$350 Is All You Need To Make Your Go-Fast Corvette Go Faster
The auto industry can be a weird business, right? Imagine spending upwards of $50,000 on a tuning kit that makes your car go one second a lap faster on a race track. It seems weird to even think about, but it happens all the time in this industry so nobody bats an eye anytime a tuning firm charges whatever it does so long as the results are justified. Chevrolet, though, has a business that doesn’t revolve around these power and performance upgrades, and that partly explains why the automaker is charging a pittance for a software upgrade that ends in the current-generation Corvette getting a decent performance spike. So much so, in fact, that it improves its lap time around the automaker’s 2.9-mile Milford Roads Course race track. The cost of this software update? $350.
I’m not sure if it qualifies as the bargain of the century, but it certainly looks like one. Granted, the software update is non-obtrusive, so there’s really no physical changes to the Corvette’s physical makeup. All it does is modify the sports car’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, which in turn leads to improved handling and ride quality for the ‘Vette. The result, as General Motors VP of performance vehicles and motorsports Jim Campbell puts it, “is a greater feeling of balance and more linear responses to driver inputs.” It’s the kind of improvement that won’t appear physically on the Corvette, but owners of the sports car are expected to feel it instantaneously. Even better, availing of the download won’t mess up your Chevy warranty since the software update is factory-developed and can only be installed by dealerships.
For now, the updated software is compatible for a handful of Corvette models, including 2014-2016 Corvette Stingray Z51s, 2016 Stingray, and 2015-2016 Corvette Z06s. Other Corvette variants are expected to receive the software update at a later time, so if anybody here owns any one of these Corvettes, there’s little reason to go the aftermarket route to spike up your sports car’s performance. All you need to do is go to Chevrolet directly, and it’ll take care of the business for you at a cost that’s presumably cheaper than an aftermarket lug nut.
Chevy’s New Nine-Speed Transmission is Controlled by... An Original PlayStation?
Okay, so color me guilty for being slightly misleading with my title. No matter how hard you look you won’t find an original PlayStation console hidden away somewhere in any vehicle with the new nine-speed transmission, but it does use similar technology. In a world where cars come with hard drives, hot spots, and digital, touchscreen displays, among other large doses of modern technology, you might find it mildly entertaining to know that not everything is as modern as you might think. I’m talking about the transmission control module for the new nine-speed transmission. It seems like cars these days might as well be rolling supercomputers, but GM’s new gearbox just so happens to use a 32-bit control module. That’s the same rating as the original PlayStation console, Sega Saturn, and Atari Jaguar from the early 1990s! It doesn’t sound like much compared to the technology we find in cars these days, does it?
Surprisingly, that’s really all it takes, and GM says that the new, nine-speed transmission, with the help of its 32-bit control module, can offer “excellent off-the-line acceleration” and low-rpm highway cruising. It also supports stop/start technology for fuel savings, smooth and precise shifts, and can utilize engine braking to help prevent the need for braking during hill descent. The hydraulic system inside the transmission is controlled electronically, with the valve body cover acting as an internal expansion tank that holds excess fluid until it’s needed for shifting duties. The 9T50 transmission is also said to come with DEXRON-VI transmission fluid that, according to GM, doesn’t require changing if the car is always operated under “normal” driving conditions.
“Everything about the new nine-speed is designed to maximize benefits for the customer,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet Marketing. “It helps offer greater fuel efficiency in the city and on the highway, all with the world-class refinement that makes the drive quiet and smooth.”
The new transmission will make its debut in the 2017 Chevy Malibu and will also be available as an option in the 2017 Chevy Cruze Diesel and the 2018 Chevy Equinox. By the end of 2017, it will be available as an option on as many as 10 models.
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The Forgotten Inline Engine: GM’s 4.2-liter Atlas I-6
General Motors has a long history with making innovative strides in engine development. The Chevrolet small-block V-8, for example, began life in the 1950s and soon became the standard for high horsepower in a small package – a legacy that continues into today’s fifth-generation GM V-8s. Even GM’s lineup of V-6 engines is impressive, ranging from the 60-degree V-6 that powered nearly every GM car from 1980 through 2010, up to the twin-turbocharged V-6 powering the Cadillac ATS-V. However, GM has a lesser-known engine family that deserves admiration for its outside-the-box thinking and outstanding technological advancements: the Atlas inline family.
That Atlas family had three main members, the front-running 4.2-liter inline-six, the 3.5-liter five-cylinder, and the 2.8-liter four-cylinder. All three shared the same basic architecture and a wide range of parts, though it was the 4.2-liter that led the Atlas program.
The 4.2-liter called the GMT360 platform home. This included the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Oldsmobile Bravada, Isuzu Ascender, and Saab 9-7X. Each of these mid-sized SUVs shared the same architecture, including the industry’s first fully hydroformed frame in a mid-size SUV. Introduced for the 2002 model year, the GMT360 platform sold a couple million examples worldwide before ending production after 2009.
The 4.2-liter Atlas LL8, otherwise called the Vortec 4200, was a groundbreaking engine for GM. It featured an all-aluminum construction, dual overhead cams with variable valve timing on the exhaust side, four valves per cylinder, a coil-on-plug ignition system, a high compression ratio of 10:1, and its cylinder heads featured GM’s then-prevalent “Vortec” engineering designed to maximize airflow.
This combination allowed for the production of 1.06 horsepower per cubic inch – a total of 270 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Torque was rated at 275 pound-feet at 3,600 rpm, but 90 percent of peak torque was available between 1,600 and 5,600 rpm. These stats far exceeded every comparable V-6 on the market at the time, including GM’s own 4.3-liter Vortec V-6.
We decided to take a closer look at the Vortec 4200 and its forward-thinking design. We reached out to GM and found Tom Sutter, the Assistant Chief Engineer for the Atlas. Sutter has been involved with engine programs for the last 30 years, ranging from Oldsmobile’s Quad Four to Cadillac’s current V-Series mills. Sutter was able to give us a deeper insight into the Atlas program, so keep reading for more.
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Who Remembers Chevy’s "Technology & Stuff" Flub at the 2014 World Series?
Well, the Cubs just won the 2016 World Series. Back To The Future was just a year off from predicting the end to the team’s 108-year losing streak and Chevy just gave Cubbies MVP Ben Zobrist a new 2016 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition. All this baseball talk brings back memories of Chevy’s 2014 World Series MVP presentation and how it turned from they year’s most awkward live broadcast to an award-winning PR spin called “Technology and Stuff.”
You might recall the video – San Francisco MVP Madison Bumgarner on stage with Erin Andrews and Bud Selig, along with Chevy’s Regional Zone Manager Rick Wilde. Clearly nervous and short of breath, Wilde stumbles through the talking points on the then-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. It was an immensely important time for Chevy. This was a live broadcast to millions of sports fans and Wilde had less than 30 seconds to convey as much information as possible about the advancements and features of the Colorado. Instead, Wilde lost his composure and improvised, saying the truck “combines class leading, (gasp) leading, ya know, technology and stuff…(gasp).”
It was a disaster.
But Chevy’s quick thinking PR team, Commonwealth McCann, stepped in to save the day. Mere hours after the broadcast, Chevy began using the hashtag #TechnologyAndStuff while monitoring the hashtag #ChevyGuy. The following day, the Colorado’s website featured a modified masthead with #TechnologyAndStuff hashtag. Chevy then bought advertising space for TV commercials, newspaper ads, and even TNT’s broadcast of LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. More impressively, the Colorado’s launch date was pushed forward a full 10 days to take advantage of the media hype.
After five days of milking the #TechnologyAndStuff phrase, the term was retired into marketing history. Somehow Chevy’s embarrassing flub was turned into an engaging and entertaining marketing save that kicked off the Colorado’s launch with a bang. It certainly makes the 2016 MVP award ceremony and Camaro presentation seem dull in comparison.
Chevy Debuts Air Intake System for Duramax-Powered Silverado HDs
Chevrolet has debuted a new air intake system for its Duramax diesel-powered Silverado HD pickups that is said to improve the V-8’s maximum performance thanks to a greater volume of cooler air, which lowers engine temperatures. The air intake provides a ram-air effect, pushing 60 percent of the needed air into the engine, while the other 40 percent still comes from inside the front fender as on previous Silverados.
Fears on water intake though the hood scoop are quenched by Chevy’s uniquely designed air/water separator that only allows dry air into the engine. The air enters an expansion chamber with a sharp, 180-degree bend before it reaches the air filter. This is said to make humidity and mist form larger water droplets, which are flung centrifugally against the housing wall. Water is then drained through a valve, while dry air is then filtered before entering the engine.
Chevy says it tested the new air intake in every possible condition, from driving rain and wind-driven ice pellets to mist and light snow. “The 2017 Silverado HD was engineered to provide maximum utility for our customers in even the most extreme situations,” said Eric Stanczak, chief engineer, Silverado HD.
Interestingly enough, Chevy says mist is the hardest water element to remove from the intake. “Big, heavy raindrops from a thunderstorm are relatively easy to eliminate from air,” says Kevin Dunn, from Chevy’s global vehicle performance for splash engineering. “The more challenging issue comes from the mist-like spray generated by semi trucks on wet highways. Those very fine water droplets prove more challenging to separate from the air. The air intake is an elegant solution that works well with water droplets of all sizes. For customers, the results deliver maximum engine performance and even greater towing confidence.”
Chevrolet has not announced any analytical performance gains from the new air intake system.
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Chevrolet Launches "OnStar Proactive Alerts" Predictive Technology
Our cars have gotten pretty smart over the last 30 years. Carburetors are long gone, being replaced by computer-controlled fuel injection, and just about every car made comes with a built-in diagnostic system to help pinpoint errors in the event of an unexpected failure. Now, Chevy is looking to make our four-wheeled companions a little bit smarter by introducing the industry’s first predictive technology, dubbed Proactive Alerts.
In short, Chevy has developed a set of algorithms that allow a car’s computer to monitor certain systems and determine if a failure of that system is imminent. If so, Chevy’s OnStar system will alert the owner via e-mail or text message so that maintenance can be performed before a failure actually occurs. For now, the system only monitors the starter motor, fuel pump, and battery, and is currently available on the 2016 Chevy Silverado, Equinox, Corvette, Suburban, and Tahoe. Eventually, the system will be available on all Chevy vehicles and will be able to monitor additional components.
Steve Holland, the Chief Technologist for Vehicle Health Management at GM, said, “Chevrolet is already the most awarded car brand in the industry, and Silverado is the most dependable, longest-lasting full-size pickup on the road. With Proactive Alerts, we now can offer customers even greater peace-of-mind by taking the guesswork out of when to service their vehicle.”
According to Chevy, the system is even smart enough to know the difference between a battery in a low state of charge and a high electric resistance – something that could point to a failing battery. Proactive Alerts is available with all OnStar plans, including the five-year basic plan that comes standard with new Chevy vehicles.
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Chevrolet Silverado Offers Trailering Camera System
Chevy has announced a new camera system for its full-size, Silverado pickup. The dealer-installed system increases visibility around the sides and behind a trailer, as well as inside an enclosed trailer. The system will work in conjunction with yet another camera, this one located on the center high-mount brake light, Chevy will begin offering on its pickups starting this summer.
The camera system, developed with Echomaster, routes the live video feeds into the truck’s existing infotainment screen. Accessible at any time, the video helps the driver keep tabs on what’s around, behind, and inside the trailer.
The system uses cameras placed on the exterior towing mirrors for side views, while a remotely mounted camera can be placed on the upper and rear-most portion of the trailer for back-up views. This camera automatically comes on when reversing, thanks to its hardwire into the trailer’s lighting system. It wirelessly transmits its signal through a closed wireless network to the truck. An infrared lighting feature also allows the camera to work in low-lighting situations.
Similarly, the side-view cameras are tied into the truck’s turn signals. Signaling left or right automatically shows that respective camera view on the infotainment screen.
Operating the cameras manually is done via the infotainment system. Pressing and holding the home button for five seconds brings up the camera menu screen where a particular camera view can be chosen and enlarged.
The system works on any Silverado with factory tow mirrors installed, including Silverado 1500 pickups. The dealer-installed system cost $999 and is available for any 2014 and newer Silverado pickup. Of course, that price does not include tax and labor fees. Presumably, the same system will be offered on GMC trucks as well.
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For over 60 years, Chevrolet’s Small Block 350 has been the gift that keeps on giving, thanks in large part to its ability to provide incomparable bang-for-your-buck performance. But it wasn’t until 1988 when Chevrolet really flipped the script when it released the “ZZZ,” the company’s first modern crate engine. Despite not being as large and as powerful as some of the other crate engines released at that time, the ZZZ received universal acclaim for its all-around versatility. Since then, the ZZ-series crate engine has evolved numerous times. It will culminate at the 2015 SEMA Auto Show, when Chevrolet Performance unveils the latest iteration of the iconic powertrain, the new ZZ6 350-cubic-inch, 5.7-liter crate engine.
The ZZ6 is fresh out of Chevrolet’s engine laboratory, boasting new features that are expected to take its performance capabilities to a whole new level. One of the most important features of the engine are the updated Fast Burn cylinder heads with large intake runners and 2.00/1.55-inch valves, both of which play integral roles in facilitating increased airflow, enhancing the engine’s performance in high-rpm situations, and helping the new mill produce 405 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. Those performance numbers represent the most power ever produced by a "stock" Chevy 350 engine, making the new ZZ6 one of the most powerful Small Block 350 crate engines in the entire history of the ZZ powertrain.
In a lot of ways, this new engine represents Chevrolet’s ability to evolve and adapt to the current crate engine climate, all while sticking to an architecture that has served it well since the first Small Block 350 burst into the scene back in 1955. Once the new ZZ6 crate engine hits the market, potential customers have the option to choose between two versions: Base and Turn Key. Chevrolet has yet to announce the price for the new ZZ6 crate engine kits but expect an announcement to be made at SEMA on November 3, 2015.
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The Silverado is undergoing some big changes for 2016, though most of them are centered around the 1500 series’ new exterior looks. Nevertheless, the Silverado HD is getting a few upgrades that help make it more attractive in the highly competitive heavy duty pickup market.
Though you won’t find a new grille or dashboard design on the 2016 Silverado HD, the truck now offers some new technologies. Leading the pack is the Digital Steering Assist system that helps the Silverado HD manage heavy loads on uneven road surfaces. Available on several double and crew cab models, the new system is said to enhance road holding and stability on the highway, especially over crowned roads.
Chevy is also now offering a gooseneck and fifth-wheel prep package. The trailering pack includes a spray-in bed liner, the frame-mounted hitch platform that accommodates a gooseneck ball or fifth-wheel hitch mounting brackets, and a wiring harness plug on the sidewall of the cargo bed.
Like the Silverado 1500, the 2500 HD and 3500 HD trucks now come with an upgraded version of Chevy’s MyLink software that allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though Android auto will have some late availability. Wireless phone charging is also a welcomed new feature.
Lastly, a remote-locking tailgate and three new colors join the 2016 Silverado HD lineup.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD.
Chevrolet has solved a problem that very few people outside of Death Valley, the Sahara Desert or Venus even knew existed: cell phones overheating in cars.
You’ve probably seen spy shots on these pages of camouflaged cars testing in the world’s hottest deserts and above the Arctic Circle. Apparently, Chevrolet quality assurance engineers were testing wireless charging functionality for cell phones in hotter climates when they noticed their phones would frequently overheat and shut down during wireless charging, which potentially stranded them in the desert like Jim Morrison searching for his spirit animal.
That last part probably never happened, but evidently, cell phone manufacturers don’t put their products through the same exhaustive temperature tests as car manufacturers do.
To rectify the issue, Chevy is introducing a new Active Phone Cooling system in a few new cars, including 2016 Chevrolet Impalas, 2016 Chevrolet Malibus, 2016 Chevrolet Volts and 2016 Chevrolet Cruzes equipped the with optional wireless charging feature. An air vent connected to the air conditioner is situated under the wireless charging bin and continuously sends cool air to lower the phone’s temperature.
“Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel,” Impala engineer Dan Lascu says of the system. “Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem.”
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It turns out that Chevrolet Silverado owners are some of the heaviest users of GM’s OnStart RemoteLInk mobile app as they keep track of their truck’s maintenance status and use features like remote start.
The news comes directly from Chevy as the automaker releases its findings. “Compared to other vehicles, trucks have a unique place in their owners’ lives,” says Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for Silverado in a company statement. “Not only can pickups provide reliable day-to-day transportation, but they’re also a valuable tool for tackling projects at home or on the job site. It’s not surprising, then, that Silverado owners would take full advantage of RemoteLink’s ability to keep tabs on the health of their Silverado.”
RemoteLink allows Silverado owners to monitor parameters like oil level and tire pressure, along with the ability to lock, unlock, and start the vehicle from the user’s smart phone. What’s more, Chevy will soon roll out what it calls Proactive Alerts, giving drivers and fleet managers a heads-up on parts or services that will soon need attention.
On top of the RemoteLink’s capabilities, Chevy says that 99 percent of Silverado buyers opt in for the three-month/three-gigabyte trial of OnStar’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi service. Once the trail ends, the most widely chosen data plan gives owners one gigabyte of data per month.
Fleet operators can take RemoteLink’s services to the next level, thanks to a partnership with Telogis. The service provides information on each truck’s maintenance schedules, GPS location, speed, fuel economy, engine hours, idle time, and oil change intervals – all critical information for business owners.
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Apple and Android users will enjoy easier integration between their smartphones and Chevy’s infotainment systems starting with the 2016 model year, as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make its way to 14 different Chevy models. The new software integration will utilize Chevy’s 7-inch MyLink infotainment screens. The 8-inch MyLink screens will be compatible with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the 2016 model year, while Android Auto is expected to be available on the 8-inch screen some time later in the 2016 model year, following further development and testing.
“For most of us, our smartphones are essential,” said Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, in a press release. “Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that’s important to our customers.”
So far, vehicles penned for integration using the 7-inch screen include the Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Camaro coupe and convertible, and Silverado light- and heavy-duty. The 8-inch screen integration will be found on the Cruze, Malibu, Impala, Volt, Camaro coupe and convertible, Corvette coupe and convertible, Colorado, Silverado light- and heavy-duty, Tahoe, and Suburban.
Chevy also plans on bringing this new integration to markets outside the U.S., including Brazil, Mexico and Canada. You can find more information regarding Android Auto market availability here and Apple CarPlay market availability here.
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