Upgrade to LED Headlights

One of the most noticeable changes when switching from the Touareg to the Canyon was the headlights. The Touareg had really nice self-leveling High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps. By comparison, the OEM halogens in the Canyon felt like driving with a flashlight… I found that this was a common complaint discussed on forums like ColoradoFans forums and took one of the recommendations. It surprises me that for a high-end pickup that GM builds it with such crappy headlamps, when more modern, brighter LED headlights cost under $75 retail. GM could certainly have done better for very little difference in cost. I was also surprised to find that even aftermarket HID conversion kits are only about $250, much cheaper than the $1,200 that many manufacturers charge for upgrading to HID lights. I went with the LED for simplicity, as well as cost, since the HID lights require an external ballast, so they are a little more involved to install. I ordered a set of Sealight X1 from Amazon, which were only $70 for both low and high beam. I ordered them on Friday morning, and they were delivered early this morning. It took about a half hour to install, and was fairly easy. The hardest part was getting under a rubber cover on passenger side, which I think directs cold air into the air filter intake. Even in the daylight, I could tell that they were brighter, mostly due to the 6000K color temperature being bright white instead of yellow. I’m going to go …

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2019 GMC Canyon All Terrain

Back to a Diesel Pickup Truck

The lease on the VW Touareg is about up, so we decided to start looking at our options. I was considering buying out the Touareg, as it’s been a very comfortable vehicle, it’s big enough to tow the trailer, but small enough to fit into the garage. We had to go to a VW dealership to get the details on the buyout, since we’re within 90 days of the end date. The residual was about $25,500, but the “deal” that McDonald VW presented to me had about $6k in fees and crap added to it, making the cost over $31k. Their “offer” for me to buy the vehicle that I’ve been driving and paying for the past three years was about $500/month with $4K down! I quickly realized that I could get something brand new for that much… I had been looking at options for SUVs that could tow over 7,000 lbs. and there isn’t much that isn’t full sized, or over $75K. I thought that if I wasn’t going to be able to fit it into the garage, and was going to have to pay that much, I might as well look at another pickup truck. My last pickup truck was a 2005 GMC Sierra K2500HD Crew Cab Long Bed with the 6.6L Duramax Diesel, which would cost over $65K now, with similar equipment. In my search, I discovered that GM has a smaller 2.8L inline 4-cylinder Duramax Diesel that they offer in the Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon mid-size pickup …

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2016 Volkswagen Touareg Lux V6 4MOTION

New Volkswagen

Thanks to the diesel emissions scandal, and the uncertainty of what kind of “fix” would be required to meet emissions, this seemed like the best time to try trading in my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI. While I have loved the Sportwagen for it versatility, and have loved the 2.0L turbo-diesel for its power and fuel efficiency, we had been thinking about getting an all-wheel drive vehicle so that my wife wouldn’t be snowed in while I’m traveling. In order to take advantage of the trade-in opportunity, we limited our search to Audi and Volkswagen. I wanted something with similar storage to the Jetta wagon, about 66 cubic feet, which eliminated the Q3 and Tiguan, leaving us with the choice of a Q5 or Touareg. We decided that we would meet at McDonald VW, drop off the Jetta so that they could do an appraisal on it, and we could go to Applebee’s for some dinner. While I was stuck in traffic on the way there, my wife arrived at VW. She talked with the salesman a bit, and made some headway toward making a deal. She wasn’t sure how it would work out, so she suggested that I stop at the Audi dealer on the way there. While I was working with the salesman at the Audi dealership, they took the car down the block to the VW dealer, so the guys at VW knew that I was talking to the Audi dealer. In the end, McDonald VW was able …

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Driving in the Mountains

We’re spending the weekend at our trailer in Buena Vista. It was too windy yesterday to ride our bikes that we brought up, so we decided to drive down Highway 50 over Monarch Pass down to Gunnison. This weekend has been my first chance to drive my new VW Jetta SportWagen TDI in the mountains, so I was interested to see how it handled the higher altitude and steeper grades. The 2.0L TDI makes plenty of power to ascend even a 7% grade at 11,000 feet. What I was even more impressed with, though, was how well the DSG transmission worked on the descent. I’d already noticed that when braking, the DSG will downshift to help slow down using engine braking. What I had not thought about was how nicely that would work when descending a 7% grade. When coming down from the pass, holding the brake for a moment would cause the DSG to downshift one or two gears. It would hold that gear until I touched the throttle again. It worked perfectly to control the speed coming down a steep grade. I know that I can use the Tiptronic mode to do this manually, and that it will even automatically match the engine speed, but I was impressed that in automatic mode it did this so well on its own. My previous vehicle, a GMC Sierra K-2500 truck with the Duramax Diesel and Allison transmission would do downhill engine braking, but I think only when it was in Tow/Haul mode. It also worked quite well to control the speed, especially …

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VW Jetta SportWagen TDI

Last week I bought my new 2011 Jetta SportWagen TDI, the day before we took a 3,200 mile trip from Denver through Missouri to North Dakota, and back again. The TDI was the perfect car for the road trip, roomy and comfortable, and up to 43MPG on the highway. Based on fill-ups, my best mileage was 39.67MPG, with 486 miles on one fill-up and still a 1/4 tank left. My overall mileage has been about 37MPG, combined city/highway for the first 3,500 miles. There are quite a few things that I really like about the new Jetta: The fuel economy is fantastic. Even in the first 3,500 miles, I’m getting at least 30 MPG driving to and from work, and over 43 MPG on the highway, if I keep the speed down a little… The TDI makes plenty of power, especially for an engine that gets such great fuel economy. Although its only 140 HP, the diesel makes 236 ft-lbs. of torque, which is really more important. Plenty of power to accelerate onto the highway, or for passing. I’m anxious to get up into the mountains to see how it does at higher altitude. Even though the fuel tank holds only 14.5 gallons, with the great fuel economy that’s enough fuel for a range of about 500 miles on the highway, so you don’t have to stop to fill up so often. After much internal debate, I finally decided on the DSG automatic rather than the manual transmission. While my previous Jetta has a manual …

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