Sunday, August 31, 2008

GMC Yukon XL Denali, 9800 km: Locking gas cap and spill guard

The main reason I went into Lordco on Tuesday was to find a locking gas cap. Having done things in my university days that I'd rather not be specific about, it always surprises me when I see a modern vehicle without a locking fuel door. I've heard that some vehicles may have anti-siphoning necks, but to me that's just a rumor. With gas prices the way they are and news reports of people stealing gas from parked vehicles, I'm not going to make it any easier for anyone.

I actually checked Canadian Tire first for a locking fuel cap for our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali and when the guy at the counter looked it up on the computer, he said that there wasn't one available. It was something I...

...would have to buy at the dealership. Except when I went to a local dealership they said there wasn't one available from GM at all. The guy at the counter (who probably wasn't too impressed when I walked into the GM Parts Department wearing my Subaru World Rally Team cap, tried to explain that the key somehow interfered with the vapor lock system. Hmmm, Okay, if you say so!?!

At Lordco, they had one for the Yukon XL in stock and it cost about $30. It's made in the USA by Stant, Part number 10511. I lose the gas cap tether that's part of the stock cap, but I gain a little piece of mind. I've driven several hundred kilometers and filled up the tank and haven't had any problems or "Tighten fuel cap" messages at all.


You can also see in the picture above the gas spill guard that I bought from Canadian Tire almost 10 years ago for our 1999 Volkswagen Passat. It's a great little accessory that's protected the paint on my vehicles more than once from over zealous pumps.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

GMC Yukon XL Denali First Mod, 9800 km: AVS Ventvisor

As soon as I got our GMC Yukon XL Denali home last week, I promptly removed the front license plate, the dealer badge on the rear hatch, and a couple of useless stickers on the driver and passenger windows (Police-traceable "security stickers that seem to be stuck on every make and model of new vehicle I've seen; and a sticker telling me in French that objects in the passenger mirror are closer than they appear). I don't consider them to be official mods.

But on Tuesday I stopped by Lordco to see what kinds of automotive goodies they had in stock. I was pleasantly surprised to find some AVS Ventvisors specifically for the Suburban/Yukon XL, Avalanche/Silverado/Sierra family. These ones were also in-channel so I didn't need to worry about sticking anything on the Denali's paint.


In the past, I've always bought Weatherflectors by WeatherTech because I prefer in-channel visors, but I found them a little tricky to install because they were quite brittle. I cracked the ones I installed on the Sequoia (luckily not somewhere visible). These ones by AVS (Lund International) were...

...cheaper by about $20 and by buying them at Lordco I wouldn't need to pay for shipping or drive down to Point Roberts to pick them up.

Installation was quite easy and made easier because these visors don't have the bottom leg (which I found sometimes to obscure the view of the side mirrors). They are held in by tape, but the tape is on the inside and not visible. Even the rear Weatherflectors are held in by tape.


I was able to test them out the next day in the rain and they work great. With just the two front windows rolled down a bit, there was a lot of air flow into the cabin that kept the windshield from fogging up. I have not noticed any increased wind noise from the visors, even at freeway speeds. The only noise I heard was when I encountered crosswinds and even then it wasn't that significant--especially when the stereo is on.

Another nice thing about the in-channel visors is that they don't stick out from the side of the vehicle too much.

GMC Yukon XL_Denali with Ventvisors

The only problem I've encountered with the Ventvisor is not caused by the Ventvisor at all. It comes from the design of the Yukon XL's front windows. The top rear-corner of the glass is curved and it creates a gap that will allow water to come in. I felt a bit of water hit the back of my head while driving on the highway during heavy rain. The fix is easy: I just have to remember to raise the window a bit more.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happiness Is a Warm Steering Wheel

With apologies to The Beatles, I have to admit that one feature of our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali that I didn't think I would use turns out to be really, really--I mean, really--nice. It's the heated steering wheel.

While the rain around here the last few days hasn't made the temperatures super cold, it has been in the low teens °C (upper-50's °F) in the mornings and I guess the dampness just makes it that much harder to head out the door. That makes it a perfect opportunity to switch on the heated steering wheel.

There's a metal ring embedded in the steering wheel that heats up quite quickly after you turn it on. Almost immediately you feel the warmth. The wood trim on the outside of the wheel doesn't get direct heat, but you can feel it in the leather right where your fingers are and it sure feels nice. I'm the kind of person who likes a cool breeze, so I'll have the A/C going on full blast on mild days and the windows open and the heat up in the winter. Sometimes though, my hands do get cold from the breeze and the cold air from the upper vents so this heated steering wheel is the perfect solution. There's no need for gloves and it never gets too hot. My fingers are so nice and cozy that I'm even reluctant to let go of the steering wheel to get out of the truck.

This is what happiness is :0)

----------------
Now playing: The Beatles - Happiness Is a Warm Gun
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I <3 (heart) GM Nav Disc Center

GM Nav Disc Center

Boy, am I impressed! I knew before we bought our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali that one of the things that I would miss would be Honda's excellent implementation of the factory navigation system. However, I discovered that even though some system features are lacking, GM goes leaps and bounds ahead of Honda in terms of customer support.

The navigation disc that came with our vehicle was from 2005 (Version 1.10, Part #15807780) and quite old with many roads and POIs missing or incomplete. Using the GM Nav Disc Center website, I discovered that there was a 2008 update available. When I entered my VIN to place an order I found out that it didn't work!

This morning I made a call to the toll-free number...

...and everything was corrected and updated in a professional and efficient manner. On top of that, they are sending me the new updated navigation disc for free!

GM offers a subscription program that gives owners of all new North American 2006 and 2007 model year GM vehicles (excluding Saab) with factory installed navigation systems two free update discs for the navigation system on the first and second anniversaries.

I'm really pleased because Honda charges its owners $185 USD for each and every update.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In the News: GMC Yukon Denali

KELOLAND.COM - Two Vehicles Still Missing After Thefts

08/04/2008

"The Minnehaha County Sheriff's Department is asking for help in finding those responsible for stealing four vehicles from the County Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls.

"All four have been taken from car dealer sales since June 24. One GMC Yukon was located near Crooks with considerable front end damage. A 2008 Yukon Denali was located in an apartment complex lot at 3600 East 6th Street. Witnesses reported seeing black male suspects putting a car cover on it."


In the News: GMC Yukon Denali

Dentist with Berlin office sentenced to 12 years for fraud, money laundering and tax evasion - South Jersey - NJ.com

"Monday July 21, 2008, 3:09 PM

"TRENTON -- A former Staten Island, N.Y., dentist, who maintained an office in Berlin Township, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison today for operating a scheme in which he fraudulently obtained approximately $2.76 million in mortgage loans, and spent the proceeds on luxury items including the purchase of a 46-foot yacht, a North Carolina residence and a GMC Yukon Denali."


In the News: GMC Yukon Denali

U-M's Grady pleads guilty to drunken driving - Michigan Wolverines Football: News, Blogs, Photos, Audio & Video - MLive.com

"Grady was stopped in a 2007 GMC Yukon Denali just before 2 a.m. on July 2 near 44th Street SW and Byron Center Avenue. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.281 by breathalyzer, but his State Police blood test showed his level at .240. Under Michigan law, a driver with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered drunk."


In the News: GMC Yukon Denali

Cryptomundo » Mystery Man Named

"An Atlanta newspaper has identified the Indiana man who says he was the middleman in a $50,000 deal to buy the body of Bigfoot.

" "Lett said he then followed the two men to a house on nearby Poston Road, where another person was “standing guard” over a freezer that held the alleged remains. Lett said the freezer, which weighed almost a ton, was loaded onto a trailer towed by his GMC Yukon Denali.

"Once Lett returned to Indiana, the thawing process began, and the creature turned out to be a Halloween costume, he said. Lett said he has tried without success to contact the men to get his money back."
"


In the News: GMC Yukon Denali

OK, so I know this is an old story, but over the last couple of weeks I've subscribed to Google Alerts about the "Yukon Denali" and some interesting items are turning up.

Busta Rhymes Busted for DUI - TMZ.com

"According to the NYPD, the rapper, driving a 2006 GMC Yukon Denali, was pulled over on the far West side of Midtown Manhattan at 12:48 AM, because the car's windows were too dark. When cops encountered Rhymes (real name: Trevor Smith), they noticed a "strong odor of alcohol" on his breath and issued a field sobriety test. He was then taken into custody on a charge of driving while impaired and booked at the Midtown North Police Precinct."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's here


Denali XL Graffiti 5
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
This is our new ride: a 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali in Stealth Gray Metallic. It's an unusual bluish-grey, but I'm glad we got it because I saw 3 other Denali's today, all of them black.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today is the day


I've been spending the last few days cleaning up our 2006 Honda Odyssey Touring and 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI to get ready for the trade-in. It was interesting seeing them transform from being our own customized and personalized family vehicles into generic modes of transportation.

It was kind of sad in a way because having those personal touches gave them....
...a little extra character that made them a part of our family. Like a trusty pack horse, the Odyssey performed its duty well and had enough nooks and storage areas to keep all of Dora's backpack items and Barbie's shoes and purses hidden for months and months until they were long forgotten by my kids who put them there. One of things I took out from the Odyssey yesterday was a toy elephant that had fallen under Aston's seat. That elephant, originally from the National Zoo in Washington, DC, had been living under there for a long time!

I realized that each time I removed something from the Ody like the kids' toys, and the Sirius satellite radio, and the hardwired Valentine1 radar detector, and the Subaru/Colin McRae window stickers, I not only took its physical presence away, but also the memories that had been associated with it. The Sirius Radio and V1 radar detector were not simply blocks of plastic and electronics, but symbols of our grand adventure in the Odyssey to the east coast last summer--memories that will last with me forever.

By the time that everything was taken out, the Odyssey had faded back into anonymity until it sat on our driveway like one of the thousands of droids awaiting Will Smith's inspection in I, Robot.

Despite this sadness, there is comfort in knowing that our Honda Oddity (as I like to joke) performed well and hopefully will be able to help another family create cherished memories. Maybe I'm being too sentimental--it's just a minivan. But I said it before: I hate saying good-bye, even to a car. Maybe that makes me the Oddity!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - Driver Information Center


The GMT900-series platform introduced for the 2007 model year is General Motors' latest generation of full-size SUVs and trucks. These vehicles include the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade. Another thing that they share in common is a feature with a curious acronym called the Driver Information Center (DIC). With the DIC, users can customize options like:
  • Display Language
  • Auto Door Lock
  • Auto Door Unlock
  • Remote Door Lock
  • Remote Door Unlock
  • Delay Door Lock
  • Exit Lighting
  • Approach Lighting
  • Chime Volume
  • Park Tilt Mirrors
  • Easy Exit Seats
  • Memory Seat Recall
  • Remote Start
Of course, not every vehicle in the line-up has the all the features. As the GM owner's manual states:

"Only the options available will be displayed on your DIC."

I can see it now: America's driveways filled with excited new GM owners playing with their DICs to see what they can make it do!

:LOL:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali - 10-way power seats and reverse-tilt mirrors


Some vehicles we've seen seem to put the front passenger in "Economy" class by not providing the same power-seat options as the driver. The 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali has 10-way power seats for both driver and passenger. This includes power lumbar support and heated seatbacks/seats (user-selectable). The 2nd-row outboard passengers also get heated seats.

There are 2 memory seat positions for the driver that are linked to the power reverse-tilt mirrors and to the power pedals. There is also a memorized exit mode that will move the seat backwards to make it easier to get in and out....

We had a reverse-tilt mirror on our 1999 Volkswagen Passat GLX and I loved that feature because it made backing up so much easier. What surprised me about the Denali's reverse-tilt mirrors is that both driver and passenger outside mirrors tilt down. And you can program it yourself to have one or the other or both mirrors tilt when you put the vehicle in reverse. I guess this can be really helpful in a vehicle this size.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

2008 Toyota Sequoia Review - Rates 8 out of 10 - The Car Connection

2008 Toyota Sequoia Review - Rates 8 out of 10 - The Car Connection
It looks more and more like the 2008 Toyota Sequoia Platinum is emerging as our top contender. It has a lot of things going for it and only a few downsides for us (only 7-passenger seating and less cargo space than the Cadillac Escalade ESV). It's price on a new model is also more affordable....

I just have to decide if it's going to be worth trading the STI and Ody for it. I've been driving the STI more lately and have fallen in love with it all again--when the road and conditions are right, it's so fun to drive!

Other Expert Reviews for 2007 Cadillac Escalade Page 1 - The Car Connection

Other Expert Reviews for 2007 Cadillac Escalade - The Car Connection
During my research I've found a lot of different site, but I like The Car Collection because it puts all the reviews into one location and summarize what everyone is saying about the vehicle. It's a great way to quickly see all the good and the bad. They even do their own reviews and ratings some times....

They don't have their own review or ratings for the 2007 Cadillac Escalade but they've got 11 other expert reviews listed.

2007 Cadillac Escalade AWD: Long-Term Road Test - Car And Driver

2007 Cadillac Escalade AWD - Long-Term Road Test/2007 Cadillac Escalade/Escalade/Cadillac/Buying Guide/Car and Driver - Car And Driver
I've asked a car broker to get me a price of a 2007+ Cadillac Escalade ESV imported from the US and am waiting to hear back. The used car manager at the dealership I went to is also looking for some 2008 fleet returns that meet our requirements. I figure with how much the SUV market is tanked....

...we should be able to get much better value with a used one.

But the more I read about the actual dynamics and amenities of the Cadillac Escalade, the less desirable it gets. I really like the way it looks, but I'm having doubts that it will overcome its other flaws.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Road Trip 2008: Aston and Martin?

On our way down to Seattle on the I-5, I saw this in my rear view mirror, an Aston Martin DB9:


You can imagine my envy seeing this DB9 (a fellow Canadian) passing us by with some open road ahead:


I especially love the Aston Martin Vanquish which I think is an awesome name and one of the most beautiful cars in the world. Of course when it came to naming our fourth daughter....

...Vanquish wouldn't have been appropriate at all. So her name became Aston. Here she is at the Portland Children's Museum in Oregon happily defying death at the jaws of a big-toothed in amphibian in need of a cleaning.

At the end of the week after our road trip, my wife had her ultrasound and we found out that the girls are going to get a little brother. Maybe I should name him Martin so that I can complete the series ;0)


Road Trip 2008: Honda Odyssey Fuel Consumption


We went on a 3-night road trip to Portland, Oregon at the end of July and here's a summary of the fuel consumption in our 2006 Honda Odyssey Touring.

  • Total distance: 1842.6 km (1144.9 miles)
  • Total fuel used: 203.2 L (53.7 US gallons)
  • Total cost of fuel: $152.16 USD
  • Average combined (city/highway) consumption: 9.7 L/100km (24.3 mpg)
  • Best combined average: 25.0 mpg
  • Worst combined average: 23.6 mpg

This is a lot better than we got on our road trip last year (Road Trip 2007 Fuel Consumption) because....


...this year we did a lot less city driving, packed a lot less luggage, and did not have the roof box on top of the Odyssey.

We almost did it!

We almost made the deal yesterday to trade-in both our STI and Odyssey for a brand new Cadillac Escalade ESV. It had just about every option except two: No power retracting running boards and no 22" rims. (UPDATE: Looking more closely at the spec sheet I discovered that this one also does not have the cooled/ventilated seats--rats!) It would have looked basically like the one in the picture.

After so many weeks of looking and checking out different vehicles, we decided to take the next step and....

...work on some real numbers. We had the Subaru STI and Honda Odyssey appraised and the numbers came close to what I was expecting. The final deal was good and close to what we wanted, but we're in no hurry so I'm going to keep waiting a while longer.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Road Trip 2007 : Honda Odyssey Fuel Consumption Revisited


Motel Cafe Lounge
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
2006 Honda Odyssey Fuel Consumption - Road Trip 2007: Vancouver, BC to Thunder Bay, ON to Washington, DC

I was working on calculating the fuel consumption data for our 2006 Honda Odyssey Touring during our trip to Oregon when I realized that I had some data from our road trip last year that I don't remember blogging. Unfortunately, the data only includes the first half our trip all the way to Washington, DC but not the data on the way back. I got sidetracked and lost motivation to enter the rest of the information.


However, I think the information is valuable so you can check out the specifics for each fill-up here: Honda Odyssey Fuel Consumption - Road Trip 2007

Combined (City/Highway) Fuel Consumption Summary: Vancouver - Thunder Bay - Washington, DC
  • Total distance traveled: 3472.2km + 4689.0km = 8161.2km (6071.11 miles)
  • Total fuel used: 919 L (243 gallons)
  • Average speed: 90 km/h (56 mph)
  • Best observed fuel consumption: 9.9 L/100km (24.1 mpg)
  • Worst observed fuel consumption: 14.7L/100km (16.2 mpg)
  • Average fuel consumption: 11.5 L/100km (21.2 mpg)
  • Total cost of fuel: $778.74 (Canadian dollar calculated at par)
When looking at these numbers, keep in mind that we were fully loaded with....

...two adults and four kids (1, 5, 6, 8) and 4 car seats. The cargo area was also completely stacked to the top of the 3rd row seats with luggage and an electric cooler as well a 17" laptop and a bevy of batteries and chargers for all our electronic gadgets and toys.

On top of that (literally) we had our Thule Evolution 1800 cargo box that carried a stroller, sleeping bags and additional luggage. On the way home we were fully maxed out and no more room to carry anything else!

It's also interesting to note the price of gasoline last summer. At less than $0.90 /L that's more 50% less than the $1.50 it costs now!

Ronayers.com Fiche Desktop

Ronayers.com Fiche Desktop

I found this really neat site that allows you to look part parts for Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha ATVs, motorcycles, motor scooters and other recreational motorsport equipment.

Here is the fiche for the 2005 Suzuki Burgman 400.

Monday, August 04, 2008

CarsWithoutBorders . » Honda Canada Thinks Canadians are stupid!

CarsWithoutBorders . » Honda Canada Thinks Canadians are stupid!

I'm not the only one noticing Honda Canada's excessive markup!

The $10,000 price difference between Canada and the US is preventing me from buying another Honda.

'Montauk Monster' Has Hamptons in a Tizzy


FOXNews.com - 'Montauk Monster' Has Hamptons in a Tizzy

This instantly reminded me of another strange carcass that was discovered almost exactly two years ago: Is strange carcass hybrid mutant?

This time... "New York's celebrity-obsessed Hamptons summer season got even sillier this week when a strange-looking, very dead creature washed up on a beach in Montauk at the far eastern end of New York's Long Island....

The animal looks like a bloated, hairless dog, except that it's got an eagle-like beak, a prominent brow ridge and a curiously elongated front paw."

Click the link at the top to read the full article.

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