Dealerships

Cadillac Live interactive digital showroom launches in five U.S. states

Buyers are being empowered to change up their shopping habits with the new Cadillac Live interactive digital platform.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cars.com research recently revealed that the dealership experience is a major pain point for new car buyers. Automakers are continuously working to enhance that experience and lately there has been a push to revolutionize the sales model with more digital integration.

Cadillac, a division of General Motors, has launched Cadillac Live, a digital shopping platform designed to bring elements of the dealership experience to shoppers' smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. When using Cadillac Live, customers enter a digital showroom via an online portal to view the features and specifications of up to 10 Cadillac models. Once in the system, they can speak with a Live product specialist, who can answer vehicle and purchase-consideration questions.

Cadillac Live Lounge The Cadillac Live Lounge features cars and SUVs from the entire Cadillac passenger vehicle lineup. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

"Luxury consumers are looking for a seamless, one-on-one shopping experience, whether online or in-person," said Melissa Grady, Cadillac chief marketing officer. "Cadillac Live offers a high degree of personal service, with time-saving conveniences and extended hours, reflecting today's evolving shopping habits and our customers' expectations."

The move to digital is a logical one for Cadillac. Data from Google shows that twice as many car buyers start their research online versus at the dealership.

Cadillac Live Agent A Cadillac Live agent helps shoppers explore new vehicles. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Customers are able to do everything but test drive and pull the trigger on buying a new vehicle via Cadillac Live. Here's how Cadillac says it works:

Shoppers can explore every detail of a Cadillac vehicle with the help of a Live agent, who is equipped with an iPhone X, Osmo Mobile gimbal and Bluetooth headset, providing two-way audio and one-way live video. That means shoppers can hear and see the agent, while the agent can hear – but not see – the shopper. The agents are also equipped with a digital interface to share color, wheel and accessory choices. Live agent sessions are available on-demand or can be scheduled for a future date. Additionally, shoppers can invite a partner to join a Live session.

As Cadillac struggles to remain a relevant brand for buyers, the implementation of a less confrontational shopping experience via a device that can be used at the convenience of the customer is an intriguing move that may pay off. Seventy-one percent of customers report switching to a competitor's product after finding their selection process easier according to the 2017 Cassandra Shop Report, which specifically focuses on millennial and Gen Y buyers.

The pilot program is available in five states: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Every dealership in each of those states was offered the opportunity to take part in the program with 160 opting in. Of that 160, 38 of those dealers are based in Texas.

Cadillac Live Lounge Agent Shoppers can ask questions in real time. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac Live agents are available to connect with shoppers Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m.-1 a.m. ET, Friday, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. ET, and Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. ET. Customers can schedule future sessions with a Live agent during off-hours.

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New full-size pickup truck

The 2022 Toyota Tundra is worth the wait

The Tundra is all-new for 2022.

Toyota

Toyota is proud of the makeover of its full-sized truck—and should be. This Japanese automaker with its American headquarters in Plano, Texas is building the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra at its assembly plant in San Antonio, TX, and has remade the pickup for an American market that has a vociferous appetite for full-size trucks. This segment of the market is so competitive and the Tundra "redo" is so significant that Toyota invited a large cadre of the automotive press to a "deep dive" first to learn more from its designers, engineers, marketers and other truck experts before the recently-held drive program and tour of its factory in San Antonio.

2022 Toyota Tundra The Tundra gets two new powertrains and a load of new tech. Toyota

The third-generation pickup has been redesigned from the ground up in Toyota's California design studio, in Michigan's engineering and technical facility and at the company's Arizona proving grounds. "We took a fresh, transformational approach to our truck development and had to rethink many things we'd previously done," said Mike Sweers, Senior Vice President, Product Development Office, and F1 Platform Chief Engineer. "Not only did we improve the performance and enhance the capability of this new Tundra, at the same time, we were certain to retain the strong quality, durability and reliability for which Toyota trucks are known."

The new truck comes in 2WD and 4WD variants: in both 4-door Double cab and Crewmax body styles; and with the option of 5.5-foot , 6.5-foot or 8.1-foot bed lengths. Six grade levels include SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 and TRD Pro. It has an updated fully-boxed steel-ladder frame, an aluminum composite bed and a new multilink suspension with rear coil springs. Towing capacity has been bumped to 12,000 pounds, with a max payload of 1,940 lbs. Pricing starts at under $38,000.

The remake brings a blend of more muscular, rugged and sleek-lined styling on the exterior with a cabin that has been crafted with a "Technical Muscle" motif: A horizontal design theme integrates the instrument panel and center stack. Trims materials and appointments vary depending on grade however all are more premium. An available 14-inch touchscreen highlights the all-new Audio Multimedia system that comes with many updates and a cloud-based navigation system. Among the new is WiFi Connect offers 4G connectivity for up to 10 devices. A 12.3-inch gauge cluster display is available. Also updated is Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 that is standard on all trims; it now includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection in low light. Among other safety features are automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and automatic high beams with new blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert and more optional safety features.

2022 Toyota Tundra The truck's interior is now more upscale and modern than before. Toyota

The new Tundra comes with a choice of two twin-turbo V-6 engines; the base engine delivers more power (389) and torque (479) than the previous-generation's 5.7-liter V-8. Optional is an i-Force Max- twin-turbo V-6 (437 hp./583 lb.-ft. of torque), set up with a motor generator between the engine and the transmission to boost power, as well as parallel hybrid components that provide start-up, EV motoring, electric assist and energy regeneration. Both engines are shifted through a 10-speed automatic. Estimated EPA fuel economy for the 3.5-liter, V-6 non-hybrid is 18/23/20 (2WD) and 17/22/19 (4WD) city/highway/combined; hybrid numbers have not been announced.

I drove the old model from San Antonio to the Hill Country, where I jumped aboard the new Tundra models on a collection of on-and -off-road loops to illuminate the upgrades and to illustrate the 2022 truck's upgraded towing and 4WD prowess. There is a long list of big differences, however. Of note are the truck's ergonomics (improved seat track, seatbelt adjustability and visibility), more power on tap with both powertrains, ride comfort and cabin quietness, and a higher level of technology, safety, towing capability and off-road competence, while the new chassis and suspension improve ride comfort.

An off-road course allowed us to try out the TRD Pro package that has been fitted with new 2.5-inch diameter FOX internal bypass shocks that add stalwart toughness for harsh terrain and bring a 1.1-inch front lift. Also new are a TRD Pro front stabilizer bar, red painted suspension parts, a TRD aluminum front skid plate and additional underbody protection, plus unique all-terrain Falken tires.

2022 Toyota Tundra Large displays and bold interior colors are available. Toyota

Tundra's new air suspension system, available on some grades, cushions the ride and features automatic and manual leveling functions, with High, Low and Normal heights. The High setting aids with slow-speed off-road driving under 18 mph and optimizes damping to help with roll rigidity. Low height brings an ease for loading and unloading, and returns to Normal height once the truck exceeds speeds of 8 mph. The pickup's Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system also adjusts the damping force based for different road conditions, such as large potholes, bumps, and small rocks.

The new Tundra also benefits from a number of tow/haul upgrades, such as the new heated extending and folding trailer tow mirrors with integrated blind spot monitor and LED trailering lights that aid in night-time and low-visibility backup, a collection of cameras, and the Trailer Back Guidance system with Straight Path Assist. All features take some of the "white-knuckle" stress out of towing. I pulled trailers of different weights and lengths and appreciated the increased throttle response with the standard Tow/Haul mode to accommodate light to moderate towing needs, such as small box trailers, utility trailers or small boats; the throttle response is more aggressive for towing larger trailers like RVs, larger box trailers or larger boats. New cameras project multiple exterior angles (front, rear and side as well as a top-down view with the Panoramic View Monitor) be viewed from the 14-inch touchscreen or an optional rearview mirror camera accessory. Views also include the rear truck bed to check on cargo, and a rear split-view to check on the sides and hitch.

2022 Toyota Tundra Some trims get air suspension with adjustable ride heights. Toyota

Impressive are the two different tow/haul modes (regular tow haul and tow haul +) that change parameters when towing less 5,000 or more than 5,000 pounds; electronics will help regulate the transmission from shifting frequently and searching for the right gear.

Of note:

The RD Pro versions will be available only with the hybrid powertrain that is an option on Limited, Platinum and 1794 trims.

The TRD Off-Road Package is available on SR5, Limited and 1794 trims; the package adds TRD wheels (18-inch on SR5 and 20-inch on Limited, 1974), TRD grille, TRD off-road suspension, skid plates, mud guards and TRD leather shift knob.

TRD Off-Road Package models with 4WD will get an electronic rear differential lock, Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control.

The TRD Sport Package is available on 4X2 or 4X4 SR5 models in both the Crewmax and Double Cab, adding 20-inch TRD wheels, TRD grille, TRD lowered sport suspension and a TRD leather shift knob.

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Cadillac will be the first brand with Ultra Cruise

General Motors

Tesla has been in hot water for a while now for shenanigans pulled by owners abusing the automaker's advanced cruise control functions. While the company's Full Self Driving (FSD) tech isn't quite ready for primetime, other automakers are catching up – quickly. Today, General Motors announced Ultra Cruise, its advanced driver assistance tech that promises to allow hands-free driving in 95 percent of driving scenarios.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will build on Super Cruise functionality.General Motors

GM notes that its goal is to eventually roll the service out to all paved roads in the U.S. and Canada. When it launches, the service will work on over two million miles of roads, which could nearly double as the program expands.

Ultra Cruise will offer a host of automated driving features that build on Super Cruise:

  • Dynamic display system
  • Ability to react to permanent traffic control devices
  • Follow internal navigation routes
  • Maintain headway and follow speed limits
  • Support automatic, on-demand lane changes
  • Support left and right turns
  • Support close object avoidance
  • Support parking in residential driveways

The system uses LiDAR, radar, and cameras to build a 360-degree, three-dimensional picture of the world around it. An additional LiDAR unit is located behind the windshield. GM notes that a big part of the system is its Human Machine Interface (HMI), which communicates with the driver to alert them when they need to take control. Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles will do this with a head-up display that helps drivers stay focused on the road, and will use the same driver monitoring cameras that are used in Super Cruise.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will enable hands-free driving in the majority of driving scenarios.General Motors

Ultra Cruise will first be available in Cadillac vehicles starting from 2023. There's no word on pricing or specific vehicle availability at this time.

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