2013 Shelby GT 500 1st Drive

1 07 2012


So what is it like to drive the all new 662 horsepower 2013 Shelby GT 500? Tighten down your belts, because Team Hall & Nass is about to give you a taste of the baddest snake ever released into the WILD here in Texas!

#Motorama LIVE and Team Hall & Nass were lucky enough to the the 1st media outlet in the state of Texas (& one of the first in the US) to be granted time alone behind the wheel of the all new 2013 Ford Shelby GT 500 in the wild. Though we only had a couple hours to play with it, and only had a cell phone cam with us, we managed to capture the following “1st Impression” video just for you, our loyal and awesome fans! The quality might be jittery and rough, but hey, how many 2013 GT 500 videos exist in June 2012? Exactly. So sit back, hold on tight and enjoy the ride as we share of 1st impression of this awesome machine with YOU!

Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible NASCAR Drive Away Experience and Review

27 04 2011

Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible NASCAR Drive Away Experience and Review


This particular tale will be different from any other review or adventure you have read from either Team Hall & Nass or Motorama LIVE before. To say our time spent with this particular 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible was a unique experience would be a massive understatement for a host of reasons. We’ll get into a few of those wild tales below. Somewhere in the mix, we may also manage to do a review on the car, too.

However, before we launch into our crazy adventure and impressions of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, we’d like to point out that this story is being prepared for both our Team Hall & Nass site, as well as our Wednesday night 9-11 PM Eastern Time #Motorama LIVE enthusiast discussion on Twitter. So while this is technically a Team Hall & Nass adventure, it is also being conducted with our Motorama LIVE audience in mind. If you’re confused by any of this, visit both our TeamHallnNass.com and MotoramaLIVE.com sites for information on what both entities are all about.

One Treat of a Favor

It all began when a local DFW area Chevrolet dealership called one day with a question. They asked if we were planning to attend the NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway in April, and if we wouldn’t mind doing them a favor. They asked if we could represent their dealership at the NASCAR dealer VIP event in the Team Chevy pavilion and take delivery of a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible for them at the track after the Sprint Cup Series night race. If so, we would get the full Team Chevy Dealer VIP treatment, including hospitality tent access, food, drinks, free tickets to the race, and the opportunity to participate in the Team Chevy parade lap as part of the dealer “drive away” program. As an added bonus, after the race was over, Thomas said we could keep the car for a week or so to put the break in miles on it, drive around with the top down and enjoy. If only more people called up to ask such favors of us! Of course, it took about half of a millisecond to say “YES!”

We arrived at Texas Motor Speedway the night before the dealer drive away event to enjoy the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, courtesy of our good friends on the GM Communications Team. While watching a highly competitive race, we were treated to something even more fun to watch. A father and his young son who were sitting directly in front of us were both rooting for Ford driver Carl Edwards, who held the lead of the race numerous times throughout the night. While seeing young race fans show their enthusiasm for motorsports always warms our hearts, this kid was priceless. Every time Edwards took the lead, he did a celebratory dance and high fived his dad. Then, in a rare exhibition that would make any veteran NASCAR fan proud, when perennial bad boy Kyle Bush wrecked, this little guy jumped up, pointed at the track, and broke out into a full on running man dance! So when it became apparent that his favorite driver was likely going to win the race, we decided to capture the moment on the likely chance it would be highly entertaining. Enjoy the video of his celebration here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEhtLKnY7wE&feature=channel_video_title.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Parade Lap Adventure Begins

On the day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, we arrived at the Chevy Chalet in time to enjoy hanging out and having dinner with the owners and managers of the North Texas Chevy Dealers. Afterward, we were led into the infield of Texas Motor Speedway to a row of 43 special decaled triple black 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertibles. We were assigned car number 17, with Chevrolet decals on the doors. While the inside of the car was covered in dust from sitting at the track with the top down most of the weekend, the outside was shining like new money. We got into the cars, strapped on headsets that were linked to race communications, and headed out in a procession from the infield onto the surface of the track on the front straightaway.

The sight of 43 matching drop top muscle cars anywhere is an amazing sight, but sitting behind the wheel of one as you drive out onto the surface of a NASCAR track in front of over 100,000 cheering fans mere moments before a race begins is beyond intoxicating. For someone who’s been around racing all their life and longs for a ride in the big time, honestly, it’s addicting!

We pulled up in front of the driver introduction stage and picked up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #1 Tracker Boats Chevrolet Impala SS, Jaime McMurray. While we drove around the apron of the track on the parade lap, the wind howling between 20 and 40 MPH on a blustery Texas evening, we cautioned him about coming out of two onto the backstretch. After circling the track and driving down a pit road crowded with the cars and crews of all 43 teams, we headed out to a secure parking lot to “officially” take possession of the Camaro from GM.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Drive Away Adventure Begins

After enjoying the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the stands, we headed out to the parking lot to retrieve our Camaro, drop the top, and begin the drive back to our house, roughly 30 miles from the speedway. Thus began a dance everyone lucky enough to have purchased and/or driven a brand new muscle or performance car knows all too well. The mental battle between knowing you must keep the engine RPMs at lower levels for the first 500 miles until the rings are properly seated and those run in miles are on the engine versus the almost uncontrollable urge to drop the hammer and experience that roar and rush that only a hot rod car can provide. Well, in Team Hall & Nass world, just because you keep the RPMs low doesn’t exactly mean you have to drive like a senior citizen. Once we broke free of the race traffic and found some clear highway closer to home, the heads up display started to show numbers a bit more to our liking … all while keeping the revs moderate.

Admittedly, I am a very lucky person. My whole life I have owned, rented, borrowed, raced, rallied or somehow had access to some of the best new muscle, speed and luxury cars America builds. So while I have a wide-ranging palate and appreciation for driving new hot rods, it is rare that one truly gets under my skin. Sure, there are many cars I get excited about. That happens all the time. However, this particular Camaro really appealed to something deeper in me, which became apparent as soon as I got it home.

That first night, I spent hours sitting out in my driveway inside of the triple black Camaro SS Convertible with the top down, the dials lit up, the radio down low, and just took it all in. The longer I sat there, the more this old feeling came back to me. One I haven’t felt since way back in the early ‘90s on the first night after I bought my 1994 fourth generation black on black Camaro Z28. The longer I sat there, the more that feeling came over me. This was not what you feel sitting in a Corvette. It was not what you feel sitting in just any cool new car. This was a feeling I only get in a Camaro. This is something I’ve felt many times over the years, as I’ve owned a few Camaros and have always had at least one model (if not multiples) in my possession all the way back to that first 1979 Z28 I bought when I was 16 years old. This is a feeling you get when you encounter an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and almost forgot how much you missed until they are standing there, and suddenly, all that lost time just vanishes and you’re back in a place that seems just like yesterday. Yes, I knew this particular car was not going to be just another drive and review project. This was special. This was a homecoming. This was a Camaro.

My History with the Chevrolet Camaro

Before I can describe the fifth generation Camaro SS Convertible properly, I should first briefly share my longstanding history with being a Camaro aficionado. My love, and even sometimes ‘less than love,’ relationship with the Chevrolet Camaro has existed for as long as I’ve had a drivers license. Having owned and driven many second, third and fourth generation Camaro Z28s over the years, and having kept a fourth generation Camaro Z28 as a semi-regular daily driver for the last 17 years, I’ve got quite a few “butt in seat” miles of Camaro driving experience.

As much as I love driving and racing C6 Corvettes, to me, there is still nothing quite like driving a hot rod Camaro. They have always been quick, twitchy, sideways, unapologetic beasts to drive. They do championship level burnouts with little throttle effort, they command respect at drag strips and race tracks everywhere, and they can whip most cars that cost up to 10 times more without any fear of trying to be something they are not. Since 1967, V8 Camaros have always provided those people on a more conservative budget with the experience of driving a slightly detuned Corvette in a less expensive wrapper (minus the dark period of disappearance from 2003-2009). But more than anything, as long as Camaros have been built and sold, they have always been the ‘best bang for buck’ vehicle Chevrolet has offered. With each new generation, Motor Trend always declares it so.

Describing the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

In November 2009, Team Hall & Nass got behind the wheel of every flavor of the all new fifth generation 2010 Camaro Coupe (base and RS V6 automatic and manual, SS and SS/RS L99 V8 automatic and LS3 manual models) while at the SEMA show. When we drove the cars, we were immediately smitten. We hijacked the LS3 six speed manual for a clandestine run down the Las Vegas Strip and a few hard blasts around some off the Strip backstreets. We quickly discovered that while the new Camaro had plenty of power, it also had a few shortcomings. It was too quiet due to a restrictive exhaust, it was hard to see out of in any direction, and it just didn’t seem to want to drive sideways very easily. All things I wasn’t expecting. The car wasn’t perfect, but then again, the Camaro was never supposed to be. What it did better than anything was capture the essence of the original first generation Camaro in a visually stunning way. If that was the goal, then it was a goal well met.

Fast forward to April 2011 and we find ourselves in the newly released 2011 Camaro SS Convertible. Our 2SS-optioned car with an automatic rang in at $42,532 on the maroney. It had every single option you could get except for the RS package, and the only RS options it was truly missing were the HID headlights, the halo lights, the HID fog lights and the smoked rear taillight lenses. That would have pushed the sticker up another $500 and change, putting a completely loaded SS/RS Camaro Convertible at roughly $43,000. So HIDs and white SS badge versus red SS/RS badge aside, this car had it all.

A lot has been said about the excellent modern retro exterior and interior styling of the fifth generation Camaro, and how well it captured the first generation. The only thing we could add to that would be to say GM did a great job keeping the lines of the convertible top the same as the coupe. Rare is the drop top that looks good with the top up, but the 2011 Camaro Convertible manages to do just that. In fact, the only thing that looks different between the exterior of the coupe versus the convertible would be the smaller back window on the soft top, which significantly decreases outward visibility on a car already known as unnecessarily difficult to see out of by everyone. Otherwise, they look darn near identical.

However, drop the top, and this all new Camaro Convertible really shines. With the top down, the car looks even better. It may sound funny, but while most muscle cars look mean in coupe form, the Camaro actually looks even meaner with the top dropped. Top down operation is as easy as turning one center latch that releases two locking pins, push and hold down the top button, and all four windows drop and the top folds back flush into the rear boot in about 10-12 seconds. Putting the top up is about a 24-26 second operation accomplished by pressing and holding the top button, then pulling down and twisting the one center latch, which locks the two pins. All four windows are a one touch up and down operation via the drivers’ door switches. This is a feature that all new vehicles should have. Kudos to GM!

Another advantage of the Camaro Convertible is that the aforementioned visibility issues in the fifth generation coupe vanish with a release of a latch and the press of a button. Well, all except for the still too low windshield header, but those who enjoy increased rollover protection should not be so choosy. With the top up, you can lose a Mack truck in the rear blind spots, but a few days of adjusting your sightlines and learning to tow your mirrors out a bit further go a long way toward learning to deal with similar visibility issues that plague most convertibles on the market.

Speaking of the large windshield header bar, it houses the world’s shortest sun visors. Some may even say they are “cute” … but at least they are wide and effective. They serve as a great place to mount a radar detector, but they sure are short! Of course, as short as the dash to windshield height is, they have to be short or else they would block too much of the forward view.

The center stack old school gauge package adds to both the retro flavor and the visible vital information you need when you plan to drive the car hard. The additional vital operation information that you can easily scroll through in the center pod of the gauge cluster is a very welcome addition to the fifth generation Camaro. The LED light strips along the tops of the color door inserts are cool, although we don’t understand why GM didn’t extend them all the way across the matching color panel in the dash to finish out the illusion. Also, it would have been nice to have the same LED lights in the cupholder rings and as ambient lighting in the floors like the Ford Mustang has. And having the capability to change the colors of the LED lights would have also been a really nice touch. Maybe we’ll see this come refresh time?

The seats in the Camaro SS are one of the best overall interior features of the car. The leather, the stitching, the bolsters, the two-stage heating, the adjustable headrests and the SS embroidery are all spectacular! If only the C6 Corvette had these seats, we’d be able to remove the headrests to use the HANS device when we track the car, then simply put the headrests back in for regular street driving versus having to replace the entire seats to use the HANS. Are you listening Team Corvette engineers?!? Please and thank you.

Much has been said about the fifth generation Camaro steering wheel. Some like it, many do not. We found it to be decent. We like the controls for the audio system, the phone (via Bluetooth connection) and the cruise control. We also like that you can access both layers of the center gauge cluster menu from the left stalk without taking your hands off of the wheel. Our only gripe with the wheel is that the spokes are about an inch and a half too tall for optimal hand and thumb wrap position.

One thing GM engineers hit right on the mark on the Camaro that they failed miserably with the C6 Corvette are the paddle shift buttons. You click on the right to upshift, and on the left to downshift. Just like every race car and video game steering wheel on the planet. Try that sequence next time you’re in a paddle shift C6 Corvette and see what happens (but be careful)! Of course, the lag time in the downshifts mirror the second to second and a half delay the Corvette has, making the whole GM paddle shift program beyond annoying for us to use. If GM would adjust the push to downshift timing to instantaneous shifting (to match the upshift timing), then this system would be fun to use!

Two questions we have on the otherwise very well designed and executed interior of the new Camaro – who came up with the radio design and why was it not designed with a navigation screen? Between the sun glare on the screen with the convertible top down and the obvious limitation of ever being able to have a navigation radio option, someone fell asleep at the drawing board here. Different is cool and all, but functionality is key in vehicle electronics. Even the badly outdated navigation screen in the C6 Corvette would be welcome over this in-dash experiment. Head unit complaints aside, the Boston Acoustics sound system rocks! The bass is hard hitting, the highs are crisp, the mids are smooth, and there is always enough sound to rock out even at high speeds with the top down. Kudos on the sound of the stereo even if there is a glare and navigation fail.

The trunk has as much room inside as the C6 Corvette Convertible, once you pass your items through the very restrictive opening. A high trunk lip makes it challenging to get anything bigger than a 24” suitcase in, and the shape of the decklid makes it difficult to access the side areas. There is a netting guide inside to remind you how much space the convertible soft top requires when it is down, but you can easily move that netting to utilize the entire truck space should you need to. Just remember when you do, if you try to put the top down, something is going to get smashed or possibly broken. So using the netting as a guide is a good visual trunk space rule of thumb.

Driving the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible is an absolute blast to drive! It is more addictive to drive around in than anything else in recent memory. You can just cruise along one moment, then in the next moment, twitch your right foot a bit and suddenly be in full hoon mode. Of course, it’s more fun to drive with the top down that up, but that’s true of just about any convertible.

One of the best things GM did outside of the engine bay was putting four piston front and two piston rear Brembo brakes with thick vented rotors on it. They haul it down from large speeds nice and quick, and don’t seem to fade when really pushing the car through the twisties for hours on end. Of course, we look forward to the six piston front and four piston rear Z06 calipers on the upcoming Camaro ZL1. With over 550 horsepower, it’s going to need it!

Inside the car, one of the best things GM did to enhance the driving experience is the heads up display. In a unit that is very similar to the one found inside of the C6 Corvette, you can adjust the height of the display, the brightness, and select display modes of speed only, speedo and tach (which we used), or speedo, outside temp and compass direction. Another cool feature of the heads up display is the radio station and name of each song pops up along the bottom when a change is made. What is absent versus the Corvette is the G meter. What would be nice to have on the heads up would be a scroll feature along the bottom that relays all of the vital temps and tire pressures. Being able to see that information without having to look down at the center gauge cluster or press a toggle button would be very helpful while attacking long runs of twisty terrain, especially while in competition. A great enhanced safety feature idea if you’re listening, GM!

We are big fans of heads up displays, especially when they are done right. Being able to see your speed is helpful in many circumstances. Especially when tracking your entry speeds for corner setup, trying to stay under the speed limit when a cop is near, or simply as a constant visual reminder that you’re probably going faster than you think you are.

For enhanced grip, our car was rolling on 20” rims with Pirelli tires mounted front and rear, which, frankly, boggles our minds. The C6 Corvette in base, Z51 and even Z06 form only rolls on 18s on the front and 19s on the rear. Sure the ZR1 has 19s on the front and 20s on the back, but it also has 638 horsepower! The 20s look cool, but as every hot rodder knows, larger circumference wheels take more power to turn over. It just seems like overkill for the Camaro to have such large wheels. Yes, the Pirellis are super sticky for stock OEM tires and do a great job to aid the overall handling of the car, but when the point of the Camaro has always been that it offers Corvette ‘like’ performance for those on a budget, to force those customers to have to pay for 20” tires just seems a bit harsh. We dig the 20s, but we would dread paying $400-600 per tire for replacement sets of either Pirelli or upgraded Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires on the Camaro. Ouch!

As mentioned by everyone who has tested both V8 variants of the fifth generation Camaro, we’re curious to know what GM was thinking when they put on an uber silent exhaust. It sounds anemic until you get to wide open throttle, and even then, you can hear that it needs to be opened up to enable less restrictive flow. There is easy power gain to be had just by immediately upgrading the exhaust. I can best sum this up with a comment made by a 60-something year old neighbor lady, who asked, “Why does your new Camaro not sound mean sitting there running like your old Camaro or that new Corvette does?” My sentiments exactly.

When we asked a GM rep about this very issue at SEMA in 2009, the response was, “We’re trying to appeal to a wider range of buyer with a quieter exhaust on the Camaro” and “we know the first thing enthusiast buyers will do is replace the exhaust.” Our point remains the same now as it was then – if you know we’re going to have to replace it to make it right, why not just install the correct-sounding, less restrictive exhaust in the first place? Come on GM. We love this car, but why leave the cork in the bottle? A muscle car should sound like a muscle car, at idle and at wide open throttle. Period. At least you can hear the roar of the exhaust at WOT a lot better with the top down than up. Yet another reason to buy the convertible over the coupe!

Speaking of power, we could go on and on about the wonderful power and fuel economy delivered by GM’s wonder engine, the LS3. It is our favorite GM engine right now (well, aside from the LS7). But the single largest unpleasant issue with the fifth generation Camaro, the one that absolutely boggles our minds, is why do all of the automatic V8 Camaros have the weaker L99 engine installed in them instead of the LS3? The very same LS3 that is already installed in all manual V8 Camaros. Of all the smart moves GM has made in the “new GM” era, this is perhaps the single biggest disappointment/mistake/mind boggler of them all. Why?

It cannot be that the automatic transmission used in the Camaro can’t handle the power of the LS3 when you consider GM has an automatic transmission mated to both the 436 horsepower LS3 in the Corvette and even to the 556 horsepower LSA engine in the Cadillac CTS-V. It can’t be that it’s somehow cheaper to install two different V8s in the same Camaro SS platform on the same assembly line at a similar sales price point. It can’t really be a fuel economy issue, because the LS3 is the most fuel efficient V8 engine GM has ever made. It also can’t be a weight issue, because unless we just happen to be wrong, the LS3 is a lighter engine than the L99, making it a better power to weight ratio option for the Camaro. So why are automatic buyers saddled with receiving the weaker- powered L99 engine when the higher horsepower, stronger built, more fuel efficient LS3 engine is already being installed in all of the manual Camaro SS cars on the same assembly line? We look forward to discussing this with GM and getting to the bottom of this odd issue on Motorama LIVE.

Engine/transmission combination dictations aside, the L99 V8 puts out 400 horsepower, 410 foot pound of torque, and launches the automatic Camaro SS Convertible forward at an impressive rate at any speed! From a standing start, you can easily put the Camaro SS over 100 MPH on any standard length highway on ramp. The fun doesn’t stop there, either. In fact, whether you have the 400 horse L99 automatic car, or the 426 horsepower, 420 foot pounds of torque LS3 V8 manual shift car, the fifth generation Camaro SS pulls hard all the way from 0 to as far as you dare take it. It has been published by Chevrolet from day one that these cars have an electronically limited top speed of 155 MPH. The car is such a hard charger that it is actually hard to resist the temptation to dig into the throttle every time you leave a light, a stop sign, merge onto a freeway, pull out to make a pass, or even when you just happen to have open lane in front of your car.

This brings us to perhaps a touchy area of this review … fuel economy. Get your wallet out, because this is where all that money you saved buying a Camaro SS instead of a Corvette is about to start coming in handy. Under “normal” Team Hall & Nass driving conditions, we struggled to stay in the 12-14 MPG range. In fact, when we went on a highly spirited drive one night with a couple of other road rally teams out in Middle of Nowhere, Texas, to attack some long straights and lots of twisties, we saw a full tank run average of 11.1 MPG. I filled the Camaro up to go on the drive, and I filled it up to get home, all inside of 200 miles. If you get on the throttle a lot in town, you may actually see your averages dipping down into the 9, 8 or even the 7.6 MPG range. We did. And, folks, that’s not being hard on the car or driving it like a buffoon. That’s just having fun every time you drive the car around town. By comparison, I’ve never seen gas mileage that bad driving a C6 Z06 around Las Vegas and having all sorts of stop light and on ramp fun.

In an effort to find out what the absolute best miles per gallon average we could achieve in the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible could be, we drove at constant speeds on a long, flat stretch of smooth highway in sixth gear. Granted, we did so with the top down, because, let’s face it, unless it’s raining out, everyone’s going to drive this car with the top down. While no doubt there is a bit of drag created by the cavern behind the front seats, here is what we found. At 60 MPH, the best we saw was 24 MPG. At 70 MPH, 22.5 MPG. These numbers were only maximized by holding everything rock steady (including our breath) and with the A/C turned off. By contrast, a similarly equipped 2009 LS3 Corvette Convertible Z51 automatic with 3.42 gears and the top down gets 22.5 MPG at 100 MPH with the A/C on and both occupants breathing normally. It’s all about aerodynamics folks. Well, that, and we suspect the L99 isn’t getting nearly as good of fuel economy as the LS3 can, but we are speculating.

The long and the short of it is if you want to have maximum power and see the best fuel mileage in a fifth generation Camaro SS, you should stick with the LS3 six speed manual.

Please note, we waited until we had put all the run in miles on this car before we ran it anywhere close to what you could call hard. Yes, we stretched its legs out to give it a thorough shakedown, but more than that, we exercised a ton of patience making sure we ran the motor in right first, just as if we owned it. After all, someone out there will be buying this car as a NASCAR Parade Lap car, and that owner deserves to purchase a properly run in car. This one is a true gem and should serve them well.

Protecting the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible Come Hail, Highwater, or BIGGER HAIL

As you may have gathered by now, we at Team Hall & Nass are big Camaro fans. So when we were caught off guard by a freak large hail storm here in North Texas, we didn’t let the fear of personal injury keep us from springing into insane action to save the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible from potential hail damage. Our tale was so outrageous that not only did we capture it on camera (and ruin a new smart phone doing so) to prove it happened, but popular automotive site Jalopnik did a piece on our efforts to save the Camaro. In case you haven’t seen the videos yet, here is the Jalopnik story – http://jalopnik.com/#!5793142, a video of our rescue effort – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Oz_jW4Yyw&feature=channel_video_title and a video summary after the storm subsided – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG4sPVYgrO0&feature=channel_video_title. Don’t try this at home!

The miraculous news is that we managed to keep the new 2011 Camaro SS Convertible from receiving a single dent throughout 20 minutes of pounding hail ranging from pea sized up to golf ball sized. The sad news is that our personal fourth generation Camaro Z28 paid the price with dents covering the hood and both rear quarter panels. As of this story, the dealer we saved the new Camaro for has offered to have his hail dent repair guy look at our Z28 to see what they can do to fix it. Stay tuned for a future update on either a dent repair miracle, or a project Camaro Z28 build up, coming soon!

In Summary

Team Hall & Nass fell in love with the new Camaro SS Convertible for a lot of reasons. As we said before, the new Camaro isn’t perfect, but it’s not supposed to be. The Camaro is a bit heavier, a bit less agile, and not quite as quick as the Corvette, but considering it costs $20K less, it’s closer than the price suggests. If GM’s goal with the new Camaro SS Convertible was to offer a modern day retro drop top muscle car with Corvette ‘like’ performance for considerably less money, then they nailed it. No matter how you order or option the car, it is a lot of fun to drive. The fifth generation Camaro V8 has returned from a long absence to regain the “best bang for the buck” title. Period.

Team Hall & Nass Buy, Wait or Skip Rating

Based on our impressions of our time behind the wheel of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, coupled with impressions from other enthusiasts, friends and neighbors we showed the car to and took out for hot laps, we’re going to give the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS a ‘Strong Buy’ rating with one caveat. If you’re going to buy one, buy the manual. Why? Because it is the only way to get the 426 horsepower LS3 engine. If you have the least bit of interest in adding power to your Camaro, either now or down the road, you’re going to want the LS3 over the weaker L99. It’s just a better, stronger, stouter engine. Besides, if you’re buying a muscle car, why wouldn’t you buy the one with maximum horsepower? Exactly.

When you visit your Chevrolet dealer to test drive the new Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, do us a favor and tell them Team Hall & Nass sent you. If you do buy a Camaro of any variety, please let us know! We always love hearing about our fans’ rides, and so does GM when we tell them about you. In turn, it makes them feel better about giving us access to their cars to review and share with you. We appreciate your support!

Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE Camaro SS Convertible Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible coverage. Be sure to check out our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible videos, some of which are already posted, with a lot more coming soon on our Team Hall & Nass YouTube channel YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. You know our Camaro videos are going to be wild! Also, stay tuned as we continue to share our experience of what life is like behind the wheel of other exciting new vehicles on TeamHallnNass.com and on MotoramaLIVE.com.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Was a GM “Drive Away” Car

We want to publicly thank our good friends at General Motors, Team Chevy, the GM Communications Team and Chevrolet for allowing us access to the NASCAR events, dealer VIP treatment, and to review one of their cars. Note that this particular car didn’t come from the GM media fleet. It was a brand new car, for sale to the public, delivered to us by Team Chevy as part of the North Texas Chevy Dealers NASCAR “drive away” program. It was a Chevrolet dealer who asked us to represent his dealership at the NASCAR dealer VIP event, and who allowed us to keep the car for 11 days to drive, enjoy and review. Thank you very much. We hope you enjoyed the publicity as much as we enjoyed driving and reviewing your car!


Due to FTC guidelines, please note that GM did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. They simply granted us access to the Team Chevy pavilion at the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR races, two days of awesome race tickets, and the chance to participate in the Team Chevy parade lap and dealer drive away program. We sincerely thank all of you, our amazing fans, for taking the time to read all about it. We appreciate you all!

This site entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

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Team Hall & Nass Drive the 2011 Cadillac DTS

25 04 2011

Team Hall & Nass Drive the 2011 Cadillac DTS


When Team Hall & Nass learned that 2011 would be the last year of the Cadillac DTS, we decided we just HAD to do a review of one before that last big Caddy build by the “old GM” sailed off into the sunset. Why? Because we like big, old school Cadillacs!

This review also happens to technically be a Team Hall & Nass review, but we also conducted it with our Motorama LIVE audience in mind. If you’re confused by all of this, visit both the TeamHallnNass.com site as well as the MotoramaLIVE.com site for more information on what both entities are all about.

Be sure to check out our 2011 Cadillac DTS videos, coming soon on our Team Hall & Nass YouTube channel YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Yes, a bit of hoonage of the DTS will ensue!

DTS – The Last Cadillac DeVille

While the “new GM” has done a superb job of cranking out cool new cars under the Cadillac brand, such as the CTS sedan/coupe/wagon, the ground pounding uber Cadillac CTS-V sedan/coupe/wagon, and the ultimate new Cadillac SRX crossover, the DTS has kind of been relegated to second class citizen/afterthought status. The big bodied Northstar V8-powered Cadillac DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS) is the last of the big Cadillacs still being produced by GM that has been around since the “old GM” was cranking out profits on SUVs and DotComs were still considered a wise investment. Because of this, the DTS is often thought of as the “old man car” or “airport limo service car.”

But the DTS roots run much deeper than just a long-in-the-tooth platform car that has fallen behind its siblings in terms of power, options and design. It’s also the last in a long, storied history of the DeVille moniker, a badge worn proudly by big bodied Cadillac cruisers for half a century. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that when you heard the word Cadillac, the Coupe DeVille or Sedan DeVille was likely the first car that came to mind (except for maybe the Eldorado).

Cadillac holds a special place in my family, and it all started with the DeVille. Growing up, we always had GM cars, but in 1980, my dad, my great uncle and my cousin all decided they wanted to step it up beyond just owning Corvettes and pickup trucks. So they walked into our local Cadillac dealer and bought all three cars sitting on the showroom floor. My great uncle got a red Sedan DeVille, my cousin got a black Coupe DeVille and my dad got a blue Coupe DeVille for my mom. In true old school fashion, they all paid cash and drove them right off the showroom floor. Thus began my family’s long run of driving Cadillacs.

Those three Cadillac Coupe DeVilles were true classic Caddys in every sense of the word. They were big, they were long, they had 500-cubic inch big block motors, they would light the rear tires up with a flick of the right foot, they rode like you were floating on a cloud, they had enough body roll to scare you to death, but they were indestructible. But more than anything, when you rolled up in a Coupe DeVille, people noticed. Why? Simple. Because it was a Cadillac.

Sadly, 2011 is the last year for the Cadillac DTS. Instead of being updated or refreshed, Cadillac has plans to launch an entirely new car to replace the DTS for 2012, under a completely different moniker. While there is little doubt the new car will be awesome like the rest of the new Cadillac line, it is also sad, because this may be the last car to ever be badged as a Cadillac DeVille. So in short, we HAD to review this car before it heads off into the sunset. In a way, it was almost like saying goodbye to a family member.

Describing the 2011 Cadillac DTS

Many adjectives are associated with the DTS by today’s luxury car buyers and the enthusiast community alike. Most are less than kind, and we feel that is a shame. Why? Well, for starters, the DTS may be long in the tooth, but it’s still got more bite in terms of classic Cadillac style and comfort than anyone remembers. After all, when was the last time anyone took the time to review a DTS? Exactly. So let us refresh your memory of a true gem.

The DTS is the last Cadillac that instantly reminds you of what driving a Cadillac used to mean. It is big. It is plush. It rides like you are floating on a cloud, absorbing pot holes and bumpy roads like a dream so you barely notice as you cruise along. (We are convinced the powers-that-be in Dallas who can do something about the ridiculously bumpy roads must all drive Cadillac DTSes and thus not be able to feel how rough the roads are!) The hood on the DTS is long enough to play golf on, and its trunk is big enough to take your entire wardrobe on a road trip, while still allowing room for your golf clubs, the kitchen sink and anything else you might have riding around back there. We’re talking old school room and comfort at its finest here.

But isn’t all this talk of “old school” exactly what’s wrong with the DTS? In a word, NO. It is exactly why the DTS is the hidden gem of the 2011 Cadillac lineup. The CTS is a great car in any flavor. The CTS-V is the ultimate American uber sport luxo dream car come true. It’s like a Corvette Z06 with a backseat in a stealth wrapper! The SRX is a car any soccer mom or family on the go can enjoy. But only the DTS reminds you every second you are inside of it that you are in a Cadillac. Old school, new school, any school. The DTS is a true Cadillac no matter how you drive it, use it, or enjoy it. It’s got what the others, awesome as they are, seem to lack just a bit of – that classic Cadillac style.

We weren’t the only people who thought this, either. Just ask any of our Team Hall & Nass neighbors. These are the people who are always checking out the various automobiles that grace our driveway each week. There is quite often a brand new something out in front of our house, and believe me, the neighbors all notice. It’s not that uncommon to go outside and find someone looking over whatever we’re driving and asking questions about it. Until now, the Corvettes are always the crowd favorite. Well, guess what may have taken the crown?

We had more people stop by and ask us about the Cadillac DTS than anything shy of a Corvette. No, we’re not kidding. For starters, no one had to ask “what is that?” Just like they all know what a Corvette is, they all know the DTS is a Cadillac. But it didn’t stop there. Requests to sit inside and to take a spin around the block rivaled the last Corvette we had. You can’t make stuff up like this, folks. Young and old, guys and girls, they all wanted to check out the big Caddy. Once inside, they were amazed by the space. The air-conditioned seats. The massage chairs. The smell of the leather – that distinctive Cadillac leather smell. They loved the whole nine yards. We’d let them fire it up, and when the Northstar V8 rumbled to life, more than a few revved the throttle and grinned. They reacted exactly like they do when we have a Corvette on display. Only they could actually see themselves owning and driving the DTS. It was like having a magic carpet sitting out in front of our house for two weeks. Everyone wanted to take a ride! That’s the magic of an old school brand new Cadillac. Even we were surprised. VERY!

Driving the 2011 Cadillac DTS

For starters, if you haven’t heard the sound of a Northstar V8 lately, then let me reassure you, you need to. Most luxury car makers try to make their cabins quiet inside. While the Cadillac DTS is fairly quiet, there is no mistaking the sweet sound of American muscle when you turn the key in the ignition and the Northstar rumbles to life. Pull the Caddy into gear and the growl invites you to stand on the throttle just so you can hear it. Go to wide open throttle and the combination of the roar through the firewall and the rush that propels the big DTS forward is, quite honestly, both surprising and addicting! So much so that we shouldn’t even tell you what our around-town MPG average was. It’s really not fair considering every single time we left a stop sign, a traffic light, or just felt the need to drive it like we stole it, we immediately went to wide open throttle and held it there as long as conditions would allow. We did this at EVERY opportunity.

While we had the DTS for two whole weeks, we sadly didn’t have a chance to do a lot of highway driving. What little bit we did resulted in fuel consumption just shy of 20 MPG with highway cruising average at 70 MPH. Of course, that was with my gal behind the wheel. I never saw better than 16.7 MPG, and far worse in town. It was just too hard to resist the urge to dig into the throttle and roll out every time. It sounds and feels that good!

As our local group that goes to Cars and Coffee found out one Saturday morning on the Dallas North Tollway, the DTS will accelerate a lot faster than anyone anticipates. It was fun blowing past a line of BMW Dinan Stage 3 cars and Burnout Radio’s Challenger SRT-8 in the DTS. Needless to say, when we pulled into Cars & Coffee with the Caddy in the lead, everyone in our group had a newfound respect for the Cadillac DTS. Seeing it get up and move also stopped the “old man car” comments.

Granted, most people who buy the 2011 Cadillac DTS will not drive it like they stole it. But they will be amazed when their big floating cloud of a Caddy takes off like it was shot out of a cannon and corners without the body roll they would have experienced in the Cadillacs of old. This big Caddy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

A couple of things shocked us about the DTS. After a few days, we popped the hood to clean it up for a photo shoot. Not only was the Northstar V8 sitting wrong direction in the engine bay (that’s right, the DTS is a front wheel drive), but upon inspection of the Cadillac.com website, we discovered that big Northstar V8 in the DTS is only putting out 292 horsepower. WHAT?!? That’s right. It has less than 300 horsepower, and it is putting it to the pavement through the wrong wheels. Obviously, we hadn’t really pushed the Caddy hard through a corner in the first few days, but there seriously wasn’t a hint of torque steer to give away that the DTS was front wheel drive. It took off like it was shot and rolled out quickly no matter how long you stayed in the throttle. It feels like you’re driving a 350+ horsepower rear wheel drive car, not a 292 HP FWD sedan. You might call this an engineering feat, but we have another word for it – amazing.

In Summary

Just because the 2011 Cadillac DTS is near the end of its long production run doesn’t mean it’s any less than a great car. In fact, it means they’re had quite a long time to refine it into one sweet ride. This Caddy is absolutely loaded! The DTS has a great sounding Bose stereo system with in-dash navigation and XM satellite radio, OnStar, plush comfortable front seats with two-position push button memory combination driver seat, tilt/telescopic heated leather steering wheel with wood grain, power mirror settings, three-position driver and passenger seat air conditioning, three-position driver and passenger seat upper and lower zone heating, and last but not least, massage seats that allow you to alternate the heating and cooling for relief of back or leg discomfort on long road trips. The options carry into the roomy back seats with three-position heated rear seats, flip down leather center arm rest with two large cup holders, and separate rear passenger HVAC heating and cooling controls.

The DTS is the last car that Cadillac makes that actually looks, rides and feels like an old school Cadillac. It has a long hood, a massive trunk, floating ride, and big V8 growl. It is plush, it is comfortable, and even though it weighs nearly three tons, it will flat out get up and haul. After spending two weeks behind the wheel, the better-looking half of the Team Hall & Nass duo coined the DTS “the Cadillac of Cadillacs.” I couldn’t agree more.

Team Hall & Nass Buy, Wait or Skip Rating

Based on our impressions of our time behind the wheel of the Cadillac DTS, coupled with other enthusiasts, friends and neighbors we showed the car to, we’re going to give the 2011 Cadillac DTS a ‘Buy’ rating. Cadillac has gone in a different direction with all of their new cars, and while they are all pretty awesome, there is something special about this last of the old school Caddys. We wish it wasn’t front wheel drive, but then again, it doesn’t drive like one. We’re not entirely sure what Cadillac is going to replace the DTS with (ATS, XTS, ???), but no matter what they come out with next, this is likely your last chance to buy something remotely close to a true Cadillac DeVille. That alone is reason enough to buy this car in our book. After all, the DTS is “the Cadillac of Cadillacs.”

When you visit your Cadillac dealer to test drive the DTS, do us a favor and tell them Team Hall & Nass sent you. If you do buy a DTS, please let us know! We always love hearing about our fans’ rides, and so does GM when we tell them about you. In turn, it makes them feel better about giving us access to their cars to review and share with you. We appreciate your support!

Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE Cadillac DTS Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass 2011 Cadillac DTS coverage. Be sure to check out our videos on the 2011 Cadillac DTS, coming soon to our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Stay tuned as we continue to share our experience of what life is like behind the wheel of other exciting new vehicles on TeamHallnNass.com and on MotoramaLIVE.com.

Our 2011 Cadillac DTS Was NOT a GM Media Car

This is usually where we publicly thank our friends at GM and on the GM South Central US Communications Team for allowing us to review another one of their cars. However, this particular car didn’t come from the GM media fleet. In fact, to our knowledge, GM no longer has Cadillac DTS sedans available for media reviews since this model is near end of life. Because we wanted to review this car before it drives off into the sunset, we rented it from the Hertz Rental Car Company. It was only a month into service and had just over 5,000 miles on it when we picked it up. Granted, coming out of Las Vegas, it was filthy beyond belief inside and out, but after the healthy dose of detailing elbow grease and car care products we applied, it was (almost) back to looking as good as new.

As many of you are aware, Team Hall & Nass rent a LOT of cars from Hertz every year for business and personal travel. Thanks to our Hertz Presidential Status, we obtained a Caddy that usually rents for well over $100 per day for less than $600 for two weeks. That’s right. We spent our own hard-earned money to rent a fully loaded brand new Cadillac DTS from Hertz just to review. Ever hear of any automotive review team doing that? Well, we’re anything but conventional, and we hope y’all enjoy that about us, too!


Due to FTC guidelines, please note that GM did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. After reading this and/or watching our videos, they may even prefer that we hadn’t. The same could probably be said for the fine folks at the Hertz Rental Car Company! We sincerely thank all of you, our amazing fans for taking the time to read all about it. We appreciate you all!

This site entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Motorama LIVE!

If you are an automotive enthusiast, or would enjoy learning more about cool cars, automotive trends, auto shows, events and anything else that goes on in the automotive world, join us for our wildly popular weekly interactive automotive enthusiast discussion Motorama LIVE, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern, only on Twitter! Check us out at MotoramaLIVE.com, ‘Like’ Motorama LIVE on Facebook, and of course, follow us on Twitter @MotoramaLIVE Twitter.com/MotoramaLIVE. To join the conversation, just use the #Motorama hashtag and jump in! We’ll see you on Motorama LIVE!

Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio CTS-V Sedan Drive – Caught on Camera(s)

4 02 2010

Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio CTS-V Sedan Drive – Caught on Camera(s)

If you read our recent post titled, “Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan,” then you experienced our impression of what life is like behind the wheel of the “fastest V8 production sedan in the world.”

However, after we went back and read all the pretty words we used to describe the CTS-V, we still felt it just didn’t do the car justice. So this time around (because we love our fans so much), we’re not going to just tell you … we’re going to show you.

Do keep in mind what you are about to see isn’t some sterile trackside show or closed course challenge. Oh no! This is real world driving. Want to witness the real fun quotient of how well a CTS-V can perform in daily traffic with four adults in the car from the ticket-free comfort of your own chair? Actions (or in this case, actions on video) speak louder than words.

Please check out (preferably, in sequential order) all of the video segments of our Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio CTS-V ride and drive on our YouTube channel(s): YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass and YouTube.com/BurnoutRadio.

Please note that Burnout Radio (for their own self-preservation reasons) posted select, edited, somewhat “sanitized” parts of the events captured on their camera. While their videos are shorter, they leave out some of the speed antics and much of the humorous commentary.

However, being the crazy, experiential junkies we are here at Team Hall & Nass, we’ve posting ours in a format more like you’d expect from us. It’s raw and unedited (except for splitting it up into four segments to fit within YouTube’s file size restrictions), but deliver the full flavor and experience of the run. Make sure you watch them all. Believe me … you’ll get your money’s worth!

While there is a lot of talking (since it is a rolling interview), fear not! All that yakking is interspersed with the sweet sounds of LSA-filled roars, Pilot Sport squeals, and visible passenger reactions as we let this puppy run as safely as possible in and through traffic. We hope you enjoy the show!

Warning/Disclaimer Section

Please, for the love of all that’s holy, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, in traffic, or on your own. Laughable as it may sound, we are somewhat “trained professionals” (granted on a non-closed course, risking life, limb, and media car, but hey, we signed the ‘you brake it, you buy it’ paperwork). Also, please keep in mind that we were VERY well behaved most of the time and honestly didn’t have the car, its occupants, or anyone else around us in any strain at any time.

Also, if you happen to work for GM, Cadillac, or (God forbid) any of its insurers, then we highly recommend sticking with viewing Charlie’s “edited” videos on the Burnout Radio YouTube page. Otherwise, please continue to our TeamHallnNass YouTube page, strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all enjoyed this late addition to our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage. Optimally, we had planned on launching this post and these videos during Cadillac Week, but thanks to some unforeseen (and highly unfortunate) connectivity issues with our ISP in our Dallas location (read AT&T is officially on our POO list) we simply couldn’t upload them in time. Since they are too good to let go to waste, we hope you enjoy them now!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, to film or to post footage of this. They did not ask us to either. (After watching our videos, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Team Hall & Nass Super Fun Marketing Descriptions of the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

29 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Super Fun Marketing Descriptions of the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan


As a wrap up to our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage, we just couldn’t help but throw this last post in. It’s admittedly outrageous and a bit over the top, but at the very least, we think it will entertain many of you. Enjoy!

This is So Not Official GM Language

The “official” GM wording used within the pages of the 2010 Cadillac brochure describes the CTS-V Sedan as “the fastest V8 production sedan in the world.” Yes, in as few clean, sane, safe words as possible, we couldn’t agree more. It certainly is.

However, there are corporate sanitary product descriptions … and then there are the Team Hall & Nass product descriptions. We were not asked to provide language to be placed within the brochure of the 2010 CTS-V. However, if we had been, the following are examples of what we feel best describe what the true driving experience is really like albeit in a tongue in cheek sort of way. Better strap in now … this will get a bit curvy!

CTS-V Sedan – Turn Ons Delivered

We’re relatively certain that you have all witnessed the all too cleaver commercials Cadillac filmed for the launch of the second generation CTS sedan. You know the one. “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?” In a word – priceless!

However, when the current generation CTS-V Sedan was unleashed on the world, we feel GM missed a wonderful opportunity to take one of the best brand commercials they’ve ever done to the next level. Something a bit bolder, a bit spicier, that would represent just how much hotter the V performs over the already amazing base model.

So without further adieu, here is a glimpse of what Team Hall & Nass might have done.

The Actress – A slightly younger, more attractive, voluptuous blonde behind the wheel.

The Female Narrator’s Statement(s) – “Remember when we introduced you to the seductive new CTS and simply asked, ‘when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?’ Well, if she didn’t get your attention, meet her younger, enhanced, more powerful sister, V. With a lot more umph and vavoom under her hood, she simply takes your breath away. The Cadillac CTS-V. Can you handle it?”

“Remember when we introduced you to the seductive new CTS and simply asked, ‘when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?’ Well, if she didn’t get your attention, meet her younger, enhanced, more powerful sister, V. She asks a simpler question – ‘Think you can you handle it?’ Breathtaking performance. The Cadillac CTS-V.”

CTS-V Sedan – Family Friendly Synergy

Here’s a new idea for a “new GM.” Cross-brand family oriented marketing strategies to address the changing needs of performance-oriented expecting families. Trust me, there are big numbers hidden here. How many people out there (admittedly, mostly men) have to go through the agony of selling their Corvette when a wedding or baby comes into the picture? Sure, you can sell them a Tahoe, but seriously. No self-respecting Corvette owner wants to give up driving something that fun just because of life changes. Why not put a cross-brand synergistic strategy in place to help? Create targeted CTS-V Sedan materials and place them inside of Chevrolet dealerships. Then offer the dealers a cross-brand monetary incentive program to cross-sell. Here are a couple of examples of language that could go inside a Corvette to CTS-V “family conversion” marketing piece.

“Getting married? Having kids? Own a Corvette? Not all of life’s big changes have to be so drastic. Welcome to the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan. It’s like a Z06 with a back seat. Performance you’re used to in a family-friendly package. Child seat optional.”

“Getting married? Having kids? Own a Corvette? Not all of life’s big changes have to be so drastic. Welcome to the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan. Performance you’re used to in a family-friendly package. Now, driving your family can be fun too.”

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage as much as we enjoyed the privilege of being able to provide it to you. It’s truly been the “Cadillac” of weeks for us!

We would also appreciate it very much if y’all would take a moment and let us know what you thought of all this. Did you like it? Did you not? Was it worth reading? Was it detailed enough? Too wordy? Too spicy? Want more paprika? Do tell! You can let us know via comments on our blog, Tweets on Twitter (@TeamHallnNass) or email us at TeamHallnNass(at)yahoo.com. It’s your turn to talk. Team Hall & Nass is listening!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Team Hall & Nass 2010 Cadillac Week Challenge Twitter Contest

28 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass 2010 Cadillac Week Challenge Twitter Contest

As you are aware (or should be if you are reading this post), we recently attended the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, an event for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. We enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to dedicate an entire week of coverage to different aspects of the event, and to the amazing Cadillac vehicles we experienced.

As a fun way to say thank you to all of our loyal Team Hall & Nass fans for your amazing support of our Cadillac Week coverage, we are conducting an exciting #CadillacWeekChallenge contest to see who is enjoying our daily #CadillacWeek content the most. The winner will receive a cool “Cadillac-related prize!”

Snapshot Review of How to Play (explained in much greater detail below)

– Follow @TeamHallnNass on Twitter so you can play along and be eligible to win!
– As soon as you see us Tweet a contest question (a Q followed by #CadillacWeekChallenge), be the first to Tweet us via @ reply only with the correct answer and you win that round!
– Remember to tell us what Q you are replying to (Q1, Q8, etc.) and place the #CadillacWeekChallenge hash in your answer (if there is room).
– Remember that ALL of the answers to all of the contest questions are either within our TeamHallnNass.wordpress.com Cadillac Week posts, within our @TeamHallnNass Cadillac Week Tweets, or within one of our four Cadillac Week YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass videos.
– If you are truly stumped, @ reply us and say “I’m Stumped” and we may Tweet out additional hints.
– Don’t stress or give up! We aren’t going to make this THAT hard.
– Have fun! That’s what Team Hall & Nass #CadillacWeek is all about!
– Remember to keep following and RTing our #CadillacWeek coverage through Friday.
– Be sure to tell all of your friends as well! We love new picking up new fans! We do all this craziness for y’all!

When the Contest Will Occur

Our Cadillac Week Challenge Twitter Contest will take place beginning on Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 8 PM EST and will conclude on Friday, January 29th 2010 at 8 PM EST. Be sure to tune in to @TeamHallnNass on Twitter during this 24 hour period as questions can occur at any time (though we may have to sleep somewhere in there too!). Most of the contest questions will occur on Friday during US daylight hours, but not all!

The winner will be announced on Twitter AND on the TeamHallnNass blog! The winner must be able to be reached via DM (which is why you have to follow @TeamHallnNass) in order to discuss shipping. Afterward, your prize will be shipped to you the following week from our super-secret Team Hall & Nass location.

How to Play (in much greater detail)

To keep things as simple as possible, we are going to ask a series of questions (via Twitter) and the first person who responds to us via Twitter with the correct answer to each question (via an @ or DM) will be acknowledged as having won that round. The person who wins the most rounds by the end of the contest week will win the “Cadillac-related prize.”

To make things easier, we’re going to be providing several hints on what areas (posts, vids or Tweets) the answers to the questions are located in. So if you’re stumped, @ or DM and say, “I’m stumped!” The more people who are stumped, the easier/more obvious we’ll make the hints and/or the questions. We want this to be fun for y’all, not work!

All contest questions Tweeted out by us will be designated with the hashtag #CadillacWeekChallenge. It is a good idea to place this hashtag along with the numerical designation of the question you are answering (i.e.: Q1, Q5, Q10, etc.) in your response along with your answer to alleviate any potential confusion on either end (ours or yours).


Us – TeamHallnNass #CadillacWeekChallenge Q1. What week are we celebrating?
You – @TeamHallnNass The Q1 answer is Cadillac Week #CadillacWeekChallenge
Us – TeamHallnNass @BIGHallnNassFan You are correct! You’ve won round Q1!

See how easy that is?

How and Where to Find ALL of the Answers

Each day this week, there has been at least one new Cadillac-related post daily on our blog. In addition, be sure to review every Cadillac-related Tweet this week (beginning on Monday, January 25th at 12:01 AM EST through Friday, January 29th at 8 PM EST, or up until the last question of the contest, whichever comes first). Last, but certainly not least, make sure you view all four segments of our CTS-V ride and drive review that will be posted on our YouTube page on Thursday, January 28th. Be sure to listen to all of the things that are said out loud within these videos.

Again, all of the answers to all of the questions in the contest can be found within our TeamHallnNass.wordpress.com Cadillac blog content, OR within our YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass page Cadillac videos, OR within our @TeamHallnNass Cadillac Tweets on Twitter. There are no ringers, no tricks, and no hidden answers. Everything is (or will be) posted in plain sight for all to see!

Plus, remember that we’re going to be providing several hints on what areas (posts, vids or Tweets) the answers to the questions are located in. So if you’re stumped, @ or DM and say, “I’m stumped!” The more people who are stumped, the easier/more obvious we’ll make the hints and/or the questions. We want this to be fun, not work!

The Prize

One lucky winner will be awarded a “Cadillac-related prize” by Team Hall & Nass. What is it exactly? Well, we don’t want to spoil the surprise, but let’s just say it’s something not very expensive, but actually pretty cool. No, it’s not a Cadillac (we wish!). But it is a Cadillac-related item, provided to us by General Motors (not for this contest, but as a personal gift to us). We just love and appreciate our fans so much that we want one of you to have a chance to win it! So play for laughs and play for fun, but answer to win!

The Rules

You MUST follow @TeamHallnNass on Twitter to be eligible to win. Don’t worry, you can always unfollow us after the contest should you choose to, but we hope you’ll stick around for our continued hijinx for the 2010 season and beyond.

The person who responds on Twitter to @TeamHallnNass (via @ reply only) with the most correct answers first (round winners) at the end of our Cadillac Week Challenge will be the winner!

Not a Twitter user? Sign up today at Twitter.com and follow @TeamHallnNass to play!

Due to only having one prize to award, there can only be one prize winner. All decisions on the contest, the rules, judgments, etc. will be determined by Team Hall & Nass, and our rulings and decisions will be deemed final.

Tie Breaker (if necessary)

In the event of a tie, those who are tied for the lead will be notified via Twitter and a playoff will be held. If necessary, the playoff will be conducted beginning at 8 PM EST on Friday, January 29th 2010. The playoff will consist of a series of bonus Cadillac Week Challenge questions will be asked one at a time until the tie is broken (by the same conventional challenge rules listed above). It will be a sudden death playoff round, so you’ll have to be at the ready to answer quickly and correctly.


All of our fans and followers are welcome (and encouraged) to play. However, any employee (or affiliate) of General Motors or Cadillac are (unfortunately) ineligible to win. This is only because y’all have an unfair knowledge advantage of all the questions we are going to ask within this contest!

Furthermore, Charlie and Nick from Burnout Radio are not eligible to play, win, or even to shout answers out, since they participated in this event with us. They know too much, and therefore, must die! (JUST KIDDING)!

We hope you enjoy the #CadillacWeekChallenge and wish you all the best of luck! Let the games begin!

Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

27 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan


Team Hall & Nass recently attended the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, an event for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. At the event, we got a little crazy. Alongside of our good friends Charlie and Nick from Burnout Radio (@BurnoutRadio on Twitter), we managed to get behind the wheel of a brand new 2010 CTS-V Sedan and put it though some real world driving paces. What transpired once we “commandeered” the CTS-V was most likely not typical of many Cadillac owners, especially in rush hour traffic, unless your name just happens to be Andy Pilgrim.

While the CTS-V was just one of the Cadillacs we experienced at the event, we had so much to say about our impression of driving this particular machine that simply including those thoughts in one section of our overall event blog post(s) wouldn’t do. Plus, as an added bonus, we filmed all the action of our Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio ride and drive critique with not one, but two cameras. We’ll circle back to that in a bit.

After you read this post, we also encourage you to read our companion two-part blog post titled “Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Parts 1 & 2.” Within those posts you will learn more about the overall event, how we managed to “steal the V” and what happened when we got busted for it!

So, without further adieu, we hope you enjoy our impression of what life is like behind the wheel of the “fastest V8 production sedan in the world.”

Describing the 2010 CTS-V Sedan

There are many words I could use to describe what driving the CTS-V is like, but few would truly do the car justice. If you’re a fan of the car, then no doubt, you’ve already heard the big numbers it puts up. But just in case you haven’t, I’ll share them with you here (from memory, no less). GMs supercharged all aluminum LSA small block making 556 horsepower at the flywheel and generating 551 foot pounds of torque. Six piston Brembo calipers out front, four piston Brembos out back. A six speed manual transmission (or, in the case of our media car, a six-speed automatic). 0-60 in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 198 miles per hour (limited to 175 miles per hour in the automatic). The list goes on and on, but those are the baseline things you need to know.

I’d love to tell you all about the amazing interior of the car, the many creature comforts, the styling, the details, and all that jazz. Truth is, due to the nature of the event, we had to grab it and go. From that point on, all I did was adjust the mirrors, the seat, the wheel and drive. I’m sure it has amazing ergonomics that I could go on and on about. We just didn’t have time to fully experience all of that. Perhaps if we’re very lucky we’ll get more hands on time with a CTS-V sometime again real soon so we can take our time and explore all of the details. I, for one, would like to explore the driver information system and get detailed on the types of real time vehicle performance and operation information available to the driver, how it is accessed and the manner in which it is displayed. But like I said, there wasn’t time for all of that. We had to grab it, take it, and just drive it. After all, isn’t how it drives what you want to know about this car anyway? Yeah, we thought so.

Driving the 2010 CTS-V Sedan

First things first. No, sadly, we didn’t get to test top end or downforce effects at sustained higher end speeds. I know, I know. However, even though we were unfortunately stuck in horrific rush hour traffic, we still managed to have some fun. This car is so viciously quick on the throttle (and the brakes) that you can drop back and then fill up the hole in the flow faster than anyone else can realize there was ever an opening to contemplate getting into. Want to break triple digits inside a long city block? This car will do it. Want to light the tires on fire? HA! As amazing as the traction control system is (truly, it’s that good), melting rubber is still easy to achieve at any speed. Just plant your right foot and hold on! Want to elicit shock, disbelief and awe from a new Porsche 911 owner (and his passenger) by merely letting him hear the sound of the engine revving? Been there, done that.

Since we did have to navigate some very heavy rush hour traffic and a few side roads in between discovering (or creating) patches of clean road to enjoy, the entire drive was treated as a rolling interview. If you’re familiar with the regular podcasts done by Burnout Radio, then you know what to expect. However, if you’re not, then know that we discussed and critiqued the car on the fly for the entire ride. It helps that both Charlie and I like the sound of our own voices as well, but hey! That’s a whole other story (way too long to post on here)!

Keeping the Power on the Pavement

Former Indy 500 winner and current Rally X driver Kenny Brack did an excellent job at the 2009 Summer X Games of reminding everyone in the racing and extreme sports world of a very simple, but long held, principle in the world of motorsports. Tire smoke and drifting a car sure looks cool, but every second your wheels are not in solid contact with the pavement, you’re not putting maximum power to the ground. Thus, you’re losing time. Remember, all the horsepower in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t make the tires put the power on the pavement.

The aforementioned traction control system is beyond amazing on the CTS-V. With 556 horsepower on tap, you would expect the car to be near impossible to drive hard without it constantly breaking the tires loose. Wrong. Even when I tried to powerslide it out of the parking lot, it held the pavement amazingly well and launched us forward. Sure, we slid a little, but not like we would have if I’d have turned the traction controls off.

It also doesn’t hurt anything that the car comes equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport tires, either. Yes, the same rubber found on the Corvette ZR1 and on any serious sports car owner’s rims that values supreme street traction over high replacement costs. They’re so sticky, they are almost like having racing tires for the street.

Driving this car is in many ways comparable to driving the 505 horsepower Chevrolet Corvette Z06. In fact, I’ve stated publicly (many times) that the CTS-V Sedan is a lot like a Z06, just with two extra doors and a back seat for ten grand less. It definitely shares that immediate rush of endless power and torque that will propel the car forward at a rate most people have never felt, and frankly, that many can’t handle.

Is it that quick? Yes. It pins you back deep into the seats as if you’ve been shot out of a cannon. The car accelerates as quickly as a big block Chevelle that can pick its front tires up off the ground. In fact, it takes off just as well from a standing start as it does rolling along at 70 mph (or greater). Just point, aim and shoot! But how does it corner? Does it feel nimble when you throw it around or does it feel like a big, heavy sedan? The answer, in every category we experienced, was you quickly forget you are in a sedan. It didn’t take me long to go into Corvette mentality.

However, a key difference between the Caddy and the Z06 Corvette is that you can put the power to the ground a lot quicker and keep it planted throughout the first three gears in the CTS-V. I’m talking wide open throttle. In a Z06, um, well, without racing tires or launch control, not so much. No matter how skilled you are, launch a Z06 at wide open throttle and most of that power goes up in tire smoke. Very expensive tire smoke. Shift and repeat, shift and repeat again. Needless to say, I strongly believe the Z06 should come from Chevrolet wearing Pilot Sports as well (ahem, if you’re listening GM, please and thank you).

Another interesting point is that while the CTS-V has 51 more horsepower than a Z06, it also weighs roughly a thousand pounds more. Those extra pounds probably help keep the rear tires planted when you dig into the throttle. Yet even with the extra weight helping with traction, you’d still expect a car with 551 foot pounds of torque to be a handful to drive. It’s not. But don’t let that lull you into comfort, either. One good stab of the throttle at the wrong time, in a curve or on wet pavement, can (and eventually will) override any traction system that’s trying to save you from yourself.

However, while the amount of “hold back” or “saving grace” of the system almost defies physics, it also lets you have enough freedom to thoroughly enjoy the massive power of the car without feeling overly restricted (at least on the street). There were clearly more engineering hours devoted to this area than the guys in the white jackets will likely ever get credit for. To all of them, we say it here. Kudos!

Key Difference in Driving a CTS-V Sedan Versus a Traditional Sports Car

With all this talk of horsepower, traction, acceleration, etc., it’s almost easy to forget what car we are talking about or why we were invited to this event. The point was to experience what life is like for a “typical” Cadillac owner. So in that spirit, I offer this explanation of (at least in my mind) what is likely the key difference most operators will experience between driving their CTS-V Sedan and driving a two-door sports car.

When you purchase a sports car of any similar performance level, you are more likely to drive it on twisty back roads or on a track than to go, say, pick up the groceries. You go into the purchase expecting it to behave like a sports car. Therefore, every time you strap into it, you mentally prepare yourself for what you are about to do behind the wheel and how you plan to do it. At least, we hope.

However, when you purchase a Cadillac, even the uber fast CTS-V Sedan, you may expect it to be fast, but you also have to keep in mind that most of these customers will probably be driving it to dinner, the airport, the opera, etc., far more often than in a competition-type setting. So, unless the owner actually understands what driving a 556 horsepower car is like (which few people really, truly do), then you don’t want them to unpleasantly “surprise” themselves too often. They aren’t going to think “race car” when they strap in each time. In fact, more often than not, they are going to think pedestrian thoughts. It’s a different approach to entering a similarly capable supercar animal.

So while on the one hand, having a 556 horsepower sedan is the coolest thing on earth, you also have to remember that Cadillac is charged with serving it up in a package that is much more civilized than a race car, enabling function to match form. This is another area where the traction control system on this car is phenomenal and key to the safety of the car. It keeps the car planted and in control in situations where cars of similar power to weight ratio would be sideways and/or all over the road, enabling you to drive your kids to school, your significant other to dinner, or even making a run to the grocery store, all without (as much) constant threat of getting sideways or taking out the guardrail. Essentially, it is as much about preventative safety and going “slow enough” as it is about putting down power and going “fast enough.”

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but the CTS-V Sedan was not built to be a race car, per se (just don’t tell Andy Pilgrim that). It was built to be a luxurious daily driver. It is a car that most “typical” Cadillac owners, with a little bit of diligence and common sense, can probably handle driving everyday without fear. Though a little healthy fear wouldn’t hurt (just saying)!

Extreme Stealth Value

One of the key attributes that I’m fairly certain Cadillac or GM is not likely to tout (but that this car delivers buckets of) is what we like to call “stealth value.” That is, to the untrained eye (which includes roughly 98% or more of the general populace), the CTS-V Sedan blends in. Especially if you order yours in a non-flashy color (such as white, silver or charcoal). On face value alone, it looks like a typical Cadillac family sedan.

What? But why oh why would anyone want their awesome hot rod Caddy to blend in? Two words – Hamthrax evasion. You see, no one expects this car to take off like a rocket ship or to be comfortably cruising down the interstate at triple digits. Not that most of you would do that very often (yeah, riiight).

Even for those who like to drive at 20 over the limit (or so) but are always concerned about getting pinched by the Hamthrax (ahem, any color Corvette + speed = instant attention), this car offers the perfect solution. Cops aren’t looking for family sedans. They are looking for the guy in the Corvette, the Camaro, or those other high horsepower coupes that are all trying to slip under the radar … and failing miserably.

In these times of empty state coffers, the fuzz are out in force, going after the easy revenue now more than ever. But if you factor in potential savings over the life of the car by avoiding tickets and insurance rate increases, that “stealth value” could really add up to substantial savings in operating costs! Hey, Team Hall & Nass is just looking out for you! It’s what Pirate Pig, our Hamthrax-avoiding mascot, likes for us to do. Viva la Pirate Pig! :@)~

Easy to Lose Yourself In

After enjoying the CTS-V far longer than we probably should have, but not nearly as long as we’d have liked to, the moment came to return the car. A few miles before reaching our destination, the Four Season Resort in Las Colinas, I handed over the controls of the car to Charlie. He got to do a few hard launches from the lights and dove on the brakes plenty, but not much in the way of speed runs. There was too much traffic!

For the record, I do feel bad for hogging up the majority of the drive time. Feel bad for Charlie, that is. Honestly, I was enjoying driving this car so much that had he not reminded me to pull over and switch off, the thought of getting out of the car would have never occurred to me. Sorry Charlie!

The one thing Charlie got to do that was a real defining moment on our drive (and on the video) is when we pulled up at a light behind a new Porsche 911. With a little encouragement from me, Charlie put the Caddy into neutral and cleaned the throttle out a couple of times. What played out in front of us was priceless. First, the heads of both the driver and the passenger immediately jerked up and around. Then, the driver reached for his rearview mirror, adjusted it, and we could actually see his eyeballs bulge in the mirror’s reflection. That’s right, bud. That deep roar that just shook you and your Porsche to its very core? Yeah, that came out from under the hood of the Cadillac sedan parked on your rear bumper. The reaction was priceless! This is not your mother’s Cadillac. This is the big bad wolf in sheep’s clothing that is going to outrun the whole flock (and your grandmother too).

In Summary

We love the CTS-V. It’s the first sedan ever considered truly worthy of the Team Hall & Nass garage. In fact, given how we typically drive (even on a daily basis), it is probably the best overall car for us to own. It is so much more than just (as stated by Cadillac themselves) “the fastest production V8 sedan in the world.” We believe it is also “the most fun you can have in a car with four doors. Period.”

However, we’d really like to spend a full day (or a few) behind the wheel where we can explore the capabilities and characteristics of the car somewhere other than in Dallas rush hour traffic. I could spend at least a few hours just examining the interior features of the car and plenty of time under the hood as well. There is really just so much car there for the money. At $70,000 and change (very well equipped) that’s a tall order, but this is one of those rare cars that can deliver loads of performance and value for the big price tag.

It’s no secret that we hold the C6 Corvette platform up as our personal standard for what any performance car should be like. While that may seem unfair to many, in this case, it is not, as this is a true and worthy competitor to all four flavors of the current C6.

If the car is missing anything, we only have one request. Bring back the ducks on the Cadillac emblem. Only this time around, put them in a V formation. The Cadillac CTS-V. It doesn’t just quack, it honks!

In summary, the best thing we can say (other than we want one) is this: You don’t have to ask if this car will return the favor. Just save the “after smoke” for the tires.

“We’re SO Not Worthy … THANK YOU GM”

Though we said this in both parts of our Cadillac Lifestyle posts, and it certainly bears repeating again here. We’d like to publicly thank Donna McLallen (@GMTexas on Twitter), Vicki Cosgrove and everyone on the GM South Central US Team for being kind enough (and crazy enough) to invite us to this event. Without their kind, good faith invitation, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass, this incredible tale to enjoy. We owe you a big one (as well as some brake pads linings and perhaps a bit of tire tread too …)!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage thus far. Tune in tomorrow for what may be our most exciting post of the week, titled, “Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio CTS-V Sedan Drive – Caught on Camera(s).” It’s a post of few words … well, of the written variety. Remember the two video cameras I mentioned at the top of this post? That’s right! Better dig out your driving gloves, zip up that fire suit and tighten down those belts. You’re going with us on a wild and crazy ride!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 2 of 2

26 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 2 of 2

Working Our Way to Checkpoint Two

When Charlie said he didn’t know where we were going, he wasn’t kidding! After a series of u-turns and wrong turns, it finally occurs to me that I have a nav system in the dash in front of me. DUH! However, before I can plug in the address of the next checkpoint, Donna from GM calls my cell and tells me I am less than a block away. Sure enough, when we pull around one of the many office buildings (all there seems to be in this part of Las Colinas), we discover both a row of Cadillacs sitting there and Donna standing there shaking her head at us. Oops!

After I quickly summarize that I got “punked” by Charlie, she just laughs and escorts us inside and up to the top of the office building for our next surprise. I don’t know what the scene was when everyone else pulled into Via Real at Checkpoint One, but this was impressive!

Breathtaking Views from the Top

The “super secret” and hard to find Checkpoint Two was none other than the exclusive and private La Cima Club. Perched on top of the Williams Square building in Irving, Texas (known as host to the “world’s largest equestrian sculpture” in front of the building), the unobstructed view in all directions is unparalleled by any other building in the area. On a clear day (which it certainly was on our visit), you can see all of the skyscrapers of Dallas (10 miles to the east) and of Fort Worth (30 miles to the west) and all points in between. But the ClubCorp-owned La Cima is not just known for its breathtaking views and private membership. It’s known for its exquisite fine dining. The fine folks at GM and Cadillac did not let this “typical” Cadillac owner’s experience evade us either.

As we dined on hand-prepared lobster rolls and sipped fine, non-alcoholic sparkling cider (after all, this is a driving event!), we were entertained by a presentation from both the general manager of the club and the head sous chef, who had returned to La Cima after years of working in other equally impressive establishments. It was quite the tasty snack!

As an added bonus, Nick (Charlie’s partner in crime and the other half of Burnout Radio) had joined us for the remainder of the evening, so I knew the next leg was likely going to contain even more fun-filled hijinx and laughs. Boy howdy! If I’d only known what was coming next!

Breathtaking Views from the Valet Stand

While I can (and do) appreciate fine dining and breathtaking views of Dallas, did I happen to mention what GM and Cadillac had lined up for we, the lucky few, to climb all over, experience and drive at this event? Here is the rundown: About a dozen second generation 2010 SRX Crossovers, an all-new 2010 CTS Sport Wagon, and the coup de gras – a silver 2010 CTS-V Sedan.

When first invited to this event, I had been told there “may” be a CTS-V on hand, but no guarantees. On the day of the event, I had reached out to Donna at GM and inquired about the CTS-V again. She had said “maybe so … but who knows?” I had jokingly tweeted her that if it was going to be there, I hoped they brought an extra set of Michelin Pilot Sports and brake pads because between myself and Burnout Radio they were likely going to need replacing after, and perhaps even during, the event. Her reply, “NOT if you’d like to be invited back!”

All joking aside, I really didn’t expect to get a chance to drive the CTS-V. As I was leaving Checkpoint One, I noticed a silver CTS-V sitting there, but it was awaiting one of the Cadillac reps to drive it to the next stop after we were all gone. So I figured it was there for us to see, but not necessarily to drive. I figured I’d do well to get my hands on the CTS Sport Wagon for the run from Checkpoint Two to Three. At least then I would have a chance to find out just how well the Wagon would get away from Charlie in the SRX.

However, as I looked out over the lineup of Caddys in the valet area of the Williams Square building, there sat the silver CTS-V, quietly off to the side. So while the rest of the crowd was getting intimate with a guided tour of the SRX’s many cool interior and exterior features, I eased across the lot and began taking photos of and admiring the CTS-V up close and personal.

Contemplating Grand Theft Auto

It wasn’t the first CTS-V I’d seen, nor was it the first one I could get inside of. It was, however, the first one I may actually have an outside shot at getting behind the wheel of unsupervised with an opportunity to see what it actually would do (albeit on traffic jam-filled roads for a very short duration of time). Nonetheless, it was just too close to not try to beg, borrow, or even to come up with a strategy to “steal” a few rare moments of driving time in it, if it came down to that.

As if they could read my mind, another GM rep approached where I was standing and encouraged me to “come on over and hear all about the SRX” … but my mind was spinning on ways to get behind he wheel of the CTS-V.

After a few brief words with Charlie and Nick about how it would be nice to “snag” the CTS-V, I turned my attention to chatting up the Cadillac rep. As it turns out, Thomas D’Angelo, Cadillac’s new Regional Marketing Manager for the South Central Region, was a real joy to talk to. He had moved to Texas from Southern California and was settling into the market. We talked quite a bit about what Cadillac is doing to distinguish themselves as a brand, the exciting new lineup of cars, and all sorts of good things. Finally, I got around to asking him if there was any chance at getting some seat time in the CTS-V. He said it might be tough, but hopefully we’d get a chance at some point.

Committing Grand Theft Auto

No sooner than those words had been uttered, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Nick easing over to the CTS-V. At first he appeared to be admiring it, but then, suddenly, it happened. Nick slipped into the passenger seat of the CTS-V, their photographer Katie climbed into the back, and Charlie, suddenly standing next to the driver’s door, grinned at me, and then gave me the “come on” wave.

I quickly excused myself from the conversation and made a beeline across the parking lot. Charlie says, “Get in. QUICK!” Not being one to dally, I only paused long enough to ask, “You sure you don’t want to drive?” To which he responded, “We’ll switch out later, but I’m not going to pass up a Team Hall & Nass ride along. Now get in and let’s get out of here!” I didn’t hesitate to ask additional questions. It was go time.

A few brief moments later, with two video cameras rolling (mine filming from Nick’s lap up at me as I drove, Katie filming forward from the right rear), I pulled the CTS-V into gear and we slipped out of the parking lot and around the building. As I neared the exit onto the surface street, I made sure everyone had their seat belts securely fastened. I then tromped on the throttle and sideways we went out of the exit and through traffic in search of some open road.

CTS-V Sedan – The Caddy So Nice We Covered It Twice

There are not enough colorful words, phrases, etc. to describe what our brief time behind the wheel of the CTS-V was like. In fact, we used so many trying to that, after writing it all out, we decided it warranted its own separate blog entry. Yeah, we went on about it that much (and it was worth every letter). So be sure to check out our separate post titled “Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V” for our superfluous attempt at trying to describe what it’s like behind the wheel of this classy beast.

As an added bonus, when you read our separate blog entry all about our impression of the CTS-V from behind the wheel, you will receive instructions on where and how to view the complete Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio event, exactly as it happened, all on video. Believe me, you’re going to want to witness the mayhem. It’s quite the scene!

Is It Really Stealing If You Return It? – The Joy and the Guilt

As our all too brief drive of the CTS-V drew to a close, we turned into the entrance of the Four Seasons and pulled up to the front. Immediately, two things were very noticeable. One was the unmistakable smell of hot brakes and rubber emanating from the car. (Man, I’m sure glad Charlie was behind the wheel for the last leg!). The second, which was actually the first thing I noticed, was Donna from GM. She was standing there amongst others from GM with her arms folded. She didn’t look amused. In fact, she had what one could only describe as a classic “mom” look on her face. Ot oh. We were SO busted!

I figured I’d just throw myself at the mercy of the court, but before I could even get a word out, she began the conversation. It went something like this:

Donna (with stern face) – “Did you get my text?”
Me (with sheepish face) – “Um, sorry, no. We were a little busy …”
Donna – “You know, as soon as they realized the CTS-V was missing, I didn’t even have to look around for you guys. I knew where it (and you) went. There was no doubt!”
Me – “Well, we, um, kinda, sorta, um, yeah. Hey! It wasn’t all my idea!”
Donna – (still stern) “Yeah. Uh huh. Riight.”
Me (grinning) – “Well, we were here to ‘experience the Cadillac lifestyle’ and all. We just couldn’t resist! Plus, you know that we babied it. I mean, sure, we drove it, but, I swear, we behaved very well! Besides, we were in stuck in traffic most of the time. We didn’t even break XXX mph … ish (wink).”
Donna (shaking her head and perhaps suppressing a smile) – “I don’t want to know about that! I’m just glad you brought it back!”

As we walked inside to yet another exquisite treat for the palate, I quickly checked my phone. Sure enough, two missed calls and one text from none other than Donna. I took a breath and then opened the text. It read, “Hmmm hmmm. You hijacked the V. You know, they’re making me stand in the cold until you show up….”

I’ve known Donna for awhile on Twitter and have met her in person before, but I didn’t know her that well before this event. So I didn’t know for sure if we had really stepped in it, or not. I immediately found her inside of the event and apologized profusely. At that moment, I believe our friendship bonded. She couldn’t keep the stern face up any longer. She laughed and told me it was okay and that she was teasing.

Now, to this day, while I’m fairly certain that Donna was kidding me about the teasing, I secretly hope they didn’t really make her stand out in the cold and wait for those crazies she invited from the “online world” to their media event to return their $70k+ hot rod Cadillac. (Then again, she was standing out there and looked more than a bit relieved when we first pulled in …). Of course, we did return it, we drove it with reasonable care, and we praised it on Twitter live from the event. And now (finally) here on our blog and on YouTube, we are more than happy to do not only one, but two posts on the topic. The car(s), the event, and the fine folks at GM all deserve praise on all counts. There wasn’t a single thing they could have done better for us. It was more than we deserved, and we really, really appreciate it!

Checkpoint Three – The Four Seasons Las Colinas

Any feelings I had of guilt were quickly replaced with euphoria as I sampled some of the delectable treats the executive chef had prepared for us. However, the deserts were truly mind melting. Kind of like those Michelins out in the parking lot …! We were entertained by a description of the selections by the head sous chef, and given the run down of the resort and events it typically hosts by the general manager of the hotel. It was everything you expect from the Four Seasons. Good show!

Checkpoint Four – Via Real Restaurant

It was a short walk (yes, walk, not drive) outside the back of the Four Seasons over to Via Real. Back to where the evening began. Upon entry, we were treated to the option of driving any of the Cadillacs that had been brought over to the parking lot, or to begin consuming fine alcoholic beverages if we were finished experiencing the vehicles. Even though I thought about obtaining the CTS Sport Wagon for a nice drive, I also figured I’d let the tires cool off for a bit and instead enjoy the networking.

There was an interesting mix of traditional and non-traditional media present, but again, there were only a few of us in total. I met a gentleman who, upon sharing with him that we do a bit of rallying, told me how many Gumball 3000s he’d been on. I had to laugh. You just never know where fellow rally enthusiasts are going to show up.

We spent the rest of the evening chatting up the fine folks at GM, and of course, enjoying the appetizers, entrees and dessert selections Via Real had prepared for us. The dinner was amazing, the company was grand, and the event as a whole was first class all the way.

In Summary

It is my wish that no matter what your background or station in life, that at some point, if not everyday, each and every one of you reading this get to experience the “Cadillac lifestyle” as the General intended. Believe me, it is worth every penny!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all are enjoying our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage. The carnage (we mean, coverage) continues tomorrow with our CTS-V ride and drive preview. Better get ready to strap yourself in and/or hold onto something tight for that one!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 1 of 2

25 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Part 1 of 2


What you’re about to read is not your typical Team Hall & Nass review (as if we ever do anything “typical” anyway). We’re not going to focus on one single car, one outrageous performance, or just another thrill ride shared via words by yours truly. No, this is something different. Something special. An experience that only the “new” General Motors could provide (and one we are eternally grateful for being invited to). What you are about to read is both a glimpse into what life is like for the “typical” modern-day Cadillac owner accompanied by a snapshot driving review of a few cool new cars within the 2010 Cadillac lineup, ala Team Hall & Nass style.

“We’re SO Not Worthy … THANK YOU GM”

We’d like to publicly thank Donna McLallen (@GMTexas on Twitter), Vicki Cosgrove and everyone on the GM South Central Region Team for being kind enough (and crazy enough) to invite us to this event. Without their kind, good faith invitation, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass, this incredible tale you’re about to enjoy. We owe you a big one (as well as some brake pad linings and perhaps a bit of tire tread too …)!

The Exclusive Event Invite

Officially billed as the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, this event was an opportunity for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. There was a lot of fine dining, many breathtaking views, with glamour and elegance all around (and that’s not even talking about the venues we visited!). But all the fine dining and white glove treatment aside, the real attraction was the chance to get down and dirty (in a very stylish way) with select cars from the exciting new 2010 Cadillac vehicle lineup. However, the experience of the entire event is more than noteworthy, so we’ll go on (and on) here about both!

It is here that I must publicly admit to something. There was not a “we” on this adventure. When invited, it was stressed that only one of us could attend due to the limited number of seats and cars at this event. So in the spirit of full disclosure here, that means this time out, it was all Hall and no Nass. Though fear not, our faithful fans of non-traditional auto review driving! I did not play calm, cool, or collected at this event. No cars got babied (beyond the view of the parking lots, anyway). There was still the proverbial Nass that got Hall(ed) on all of the test drives! We’ll get to that in a bit …

The Experience Begins at Checkpoint One

The event began with a meeting in the parking lot of Via Real Restaurant in Las Colinas, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). We were supposed to arrive by 3:30 PM. Of course, I was running a bit late, so by the time I arrived almost everyone had already headed out toward the next “secret” location in their pick of 2010 Cadillacs. I say almost everyone because when I whipped into the lot, I saw Charlie from BurnoutRadio.com (@BurnoutRadio on Twitter) standing next to a lady I didn’t know in the parking lot. I assumed she must be part of the GM Texas team. You know what happens when you ASSUME … right?!? (more on that in a bit). As soon as I spied him in shorts & tennis shoes, I felt a sense of ease. Not only could I stop feeling badly about wearing jeans with my button down, but I also began to feel that maybe I kinda, sorta did belong at this event. Yay! I also spotted Vicki from GM (waiting patiently, I might add) for me to arrive and sign the release papers so we could all head out toward the next location on the Tour.

After signing my life and good credit away in case I destroyed the car(s) (perhaps they DO know me better than I think they do …), Vicki directed me toward a brand new second generation 2010 Cadillac SRX Crossover and explained that it was all mine to experience en route to the next destination. She said the directions of the carefully laid out driving route were in the passenger seat, to be careful and to have fun on my solo drive.

Charlie and the aforementioned lady I didn’t yet know were already belted into a 2010 CTS Sport Wagon and appeared to be getting adjusted. I pulled up next to them and made a “tactical” decision. I figured I’d just follow them so I could enjoy the drive versus worrying about trying to read the printed directions. After all, Charlie appeared to have a GM rep riding shotgun with him, so what could go wrong?

SIDE NOTE – If you think you’re going to just “follow” Charlie from Burnout Radio and all will be fine, well, you’re only half right.

As I waited on Charlie to pull out ahead of me, he put his window down, laughed, shouted something about how the seat adjustment control was smarter than he was (one of the many reasons I love Burnout Radio), and then he says to me, “What are YOU waiting for? I replied, “I’m just going to follow y’all.” He laughed and said, “That might not be the best idea, but okay! Let’s go!” After which, Charlie whips sideways out of the lot in the CTS Wagon with me on his tail … and away we went!

An Olfactory Delight

I have to stop the action here for a moment and share this bit of personal history with you. The second I sat down in the SRX, something clicked. It didn’t hit me on a conscious level immediately, but deep within the recesses of my mind, something was welling up. It didn’t take long to surface either. In fact, as soon as I started down the road, it hit me. One single, but overwhelming, thought. All I could think of was “Momma.”

You see, my mom drove Cadillacs for years. But what in the world could this 2010 crossover have in common with the Coupe deVilles, Sevilles and STSs of my family’s past? What could it be? There was only one answer – the leather. The moment I was enveloped in the smell of the gorgeous and well appointed 2010 Cadillac SRX leather interior, my brain went back to all those years of my youth spent riding shotgun alongside my mom on outings near and far around our small hometown. All of her Cadillacs had the same smell in them when they were new. Oddly enough, even over time, as the scents of Estee Lauder and V05 permeated the interiors as well, that original smell lingered until the day they were traded in on another Caddy. I vividly recall how the scent was very different from the smells you’d find inside of new Corvettes, Silverados, Tahoes, etc.

Sure, there is that famous “new car smell” that everyone talks about and loves. Such wonderful smells that usually fade away after the first year or so of daily driving duties. However, the smell of a brand new Cadillac is different not only in scent but in longevity. Trust me, there is a difference. I am as sure of that distinct smell as most people are that the Pope is Catholic or that two plus two equals four. It is the smell of my childhood. It is the smell of many morning trips to school, to grandma’s house in the summer, to the swimming pool or the movies with friends, the chaperoned drives of my first dates and to my first homecoming dance, the joyous ride to my high school graduation, the sad ride to my grandfather’s funeral, even the ride to the celebratory dinner after my college graduation. It is one of the more distinct smells of my past, my family, my life. It is uniquely Cadillac, and in its own way, a part of me.

So much for being able to be “objective” … HA! At this point, the cars I drive at this event would pretty much have to really unimpress to get a bad word spoken about them. I’m not one minute inside of the first one I drive and they are already like family to me. I feel safe and at home. I also want to call my mom.

First Impression of the Second Generation 2010 SRX

While part of me is off dreaming in my head of my family’s history with Cadillac, I’m also very much in the moment, soaking up the present day amenities of the SRX. I’ve got the massive skyroof all the way open (now THIS is a sunroof almost worthy of drop top status!) and the rather impressive stereo system blaring a Jimmy Buffett song (courtesy of Radio Margaritaville on XM Satellite Radio). While you’d think I’m relaxed and in full luxury cruise mode, lest you not forget that I am also in full pursuit of Charlie from Burnout Radio who is in the greater-powered, sport-tuned CTS Sport Wagon and currently running at full throttle down a very bumpy suburban street. Yeah, it’s time to see what this puppy will do under Team Hall & Nass “real world driving” conditions.

With little to no traffic around, my heavy right foot and faith in Cadillac engineering, I hold the pedal down while I marvel at the SRXs ability to stay planted over bumps that the city of Las Colinas and Dallas Country should be ashamed for letting pass as paved public roads. I’m sure the local speed limit is probably in the 30-45 range, but these are things I don’t typically worry about anyway, much less when I’m shaking down a vehicle.

Amazingly enough, the limits of the suspension travel in the SRX are yet to be met, even as I watch the CTS Sport Wagon show daylight under the back tires (and sometimes all four tires … at once!) while Charlie flies over the massive dips, bumps and jumps in the road. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost swear he was trying to lose me! However, even with a heavier gross vehicle weight and 39 less horsepower on tap (the SRX has a 265 HP DOHC 3.0 liter V6 versus the 304 HP 3.6 liter V6 in the CTS Sport Wagon), I find myself on the brakes more often than not trying to stay off his back bumper. With this kind of performance, I can’t wait to drive the upcoming 300 horse 2.8 liter turbo V6! Of course, that said, I bet if I were in the CTS Wagon and Charlie was in the SRX, I’d have already checked out … but that’s just speculation.

As we continue our game of cat and mouse on the streets of Las Colinas, two things begin to occur to me. 1) There is no way, no way, that Charlie knows where he is going, and 2) If that’s a GM employee riding with him, she is either a former GM performance group person or an adrenaline junkie!

Getting Punked by Burnout Radio

After about 15 minutes of chasing the CTS Sport Wagon around (without any trouble keeping up, mind you), we finally come to a stop in front of an office building. I figure something is up when I immediately notice that there are no signs of any other Cadillacs or anyone else around for that matter. When I pull up next to Charlie and roll down the window, he jumps out of the CTS and yells. “Congratulations Berry Lowman! You’ve just been on your first Burnout Radio ride and drive!” He then introduces me to Katie, his personal photographer. Yep, NOT a GM rep!

You’ve got to love Charlie. He’s just that funny. He can be serious at times, but he’s always funny! So after realizing that I’ve officially been punked on my first media event with Burnout Radio, I ask him where we’re supposed to be. His reply? “Somewhere on top of one of these office buildings around here … which one I don’t have a clue! The first thing I do on all of these media drives is throw the map out the window. We just drive around, have fun, pick a location, shoot the cars, then try to catch up to where we’re supposed to be.” Once I stop laughing, I jump out and start shooting pics of the cars as well. I figure this is just the beginning of the evening’s adventure. Little did I know it was only going to get better from here!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all are enjoying our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage. The carnage (we mean, coverage) continues tomorrow with part 2 of 2 of our 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle Preview.

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Return of the 4DSC – Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S

16 11 2009

"Maxie" - Our Hertz Maxima
Return of the 4DSC – Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S

We recently spent two weeks driving around Florida in a brand spanking new, fairly well equipped 2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S courtesy of the fine folks at Hertz. The following are our impressions of driving the car in real world conditions.

Prepping the Ride

For starters, we were both a bit excited and a little skeptical when we discovered the Winter Frost (white) Maxima sitting in our stall when we arrived at the Hertz Gold pickup in Orlando.

Excited because they had given us an obviously brand new car, something we haven’t seen a lot of from Hertz lately, especially in this down economy. The car was so new we actually spent the first ten minutes removing remaining bits of white protective wrapping still clinging to the edges of the hood, doors and trunk lid (come on Hertz!). This would be a real pain if we were in a hurry, but hey, we were embarking on a “working vacation” in Florida, and we were about to do so in a brand new ride, so you have to put it in perspective. So we instead chose to think of it as unwrapping our vacation present.

As Jimmy Buffett might say, “Where there are no hurries, there are no worries!”

The Curse of the Camry

Our initial skepticism came from a place caused by years of being forced (via lack of decent selection) to drive way to many rental fleet sedans that consistently deliver the typical, plain, vanilla, bored out of our minds to the point we feel “punished” for having to drive them experience. The best/worst illustration of this is embodied by the sedan most of America loves to love and that driving enthusiasts everywhere love to hate – the Toyota Camry.

Whilst this is NOT a Camry review, please allow this small digression/rant as illustration of a larger point. In my humble opinion, the Toyota Camry continues to be THE most boring car built on the planet. Is it reliable? Sure, I guess, but it is just plain BORING to drive! It contains absolutely no frills, inspires no chills, but yet no doubt endures plenty sippy cup spills. The fact that the Camry is so widely popular with the American public and rental fleets everywhere only serves as further reinforcement of my core belief that far too many people in this country are NOT in touch with their inner driver. In fact, I fear it proves that many do not even possess a real driving gene anywhere in their DNA at all. Yikes!

You know the people I’m speaking of. Those who are simply content to put their bland transportation-mobiles in gear and wander from point A to point B, shamefully taking their place in the never ending clog of poor drivers idling along the roads of our great land (usually in the left passing lanes nonetheless). Do these people really have such small ambitions or such bland life goals? Do they truly have no desire to ever seek automotive thrills or to have any fun? Their selection of automobile and their driving styles all suggests this to be true. To say the least, I firmly believe Camry’s typically belong to those who are not what one would call driving enthusiasts by any stretch!

To this whole rambling point I’d like to further add that the next time Hertz desires to “upgrade” us from “full size car” to another Camry (when I can clearly see other, MUCH better cars in the lot), could you please give us another choice? A Camry is certainly NOT an upgrade (unless all you have left in your fleet are Corollas, in which case, okay, maybe then it could be called an “upgrade”). Okay, rant over, back to our review.

New is Nice

The new Maxima sat there beaming like a car with only 86 miles on the odometer should. What I didn’t know at the time was that this little Nissan was about to treat us to two weeks of completely surprising automotive joy and bliss in many ways!

The first time we opened the doors to climb in, that unmistakable smell of new car wafted over us like a fine perfume. Ahhh. You know the one. It’s that wonderful smell that calls out to a true driver and says “get in here and love me like you know you want to!” We discovered a push button start, one touch windows all around (up AND down) and sunroof to match, easy to read orange backlit gauges, a decent sound system that happily accepted my iPod input, comfortable seating positions with seats that actually went back further than I needed (at 6’4”, this rarely happens), two large cup holders (something that just a few years ago couldn’t be found anywhere within a ten mile radius of a Japanese make), a leather wrapped steering wheel that just feels right with push button audio and cruise system controls in just the right place, a steering column that tilts down and telescopes out to where the wheel optimally needs to be, and an overall feel that makes you feel like you’ve just entered a real cockpit, not a standard rental sedan. All of this in just the “base” S model. So far, so good!

Then comes the all important part, I placed the key fob in the provided holding slot (a nice touch that even the current C6 Corvette is lacking), put my foot on the brake pedal and pressed the start button. What was that? I thought I heard a little growl emit from somewhere out behind us. Could it be …? Nah. So I pulled the console mounted automatic transmission lever into drive and set out for the exit booth.

As we pulled out onto the street, I eased up to the next traffic light and made some final mirror adjustments. While sitting there waiting for the green, a new Dodge Charger (not an SRT, but a standard V8 Hemi car) pulled up next to us. The Dodge driver revved his engine. What? Seriously? Was that for us? At first I laughed at the hilarity of this, but being one who never backs down from an automotive challenge, I decided it was a perfect time to see what we had to look forward to out of the 3.5 liter 290 horsepower V6 in the coming weeks. Sure she looked good, smelled new and felt great to sit in, but I didn’t really expect much going head to head from a standing start against the Dodge.

Shock and Awe…some!

The light turned green, I floored it, and two surprising things happened. The first is that the Dodge immediately began losing ground to us … and kept losing. I actually let up to see if he’d not come out of the hole or something and let him pull up to us, but he seemed to still be fully in it, so I hit it again. Same result, only this time, the pulling away was even more amplified. What?!? Then the second surprise occurred to me. In my brief moment of shock and awe, I had failed to notice that the tach was eerily sitting squarely up against the bottom edge of the redline range at 6500 RPM, and yet the Maxima hadn’t shifted. WHAT?!? Oh yeah, it’s got a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Then, as the speedo swept past 100 and was still headed to the right in a hurry, I just shifted my eyes back and forth between the two gauges and said out loud, “WHAT THE F*&%?!?!?” I only let up (slightly) at this point because we had to brake a bit to set up for a sweeping right onto an on ramp, where I quickly discovered that not only was the acceleration of this Maxima so deceptively smooth and sudden that you don’t realize how quickly it has done so, but that it will go around a corner at speed like it is mounted on rails. This is no Maxima. At least not the Maxima we all used to know. This is basically an Infinity G35 in a Nissan wrapper!

When I looked over at my co-pilot and reported our speeds both before and through the corner, she said, “Seriously? No! Really? Then no wonder we just dusted that Dodge so badly!” I honestly felt like we’d just entered the Twilight Zone or something. This is a Nissan, a rental car, a family hauler, a (gulp) rental fleet sedan! How could this be?

As I contemplated all of this, I stood back on the throttle and a wicked grin started to spread over my face. The grin intensified when it suddenly occurred to me that even thought we had not paid extra on this trip to rent a sports car, we had just been issued a FUN rental sedan that had a bit of stealth street fighter hidden within. Now this is an “upgrade” I can drive!

If there is any downside to this car being in a rental fleet, it is that if any Camry drivers out there ever accidentally climb into one of these, they might actually die from a cardiac episode when they glance down at the speedometer after ten seconds of holding the smooth throttle pedal down and realize that they are at humming along at triple digit speeds versus the 50 or 60-something MPH they are typically comfortable tooling along at. Good thing the brakes are solid too! Then again, wouldn’t the world be better off with a few less of these folks on the road should some of them faint and/or pass on from the shock? That’s just a public safety risk I’m going to have to be willing to live with!

The Maxima continued to be a fun driver every day and did a superb job of running us around South Orlando and the Disney property the first week. In fact, I actually found myself running extra errands around town just so I could get a few more miles of driving it in! However, it wasn’t until we packed up and headed toward the coast for the beach portion of our vacation that we really started to discover and appreciate the benefits of this truly stealth sedan.

Rear View of Maxie
Flying Under the Radar

If you know us or have followed any of our previous rally, racing or just regular driving exploits, you know we don’t typically make a habit out of driving what anyone would refer to as “slow” very often, and then it is usually restricted to residential areas and school zones. You see, we always strive to drive smart, but we also drive what some might call “fast” or “a bit spirited.” Translation – when we are out on the open road, we typically only adhere to the posted limits when there is Hamthrax (also known as “police”) involved in some capacity.

In many parts of the US it is easy to get away with speeding, but in the heart of the Southeast, where they lay claim to having invented modern day cat and mouse ambush attacks with radar and other sundry forms of speed enforcement, to exceed posted limits by more than 5-9 MPH is usually taking your license and your insurance rates out of your hands and putting it all into theirs. Getting caught if you keep hauling the 20 MPH and over mail for longer distances is almost certain … or is it?

This isn’t helped by the fact that we typically fly down the highways and byways of this great land in cars the Hamthrax love to target. Two door sports cars with high horsepower, loud exhausts, bright colors, and in makes that are known for being driven fast are all things that add to the likelihood of getting busted for speeding. But since we were in a four door stealth ride, we decided to try our hand at how long can we cruise along over the century mark before we get shut down. The answer was quite surprising.

On our way from Orlando to Daytona Beach on Interstate 4 and up I-95 to St. Augustine, we discovered quite a few cops, but not a single one of them discovered the Maxima. Maybe it was the four doors. Perhaps it was the white paint. It could have also been the Valentine One working overtime. But on this stretch of road where Hamthrax run rampant and there are faster cars to play with a plenty, we discovered a few fun facts.

The Maxima is invisible to most people until after you sneak up out of nowhere and blow their doors off. We found that if you can execute a sneak and jump pass on a new Camaro SS/RS, a Mustang GT, an M5, an S-Class AMG, or even a C5 Corvette, if you can keep making bold moves through the openings in traffic to stay out front and carry your momentum, you get to enjoy many confused and frustrated looks on said owners faces in the rearview mirror as they go to work trying to run you back down for a few miles before giving up. The best part is that they are all truly shocked that they can’t seem to get back to you once you’ve pulled out far enough ahead through all of that traffic!

We maintained our rapid rate for almost an hour until we finally caught up to a cop rolling along on I-95 North in the left lane. We opted to stay a bit behind him (in the far right lane) and had to slow to maintain his 10 MPH over pace. Until then, we had only had to drop below 100 when we caught slower traffic just long enough to set up a pass and then resume. Not one car passed us, NOT ONE, but we passed them all!

In an odd twist of fate, a little four door Toyota Corolla eased up on us and the cop in the middle lane. At the time we were running a steady (and horribly slow feeling) 75 in a 65. After a few miles of flanking the cop the Corolla driver must have lost his mind. He bumped it up to 76 and passed not only us but the cop too! The lights came on immediately and onto the shoulder went the Corolla and the Hamthrax. With that, we jumped back up to the century mark and cruised on up the road. Our sincere thanks to the Toyota driver for being a brave (and ignorant) fool!

The more time we spent behind the wheel of the Maxima, the more we both enjoyed it. By the time we had reached St. Augustine, we had even given it a name – Maxie. We typically name all of the cars we own, but it is rare that we care enough to give a rental a name. In fact, this was only the second time we’ve done so. “Stickers” the Hertz ZHZ C6 Corvette we covered in sponsor decals and ran in the Dustball Rally earlier this year was the only other rental to ever earn a name. THAT was also quite the rental car experience!

In an extremely ironic twist, the last car we had fun outrunning (more like out driving) in traffic on our way to return Maxie to the Orlando airport on our last day was none other than a Hertz ZHZ Corvette. As we approached from behind, I watched the driver try (many times in vain) to pass people on the left and on the right. With a huge head of steam, his apparent lack of driving skill, and local road knowledge on our side, I took advantage of an extended exit run out lane and blew by him on the right. He spent the next several miles trying to catch up to us in bits and spurts as we continued to slowly pull away one pass at a time through rush hour traffic until we couldn’t even see him back there anymore.

As much as I am slathering on the well deserved praise of the surprising and amazing performance attributes of the Maxima, rest assured that if the guy could have driven that Vette, it would have been our first actual loss (the first car to actually pass us) in two weeks. But alas, since he could not drive, and with the Maxima giving us just enough power and handling to get away, a loss it was not. Oh the irony!

Fuel Consumption

One item many people seem to gauge personal vehicle selection on is the fuel mileage rating. However, the nasty little secret of automotive marketing in this area is that fuel mileage numbers are always part myth and part lie with enough truth sprinkled in there somewhere to get your hopes up or to fool you. Sure, if you drive your little four cylinder econobox at 35 MPH for the entire length of a fuel load on flat land with the wind at your back, you too can achieve that amazingly stated fuel mileage average! In reality though, who drives this way? This short answer is NO ONE! So, for the record, we tend to ignore manufacturer and EPA fuel ratings. They never match up anywhere near what we find out firsthand in the field. So we pay close attention, submit real world driving conditions and then call them as we experience them.

Like I said, we drive cars smart, but we typically drive them hard and fast too. Unless you happen to own a Camry, or you are inflicted with that nasty condition where your right leg can only pulse up and down and not remain still, thus constantly moving the throttle peddle (a condition that must be real and widespread because I see so many people perform this cadence on roads everywhere), then we bet you drive smooth and expeditiously too.

So when any vehicle with enough power under the hood to perform like a car should gets a real world 20-something MPG average rating after having us behind the wheel for a week or longer, we believe the manufacturer must be doing something right. More to the point, if we can get decent mileage out of a car, then you should be able to do the same.

With only six cylinders to haul two tons of weight up to speed every time we stood on the throttle (which, mind you, was often), our Maxima saw 23 MPG averages on every tank. The only time the car saw less then 20 on the instant average meter was at wide open throttle or when the needle was up well beyond the century mark (and I do mean WELL beyond). This is an impressive power to weight ratio MPG performance in our book.

So unless you like to keep it up over 140 all the time, treat every green light as if you are the next John Force, then you should see fuel mileage averages in the low to mid 20-something range and be able to have fun while achieving it. If not, then you likely need to either recheck your math or perhaps go see your doctor soon and ask him to examine you for a potential right leg pulsing condition you may not know you have!

The Verdict

The Maxima was a blast to drive on the beach, cruising down the A1A with the top open and the windows down, blasting up and down I-95 and I-4, and everywhere else we went in Florida. Yes, we were at or near sea level the whole time, and no, there weren’t any hills. But whether you live in the flatlands or the mountains, this car is quicker than most sedans, uses less gas than many lesser powered vehicles, and is a natural born sleeper.

If you like people to notice and respect you for what (rather than how) you drive, this may not be the car for you. However, if you are the type of driving enthusiast who is in need of a four-door vehicle that won’t break the bank, who desires something that cops won’t pay much attention to, but yet still has the need for street-fighter speed and handling, the new Nissan Maxima might just be the car for you. Few (if any) vehicles in the same size class and price range can deliver more while drawing less attention. Plus, it actually is a pretty car … for a sedan. Just know that most of its real beauty is where you need it – within.

In Summary

We had a blast driving Maxie. We strongly recommend getting behind the wheel of a 2010 Nissan Maxima to anyone who plans to buy, lease or rent a sedan in the coming year. With enough power and handling to please most driving enthusiasts, decent real world gas mileage, creature comforts that will not disappoint, plenty of room for four adults and lots of luggage, Nissan has finally built a sedan worthy of the 4DSC (four door sports car) moniker they placed on the Maxima long, long ago. Get ready to be surprised.