Review and Owner's Log
Plain and simple - this is by far
the nicest vehicle I have ever even been in, let alone driven. It's a long way
to step up from an old '78 to a 2007 and things have changed! This thing feels
nothing like a truck - it's smooth and whisper quiet, the steering is responsive,
the brakes are excellent (gotta love hydroboost), and the interior is a work
of art. Everything is where it should be and all the controls are easy to operate
- with or without gloves on. I'm blown away - it's simply a gorgeous vehicle.
The other thing I didn't plan on, but I'm lucky it worked out the way it did,
is that I bought a 2007 Classic. That means the truck is a 2007 model year but
in the "classic" body style - the same as the 2006. The "new"
2007 is a completely different truck and, though it's a great truck and is getting
rave reviews, I much, much prefer the look of the "classic". I particularly
love the headlights and front end on the "classic" - I've admired
them since they came out. And, in my opinion, this is important. Don't kid yourself
- no matter how great a truck's specs, or how popular or trendy it is - it has
to look good to YOU. It's a very personal thing, taste, but I strongly believe
that to be able to live with a truck and be happy for a long time, you have
to be able to walk out to it every day and look at it and think - man, I love
my truck. I'll admit, I didn't even consider the new Toyota Tundra full-size,
even though I know it has impressive specs, simply because, to me, it is just
butt ugly. You gotta love your truck.
Already I find myself looking for
any reason to drive the truck. Not only that, but when I'm driving, I find myself
actually setting the cruise at or below the speed limit (I know!) because I
don't want to get there too fast, I don't want the drive to be over - I'm not
kidding - that's how much I'm loving driving this truck.
One of the things most often asked
about when you own a big truck is "what kind of mileage do you get?"
I've seen all kinds of different numbers posted on the Internet - from mild
to wild (and some wildly unbelievable)! Here I shall document my actual fuel
mileage in both tabular and graphical form, and I'll update it frequently.
In the table you see four columns,
which are as follows:
MPG - the actual MPG as calculated
between fill-ups. My method for calculating is to fill the truck up (deliver
fuel until the pump auto shuts off, then one more squeeze to be sure), drive,
then fill-up again (using the same station and same pump as much as possible)
and record the distance traveled between the two fill-ups. With that data
I use a spreadsheet to calculate the MPG achieved between fills.
DIC MPG - this is the MPG as calculated
by the vehicles computer and displayed in continuous real-time via the Drivers
Information Centre (DIC), which is a digital readout on the instrument panel.
It is calculated by using the odometer and the computer's calculation of fuel
delivered to the engine. The system can be manually reset and calculates the
value between resets - i.e. their is no averaging between resets or historical
data used in the calculation. In other words, this value should be the same
as the MPG value that I calculate manually.
Lifetime Avg MPG - the DIC also
displays the total distance traveled and the total amount of fuel consumed
over the lifetime of the truck. These figures cannot be reset. Lifetime Avg
MPG is calculated from those numbers.
DIC Best - We all know driving-style/load/conditions
can have a huge affect on mileage. Because the DIC displays the calculated
mileage in real time as it's being calculated you can watch it change over
time as driving conditions change. This figure is the best reading observed
over a reasonable amount of time (driving for at least 30 mins). My best so
far of 13.7 MPG was achieved while driving along the highway, completely unloaded
(except me!), with the cruise set at 100km/h, for 40 minutes, having just
filled up and reset the DIC MPG.
Lifetime Avg MPG
With My Truck - Opinions and Commenatry
This section is an on-going "blog"
of viewpoints and opinions - an historical log of my experience owning and
driving the truck. Almost by definition some of the viewpoints presented will
change over time. As such, this section is presented chronologically, in sections
divided by date, with the newest information at the top. To get the full story
one really needs to read from the bottom-up as it's quite possible that something
I originally disliked I grew to like and vice versa.
#3, 13 Mar 2007, Time with truck - 7.5 weeks, Mileage - 2111 km
Damn it! I was driving the truck home last night from a resteraunt with the family aboard and I noticed the most annoying squeek. How could this be happening so soon? It was an awful noise.
I tried to concentrate on the road while Laurie searched for the source of the dreaded squeeking. Wait! What's that hon? Oh - he, he - silly me! Turns out the squeek was the two styrofoam containers on the centre hump, the kids leftovers, rubbing together. Phew!
On a more serious note - I've done some more testing with the GPS and the speedo continues to read a fairly consistant 1.5 - 2 km/h lower than the GPS, regardless of speed. The odometer also read 48.1 km while the GPS track showed 47.7 km - a diescrepancy of about 0.8%. That's actually probably within the margin of error for how accurate the test is. I need to go on a nice long trip of several hundred kilometers before drawing any conclusions.
And I should note - the rear-seat cup holders in the fold down armrest are excellent. nice and big and easy for little kid hands to use.
#2, 04 Mar 2007, Time with truck - 6 weeks, Mileage - 1732 km
Speedometer and Odometer Calibration:
This weekend I
took my trusty old Garmin GPS-12 along for a short ride to check out how its
speed and distance calculations compare with those of the truck. Over a fairly
short course of about 50km mixed highway and city driving I found that:
- From 40 km/h
all the way up to 120 km/h the speedometer consistently showed 1.5 to 2
km/h less than the GPS. I had
excellent signal reception with eight satellites being received and believe
the GPS is very accurate. The fact that the speedo reads low isn't very
surprising though, as every vehicle I've ever owned has been this way and
I've tested them all with either GPS or radar.
- On the other hand, over about
50km driven, the truck's odometer was within 0.1 km of the GPS track distance.
This is fairly confidence inspiring - particularly with respect to accurate
calculation of fuel mileage since I use the odometer for this.
When I have a chance I'm going
to do some further testing over longer distance and see what the results are.
The issue of the speedometer error
will raise its head again when I upgrade to a larger tire size. Unfortunatly
moving to a larger tire diameter will make any speedometer read low, compounding
any pre-existing innacuracy. As far as I know at this point, the dealer can
adjust the PCM to compensate for different sized tires, but only up to a point.
I have heard that that point is the largest tire size offered from GM as an
option on your particular model truck. My local dealer said that the only
way to tell for sure was to have the truck scanned by them. I plan to do this
soon and will report the results.
In the meantime, I used the excellent tire size calculator
/ comparison at 1010tires.com to generate the following table to compare
my stock tire size to the sizes I'm interested in upgrading to. Note that
the 285's will make an accurate speedo read almost 8% low (or 92
km/h at 100 km/h) - combine that with stock error, and without a re-calibration
of the PCM my speedo would likely read 90 km/h at 100 km/h.
#1, 24 Feb 2007, Time with truck - 5 weeks, Mileage - 1607 km
of the things I love or enjoy most about my truck:
- The ride and drive - compared to anything else I've ever driven it is superb. I hope it remains
that way for many, many thousands of miles.
- The quiet - for a big unaerodynamic truck bombing down
the highway the quietness is nothing short of incredible. I love it and can't
say I'm sorry to not have a diesel. I am really enjoying cruising in quiet
- The room inside. Crew cabs rock! There is a ton of room
for a family of four plus large dog.
- DIC. The Drivers Information Centre took a little getting
used to - but it does display and allow you to control all sorts of neat things
- from dual trip-meters to mileage calculations to programming how long you
want the lights to stay on after you shut off and get out. It's cool.
- OLM. This was news to me. Last time I bought a vehicle
we were all still slavishly changing oil and filter every 5000km, whether
it was needed or not. No more. GM uses a system of sensors and the computer
to monitor the life of the oil, displaying the remaining life as a percentage,
and also displaying an appropriate warning to change the oil when required.
So far the system does really seem to work well and research has shown that
intervals can range from 3000km to 10,000 or more, depending on the trucks
use and under what conditions. In my fuel mileage spreadsheet I also record
the remaining oil life at each fill up and extrapolate from there to come
up with an estimated point at which the oil will need to be changed. So far
I'm on track to change at 6800km.
current fuel mileage
remaining engine oil life
- Grab handles.
I love the big, beefy grab handles located for every outboard passenger -
front and rear. There are even two for the front seat passenger. Not that
I can see myself beating this truck off road - but they're still cool.
||Beefy grab handles - pictured
is the passenger rear.
- Leather wrapped steering
wheel. For me, this is unheard-of luxury!
- Steering wheel mounted audio controls. This is an option
I never would have ordered, but you know how modern vehicles all come with
pre-defined sets of options. Mine happened to come with audio controls on
the steering wheel. In very short order I have grown to like them so much
I will always look for this feature on future vehicles. The convenience and
safety is very enjoyable.
mounted audio controls. Note that the lower four buttons are for controlling
the DIC. They come only with the steering wheel mounted audio controls
option and it is my understanding that, without them, your use and control
of the DIC is more limited than with them.
I've gotten used to.
Features or characteristics I wasn't sure I liked at first, but
that I've grown to understand or like:
- Auto-dimming rear-view
mirror with compass and temperature readout. What with the power
button, power-on light, chromatic sensor in the glass, compass direction readout
and outside temperature readout this is one busy mirror. When you glance up
there's a lot to see / pay attention to. At first, unused to this, I found
it disconcerting. Now I've gotten used to it and can glance up to view the
traffic without being distracted. The auto-dimming is a great feature too
- I'm really enjoying that.
- Integrated turn signals.
The flashing red arrows integrated into the outside rear view mirrors as turn
signals took a couple of days to get used to - especially at night. Every
time I glanced out the side window while the turn signal was on I saw the
flashing red and immediately thought the cops were after me. Not good for
the heart! Perhaps just the sign of a misspent youth, I'm now comfortably
used to them!
I'm getting used to.
This is a list of things I'm as yet undecided on. At first they concerned
me but I'll allow that they might just take some getting used to. The jury's
still out on:
- Washers on wipers.
The truck has the design that places the washer spray nozzles on the wiper
arms themselves, as opposed to on the hood facing the windshield. While this
is good because it means snow and ice accumulated on the hood/ at the base
of the windshield don't obscure the spray, it also means that each and every
time you use the wash feature, the first wipe of the blades across the glass
is dry as the fluid isn't projected ahead of the blade - not sure I like that.
- HUGE towing mirrors. Awesome for rear-view and for reducing blind spots, the optional "deluxe
wide-load, vertical glass with lower convex spotter glass, heated with integrated
turn signals, manual extending and folding" outside rear view mirrors
are so large that they can actually obscure your vision forward. I find that,
especially at a 4-way intersection, a small car, if positioned just-so on
the road to your right, can actually be completely obscured by the large mirrors.
- Cruise. It seems,
just a little, that the cruise control may be a bit surgey. I'm not 100%convinced
as it could well be the poor road conditions I have locally as much as anything.
I need to report back after some more miles on various different roads.
I'm not so crazy about.
I guess nothing's perfect - stuff I really don't like:
- Tires too small.
This is my tow rig and family hauler. I'm concerned with fuel mileage and
ride quality. I may never really off-road with this truck. But, having said
all that, 245/75R16 tires (30.5" tall) just look WAY too small on a truck
this big and long. Even my wife commented on it and suggested I buy bigger
tires when the time comes - and she's usually imploring me not to modify things!
- 4wd indicator.
With the electronic-shift transfer case (which, I must admit I'm enjoying
a lot, despite thinking of myself as a dyed-in-the-wool mechanical lever type
guy) the only indication you have of being in 4WD is the tiny amber light
next to the button. And the button's are partially obscured by the steering
wheel to boot. It would be much better if we could have a nice red 4WD or
4X4 indicator light on the instrument panel itself.
||These two pictures
illustrate how the steering wheel blocks the drivers view of the 4WD engagement
buttons, and thus also the tiny lights that indicate which gear the transfer
case is in.
- Power windows passenger
lockout feature. Hey, I have a 7 year-old and 4 year-old in the back,
so the ability to lock-out their windows (so they can't be constantly playing
with them) is great. Why, however, is the only option to have all windows
powered, or ONLY the drivers? What about my poor wife in the passenger seat?
With the kids in the back and the lockout feature engaged she has to ask me
to let her operate her window - super not cool!
- Inadequate floor mats.
The stock floor mats simply suck. Pathetic. This is a truck, it's going to
get used in the winter and the dirt - why can't GM provide us with decent
stock floor mats - something more along the lines of Husky or Weather-Tech
rather than these postage stamps we get.
floor mat. Note the pathetic coverage.
floor mat. Again, very poor coverage.
well after removal of stock matt. Shown after 1600km of Canadian winter
driving. Look closely at the area up by the accelerator pedal.
Bad enough is the amount
of salt and crud that gets on the carpet because of the poor coverage
of the matt.
Worse still is the moisture
that gets under the matt. This comes primarily from the area up by the
accelerator where, of course, your boots always are. Any snow or ice
or mud or salt on your boots falls on the carpet, melts, and runs under
The area under the parking
brake pedal is also a serious flaw in my opinion.
- Owners manual.
This has just gotten silly. The manual is over 600 pages long and every single
paragraph starts with something like: "You may have a feature described
below..." It's awful - not very readable and huge amounts of useless
information. O.K., I understand why they do it - it saves a lot of money and
time to print just one manual that covers a huge range of trucks, but the
result sucks. Imagine how nice it would be to have a custom-tailored owners
manual - one that is all about your truck and only your truck; one that covers
all the options and features you have and none that you don't. And I don't
think that's too much to ask when paying $40-50,000 for a vehicle. And with
all the computerized assembly processes in place today I can't see that it
would be that hard to do. It couldn't be that hard to tie something like this
into the RPO code system. Imagine this - each part of the manual is contained
in a separate chunks of code. As each truck is built a computer keeps track
of the features and options, by V.I.N., and as each is added, the computer
adds the appropriate chunk of code to a compilation file. When the truck is
done the computer assembles a complete manual from the chunks of code and
burns a disc. Each customer is provided with a complete, customized manual
on CD or DVD. How cool would that be?!