kicked out of the event for pushing the car so hard :lol: . I think the interior will grow on me, so my graduation gift to myself will likely be the base 2005 3.6 with the 6 speed.

Saab 9-3 Aero: we were both amazed by this car. In fact, we had both driven the sedan and were so impressed that we waited to try the convertible. If the CTS had this car's interior, I would get the CTS without hesitation. Both 9-3s had the auto 5 speed, which still worked pretty well. The steering wheel shift paddles worked well also. Didn't notice any torque steer and handling was pretty comparable to the CTS (I imagine a CTS with the sports package would beat this though). Engine response was not bad at all. My brother loved this car! He thought it handled better than the CTS and was the perfect size.

BMW 325i: a huge disappointment. I can't fault GM for not getting a 330 since they were probably looking for a fair competitor in terms of price. No steering wheel paddles for the automatic. Handling was excellent, but the engine is not something to write home about (obviously, the larger engine from the 330 would change everything). The interior is only slightly better than that of the CTS. This car dropped to the end of my brother's list, and I agree with him. The premium of a 330 over the CTS is not worth it in my book.

MB 320: Nice! This is one solid car with a great engine and chassis. I really liked the interior - too bad the exterior does nothing for me. I was able to push it as hard as the BMW, and it felt great. If I wasn't a GM fan, I might pick this over the CTS. My brother had the same driving impressions. Unbelievably, he still liked the 9-3 and CTS better.

Corvette Z06: Wow! What can I say? The course did not do this car justice. You also had to have a GM personnel in the car with you, which took away some of the fun although the guys helped by telling you when to shift and brake to get the most out of it. It was still a blast. Who cares about the plasticky interior when you have that engine under the hood? Maybe a few years down the road... sigh...

Chevy SSR: Not something I would want to own, but it was still pretty fun to drive. I thought the 5.3 was pretty good in this truck... as long as you realize that the truck just doesn't want to be hustled along. My brother did not like it at all. Definitely a love-it-or-hate-it vehicle, down to the driving experience. They didn't allow the tops to be put down, either.

Silverado Crew Cab: My first time driving a full sized pickup. It drove better than I expected for something so huge, but now I can fully appreciate Ming's complaints about the dash :D . Compared to the interior of my brother's Envoy, the interior is so outdated that it's almost comical. My brother drove the nearly identical Sierra, and didn't think it was anything special. Of course, neither one of us is getting a pickup anytime soon.

H2: the most fun course by far. If you have kids, you'll want them to experience this. They actually set it up to demonstrate how capable these beasts are. The highlight was the two successive, steep hills at the end of the course - ascending the taller hill, you're almost looking straight up into the sky, then you have to quickly brake as you descend and come to the second hill. There was also a portion of the course where you're tilted sideways at over 45 degrees - I really thought the truck was going to roll over. I have tremendous respect for the H2 now. Too bad most owners will never use them in this way.

That's it for my reviews. Since my brother and I are both shopping for sports sedans, we didn't drive the more mundane cars there. The poor Aveos - there were two there, and I would be surprised if more than 20 people drove them that day. I regret that I didn't get a chance to drive the GTO's. Those who did seemed to really enjoy it - I heard one guy said he hated how boring the car looked, but after driving it, the looks are growing on him. There were two of them with the 6 speed and four with the automatic - I'm sure some people went back on the GTO line quite a few times. The Goats were the only cars you could hear from anywhere, even inside the cafe area. There was also a GTO set up on a dyno, which was pretty cool.

I have to commend GM for holding these events. If my brother is any indication, GM will gain new respect and customers from doing this. Obviously, there are plenty of people who go just to get a chance to drive the H2, Mercedes and BMW's, but I heard a lot of positive comments from people along with the negatives.

Sorry for such a long post.
 

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Actually, DCL. You are allowed to post long, long posts as long as they are not telling you the same thing over and over again....pointless posts....

I'm glad you're thinking of getting a CTS. I hope you enjoy one. The BMW is a real dissapointment. The Auto Shiw in Motion is a great experience. I hope you enjoyed it!
 

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I attended the Auto Show in Motion this past February in Pomona. I'm glad I did. I wasn't able to drive every car I wanted as the lines were too long -- everyone wanted to drive the GTO, the Vette and the Hummer so I figured I would drive as many vehicles as possible. I was able to drive the following vehicles:

Saturn Ion (boo!), Pontiac Gran Prix (ho hum), GMC Yukon Denali (sweet!), Chevy Avalanche (nice but bounced around a lot), Toyota Tundra (solid but boring), Cadillac CTS (awesome), Cadillac Deville (awesome and can swallow four bodies in the trunk), Chevy SSR (a bit underpowered).

I enjoyed every vehicle except for the Saturn and the Gran Prix. I look forward to participating again, but I'll get there early to make sure I can test drive every GM vehicle.

The Equinox was not available to drive but was on display. I loved everything about the vehicle inside and out other than the upholstery. I've seen Taco Bell booths upholstered with more thought and care. I would HIGHLY recommend the leather in a Nox. I believe the Malibu is plagued with the same nasty upholstery.
 

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Wow, why can't one come to my area!
 

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Originally posted by DCL@Jun 28 2004, 05:15 PM
I was at the AutoShow in Motion in Philadelphia this past weekend.
wow, great post man! you give some good insight into these vehicles. it's cool that you liked the 9-3 so much. sounds like an impressive car. it really doesn't get as much attention as it sounds like it deserves (or as many sales)! i'd love to go to an event like that. does the SSR feel big and lumbering, or does it handle well enough to make it entertaining? i think it's pretty damn cool, and while i can't afford one i'd consider it as a toy if i could for sure. especially when they drop the V8 in next year!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
does the SSR feel big and lumbering, or does it handle well enough to make it entertaining? i think it's pretty damn cool, and while i can't afford one i'd consider it as a toy if i could for sure. especially when they drop the V8 in next year!
I thought the SSR was definitely entertaining. I didn't think it was clumsy, but it still felt like a truck. That's where I think some people are going to have a problem - they expect it to handle like a sporty car.

For those that don't know, the AutoShow in Motion website lists the dates and locations of upcoming stops in the tour. You can register for the event on the website, although I'm sure a lot of people just show up and register on location.
 

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I went, saw and drove yesterday. I second everything DCL said above.

Just show up, not being preregistered was not a problem.

Show up early at 8 AM and drive anything to get maked to drive the Vette. Then go straight to the Vette and SSR course.

I did this and no one was there and got extra laps in the Vette. The instructor let me wring out the Z06 to the point I was able to power drifted the car with out being scolded and was even complemented for my action.

Now if they could move the GTO six speed to the Vette course. You jump on the GTO a little but not like you want.

As for the GTP Comp G it was great and as good as a FWD will get. the only improvment would be RWD. Much better options available than the Impala SS

I would not trade my 1997 ZQ8 Sonoma for the New ZQ8 Colorado. the interior it just absolute cheap junk. The passenger seat rattles with 98 miles and the materials look base import cheap. GM needs to improve the interior much before I would buy.

SSR was neat but no way is it a $45,000 truck. Make it a lift off roof and $28.000 and we might be talking.

You can't and won't get all the answers on a car driving here but you will be surprised at what you do learn.

Plan to go if you have one near by , you will love this event. They even feed you sub sandwiches so you can speend hours driving. On a scale of 1-10 this is a 9.8 event. Best of all it was free!

Great job GM!

PS: as stated before don't miss the H2 drive!
 

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I was also at the GM Autoshow In Motion in Philly. And I must say that it was a terrific experience. What a great idea.

The biggest disappointment was the Chevy Equinox. It is a terrific looking vehicle, perfectly sized and roomy. And decent power too. But oh my god the steering is AWFUL! And it really showed when driven back to back with all the other vehicles. It was so light and had absolutely no feedback whatsoever. I am used to the heavier steering in my Saturn SC2. I really don't think I could deal with it.

They also had the Saturn VUE Red Line. It was so much better. Really quick, tossable truck. The steering was much better. I wasn't even considering the VUE but that test drive changed my mind. Looked really good in black. Now if they would only put the steering feel from the Red Line into the Equinox...

The Cadillac SRX V8 was AWESOME! Wow. Very fast, smooth and luxorious. It handled great! Yes, if I had 50K... And that sunroof! Over the front AND back passenger seats. Perfect.

The full size GM trucks were great. The Yukon Denali XL was sweet. Leather everywhere. I was really impressed by how well they handled for big beasts. They convinced me that I didn't need one that big, but if I was to get a great deal on a Yukon Denali, I wouldn't hesitate. I also drove an Expedition and it really wasn't impressive at all compared to the GM Trucks.

Strangely they didn't have the regular length Trailblazer/Envoy to test drive. They had the XT's. I wasn't really impressed by them. The Envoy XUV had the V8. It was really jumpy. You just took your foot off the brake and the thing would actually jump forward. I wasn't too taken by that either.

The Buick Rainier was awesome. It also had the V8 but was easier to control for some reason. And with all the leather it was really nice. Like a hot rod pillow. Nice.

The Chevy Colorado was also very nice. They had a 4 door crew cab Z71. I thought it felt very nice. It is a great looking comfy truck. I am not really sure about the 5 cylinder. But it felt as quick or quicker than my poor departed 97 ZR2. Too bad its lost some of its height. Nice machine though.

The Hummer experience was awesome. I am really surprised they allowed anyone to drive up on the side of the hill like that. I guess it just goes to show how capable it is.

I drove both the manual and automatic GTO. I liked the car a lot. The course was too small to appreciate the manual. I enjoyed the automatic better. But in the real world the manual would be my choice.

The Caddy CTS was a little disappointing. It didn't feel as good as I expected. Perhaps I drove it too close to the SRX. It also could have been the course which was different then the truck/suv course.

What a great time though. I went two days. The best day was Friday. There were hardly any people there.

I went wanting to drive the Colorado, Equinox and Trialblazer. I ended up with a tie between the Colorado and the VUE Redline. (The SRX would win hands down if money wasn't an issue). I really had no interest in any of the cars. They were pretty dull.
 
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