Toyota Tundra 1794 and Chevy Silverado Review

May 31st, 2020

By Don Armstrong

There was a time when trucks were purchased for towing and hauling, you know, work. For many Bay Area, truck-owning families today, they have become the go-to vehicle of choice. Versatility means everything, and if you’re spending 50 large, might as well cover all the bases, including comfort. Here are a couple to put on the shopping list..

Toyota Tundra 1794

Built in San Antonio, the Tundra is a logical choice for many, especially those raised by long-time Toyotans.

The 2020 1794 Edition is a top-tier trim level that is offered with a Lexus grade leather interior, wood trimmed steering wheel and other niceties that include a bit of Hill Country swagger.

The Tundra is no different than other competitors, the question you and your financier must ask is, “how deep in the wallet do we go?” The Tundra options list is long but not the 1794 cab size, it’s Crew Max cab only.

Tundra is equipped with one engine, the 5.7-liter V-8, delivering 381-HP and 401-lb. ft. of torque. The single transmission is a six-speed automatic. Ford, Chevy and Ram offer variety.

Android Auto and Apple Car Play are finally part of Tundra’s offerings.

Most full-size trucks, including the Tundra, will not fit in a standard home garage. Just another hurdle to jump in your move to the world of trucking. Starts at $33,575

Chevrolet Silverado

The venerable Chevrolet half-ton pickup truck is, perhaps, one of the most recognizable vehicles on the globe. Although the Silverado name is relatively new, its roots run deep, to the early 1900’s, and so does brand loyalty.

For Chevy lovers in the Bay Area, the Silverado can be customized to suit your needs, starting with no fewer than 3 cab sizes, 2 bed lengths, 5 engines and 8 trim levels. Oh, don’t forget 2 or 4-wheel drive. Shopping for one is not for the faint of heart.

This truck is B I G. The exterior styling can be a bit polarizing for some. Chevrolet has embraced the max-grille look and, depending on the trim level, can come blacked-out and look like the entire front is grille.

Interiors range from a stark to plush but all come with the GM Infotainment System 3, a well-vetted interface.

For most Bay Area families, the LT will probably be a good starting point at about $45 grand.

The Truth about Wax

March 31st, 2020

Moving beyond with modern technology

By Steve Soule | Ultimate Detailing

Last month we talked about wax and the basics of protecting the painted surfaces on modern automobiles. This month I would like to discuss the changes in technologies and progressions in protection systems.

Waxes have their place, as do synthetic sealants. Both offer a level of protection beyond what unprotected paint can offer. Truth be told, the biggest shortcomings are in longevity or ability to last more than a few weeks or months before the need for re-application arises. Along with the longevity, the level of protection is limited and can certainly be improved upon when it comes to shielding painted surfaces from damage.

Paint systems are designed to protect metal surfaces, which they do very well with current technology. They don’t, however offer the ability to shed dirt, resist staining, offer resistance to high and low PH chemicals or water spotting. Waxes, though they can help in these areas, are severely deficient in terms of actual protection against surface degradation. Synthetic sealants are a significant step beyond natural waxes, but again they fall way short in the level protection they afford and the durability and longevity. What, you ask, can do a better job?

Enter modern science blended with the burning desire to protect surfaces and keep our prized automotive possessions looking amazing. About 10-15 years ago, a few small companies started marketing nano ceramic technology as protective systems for paint. Ceramic technology has been around for much longer, and it was only a matter of time before science focused on adding to modern paint systems and their ability to protect them. Since their inception, there have been quantum leaps in terms of protection, technology and simplicity of application.

What are ceramic coatings and what can they offer that other products cannot?

Ceramic or Nano coatings are the pinnacle of surface protection science. They are chemically bonded to the surfaces they are applied to, at a molecular level in a manner unlike any product that has preceded them. Where waxes and sealants are just stacked on top of a painted surfaces with minimal bonding, Ceramic Coatings are attached in a manner very similar to the paints they protect. There are numerous companies currently marketing products as ceramic protection that come in a spray bottle, and though they share similar nano resins, the bonding systems are totally different. True, long lasting ceramic coatings are products that are suspended in a solvent based solution. In reality, they are bonded to painted surfaces very much like modern car paints are bonded.

Ceramic coatings, due to their superior bonding systems, have extreme wear capabilities. If properly applied, they are bonded to the paint surface until polished or sanded. The level of protection is far superior, affording resistance to a much broader range of high and low PH, water spotting, and UV light than any level of product in the history of automotive surface protection. The key words here are “high quality” Ceramic Coating and “properly applied.”

Just like painting or any other complex process, if the prep work isn’t carried out properly, or if low quality products are used, the end result will never look as good or last as long. Sadly, like every industry, this one is full of “copy cat” products and marketing masters who would tell the world that their products are invincible and bullet proof. The truth is that they are not all equal, and though there are some amazing characteristics, within nearly all top brands of coatings, they still have limitations in what they can protect against.

Here’s a list of the realistic expectations a consumer should have about a properly installed ceramic coating:

Amazing gloss, extremely slick surface, exceptional dirt shedding abilities, incredible lasting water beading and sheeting, extreme easy maintenance washing, limited maintenance required(no waxing) extreme protection from UVA, UVB, resistance to acidic and alkaline contact, limited added resistance to light scratches or marring(limited to the micro thickness of the coating) and all of these qualities last for years, not months. There are more, but this covers what most of us would seek in protective systems.

Again, within this industry there are companies that heavily market the qualities of ceramic coatings, some well within reason, and others that simply are not realistic expectations to set. Next month, I will dig in a little deeper and discuss realistic expectations of scratch resistance and other properties inherent in high quality ceramic coatings.

SUV Choices – Infiniti QX50 and Chevy Traverse

February 1st, 2019

By Don Armstrong

Given the popularity of SUVs, there are lots of decisions to make when you buy; price, brand, size, trim level, to name a few. In this edition of Bay Area Houston Magazine, we compare a luxury brand to an American standard that might bring some shopper clarity.

Infiniti QX50

Nissan’s luxury label, Infiniti, has made its own mark among Japanese entries in the SUV market by winning over millions of buyers looking for style and quality.

The completely redesigned 2019 QX50 checks all the boxes in a world becoming crowded with SUVS. At first glance, you’re greeted with a large, open-mouth grille. Two, large ridges adorn the hood, adding to its forward aero design. A short sun shade spoiler overhangs the rear glass.

The QX50’s interior gets high marks too starting with a sophisticated dash layout, high zoot stitching and quality workmanship throughout. The infotainment screen is tilted back, away from the driver and tucked under the dash pad, requiring a mouse-like control knob on the center console. Front seats are comfortable and supportive. The second row slides, reclines and folds flat, with enough leg room for 3 full sized adults.

An all-new, 268 horsepower 4-cylinder engine powers this QX through a continuously variable transmission. That’s more power than the outgoing V-6. We were impressed.

Pricing starts at $36,550. Nicely equipped, about $55,000.

Chevrolet Traverse

Redesigned last year, the 2019 Traverse is Chevy’s largest 3-row crossover and compares nicely with the Suburban SUV, albeit lighter, more agile and easier on gas consumption.

The Traverse is packaged in an attractive, sleek, nicely balanced, yet conservative, design, unlike the boxy Suburban.

Its interior is very GM. That’s not a bad thing, just very utilitarian. Chevy does, however, offer contrasting trim options on the upper end badges that helps customize it to your taste. The infotainment touchscreen is easy to use and understand. It seats up to 8.

Under the hood is nestled the venerable 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 310 horsepower through a 9-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. A 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive are optional.

If you are looking for performance handling, ride, braking or performance, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Chevrolet’s Traverse however hits the sweet spot in price and utility and doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t.

Pricing starts at just a tic under $30,000 but fully loaded swells the price to $53,000.